The Trouble with Magic
The Ancestors swept Tarnum away to a distant Tower where sorcery was part of everyday life. He now wore the robes of a Wizard, and was expected to lead these creatures of magic against the Elemental Lords.
Tarnum must defeat the Conflux town to gain the knowledge he needs to confront the Elemental Lords. If Tarnum loses any battle, his cause is lost. Tarnum will be limited to level eight, but he and two of his best Captains will carry over to the next scenario.
|Day 1 - Day One|
|I was fishing on a still lake when the Ancestors appeared before me, their ghostly forms hovering just above the water.|
"Tarnum," they said in unison, "this is the most important task we have ever set before you."
As they magically transported me to a distant Tower, they explained that when the world was created, the gods forced the Elemental Lords into a 10,000-year truce. Ten thousand years have passed and the violent, selfish Elemental Lords plan to separate all the elements, thus destroying the entire world!
No wonder the Ancestors seemed so urgent. The Elemental Lords were coming to our world to destroy it. But what if I didn't wait for them? What if I took the battle to them, to the Elemental Planes where they reside? They certainly wouldn't expect such an assault. Unfortunately, the only way to reach the Elemental Planes is through a Conflux town, and only one remains in the entire world.
|Day 2 - Day 2|
|The King of Bracada, Gavin Magnus, has given me the use of his troops to battle the Elemental Lords. How the Ancestors arranged this, I do not know.|
As helpful as King Magnus seems, he also sent along a representative, named Barsolar, to make sure someone protects the interests of the kingdom. From the first moment we met, Barsolar has been trying to tell me what to do. He's more annoying than any person I have met, and a Wizard as well. Two reasons for me to hate him. Personally, I think the twit needs to be pushed off the nearest cliff. Unfortunately, I would only end up with more problems if the third cousin of the king disappeared.
|Day 3 - day 3|
|Sitting at the table in my tent, I shake my head and chuckle as an assistant tries to explain the Elemental Planes to me.|
"Please listen, sir!" the Mage says, "We have evidence to support this information - first hand accounts of these alternate planes."
"But an entire world made only of fire? That's not possible!" I say.
"Sir, in the Elemental Planes, the rules of our world do not apply. In the Elemental Planes, you can walk on clouds, and entire landscapes can be made only of fire. That's why no one has dared take an army into these lands!"
"Well, possible or not, I will be the first," I say boldly. I may have to use magic, but I can still fight like a true Barbarian. "There is no reason to sit around and wait for these Elemental Lords to come to me. I'll take the battle to them and end it before they get a chance to harm this world!"
|Day 5 - day 5|
|I have been told that if I plan to fight the Elemental Lords, I must use magic. No wonder the Ancestors brought me to this Tower, the home of creatures born with magic in their blood. Magic is all around me, making the little hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Even after all these years apart from my culture, I am still a Barbarian deep inside. I distrust magic and anyone who uses it. Give me a sword, any weapon, and let me face my enemy in combat!|
|Day 7 - Day 7|
|Barsolar has been droning on for the better part of an hour about the intricacies of Golem construction while I've been daydreaming of a Golem falling on top of the scrawny Wizard, crushing the life out of him.|
Then Barsolar stopped talking. I turned toward him. He was waiting for something - must've asked me a question.
"What?" I said around a yawn.
"I said," Barsolar dragged out the words, "It would be beneficial to hire one of those lazy heroes from the Tavern to visit the Gremlin Workshops, the Parapets and other creature dwellings once a week. They could collect the taxes from the Water Wheel and Windmill as well."
"Sure. Sounds like a good idea," I said.
I quickly pointed toward our right and said, "Look! A rabbit!"
Barsolar looked, and then frowned as he realized there wasn't a rabbit.
|Day 9 - day 9|
|This morning, I left while it was still dark to explore the immediate area. Perhaps it was foolish, but dealing with all this magic makes my head feel like it's been split open with an axe. Just the chance to ride alone in the wild made me feel better.|
Then I was attacked. The Air Elementals came out of nowhere and picked me up from my horse. I tried to use my staff on them, but it was useless while the Elementals were completely surrounded by their element - air.
They carried me up above the clouds themselves, taunting me all the way. Then they let me go.
It seemed like I fell for an eternity, straight toward the solid ground below. I tried to prepare myself for the pain. And then something took hold of me from behind. At first, I thought it was the Elementals, back to taunt me again, but when I turned around I saw one my assistants, the Gargoyle Master. The small man was flying through the air with the help of magic, and he set me down without injury.
I lowered my head, shamed that I had to be saved by magic.
|Day 11 - Day 11|
|"Lord Tarnum, those Enchanters of yours are very expensive."|
It was my newly appointed Treasurer, the man who saved my life from the Air Elementals. I promoted the Gargoyle Master as a reward for keeping quiet about the humiliating incident.
"I know they are powerful magicians," the Treasurer said, "but they are very expensive."
"Find the money, somehow," I said.
"There is one way. When we have an abundance of a resource, we could exchange it at the Marketplace for Gold or any other resource," the small man said.
|Day 13 - Day 13|
|"My lord?" said the wrinkled assistant as he approached. "You summoned me?"|
I've come to realize Wizards have more assistants than the hairs on their sunken chests. I have a theory. For every problem that faces them, from difficult magical formulas to ill-fitting boots, a Wizard hires a new assistant to solve it. Hence, the most powerful Wizard is the one who never has to lift a finger as a retinue of apprentices capable of populating a city bustles around him.
"Which one are you?" I said.
"Ponific, the Golem Master."
"Oh, yeah! I was wondering, as long as I have to have those Golems in my army, can you do something to make them breathe?"
"Whatever would you want to do that for, lord?"
"I don't like them! Yeah, they're strong but they're so...creepy, like walking corpses. Do you like corpses, Pontificate?" I said sharply.
"It's Ponific, lord," the Golem Master said. "Oh, and no, I do not particularly like corpses."
"So, can you do anything?"
"I do not think so, lord. But Golems are quite useful as they are. They will do whatever you want them to do whenever you tell them to do it!"
"Yeah, but they don't do EVERYTHING you ask them to do. I ordered one to breathe but its head cracked open trying to get its small mind around that one," I said.
"Lord, that is quite impossible," Ponific said, annoyed and confused at the same time.
"Fine, forget the breathing," I said, grinning as I wondered how far this Wizard could be pushed.
"Can you make them blink?"
|Day 15 - Day 15|
|Curse magic-users and all of their kin!|
Last night one of my supply wagons was attacked. A lone Wizard approached the guards. Of course, they didn't expect trouble from a single old man. But this Wizard summoned some Air Elementals who quickly sent my men fleeing for their lives. Several were killed and my Gold was gone.
|Day 21 - Day 21|
|I've been getting a lot of requests for me to build a Mages Guild, Barsolar loudest of them all.|
"We need spells! How do you expect us to fight without spells?" Barsolar said this morning.
"This is battle! Soldiers everywhere win wars without magic!" I said.
There was enough magic around me to make my skin crawl. I didn't want to add more. I know these Wizards well - I fought them long, long ago. If you give them an inch, they'll take the entire world!
But their whining annoyed me. Letters arrive daily from men sleeping in the next tent! Wizards write letters for everything. I wouldn't be surprised if they wrote one to announce they were stepping into the woods to relieve themselves.
|Day 22 - Day 22|
|As we pitched camp last night, a pack of Storm Elementals appeared out of the cloudy sky and attacked. Lightning bolts cracked all around us, igniting tents and wagons, scaring off horse and man alike.|
I think I had been hoping for a good fight because my rage took over. I met the Storm Elementals head on with nothing but my quarterstaff. Oh, I would've made short work of these creatures if I had just had my sword, but instead it took two or three blows each to destroy them.
When all was safe again, I dropped my cracked staff and stared at my amazed troops. Surely, they had never seen a Wizard act like an insane Barbarian before.
I smiled at them. I felt good, refreshed, despite a couple burns caused by the lightning attacks of the Storm Elementals.
"See," I said, "who needs spells?"
|Day 27 - Day 27|
|I sat down with the Mage Instructor, Hemoross, before dinner.|
"Places of learning like the Marletto Tower, the Learning Stone, and the Garden of Revelation are important for self-improvement. These places will help you increase your skills," said Hemoross.
"Why do you mention this? Are you saying there's something wrong with me, Hemorrhoid?" I said.
"Uh, umm, no! Uh, well, just thought I'd mention it, lord. Excuse me," the Mage Instructor said and dismissed himself without even mentioning that I had gotten his name wrong.
As soon as the man left my tent, I broke out in laughter. These Wizards were so easy to fluster.
|Day 31 - Day 31|
|A report from my Tower came in last night. Apparently, several Storm Elementals flew in over the walls and attacked. None of the guards were injured because they were simply a distraction. Several other Elementals managed to break into the treasury at the same time. My new Treasurer tried to stop them, but his spells were too weak. Sadly, he died and the enemy escaped with their arms loaded with Gold and Gems.|
The money can be replaced, but I will never get the chance to repay my debt to the Treasurer who saved my life. Even if he was a Wizard, he was a brave man.
|Day 32 - Day 32|
|"Lord Tarnum," Barsolar stormed into my tent. His high-pitched voice gave me a headache instantly.|
"It's time you built a Mage Guild! Why a Wizard like you refuses to research new spells is beyond me, but this stupidity has gone on long enough!"
"What?" I shouted, jumping to my feet.
I grabbed the closest object, a ceramic mug, and threw it at Barsolar's head. The little man was quick, I'll give him that. He ducked just in time. He stared at me, mouth open, amazed.
"Get out of here you boot-licking toad before I throttle you with my bare hands!" I ordered. Barsolar was smart enough to leave immediately.
I sat down, shook my head. Wizards like Barsolar are descendents of the Wizards who enslaved my people long ago. Every time I see their pretty robes, I see the men who whipped my people, the men who took my sisters away, the men who brought about my downfall.
The Ancestors can make me work beside Wizards, but they can't make like it!
|Day 35 - Day 35|
|In typical Wizardly fashion, I sent a letter to Barsolar apologizing for throwing a mug at him. My temper got away from me there. But I also mentioned that if he insults me again, I am going twist his neck until his head pops off.|
Later that day, Barsolar approached me slowly.
"Lord Tarnum," he began, "the Wizards and Alchemists rely heavily on magic. While it is noble that you try to do things mundanely, the rest of us are not blessed with your size and strength. So, what are we going to do about it?"
"Maybe," I said, "if these Wizards and Alchemists spent less time studying spells and more time doing real work they would have the size and strength they need to stand up to the enemy?"
Barsolar rolled his eyes and left the tent without another word.
|Day 39 - Day 39|
|I may not have responded well to Barsolar's demand for me to build the Mage Guild, but now that I've had time to think I realize I have been stubborn. I've hamstrung my troops by denying them their spells, and I plan to rectify that later.|
Actually, the death of the Treasurer convinced me that I had been wrong. Perhaps he would've survived if he had more spells. I'll never know.
|Day 43 - Day 43|
|A letter from the King of Bracada came today. I knew what it said even before I opened it, and I knew this letter was Barsolar's work. In his letter, Gavin Magnus explained very politely that his people needed magic in order to be effective. He also reminded me, several times, that I was using Bracadan forces for this venture and that they could be withdrawn with but a single word.|
So, I have been scolded.
I crumpled up the letter and searched the camp for Barsolar, finding him drinking tea with the Mage Instructor, Hemoross.
"Excuse us, Hemorrhoid," I said.
"Yes, lord," the Mage Instructor said.
Barsolar glared at me and said, "The Mage Instructor's name is Hemoross, Lord Tarnum. This ridiculous way you taunt us with your name-calling is getting old."
I promptly grabbed Barsolar by the collar and lifted him into the air. He tried to scream as I jammed Magnus's letter into his mouth.
"If you have a problem, come to me! Next time you go behind my back, you'll be sorry! And you might want to think about finding another job, one that takes you far away from me."
|13, 27, 0||"A piece of wise advice," Barsolar began. He was always willing to let you know the importance of his own words.|
"Visit those Mage Towers weekly to recruit the Mages as they graduate. You could train them to become Enchanters, you know."
"Yes, I know," I said.
|16, 35, 0||The wind kicks up, blasting down from the mountainside, practically throwing you out of the saddle. Sensing this is no ordinary breeze, you order your troops to prepare for combat, and just as you suspected lots of Air Elementals swoop down out of the sky to attack!|
|18, 22, 0||Again, the Air Elementals appear our of nowhere, swooping out of the sky. They're intent on your destruction, and as you draw your weapon you wonder how many of these creatures the Air Lord can send at you before he gives up.|
|18, 35, 0||One of the natives of this region approaches your army. You can barely see his face from behind the bundles of clothing he wears to fight off the chill.|
"Sir, I hear you are the one who plans to battle the Elemental Lords. Seems to me, you're crazy to take on such a task. But then, who am I to question you? Anyway, I wanted to warn you that this valley is often visited by Air Elementals - and you never see them until they attack. Beware!"
|22, 31, 0||"Lord Tarnum," Barsolar, my assistant, addressed me, "I would suggest we get rid of those pesky Air Elementals and take that Gold Mine. You do know how expensive those Enchanters are, don't you?"|
I have to sit on my hand to keep from punching the little man's nose in.
|33, 25, 0||An insane Arch Mage runs out of the tree line screaming, "It's mine! Mine! You can't have my treasure!"|
You have no idea what he's talking about, nor do you think you'll be able to avoid a fight.
|34, 3, 0||Searching the area thoroughly has finally paid off. You discover a secret hoard of resources and quickly load them onto wagons before their owner returns.|
|4, 7, 0||Conflux|
|30, 23, 0||Tower|
|3, 32, 0||Air Elemental||Ahead, lots of Air Elementals have surrounded the home of some Gargoyles. Looks like the Elementals plan to bring the entire building down to its foundation, unless you stop them.|
|4, 26, 0||Mage||"This is our Mercury. Go find your own! The Elemental Lords are far more powerful than you will ever be - it's wiser to join them than side with some upstart fool!"|
The Lab will be necessary to your victory, so you grudgingly order your troops to attack.
|7, 34, 0||Stone Gargoyle||Gargoyles! If it were up to me, I wouldn't even have them in my army.|
These unnatural freaks make my skin crawl. They aren't truly alive, but stone enchanted with life. Their eyes don't blink. They don't eat, or breathe. Yet, they follow orders and stay close to their master like dogs.
|10, 30, 0||Air Elemental||So far, we have underestimated you, but we've figured out how to tell if you're coming. You'll regret the day you made us your enemy!|
|20, 31, 0||Air Elemental||The Air Lord knew you would come for this Gold, mortal! Our superiority is obvious, so surrender now or die!|
|21, 4, 0||Iron Golem||You spot a group of Iron Golems too late, activating them the moment you approach the Crystal Cavern they stand watch over.|
|21, 12, 0||Stone Golem||"This is our Lord's mill. Stand back!"|
|25, 12, 0||Arch Mage||We have learned a lot from the Elemental Lords over the years, and there is much more knowledge to be gained. We can't let you proceed with this foolish plan to attack our teachers. Surrender to us now, or we'll be forced to attack!|
|26, 26, 0||Master Gremlin||The Elemental Lord of Air enslaved this group of Gremlins long ago. They cheer as you walk among them, cutting the ball and chains attached to their ankles. As one, the Gremlins throw down their saws and pick up their former shackles.|
"As exciting as working at the Sawmill was," one of them says, "I think we'd rather be fighting the Elemental Lords. Would you mind if we came along too?"
|30, 4, 0||Gold Golem||This Gold Mine appears to have been inactive for centuries. And you can see why. Standing outside, some Gold Golems stand guard. Although these Golems are mindless, they are the perfect guards. They never sleep, and they never take breaks.|
|30, 12, 0||Gold Golem||At first, you thought these Gold Golems were inactive and could be salvaged for gold, but as you approach they stand up. One of your assistants (who knows a little about magic) attempts to gain control of the Gold Golems with a few common command words. None of them work.|
Now, you'll have to destroy the Golems. Too bad, they're very well crafted.
|33, 34, 0||Air Elemental||A chill wind cuts through your clothing, then you see the air itself take shape. Air Elementals! Not only are they prepared to attack, but the icy wind kicked up by their presence is starting to give you frostbite.|
One of them approaches and shouts, "By the Air Lord's command, you shall not possess this Gem Pond!"
And they attack!
|34, 29, 0||Master Gremlin||You sit down among the Gremlin miners and tell them of your fight against the Elemental Lords, and of your need for troops.|
Their leader nods and says, "The evil Elemental Lords have no place in this world anymore, and if they really intend on destroying it just to spite everyone, well, we're not going to let them. Will you accept our help?"
|4, 8, 0||Fiur the Planeswalker|
|29, 28, 0||Rissa the Alchemist|
|30, 24, 0||Tarnum the Wizard|
|5, 9, 0||Endless Purse of Gold||You can see the glint of gold from where you stand, and this is obviously the fabled Endless Purse of Gold. Unfortunately, you can also see the glint of gold from some Gold Golems. The moment your hand touches that bag they'll activate and you'll have to fight them. Are you really interested in tangling with a pack of Gold Golems?|
|12, 27, 0||Clover of Fortune||You pause to let your horse eat some of the grass in this area, and as you sit waiting for the animal to fill its belly, you spot a four-leaf clover near your foot. You pluck the lucky charm from the ground and attach it to your clothes.|
|20, 18, 0||Crest of Valor||An old retired warrior approaches you as a representative of the people in this region.|
He says, "I have heard of your good deeds and wish to award you this Crest of Valor. We support your actions, and applaud your fight against the Elemental Lords. Congratulations!"
He gives you the Crest and then walks away. This will definitely raise the morale of your troops.
|26, 35, 0||Pendant of Second Sight||You come across something half-buried in the snow. It's a large pendant pulsating with magic. At first, you are repulsed, but then you decide it might be worth something - magic or not. But as you bend to pick it up, the snow moves and an Ice Elemental rises from the ground. Soon, you realize the entire ground in this area conceals nothing but a pack of these creatures.|
Do you wish to fight the Ice Elementals and take the pendant?