The robed figure walked toward the city. He had been travelling for days without end, in order to obtain a magical item he had heard was recently brought to the city of Rath, his former home, and the center of his hatred. He grimaced at the thought of having to tolerate the bloated innkeeper Raldra continuously babble about "the many uses of cabbage for a young wizard".

As the man approached the gates, he noticed something strange about the guards. Upon closer inspection, they appeared to be unusually large for the city's guard detail as he remembered. One of the two guards perked up as he approached:

"Halt! State your name, and your business in the great city of Rath!"

"I am here under the orders of Archmage Talrand, of Koros. I've been sent to examine this magical object."

"Your name as well, or are you one of the cursed titles?"

"Okay, okay. I require your ear though." With that, the robed man began making strange hand motions and speaking unusual phrases. As he continued, the look on the face of the guard changed from shock, to grim determination.

The guard drew his sword, but he was too late, as an orb of fire collided with his head, incinerating all but the ear. The robed man bent down to pick the ear off the ground, and said into it with a touch of amusement: "My name is Maurice, but you can call me 'My Master'."

The other guard, almost upon him, raised his sword to strike, only to find the steel of the dead man's sword preventing the blow from moving further. "You… You're a Monster!" The man screamed as he was cut down by the reanimated corpse of the guard.

"Is it me? Or did these guards get even less intelligent than the last time I came here?" Maurice said to himself as he approached the closed gate. He found the lever he'd placed in the mechanisms of the gate as a child, still operational and unnoticed. He pulled and the gates opened as he walked through his own personal childhood hellhole, one of the so-called great cities, Rath, the center of magic tutelage, and slave trade on the black market.

His thoughts ran free, filled with bloodlust as he made his way to the town center, and the magical artifact that had been recovered by one of the only surviving teams to return from the ruins of Old Canteros, the nation for which the continent was named.