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Dwarven Treachery
Rise of the Mage Chapter 8
About this creation
“History is riddled with the pitiful remains of human beings who, in their hour of ill-conceived wisdom, decided to emulate the gods.”

This lesson was lost to Kaloyan, Mage of the West, and leader of the great rebellion against the Empire of Leon. Several days have passed since Kaloyan and his followers executed a violent incursion into the heartland of the Elven realms, leaving in their wake only cinders and chilling devastation. Kaloyan and the vampiri have since been busy following the steps of their master plan to bring down the Empire from the inside.

As the morning sun ascends over the serrated peaks of the Mitgardian Mountains, it illuminates the battlements of a small, isolated fortress. Pink light penetrates the windows of the lonely keep, as Kaloyan the Mage runs his hands through locks of jet-black hair, with a solemn realization that the night has gone by. He is alone in a small bedroom, hunched over a large display. Wooden blocks, large books, candles, and sawdust litter the floor of the small room, but the mage appears not to mind the clutter. He is concentrated on the task at hand; constructing a tower out of wooden blocks. He places the blocks down, stares off and rearranges them, occasionally picking one up, and notching it with a small blade. As he moves about the room, he talks under his breath; “It’s perfect, perfect…Now the observatory tower must be 30 meters to the right of the Alchemy basin…The spires must be Neo-Cyrinthian style… The main spire rises 40 meters over the level of the current bell tower.” As the mage continues to stare and adjust his model, the door of the room opens, allowing in an elderly servant, who carries a kettle of tea.




Roger: “Your tea is ready ser. By the gods, this floor is a mess! Are you sure I can’t sweep up a little? ”

Kaloyan: “Roger, can’t you see it’s almost finished? I’m not risking you knocking it all down with your clumsy sweeping. Besides, there’s a few parts missing that are somewhere on the floor, I don’t want you sweeping them up!”

Roger: “What exactly is it Ser? You haven’t left your room in three days! It’s not healthy to spend so much time indoors, you know. ”

Kaloyan: “Roger this is a scale replica of my future tower. Behold; the “Tower of the Archmage”! It’s three times the height of Edrin’s, four times the area, and has fifty more rooms and a grand rotunda! It will be the ultimate monument to my achievement!”

Roger: “Aren’t building block an activity for children ser?”

Kaloyan: “For children!? This is art Roger! Sure the concept is the same, but can children build like this?”

Roger: “I suppose not. Are you sure it’s a good idea to build it so tall Ser? I don’t think my legs could carry me on that kind of ascend.”




Kaloyan: “No need to worry about stairs Roger; you see the dwarves have already engineered a device that solves this problem. It’s a type of moving room pulled by ropes. It can rise from the base to the top floor in mere seconds!”

Roger: “Moving rooms? It sounds like magic Ser. I didn’t know the dwarves possessed magical ability.”

Kaloyan: “It’s technology Roger, the way of the future. When I run things magic and technology will coexist. No longer will they be in opposition! My armies will posses dwarven machines, as well as ancient demons! I will be remembered as the Great Unifier!”

Roger: “I admire your ambitions Ser, but I still think it’s a darn shame you have to sacrifice your health in this darkness. Perhaps I could open up a window?”

Kaloyan: “Forget it Roger, you don’t comprehend what I’m talking about…”

There is a knock at the door. A moment later it opens, and a beautiful woman walks through. She is pale as snow, but graceful and the gleam of her armor reflects the pink light of the rising sun. She looks to be in her twenties, but Kaloyan knows that this is a grand underestimation. She speaks.




Nya: “Kaloyan, Viktor has returned with the hunters. They have fetched our last person of interest and will bring him to the Great hall; prepare for the encounter and come to as soon as you can. I’ll be waiting outside.”

Kaloyan: “Nya, of course; I will be out shortly. Oh, Nya! …Err… You… You look beautiful today…”

Nya: “…Please hurry up.” (She walks out)

Roger: “Ser I’m starting to worry about the way you look at mistress Nya. I don’t think any good could come of your infatuation with her...”



Kaloyan: “What!? Don’t be preposterous Roger! I’m… I’m simply stating the facts. I say she is beautiful, just as the mountains are beautiful, and as the bright aurora in the sky is beautiful. I’m not expressing personal fancy… Can a man not appreciate a beautiful woman?!”

Roger: “Not when that woman is a blood-sucking demon Ser. You know, master Edrin always warned about the charm of Vampires…”

Kaloyan: “Here you go again Roger; talking about Edrin like he had any idea of what he was doing in life! Unlike him, I won’t spend my days locked away from the world, destined to die in servitude to peasants. Now leave me to prepare!”

Roger: “Of course Ser, as you wish.” (He exits)

Kaloyan walks out of the room and follows Nya down the corridor.




Kaloyan: “So they managed to grab everyone?”

Nya: “Yes, they got the Baron of Varocha while he was asleep. The Duke of Plevna was abducted while attending a play at the “Orb” theater, and the Grand Magistrate was ambushed while his carriage passed through the forests of Avalonia.”

Kaloyan: “Excellent! I trust their pockets weren’t empty when they were abducted?”

Nya: “We got thirteen chests of Gold and jewels overall. It should be more than enough to pay for our arms treaty with the dwarves.”

Kaloyan: “It seems things are going smoothly!”

Nya: “There is a small problem. A group of hunters were to take down a list of people who could be a threat to us in the coming war. They managed to hit all of their targets last night, with the notable exception of one; Asparuh the Champion of Leon. He is captain of the Royal Guard, and has been serving the crown for 40 years. Alas he was not at his residence when the hunters arrived. This is a major setback.”

Kaloyan: “Surely one old warrior can’t be detrimental to our plan?”



Nya: “This old warrior is the man who took down Vlad at Zagora so many years ago! He and his party single-handedly led the charge against the Vampiri. No, this was a golden opportunity wasted; he will now be alerted; thus must move with haste. Now come, Lord Bandrik is ready for us.”

Kaloyan: “Yes, let us see what else these noblemen are made of!”

Nya: “Bring in the prisoners.”

Vampiri Clansman: “Yes Milady.”

A group of well-dressed, shocked-looking noblemen is brought in. Before Kaloyan has a chance to speak a red-headed man draped in a regal blue garment steps forward and proclaims in the ringing tenor of a man used to command:



Magistrate: “Are you the leader of this jolly gang of riffraff? I say, this is most unacceptable; we have not been given water for half a day now! This process should be simple enough for your simple mind to handle; you kidnap us, you treat us well, you get your ransom money and then you let us go.”

Kaloyan: “Who are you calling simple minded you rich, pedantic geezer! You are in the presence of the greatest mage who ever lived! Show some respect or I’ll damn you to existence in a seashell!”

Magistrate: “Well now, it serves you no good to insult a Magistrate! I have never…”

Kaloyan: “And you will never again! Viktor, take this prune of a man down to the dungeon and show him just how miserable life can be!”

Viktor: “At once milord!” (He grabs the Magistrate)

Magistrate: “What are you doing!? Dare not lay a hand on me! Of by the Emperor’s crown, where are you taking me! Wait!!!” (He is dragged out of the room)

Kaloyan: “Well now, would any of you like to tell us about how simple-minded we are, or would you like to live to tell this story to your children?”



Duke: “What is going on here mage? If not for ransom why have you taken us? What are you planning?”

Kaloyan: “You’re the Duke of Plevna, if I’m not mistaking. My dead Duke, what you’re witnessing is the beginning of the end of your precious Empire! Soon we will be strong enough to take you on, and your allies will be too scared to come running to your aid! Very soon, you’ll be calling me Emperor!”

Duke: “This is treachery! This is madness!”

Kaloyan: “Madness? This is a revolution! Take him to the dungeon. Touch not a single hair on his head! We need him alive and well for the exchange. Get all of these wealthy gentlemen to the dungeon. And gentlemen, don’t worry about your coin; it’s going to a good cause.”

The guards escort the group out of the room. Kaloyan, Nya and Lord Bandrik begin to talk.



Kaloyan: “They will be useful later. Are we ready for the next phase of our plan?”
Lord Bandrik: “The dwarves of Omurtag have responded to our call; they will provide us with the siege weapons and arms we need to take the capital.”

Nya: “Now that we know how effective the dwarven weaponry is, and with the money these nobleshave kindly provided, we can utilize the kind of firepower that even the Empire cannot imagine!”

Kaloyan: “Siege engines forged in the fires of Omurtag, an ancient demon at our service, and a great dragon which can spew sire from the sky. My friends, our forces grow stronger by the hour!”

Lord Bandrik: “Indeed, Kaloyan. King Vanek Irongut has sent an invitation for us to oversee the production of our purchase. We are to be his guests at Omurtag, so that he can personally showcase his weapons.”

Kaloyan: “I have been dying to see the legendary Dwarf City for ages! Is the gold ready for transit?”

Nya: “It is en route to Omurtag as we speak. By the time we get there, King Vanek Irongut should be more than happy to greet us.”

Kaloyan: “Then let us depart today!”
Outside the Vostok fortress a small group of vampiri warriors steps into formation. The air is chilly, and the relentless mountain wind penetrates every exposed crevice. The clansmen depart; marching up snowy roads, and down mountain slopes towards the legendary city of stone.




---------------------------------------
Meanwhile in the Locrian forest, home of the world’s Elven clans, a small party of travelers makes its way through the trees. The haste in their step is apparent. There are soldiers here, but leading the group is an old man clad in shining armor, trailing a regal cape of blood-red color. He is Asparuh, Champion of Leon, and currently one of the most worried people in the land. After news of the attack on the Elven shrine, and the realization that Kaloyan the Mage is on the loose with no clear idea of the danger that he poses, Asparuh has ardently set his mind on catching up to the mage, and putting an end to his actions. He is accompanied by an old Orc Sorcerer, known only as “Him”, and a young prince of Leon; Jason, son of the Emperor. They have been travelling for three days now, and have finally made it into the Locrian forest. The smell of ash and cinder begins to overpower the smells of nature, and the party arrives at a scene of tremendous devastation. The men gasp at the sight.




Asparuh: “By the gods, what have they done?!”

Him: “They have leveled the forest a mile in every direction!”

Jason: “What was this place?”

Him: “An ancient holy site for the Elven race! The trees in this grove were thousands of years old. This is open war Asparuh! Nobody can get away with this kind of audacity!”

Asparuh: “Reserve your anger my friend, let us figure out what we can from this horrid scene.”

Jason: “Was there a road here? I can’t make anything out.”



Him: “This is the Locrian forest son, no proper roads exist. The elves stay close to nature, and they move through the woods like spirits. How could have someone surprised them? No man can sneak up on an elf.”

Asparuh: “Perhaps they were not men…Perhaps the mage has found allies who posses this kind of stealth.”

Soldier: “Movement across the creek!!” (An arrow rips past the party and buries itself into the nearest smoldering trunk)



Asparuh: “Stand down! An Elven arrow! Come out, we are allies!”
A group of Elven rangers emerges from the heaps of incinerated plant life, heir bows drawn and aimed at the company.

Elf: “Are you scavengers? What do men seek at the heart of this open wound!?”

Asparuh: “I am Asparuh of Leon, and I am here to catch the mage responsible for this transgression!”

Voice: “Asparuh! Is that really you?”

As Asparuh turns, a beautiful Elven woman steps out from behind the burned tree line. She is clad in emerald-green robes, and her face is youthful and fair. She speaks from across the water.



Asparuh: “Liarah… My god, I can’t believe it…”

Liarah: It’s Matriarch Liarah, and I am stunned to see your face after so many years… What are you doing here?”

Jason: “You two know each other?”



Liarah: “Do we know each other? He is my husband… He is the father of my daughter, and an absentee father at that! I repeat, what is it you’re doing here, and why is “Him” with you?”

Asparuh: “Liarah, we are here to stop the mage who did this. He is more dangerous than you can imagine. This... this is just the beginning! When he is through there will be no stopping him! We’re on his trail, can you help us?”

Jason: “Wait… you two are married? How did an old man like you end up with a beautiful young wife like you… ah… with all due respect Matriarch…”

Him: “As I recall she’s older than he is by a few decades… Sure can’t tell on an elf though. ”

Liarah: “Ah, “Him” how I’ve missed your racist remarks… If you are indeed here to find the mage, then we will help. There’s not too much left to recognize. But we are in luck; we found a young ranger who survived the onslaught. He is rather traumatized at the moment.”

Asparuh: “He survived this? Let me talk to him! It is imperative!”

Liarah: “Step forward young Mycota, the Imperial officer wishes to speak to you.”



Asparuh: “Lad, what happened?”

Mycota: “It was… it was… horrible. They came out of the trees, we never heard them coming!”

Asparuh: “Who came out of the trees?”

Mycota: “Demons, pale-skinned some armed and armored, led by the Mage of the West! They killed everyone, and then they took the elder! “

Him: “Vampiri! Kaloyan got to a clan! He is fully in Vlad’s grasp now!”

Asparuh: “And how did they do this? How did they set the forest ablaze?”

Mycota: “There was a large iron sphere with spikes… it clicked like a grasshopper, and made noises like raindrops on a tin roof…”

Liarah: “We do not know what brand of magic this is…”

Asparuh: “It’s not magic Liarah… it’s technology. I have seen this before, in Akuze. A dwarven mine was surrounded by an Orc horde. The Orcs were just about to breach the gate when the dwarves fired an iron sphere filled with black powder at the mass of the invaders. The charge incinerated everything surrounding it. This was the same mechanism, but bigger. They used a dwarven weapon!”

Him: “This residue, it tastes like black powder! You are right Asparuh!”

Liarah: “We managed to find this shard of the weapon.” (She tosses a metal object across)



Asparuh: “The alloy is familiar; I’ve seen it in dwarven axes on the market of Plevna. This shard came from Omurtag!”

Him: “Surely you don’t think Vanek would be foolish enough to sell weapons to the Vampiri!?”

Asparuh: “Alas I fear it is entirely plausible…”

Liarah: “Young prince, I hope you’re listening. What you are seeing here are the consequences of your father’s mistakes…”

Jason: “What? How is this the fault of my father? What do you mean Matriarch?”



Asparuh: “I will explain later, Jason, but right now we must move! Omurtag is three day’s trip from here; if Vanek sold weapons to the vampiri, he could lead us to them!”

Him: “What makes you think he’d be willing to talk? He hates your guts Asparuh, remember that!”

Asparuh: “And that fact pains me very day… But we can’t let that get in the way.”

Jason: “I’m starting to feel you’re not quite the knight in shining armor Imperials believe you are Asparuh.”

Asparuh: “Saving the world has its toll, both in terms of lives and friendships. It’s time to go. Liarah, it’s good seeing you again…”

Liarah: “Asparuh, I will not let you walk away empty-handed. You must stop this mage, and I will give you the best asset I can to help. My best ranger, yours and mine only daughter.”

Asparuh: “Surely you did not bring…”



Loki: “Hello father.”

Asparuh: “Loki…my little Loki how much you’ve grown…”

Him: “I hate to interrupt the family reunion, but we have a mage to catch Asparuh.”

Loki: “We’ll talk later father, I’m eager to put an arrow in the head of this sick sorcerer.”

Liarah: “Go with the Spirits my child, stop this evil, and make the elves proud. Farewell travelers.”

The rangers disappear in the trees, and the forest is one again silent.



Asparuh: “We’re headed to Omurtag. Mitgardians, return to your Jarl and let him know the vampiri tribes are involved and that they are armed with dwarven weapons. I want an army at the gates of Omurtag in three day’s time!”

Him: “Are you trying to start a war with the dwarves?”

Asparuh: “I’m trying to prevent one. Let’s go!”

---------------------------------
The city of Omurtag is the oldest and most massive Dwarven city in existence. It is an immense underground complex of buildings, canals and mine shafts. Travelers speculate that if all the buildings in the city were brought up on the surface, they would cover an area bigger than the Imperial Capital of Leon. Few surface dwellers are ever granted entry through the colossal gates, and those fortunate enough to enter never get to fully experience its scale.



As the morning sun caresses the treetops below, a small battalion of Vampiri Clansmen headed by Kaloyan the Mage witnesses an impressive sight. Protruding out of the rock, like a gigantic extension of the mountain, the Great Entrance of Omurtag greets the travelers. Its architecture is intricate; gigantic statues of legendary heroes stand guard. The gate seems impregnable; hardened by thousands of years of fortification and battle scars. The Dwarven Guards approach.



Dwarf: “Hold it human! What business do you have in Omurtag?”

Kaloyan: “I am Kaloyan the Mage, soon to be ruler of the Leon. I have an invitation from
King Irongut himself.”

Dwarf: “Ah yes, welcome to Omurtag My lord. Open the gate for the Great Mage Kaloyan!”




Beggar: “Hello there milord! Was all that gold that came in yours? Might I implore you to spend a sovereign on an old man so he can buy his supper?”

Nya: “How amusing, they greet us at the door with trash!”

Dwarf: “My apologies, Milady, bugger off you old coot before I knock ‘yer teeth out with the butt of this musket!”

Kaloyan: “Relax; it’s just an old man! Give him a coin; there’ll be plenty more where that came from!”

Nya: “Spending our gold on beggars? I think not! We need all resources for the fight! Guards get rid of this vagabond!”

Beggar: “Ay, no need, no need. I’ll be on my way. May the Ancestors watch over you Milord.”



Dwarf: “His Majesty is awaiting.”

Kaloyan: “Very well, lead the way.”

Kaloyan, Nya, Bandrik and the Vampiri enter through the gates and are led into an ornate entrance hall to a platform which moves, with heft and agility, downward bringing the party into the pits of the earth itself. As the moving floor descends, the temperature steadily rises. Hot sweat begins to drip down Kaloyan’s brow. The heat of the volcanic magma that runs through the city is what makes the residents resilient and tough, and it is one of the reasons why travelers and guests rarely find worlds to appropriately describe the city. A generally agreed upon depiction, is “somewhere between the most beautiful cathedral in existence, and hell on earth”.

The platform finally comes to a stop; the passengers disembark, and are led through a gate into the city’s wealthy district. Intricate mosaics, hexagonal architecture, heroic statues, and channels of flowing magma dominate the landscape. The heat is unbearable, and the party is led towards a major palace complex. At an impressive ornate door, a Royal Guardsman greets the visitors.



Guard: “Welcome to the Royal Palace of Omurtag. King Vanek Irongut awaits an audience with you and your lieutenants, milord. Your men can follow Bravik here to the local hostelry to relax while you negotiate. Right this way please.”



The decorated doors open, Kaloyan, Nya and Lord Bandrik enter. They find themselves in a lavishly decorated hall, ornamented by geometric designs and intricately etched masonry. At the far end of the hall rises a massive throne, in which sits the figure of a muscular old dwarf, dressed in regal attire, with a golden helm to signify his importance. He addresses the party.

King Vanek: “Kaloyan, Mage of the West, I presume?”



Kaloyan: “King Vanek Irongut!” (He bows) “It is an honor and pleasure to meet you and see your fair city first hand. Thank you for the invite!”

King Vanek: “I reckon if surfacers could stand the heat of Omurtag it could indeed be called fair, ehehe. Pleasure is all mine; your business is always appreciated here! I have received your payment, and it is very handsome indeed. I assumed you’d be eager to see what kind of firepower your coin will get you first hand, no?”



Nya: “We are indeed very interested your majesty.”

King Vanek: “Have a drink! Let me show you the wonders of dwarven engineering!”

A group of dwarves in peasant drab enters the room, carrying crates full of polished metal. The King speaks.



King Vanek: “This is our famous tempered steel! The hardest alloy imaginable. These arrow heads will go through Imperial armor like hot knife goes through butter! These swords can slice a man in half in the right hands! It’s sharp, it’s durable, and it is better than anything the cheap Imperials own. They stopped buying Dwarven steel you know! Instead they forge their own! Can you imagine! Humans making steel? Hahaha! Well, I’m sure they’ll soon regret that decision.”

Kaloyan: “It certainly looks impressive King Irongut!”



King Vanek: “Yes, but steel won’t win the battle for you! You’ll need heavy weapons to bring down the Imperial defenses. Our siege works are currently busy making catapults for you. Engineer Bosko is the master of the Siege Works. Bosko, explain the catapults to our guests. “

Engineer Bosko: “Our siege engines are the most technologically advanced artillery of their kind in the world. The gears mechanism and steam powered ejection system we’ve devised launch projectiles twice the distance and at five times the speed of the best imperial trebuchet! That means you can position them out of range of any wall-mounted artillery defense and smash a wall to smithereens!”

Lord Bandrik: “That is an incredible asset to us!”

King Vanek: “Yes, but the ace in the hold for you will be our refined Omurtag black powder! I trust you were satisfied with the sample we provided you?””

Nya: “It worked better than expected, your majesty! Leveled a forest a mile across! It will be an invaluable weapon in our fight.”

Engineer Bosko: “If you thought that was effective, you should try our concentrated variant. Instead of a bulky clockwork detonator it is ignited but an ordinary candle wick fuse encased in paraffin. The added space allows for three times the powder, unleashing an exothermic reaction so large that the iron casing fragments and accelerates at thirty times the speeds of musket shot.”

Lord Bandrik: “I’m not sure I follow…”

King Vanek: “Basically a weapon that can level a city block; buildings and all. Ten times as powerful as the tempest orb you tested. I trust you are satisfied with your purchase?”

Kaloyan: “That… is… incredible! By the Gods, no gate, no army, no grand fortress can withstand that blast! We are satisfied indeed, your majesty!”

King Vanek: “Excellent, please read over these manuscripts. We will go over the final quantities and discuss future business with you once you’ve finished.”
---------------------------------------

It is sunset when Asparuh, “Him”, Prince Jason and Loki arrive at the gate of the great dwarf city. Upon approaching they are met with open hostility.



Dwarf: “What is your business in Omurtag human?”

Asparuh: “Sir Asparuh of Leon, requesting an audience with King Irongut.”

Dwarf: “Who do you think you are, requesting a meeting with the King?! Bugger off before things get nasty, old man!”

Him: “It’s not a good idea to yell at an Imperial officer, especially the Champion of Leon. You lads must know this man saved your city from civil war when the Steelcasters were at your throats?”

Dwarf: “Who he was is irrelevant! He bows down to the Emperor now, and he is not welcome, King’s orders!”



Asparuh: “Well it looks like they won’t make this easy.”

Jason: “What’s the problem with imperials? Why is there all this resentment towards my father all over?”

Him: “Dwarves, Elves and Orcs were heavily sanctioned after your father won the war against Vlad, young Jason. They became second-class citizens. The dwarves were taxed heavily so that local human industry would boom. That was a death sentence for Omurtag whose number one export is cast metal products.”

Loki: “Make sure to also mention, how shameful it was for anyone of a certain race to be called hero. Isn’t that so father? Were you and mother not both at Zagora? And did you not get all the glory, and she all the backlash? Tell Jason here how his father made being married to an elf so embarrassing for you that you left mother to serve your holy King instead!”



Asparuh: “Your mother made a choice to leave the capital! She knew full-well my responsibilities to the crown!”

Him: “Enough! We will have time to argue over the past when this mage is stopped! The quick answer to your question, Jason, is that your father’s policies for better or worse, made being a dwarf a pitiful condition, and severed the economic lifeline of the city; which is why they now sell arms to crazed mages.”



Beggar: “Excuse me Milord, might you spare a sovereign for an old man to buy himself some supper?”

Asparuh: “Here you go fellow, stay someplace warm tonight.”

Beggar: “Ancestors bless you milord! Thank you for your generosity! You’re a far kinder man than that these guards. You have to be a rich mage in Omurtag to get any hospitality these days…”

Him: “What did you say? A mage coming to Omurtag?””

Beggar: “Ay ser, someone by the name of Kaloyan. Not a bad fellow; but his entourage would not spare a copper piece on my account this morning, andthey brought 13 chests of treasure through that gate… figured they could part with one measly coin, almost got myself killed I did.”

Asparuh: “Kaloyan? Here?? At this moment??! Are you sure?”

Begger: “Oh yes Milord, he came in a few hours ago. Took him right in, they did, paying big coin for weapons he is! King Irongut greeting him himself down at the palace! So goes the word on the street.”

Jason: “Then we must head inside!”

Asparuh: “And face off against a force of vampiri, and a thousand dwarves who hate the Empire? Not a wise move.”

Him: “Very true. Alas they now know we’re here; they will alert the King and surely escape via another route!”



Asparuh: “Not necessarily! Jason and I are uniformed, but you and Loki are not. Here’s the plan. We declare Clause VII of the Felberg Resolution, the right to a forced diplomatic meeting between Heads of State and Imperial envoys! Jason and I go in to confront Vanek, while you remain topside and track anyone who exits. Loki, use all the haste you can muster; get to the nearest Mitgardian post and grab as many soldiers as you can! Give them this order, signed by me!”

Him: “A forced diplomatic meeting? You’re no envoy!”

Asparuh: “No, but Prince Jason is! Here representing the Imperial crown, and I am his bodyguard. They are powerless; they must let us in!”

Him: “It’s just might work… but be careful in there! If you’re not out by sundown we barge in with a platoon of Mitgardians!”

Asparuh: “Agreed. Follow me Jason!”
------------------------------------
Deep underground in the palace district of Omurtag, King Irongut entertains his guests in throne room.



King Vanek: “…To which the barmaiden responds; wait, if that’s what you call hung like an ogre, I feel sorry for the women in your country! Hahaha!”

Nya: (nervous chuckle) “Aha yes, very clever… Your Majesty, perhaps we could finalize the numbers. We must be on our way soon.”

King Vanek: “What, you just got here? I have so many more ales for you to try! You must see my distillery, I implore you; the best ale in all of Omurtag!”

Kaloyan: “What Lady Nya is trying to say is that we are organizing a rather timely rebellion and would rather put your weapons to use sooner rather than later, Your majesty. “

King Vanek: “Aha, yes, very well. As long as you knock those Imperials down a few pegs, ‘tis alright by me. Ahem. So we have four million, six hundred and twenty thousand, five hundred thirty-one sovereigns and thirty coppers. That lovely sum gets you thirteen thousand arrow heads, six thousand four hundred swords, 10 catapults, thirty Tempest orbs and two Doombringer cannons. Ordinarily I’d charge a lot more for those beauties, but seeing as you’ll be pointing them at the front gate of the greatest war criminal who ever lived, I’m throwing them in for free!”

Nya: “And we appreciate your generosity your majesty! We will make sure to kill many Imperials!”

King Vanek: “As long as you kill the Emperor and send me his head on a platter, I can’t give less of a damn how many of his men you take with him. The first shipment is already en route to you, and we will need a few weeks to build and ship the rest. I think this is all on the business side of things! Now if you would reconsider my proposal, there is a Tavern in the Palace District that features…

(Door opens, worried dwarf walks in)



Dwarf: “I apologize for the interruption your majesty, but two Imperial officers have enacted Clause VII of the Felberg Resolution, and are on their way down now! One of them is Asparuh of Leon!”

King Vanek: “Impossible! Stall him! Bring him here, but lock all the access shafts to Topaz District! Clear the weapon crates, move this table! Put these goblets away!”

Dwarf: “Yes majesty.”

Kaloyan: ‘Is there a problem? We have a battalion of trained warriors awaiting a chance to gut some Imperials!”

Nya: “Asparuh!?The Empire’s best asset, here!? We must take him down King Irongut!”

King Vanek: “Oh no, no, no! I’m not having any Imperials killed in my city, Ancestors no! They’ll march a whole legion up here by sunrise tomorrow and trap us down here until we starve… No, no you have to flee!”

Kaloyan: “How do you propose we avoid a standoff?”

King Vanek: “Through there; follow the stairs; they’ll lead you to a corridor. Follow it and you’ll come out by the gate before they leave the city! Go now, I will stall them! Your men will be brought up by access shaft.”

Nya: “They mustn’t find any clues of our deal your majesty!”

King Vanek: “They won’t have an inkling of a clue. It’s been a pleasure, farewell.” (He slides the door closed) “Ah, Tarkan, what is it?”

Dwarf: “The Imperial Envoy has arrived, your Majesty. Shall I let them in?”

King Vanek: “Yes, let’s see the face of everyone’s favorite hero!”
The door opens and Asparuh and Jason are brought in under heavy guard.



King Vanek: “Well here’s a sight for my old eyes to behold! The self-righteous buffoon of a Champion, accompanied by the infamous third in line heir of the most oppressive dynasty that ever ruled! What are you doing in my city?!”

Asparuh: “Hello old friend, you have some answering to do. We are here on a diplomatic mission from Leon. Sources tell us you’ve been arming militants, heart-set on destroying Leon.”



King Vanek: “Who I arm is none of your business Asparuh! The life blood of this city is the metal trade; I sell to the highest bidder, and don’t care about their intentions.”

Asparuh: “And you would sell arms to Kaloyan the Mage?!

King Vanek: “Kaloyan? Never heard of him!”

Asparuh: “Then explain this!” (He slams the tempest orb shard on Vanek’s desk) “Found it in the Locrian forest; they leveled an Elven shrine with it Vanek! This is serious! They’ll target the Empire next! Do you know what that mage is capable of? Do you know he’s being manipulated?! Vlad is back! He is controlling the mage! They plan to open a gate to Erebus!”



King Vanek: “Vlad… But… I mean; How dare you accuse me of this kind of treachery!! This shard is clearly not dwarven made. Imitators emulating our design, nothing more. The elves were… always jealous of our arms!”

Jason: “I’m sorry Your Majesty, are you implying that the elves attempted to make explosives and blew themselves up? In the middle of a holy site?!”

King Vanek: “I never said Elves were all that smart. Takes a fool to think otherwise; isn’t that right Asparuh? Didn’t your Elven princess run off to dance in the woods rather than stay the wife of the Imperial hero? Hahaha… The life some people squander! Well, not people…as it were.”

Asparuh: “Watch your tongue Vanek! If we find that a single arrow head that came from here finds its way to an imperial soldier, there will be dire consequences!”



King Vanek: “That’s King Irongut to you, and if you weren’t Imperial scum I would have had you crushed to death already, but we dwarves know our place, don’t we Asparuh? I dismiss your accusations, now if there’ll be nothing else, get out of my city!”

Asparuh: “Then there is nothing more to say. Farewell King Irongut, may your consciousness awaken before it’s too late for us all!”

(Asparuh and Jason are led out of the throne room)

-------------------------------------

It is nightfall by the Great gate of Omurtag. Asparuh and Jason emerge from the gate, and are approached by a “Him” and a Mitgardian soldier.



Him: “About bloody time! I was starting to worry about you two! Any luck?”

Asparuh: “He denied everything. I know Vanek, I think he was lying. There was a glimmer of fear in his eyes when I mentioned Vlad… Not something I have seen in him before. Any news here?”

Him: “We have not seen him, but a while ago a company of armored men fled the city via a hidden access shaft. They were carrying crates; we found this in their wake”

Jason: “An arrow head? Dwarven made?”

Asparuh: “I knew it! Have you tracked them?”

Him: “Your daughter is leading a battalion of Mitgardian soldiers by their tracks. We can catch up to them if we leave now. They’re likely leading us straight to their base of operation. A major battle is coming!”

Jason: “I don’t understand why the dwarves support this Kaloyan! Cant’ they see their own downfall in his actions?”



Asparuh: “You wanted to see the reality of life on this endeavor, Prince Jason? Here it is; we live in an uncertain world. Our allies are few, and our enemies numerous. We have gotten to the top of the world, but done so at a great price, and sacrificed many friendships along the way. Vanek was my closest friend, but has turned into my nemesis. The elves that once valiantly fought for Leon now hide away in fear of the Mage, and many more tribes and nations would gladly see us capsize, and wait for an opportunity to engage us. When your brothers one day inherit the throne, there may not be much of an Empire left to rule, but I am determined to preserve the peace, or die trying. This starts with the end of this Mage, and the end of Vlad’s influence! Let us go and cross swords with our fears and demons. Let us cut the visceral substance of our enemy down, before he may do the same to us. Let us stop the mage before the gates of hell themselves open, and devour our world. Let us make peace with our children once again.

(To be continued…)



Comments

 I like it 
  September 28, 2013
Brilliant! I love the characters and the story of this chapter was particularly engaging. Was the bit about building blocks a reference to how some people scorn AFOLS and TFOLs for "playing with a child's toy"?
 I like it 
  August 19, 2013
Amazing... just... Amazing. Well build, GREAT story!
 I like it 
  March 21, 2013
Awesome dwarf statues and I love the rockwork behind them! Amazing work!
 I like it 
  December 19, 2012
Awesome creation!
 I like it 
  June 10, 2012
Excellent !
  June 7, 2012
Roger: “Aren’t building block an activity for children ser?” Kaloyan: “For children!? This is art Roger! Sure the concept is the same, but can children build like this?” -Best line of dialogue yet. I'm loving this series!
 I like it 
  June 4, 2012
Nice Moc! Everything looks wonderful here, especially the top of the castle :)
 I like it 
  May 11, 2012
I love it when a plot comes together. It's great, now that things are drawing to an end, to see all the threads twining together and all the facts from the pre-Rise of the Mage adventures coming into play. I'm thuroughly enjoying this series. -Ben
 I made it 
  May 10, 2012
Quoting Marc dZ I hope you will lead your story far enough to build the "tower of the Archmage"... lol ! It could be a "pretty big" MOC. Anyway, as I always say: don't mess around with female-vampyre or with dwarves. Another epic story greatly writen. The final battle with 10,000 minifigs should be awesome!! (What? it's not what I read?!!? Toooo bad!!)
I'm about 9,800 minifigs short of that but if you have a few thousand you can lend I'll build that battle for you ;) Thanks for reading, glad you like it!
 I like it 
  May 10, 2012
I hope you will lead your story far enough to build the "tower of the Archmage"... lol ! It could be a "pretty big" MOC. Anyway, as I always say: don't mess around with female-vampyre or with dwarves. Another epic story greatly writen. The final battle with 10,000 minifigs should be awesome!! (What? it's not what I read?!!? Toooo bad!!)
 I like it 
  May 9, 2012
wow! you re a man with many talents! great scene design, fig design, and story telling, although I admit I did nt read it all, as it s very lenghty and the medieval theme is nt my fav, the bits I ve red where very solid story wise, a great piece of art if you ask me, everything is just...perfect! congratulation!
 I like it 
  May 8, 2012
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant, as ever. I noticed a couple of Norse Mythology references in there too! haha. Amazing job. --Blast--
 I like it 
  May 8, 2012
Now this is world building! Great characters, great stories and beautiful build Lego sceneries to put it all together!
 I like it 
  May 7, 2012
I have been a fan of this story since maybe the third or fourth part, and i absolutely love it! your building skills (which are outstanding) are surpassed by your storytelling ability! once this story is done, you should consider making it into a book. Seriously.
 I like it 
  May 6, 2012
Incredible! Beautiful! I could never even dream of making a creation like this. Great story.
 I like it 
  May 6, 2012
Outstanding!
 I like it 
  May 5, 2012
A P strikes again! Excellent work as always! In particular I feel like the color scheme on this one really stands out. Keep 'em coming!
 I like it 
  May 5, 2012
Great..!
 I like it 
  May 3, 2012
Your sets are fantastic! Nice work!
  May 2, 2012
Waaahhhooo! Great story, great mocs!
 I like it 
  May 2, 2012
I love this. Great technique, Amazing minifigs, stunning scenery I just love this build.
 I like it 
  April 30, 2012
Fabulous work as usual! The figs are stunning, the techniques are amazing, and the builds are indescribable. I'm excited to see the next three chapters, but it will be very sad when its done.
 I like it 
  April 30, 2012
Fantastic,as usual. :)
 I like it 
  April 30, 2012
Amazing story line. This is one of my favorite ongoing story here on MOC pages. Between the fantastic builds and the story you have a winning combo.
A P
 I like it 
~~Patrick~~ .
  April 29, 2012
The build and the story line are as, amazing as ever.
 I made it 
  April 29, 2012
Quoting Josh.O Shadeslayer it sucks that those builds take so long:(
I agree, but rejoice since summer is coming the next 3 chapters will appear much quicker, as I'll have more time to build! :)
 I like it 
  April 29, 2012
Wonderful build and story!
 I like it 
  April 29, 2012
Beautiful build inside and out-so many lovely details :) Great story!
 I like it 
  April 29, 2012
each build deserves credit, nice story too.
 I like it 
  April 29, 2012
oh yahhh these are great
 I like it 
  April 29, 2012
Detailed landscaping, cool figures and the story looks good (Though I didn't read it).
A P
 I like it 
Büürli Burri
  April 28, 2012
You're such a good builder... each MOC of you inspires me sooooo much. There are always a lot of details, like the door and the statues in the main pic. Not to forget the absolutely beautiful rockwork.
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
it sucks that those builds take so long:(
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Wow..... You need to make this a book. I would totally buy a copy.
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
I know I drop this word around a lot, but this time I think we can all agree that your builds are FLAWLESS. You ever considered publishing this story btw?
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
The builds are jaw-dropiingly beautiful as usual! You're truly a master!
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
You building is superb! The details and presentation are incredible! I also adore your story telling is incredible! I can't decide who I want to prevail in this fascinating tale! Rhyme haha but seriously you are a great writer as well as builder! I love when you post these it makes my day!
 I made it 
  April 28, 2012
Thank you very much for the kind words guys! :) Three more chapters to go.
Quoting Ej Stan So GOOD! So Kaloyan is an AFOL, huh? XD anyways, where did you get the damaged scroll piece. I've seen it before in your works, but haven't found it online.
The scroll is a Brick warriors piece just like the Vampii armors/swords/shields. Look under the accessories: http://www.brickwarriors.com/Scroll.aspx
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
This is stunning!
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Amazing, once again! Keep 'em coming!
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
So GOOD! So Kaloyan is an AFOL, huh? XD anyways, where did you get the damaged scroll piece. I've seen it before in your works, but haven't found it online.
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Impressive story, and stunning MOCs! The amount of detail in every scene is awe-inspiring, incredible work!
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Another great chapter to this story! The builds here are great, but I must say that now you have me wanting to see Kaloyan's tower fully built and realized.
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
No story I've ever read was this inspiring before! I want more!
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Your sense of balance for textures, color and value, and visual rhythms is just outstanding! Nice story - FANTASTIC building!
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Imperssive job. Fantastic "sets".
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
You never cease to amaze me.
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Perfect! Loved everything. Rock-work, storyline, minifigs... just everything. Speaking for not only myself (I don't think I'm out of line here); I say: WE WANT MORE!
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Story-line: Perfect. Builds: Perfect. Everything in-between: Perfect. Overall: Indescribable!
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
Apart from the brilliant story, the longer I look at your MOCs, hte more amazing details appear.
 I like it 
  April 28, 2012
What more is there to say about this that I haven't already said on previous episodes of this saga :D Great figs, amazing techniques, engaging story, and flawless builds. Amazing job!
A P
Someone You Don't Know…
  April 27, 2012
Very well written, not to mention the sets! This story makes a rather confusing stand; Half of you wants Kayolan to succeed, half of you want the Empire to reamin. *shrug* I'll just wait for next issue!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
You definately have skill with storytelling! I cannot wait until the next chapter!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Your story-telling and builds are second-to-none!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
beautiful as always. really like the dwarven statues!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Amazing, as always - so many fine details to look at, and those statues are just wonderful :)
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Mega, as always!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
This is amazing! i dont see how it could be better! great characters and story!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
TOTALLTY AWESOME
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Some great sets for this well written episode!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
The suspense! Can't wait for the next one!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
All of this is phenomenal, but my favorite part is the magnificent entrance to the Dwarven city.
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Excellent! I'm really curious about how it is all going to end. On one hand I'm like on Kaloyan's side, but then again he's a villain (maybe with a good side deep down?). Great MOCs to illustrate an already magnificent story. Congrats master Alex!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Wow amazing builds!!!!!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
So good! I can't wait to see how this continues.
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
You have the most unique MOC story running here. Not only is your story interesting, I only skim it, but you builds are spectacular. I love the dwarven statues outside of the mine. Very simplified, but perfect. Keep it up!
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Great job! Both the writing and the building are excellent! Keep up the good work.
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
One of the best castle mocs and stories ever. Great job.
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Wonderful statues.
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
Oh, my goodness.. That first scene with the dwarven statues is a work of gold. But that shouldn't be a surprise with your talent. This work is really an inspiration.
 I like it 
  April 27, 2012
First comment!By the way this is pure awesomeness keep them coming!!
 
By A P
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