The Baldari (Book 3)

BOOK: The Baldari (Book 3)
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The Baldari

Concludes the
Ancient Magic
Saga

 

 

Bob Blink

 

 

Major Characters

 

Three Kingdoms' Characters

 

Rigo's Close Friends

Ash'urn:  Scholar

Daria: Assassin{KalaBhoot}

Jeen:  Wizard

Kaler: Swordsman

 

 

Branid Royalty

Mos'pera:  Queen and Seer

Rhory:  King

 

Miscellaneous Wizards
from the Outpost

Ashli:  Skilled medical wizard

Burke:  Senior wizard and now close friend of Rigo

Daim:  Ancient wizard existing in new body

Koess: Wizard lost at the Great Chasm in Ruins

Nycoh:  Most powerful wizard at Outpost

Shara:  Girlfriend of Ash'urn

Tara:  Burke's consort

 

Sedfair
Characters

 

Royalty

Jusay:  Newly elected Queen

Rosul:  Queen during the time of Carif leadership of Guild

 

Miscellaneous Characters

Ardra: Co-Director of the Guild

Debi:  Leader of Sedfair expedition into the jungles

Fen:  Young student Caster

Lyes:  Co-director of the Guild

Mitty: Rigo's consort

Professor Meyter:  Activates the Ruins' artifact

Suline:  Only person who can create the
Ghost Doorway

 

 

 

 

Baldari
Characters & Terms

 

A'ardaugh:  Baldari name for themselves

Ler'ver'ar:  Staple of Baldari diet; approximate flavor

                     and odor of Durian

S'erom:  Leader of Baldari forces, termed First

Tall:  Baldari name for people to the north of jungles

Tin'skel'ot:  Name of Baldari homeland

U'nydyn:  Name of Baldari pony

 

Brryn Characters

 

Hyndl:  Kytra's ally against kingdoms [male]

Kytra:  Brryn behind attacks, first one conscious

Nyk:  Missing from crystal chamber

Nldt:  Dead in Brryn chamber

Smmt:  Dead in Brryn chamber

Syth:  Unconscious Brynn

Tryll:  Kytra's ally against kingdoms [female]

Unnamed:  Unconscious Brynn

 

General Terms

 

Caster:  one who has learned symbolic magic

mage:  one who is both a wizard and Caster

sorcerer:  Brryn name for those with magic

wizard:  one who has inherent magic

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

S’erom rode his U’nydyn with careless abandon.  The U’nydyn knew his thoughts and responded without manual guidance, pushing through the endless orange sands of this despicable land glass after glass, day after day.  His was the dominant mind and the deadly beast would do as he wished, despite its own wish to be back in the fertile valleys to the south.  S’erom also wished to be back in Tin’skel’ot, the homeland with its thick green jungle and pungent rivers, but that was not an option open to him.  He wasn’t exactly certain why, but he knew the action he was engaged in was his greatest priority, whatever the outcome.  For many, the outcome had been death.  He had lost many longtime friends and all of his brothers as a direct result of the trips to the north.  He was one of the survivors.  It was simple luck more than anything else.  Still he returned.  Hopefully he would survive the journey to the northern lands and the battle that was almost certain to develop before the journey ended.  If so, he would be able to return home for a brief period.  He longed to see his mate, and their two young offspring.  Even then, he did not kid himself.  He knew survival only ensured another trip in the not too distant future. 

S’erom didn’t know why he and his fellow A’ardaugh felt so compelled to attack the big light-skinned inhabitants of the northern lands.  The Talls, the A’ardaugh called them.  It was not as though the A’ardaugh were a warrior race at heart who sought to expand their influence far beyond the borders of the jungle lands where they felt at home.  Long had they lived contentedly in the rich lands to the south of the great mountains, pursuing nothing beyond their own interests and watching as their villages grew.  The land was rich, both with game and fertile lands that allowed the Ler’ver’ar to grow in vast fields of red.  Ler’ver’ar was their basic food staple, and the ease with which it could be grown assured them the means to expand without limit.  The A’ardaugh had developed a strong clan-based culture, and while there were occasional territorial disputes with other clans, the matters were usually settled rather quickly, although not without bloodshed.  But that was the way of things.  This matter which he was now engaged in was entirely different.

They rode day and night, taking only infrequent breaks for food and drink.  The force had gathered where they were meant to, and all had known somehow that S’erom was First.  There had been no voting, nor any challenge for who would lead, which was normally the custom among the A’ardaugh.  He led the force and they would obey his commands without question.  Just as he obeyed the pressure inside his head that told him where to go and what he was to accomplish.  He wished he knew the origin of the urging inside him.  He felt as if he were a simple U’nydyn following the mental direction of its rider. 

S’erom didn’t relish the role as First.  He was surprised to be alive after his involvement in actions in the past, and he had seen how exposed the First could be.  The name was well chosen, for he would indeed lead the charge into whatever dangers faced them, which made his chances of survival even less than those of his fellows.  There was a great turnover in the lead position.  The chances were great that E’rolk, his Second, would be at the front as the survivors headed back to the south.   That assumed that any of the force survived.  There were times that none did.

The trip had begun with the disorienting ride through the
Opening
, a large glowing arch that had brought them from far to the south in the central regions of the homeland to the very edge of the mountains that bordered the vast desert they were now crossing.  S’erom hated the
Opening
.  It left him queasy and disoriented, but at the same time he wondered if it could transport them so far, why wasn’t their exit made much closer to their final destination?  Why were they left to make their way for days across the burning sands instead of being placed near where they intended to go?  Of course there were no answers.  The same pressures that forced him to lead the force into the battle ahead decided such things.  He was a simple tool, being used to accomplish an unknown goal.  Instead, he rode as he was pressured to do, stopping at the rare oases that provided water and a chance for a brief break.  Sometimes there were none of the green patches that were so restful to S’erom’s eyes, and they had to break in the desert itself.

Now S’erom noted the change in the desert.  It was subtle, but the clues were enough.  He’d been this way once before, and he pictured the route to be followed.  The U’nydyn responded by changing its heading toward the east.  The vicious and dangerous beast was completely subservient to S’erom, which always surprised him.  Had it not been for their mental control, the A’ardaugh would have been foolish to go near the creatures, who were known to hunt animals larger than themselves for food.  They were carnivores with teeth that could rip flesh, and a bite that assured a quick death for those attacked.  They were also strong and had endurance beyond anything else S’erom had known, and were perfect for the trip across the desert.  The trips were far easier since the beasts had been impressed into service the previous year.  Long had the A’ardaugh known of the creatures, but had always avoided them.  Only recently had anyone been brave enough to attempt to use their mental abilities to control the creatures and make them their mounts.  S’erom couldn’t help but wonder who had been brave or insightful enough to make the first attempt.

S’erom passed a mental message to his Second, who in turn relayed the thought to the force that rode with them where they were heading.  As one, the group changed to the new heading.  Virtually all important communication was this way.  It was precise, worked over a surprising distance, and could not be intercepted by an enemy.  The A’ardaugh could make sounds, but they were reverted to for only the simplest of communication, often to express disgust or anger rather than anything truly meaningful.

Soon they would cross out of the sands and pass by the outer villages of the land of the Talls.  S’erom knew from a previous trip how to avoid the villages closest to the desert lands.  The village they sought was inland and it would be best if it could be reached before word of their presence was spread.  It was not always possible to accomplish this goal, as chance had a lot to do with whether they were discovered.  One could avoid the villages, but the Talls had scouts that patrolled the borders of their land, and it was impossible to know where they were at any given time.  Unlike the A’ardaugh, the Talls didn’t have any ability to throw their thoughts.  Back home, S’erom would have known when another was nearby.  The mental thoughts that formed the basis of communication could only be blocked so well, and while certain individuals could contain their thoughts, a band of soldiers was never so disciplined.  He would have felt their presence long before he encountered the individuals responsible.  This was not the case with the Talls.  They appeared to have no thoughts.  S’erom would have thought them simple, had he not seen the technology apparent in their dwellings and villages.  He had also experienced their weapons, and witnessed the power of the Talls who carried the glowing rods.  Many A’ardaugh had died at the hands of those who commanded the powers of those rods.  S’erom hoped they would not encounter many of them today.

Today S’erom and his force were protected in a way the A’ardaugh had never been before.  He didn’t know how he knew this, but N’itess who rode near the center of their group had been tasked with carrying a powered crystal much like those that adorned the rods of the Talls.  S’erom could sense the crystal, and knew it was intended to protect the force from attack by the Talls.  He didn’t know how it worked, nor even where it had come from, but he somehow knew that the magic the Talls commanded wouldn’t be able to reach them so long as it was active.  More conventional weapons were blocked as well.  A man with a sword would have no chance to attack the force, and one with arrows would be at a serious disadvantage.  An arrow could penetrate, but would not fly true.  It would be as if a great wind caught the arrow, and flung it aside.  If an archer was smart enough to consider the option, he might be able to drop an arrow in from above, as the protection for physical objects did not extend above them.

The protection was a wonderful thing, and would help them reach their goal without having to fight the Talls as was often the case, but once there, the protection would have to be discarded to allow them to function as directed.  Then they would be vulnerable once again.  Assuming N’itess survived, he would provide the same protection as the force withdrew, greatly increasing the survival chances of those who would ride away.  The danger would be in the village while they were completing their mission and they would be exposed to the forces and magic of the Talls.

S’erom realized they had been spotted as they closed in on the village.  It was better than he had been able to hope for, but he would have liked to be within the perimeter of the village before it happened.  The sounds of alarm that were now obvious would ensure they were met by the soldiers of this land, which meant a battle once the protective barrier was dropped.  That was something that S’erom had no control over.  He knew, even if he didn’t know how, that once they entered the village, the magic that safeguarded them would be lifted.  He flashed a warning to the force to be prepared. 

As they hurried past the first hut at the edge of the village, S’erom felt a brief chill wash over his body, and he knew that the protection was gone.  He drew the short sword from his scabbard, and screeched a loud cry of defiance as he charged toward the soldiers who were headed to cut them off.  He sensed the determination of his fellows, and grinned fiercely as his blade cut into the armor of the first of the enemy who opposed him.  They were between him and the mine where quantities of the crystal were stored.  That was what they had come for.  S’erom didn’t know why they were so important, but that wasn’t for him to know.  He screamed as a blade cut through his leather armor and drew blood.  It was a painful cut, but not one that would be fatal.

Screaming in defiance, S’erom lashed back with his sword, the short thick blade expertly wielded.  The soldier that had cut him was past, but the one he swung at earned his revenge.  The A’ardaugh outnumbered the defenders and they were breaking through the ranks of the enemy.  S’erom urged his forces onward.  He commanded the riderless U’nydyn to attack as well.  The Talls already had learned to fear the mounts, and he could see a break in their lines as a number of the U’nydyn charged toward them.

Suddenly a beam of bright light flashed from off to the left.  S’erom looked toward the source and saw almost a dozen Talls with the fearsome rods. 
How had they arrived so quickly?
  S’erom could see his forces being thinned by the beams of killing energy.  Surprisingly, he could see Talls without the rods also unleashing bright beams of colored energy that were taking their toll.  This was something he hadn’t seen before, and he was uncertain what it might mean.  Directly in front of him a Tall stood defiant, and sensing what might be about to happen, S’erom urged his U’nydyn to one side just as a beam of
Brightfire
flashed by him, taking out a half dozen riders directly behind him.  The Tall was surprised he had missed, and S’erom was able to cut him deeply as he rode past.

The Talls with the rods had to be stopped or all was lost, S’erom realized.  He was about to lead a charge toward them, which he sensed would certainly be fatal, when something made him send a mental command to his Second to assume that task.  Knowing the unusual order would be obeyed, even if those who did so might wonder why the First was not leading them as was customary, S’erom followed the urging that took him toward the mines.  He had been a simple follower when they had raided this place once before, but he recalled the way.  As the battle raged behind him, the small group he led crashed through the small defensive force and slaughtered those who were protecting the stores.  S’erom broke through the stout doors that protected the supply of mined crystal and stared at the almost empty room.  Last time it had been nearly full.  He wondered if the Talls had moved the location where they stored the results of their mining effort.

Realizing time was against him, S‘erom ordered his forces to gather up the meager supply of crystal present.  It didn’t take long, and soon the place was picked clean.  So many were being killed for such a small return.  S’erom mentally ordered his team to form up, and despite his wish to go to the aid of his fellow A’ardaugh who were being slaughtered a short distance away, he followed the urging in his mind and led them forward, away from the fighting.  As they cleared the village, N’itess who once again rode in the center of the group gasped as the crystal he was tasked with carrying pulsed with light and power, and they all felt the chill as the protective energies washed across them.  Surprised to have survived, S’erom urged the small force carrying the crystals away from the village circling back so they were headed toward the desert once again.  He would feel more confident once they were back in the sands.  The Talls had never shown much inclination to following them out into the Wastelands. 

He had survived!  He would deliver the strange crystals where the image in his mind suggested, and hopefully would be free to go home to his mate.  Only time would tell.  He just wished he knew what this was all about.

BOOK: The Baldari (Book 3)
11.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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