Mad mage claire agon ran.., p.1
Mad Mage_Claire-Agon Ranger, page 1part #3 of Ranger Series Series
Copyright © 2017 by Salvador Mercer.
All Rights Reserved
First Electronic Edition
Published by Diamond Star Publishing
For information contact; [email protected]
Edited by: Courtney Umphress
Book and Cover design by Christine Savoie aka ‘Cagnes’ c2017
Art and Stock Photo Credits:
Lich by Ratislav Le
Interior Icons: Svetlana Shirokova | Dreamstime.com
Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
First Edition: November 2017
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Other Books by Salvador Mercer
Claire-Agon Dragon Series
The Blue Dragon: A Claire-Agon Dragon Book 1
The Green Dragon: A Claire-Agon Dragon Book 2
The Black Dragon: A Claire-Agon Dragon Book 3
The White Dragon: A Claire-Agon Dragon Book 4
The Red Dragon: A Claire-Agon Dragon Book 5
Claire-Agon Ranger Series
Ranger Rising: Claire-Agon Ranger Book 1
Dead Druid: Claire-Agon Ranger Book 2
A thousand years ago, on the world of Claire-Agon, a war raged between men and dragons
The saga continues as a simple Ulathan family faces mad wizards, crazed undead, bloodthirsty barbarians and the world's most noted thieves and assassins.
The planet Dor Akun, known as Father Death, approaches with the great Pentium Passing occurring only once every thousand years, and promises to fulfil age old prophecies, revealing a secret that will resurrect ancient evils to the world of Claire-Agon... Dragons.
Can Targon free his family and help stem the tide of darkness that threatens to cover the land before it's too late?
Sean and John
Temple of Akun
Contact the Author
About the Author
The “Science” of Claire Agon
Mad Mage Glossary
The Blue Dragon
Chapter 1 Excerpt
(From the Dragon Books)
Go to SalvadorMercer.com for a full size version of this map.
“Suicide is not a custom of ours,” Am-Sultain said with his back to the door, standing and preparing something on a table that was placed along the far wall.
“You are pretentious as ever,” Ke-Tor responded, giving a good shove on the heavy wooden door to ensure it latched and locked properly behind him. The dead bodies of the guards outside would remain as a deterrent to anyone who might consider intervening in the impending conflict.
Sultain managed to turn his head slightly, enough to peer back over his shoulder and see the rebellious wizard who dared entered his personal chamber within the Onyx Tower. “You killed Grenson, then?”
“Must you ask?” The last echoing sounds of the metal lock latching from the door faded away, leaving the two men standing in silence.
“Well, his absence was noted the last few weeks, as was your arrival in our capital, despite your rudeness in not appearing before the High-Mage.”
Sultain’s use of the third person to refer to himself wasn’t lost on Ke-Tor. “Your presumption is a weakness.”
“A weakness?” Sultain asked, his tone carrying with it a hint of sarcasm. “Pray tell, what others may I have?” The High-Mage continued to finish his preparations, trying to buy time at the wizard’s unannounced arrival.
Ke-Tor seemed to notice. “You have had over two months to prepare for our meeting, and yet you dally with impotent magical preparation?”
Sultain wasn’t going to allow himself to be distracted so easily. “I have completed many preparations long before you knew how to use a staff or utter a simple incantation. Besides, would you not allow an old man a few moments to clean and prepare himself for such an auspicious occasion?”
The man did not become the ruler of the Kesh by sheer luck or happenstance. His words flowed melodiously, unlike Ke-Tor, who never mastered the enchantments of verbal influence or public speaking. His retort sounded harsh by comparison. “Auspicious, indeed.” His voice seemed to grate against the very rock of the Onyx Tower. “You will not grovel as Grenson did. No, you are too proud and haughty for a display of humiliation such as that. Come now, let us finish our business that should have been handled long ago.”
Sultain stopped for a moment, his back still to the rebellious wizard. Then, with a slight tilt of his head and a resumption of his work, he said, “I have been waiting patiently for your arrival. It was you who dallied long.”
“You failed to meet me at Torra’s Square,” Ke-Tor replied.
“Such a display of power in front of the masses would have been vulgar, though this comes as no surprise to me. I refused your challenge for exactly that reason,” Sultain lied. Truth be told, he had no intention of giving up any advantage in a challenge to the death with Ke-Tor. Grenson was a good friend and a powerful wizard; in fact, he could have easily been an Arch-Mage, so for Ke-Tor to dispatch the man so easily meant that the wizard had either concealed his power well the last few years, or had discovered a new magical weapon that was lethal to their kind. Here, in the Onyx Tower, Sultain had options and defenses that worked in his favor.
“You are a coward.” Ke-Tor’s simple response seemed lacking, but since the art of prose was unknown to the wizard, crass, crude, and direct language was all that remained in his verbal repertoire.
“Call me what y
“Indeed, High-Mage,” Ke-Tor said, using a sarcastic and even derisive tone when speaking the man’s title.
The High-Mage simply nodded and finished his preparations by stoppering the small glass orbs filled with various chemicals that were used to intensify magic. He would need them to ensure his rival’s destruction. Turning, he slid them gently within a fold of his robe and picked up his staff that leaned against the table nearby.
He walked a short way to stand in front of his chair used to reign over his subjects, much as a throne would be used by a king. He didn’t sit, however, standing with this metallic staff in one hand, and the other fiddling with his magical trinkets in a voluminous robe pocket. “You are a fool.”
Ke-Tor scowled, but then quickly, his facial expression changed, and he took several steps to come closer to the High-Mage. His own metallic staff reverberated off the stone floor with each step of his right foot, and the gemstone normally mounted atop it was now covered in a black silk covering that was held loosely wrapped in the very hand that held the staff. Ke-Tor stopped and looked at the magically blocked windows before responding. “It is hot in here.”
Sultain narrowed his eyes at the sight of the covered staff, not sure what the usurping wizard was up to. Still, he intended to end this quickly, but Kesh custom was rather strict, and as the ruling High-Mage, some courtesies were to be expected before the death of a fellow wizard. “Indeed,” Sultain said, motioning toward either side of the tower’s chamber and uttering a couple of arcane words.
The magical force fields that sealed the arched windows were lifted, and immediately, a cool fall breeze wafted in, lifting the edges of both men’s robes and gently moving the tapestries hanging from the hard stone walls. They heard the sounds of fighting and death as sword clanged against sword and men cursed at one another in the streets and courtyard below the tower’s compound.
Ke-Tor closed his eyes for a moment and tilted his head back, taking a deep breath, and extended his arms as if welcoming the sounds of chaos and death below them. “That is much better. Your hospitality will remain legend.”
Sultain narrowed his eyes further; in fact, if they narrowed any further, they’d be shut. The High-Mage didn’t attempt to hide his own scowl at the rude remark by the suicidal wizard who appeared to be intoxicated on more than just power. “Your legend will fade quickly,” Sultain said, resisting the urge to hurl a magic orb at Ke-Tor. “That I can assure you.”
“You can assure nothing.” Ke-Tor quickly brought his head forward to level his gaze at the leader of the Kesh, and his melodious expression quickly turned to one of anger. That, at least, was something Sultain could deal with, being expected from his own caste, especially Ke-Tor, who was known for his temper. Ke-Tor continued. “You cannot assure the safety of your own deputy, a fellow wizard, nor that of the citizens who serve you.”
Sultain understood this to mean the Onyx Tower’s staff who appeared to be under assault even now as they wasted time on verbal barbs and jabs. The High-Mage’s patience was starting to wear thin, but caution was what had kept the man atop the Kesh hierarchy for decades, and he wasn’t about to let a little-known angry wizard throw him off his game. He took a deep breath and responded, “Perhaps you performed a favor for me?”
Ke-Tor took no such time to think, retorting, “Doubtful. That groveling sack of dung was a poor excuse to call wizard, much less be allowed into our ancient tower of magic. No, you most likely did not need him, but you surely did not expect to lose him. There is much you are not expecting this day.”
Gripping his staff tighter and grasping firmly onto one of the two orbs, Sultain lowered his voice. “I may have a few surprises this day, but in your own statement, you recognize the power of this place and the peril you bring upon yourself by entering in the manner you did . . . and it is my tower, not ours.”
Both men knew that the ancient power of the Onyx Tower was beyond either of their full comprehension, but the tower’s magic was primarily defensive in nature, designed by their ancient ancestors to protect the High-Mage and his council should an invading army or calamity befall their order. Having spent the most time in the tower, Sultain had managed to unlock a few of its secrets and used them to construct an orderly defense that would work to his benefit. Ke-Tor would be blind to its traps and risked his own life by entering it in such a manner, but the rebellious wizard was not acting that way, much to Sultain’s consternation.
“Now it is my turn to state the truth . . . You are the fool, Sultain. You have lost your sight to that pagan druid and were blinded to what lay unmolested and hidden in Ulatha for centuries, and now you will pay the price for your ignorance.” The reference was an insult to Sultain for having the great critir in the Chamber of Seeing cracked and useless at the long-distant seeing battle between mage and druid. Truth be told, Ke-Tor’s statement was quite accurate, as Sultain could no longer pierce the veil of darkness in faraway lands, and he never saw the moment in time when Ke-Tor came across an ancient secret tucked away in a high tower in Ulatha.
“Then may the better fool win,” Sultain exclaimed, pulling out one of his two small orbs and hurling it at the traitorous wizard.
The orb flew through the air, quickly at first and then losing momentum and arcing downward toward the stone floor at Ke-Tor’s feet. Sultain raised his staff and leveled it, gemstone tip first at the rebellious wizard, and he summoned the magic of the charged particles into and then at Ke-Tor in the form of a lightning bolt. His timing was perfect. The orb shattered at the would-be usurper’s feet and splayed the compound of magically enhanced chemicals all around, and onto the wizard’s robe.
The bolt hit the wizard square in the chest, while the contents from the magical orb conducted it throughout the man’s body. Blue waves of electricity danced along Ke-Tor’s body and robe, even arcing between his staff and the floor. The electrical bolt was so strong and so violent that it blew the silky black cover from Ke-Tor’s staff, revealing the top and what had been magically fused there.
A miniature dragon skull.
“Hold your’z positions, men,” the commander of the gate guard barked as the men under his command wavered under the onslaught of small handheld crossbow darts shot from the darkness across the inner-city street.
The gate had been magically blown from its hinges, and the twisted iron bars lay strewn not only across the road that ringed the complex housing the Onyx Tower but within the courtyard, as well. Several guards had perished under the magical assault, which was not seen. The assailants were as invisible as the magic-user who had blasted the gates to smithereens.
The line of nearly a dozen guards, holding high shields covering them from ankle to head in front of them, stood firm upon hearing their commander’s voice. The High-Mage had chosen the tower’s personal security from among the most elite of Kesh’s brigand caste, though that wasn’t saying much in some parts of Agon. Still, the resolve of the men held due to something much stronger than courage, honor, or duty. They held the line out of fear, fear from the consequences of what their High-Mage would do to them if they ran, broke, or both.
There was nothing to strike back at, the darts slowing in intensity as the sounds of more fighting near the barracks down the main road came to their ears. Suddenly, the dark courtyard, lit only by torches and fire brands, came alive in a bath of blazing blue light from the windows high above them in the Onyx Tower. The hammer blow of thunder pounded across not only the entire complex but all of Keshtor, as well. It had been centuries since such a show of force was seen in such a sacred place.
“That’s the High-Mage coming, boys,” the commander yelled, his spirits soaring as the magical display from the tower could be nothing other than Am-Sultain preparing to do battle with the evil assassins who now assaulted them. “Hold your ground.”
The thunder from the intense blue light was so loud, and the display so bright, that the small darts stopped altogether, p
His smugness quickly left when the last roar of thunder dissipated and the eerie laughter of a mad man tickled their ears. The crazed, insane laughter of someone on the edge of hysteria floated down from the Onyx Tower.
Sultain slowly drew his staff back and looked at what should have been the charred remains of the insubordinate wizard. There should have been nothing left to identify the man known as Ke-Tor. Instead, the crazed silence of the last thunderclap was replaced by a gurgling laugh emanating from Ke-Tor, who seemed to have reveled in the electrical attack, much as a dirty man would enjoy a hot bath, splashing warm water over his body. Ke-Tor seemed to swirl his body. His arms and even his robe swayed from side to side as all parts played with the last remnants of voltage that slowly went to the ground.
The laughter intensified as if from a crazed animal, and the dragon skull showed a sparkle as the last of the small static electrical discharges raced across its smooth surface. The eyes of both Ke-Tor and the dragon skull started to glow a bright red, quite the opposite of the usual blue color that the Kesh were used to seeing when discharging magic.
Ke-Tor abruptly stopped his laughter and looked menacingly at the once-proud High-Mage before speaking. “Fool, indeed.” He leaned his staff forward to point it at his leader.
by Salvador Mercer have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes