Authors: Brian S. Pratt
Tags: #action, #adult, #adventure, #ancient, #brian s pratt, #epic, #fantasy, #magic, #paypal, #playing, #role, #rpg, #ruins, #series, #spell, #teen, #the broken key, #the morcyth saga, #troll, #young
Copyright 2006, 2008
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The Fantasy Worlds of
Brian S. Pratt
The Morcyth Saga
*(Conclusion of The Morcyth Saga)
Travail of The Dark Mage
Sequel to The Morcyth Saga
The Broken Key
Dungeon Crawler Adventures
The Adventurer’s Guild
For my grandparents who took me places and
gave me the joy of travel, and of seeing new sights. The yearly
treks to Alberta, Canada where I worked on my uncle’s farm are some
of the fondest memories of my childhood.
Thank you both.
Easy, not too much now.
He stares across the small room to the focal
point of his attention. Slowly, only a minuscule amount at a time,
he lets the magic flow. As the magic reaches the object, it
activates the latent spells embedded within. He begins feeling a
subtle drawing of power as the object absorbs magic from him, and
his excitement starts to mount.
A smile begins to break out on his face, he
can feel how it draws the magic from its surroundings as well as
himself, into itself. A subtle red glow grows within its center as
it gradually holds more and more magic.
The crystal explodes sending shards all over
the room. James holds up his arms in an attempt to protect his face
but several of the flying shards still find their mark in his
cheek. Once the danger has passed, he lowers his arms which now
have many small dots welling blood from where the shards have
“Damn!” he curses as he looks back at what
remains of the crystal. The floor around the small table upon which
it had sat is strewn with a thin layer of shattered crystal from
Walking back over to the table, he picks up
a large shard, the shard he first acquired in the swamp. The shard
which had given him the idea that they may in some way be able to
absorb and store magical energy.
How’d they do it?
his head, he brings the shard over to his workbench and settles
down on the stool. Rolling the shard between his fingers
absentmindedly, he thinks about what happened.
Every time, they explode! Why? Can they only
hold so much power before they blow? If so, then how much?
A knock at the door brings him out of his
reverie. “Yes?” he calls out.
Ezra’s voice can be heard from the other
side, “Lunch is ready, sir.” Her grasp of the language has
improved, especially since she is now completely immersed in it.
She still has an accent and he hopes she never grows out of it, he
enjoys listening to the way she speaks.
“Be right there,” he hollers back.
Still, he wishes she would stop calling him
sir. When he first came to live at Hern’s old place, he asked
Roland and Ezra to come work for him to help take care of the
place. He figured he would be gone most of the time or just not
have the time or inclination to do it himself. Also, it seemed like
a nice thing to do. They agreed and from that point on, she had
called him sir.
He spoke to Roland about it, but Roland just
shrugged and told him that it was just her way. Roland has no
problem calling him James, and to little Arkie, he’s Uncle
Before leaving his workshop, he picks the
shards out of his arm and face. Sighing, he gets up and walks out
of his workshop. It’s set a ways from the main house since he
doesn’t want to put anyone but himself in jeopardy with his
Off to the side, he sees where the workmen
are busy with the construction of another house. That one will be
the one he’ll live in and where his guests will stay. Hern’s old
house will be Roland and his family’s, as long as they’re here.
Several other buildings are sprouting up as well; a stable that
will be large enough to hold over a dozen horses and another barn
seeing as how Hern’s old one must have been built a century before
and is in poor repair.
It had taken him the better part of a week
to recover from the fight at the pass. During his recovery, he
arranged to take possession of Hern’s old place. He mentioned to
Corbin how he would like to have a place around Trendle in which to
live. The next day, the mayor showed up personally to give him the
deed to Hern’s place.
The mayor had refused payment, saying how
it’s ample reward for what he did for them. At first he was highly
flattered that the mayor had troubled himself to come all the way
out here to give it to him personally. That is until he realized it
had been just an excuse to get away from his wife and spend time
with his old drinking buddies.
In the course of one conversation or another
since acquiring it, he referred to Hern’s old place as ‘The Ranch’
and the name stuck.
Coming through the back door into the
kitchen, he sees the others have already taken their seats at the
table. Illan and the rest of Miller’s old band are there as well.
For some reason, they’ve attached themselves to James, sort of
become his bodyguards. His own private secret service as he’s begun
to think of them. All that is but Hinney. Ever since his friend
Keril died back at the pass, he’s been melancholy. One day, he
mentioned having family in a little town in the northern part of
Madoc and left the following day to spend some time with them.
“James!” Tersa cries out when she sees the
blood welling on his face and arms. Getting up from the table, she
takes a towel off the counter and dips it in a bucket of water.
Coming over to him, she quickly dabs the blood off, as well as
picking out several more pieces of crystal out of his cheek.
“Another mishap?” Jiron asks from where he
sits at the table.
“Yeah,” he replies. Taking the towel from
Tersa, he says, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she replies as she moves
back to take her seat.
Moving around the table, he comes to his
seat at the head. No one has yet begun to eat, Ezra won’t allow it.
He’s the master of the house and no one better begin until either
he’s there, or they know he’s not coming. Woe to the man who
crosses her. Some around the table had learned the hard way the
first couple of days they were together. After eating scraps
outside after the meal was over for a day, they soon did as she
Since taking over the household, she’s
changed from the sweet nice woman they had traveled with to a
stricter disciplinarian. James doesn’t care. As long as she
maintains order, he’ll back her. Besides, she’s not so strict with
the ‘master of the house’.
Once he’s seated, they wait for him to help
himself first. Another of Ezra’s rules, since he’s providing, he
better be the first one to eat. Taking a bowl of tubers, potatoes
really, he places two on his plate. As soon as the first one hits,
everyone else begins grabbing the nearest source of food and
filling their plates.
“I just can’t seem to make it work,” he
announces to all.
“We know it can,” Miko says from James’
left. “That large shard we saw over the pool did, so I’m sure
you’ll be able to figure it out.” James had thought that once the
Fire was no longer in his possession that he might revert back to
his former self. But that wasn’t the case. It seems the changes
wrought while the Fire had been in his possession are going to be
permanent, which saddens him. No one should ever be robbed of his
youth like that.
His skill at arms has remained as well,
though nothing like it had been while the Fire had taken control.
He practices with Illan and the rest, and they say he’s one of the
best swordsmen they’ve ever crossed blades with.
It wasn’t long after he recovered that the
Fire had gone into hiding. He purchased a small iron chest and had
Miko place the Fire within. Now, only James knows exactly where
it’s hidden. He snuck out one night with the chest and buried
After swallowing a piece of the tuber, he
asks Jiron, “How soon will Delia be back? I used the last of the
crystals.” Delia, with the funds the ten gems Jiron acquired back
in the underground complex, had bought a couple wagons and begun
the life of a trader.
Having had a taste of it during their
sojourn through the Empire, she decided that’s what she wants to do
now that they’re back. Unable to gainsay her, he handed over the
gems. The pit fighters had all agreed to hire on with her as
caravan guards, once Jiron had finished talking with them about
“Should be any day,” he replies. “She had to
go all the way to Cardri to get your money from Thelonius.”
“I know,” he says. He gave her a letter from
Alexander, the money lender here in Trendle, for his brother asking
him to relinquish James’ money. Only way he could’ve done it
without the letter was to go all the way there himself. And Delia
was more than happy to do it, for a small fee of course.
Alexander had been more than happy to
advance him some money to set up The Ranch and to begin
construction. Which brings him to his next problem, he needs to
somehow generate a steady flow of income for The Ranch. All these
mouths to feed, not to mention any and all supplies he’s going to
need, will cost many golds. Plus he understands there’s a property
tax due to the town at the beginning of the year. How is he going
to afford all this?
One thing at a time. He needs to get the
crystals to hold magic. Where the Fire lies now is not going to be
good enough forever and for what he has planned, he needs the
crystals to secure the Fire forever.
Tasting the fried chicken, he turns to Ezra
and says, “Perfect, as always.” She beams as the others at the
table offer their appreciation as well. James has realized that she
needs him to make some comment about every meal to her. It was
during the second dinner she had fixed that he failed to say
whether it was good or not. The next day, she was more subdued and
he could see that she was troubled by something. He asked Roland
what was wrong and he said that she felt he didn’t like her
cooking. Of course, he immediately went to her and told her he did,
which improved her mood immensely.
“It’s just that she’s insecure and wants to
please,” Roland told him. “After a while, she’ll know you like it
and it won’t matter if you say anything. Just try to make some
comment during every meal, no matter how small, for the next week
He had no problem with that, she really was
a great cook.
Outside, a rooster crows from the makeshift
coop they threw together out back. Ezra now has dozens of hens and
two roosters she has to keep separated or they’ll fight each other.
Fresh eggs in the morning and fried chicken once a week is reward
enough for putting up with them.
“What do you plan to do now?” Illan
“I still have the crystal I originally
found,” he replies. “I’ll probably just study it until Delia shows
up with more, though I don’t want to risk it. There may be
something about it that I’m not seeing, which makes it different
than the others.”
“Could be,” he says. “By the way, I’m going
to take the boys out and do some hunting in the forest. See if we
can’t lay in some supplies.”