Alkazar the Wise: Chapter One

Matthew Granquist, Staff Writer

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When broken glass begins to thaw,

There shall be, born of common pawn,

A Son of Man raised under paw,

When the Twilight Ages dawn,

Of Wolfkind’s proud and noble stock.

 

Against the Tyrant of the Dark,

The Son of Man and Wolf shall fight,

None beside Him can then spark,

An ancient and a cleansing Light,

Which alone can reseal The Lock.

 

Chapter I

Alkazar the Wise turned the tattered piece of parchment over in his gnarled hand. The ink was faded, despite the incantation of Preservation that had been placed on the paper so long ago. He frowned thoughtfully at the old manuscript. The very first line drew his attention again.

The Age of Calm was coming to an end at long last, and its end ushered in a new era. Alkazar had heard from the birds and trees, from the very whispers in the earth, that the new age would be one of shadows and dusk. The coming age was the Age of Twilight. And with the Twilight Age came a host of grim tidings.

To deepen his concerns, the coming of the Twilight Age was matched by a strange receding of the Dragon-Tooth Glaciers. The ancient prophecy was coming into fruition. The signs were blinding to anyone willing to read them, and so Alkazar rubbed his long nose with a sigh. His time of action had come once more.

Raising the yellowed parchment back up to his eye, Alkazar studied the wording of the prophecy. The Twilight and the broken glass were already happening. The son of a common pawn clearly meant a boy born to peasantry. Wolfkind, far wiser and more noble than the common man gave them credit for, would have the apparent pleasure of raising the child as their own.

As his off hand rubbed his silver beard, Alkazar pondered the thought. The boy was an Alf, as the common folk called those the Woods raised as their own. The Alfs were often estranged by society, but their woodland connection often gave them great strength, particularly with the more natural magicks.

The second half of the prophecy gave Alkazar far more dire news. The Tyrant of the Dark, an ancient evil that Alkazar himself had fought perhaps a thousand years prior, had been locked away in the Seal of Darkness for a millennium. Now, the darkness threatened to spill once more across the Northern Kingdoms.

The Northern Kingdoms, then, would be where Alkazar would venture. His home, the Hall of Prophecies, lay in the small and forgotten woods on the border between the Northern and the Western Kingdoms and the Southern Duchies (and the tribes of the East were only a short trek away through the Duchy of Shalheim).

Fortunately, the fabled Light of Elyir was rumored to be entombed somewhere deep within the icy grasp of the Dragon-Tooth Glaciers. An artifact so powerful was indeed capable of banishing the Tyrant of the Dark back into his shadowy prison, but only the purest heart could wield its powers.

Another sigh slipped from Alkazar’s lips. He had to find the Alf-boy, lead him onto the path of purity and righteousness, gather to him a group able enough to handle the dangers of the Dragon-Tooth Glaciers, and keep the Tyrant of the Dark from escaping his prison and summoning his army of shades and monsters. The Twilight Age was going to be a long one.

With a groan, Alkazar rose from his chair and grasped the gnarled staff leaning against his reading desk. His old aching back left him with a slight hunch, but he could walk well enough despite his age. The same ache had been plaguing his back for the past six centuries, but Alkazar had never managed to find the right spell to heal the stiffness.

Alkazar carefully returned the parchment to the scroll cylinder that lay open on his desk. Sealing the cap, Alkazar the Wise raised himself (or at least attempted to raise himself) to his full height. A glint of light caught his eye, and he peered back at himself in the dusty looking-glass in the corner of his scrap-littered desk.

The tip of his chin reached taller than most men’s heads and he wore a silver beard that grew to half that length. A thick and rather pointed nose dominated his face between thick eyebrows and piercing grey eyes. His hands were as wizened and twisted as the rest of his body, while his balding crown held feebly onto his last few strands of grey hair.

Between his dusty blue robes and quartz-tipped staff, Alkazar the Wise was the very model of a wizard – which was fitting, as he was the first person in the world to become one. He smiled at himself in the mirror. Alkazar would let the young heroes have the damsels in distress; he contented himself with an air of knowledge.

Waving a hand through the air as though to dust away the cobwebs of his thoughts, Alkazar turned his attention back to the matter at hand. From the pale light streaming through the single, dust-strewn window that hid stoutly in the upper corner of his home, he reckoned that the time was perhaps two hours, twenty-three minutes, and forty seconds past midday. Alas, Alkazar had never gotten any more accurate than ten second intervals.

He turned to the cobwebbed doorway hunched in the far end of the wide hall. Torches smoldered in their sconces along the long, dim hallway that formed the Hall of Prophecies. His own reading desk sat quietly at the back wall, which was the only wall not covered in dusty shelves and prophetic scrolls.

Wielding his mystic staff as a cane, Alkazar began the long trek, as any journey does, with one step. That step was quickly followed by a second, which in turn became a third. To the steady rhythm of his feet and staff, the old wizard journeyed out of his home and into the wide world outside.

Alkazar stopped at the doorway, breathing in the fresh air of the outside world and enjoying the gentle warmth of the afternoon sun. Bright green leaves sprouted from the trees filling the forest around his musty home, while the fragrant scent of flora heralded the coming of summer.

In the sky, the sun spread its healing light across the forest and, thus, Alkazar. He breathed in deeply again, letting the warm sunlight fill and heal his body. Just stepping into the sunlight made Alkazar feel a few centuries younger again.

After allowing himself a moment of peace in nature, Alkazar stepped forward yet again to truly begin his journey. His path would wind through the forests and hills of the Northern Kingdom, past the booming city of Port Haven, stopping briefly in the abandoned dwarven city Hrotengamarung, before finally reaching the northern reaches of the Northern Kingdom. There lay the town Thimblebrook.

Although few villagers would believe the tale, Alkazar was aware of the little-known truth that the humble town of Thimblebrook had been the birthplace of nine out of ten heroes hailing from the Northern Kingdom. He did not know precisely why the small farming village yielded such a massive quantity of heroes, but the woods near the town were indeed quite convenient as a starting place to look for a destined hero.

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Alkazar the Wise whistled to himself as he walked down the dirt road towards Thimblebrook. He had not visited the town for many decades, but he could still remember the path better than his own gnarled back hand.

In the distance, the town sat stoutly at the bend of a river, whose crystalline waters sparkled in the sunlight. Small houses dotted the village, often with a patch of garden hugging their side. A single cobblestone road cut through the center of the town and stretched outward across the river as a stone bridge, but the cobblestone path faded quickly into mere dirt as the road left the village until becoming the road upon which Alkazar walked.

As Alkazar walked down the road, he caught sight of a young peasant boy tilling the soil of a nearby farm. He hailed the boy with a wave of his offhand and called over the farm boy. The boy came reluctantly, letting his tools drop to the dirt. As the tattered peasant-garb of the boy came into view, Alkazar slowed.

“Tell me, young man, do you know where the nearest woods are?” asked Alkazar the Wise. “I seem to have misplaced them.”

“Well, sir, as a matter of fact, they stand less than half an hour’s walk due west of here,” explained the boy crisply. “They are, as you could probably imagine, rather obscured by the unusual size and height of the collection of hills in that direction. Equally unfortunately, the relative angle of the sun at this time of day compared to our current position only further enhances the obscuring of the local woodlands.”

“I see,” replied Alkazar, rather taken aback. “Thank you, young sir.”

“And a pleasant day to you as well, good elder, but pray be careful,” returned the farmboy cordially. “The clouds appear to be forming in preparation for a heavy fog tonight.”

“I’ll bear it in mind,” promised Alkazar gravely.

The lad returned to his work, and Alkazar watched him for a moment before turning eastward. With the fog-warning on his mind and his eyes set on the crest of the hills, Alkazar the Wise set off through the hills towards the woodlands. There was, after all, no sense in keeping the Alf boy waiting when destiny called.

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