A shriek rent through the thick grey fog that blanketed the forest. Alkazar the Wise scowled and hastened through the woods. Overhead, the moon cast a silver light that made the mist shimmer and writhe in eerie contortions. The large trees and their stretching branches cast dappled shadows against the moonlight, combining to twist perception.
Knocking aside a low-hanging branch with his quartz-tipped staff of gnarled wood, Alkazar walked hurriedly through the fog. More wails danced on the edge of his hearing, but they only lent the wizened mage a greater speed.
The servants of the Tyrant of the Dark were no threat to Alkazar, but the Alf-boy named Sen would not stand a chance. A dead Sen stood little chance fulfilling his prophesized fate of finally defeating the Tyrant of the Dark. Little chance did not mean impossible, but Alkazar had no intention of letting the Tyrant of the Dark make his life any more difficult.
Another shout rippled through the mist-strewn forest, but the scream was far more human than the previous ghastly wailing. Alkazar’s eyes widened slightly, and he forced himself to hobble faster around twisted roots and bushes. Then, without warning, the screaming stopped.
Alkazar hesitated for a long moment, as his bushy eyebrows narrowed in concern. After a heartbeat of silence, the chilling shrieks began to fill the air again, and relief warmed the old wizard against the chill of the foggy night. The servants were still on the prowl, which was a comforting thought.
As Alkazar continued to plunge deeper into the forest, more shouting rose up ahead of him, followed by shrieking wails. Cursing under his breath, Alkazar hunched his back and broke into the closest thing to a sprint that he could manage. Whacking aside branches and brambles with equal impatience, the wizened old mage ran towards the shouting.
As Alkazar drew closer to the shouting, his eyes began to pick out the scene from the confounding fog. A swathe of black hair poked out from above the mess of mists, which Alkazar recognized instantly as Sen’s. A ghostly blue glow danced through the mist around the Alf-boy, contrasting the silver light of the moon.
Alkazar slowed to a halt just outside the eerie blue aura, and the full scenario met his gaze. Sen and an equally young girl with long blond hair stood in the center of a large clearing. Both were battered and cut, and they stood side by side with terror leaking out of their blue eyes as the stared at the outskirts of the clearing.
Circling the two youngsters and shrouded in mist, the servants of the Tyrant of the Dark bathed the clearing in blue light. A ghostly mixture of wolf and man, the wolf-headed spirits switched easily between two legs and four.
Between the mist and their transparency, the shape of the servants was difficult make out, but their clawed paws glinted in the moonlight as they stalked their prey. Alkazar recognized the wolf-man-spirits as Talisaals, the twisted result of the soul-melding magicks wielded by the Tyrant of the Dark.
The Talisaals stalked closer to their prey, already forming a full ring around the two humans. Sen stared wildly at the beasts and held up a broken branch in a desperate defense. The girl took a half step back and readied the rock in her hand to throw. As the twisted spirits drew closer around them, the terror in the air grew palpable and thicker than the mist.
Alkazar leaned against the nearest tree to catch his breath for a moment. The sprint earlier had really taken a lot out of his old body. When his breath returned to him, the old wizard looked back at the Talisalls as they drew ever closer to Sen and the girl.
Over his many, many years as one of the most powerful mages in the world, Alkazar had come to appreciate the little things. He had long since perfected dramatic timing, and he understood the importance of good timing. Appearing at just the right moment took skill, but it did wonders for the general aura of mystique and power.
As one of the Talisaals strode directly towards Sen with a snarl, Alkazar seized the moment. Raising his quartz-tipped staff, he let the powerful magicks flow through his body. The crystal at the end of his staff began to glow with a brilliant white light, and Alkazar wove the magick with the sheer might of his will.
“Tae morok tchanuu rabaal!” roared Alkazar in his deepest voice.
The words were gibberish, but he had long since discovered that magick was taken most seriously when it was the most absurd. A little unrealistic was hard to believe, but at a certain point, people tended to give up their confusion and just accept the absurdity as fact.
With a flash of light, Alkazar conjured a swirling storm of mist around him. The mist exploded outward away from him, knocking aside the Talisaals while leaving the two humans bewildered but untouched. Twisting his staff to point towards the scattered spirits and summoned a web of silver strands that bound the Talisaals into a great writhing mass.
Slowing turning the staff in his hands, Alkazar spun the web tighter and smaller, until the spirits indistinguishable in a brilliant blue and silver sphere. Then, with a jab of his staff, Alkazar sent a lance of silver light through the heart of the sphere, which exploded into lifeless blue mist.
When a gust of wind drove the blue mist away, the clearing remained briefly clear of fog from Alkazar’s first spell. In the center of the clearing, Sen and the girl stared at Alkazar with mingled shock and awe, so the wizened old wizard lent them a grandfatherly smile.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again, young Sen,” greeted Alkazar warmly. “And you, young woman, although I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of knowing your name.”
“I—I’m Alise,” stammered the young girl as her bright blue eyes widened in nervousness.
“Then it’s a pleasure to meet you, Alise,” replied Alkazar with twinkling eyes. “I am called Alkazar the Wise.”
A long heartbeat of silence stretched between the three before Sen eventually looked down at his bare feet.
“What were they?” he murmured.
“They were Talisaals, corrupted abominations of wolf and man spirits created to serve the evil whims of the Tyrant of the Dark,” explained Alkazar, noting the anger flash through the young Alf-boy’s blue eyes at the mention of the wolf spirits.
When Sen recollected himself, he looked up at Alkazar and asked, “But why are they here attacking us?”
“They’re here for the same reason I am,” answered the old wizard. “The Tyrant of the Dark sent them because he knows that you are a threat to him.”
“But I can’t be,” retorted Sen, scrambling to find words. “I can’t be. I’m just me; I’m nobody.”
“There are many nobodies in this world, young Alf, but you are not one of them.” Alkazar peered down at the young Alf-boy. “You are not some common soldier who is doomed to die in a useless fight against the great heroes or evils of the world, nor are you some poor peasant, cursed to almost be killed by a marauding band of evil with only hope that a timely hero could save them from their fate.”
Alkazar crouched down slightly to reach the Alf-boy’s eye level.
“You are Sen. You are destined to be a hero, drawn by the strands of fate to battle the Tyrant of the Dark and end his twisted desire to rule and corrupt all things. You will find the Light of Elyir and use its powers to banish the darkness that seeks to spread across the world. You are Sen.”
The young Alf-boy stared at him for a long while, clearly digesting everything that Alkazar had just said. After a very long pause, which Alkazar allowed calmly, Sen cocked his head to the side in sudden confusion. Alkazar raised his bushy eyebrows, prompting him to ask the question so clearly bothering him.
“What about all of the magick you did back there?” asked Sen. “You’re so powerful, yet I’m supposed to end the Tyrant of the Dark, so what’s part do you play?”
Alkazar smiled at the young Alf-boy.
“Every good hero, my young Sen, needs a guide.”