Fire in the Sky

by Michele Elaine Wilson © 1999

Sean sat on the hill overlooking the lake. His big roan horse was munching grass along with a smaller palomino owned by his sister, Kira. Sean was a huge red headed man, close to seven feet tall and two hundred fifty pounds, all of it muscle. His magic was shapeshifting and his chosen profession was being a Bard. Kira stood close to the lake with her arms raised towards the moon. Like her twin brother, she was a blue eyed redhead but the resemblance ended there. Kira was tiny, a little over five feet and very slender. She was a Healer like her mother.

"What are ye going to do with the moonlight you're gathering, Kira?" Sean asked.

"It gets woven into a couple of spells," she said, "as you know the moon is a cool light. I weave some of the moonlight into a spell combined with honey to help reduce fevers and the rest I weave into a balm to heal burns." Kira's voice was a sweet soprano and contrasted with her brother's deep baritone.

"Anythin' I can do to help ye?" Sean asked.

"Why don't you tell me a story while I'm gathering the moonlight," Kira replied.

"Okay," Sean began, "this be a story about a battle magical."

 

The man stood on the turret of the castle looking out over the field that would be covered by battle come tomorrow. He could see the fires of the enemy camp along the horizon and by noon the enemy would be at the castle walls. He could hear his own troops settling down for the night since the wards were set and there would be no surprises before morning. He felt the presence of the old man before he heard him. He didn't turn around but continued his watch while wrapping his heavy cloak around him.

The White Mage came and stood beside the man. His hair and beard were long and snow white. He wore a long white robe with forest green trim and the pattern on the trim swirled and changed as if it was a living thing. It was. The pattern was a living part of the Source of Light, the ancient white magic that ruled the land of Caledonia. The White Mage was the Sourceís instrument that guarded the power and saw that it was used wisely. The cool fire that it represented could only be used by an initiate the Source believed would use it properly. The responsibility was an awesome one and only the White Mage could wield its full power. Others could use aspects of the Source. The younger man used the aspect of shapeshifting, however, he was also good at teleporting and he had learned some of the healing arts from his mother. He looked over at the White Mage and noticed new wrinkles in the old man's face. The White Mage was getting so old but hopefully he still had the stamina for tomorrow's battle.

"I suppose that tomorrow's battle will find you in the thick of things where you stand the greatest chance of being hurt or killed," the White Mage said softly.

The man was silent for a while. "That's where I usually find meself," the man finally answered. "I am trained as a fighter, after all, and we need every man we can get."

"So, if I were to tell you to be careful, I'd be wasting my breath," the old man sighed.

"Now when have ye ever known be to be anythin' but careful?" the young man replied. He turned away from the old man's glare, hiding the smile on his own lips.

"I suppose we can trust you to stay behind the castle walls?" the young man asked.

"I can be most effective here but if I have to leave I will. Now don't say anything, I'll make sure to have guards around me if I have to go out," the White Mage said.

"You'll have me beside you if ye leave these walls. Sir." The man looked at him fiercely. The old man just smiled and said nothing.

"I take it his latest General will be leading this battle. Do we know who he was before he was absorbed into the Dark One?" the man asked.

"Rumor has it that he was Baron Hoffman," the White Mage replied.

The man shrugged and said, "we fought him and know he joined the side of darkness, where he was fighting for his master, but I never figured he'd of had the guts to be absorbed into the Dark One. We never did find his body after the Battle of Culhoune though."

"You faced him there didn't you?" the White Mage asked.

"Aye and got the better of him" the man replied. "If it hadn't been for that sneak attack from behind I would have been able to finish him off. By the time I got me back clear, Hoffman's body had disappeared."

"He was the kind of coward who would not be able to face death," the White Mage said, "and he must have felt that being absorbed was a better deal then dying. The old fool has no idea the torments of the damned he will face if he fails." The White Mage had a grim smile on his face. "I fear the enemy is well aware of the fact that you were the one who dispatched Hoffman and his tendril of evil will be aimed in your direction. I'll tell you again be careful!"

"I am aware of the danger and will be on my guard," the man replied, "but I have to be down there though, I am leading the mountain elves." The man looked out over to where the elves were camped.

"Well at least your size won't be too noticeable if you are with that lot," the White Mage said with a smile.

The young man laughed. "Looks who's talking. Ye were a pretty good size yourself in your younger days. Age has shrunk ye a little." He easily deflected the old man's attempt to swat him across the side of the head.

The White Mage looked over the field. "One day there will be peace here and you can use those hands of yours on your harp and not for wielding your broadsword."

"I'd like that. It couldn't come too soon to suit me," the man sighed.

They stood in silence watching the lights of the campfires.

 

The morning was cold and crisp. Everyone had been up before dawn. The man stood watching the horizon from the same place he had watched the night before. He was dressed for battle and his huge broadsword was slung across his back where he could easily reach it. The fine chain mail that covered his chest glowed in the morning's light. His trousers and shirt were made of a tough but supple leather. Around his neck he wore a green crystal on a fine silver chain, which glowed with a light of its own from deep inside the crystal. Normally he kept it under his shirt, but today, it was worn outside where all could see. Two long, extremely sharp daggers were sheathed on either hip. There were other daggers in arm sheaves and in each boot.

"Our agents say they have broken camp and are on their way here," the White Mage said as he came up to the wall and looked out towards the direction the enemy would be coming from.

"Aye. I heard tell they had a rough night," the man said. "Seems that there were a magic storm that was suppose to come here that for some reason bounced back and struck them instead."

"Imagine that. I wonder how that happened?" The White Mage said with a smile. He kept his eyes on the horizon. "I am glad that you were able to come back in time to help us here. You didn't rush the healing did you? The shoulder is all right?"

"Aye, it's as all right as it can be. I had a good rest in that land and they cared for me well," the man replied.

" I wish there were a better place for the battle but with a tendril of the Dark One leading we need to have them as far from his lair as possible. A citadel of the Source of Light is not going to be that easy for them to penetrate," the White Mage said. " We have some time before we will come under attack. Come inside and sing me some of those songs from that land you call Ireland while we wait."

 

General Brand paced back and forth as he spoke to his leaders and they in turn would inform the troops under them. The assemblage was a mixed species. There were elves, dwarfs, dragons, unicorns, men, giants, and several other species and cross-species. Some were in their natural forms and others, who had the ability, who had shapeshifted into other forms.

" The Dark One is sending his newest General," General Brand said. "We will need to get to him. The Dark One has absorbed another soul into himself, so the General will be a tendril of the Dark One. This will strengthen him in that the Dark One can give orders directly through him. He can be killed but it won't be by force alone. Unless you are a sufficiently strong practitioner of white magic leave him to someone who is. I don't need useless heroics. We are fairly evenly matched in size of armies and I can't stand to lose anyone to needless heroics." General Brand glared at his troops. "His troops will fight fiercely but they will fight only as long as he controls him. A majority of the enemy troops are orcs, trolls, goblins and night crawlers. None of these care for the light of day so it will take a great deal of his attention to keep up the spells that bind them to fighting during the daylight hours. Our plan is to hit him from all sides and in different ways. We hope to overwhelm him to the point that he makes mistakes. If he makes enough of them, he will fail. I don't think we need to tell you what his fate will be then."

General Brand was a fierce black unicorn with platinum hooves and horn. His eyes flashed a stormy gray. He had led the White Mage's army for many years and he came from a long line of warrior unicorns. His ability to teleport to the place he was needed most, had his enemies swearing that he had the ability to be in two places at once. His body was covered with magically enhanced armor forged by the dwarfs of the magic mountain, where the main mountain chamber had another citadel from the Source of Light and the armor was almost impossible to pierce. Flanking him was his twin sons, Pwyl and Lyr. They matched their father's coloring but weren't quite as large as their sire. The three unicorns would be placed equal distance from each other along the battle front but their minds would be merged as one. The three telepathic teleporters, working in concert, made more then one enemy army claim that there were multiple General Brands.

General Brand continued with his orders. "I have troops forming a semicircle with the castle as the base. Since the castle is on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Northern Sea, we won't have to spare too many troops to protect it from behind. The main problem there will be rogue dragons flying over the lake but the White Mage can handle them, hopefully from the heights of the castle." General Brand glared in the White Mage's direction. He wasn't sure he trusted the answering smile. "We have more troops that have used the last few days to form another semicircle on the other side of the enemy and they will be used to keep the enemy from retreating. The enemy will not be expecting the dwarf army that the walls of rocks and the boulder strewn fields holds. It is amazing how natural they look. I call them 'pop rocks' because they suddenly pop open a nasty ax wielding surprise." General Brand's laughed, a laugh that would scare the daylights out of an enemy. "A large contingent of warrior unicorns will be assisting the dwarfs. Of course the enemy won't know they are unicorns until it is too late since they will manage to look like a herd of regular horses just grazing in the grass. We thank you, White Mage, for the invisibility cream you cooked up. It does wonders hiding horns that we would prefer the enemy not know about."

General Brand continued with the briefing so that the only ones surprised would be the enemy. The man stood with the elves listening intently to what the General had to say. Occasionally he looked over towards the White Mage. He prayed that the man would still be standing alive at the end of the day. He knew that this would be a desperate battle and that they stood to lose a great deal if their plans failed. The enemy had been pressing them relentlessly for months and they needed a decisive victory to gain some breathing room. They also needed to make sure that the next battle would be on the Dark One's home turf.

General Brand finished up the briefing. He turned to the White Mage and bowed. "Sir we await your signal."

The White Mage looked over at those who would be leading the fight. "I will provide all the backup I can. The Source of Light expects a major disturbance from the Dark One and I'll be wielding the power directly from the Source to try and fight that evil. It will be extremely dangerous and I ask you not to get in my way. Under no circumstances should you try to help use the fire I will be wielding. It will burn you to a crisp. The raw power can only be used by my office, and the one the Source considers to be the candidate for my office, after I pass away. May God go with you all and bring you safely through this day. General Brand, the army is yours to command. Our agents have reported that the enemy is close at hand. Let this battle between Light and Dark commence."

 

The man stood with the elves from the forests and mountains. The forest elves were smaller and more delicate looking. They fit the popular conception of what an elf was supposed to look like and they often teased their larger brethren that they weren't pure elf but were crossed with giants.

"We will lay down the arrow fire for you as long as possible. When they get too close for us to be effective, you give the signal and we will withdraw and leave the remains to you overgrown mountain elves," Tor said. The forest elf was a tall, slightly built man with pale gold hair and twinkling blue eyes. Tor would be leading the forest elves and they were the best archers in Caledonia.

"Sounds good to me," the man said and grinned at Tor. "With your sharp eyes I take it that there won't be too many left for us to have to deal with." The man would be leading the mountain elves, as well as keeping an eye on the White Mage. The man was mountain elf on his dad's side and forest elf on his mom's, however his size and coloring was pure mountain elf.

The major battle commenced around noon. The Dark One's strategy was to force his troops to start at the height of the day, but then count on the light decreasing from that point. The archers started the attack for the White Mage's force with a heavy barrage of arrows. The forest elves were better archers then anything the Dark One yielded and their fire was uncommonly accurate. The elves used their slim side-profile to make it hard for the enemy to try and hit them. Most of the elves had teleporting ability and popped in and out of places with arrows at ready. Their initial attack made a small dent in the enemy force but soon the enemy's numbers forced different battle tactics.

The first wave of night crawlers came towards the main army. They were light gray in color and had a passing resemblance to humans. They were hairless and had developed suckers on their appendages giving them an ability to crawl up almost any surface. Their eyes were huge and made up almost one third of their head. Their bite was poisonous and they preferred using their speed to bite and retreat. They would sometimes use projectile weapons if cornered.

The combined force of humans and mountain elves attacked the slime and mud encrusted crawlers. The force used torches to temporary blind their opponents and used sharp swords to behead the crawlers. The ability of the crawlers to generate slime when cut, meant that cuts would close quickly, without much damage. The only sure way to kill them was to cut their heads off completely and make sure that the head came nowhere near the necks to prevent them from reattaching.

The man was in the thick of the fight against the night crawlers. He knew that the crawlers mustnít get near the castle since the Dark One used them to try and enter into his enemy's fortresses. They would scale the walls and let down ropes for the rest of the troops to use to scale the walls.

The man leaped to the side of a screaming man. The venom from the night crawler had splashed one of the younger men and was burning his skin. The man swung the flat of his broadsword along the crawler and flung him away from the young soldier. He then quickly turned the sword and decapitated the crawler before he could recover from the first blow. Other crawlers realizing that one of the enemy was down advanced on the stricken man. The mountain elf leaped back towards the fallen man and grasping him by the shirt flung him over his shoulder and teleported out of harm's way. He arrived at a clear space just as a small white unicorn popped in wearing the healer's blue. Deirdre quickly enclosed the stricken man into a protective bubble and teleported him out of the field and into the castle's infirmary.

The fight with the night crawlers continued for close to an hour when Pwyl teleported into their midst. "We need the mountain elves over at the second barrier. The orc contingent has arrived and we are having trouble holding them," Pwyl ordered.

The man quickly concentrated on the glowing green crystal on his chest and used it to amplify his orders to the mountain elves to follow him. He teleported to the edge of the second barrier, and using the crystal's power to hold open space, he led his troops through. He had to act quickly because the orcs were soon upon him. He recognized this particular band as some of the fiercest fighters from the Dark Lands. He briefly wondered what the Dark One had promised them this time.

The battle was heated and there were soon casualties on both sides. The man found himself surrounded on all sides by the enemy and his sword sang as it rent the air and orcs alike. Because of his great size and strength, he didn't tire as easily as the humans did, but still the battle was taking its toll. A wild swing from a troll had caused a nasty gash over his eye and he had to keep wiping blood out of it in order to see. A double sided attack left him with a long gash on his sword arm. The man just grinned as he flipped the sword over to his other hand and continued fighting with the same skill.

"I'm at your back," a younger man called. The man could see that another elf was standing at his back facing outwards.

"I thought ye were keeping an eye on the old man, Brendan?" the man called.

"I was but he sent me to check on you. Good thing I did, you aren't looking so good big guy," Brendan replied.

Brendan's help came at the right time because soon the sneaky goblins joined the fight. One of the most cowardly races, they used the bulk of the orcs and the trolls to hide behind while they threw their poisoned covered daggers. Soon the man and Brendan had a mound of orcs, trolls and goblins at their feet but the enemy still fought on. Both elves had several smaller wounds. Suddenly Brendan felt the man start to slump down at his back. Quickly dispatching the orc he was facing he turned and caught the man before he hit the ground. A large dagger was protruding from the big man's chest.

A loud "pop" sounded beside the two men. Standing there was a large white unicorn with the Master Healer's crest on her blue saddlebags and next to her was a giantess, also in healer's blue.

"Rhiannon help me," Brendan cried.

"He will be all right Brendan. You get back to the White Mage and we will take care of him," the Master Healer ordered. Rhiannon ruled the Healer's Guild like her husband General Brand ruled the army.

A large blue bubble formed around the two healers and the stricken man. Sheila picked the unconscious man up and as suddenly as they appeared, they disappeared. They appeared again back inside the infirmary.

Rhiannon bent her head over the unconscious man. A golden glow came from her horn which she aimed at the protruding knife. The dagger slipped out of the wound and clattered onto the floor. A black gas followed from the wound and headed back towards the knife.

"Get that knife out of here," she ordered a small elfin girl. "Sheila, get his shirt off and let's see what the damage has been. As much as I hate to do it, we are going to have to get him back on the battlefield as soon as possible. I'm getting strong indications from the Source of Light that he will be needed before the day is through."

The giantess undressed the man like he were a baby. Gently she sponged off all the blood. Rhiannon had already sent the blue healing light into the wound on the head, cauterizing the wound and closing it together. With her magic, there would be no scar. The arm wound was deep but fortunately no damage had been done to the nerves. It was too deep to do more then accelerate the healing process as much as possible. Sheila bound the wound which was still red and ugly but was at least starting to mend. If the man didn't get too many blows to the wound it would stay closed.

"I don't like the look of the chest wound, Master Rhiannon. It isn't responding like it should" Sheila said.

Rhiannon turned towards a young girl. "Bronwyn, visualize the knife that was in his shoulder."

Bronwyn was a tiny elfin girl with waist length pale gold hair and eyes of the palest blue. She closed her eyes and in the air before her the image of the dagger appeared. She enlarged it until all the details were clear.

"There is the problem," Rhiannon said, "a piece of the tip broke off. Thank you, dear. You can go back and help your mother."

The child quickly ran over to where her mother, Queen Niri, was working on an injured unicorn. A dagger had entered his eye and she was trying to save the orb. Niri was the spouse of the White Mage and therefore was in charge of the castle. The one exception was the infirmary. A Master Healer herself, she deferred to Rhiannon, who headed the Healer's Guild, and was in charge in times of war.

Rhiannon bent over the man's shoulder and probed the wound with her horn. "This is nasty. It is imbedded in the bone. We are going to have to burn it out." Sheila took a strong hold of the man who had regained consciousness. A sudden flame shot out of the horn and into the wound. The man's back arched and his breathing came out in sharp gasps but he didn't cry out. The fragment of dagger heated to red hot and slipped out of the bone. Rhiannon floated it out of the wound.

"Put the balm for burns over it and bandage the wound, Sheila. In the mean time young man you drink this. It will help restore your energy," Rhiannon ordered.

A short time latter the man was back on the battlefield. He had landed by the seaward side of the castle to see if there were any problems with the rogue dragons. The air was filled with dragons and dragon fire. There was another fire in the air that the man saw was coming from the fingers of the White Mage. It was aqua in color and neutralized the dragon's fire, as well as damaging the dragons themselves.

The man soon found himself engaged in battle with a new enemy. A wave of sea serpents were trying to crawl from the sea onto the land by the castle. He focused on the green crystal pulsing on his chest and sent green light against the serpents. The snakes burst into flames when the light hit them. The serpents soon gave up, leaving the battle to their larger cousins. Soon the man was facing a bigger foe as one of the dragons got through and landed next to him. His wing had been damaged but his fighting spirit was still strong. The man was kept busy dancing out of the way of the flames and trying to thrust his sword into the one vulnerable spot on the dragon's neck.

"Damn!" The man swore as a blast of fire caught him on the side of the face. "This is sure me day for getting singed."

The battle finally ended with the death of the dragon. The man looked around and found that the White Mage was on the ground going after the Golden Dragon of Tyko. Many people had disappeared into that dragonís scorching land and never appeared again. It was rumored that even the Dark One kept away having made a compact with the dragon to furnish it with jewels in exchange for it fighting for him when needed. The battle had obviously been going on for a quite a while since the dragon's flying was highly erratic. The dragon suddenly swooped lower in the sky and headed directly for the White Mage. A sudden blast of fire came racing towards the old man only to find that a return fire shot from the White Mage's cupped hands. The two flames met in the air and pushed against each other but dragon fire is no match against the raw light from the Source and soon the dragon fire and dragon were enclosed in the White Mage's green fire. The dragon fire failed and the enraged red light faded from the dragon's eyes as it fell into the sea.

The White Mage nodded to the man and teleported back up to the castle wall. The man returned the nod and hearing a commotion in front of the castle teleported over to that side.

The bulk of the Dark One's army was now on the field. The man could see that a circle of beings surrounded a figure, all in black, who was obviously directing the enemy forces. The white army was trying to fight its way towards that dark figure.

"So ye have finally showed yourself have ye," the man said, "well let's see how smart ye really are." The man teleported over to the mountain elves. Quickly he gave the orders that General Brand had relayed to him a moment before. The elves met with the forest elves, and under their barrage of arrows, advanced towards the leader of the opposing army.

The battle was fought on several fronts. The combined troops of the White Mage pushed to encircle the General of the Dark One's army. The General in turn fought with the White Mage to control the sky. The General was literally a tendril into the Dark One and was drawing on the power of the Well of Darkness to try and turn the sky black. The White Mage was drawing on the Source of Light to try and keep the sky light. The fight for the sky was essential to the outcome of the battle because the Dark One's army got stronger in the darkness.

The man was advancing slowly with his troops when he felt a probe. Quickly he slammed down his defenses. He had heard a hissed "so it is you. You have inconvenienced me for the last time elf" before his defenses took over.

"Oh bloody hell. Just what I need, Him, being aware of me," the man said as he shrugged his massive shoulders and plunged back into the fray. It would be a little more difficult to fight with his psychic defenses shut down but it was better than having to fight a psychic battle at the same time as a physical one.

The man's sword became a blur as he fought his way towards the tendril of evil that was once known as Baron Hoffman. The parade of opponents seemed endless. The man was forced to use every skill he had just to stay alive. His daggers soon lay in the throats of several of the enemy. His current opponent was human and fought with the ferocity of a beserker. The man slashed at the opponent with his sword. They were evenly matched in size and speed and blocked each others blows. Neither could get close enough to his opponent to finish him off. The man suddenly dove by his enemy and spun over a goblin with a knife protruding from his throat. He grabbed the dagger and as he came around threw it across his body as he landed on his feet. The knife landed in the right eye of the man he was fighting. Still the enemy fought on. The man hesitated to use more magic to fight because he knew he was tiring and every use of magic drained him of vital energy he needed. Magic was wonderful but you had to pay a toll for its use. The man finally was able to get a death thrust in when the berserk enemy tripped over the body of one of the goblins.

The man had a very short breather and leaned on his sword as he looked around to see where to go next. He noticed that the use of magic on both sides had subsided and the battle was being fought with brawn and tangible weapons. The only magical battle seemed to be between the Dark One's General and the White Mage. The sky seemed to have been fought to a standstill with half of it covered with dark clouds and the other half bright and cloud free. The man followed the line of white magic and saw that the White Mage was on the ground in front of the castle surrounded by loyal troops. General Brand was by his side along with his two sons.

The man tried to summon up the power to teleport but realized that he just didn't have the strength to use that much magic. He was going to have to wait until the power built back up. Being bereft of the use of teleporting at the moment, the man plunged ahead and fought his way towards the White Mage. The unicorns and dwarfs who had been fighting the rear action came into sight and the man knew that the next couple of hours would decide the war. The White Mage's forces were trying to crush the enemy in between them and the Dark One was using everything he had to try and get to the White Mage.

The sounds of battle were deafening. The air screamed with the shouts of men and swords. The good dragons had finally defeated the rogues and were diving down into the fray aiming fire at the enemy. The forest elves had to abandon their arrows and were fighting a hand to hand battle with the enemy, along side of their mountain brethren. The sound of Healers popping in and out added to the confusion as the injury toll rose.

The man continued to fight, ignoring the shoulder that broke open and soaked his shirt with blood. He had abandoned using the sword when the pack of people became so thick that he no longer had room to swing. He fought with long knives in each hand, sometimes back to back with another man, sometimes alone. He kicked out at opponents, slashed at exposed throats, wrestled them to the ground. He found himself slowing down, but then his opponents were slowing down too.

Inch by inch, the man made his way closer to the White Mage. He could see General Brand, Pwyl and Lyr kicking and goring the enemy soldiers that were close to where the White Mage stood. The old man was drooping but he still continued to send green fire towards the Dark One's evil tendril. The man noticed that the General was off his horse and was surrounded by men fighting for him the way the White Mage's forces were fighting for the Mage.

Brendan suddenly appeared at the man's side and said, "he only has men surrounding him and he is losing the control over the others. Unfortunately, the old man is tiring and I don't know how much longer he can hold on. I'm going to open up a space for you. You need to get closer to the old man just in case."

"In case of what?" the man asked, but Brendan was gone. The man jumped through the space the young man had opened for him and found himself next to General Brand.

"Stay as near to him as you can," General Brand ordered. "We are going to try and make a final push towards the General. Your job is to protect the White Mage." With that Brand teleported away leaving the man standing and staring at the space the unicorn had vacated.

The man didn't have time to swear as he found himself having to fight to maintain his place. For the next half hour the fight became so fierce that he was no longer able to do anything but defend himself. Finally the enemy stopped coming long enough for him to see where he was in relationship to the White Mage. The old man was bent over clutching his side and a char mark on the white robe showed where enemy fire had gotten through. At the sight the man became frantic and renewed the fight to get to the old man's side. Fighting with the strength of a beserker himself, the man finally got near enough to join the ring defending the White Mage.

The minion of the Dark One was himself beset with enemies. His beserker troops were being eliminated one by one, and with them, his hopes of winning the battle. In desperation he called upon his Master to help him one more time.

"You are failing me," the dread voice hissed. "You are losing my battle. Your fate will be beyond terrible."

"Please, Master," he whined, "one more chance, give me one more chance. The old man is fading. That last bolt hit him. Please one more energy bolt and he will die." In life Baron Hoffman was known as a sniveling wretch and being absorbed into the Dark One didn't improve him.

"One last bolt and it better work. You have eliminated the irritant haven't you?" the dread voice hissed.

"Oh yes, Master," Hoffman replied, "my forces killed him. I sent beserkers after him and even his strength wouldn't last against all of them." The General was drooling and stank of fear.

 

The air began to build with a force that indicated a terrible storm was brewing and would soon destroy everything in its path. The General stood like one possessed staring straight ahead at nothing. Over in the White Mage's camp, the old man stood up and stared over towards the main enemy. The battle was down to the two of them. Around the General a darkness that absorbed all light was growing. The green pattern on the trim of the White Mage's robe began to glow and swirl and twist like tendrils of fire. A charge was building up around him and a green light was starting to surround him.

The air was rent with a piercing scream as a dark light was torn from the body of the being that used to be Baron Hoffman. It sped towards the White Mage and absorbed all light in its path. The light around the White Mage was growing and started to rise to meet the darkness when the White Mage suddenly faltered.

"No!" the man screamed. He reached towards the light surrounding the White Mage and grabbed it, throwing it with all his might at the darkness that was speeding towards them with its path of utter destruction.

"No, it will kill you!" The White Mage cried out as he tried to grab the light away from the man but missed. The White Mage was seriously injured and could not control the light. He could smell the burning flesh from the man's hands.

The man screamed in agony and collapsed, not seeing the outcome of his act. The ball of green light, that was the actual energy from the Source of Light, hit the darkness that was from the Well of Darkness and the Light prevailed.

"Fool!" came the hissed voice of evil and stopped everything in its tracks. The being that was his General lay on the ground trying to back away from the voice. A black pit opened and all the evil that comprised the Well of Darkness reached out and grabbed the General. His screams, as the evil absorbed him, became the sounds of nightmares for years to come.

 

The man lay senseless in his bed. His hands were wrapped in layers of bandages. The White Mage looked down at him, gently brushing the hair from his face. Sadly he shook his head and walked over towards the window.

"Why did he do it, Niri?" the White Mage asked. "He knew it could kill him. I warned him over and over again not to interfere when I'm wielding power direct from the Source. Why didn't he listen?"

Queen Niri looked over at her husband. His face was gray with fatigue. After the destruction of the Dark One's General the battle was won by her husband's troops. The White Mage had suffered injuries but they would heal. She looked down at the man. Slowly she bent over and kissed his forehead. As a Healer she knew he would live but it would take time for him to recover. She didn't know if his hands would be the same again or not for that depended on a higher power then her healing skill.

"He didn't listen because he is your son," Queen Niri replied. "He did exactly what you would have done in his place."

 

"So that is how the magic of the power of light and goodness defeated the magic of the power of darkness and evil," Sean said.

Kira looked over at her twin brother. His face was pale in the moonlight. He really shouldn't be out but he was so restless that it was better for him to come with her then to risk him wandering away unattended. She went over and set down beside him.

"Here I have some new salve," Kira said. "Let's use some of it." She unwrapped the bandages on his hands. The ugly burn marks covered every inch of them. Gently she spread the ice blue salve over his hands.

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