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Chapter 2 -- The Madman and the King
Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.

I fought many battles in that time, but two in particular are important, as they led to important increases in my capabilities. Specifically, from each I acquired a ring of mystic power.

The first such was, in fact, my first battle after leaving Ket's service. I was told, in a small town on the eastern coast of Africa, about a wild and dangerous creature known simply as the Madman. He attacked farms, killing all he found using his clawed hands.

I spoke with a warrior named Gar who had been one of a group sent to kill the Madman; only Gar returned. He described the Madman as short and wizened, but very strong and fast. Perhaps the most horrific thing about the Madman was the fact that any wound inflicted on him healed very quickly.

I prepared my spells, and the next morning I left in search of the Madman. He was said to attack only by night, so I assumed he slept by day. The townspeople advanced many theories about where he might be found, but based on the pattern of his attacks I deduced that he lived in the farm house where he performed his first murders. I was right.

At first it seemed no battle; I became invisible, and crept into the house. He was asleep on the floor, sleeping beside a perfectly serviceable bed. Had I not been trained as a necromancer the human body parts strewn about the two-room shack would have made me retch, or weep, or both. It was obvious that he was a cannibal.

Before he had time to awaken I cast a Paralysis spell on him. I had expected to thus make him helpless, and then to drag him back to town.

To my surprise, as soon as I spoke he leapt to his feet and charged at me. The Paralysis spell seemed only to slow him, and he shook like a wet dog to rid himself of it.

I didn't have time to cast a spell; so I raised my staff and fought. Round and round the small room we went; I nearly slipped on a puddle of blood, and he came at me at that sign of weakness. I struck forward with my staff, catching him in the forehead, and he reeled backward into the wall.

Several more times we feinted and parried like that, and then I saw an opening and struck with the tip of my staff into his chest. It caved in with a sickening sound, and he fell backward.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I took a step back. Why I stepped away from a downed foe I don't know, but it saved me... for as I watched his collapsed chest rose back into place, and he lifted his head slowly to show me an evil grin.

As he charged again I was prepared for him, and with a word I released a powerful spell of Sleep on him. He fought it, tried to shake it off, but I had prepared another just like it, and I used it.

I bound him with all the rope and cloth I could find. This gave me time to study him, and a simple spell of Mystic Vision revealed that he wore a magic ring. This, it turned out, was the source of his rapid healing: a Ring of Regeneration.

I took it from him, put it on, and then, as he was helpless, I dragged him back to the town. By then the spells had passed, and he was gibbering and screaming. The chieftain pronounced sentence on him quickly, and the next day they hung him. Perhaps in these latter days, he would be committed to an institution instead, but in those days that's how it was done. I accepted my payment and moved on.

The second ring came from a corrupt king of a seaside nation at the southern tip of Africa. I have by now forgotten the name of the nation, but the king was named Elmarin.

I did not intend to slay him; his nation was too powerful, and I was just one man. I was, in fact, just passing through.

As I walked down a street in a merchant district, I heard a cry of pain from down a narrow alley. There I saw two scruffy-looking men wrestling with a young boy. Ordinarily I would not pay much attention to such things (as children often overact to draw sympathetic attention), but this boy was much better dressed and cleaner than his opponents.

I stepped into the end of the alleyway and said, "What are you doing with that boy?" In answer, one of them turned and charged at me, brandishing a dagger. I stopped him with a Paralysis spell, and he fell on the dagger. By the time I turned him over I could see he was dead.

The other assailant released his young captive, and said "You're in big trouble, friend. Tigris will have your hide for interfering with his pleasure."

Now, I had heard of this Tigris. He was the mage-in-residence at Elmarin's castle, and had created (I was told) many powerful enchantments to protect the castle. I had also heard that he had unsavory appetites, but I really hadn't wanted to know any more.

So be it. "My friend, you will take me to this Tigris," I said, and then with three words and a gesture I compelled him to obey.

I am no great master of illusion, and I know it, so I chose a simple one: I impersonated the other thug. I instructed the thug under my control, whose name I have since forgotten, to take me to Tigris and to do all the talking, allowing me to avoid giving myself away.

We entered the palace of Elmarin by the rear entrance, as servants do. My guide spoke to some of the people we met, but I just grunted, feigning a cold. Presently we entered the private chambers of Tigris.

"I thought I sent you for a boy! Have you failed me, then?" yelled the tall, dark-skinned mage. He wore a light robe such as rich men wore when resting at home.

The thug began to sputter, unable to think clearly under the control of the Domination spell. I waved my hand at Tigris, saying a single word, and released a Paralysis spell.

Tigris was made of sterner stuff than the thug, though, and I could see he was going to resist the spell, so I quickly followed with a spell of Lightning. The bolt turned out not to be fatal to him, but he was made unconscious. I cast Sleep upon the thug, who was showing signs of overcoming the Domination; then I bound and gagged them both, and went to work looking for Tigris' spell books.

I had just found them, hidden under his huge bed, when I heard a noise from behind me. I turned and found Tigris standing up, no longer bound. "How," I began, and he interrupted with a spell of Paralysis.

"You fool. This perhaps is a bad time for you to learn this, but it is possible to cast spells without speaking. It is not the sound of the words but the mental act of forming them that makes the magic work. If you had time to read my books you might have learned the spell of Freedom which I used to overcome your bonds." He walked up beside the bed, which I had fallen upon when my muscles had failed me, and drew his dagger. "Now, I'd like to interrogate you, but you are much too dangerous, so goodbye." With that, he stabbed me in the chest. I died.

Well, I did, just as anyone in the modern world might die on the operating table, only to be brought back by doctors using advanced medical knowledge. Tigris did not know of the ring on my hand, and he turned away too quickly after removing the knife, so he did not see the flow of blood cease. The Ring of Regeneration repaired my ruptured heart, and I lay there, worrying that he would turn back and notice I was no longer dead before the spell of Paralysis wore off.

He didn't. I stood up quietly, and saw that he was trying to counter my spell on the thug. I decided to keep it simple, and released a Force Bolt spell of twofold power. He was transfixed, and as he turned and saw me I could see his shock and confusion. Then he died.

I always hated pedophiles, and I always will.

Unfortunately the scuffle had not gone unnoticed. The door burst open, and no less than five spearmen rushed in, menacing me. I was surprised, but even as I tried to cast my spell of Kinetic Shield they stabbed me.

I awoke in a cell, bound and gagged. Outside the cell stood a man of regal bearing in fine clothes with a leering grin. Elmarin, I supposed to myself. Behind him stood several guards. "You have killed Tigris, my chief mage, and so you must die. I have learned you are called Solomoriah. I have come here, Solomoriah, to thank you kindly for this fine ring, which saved your life. As you will not be needing it anymore I will wear it instead."

I remembered what Tigris had said about casting spells; he hadn't known that I also knew the spell of Freedom, though I didn't have it prepared. I began to cast it, forming the words in my mind as if I were speaking them, and I felt the mystic energies flowing into me.

Fortunately kings love to talk, and Elmarin was no exception. He continued in the same vein long enough for me to complete the spell, and as my bonds fell away I quickly spoke the word to activate my Kinetic Shield. I was just in time, as the guards rushed forward to stab at me through the bars with their spears. Elmarin stepped back behind them, toward the exit, as I released my Force Bolts one by one against the spearmen.

When the last guard fell, Elmarin turned tail and ran. The Freedom spell was already exhausted, so I used a simple Spirit Servant spell to retrieve the keys from the jailer's desk. I assume one of the fallen spearmen was the jailer, but frankly I don't know.

I was behind Elmarin by some seconds, but I still had spells left. I used a spell of Speed first. Then, Invisibility seemed prudent, and I cast it as I ran after him. I easily reached the corrupt King as he fled up the stairs and into a servant's hallway. I was nearly out of spells by this point, so I grabbed a nearby lampstand and struck him over the head with it. The bronze pole bent with the force of my strike, and he fell. Invisibility is a fragile spell, but I kept my mind calm even as I struck at him, and it did not fail me. I took all the rings he was wearing (for there were several) and fled the palace. I didn't slow down until I was outside the city.

Later I had time to study my "booty" and discovered one of his rings (besides the one he had taken from me) was enchanted. It took a while to puzzle it out, but I discovered that the ring served to detect scrying. Scrying refers to any spell or device which allows one to spy on a person or place remotely; a crystal ball, for instance, which incidentally are worthless for telling the future but quite handy for watching one's enemies.

The ring had a large blue sapphire in it, which I discovered turned orange when I was being scryed upon. The change was so fast that no one scrying upon me would be able to see it.

As I wore my Ring of Regeneration on my left hand, I put the Ring of the King (as I called it) on my right. It proved to be nearly as useful as the Ring of Regeneration in my battles against evil mages.

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The Adventures of Solo Jones Last Updated 07/18/2005