The wind blew through the high grass, moving the stalks in a waving motion. The sky was dark. Darker than it should have been at this hour. Black and gray storm clouds were moving in from the north, following the wind. It would be a harsh storm. Uriel Bayard could feel it in his bones. He stood silently, facing the oncoming storm clouds. He stood tall, his head up and his eyes closed as he felt the wind move through his long, ashen beard. He felt it rustling the bottom of his long, raggedy dark robes. His feet were bare, so could sense the grass between his toes. He could feel and sense all of it, and more.
He reached out to the wind, sensing it, then hearing it. In his mind he asked his questions. What is coming with this storm? What have you brought here? The wind, ever shifting, ever changing, did not answer right away. Instead, a gust blew past him, and it laughed in his ears. His face remained calm like a stone, showing no emotion. Ever so slightly, he closed his eyes more tightly, as he refocused his energy, willing the wind to obey. He posed his questions again, focusing his will on requiring obedience from the wind. He could hear another distant laugh, riding from the north. It grew closer, as the wind was mocking him, refusing to heed his commands. As the wind’s laughter grew louder, building a stronger gust coming straight for him, he held up both his hands, and bellowed, “Halt and Obey!” All around him, the air stopped. He could hear no more laughter.
The wind continued to try to blow past him, but it could not. He had used all his power to stop it, to force it to obey him. Still, the wind tried to move on, tried to ignore him, but it could not. He had trapped it now, and the wind desired desperately to be free. He focused his will again, and once again asked the wind: What is coming? Who have you brought with this storm? The wind laughed again, still trying to mock the old man, but it finally obeyed. With all its power, it blew into the Uriel’s face and simply said, “He is coming. He is here.”
The wind rushed by the old man, and soon he felt the sting of nearly frozen rain. He opened his eyes and looked north, toward the heart of the storm. He saw the dark figure in the distance, and he knew who it was. The day of their final meeting had arrived. The day of reckoning.
Sinassah Thunderborn stood under the dark storm clouds on a small bluff in the high grass. The rains and ice and wind swirled all around him. He reached out to it, and drew in all its power. He felt the energy of the storm surge through him. It filled him with new life and strength. He would need all of it for what was coming. He had been preparing for this for a long time. All of his efforts, his studying, all of it was for this moment. His time had come. He looked to the south, on the fringes of the storm and he could see a lone figure standing in the field, like an old stone pillar. Even from a distance, he could recognize the old man. He stood silently and stared at the man, breathing in the storm and all its energy. His dark, wet hair whipped him in the face as it was tossed by the wind, his robes and cloak flapping behind him. He stood there with his arms stretched out at his sides, preparing himself for what lie ahead. As he thought of what tonight was, what this moment was, a smile formed on his gaunt, pale face. He was going to enjoy this.
Uriel watched the younger figure in the distance with his cold, gray eyes. He could see the energy coming form the storm and surging within Sinassah. His former pupil had grown quite powerful since they had separated. His legend and reputation had spread throughout the land. Uriel had always recognized a vast potential in the youth, had always believed he could be something great. He had always learned things so quickly, often eclipsing even Uriel’s knowledge on a subject in a matter of months. Uriel had tried to teach him everything he could about magic and the elements and how to channel their power. Sinassah devoured all the lessons, and in less than a year he could command all the elements around him. Even more amazing than his ability to do it, was that all the elements always obeyed him. Uriel had studied magic most of his life and he had taught many young acolytes, but he had never seen one with Sinassah’s potential.
That was when Uriel had made a grave error. He began to hold back from the youth. He tried to keep certain things about magic away from him. In the beginning it had been effective. Sinassah did not seem to suspect anything. He knew he had mastered most of what Uriel could teach him, and trusted he would be taught the rest later. Uriel had been successful in keeping the art of drawing away from him. He feared what would happen if Sinassah learned how to tap into the power and strength of the elements and use it for his own needs. It was by accident that Sinassah made this discovery on his own.
It had happened so quickly. Sinassah had been in an argument with a local merchant in the town they were passing through. The merchant had accused Sinassah of stealing from him. Sinassah was understandably upset and offended that anyone would accuse a student of the cloth of thievery. He acted like the allegations were ridiculous and unfounded. The merchant, however, was able to produce evidence in the form of the stolen silver spoon and fork, which were found in Sinassah’s cloak pocket. Uriel could still remember the look of rage rising on the young man’s face. His mouth became a straight line, his cheeks went hard, and his eyes were a cold empty black.
“You were not supposed to look in there, old man,” the fury evident in his voice. “You should have let it go. Now, I am embarrassed, and I’m not sure how I will recover.” He moved toward the man like he was going to grab him, and then just as suddenly, he stopped himself. He breathed in a deep breath, and smoothed his apprentice robes with his shaking hands. When he spoke again, all the anger was gone, but the voice was cold, emotionless. “Now, you will simply have to pay for what you have done. I have found you unworthy.” As he said the words, Uriel could see the light around him growing brighter with each moment. He knew the boy was drawing in the power from the air around him. He had tapped into the element of air and was drawing it into himself. He was doing it without being aware of it.
Quickly Uriel stepped in between the boy and the merchant. “Young Sinassah,” he said in a firm, almost chiding voice, “you know apprentices do not have the authority to find one unworthy. That must be done by your master.” Their eyes met as he spoke the words. Sinassah’s were unwavering in their challenge of his authority. At that moment, Uriel began to wonder if he had been too soft with the boy. He would need to practice a firmer hand going forward. For now, though, he stared into Sinassah’s eyes, allowing just a glimpse of his inner power into his own eyes, to remind the boy who the master was. Sinassah responded by giving Uriel a glimpse of his own power. Uriel had always known his student was powerful, but at that moment, it became clear that Sinassah had potential far greater than his own. He was still untrained. Uriel held his stare, and finally, the apprentice backed down.
“I forgot my place, master.” The last word came out with effort.
“I’m sorry master merchant. Please take back the items that were misplaced. I will bring the boy back to the Council, where he will be disciplined.” He gave the merchant the fork and spoon, and then patted him on the shoulder. The matter would now be considered closed between the man and the two wizards. It was the way of things.
When they were alone, Uriel noticed that Sinassah still held on to the energy he had drawn from the air. “Are you planning on the two of us having a go, my student?”
Sinassah stopped and considered. He looked at the old man, and then down at the ground. He hesitated, trying to make up his mind. Finally, he let go of the energy he had drawn in. “I will remember this day, as will you. This is the day we both knew that I have no master. Do not cross me again, old man.” He tossed his things into their wagon, and took his place up front on the bench.Their relationship would never be the same.
Shortly after the encounter, Sinassah submitted himself for the Testing, against the wishes of the Council and his master. The Council believed he was too young and not ready for it. Uriel knew he was ready, but feared what he would do if he passed. He would be an agent unto himself. He would not need to listen to the council, and if he went out on his own, Uriel was not sure if anyone would ever be able to contain him. After the encounter in the village, Uriel had been afraid of the young wizard. It had been years since they had seen someone with his power.
He easily passed the Testing and was raised to the station of master. That was the last time anyone saw him near the Council. He went out on his own, and true to his word, he had no master but himself. He manipulated kings and politicians, and gained power and esteem throughout the empire. Few wizards dared challenge him, and those who did always failed. There were few who survived. He rose to power quickly, and fiercely.
After he left, Uriel also left. He did not want to take on another apprentice. He did not want to stay and work with the council. He had only one task in his mind. He needed to study and learn as many of the ways as he could. He needed to master them as quickly and efficiently as he could. Few understood the power that lay beneath the surface of Sinassah, and fewer would listen to Uriel when he tried to tell them. All of his power came to him naturally, making him untrained and dangerous in everything he did. What Uriel lacked in natural ability, he would make up in reading and studying and learning. It was the only chance anyone had of being able to match Sinassah’s power.
Now, years later, it had all led to this. Most of the wizards in the world had been murdered by Sinassah and his followers. The majority of the wizards that were left served Sinassah. Few governments still stood in opposition to the powerful young wizard. Those that did, typically fell to his power. He had begun by working behind the scenes, winning prestige and influence in secret dealings. That lasted only a short time. He gained so much power and influence so quickly that there was no point in hiding it. He came out in the open, and by then it was too late. There was no one left strong enough to challenge him.
Almost no one. Uriel stood. He had always known that it would come down to the two of them. Somehow, he always knew that the deciding battle for all the world would be between him and his student. And now, the time had come.
He stood on the stony grassland,his bare feet touching rock. He concentrated on the sesation of his skin on the solid rock. He felt it, and then drew the energy of the stone into himself. He felt the strength of the earth course through his body, helping him to stand against the winds now swirling around him. He and the rocky surface were becoming one. Rain began to fall now. He could sense that it was cold, but through the power of the stony ground, he could not feel the sting of the icy drops. The wind whipped around him, but his robes and his hair and beard barely moved. He was becoming a stone pillar. He felt like he even stood a little straighter, a little taller. He closed his eyes and pictured himself as a mountain. As he breathed deep, he drew even more from the rocks beneath his feet. As he did, he felt himself get stronger. He concentrated on drawing in even more. Soon, Sinassah would be here and he would find that Urirel had become an unmoveable mountain.
Sinassah stood in his spot on the bluff and focused his magic enhanced eyes on the lone figure in the distance. He was sure it was Uriel, the last of the wizards. The last of his great foes. Everything he had done had led up to this moment. All the work and manipulations brought him here. He had started wars and he had ended wars. He had raised men and women to the throne and he had brought kings and queens to their knees. He had faced and killed every other wizard, destroying the Brotherhood of the Cloth. He had accomplished so much since he had left Uriel, but none of it would matter if he did not kill his old master today.
He broke his gaze away from his old teacher, and turned his attention to drawing in more from the air and the storm around him. The clouds above his head were black and thick, and they swirled out from him and expanded out over the grassy plain. Lightning struck out from the cloud and thunder shook the earth. He was not just drawing from the storm. He was the storm. He could always feel the storm inside him. He could feel it extending out from him and into the air around him, even on a calm day. For him, the storm was always there. He did not know where the storm started and he ended.It had been with him for so long. Despite it raging all around him, he felt calm. He straightened his fine black robes and pushed his hair away from his face. He was calm, despite having waited for so long for this day.
He turned to where his army had stopped behind the bluffs, ending their long march and beginning to form ranks, believing there would be a battle here. Sinassah smiled at them. He had spent much of his life bringing this force together, and it was a force unmatched anywhere in the world. There was no other army that would be able to stand up to the Black Army. His army. At the front of the mass of soldiers stood his standard, the Black Sun, bringing a new age of light and prosperity to all through the darkness. Many of the captains bore the mark on their tunics, worn over their armor. Sinassah stood and scaned the force, all dressed in black uniforms and black armor. His black army, his conquering force. He stood and looked at them, listening to the rain hitting the plates of armor and shields. These men had followed him into countless battles. They were loyal to him because they had seen what he could do, they had seen what he was. They looked to him like a god. In many ways, he was.
The army stood ready, waiting to follow him into what would be the last battle in his war. Soon they would march against the kingdom of Elosharra, the last free kingdom in the western lands. Elosharra, the home to the Eternal Crown and the White King. The first free kingdom, and the founding place of the Brotherhood of the Cloth, and the Council of Wizards. All of this had been established by the man Elosharr, who had come through the great border in the east. He had been known as the Eternal King, and was reverred as the greatest king the western lands had ever known. Soon the world would know a new great king. Sinassah would accomplish what Elosharr had set out to do. Sinassah would unite all the lands and all the peoples in the west under one king, and there would be peace in the land. They would worship him as the Second Eternal King. As he thought of taking the Eternal Crown and naming himself the White King, he felt excitement througout his body. The storm seemed to surge around him in response. The time had finally come.
He turned away from his army, and faced his old master again. Uriel was the last Wizard left to oppose Sinassah. All the others had either been destroyed or had joined Sinassah’s new order. The Brotherhood of ther Black had risen to take the place of the Cloth. The Council of Wizards had been destroyed, and Sinassah was now a council of one. Only Uriel Bayard remained. Sinassah would have it no other way. He had been hunting his old master for years now. Uriel had hidden himself away, but Sinassah always knew it would come down to this someday. He knew it was ineveitable.
The storm continued to build, Sinassah barely able to contain it much longer. It was time to destroy his old master. It was time to take Elosharra. It was time to become the Second Eternal King. He felt the energy of the storm surge within him, and it spurred him into movement. He ran to the edge of the bluff, feeling the rain and wind and energy from the lightning all around him and inside him. He stepped off the edge of the bluff and let the winds from the storm carry him to the lone figure standing on the plains. With a crash of thunder and a flash of ligthning, Sinassah landed in front of Uriel. The old man did not seem to react, standing as still as stone, his eyes closed. Sinassah breathed in and out heavily, the energy inside him raging.
Uriel opened his grey eyes and looked in the stormy blue eyes of his old student. There he could see the anger and hatred that fueled the storm all around the, Uriel had to be the opposite. If he had any hope of stopping the younger wizard, he had to be peace and quiet where Sinassah was turmoil and noise. He looked at the pale face, twisted into a hateful sneer, and he smiled. He would be peace. He would stand up to this storm.
Uriel spoke softly, but used his magic to project his voice of the storm, “Hello Sinassah. I have been waiting for you.”
“No,” the younger man replied, “you have been running from me. You have been hiding from me. I have been waiting and searching for you, and have been a coward, knowing you could not defeat me.” Now the younger man smiled. “You have finally run out of places to go. There is nowhere left to hide.”
Uriel remained calm as he spoke, “I always knew you would come here, my student. I always knew if I waited I would meet you here. So I waited, and now you are here.”
Sinassah laughed, the storm in his voice, “What are you hoping to accomplish, Uriel Bayard, last Brother of the Cloth? You cannot stop me. I will kill you, and end whatever plans you have. I will reign as the White King. I will bring peace to these lands, united under my banner and my laws. I will accomplish what the Brotherhood could not. Perhaps you are hoping to join me?” He laughed again.
“I intend to oppose you, Thunderborn. In life or in death, I will stand in opposition to you and what you stand for,” the old wizard replied.
“I am going to enjoy killing you, Bayard, and with you, the entire Brotherhood and Council will die.” The energy in the air changed. Uriel could feel it as Sinassah drew in as much as he could, preparing to attack. Lightning surrounded the younger wizard’s hands, surging between his fingers. He raised them up, and discharged the energy toward Uriel. The old man was prepared. He had already drawn in everything he could from the earth, creating an invisible barrier between him and his former student. Lightning shot from Sinassah’s outstretched hands, colliding with the invisible wall, being absorbed into the air.
Uriel collected the energy from the lightning as his wall absorbed it. He felt the energy surge within for a short moment, before he returned it to Sinassah, hoping to catch his former student by surprise. Sinassah simply put up his hand and caught all the lightning, discharging it into the sky directly above him. Uriel had not expected the move to harm Sinassah, instead hoping it would distract him for just a moment, breaking his concentration, leaving an opening. It seemed to work. Uriel reached out through his naked feet to the earth and sent all his will into it, causing tremors to sweep out toward Sinassah.
Sinassah’s concentration was broken for just a moment, but it was long enough for the tremors to successfully knock him down to the earth, breaking his concentration further, causing him to lose a portion of the energy he had drawn. He quickly tried to stand up again, but Uriel was prepared. The old master called on the grasses on the plains to grown and ensnare Sinassah, preventing him from standing and regaining his concentration. Uriel was a smart duelist. He knew he was outmatched in power, so he was trying to attack quickly, preventing Sinassah from countering. Sinassah had been arrogant, thinking he would be able to defeat his old master quickly, with one strike. He should have known better. Uriel was too smart for that. Uriel also knew better than anyone how much power Sinassah had. The young wizard would have to employ a new strategy.
He had been using his full concentration on drawing, and keeping in the power that was around him and then channeling it in to an attack. Most wizards had to do this in order to be effective. It left them open to attacks like this that broke their concentration and prevented them from getting it back. Most wizard duels were decided once one wizard’s concentration broke. A duelist rearely recovered. Uriel knew this, and his strategy was agressive and smart. Sinassah, was not an average wizard. In his studies he had learned how to break up his concentration, and focus on multiple things. He reached into his mind and pictured it as a room. In this room, he pictured a wall built right in the middle, and in the center of the wall was a door, enabling him to go between the two rooms. He walked through the door and stepped into the second room, while at the same time he stayed in the first room. In one room he would concentrate on recovering and standing up, avoiding further attacks from Uriel. In the other room he would focus on drawing in power and preparing to channel it into an attack of his own.
Uriel looked down on his old student, entangled in the long grasses of the Elosharran plains. He reached up and with all the energy he had left in him, drawn from the earth, he brought up chunks of earth around Sinassah and began dropping them onto his old student. The pieces of rock and dirt began to pile up on the black wizard, trapping him in a tomb of earth. Uriel could feel all his energy draining, leaving him exhausted, until he had almost nothing left, barely having enough strtength to remain standing. He looked at the small mountain in front of him, wondering if it would be enough.
The earth beneath him began to rumble and shake. Soon, small cracks were appearing in the mountain he had built. Sinassah was still alive, and he was finding a way out. Uriel had given everything he had in the attack. He began to try to draw in as much energy as he could, preparing to defend himself. His reserves were completely drained. He was not sure he would have enough to get up a proper defense before Sinassah was free.
As he breathed in deep, trying to draw in the earth’s energy around him, a bolt of lightning streaked from the dirt mountain to the sky, spewing out pieces of earth ad rock. Standing where the small mountain had been, was Sinassah, lightning pulsing from his hands. How had he drawn it all in so quickly? He was nearly fully charged again, and Uriel had nothing left.
Now that Sinassah was free, the two parts of his mind focused on Uriel. One was ready to defend against an attack from Uriel, the other was ready to unleash a storm at him. He looked at the old man, who could barely stand. He had nothing left. Sinassah reached into his mind, and tore down the wall. It was one room, full strength, ready to attack his old master. His master had been a better match than most wizards, but like all the others, he did not have the strength to match Sinassah. Sinassah knew the outcome of the duel before it had even happened. Now, it was simply the end. He began to channel all of his energy, preparing for one final blow.
“You should have joined me, old man,” he said, taunting the greyed man, “you could have been part of something great. I will take Elosharra. I will claim the Eternal Crown and become the White King, and in time, they will call me the Second Eternal King. You could have stood with me.”
Uriel limped forward a few steps and then stopped, and smiled at Sinassah, as he said, “You will never claim the Eternal Crown. The city and kingdom of Elosharra are out of your reach now. I may die today, but I have already defeated you.”
It wasn’t possible. How could the city and kingdom be out of his reach? They were just past the plains, and there was no one left to stand in his way. What did Uriel mean? He sent the winds from his storm as spies to find the kingdom, to find the Palalce of the White King. In an instant, thetraveled the miles that were between them and back. In an instant, what Uriel had said was confirmed. The kingdom, the crown, the city, the people were simply gone. Nothing but plains and foothills in their place, leading up to the Great Border. It was not just that the kingdom had been abandoned, but it was as iff it had never existed at all.
“What magic is this, old man? How was this thing done?” Sinassah snarled as he asked it.
“There are many magics, beyond what the Brotherhood taught, and beyond what you have read. There are magics older than Elosharr, and older than the eastern lands. For now, Elosharra is safely out of your reach.” The strain from speaking left Uriel weaker, making it hard for him to stand, causing him to cough.
In a moment of fury and rage, Sinassah screamed as he let go of the energy of the storm he was channeling. He let it go and sent it all toward Uriel. Every bit of everything he had went into his charge, all directed right at Uriel. No man would be able to survive it. As he screamed and let it all go, Uriel simply raised a hand, palming facing out, like he was warding off the attack. Fool! Sinassah thought. There was no way he could stop this attack. In an instant the air around them flashed, and then Uriel was simply gone, a scorched black spot left on the earth where he had been. Uriel was dead, and with him, the Brotherhood of the Cloth. Sinassah had won. No, he had almost won. Elosharra was lost to him, for now. He would have to find the magic they had used and find a way to undo it. He would claim the Eternal Crown.
His energy all spent, Sinassah collapsed to the ground. The storm around him subsided. The sun began to shine through as clouds began to break up. The heavy sheets of rain became a light drizzle. Sinassah simply knelt in the mud. He heard footsteps behind him, and looked to see Lord General Marok of his black army and two other soldiers approaching. They knew they would find him weak after the battle. They brought a chair to carry him back to the camp. Marok approached him first, and immediately went to one knee.
“Great Lord Sinassah, you are victorious again, as you knew you would be,” the faithful general bowed his head as he said it.
“We were almost successful, Lord General. Before he died, the old wizard took something from me. He thought it would defeat me, but it only delayed my ultimate vicotry. The kingdom of Elosharra is gone by a magic I do not know, and with it the Eternal Crown.” He sighed as he spoke, still feeling weak. “We will still march there. Have my priests ready. In the spot where the crown should be, I would still have them crown me the White King, and under that banner, all our lands will be united.”
The Lord General nodded his head, and then stood, waving the other men forward. The three of them worked together to lift their master onto his chair, and then they proceeded to carry him back to their army, victorious.
Jake Dietz is a story teller. In addition to the writings on this site, he is also the host of The Geeky Mormon Presents... -a weekly podcast on all things geek. He is also a husband and father of six beautiful children. He loves a good story and will take it in any format he can find.
© Jake Dietz 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jake Dietz with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Original artwork is © Samuel Norton 2016.