Shadow of the Dark Wizard

dark castle

Image: spyderonlines.com

The Third Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

For the first two stories in this series, see The Day the Dragon Came to Live with Us and Rescuing a Dragon.

Tarmreiboth the Dark Wizard had become very interested in the spaces between worlds recently, and with good reason. It was being used by fugitives.

Tarmreiboth resided in a realm ruled by his family for thousands of generations that was dangerously near the void between the dimensions. It’s near in the sense that the darkness from the void enters Tarmreiboth’s realm rendering it dark as well. It has always been that way, as far back as the eldritch sages of the Storvian Mountains remembered, which was a considerable length of time.

Yet this darkness rendered Setioval, which was the name of Tarmreiboth’s dark planet, strangely immune to detection by the Shadow Dragons who ruled the space between worlds. It may have helped that the denizens of Setioval were just as black hearted and evil as the Shadow Dragons, but it was still a puzzle why the Dragons never visited their realm.

No matter, since they never have. Still Tarmreiboth liked to keep an eye on what was happening in the void.

An Ambrosial Dragon making the crossing between one dimension and the next was unusual but not unheard of. The dragon having two human companions from Earth with him was unprecedented. Earth was almost a forgotten legend in the world of Setioval. This astonishing reminder led Tarmreiboth to do a little research.

His castle resting at the top of the Moaning Summit had a great many rooms and a great many levels, from the Dungeons of Despair at the very lowest sub-level to the Griffon’s Tower which completely overlooked the shadowed valley of En.

Of all the Dark Wizards who have held the Castle of Moaning Summit, Tarmreiboth was among the finest of scholars. He had inherited a vast library that he himself in nearly two centuries of life, still had barely read one tenth of its contents. It took him hours to find the Tome of the Antediluvian Kings. It told the tale of mages and necromancers so evil that to even pronounce their names out loud was to bring the most ghastly of curses upon yourself and your family line for ten generations.

It told the tale, some say it’s merely a fable, of the sorcerers who discovered the space between worlds and how to transverse that space, but only by the forbidden blood magic. It was in the last days, right before the flood, that the thousand and their families wove a powerful spell in obsidian and violet that created the bridge between Earth and Setioval.

In the beginning, Setioval was inhabited only by the Wraiths and their Elvish slaves. While wielding powerful magic themselves, the Wraiths were no match for the mystical might of the thousand.

Gan, the first to be awarded the title of Dark Wizard, ruler of all Setioval, established his Kingdom upon the corpses of ten million Wraiths. The Elvish were freed but the Dark Wizard did not do so out of a sense of compassion or justice. The Elvish had secrets of their own that the thousand could use, and the Elvish women were pleasing to the eye.

Now, untold tens or hundreds of thousands of years since (or even perhaps longer), there was still an unsullied remnant of Elvish, who are the eldritch sages of the Storvian Mountains, but except for a population set aside for the purposes of blood sacrifices, no pure human lineage remained, thus Tarmreiboth, though looking very human in most respects, still had the pointed ears and unnatural golden eyes of the Elvish.

It had to be true then. Earth was the ancient home of the thousand who came here to escape the planet crushing flood. But miraculously, there was still an Earth and still humans residing upon it. Tarmreiboth had seen that much. But what manner of humans were these who were accompanied by an Ambrosial Dragon? An alliance between the two races, particularly if they had the secret of travel between the dimensions, might even prove a threat to Setioval.

As the currently reigning Dark Wizard, Tarmreiboth had a responsibility to investigate.

It had been weeks since the Dark Wizard had observed the Dragon and the two humans first leave their planet for the Maripon Realm, home of the Serpents of Crystal, and then return from whence they came. Tarmreiboth was intelligent and learned but not always particularly wise. Two hundred years was young for a Dark Wizard, his life extended both by Elvish heritage and bathing in the blood of the innocent.

He decided to simply follow the path the Dragon and humans had taken home and see where it led. The spell to transverse the void was a simple one, more simple that you might imagine. The ancient thousand had recorded ephemeral passageways through the void even the Shadow Dragons did not know of. The knowledge of those passageways was passed down the ancestral line from one Dark Wizard to the next.

Thus, Tarmreiboth spoke the words in the Master’s language that wove the spell, simple but requiring great power. Holding his ebony scepter, the symbol of his ruling status as Dark Wizard, he raised it high and spoke the final words of the spell, invoking the magic that created a portal through dark space to another world.

Tonight would be the first time since before the great flood that a human descendent of the thousand magicians who had escaped this world travelled back to the planet of their origin, Earth.

******

A thousand meters behind Grandpa’s house in the great field in the tall grass, something glowed dark purple. It was late at night. The only other lights visible were the stars. The dark new moon was unseen in the skies above.

The glow got bigger, big as a boy, big as a man. It shimmered and then was gone, and Tarmreiboth, the Dark Wizard of Setioval walked the face of the Earth.

He could sense the Ambrosial Dragon’s magic coming from a structure ahead of him. To Tarmreiboth’s eyes, Grandpa’s house seemed common and even quaint. He strode forward, following the sense of the Dragon’s magic, drawing ever nearer to Grandpa’s house, and his seven-year-old grandson Landon’s room where Buddy the Dragon and Landon slept.

The cold of October was of little consequence to the Wizard as he walked around the side of the house. It was always cold on Setioval, a consequence of rule by evil and darkness. He liked the cold dark night of Earth. If he had his way, it would always remain so and there would be no dawning of the Sun.

The blinds of Landon’s bedroom windows were closed but this did not impede Tarmreiboth. A brief spell and he had a vision of the bedroom’s interior. He was taken aback to discover that the dragon was sleeping while embracing a small boy. The child could be no more than six or seven years.

Children were held in little regard on Setioval until they were ready to become apprentices and learn a trade. Tarmreiboth remembered being only a little older than this sleeping child when he entered into the apprenticeship of Lars the Elvish mage. It would have been unseemly for his own father, the previous Dark Wizard, to begin little Tarm’s training. That would come later when Tarmreiboth had mastered the first twelve lessons of magic which were the foundation of every wizard’s training. Then, when Tarm was age twelve, his father took over his tutelage.

Tarm missed the old Elvish mage still, his kindness, his love for the boy. His father Ettariel practiced in the true evil, taught by fear and torture. Tarmreiboth learned his lessons well, impressing even his cruel father. He learned the dark evil so well that he murdered his hated father on Tarm’s eighteenth birthday and assumed the mantle of the Dark Wizard.

******

Even while still asleep, Buddy felt cold, monstrously cold. He shivered under the covers, though his body was as warm and comfortable as Landon’s. Something horrible was near. Buddy could smell it.

The golden dragon woke up with a start. He reached out with his senses and felt a powerful threat very nearby. He slid out from under the covers and in a bound was through the window without breaking it or even making a sound.

Whoever or whatever had been standing just outside Landon’s bedroom was gone. It wasn’t a dream. Someone real and with great dark magic had been here. It had a strange smell but also a familiar one. It smelled of magic and of strange creatures but it also smelled human.

******

Tarmreiboth sulked upon the Sable Throne. He had an opportunity in the palm of his hands, but he didn’t know how to take it.

He was aware of the Ambrosial Dragons, fabled for the skill in the arts of Illuminative Magic, the magic for good. Only the Shadow Dragons in all their power had dared to attack their realm and they only overpowered the golden dragons by sheer numbers and by the stealth of their unexpected invasion.

The Ambrosial Dragons were dead or scattered among the many planets and dimensions accessible through the void between worlds. Now Tarmreiboth the Dark Wizard had discovered a single Ambrosial Dragon. A single dragon could be attacked with the possibility of success, but it would still be highly dangerous, even for the Dark Wizard.

Of course, Tarmreiboth could take an army of ten thousand Wraiths with him and simply overpower the dragon, but he had bigger plans for the dragon and for Earth, so he did not want to reveal his power to the humans, not yet.

If he could defeat the dragon, steal his power and add it to his own, twisting the light magic into dark, then the home of his ancestors would be defenseless. They had no magicians, or so few and so puny as to be inconsequential. Once the dragon was drained and dead, Tarmreiboth could lead a vast army of Wraiths across the bridge between their two realms and conquer the Earth. All humanity would be his slaves, and there would be no end of subjects for the blood sacrifice.

He could do it. He could be the first Dark Wizard to rule two realms, the realm of Setioval and the realm of Earth. Only the dragon stood in his way.

How to capture the dragon without enduring a fierce battle that Tarmreiboth could lose? Wait! The boy! Of course. It was obvious that the dragon had a strong attachment to the boy, perhaps the child was the dragon’s pet.

In any case, it would be a simple matter to kidnap the boy and throw him into the Dungeons of Despair beneath the Castle of Moaning Summit. Then he could force the dragon to come to him. There were preparations to make, but he knew exactly what to do. Before a fortnight was out, he would have the power of the Ambrosial Dragon. With the draconian creature and his human companion dead, the gateway to conquering Earth would open wide before the Dark Wizard and the Wraiths of Setioval.

******

Monday morning. Landon was at school. His Daddy had gone to work hours ago, leaving Grandpa at home with his little sister Dani and with Buddy the Dragon.

It was recess. Landon had been playing “airplane” with some of the other boys. But while the other children were pretending to fly around as their favorite aircraft, Landon was secretly pretending to be a flying dragon.

Landon, bundled up against the chilly autumn morning, extended his arms out to his side, though when he thought no one was looking, he’d flap them up and down the way Buddy flapped his wings.

******

Back at Grandpa’s house, the old man was making a snack for his granddaughter and the ever hungry dragon. Buddy and Dani were playing together in the living room, wrestling around on the floor. As Grandpa finished cutting the first roll of salmon sushi, the dragon suddenly stood with his head in the air sniffing.

“What’s the matter, Buddy?”

The dragon whispered, “Oh no,” and then with a grim look on his face leapt up and out the back window, again without breaking it, landed on the back patio for a moment, and then moving his wings faster than a hummingbird’s rocketed into the air in the direction of Landon’s school.

******

Landon was at the far end of the playground and about to swing back toward the school. He was still pretending to fly, even though his pals had decided to climb on the jungle gym. Suddenly, he felt very cold, much colder than the air around him, and he got really scared, though there wasn’t any danger apparent.

A violet light appeared just behind Landon. He’d seen that light before. It was the spell to make a bridge between worlds. Before he could get away, two hands emerged, grabbed the boy, and dragged him into the rift.

“Help me! Help me, Bud…” was all Landon had time to scream before he left our universe.

Streaking through the brilliant blue sky above, Buddy the Dragon was seconds late to save his best friend, and before anyone could see him well enough to discover he was a dragon, he soared upward, too high and fast for the eyes of the children and adults on the playground to follow.

“Dragon!” The voice in Buddy’s head was dripping with malevolence. “I have your boy. If you want him back, you will have to come to me. If you want him back, you will have to obey my every whim. If you fail to come, I promise you that the boy will die a long and painful death.

The scent between Buddy and his unseen foe was strong and it would be child’s play for the dragon to follow the stench of evil to its source. There was no choice at all. To save Landon, Buddy would risk everything including his very life.

Buddy soared even higher and then swung around into a dive. He leveled out and recited the spell in the Master’s language, the one that would create the bridge between him and whoever had dared to touch Landon. The only question was whether Buddy would go into that world as a conqueror or a slave.

The air around the dragon glowed a deep, dark purple, and with a popping sound, Buddy ceased to exist on Earth.

******

The skies of Setioval were always dark. The only lights were those from dwelling places, from lightning, from volcanos, and from the dim, eerie glow of the planet itself. In the distance, he could see the Castle of Moaning Summit approach rapidly. He could smell the Dark Wizard’s magic strongly but searched for Landon’s scent in vain.

The dragon had long heard rumors of Setioval, but knowledge of such an evil place was most often hidden. It was said that for an Ambrosial Dragon to enter the realm of the Dark Wizard meant certain death. Buddy was the first to test this theory.

He landed in front of the castle. It was black but bright light came out of the main gates which were left wide open. Buddy took off again, but only slowly flew the length of the main entry hall to the throne room at the center of the castle.

As the dragon approached, ten dark Wraiths, literal shadows with heads, arms, and legs, pulled open the gigantic doors leading into the throne room. Buddy did not hesitate to enter, though passing by the Wraiths caused a chill that sunk down to the marrow of his bones.

Buddy landed in the throne room and stared at the fierce visage of the Dark Wizard on his throne, scepter of his rule resting in his right hand.

“I am Tarmreiboth, the Dark Wizard ruling Setioval. I am glad you answered my summons.” The wizard used his scepter to point to Buddy bidding him to come closer.

Tarmreiboth spoke in the language of the Dragons, so Buddy responded in kind. “What do you want, Termreiboth?”

“Why you, of course. More specifically, your magic, all of it. In exchange, I will release the boy you apparently value so highly, and return him home.”

“What guarantee do I have you will fulfill your word, Wizard.” Anger was filling the dragon’s heart. He could smell the wizard’s lies all the way across the room.

“I give you no guarantee, Dragon. I have the boy in my dungeon. His cell is surrounded by a hundred Wraiths. Even if you could find him, you’d never get past a hundred of such as they.”

Buddy knew this was true. He could defeat ten, maybe twenty Wraiths, but the mystic evil substance which gave them form could also destroy Buddy if there were enough of it.

“You have no choice but to obey me, Dragon.” The Wizard thought he totally controlled Buddy.

“What do you want me to do?” Buddy reached out with all of his natural and magical senses. He thought he caught Landon’s scent momentarily directly beneath him but the horrible smell of a hundred vile and fetid Wraiths was over powering his senses.

“There is a circle drawn in the center of this room, surrounded at five points by candles. Within the circle, ancient, magical runes are drawn.”

Buddy looked closely at the circle but didn’t recognize any of the signs drawn by the Wizard. They were ancient even beyond the existence of the Ambrosial Dragons. The Dark Wizard was master of a vastly old power indeed, one Buddy would be helpless to fight if he entered that circle.

“I think you’ve guessed what I want you to do next, Dragon.”

Buddy stepped forward submissively, seemingly prepared to enter the circle. Tarmreiboth stood and stepped down from the high dias upon which his throne rested, having to turn to one side to step down to the floor.

This was Buddy’s only chance. He could attack Tarmreiboth with magic, but as a consequence, the Wraiths guarding Landon might kill him. If the dragon was going to save the boy, he would have to move now.

The Dark Wizard would have detected an imminent mystical attack but Buddy didn’t use magic. The dragon shot forward with the speed of a projectile striking Tarmreiboth on the right side, knocking him to the back of the room, the wizard’s scepter went flying.

Though magic made the wizard much stronger than an ordinary human being, the dragon’s blow rendered him momentarily unconscious. Buddy felt the Wraiths surrounding Landon’s cell become confused. Their mystical barrier hiding the child was no longer perfectly intact.

Buddy used a spell related to the one that bridges worlds to fold the space between him and Landon’s cell.

Landon could barely see. He was terrified. He kept whispering, calling out to Buddy, hoping by some miracle his friend would come to save him.

There was a sudden flash that blinded Landon and then he heard a familiar voice.

“Landon. Love Landon. Come quick.”

“Buddy!” Landon’s heart was filled with relief and joy as the dragon embraced the boy and repeated the spell, taking them both back to Tarmreiboth’s throne room.

Buddy had folded the distance between the dungeon cell and the Dark Wizard’s throne room too fast and when they arrived just slightly above the floor, they both fell. Buddy rolled to one side, and Landon ended up at the center of the magic circle surrounded by black candles.

Buddy looked up and saw the danger. Tarmreiboth was back on his feet and once again wielding his scepter.

“No!” Buddy surrounded Landon with a protection spell just as the all-consuming green flame from the Dark Wizard’s wand struck the little boy. The interplay of magic within the mystic circle was unexpected by both the dragon and the wizard. Buddy used a simple light spell to cause a brilliant flash to temporarily blind Tarmreiboth.

Landon had been thrown outside the circle and was unconscious. Buddy had to get him outside the castle so he could create the bridge back home and get the boy to safety.

He grasped Landon in his front claws and flew him outside, just as he heard the wizard screaming at his Wraiths who had made their way up from the dungeon, “Get them! Kill them!”

It always took great power to summon the bridge across the space between worlds. Buddy landed, set the still unconscious boy down behind him and facing the castle, began the spell.

In the distance, he saw a hundred Wraiths pour out the front gates of the castle, heading right for them. Buddy was weak. He wasn’t sure if he could build the spell in time. Had his body recovered enough magic after the battle within the Castle of Moaning Summit?

Landon’s eyes fluttered as he started to wake up. He saw the back of the dragon, the purple glow of the transport spell, but he could also hear the hisses and hungry moans of the approaching Wraith army.

As Landon got up to his hands and knees and tried to stand, he could see his skin glowing softly with a white light.

The Wraiths were almost upon them now and the spell still wasn’t ready. “Hold me. Hold me Landon.” If Landon could get as close as possible to the dragon, maybe the volume of the transfer field wouldn’t have to be too big saving energy and time.

Landon hugged his friend from behind. “I love you, Buddy.” Then they both felt an abrupt shock like electricity. Landon felt the magic inside Buddy’s body and amazingly, Buddy felt magic inside of Landon’s.

The magic combined strengthening and triggering the transfer spell. There was a flash of violet and a loud pop as the first of the Wraiths just barely missed grasping the dragon and the boy.

******

Grandpa and Daddy had to tell a big lie to the school principal, Landon’s teacher, and the police, all of whom thought Landon had disappeared and maybe had been kidnapped by a bad guy. They had to say that Landon had a doctor’s appointment and had to be taken out of school by Grandpa.

The lie never would have worked if Buddy hadn’t used magic to rewrite the memories of everyone (except for Grandpa, Daddy, and Landon) so they believed just exactly what Grandpa said.

So no one at school and certainly not the police ever found out that Landon really was kidnapped. Who would have ever believed that a wizard from another dimension took Landon right off the playground to hold him hostage for a dragon?

“I’m so glad you’re back safe, Landon.” Landon’s Daddy could hardly stop hugging and holding onto Landon. He was so glad nothing bad happened to his son.

David, Landon’s Daddy, was also pretty mad at Buddy. It was his fault that wizard from the dark dimension took Landon in the first place. But he was also really glad that Buddy rescued Landon and brought him home safe and sound.

Grandpa and Daddy would have to think long and hard about how to keep Landon and Dani safe from enemies that wanted to do harm to Buddy. But their decision would have to come another day.

******

Night at Grandpa’s house. Everyone was asleep. Well, everyone except Buddy and Landon.

“What happened to me, Buddy? Do I have magic inside of me?”

Buddy had a pretty good idea what happened to Landon but it would be hard to explain. Landon was in a mystic circle with magical properties all its own that had started to act upon the boy.

Tarmreiboth had used his scepter to shoot a green fire spell at Landon, trying to kill him in revenge for Buddy attacking him. At the same time, Buddy surrounded Landon with a spell to protect the boy. All three magic spells interacted and in some way, infusing Landon’s body with magic. The magic was still inside of him and was stable. Buddy looked and saw the energy was not getting stronger but it wasn’t getting weaker either.

“You got magic. You got magic inside.” The dragon was searching for the right words. “My magic, wizard’s magic, circle’s magic all got together. Made strange magic inside Landon. Landon’s magic helped Buddy’s magic get us home. Landon still has magic. Maybe always have magic.”

“Can I do spells? Can you teach me?” Landon was so excited. He’d read stories and saw movies about boys and girls who could do magic. That was just pretend but this was real and cool.

Buddy thought about it. He knew the consequences of letting the untrained contain magic. With magic, you never just left it alone. You either trained to control it or it controlled you. If the latter, it either turned you evil or it ate you up from the inside.

Those were not consequences Buddy envisioned for Landon.

“Me train. Me train Landon. Train magic. Make spell.”

Landon started to yell in happiness but Buddy clamped a claw over his mouth and whispered, “Secret. Big secret. No train tonight. Sleep now.”

Buddy could only imagine what would happen if Grandpa and David ever found out that Landon was struck by magic spells and the aftereffects included Landon containing magic. He also imagined how they’d react if they found out Buddy was going to train Landon how to use magic spells.

Buddy hated to lie to Grandpa and David, but things were tense enough around the house as it was. He didn’t want to add to all that, so he and Landon had a secret. Soon, there would be two trained magic wielders in the family, Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon, and Landon.

This morning, I was sitting down at the kitchen table with my grandson. He wanted to contribute to the next dragon story, so together, we came up with this one. Naturally, I’m the one doing the writing, but he definitely gets credit as collaborating on the plot.

The next story in this series is A Bright Light in the Darkness. Landon uses magic for the first time and without permission.

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4 thoughts on “Shadow of the Dark Wizard

  1. You’re making me remember part of why I wouldn’t have wanted to send my kids to (and won’t want my grandchildren to attend) preschool or daycare. Most develop appetites for worrisome interests.

    Like

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