The Monk and the Mage

by Gary Morris

Chapter 1, Refugee's

Water lapped lazily against the brick sides of the dock as I stood had a calming effect upon me which was welcome after the stormy voyage I Had just endured on the refugee ship to Qeynos.I was also apprehensive due to my refugee status, how would the locals react to me? I'd have to wait and see.The Hamlet I had just arrived at was called Nettlevile Hovel and true to it's name there were indeed a few rats scurrying here and thereabouts in search of morsels of discarded food. Also the walls and steps of the dock were coated in a dark green film of slime which was slippery underfoot so you had to tread with care lest you slipped and caused yourself a mischief. It was a very short boat ride to Nettleville Hovel from the Hamlet where I lay my own hat which is called The Willow Wood where I felt much more at home as even though I am half Elf,half Human I feel much more comfortable in a more outdoorsy at one with nature type of dwelling than a more civil built up one like Nettlevile.This possibly explains my affinity towards magic rather than brute force.

I had just been about to give up and turn for home when a gruff voice called "Ho there", a smile spread across my lips at once as it was a very familiar voice."What time do you call this? I have been here a little longer than I care to wait for any man" I replied still having not turned to face the administer of the greeting."I can tell when your smiling even from the back your head, now turn around and greet me properly you finger waggling fool".I turned and faced the source of the insult " You would be dead and buried 10 times over if it wasn't for my finger waggling!!" I retorted and after a few seconds of silence we both erupted into laughter and clasped hands and shook vigorously."By the old God's it's good to see you again Burwood" I said " same Here Gazruney" Burwood replied then continued on " The sea crossing was as boring as watching whitewash dry without you there for me to annoy ha ha".Burwood walked toward the steps and up out of the dock tunnel into Nettleville and said as I followed him up the stairs " come I'll show you my digs, it's not much but it's home, at least for now anyway I have big plans for my time here in Qeynos you know".Burwood was always full of ambition you see, even when we first arrived with just the clothes on our back he had grand plans involving Learning a trade as a weapon smith ,owning a Manor house and even a guild hall for our as yet to be formed however I'm more your wherever I lay my hat's my home type of chap but if it happened to be a nice home then so much the better for me I say.

After visiting Burwood's Inn room in Nettleville and making our packs lighter via the removal and eager consumption of some water and ration bread which is all we could afford with our few coppers we had between us. we set to deciding how to make our way forward in the world."I want to further my combat training" Burwood said "I'm interested in the path of the Monk, I saw a fellow in the back streets who said he could set me on the path if i wished it and I'm going back to see him today".I new what I wanted to do which was further my arcane knowledge through sorcery and eventually become a great Wizard of renown in the city(my lack of ambition didn't seem to apply to my magical career since mages have to be a little full of themselves it's part of the job description).

So off we went to our chosen paths and we became so busy and focused in the following weeks that we hardly had any contact with each other at all.When we did meet it was at the Inn of The Willow Wood and we were bubbling alive with stories about our adventures so far.Burwood started "To teach me the value of balance and focus my master sent me collect two buckets of water slung one on each end of a staff across my shoulders,I had to fetch and return them without spilling a drop, I did it on the first time of trying and he told me I was one of the fastest he'd ever taught so far"."that is excellent news old friend" I replied.Then I regaled how I had been sent through the city gates into Antonica to retrieve some gnoll ears with the new spells I had just learned from a Gnome called Magister Niksel near the mage tower in south Qeynos and my description of Antonica caught Burwood's interest and we made plans to return there for a hunt very soon.After a few ales and some very delectable food provided by the Pretty Inn keeper called Yeoni who is also a Half Elf I might add!!.She also informed us of the local mutterings of odd events in the nearby forest ruins "adventurers are going into the ruins and not returning, People are saying there is Necromancy afoot in the ruins" she told us with an air of and Burwood exchanged glances and without speaking knew exactly what tomorrows plans would now entail. We bid each other a goodnight and parted and made way our rooms for good nights sleep.

Chapter 2,The Forest ruins

It was a fine morning as we made our way way towards the Forest Ruins the sun was still low in the sky casting long shadows and reflecting so brightly back up at us from a large puddle from the prior evenings rain that we could hardly see anything much but bright sunlight until we had passed around the large pool of rainwater.The air was fresh and quite warm considering the early hour.I took a deep breath appreciating all that nature had to offer and then turned to Burwood and noticed he was wearing a heavy leather Jerkin,Pantaloons and skullcap along with a thick pair of wrist bracers to deflect incoming blows."I see you have been spending your hard earned at the town broker" I said out loud as we walked "aye" Burwood answered "Gotta be prepared for anything ain't we?I picked up a nice new round shield and a tin scimitar as well,best to use them until I am adept enough in martial arts to not need a shield" .I knew he was right and chuckled inwardly I myself had got up a few hours before dawn to practice incantations and it was encouraging to know that we were dedicated and prepared for the job in hand whatever that may be.

We arrived at the large timber gate between Willow Wood and forest ruins to find a Qeynos guard posted there looking bored and tired."I'll warn you it's a dangerous time to enter the ruins lads" said the guard."Duly noted" we replied as one and then laughed at the small coincidence,"we intend to investigate and hope to put an end to whatever strange business is going on in the ruins" I said to the guard.He snorted and replied " Don't you think a few have tried already lad? they came back out with their tails between their legs they ave and why should you be any different?, especially when you look like you've just stepped off the refugee ship, you best leave this sort of thing to more capable adventurers eh" and let out a bellow of that Burwood stepped forward fists clenched and with his jaw jutting forward glared at the guard, the guard glared back but not before a flash of fear appeared in his eyes just for a split second then disappeared. It looked as though he wasn't used to being stood up to, he stepped towards Burwood with his hand on the pommel of his sword "I'll have you thrown in the town lock up if you carry on with that attitude boy" the guard said.I hastily stepped between the two and eased Burwood away "He is just a little tetchy because the inn ran out of bacon for breakfast this morning" I said. lets just forget this happened and we will be on our way OK!". The guard just huffed and opened the gate and muttered something about "Bloody Newbies" as we walked through the gate.

On the other side of the gate was another guard who acted as though we did not exist which suited us after the commotion on the other side.There stood another gate to the left with Baubbleshire written on it and high grassy knoll ahead and to the right of a pathway into the forest ruins.We strolled down the path and as we passed the little but fairly tall grassy knoll the area opened out to show us a lake on the right and small copse of trees the left.The wind was rustling the tree leaves and dappling the grass below with the sunlight and shadows that was shining through the trees onto the lush green grass. It looked like a nice place to rest for while if one needed too except for the Badger or two burrowing under the tree roots that looked fairly nasty but were fine if left alone."Actually I recall someone needing a badger pelt in town" Burwood piped up "Lets get one now eh?"."Couldn't hurt to warm up a little" I replied with a grin. Burwood slowly crept towards the closest and bigger of the two badgers raised his sword and brought it down quick and true and took it's head from it's body."Looks like I'll have to wait to warm up then" I complained "Not my fault I'm so good is it" said Burwood with a wry smile.

I turned away and looked across the pond it wasn't all that deep and it was clear as spring water you could see turtles and fish swimming between the shafts of bright golden sunlight shooting onto the pond bed as if the sun was dipping its toes in to cool off."Mmmmmm Turtle soup" said Burwood.I laughed and told him there would be plenty of time for fishing later, right now we should go and take a look inside the ruins.Burwood relented and we set foot along the path again towards what looked like was once a fine castle but was now just walls and four battlements in a square shape with no roof to speak of anymore."Doesn'T look all that foreboding" Burwood chipped in."From out here maybe not but we may feel different once inside eh Burwood" I said.

"Lets go then!" Burwood exclaimed and he stepped towards the old heavy looking black iron studded dark wood doors of the ruins. As he got close to the entrance we heard two distinct cracking noises and the air suddenly became hot as if we were stood much too close to a campfire."Ye Gods! it's a pair of fire elementals!" I exclaimed. "Get behind me ,I'll keep em busy while you work your magic" Burwood shouted so I retreated slightly nearer the edge of the lake as he darted forward and forced his round shield into the closest elemental then spun on his heel and quickly slashed his scimitar in an arc across the other.The fiery orbs started to vibrate and moved in towards Burwood making a menacing pulsing sound and one lashed out a fiery tendril of lava towards him which he deftly ducked and swung his scimitar up and cut it that point I had finished casting a lightning bolt spell and arcs of electricity had begun to pop and zap between my hands and fingers as I flung my arm forward and sent the bolt off towards the injured elemental which hissed and melted into a pool of inanimate lava on the ground. Burwood was now working hard at forcing the second elemental into giving up an opportunity for him to strike at it making full use of his partial training in martial arts he was feigning attacks dodging and looking to finish it off quickly.The elemental made it's mistake soon enough sensing that I was the bigger threat to it's existence due it's partners quick demise it turned and headed towards me.I managed to fire off a quick stun spell as it got close to the lake. Burwood ran full tilt at it and with a roar he shoulder charged it into the lake.The elemental hissed and screamed as it quickly turned back to stone and cracked in two down the middle.Burwood stared down for a moment catching his breath" I guess you could say you've warmed up now Gazruney " he said."Indeed" I replied "quite literally hahaha".

We both set foot inside the ruin our nerves replaced with confidence at our victory over the seemed darker inside which was a little odd considering there was no roof, it was a lot colder inside too and there was faint smell of old rotten meat in the air.We glanced at each other and set foot towards a set of stairs it was one of two sets the other of which was damaged beyond use and as I looked at the them I thought I saw some beady eyes looking back at me or maybe not I wasn't sure."Did you see anything over by the other stairway?" I asked."No I didn't Gazruney" said Burwood "lets head up and see whats going on in here I want to get this over with, it's giving me the creeps being here it feels unnatural doesn't it!".He was right it felt odd almost as if time stood still nothing was moving, the sun was hardly getting through despite the open roof and there were no insects or wildlife around, unnatural was definitely the right word.

Upon climbing the steps to the next level we found an old destroyed fountain in the middle of small circle of grass and remains of a few pillars to the left and right. Burwood set off past the old fountain towards the archway through to the back upper area of the ruins when we heard something."Shhh" I said "you heard that didnt you ?". "Yep and I dont like the sound of it " Burwood sounded like someone was walking with a limp while dragging a heavy sack along the ground behind them. It's coming from down there where the floor is broken" I said pointing to gapeing hole in the flagstone floor that opened into the dungeon below the ruin. As we looked down in to the circle of light cast down from above a figure burst out of the edge of the darkness into the centre of the shaft of was dragging one mangled leg behind it both arms hung useless at it's sides and its mouldering face had white lifeless eyes ,clutched in it's left hand was torn carcass of what looked to have been a Human once but was now just a mess of bloody flesh.We looked at each other eyes wide open "Best stay up here then "I said to Burwood he just nodded and kept staring afraid if he took his eyes off it that it would somehow jump up and attack us."That proves it then, it's Necromancy for certain someone or something is reanimating the corpses here" I said.There wouldnt be any sense in fighting the zombies if we didnt have too, I knew that if we could stop the one that was reanimating them they would all return to the abyss where they belong.

"Looks like there's only one area left in the place to check out Gazruney" Burwood pointed we silently went through the archway into almost complete darkness.There were still some old torches set in sconces on the walls near the doorway so I uttered a few words and two small flames danced from my fingertips towards them and set them to burning. Burwood took one down and raised it above his head and walked forward. "By the powers that be, it smells like death himself is in the room !, I cant stand it I tell you" He whispered with his face screwed up he started to hold his nose. As I peered into the dark trying to make out the back area of the room I heard something else this time something familiar in that it was someone chanting magic it was unfamiliar magic to me but magic none the less this I knew to be true."The Necromancer is at work in this room Burwood I can hear his chanting this our chance to act, with him concentrating on making his magic we can use of the element of surprise"."It's too dark" declared Burwood in despair "How should I sneak around when I cant see more than 5 feet ahead of me"."Ahh thats where I can be of help" I whispered and began an incantation which caused a fiery eye to appear in my hands I lifted my hands up to my face and blew the eye at Burwood and it settled on his forehead and sank in slowly untill it dissapeared" Ha! I can see perfectly now, nice spellwork my friend" Burwood said happily. "I see him" He said "he is standing on a stone altar chanting directly out of a spell book and bad news it's a Ratonga he is going to able see us like it's daylight in this dark it doesnt effect their eyes at all".

"Sounds like a challenge then" I said with a grin "Lets get ready to do this shall we".I started to cast a proactive fire augmention spell upon Burwood that would coat his scimitar in flame" Hold your weapon up" I said which Burwood did just in time to see his scimitar burst from top to toe in flames."Whats the strategy here?" Burwood asked. I replied that I would try my best to engage the Necromancer himself in a magical duel while Burwood destroyed any undead minions he will summon to aid himself. I asked "are you ready for battle my friend?". Burwood replied "as always, finger waggler" then steeled himself with a deep breath, drew his scimitar and shield and ran off towards the stone altar and the Necromancer with a shout of "FOR OUR BRETHREN AND THIER HONOR!!!!".The Necromancer stumbled back from the raised stone altar startled and instantly sneered at the incoming fighter he clicked is fingers and snapped off a spell. Straight away a circle of 6 skeletons appeared around him and pulled up into defensive stances around the Necromancer."Have fun useing a sword against my bony freinds you fool its difficult to stab and slash an enemy with no flesh Mwahahaha!!"" proclaimed the Necromancer."So thats how you wanna play it is it? you filthy rat!" barked Burwood, He then threw is sword at the Ratonga who ducked it with ease. Burwood then flung his shield out like a giant shurikan towards one of the skeletons and took its head clean off "One down five to go!" Burwood shouted. At that point the Ratonga had noticed me and growled angrily as he started circling his hands in front him working up a spell designated for me no doubt. I flicked my wrist and shot off a quick disruption spell which stopped him making his magic at once.He growled again in frustration and could only watch I as called forth a bolt of electricity and my hands sparked and crackled with the energy again before I threw my hands forward and let him have it. The bolt knocked him clean off his feet but wasnt enough to to put him out of action, in fact it was if he was being lifted up and put back on his feet by a puppeteer useing invisible strings."A little help!" Burwood called as five skeletons bore down on him I uttered an incantation and issued a ball of flame which incinarated the closest skeleton to me." I cant do that again Burwood they are too close to you I'll hit you as well" I shouted over the rattling din the skeletons were making. Burwood had rounded on the closest of the four skeletons and hit it with four punches in quick succession reduceing it to a scattered pile of bones. I was sure I saw his hands light up for a moment but dismissed it as I had the pressing matter of the Necromancer to deal with.

It was then that I noticed a thin stream of green mist snakeing up from the book and into the Ratonga's chest he was casting again and laughing a deep maniacal laugh."It's the spell book Burwood he is taking power from it we have to destroy it!" I shouted.The Necromancer heard what I had said and his face quickly contorted with anger, but before he could do anything I had cast a ball of fire directly at his spell book."NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" the ratonga screamed as there was a green flash and a huge explosion sending him to the floor.He didnt get back up this time.The three skeletons that were left were still attacking Burwood though,it must have been some incredibly powerfull magic the Necromancer used for them to endure and continue to fight past his demise. Burwood laughed and said " Pull up a chair Gazruney i'm going to show you how a Brawler does things".

He took up an offensive stance flexing his shoulder blades and bringing his fists up in an uppercut motion a few times to warm up then reached out with his right arm with his palm open in the direction of the skeletons and flexed his fingers back towards himself in a beckoning gesture "Bring it on bonehead's" Burwood growled.The three skeletal warriors black empty eye sockets suddenly glowed red and they all emitted a high pitched cackle as they advanced on Burwood with thier hands raised pointing thier sharp bony fingers at him. Just as they entered Burwood's reach he silently dropped down low to the ground and swung his right leg out in a wide sweep knocking all three skeletons down at once. He was up in and on his feet with a quick flip and raised his leg almost paralel to his body and dropped it down on the middle skeletons head with loud crunch. The Skeleton on his left was now up on it's feet and bearing down on him it's arm raised to jab Burwood's chest with it's shiv like fingers. Burwood raised his right arm to parry the blow and allowed his bracer to slide down the skeletons forarm then grabbed it's wrist and twisted his body so his back was facing the skeleton and with a grunt wrenched it's arm off.Then he lent forward raised his left leg behind him and kicked straight up under the skeletons chin and knocked it's head off into the air.

However he took a little too long in appreciating the kill and the final skeleton had drawn close enough to take a swipe and raked three deep cuts on Burwood's left bicep."Gahh,you'll pay for that damn you!!!" Burwood bellowed and took a step back and drew his arms up into the air with a look of complete focus on his face there was a crackling sound begining to emit from his arms as he slowly drew them down pulled them into his chest and punched the air in front of him so fast his arms were a blur except for bright yellow sparks of energy, those you could not miss.The skeleton faltered at seeing this and took a half step back "Oh no you dont!" Burwood commanded and he jumped forward and released an impossibly fast combination of punches spattered with small bursts of yellow energy that was both pummeling the skeletons body and setting what was left aflame until there was nothing but pile a of charred broken bones on the flagstones at his feet.

He then walked over to the dead ratonga picked up his earlier discarded scimitar and cut of it's head "just to prove it was us that did the job" he said with a smile on his face.I walked to the stone altar and picked up what was left of the spell book "this may come in handy too" I said "Be a nice conversion piece for the tavern eh".

Chapter 3, An ale and a bite

The gaurd in the Willow Wood that had mocked us could only gape open mouthed as we passed back through the gate,Burwood holding the Ratonga Necromancers head and myself with the still smouldering remains of the old spell book.The gaurd shouted as headed into the centre of the Hamlet "They've gone and done it ,they have freed us of the the evil that has plagued us for the last year!".Everyone within earshot stopped what they were doing and looked directly at us and then at what we were holding and started cheering. A couple of the merchants even came to us and handed us a bag of coins " it's been a bane to our lives not being able to hunt or gather crafting materials in the ruins lads, thank you and take this in appreciation it's not much but it's something at least "thankyou kind fellows the gesture is far more important than the reward itself to us I assure you" I said. As we walked to the water trough to wash I said to Burwood "I dont know about you mate but I could use an ale and a bite now we have some coin again" .Burwood vehemently agreed and patted his abdomen for effect saying "My stomach thinks my throats been cut mate".

We headed for the Lions mane tavern in south Qeynos as we decided we were going to blow the rest of our coin on a slap up meal and a few drinks and if there was pleasurable female company then all the better for us. We passed through south Qeynos towards the Inn with a few heads turning here and there and some poeple were whispering and pointing.Then just before we got to the threshhold of the Lions Mane a small boy came skipping up to us "are you the two brave adventurers that put an end the foul business in the Forest ruins? you sure look like em" he chirped and Burwood looked at each other astonished ,news travels fast in Qeynos apparently. "Aye that would be me and my Friend Burwood's work allright" I replied.The boy laughed and whooped and ran back to his friends shouting about how they can return and play in the forest once more because the danger was gone.I laughed and said "makes it all worth while when you see children happy doesnt it" Burwood replied I shall be a might happier with a full belly and quenched thirst old freind" we both laughed and entered the tavern.

"IT'S THEM ITS THE UNDEAD SLAYERS!" was the first thing we heard followed by applause and much hand shaking and back slapping.The bar keep of the tavern a stout man if I ever did see one waddled over and said "Well done lads well done I lost a good friend to the evil in those ruins put your money away your food and drink is free here this night".So we ate and drank and recounted our tale many times was an adventure to remember along with all our others that followed, but I shall save those tales for another time.

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