Absolute Power
Deathmark_wiz
deathmark_wiz@hotmail.com

He ran with all of his speed. He didn't know what he was running from, but his danger sense was clawing at him. He got a brief look at the creature, "Maybe a necrotaur," he whispered to himself. A necrotaur was a blue - green and scaly monster, which looked like a ferocious bear on all fours.

He was running through dense forest, between two valleys. He had come from one of them, but the other was a mystery. He had never seen it on any maps. He kept on running, waiting for something to happen, good or bad. Then he saw it, a boulder on the top of a cliff. He knew what to do. He put his hand on the sheath of his sword. He approached the rock, looming on top of the cliff.

"Three, two, one!" he exclaimed as he jumped up to the boulder and spun around, slashing through the air. He saw the necrotaur running, blood oozing from many wounds. He danger sense calmed down. He watched the necrotaur run away. He turned around. He looked down the side of the cliff. An unknown valley. His danger sense went berserk. He watched, as the valley was plunged into darkness, and then into the midday sun once more.

"Weird. I'll be back to explore that." With that, he took off to find his camp that he uneventfully left behind, to distract the necrotaur.


*****

He was a strong paladin, noble, with a true heart. His name was Deathmark. He was named that because of a scar over his right eye. He could feel it pulsing with power all the time. He didn't have the brawn of a fighter, the agility of a thief, or the mind of a wizard, but a mix of them all. He could beat anyone in combat, but when not feeling violent (even paladins get the urge to be violent), he could sneak around, and avoid people. His mind not only allowed him to use paladin magic, but also the magic of a wizard. He ran up to his camp, and into the arms of his lovely wife, Haldisia.

Haldisia was from the land of Shapeir, where she had been guild master before Uhura, a strong, female warrior, took over. She was a strong, cunning warrior, able to do battle with the toughest monsters. When Haldisia met Deathmark, they were both in Shapeir. The Sultan agreed to marry them, but the ceremony was disrupted. The EOF, Eternal Order of Fighters, wanted Haldisia for one of their own. Haldisia's father, Roxtan, had promised this. When he forbade her to marry the 'dirty paladin', and told her to marry the 'smart EOF fighter', she killed him. Haldisia agreed with Deathmark that she shouldn't have done that, but the newlyweds left Shapeir, and to the valleys near Mordavia.

"Haldisia, I saw the strangest thing over the cliff, after the necrotaur retreated!" Deathmark told her.

"What?"

"The valley below, went totally dark, as if some unknown creature sucked away the light, and then back to light."

"The Dark One." she said solemnly.

"What?"

"The Dark One. That confirms my guess that we are in Mordavia, land of the Nosferatu. We must go to the city as soon as possible. I need to know who did this. Who banished the Dark One."

*****

Mordavia was a desolate place, inhabited by strange monsters, and even stranger people. The forest was large, and the swamp was even larger. The swamp connected to a small lake, entitled the Lake of the Lost. There were many places to visit, the castle Borgov, the cemetery, Erana's peace, the gypsy camp, and Baba Yaga's hut.

The two adventurers walked to the town. A cheerful but gruff man greeted them.

"Hello," he spoke with a Russian accent; "I am Dmitri, the Burgomeister. Welcome to Mordavia."

"I am Deathmark, a paladin. This is Haldisia, my wife."

"A paladin! The hero that just left was one. And my grandfather, Piotyr was too."

"You have no need of any paladins right now?"

"Unfortunately, no. The last one did so much! He banished the Dark One!"

"He was the one!" Haldisia muttered beneath her breath.

"Are you sure?" Deathmark prodded.

"Well, no. Although, maybe, no, you couldn't...."

"We couldn't what?" Haldisia entered the conversation.

"I need a group of people to search the castle, get it ready for the next owners."

"In a few days, we want to relax first." Deathmark continued.

"Goodbye!" Dmitri shouted as they walked out of view.

*****

They went up to the monastery in town. Burned to a crisp. He felt no evil radiating from it. It was cleansed.

"That paladin must've done it. He has probably done most of the things that my kind are needed for, in this valley, at least."

"Don't worry," Haldisia comforted him, "You are the best paladin I have ever met." She gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Thanks."

"Hello!" A strange voice came from behind them, "Me Igor, me dig holes in cemetery!"

"I am Haldisia, and this is Deathmark. Do you know what happened to the monastery?"

"Bad place! Very bad place, no go there. Last hero burn it with a torch. He was Igor's friend! He left to, Silmaria, I think." Igor told them.

Deathmark thought, "Silmaria is in need of a hero. I wonder why?"

*****

"Where do you want to sleep tonight?" Haldisia asked Deathmark.

"The Hotel Mordavia is fine.

They walked in. "Greetings! Welcome to the Hotel Mordavia! My family and I run the Hotel. Would you like a room?"

"Yes, please."

"10 Crowns per week." Deathmark handed him the money.

"Thank you, and enjoy your visit. Your room is the first one at the top of the stairs."

They went to their room and unpacked. Haldisia noticed that the previous hero left a bunch of junk in the chest.

"A clove of garlic, a small note from 'Katrina', whoever that is, a rusty sword and shield, a battleaxe, and some healing potions." She listed the contents of the chest. Haldisia took the battleaxe, and sheathed it on her back. She also took the potions.

"We should go exploring before it gets too dark." Deathmark said.

"Okay. I want to check out Erana's Peace."

"Sure."

They walked through the forest; being attacked more that once by the small, but ferocious Vorpal Bunnies. They backtracked a bit at the cemetery, and then found their way to the peaceful garden. By now it was nighttime. It was beautiful. There was a big pool, clear as glass. Beside it was a small bonsai bush, aspiring to grow bigger. The lanterns glowed brightly with a magical light. In the back was a tree, filled with orange fruit. Haldisia stepped towards it.

"No," Deathmark suddenly commanded, "Do not touch it. Wait." He summoned up his energy and cast a 'Fetch' spell. One of the fruit landed in his hands. He took a bite, and felt a surge of magical energy. "That is mana fruit."

They talked for a while, before they slept.

*****

"Deathmark!" A voice called out to him, "Deathmark! You have the power! Learn to use it." He was engulfed in darkness. The voice came from nowhere, but everywhere. Then he saw Haldisia, crying out. Then her voice stopped. She fell to the ground, unconscious. The large men chained her up, and took her away. He could do nothing to stop them. He woke up in a flurry of sweat.

*****

He said nothing to Haldisia about the dream he had experienced. He did not want to upset her. They walked silently to the town. There was a caravan of people on horses in front of the gates. Travel had come back to Mordavia.

"Hald!" A voice protruded the silence. "It's great to see you!"

"Drake!" She ran up and gave him a big hug. The man looked intelligent in his robes. Somewhat powerful too. "What are you doing here?"

"I heard about the Dark One and came to help. But when I arrived, it was too late." Drake told her.

"I'm sorry, for being rude. Deathmark, this is Drake, my brother. He is a magic user." Deathmark shook his hand for a brief second, before turning around to catch the hand of a female thief.

"What are you doing?"

"She came too." Drake said.

"Who is she?" Deathmark questioned.

"She is my sister, Sonia, the thief."

"How do you do?" She said in a sly, cunning voice.

"I'll let you three reminisce, while I go to talk to the Burgomeister. Good day."

*****

"Who was this hero?" Deathmark questioned.

"He was the Prince of Shapeir, hero of Spielburg, hero of Tarna, and now, hero of Mordavia!" the Burgomeister told him.

"How did he banish the Dark One?"

"He got all the rituals, and released it. Then he killed a powerful mage, and Avoozl, or the Dark One, was banished. Unfortunately, the mage Erana was also killed in this battle. Her soul rests in Hades now."

"Tell me of your grandfather, Piotyr."

"He was a noble paladin. He was in love with Erana, and vice versa. A powerful Wraith killed him, while he was looking for the rituals."

"What happened to his sword?"

"I gave it to the Prince of Shapeir, after he had a vision of my grandfather."

"What else was I going to ask you?" Deathmark paused, "Oh, yes. Why is there a giant mound of rock and flowers just inside the city?"

"That is where the mage Erana's staff layed. It was released when the Prince aided a young vampire become human. He took it, and rumor has it that he killed the powerful mage with it."

"Thank you." Deathmark bowed to him.

"One more thing," the Burgomeister started. He picked up an amulet from a drawer, and threw it to Deathmark. The amulet was a gold hexagon, with a glowing ruby in the center. It was beautiful. "This is an amulet that Piotyr made. It is supposed to bring out the true power in someone. Beware, guard it safely for if it falls into evil hands, the results could be devastating." Deathmark slipped the amulet on his neck as he left the office.

*****

"Why did you actually come here?" Haldisia questioned.

"I came because there is still a great evil, no, power, in this land." Drake told her.

"What?"

"I felt it ages ago when I learned astral projection. I accidentally transported my spirit here. The power was in an amulet. Amon Tillado, the leader of the Dark One cult, had gotten his hands on it, that is why the Dark One was almost released many centuries ago."

"What does this mean?"

"I have felt it again. It is here. In the valley. Noone is safe if it falls in dark hands, but if a hero posesses it, there is still a chance for doom. It may corrupt the hero with dark power of years past. We must get rid of it."

Sonia cut in, "You mean to say that the only way to get rid of the power is to destroy the amulet?"

"No," Drake snapped, "It cannot be destroyed, but it can be separated."

"How?" the sisters asked.

"Put the amulet on a true being of good, who is ready to die. Then a spell of separation is used and the amulet is split. Unfortunately, the hero is separated in body and spirit."

"Can we bring them back?" Haldisia asked.

"Yes, if you capture the spirit in a flask of flying water."

"What's all the talk about?" Deathmark asked as he walked into the room.

"Nothing!" Drake said, as he saw the amulet around Deathmark's neck.

"Well, then, let's go explore the castle, Haldisia."

"Ok." Haldisia agreed. "Stay out of trouble, although with you, Sonia, trouble is your middle name."

*****

They walked to the front gates, where the gatehouse was empty. Haldisia climbed over, and flicked a switch. The gate rose. They were silent as they approached the dark castle. Like a bad nightmare, sitting there. Pure evil. Deathmark used a ward spell for any magical traps on the door. He walked up to it, and five explosions rung in his face. He was fine. He slowly opened the door, into complete silence.

"It's too quiet." Haldisia commented.

"Yes."

Deathmark fell over as he went to open the door to the next room. His danger sense was overwhelming. "We're going to go in the slowly, me first." He kept one hand on his sword handle, as he turned the knob. He crept in, and a metal net dropped on him. He swung out his sword, and the blue flame ignited the net.

"No!" The net was covered with bloodwine, a substance that would take fire with the addition of a paladin sword.

He saw the twenty men take Haldisia away. He used a frostbite spell on the net. The fire left and he pushed the net off. They were gone. He was alone. He sulked all the way back to town.

He entered the Burgomeister's office. "They took her!"

"Who?"

"Haldisia! The EOF took her! They always wanted her, but never...."

"I have a friend that might be ablle to arrange magical transport to Shapeir." Drake said.

"Really? Who?"

"A friend named gypsy Davy."

"Great! Bring me to him immediately!"

The Burgomeister cut in, "When you see him, apologize for me, for keeping him in jail. Also, invite an offer of dinner at the Hotel with me. Tell him to bring his whole family."

"Ok." They left to go to the gypsy camp.

*****

"My friend!" Gypsy Davy was a young, handsome man, with lots of life.

"It is great to see you!" Drake answered, "I need a favor, could you transport my paladin friend here, and I, to Shapeir, land of the hot sun?"

"Sure. If you help me with the incantation, and say hi to Gwen, a newer mage in WIT, for me."

Deathmark cut in. "We will. The Burgomeister invites you and your family to the Hotel Mordavia for dinner."

"I will contact him as soon as possible." Davy had a look of dispair on his face. Deathmark could tell that Davy did not want to enter Mordavia, for they all feared him.

"Let us begin." Drake started the incantation, "Winds from the sky, fire from the soul, water from the clouds, earth from beneath us,
I ... we, summon you. Transport all within the points of power to Shapeir!"

Nothing happened for a moment. A sunnen blast of light came from the points, meeting in the middle, and casting the two upward, into the sky, and then to Shapeir.

"Drat." Sonia stared at where the two heroes once stood.

"Who are you?" Davy saw her.

"I am Sonia, Drake's brother, and Deathmark's brother in law. I also need transport there. I do not know magic, but the power is still in the air. Get me to Dinarzad, the money changer, please!"

"Well...."

"I'll do anything." She sat down on a rock, purring like a cat.

"200 crowns."

"Where am I supposed to get that much money?"

"In an hour."

"An hour!" She stomped off. It was night already, but the Burgomeister was closing up outside.

"Who lives in the house beside here?" she asked.

"That used to belong to my friend Nikolai, but he passed away. The hero found his wife, who was a ghost, then Nikolai became a ghost, according to the hero. Noone dares disturbe his property."

"Thank you." She walked the opposite way from the house, then circled the village and came back to it. Her lockpick worked perfectly. The door opened with a click. She snuck down to a cupboard, a few crowns were all she found. She sat onto the man's bed, but fell to the ground. While on the ground, she noticed a small grid of stones. She pressed them in a cross, the three in the middle row horizontally, and vertically. Then she pressed the middle stone for the third time. Why she did? She doesn't even know.

A grinding sound came from the cupboard. It had swung around, revealing a treasure of 200 crowns!

"Yes!" she yelled, but then quieted down, remembering she was breaking into someone's house.

She rushed the loot to Davy, who in return transported her to Shapeir also.

*****

"Drake!" A familiar voice called out to him.

"Aziza!" Aziza was the fortune teller of the city. She was mysterious, but beautiful.

"What are you doing here?" Aziza asked.

"My sister has been captured by the EOF. This is her husband, Deathmark."

"It is an honor to meet you." Deathmark bowed to her.

"You are a paladin, but, a magic user also?"

"Yes, I know not just the paladin spells, but others I have learned in my travels." He and Aziza talked for a while, until Deathmark heard an argument behind them. A large man in red robes was capturing a young woman.

"What are you doing?" Deathmark questioned in his most noble voice.

"None of your business!" He shot a fireball towards Deathmark. He leapt and kicked the mage in the face.

"Your first mistake." the mage said, as blood ran down his face.

*****

Haldisia was in a cage in the worst part of Shapeir, the Eternal Order of Fighters, or EOF for short. She could see the key sitting there on the floor. Deathmark had tried to teach her magic, but it wasn't in her. She tried anyway. She concentrated all her power on her sword and shield. They moved a bit. They continued to vibrate, until they flew over into Haldisia's arms. She did the same with the key, although the guard was aware of what she was doing. She opened the gate, and stabbed him in the chest. She ran to a stone wall. She felt for a small stone, and pushed it. The wall swung open, and she ran through the door.

Deathmark was in town. She somehow knew that. She thought about her brother, and then it came to her, they must be at WIT, the Wizard's Institute of Technosorcery. She ran to the magic shop as fast as she could. She would ask the owner how she could get there.

*****

"For doing that, you must die!" The wizard started to glow, and then became a dragon. Deathmark leaped over the flames, and then got his sword out. His paladin sword fiercely glowed with magical fire.

"HA! YOU THINK THAT WILL HURT ME! TRY!" the dragon snarled in a deep, rumbling voice.

"Yes." Deathmark swung with all of his might. The sword entered the dragon's belly, and he returned to human form.

Aziza shouted, "Candor, how many times have I told you not to transform, or attack anybody on our side!"

"Sorry." Suddenly, the mage didn't look so tough.

"I apologize to you, Deathmark. He is my brother's son, and I am training him here at WIT." She turned her attention to Candor, "Why did you attack her?"

"She is a gypsy, and a gypsy once bit my sister."

"It was a moose, not a gypsy."

"But gypsies turn into mooses!"

"That's wolves, they're werewolves."

"Oh! Sorry!" He dissapeared in a blast of smoke.

"I am Gwen. Thank you, kind sir, for rescuing me." She planted a big kiss on his lips, but unfortunately, Haldisia had just walked in, and then ran back out. Deathmark struggled away.

"What were you doing?"

"Rewarding you."

"I am married!"

"So am I!"

"Haldisia!" He called after her. No response.

"Deathmark, we'll find her," Drake reassured him, "Stay at my place tonight. We'll start searching in the morning."

"Ok." Deathmark and Drake went to Drake's house. Deathmark slept on the floor in the kitchen.

*****

"Deathmark! The power is in you!" the strange voice he had heard in Erana's Peace was back. He woke up suddenly, and saw Sonia.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I know where Haldisia is."

"Where?"

"Keapon Laffin said she was going to WIT, but she saw something she didn't like there!" She winked at Deathmark.

"Get on with it."

"She is at my house. I found her in the desert."

"I'm going to your house with you!"

"First I have to do some, 'thief duties', but we'll meet in the morning. Drake knows where I live." She snuck out of the house.

*****

"What?" Deathmark was furious.

"I told you, she doesn't have a house!"

"Well, then where could she..." he paused, "I know where they are." He walked up to a door frame, and knocked three times on a piece of discolored wood. A door slid open.

"Hey! I see you found us." Sonia burst out of the door, followed by a sad Haldisia.

"Haldisia, I am truly sorry! It was not I that started kissing. She was thanking me for saving her life."

"I understand, just I thought that you had replaced me after I was captured."

"Never." He kissed her, "I love you!"

Sonia started up again, "Gee, the gang's all together again!" she said in a sarcastic voice. "I gotta go! Bye!" She was gone. Drake let a sigh push itself out.

"Finally, I thought she'd never leave!" He also walked out of the room.

"Now what?" Deathmark asked Haldisia.

"We wait for something to happen." And happen it did! As soon as the word had left her mouth, the EOF members crashed through the windows!

"You are our property!" A burly man stepped up to her.

"Leave her alone," Deathmark slid in front of her.

"Look at the weakling, trying to save her! C'mon! Hurt me!"

Deathmark calmed himself, and then felt a rumbling inside. Not rage, but power.

"Fine." He finally replied.

*****

"Why are you here?" The theif was angry.

"I came for the money you owe me!" Sonia was also angry.

"Okay. I have an idea. I can tie up the guards at the sultan's palace, while you steal the twin rubies of Khaklamesh."

"Why should I trust you?"

"You'll get both rubies, and I'll get whatever else you can find."

"Okay, I'm in."

"Tonight, at seven. Meet me at the fountain."

*****

Deathmark let out all the power, from his scar. The one over his eye. A blue blast filled the room. The EOF fighters were frozen. They fell, stupefied. Then got up and ran.

"What was that?" Haldisia was curious.

"I don't know, but maybe those dreams are coming into the light."

"What dreams?" In five minutes he tol.d her about the strange dreams he had been having.

"Wow." She was shocked. The feeling didn't last long, for WIT wanted to see them. They barged right in, and back out, taking Deathmark and Haldisia with them.

*****

"7:15, and he's still not here!" Sonia wanted this treasure. She had read about these jewels since she was a baby. She dreamt of them.

"What are you so happy about?" The other thief cut in.

"Let's go." They snuck to the castle, and Sonia went in an open window. She was at her proudest moment, she would finally get the gems. She took out a container of wood, carved especially for these rubies, and reached for the first gem. Her hand was almost on it, when a power swept over her, and she was gone.

*****

"What happened?" Sonia woke up. She was in a brightly colored room, with her friends beside her. Also a wizard was standing beside them.

"You are in Spielburg, my dear!" The wizard spoke up, "I am Erasmus, the wizard."

"I had them," she sobbed, "The rubies! They were in my hands!" She turned to her pack, and found the wooden case.

"Please!" She opened it up, to find two rubies sitting there. "What?"

Drake laughed, "It's not what you think, those are fake. The sultan had fake ones, along with millions of people. But at least you can say you stole from the sultan!"

"Sure." She stumbeled out of her seat.

"Bye." Erasmus called. Then he transported her to town.

"I have a question, Erasmus." Deathmark asked.

"What is it?"

"I have a mysterious power, that can freeze people. It comes out of the scar on my eye."

"I know nothing of that, ask Rakeesh, the Liontaur paladin. He might know something. Goodbye." Deathmark and Haldisia found themselves at town again.

*****

They were sitting in the new inn, in town. It was called the "Walk On Inn". It was owned by a small gnome, named Paul.

"How are you today?" he asked them.

"We're fine." Deathmark replied as he took a bite of his strawberry pancakes.

"If you need anything, give me a shout, or some money! Ha! Ha! Ha!" The gnome left the room.

"He sure is weird!" Haldisia commented.

"Yes," Deathmark started, "But he is nice. And the nice ones are the ones that will catch you when you're down."

"You're right. Let's go visit the Healer, she liked us the last time we were here." They left to the north of town, to the Healer, Amilia Appleberry. They knocked on the door, and the door swung open.

"Yes?" A stout woman stood there.

"Amilia?" Haldisia asked.

"Hello! How are you? It's been years since I saw you. I think it was your wedding."

"I have a question, Amilia." Deathmark asked.

"What is it?"

"Well," In a couple of minutes he made a description of the power out of his eye.

"I don't know. Maybe Erasmus might..."

"They were just there!" Sonia's voice called in.

"Who's that?" Amilia asked.

"She is..." Haldisia started.

"A customer." Sonia snapped back.

"What do you need?"

"Twenty healing potions."

"How did you get that much money? Each potion is 40 silvers, or two gold pieces." Haldisia once again didn't trust Sonia.

"I fenced the 'rubies' at the Theives Guild." Amilia gave the potions to her, and in return Sonia gave back 40 gold pieces. Sonia left in a hurry.

"I'll be right back." Haldisia ran outside.

"Where are you going with twenty potions?"

"I'm going to a raid of the old brigand's fort. There are many traps, and still some brigands."

"Good luck." Haldisia walked inside, and overheard Deathmark and Amilia talking.

"So, do you want this shield or not?" Amilia was asking him.

"Sure, I'll give you my old shield, and 4 gold pieces."

"Deal." Deathmark picked up the new shield and felt the weight. It was a perfect shield. They left to find Rakeesh, the Liontaur. A Liontaur is like a centaur, except with the body of a lion, and fur all over. Their homeland is Tarna, in East Fricana.

*****

"Hello, brave paladin." A noble voice started up.

"Hello, Rakeesh. How are you?" Deathmark knew Rakeesh from years ago. Rakeesh was the most noble paladin ever. He had greying hair, and was on vacation in Spielburg.

"I am fine. I sense that you have a distinct purpose for this visit. May I inquire what that is?"

"Well," Deathmark was nervous. "I have had a few strange experiences in the last couple weeks. I am not sure what they are about even. There has been a strange power that comes out of my scar, the one over my eye, and some strange dreams."

"About the power, right?"

"Yes." Haldisia answered.

"Wait a second." He went into a small back room. He came out after a couple minutes with a big book.

"What's that?" Deathmark asked.

"This is the prophecies of Suileman. There is a paragraph about this subject." He scanned over the pages quickly. He cried out a small gasp. "Here it is."

He read from the tome:

"There will come a man,

Someone with great power,

He will be a great hero,

With strength from his glower.

He will get a choice,

Between evil or good,

He will make his choice,

Then hide under a hood.

His choice is wrong,

His power in shards,

His tale will be told,

By travelling bards.

His choice is right,

His power still gone,

The source separated,

As of the dawn."

"So I have to make a decision of great magnitude, and then if I choose wrong I will be powerless, but if I choose right, I will be all-powerful." Deathmark was confused. In his life he had never had to make great choices. He had the choice of saving people, or not. He always chose to save them.

"Yes. If this reading is about you. It might be about someone else." Rakeesh tried to make him feel better.

"I have to go now, Haldisia." Deathmark opened the door. "I'll be back by morning. Goodbye." He walked out the door with a distant air to his words, and walk.

*****

He sat on a rock. He was thinking. He wondered what would happen. Then, he saw a giant griffin fly overhead. A griffin was a creature with the head and wings of an eagle, and the body of a lion. He ran to the town as fast as he could, and right into the Adventurer's Guild.

"Wolfgang," he addressed the Guild Master, "What do we do in case of griffin attack?"

"Get people on the roof of their homes, holding big nets. Usually the griffin will fly in to one."

"And if not?"

"Then we attack. Ready your sword anyway. You can lead the attack." Wolfgang set off a horn. All the able bodied men came to the guild. All the women, and a few men, stayed at home and held the nets. In minutes, the griffin had destroyed many homes and nets.

"Its captured someone!" a person yelled.

Deathmark looked up. Haldisia was in the griffin's claw. He used the 'levitate' spell. He stood up in the air, with his sword ready. He though of Haldisia, and his rage grew. He swallowed it, and the strange power erupted from his scar again. The griffin disapeared, and Haldisia and Deathmark slowly floated to the ground.

"Thank you." Wolfgang was happy, but sad that he did not get a griffin's head for the guild. "There will be a feast tonight, at the castle, in your honor."

*****

There were people from all over Spielburg, at the castle that night. The food was exquisite. They had a honey glazed chicken, with a great wine. The mashed potatoes were great. They all ate until they exploded, and had a grand old time. Deathmark was looking for Erasmus, he needed to tell the mage about the prophecy that Rakeesh had said. He found him sitting in a corner, with Fenrus, his talking rat.

"Hello, Erasmus." Deathmark greeted him.

"Hello! Did you find out about that strange power?"

"Yes. There is a propecy, from Suileman, about this subject." He told Erasmus of the poem.

"Well, I can't tell you much," Erasmus started, "But, I do know that choices are the hardest things to make. If this is about you, then you must choose right. Good luck on your quest."

"Thank you." Deathmark left. He walked towards Haldisia and Drake.

"Hi." Drake said to Deathmark.

"Hello. I must leave now, though. I want to take a trip through the forest, before we leave."

"I'll be at our room, if you need me." Haldisia kissed him goodbye.

"Goodbye." Deathmark walked out the castle, and climbed over the gates. He walked into the forest. He walked all the way to a small clearing. The was a row of spikes, guarding nothing. This was where a powerful orgess used to live. He summoned all of his power, and sensed danger. At town. He ran as fast as he could, all the way back to town.

"Deathmark!" Haldisia was at the gate.

"Something's wrong." Deathmark tried to see what it was, but Haldisia told him instead.

"Sonia's been kidnapped, by elves!"

"But, the elves of Spielburg have been non-violent for centuries!"

"Drake says, it was them that released the griffin!"

Drake cut in, "It was. I tracked its magical energy right to their lair. Sonia volunteered to go explore the cave, but they got her before she got to the cemetary!"

"We'll go. Alone. Just us." They developped a plan. Drake would use his magic to sense elves, and other danger. Haldisia would kill anyone that got in the way. Deathmark would use magic to find Sonia. They set off to the Cave of the Elves.

"I'll go first." Deathmark started into the cave. It was dark, and damp. The elves could see in the dark, so they made it harder for other people to navigate. He found his way to a brightly lit room.

"Danger!" He dived out of the way or two arrows. "AMBUSH!" Sevnteen elves with swords and crossbows were in the room.

"Mist! Come to me!" A thick mist filled the room. "Protect my body. I will try astral projection." Drake's body went numb. In a few minutes, he was full of life.

"She's in that room, with the gold doors!" They ran across the room and opened the doors.

"Let's get out of here!" Drake started an incantation. His concentration was ruined, when Deathmark was hit by a poison arrow! The amulet of true power felt to the ground.

"Ow!" He fell over. Drake finished the spell, and the four of them were back at the 'Walk On Inn'. Deathmark was almost dead, he was unconcious.

"The poison has spread through his system. I can sense it is of magical origin. This particular one is called..." He paused and summoned energy. He let it all out and went into a dream-like state for a few minutes. He awoke. "It is called, Slayer of the Paladins. There is nothing I can do." His face was of steel, hard and serious.

"Maybe I can." Haldisia said, getting a shock from the faces around the table.

"How?" Drake asked.

"There is a legend, about a dryad that lives in the forest. She is one with nature, and she might be able to help. She might be able to give a magical potion. I will go see her now." Haldisia walked out of the town, and into the forest.

She searched for hours and hours, but found nothing. She was tired, so she started towards the town. She saw a majestic white stag, eating a small fruit. She thought of hunting it, but there was something about it that made her change her mind. She walked up to it, and it ran away. He months of training had paid off. She ran fast enough so that she caught up to it. It entered a small grove of trees, with one tree standing out among the rest. It slowly came to life.

"I am the dryad of Spielburg. What do you wish?"

"I seek an antidote for a rare poison. My husband is dying. The poison is called, Slayer of the Paladins."

"I apologize. That poison is very hard to cure. I must have someone strong, cunning, couragous, smart, and skilled, for this quest."

"Blast! Deathmark was all those things!"

"Wait. Did you say Deathmark?"

"Yes. He is my husband."

"He is the one afflicted by this poison?"

"Why, yes."

"Who gave it to him?"

"The elves."

"The elves of this valley are under a spell, from a powerful mage. Destroy this mage, and bring me his magical aura in this flask."

"Could I ask you something? Where do you get flying water?"

"At flying falls, due east from here."

"My husband lost an amulet. A powerful amulet. How do I kill this mage, if he now has this amulet?"

"You must use your true goodness to attack him. This is the only way. Good luck." The dryad entered the tree once more. Haldisia was alone. She picked up the flask, and headed due east from the grove. She found a roaring waterfall. She filled up a flask with the water.

"Now," she thought to herself, "I must find this mage." She thought about where a very powerful mage would be. At the most powerful spot. She knew the answer.

*****

"What is going to happen?" Sonia asked.

"Nothing, until Haldisia brings back that potion." Drake was convinced that Haldisia couldn't do it. He kept faith anyway.

*****

Haldisia climbed over a row of wooden spikes. She was at the same place that Deathmark was, when Sonia was kidnapped. She felt the rock and noticed a small red piece of jewel sticking out. She pressed it in. A door slid open. She crept into the darkness. It was a dank cave. The only thing leading her was a faint light at the end. She readied her sword and shield. She had taken the shield that Deathmark had just aquired. She walked closer and closer, until she was in the room.

"It's empty!"

"NOT COMPLETELY!" A booming voice filled the room. Some smoke formed everywhere, and twisted itself into a man.

"Who are you?" Haldisia hoped this was the mage, but she also hoped it wasn't. He was large, and brawny. But he looked smart. He had lots of power. Sitting around his neck, was the amulet.

"I am Kalform. The best mage ever. Those fools at WIT wouldn't take me, so I enchanted the elves!"

"Prepare to die!" She lunged at him with her sword, and he dissapeared in a gust of smoke. He reapeared behind her.

"Is that the best you can do?" he taunted, "A battle is like a game of chess. You took the first move, which could give me an advantage. My turn." A blue ball of energy sat in his hand. The amulet glowed, and the ball got bigger. He held it with two hands, then pulled it apart, now he had two energy balls.

"This amulet makes me living magic! Watch!" He flung the energy balls at the unmoving Haldisia. They came closer and closer, until they were almost at her. Sh eswung up at the last second, slashing with her shield. The balls flew back at Kalform, and he dissipated into red dust. She caught her breath, and scooped all the dust into the magical flask. Then she picked up the amulet. She ran to the dryad as fast as she could.

"You have done it! Here is the potion."

"Where?"

"In your hands." The flask was now filled with a red syrup.

"Thank you wise dryad." She walked to town, with a happy look on her face.

*****

"It's dawn! Where is she?" Drake was hysteric, "He'll die in a few minutes."

"He better not!" A voice came from the door. Haldisia stood there, with two flasks.

"Give the potion to me!"

"No."

"No?" Drake asked, "Why not?"

"We must separate the amulet!" She put the amulet on Deathmark's chest. She chanted a few words in latin, and the amulet glowed. It shattered in two, as a white aura rose from his body. Haldisia hurried and caught it in the flask of flying water. She poured the water on Deathmark. He woke up, still poisoned. She poured the antidote down his throught. He slowly woke up.

"Haldisia! What happened?"

"You were poisoned, but I saved you!" They kissed, a wonderful reunion kiss. They sat there for hours, pondering their exestince.

*****

Rakeesh walked up to Deathmark. "The prophecy was correct. You have made the right choice. The power is gone. The source, or the amulet was destroyed. Your power is now gone. Your paladin skills are great."

"But what of the dreams?" Deathmark was still curious.

"I can answer that," Haldisia cut in, "It was the dryad. She was contacting you. She knew of your fate."

"Well, that's everything." Deathmark concluded.

"Where now?" Haldisia wondered.

"Wherever heroes are needed. Wherever adventure looms. Let's go." They walked into the forest, arm in arm, content. To be remembered forever.

THE END