Chapter 1: Defeating a Dark Sorcerer
The throbbing pain in Vitra's head woke her. She opened her eyes and then shut them swiftly as the glare of the sun made her headache worse. She carefully moved her hand to touch the back of her head and gingerly felt the large lump that had grown there.
Wincing, she got to her feet. The muscles in her arms and legs ached and the dull pain in her side indicated a large bruise. She glanced down and noticed a shallow scratch going from wrist to elbow on her right arm.
The young warrior thought back to how she'd gotten here. A few days ago she'd been hired by a village to kill the evil sorcerer that had taken up residence nearby. So Vitra had marched off to his tower to slay him and save the villagers. She'd lost. Quickly. He was fast and good with his blade. That'd thrown her off. She hadn't expected him to meet her sword with one of his own.
Sighing, Vitra limped back to the village, determined to try again and this time succeed.
Letian chuckled as he watched the young warrior walk back to the village. She amused him. Like earlier today when she'd burst into his tower spewing out a speech filled with her Righteousness, Goodness and his Evil, capital letters audible. She was completely inexperienced and idealistic. He couldn't wait to see what she'd do next.
The dark sorcerer had put a spy-sphere on Vitra so he could watch her. He sat in his private rooms watching in his scrying mirror what she did. Letian was comfortably ensconced in his puffy navy armchair, drink and food close at hand. Here in his inner sanctum he kept the darkness and evil to a minimum, preferring deep blues and greens instead of the black and red that dominated the more public spaces.
Vitra stumbled into the village, her injuries hurting more then she'd anticipated. Several of the villagers came forward and helped her into the hastily built hut they'd prepared for her. "I'm sorry. I failed. But I'll go back and kill him next time fore sure."
"You need rest first. Give your body time to mend before going back." The old headwoman advised, brown eyes dark with worry.
The young warrior was going to argue but then thought about how much pain she was in and nodded. "I'll wait." She promised.
Vitra spent the next few days working her body out and trying to gather information about the self proclaimed Dark Lord Letian. At the end of the week, knowing very little more then what she'd known at the start of the week, she set off for the tower again.
Letian grinned when he realized the young warrior was coming again. He hurried to prepare, grabbing his oversized black cloak and strapping on his blackened sword. He installed himself on his black iron throne and waited.
It wasn't a long wait. Vitra pushed open the huge, black of course, wooden doors that led to the throne room and approached him more cautiously then last time. So, Letian thought to himself, she's learned something. She could be even more fun then I thought.
"Lord Letian, I challenge you." She called, drawing her sword and preparing herself for his attack.
The dark sorcerer carefully got to his feet and stepped down off the dais with slow deliberate steps. "So you have returned. Do you enjoy the taste of defeat?" Letian tried not to grimace. Such bad clichés but she expected them and he so loved to play to an audience.
"It will be you who tastes defeat this day and faces death as well!" She cried, launching herself at him. Maybe she hadn't learned all that much after all. He sidestpped her attack with ease, slapping her arm with the flat of his blade as she ran past. She wheeled about and came at him again.
Letian kept up the game of dodge, parry and attack for a while before becoming bored with it all. As soon as an opening presented itself, the dark lord slammed the hilt of his sword into the back of her head. She wavered, fighting to retain consciousness. "You will live." He told her, heartbeats before she finally blacked out.
He caught her before she fell. He didn't want her doing herself permanent damage, not before she ceased to amuse him that is. A whispered spell and she was one back to where she'd first woken up after their last fight. Finished, Letian retired to his rooms to watch.
Vitra woke to the pain of a headache again. Once again she gingerly got to her feet and glanced about. She was in the middle of the road again. She began cursing. She'd lost again. What was worse was now she knew that the sorcerer was toying with her. Vitra whirled about and stormed back to the village, ignoring the protest of her bruised body.
Letian watched throughout the week as the young warrior came up with a plan to defeat him. She was much better then her predecessors, who'd continued to attack him the same way until he grew bored with their antics. She at least was innovative. Not that her plan would work, even if he hadn't known about it, but it was nice to see she was trying. He had a surprise for her as well.
Once he realized she was heading to his tower, he prepared himself again. This time however, this time he decided to have her find him in the Great Hall.
"Dark sorcerer, today is the day you die!"
Letian tried hard not to snigger. She actually believed the clichés she spouted so readily. "Impudent warrior, you will soon learn that none can defeat me."
This time as Vitra ran forward, she hurled the net she'd made at him. She was shocked and dismayed when Letian just batted it away with his blade. To give her credit she fought anyway even thought she knew it was hopeless. Impatient to see her reaction to his surprise, Letian finished the fight almost immediately. He put the finishing touches on his present and then sent her and it away. He all but flew up the stairs to ensure he didn't miss her intial reaction.
When she felt her headache, Vitra knew what'd happened she sat up and shaded her eyes against the bright sunlight. The sorcerer's tower was always dark and the contrast made her blink.
As Vitra pushed herself up, she made a startling discovery. There, on her right arm, was a shield. The metal was a deep green that was obviously not paint and emblazoned on it was a fierce-looking red dragon. The young warrior stared at it for a long moment before realizing where it must have come from. She ripped it off her arm and threw it away in disgust. Swearing the air blue, she began kicking at the loose rock in the road.
Letian laughed. He'd expected fireworks but not a full blown temper tantrum over the shield. He couldn't wait until she found out that no matter where she threw it, the shield would come back to her.
He was rather proud of the design. He'd matched the green background to her eye colour and the dragon was the same deep red shade as her hair.
The dark sorcerer watched with glee as Vitra returned to the village. The villagers were surprised to see her. Letian had never sent a person back a third time before. The young warrior entered her hut and saw the shield leaning against her pack. She began cursing and kicking at the air again. At this point Letian was laughing so hard he couldn't breathe. Vitra made it worse when she grabbed the shield and threw it down the village well.
After returning to her hut and finding the shield there, Vitra had been close to tears. Wasn't it bad enough Letian wasn't taking her seriously during their fight but did he really have to torment her with the shield? He'd probably put some kind of trap spell on it, but she wouldn't let him win. She'd get rid of the shield. For that reason Vitra had grabbed the shield and thrown it down the well.
Heading back to her hut the warrior felt her spirit all but break when she saw that the shield was back again, leaning against her pack, not even wet. She sat down hard and stared blankly at the offending object.
Watching the young warrior just stare at the shield killed Letian's good mood. He was trying to frustrate her not break her. Broken people were broing.
It wasn't until night was falling that Vitra roused herself from her self imposed stupor. Seeing that the young woman wouldn't back out, Letian relaxed. He could go ahead with his plans.
After waiting the standard week, Vitra headed out for his tower again and the sorcerer was pleased to see she had the shield. It was better this way.
Vitra was ready. This time she had a better plan and a better weapon then a net. Letian would die.
It took her a little longer to find the dark mage then usual. He wasn't in the Great Hall or the Throne Room. She finally found him in what must be the armoury. As soon as she was within range she hurled the shield at him. He dodged it easily.
"Your trap magic will not work on me." She announced. Obviously the sorcerer wouldn't try anything like this again now that she'd made it clear she knew what he was up to.
With his characteristic impassivity and slow deliberate pace, Letian approached her. When he was but a few steps away, Vitra threw the smoke bomb she'd made at his feet. She stepped to the side and attacked him, using the thick billowing smoke as a cover.
Her sword met another with a screech of metal on metal they separated. A swish of cloth was the only warning she had before she was hit over the head. Again. And as per usual she heard that cold, dead voice say. "You will live."
Humming to himself, Letian prepared Vitra, making sure the shiled was strapped to her arm before sending her back.
Having had such a great success with the shield, the dark lord had designed matching armour. He'd made sure there was enough room to fit over the leather stuff she wore now. The armour matched her shield colour, being a deep green with a flame design over the breastplate in red.
His hard work didn't go unappreciated. As soon as Vitra woke up she noticed the armour and threw another fit. She stripped the metal suit off and attempted to stampt it flat. This of course made Letian laugh. The armour and shield could withstand blows from sledgehammers without bending. Nothing she could do would break it.
This time however, the young warrior had obviously learned the futility of her tantrums because she calmed down quickly. She left the armour where it was but when she found it again in her hut she only muttered a few curses and didn't attack anything. Letian was a bit disappointed. He liked it best when she tried to fight the air.
When she awoke, Vitra found herself clad in armour in the same design as the shield. She quickly stripped it off and began cursing the sorcerer who so taunted her. It was almost a shame that the armour was cursed. It was beautiful, strong and lighter then anything else except her leathers.
Once she reached her hut she wasn't much surprised to find the armour, piled neatly, leaning against her pack with her shield. She swore then sighed, Her rage was useless. It accomplished nothing other then to exhaust her and entertain the villagers. Instead, Vitra tried to think of some other way to defeat the dark lord. She pummeled her brain, dredging up everything she knew about Letian.
He was fast, good with a sword, emotionless, must have some highly developed senses that could penetrate her smoke screen and made nice, though trapped, armour.
I need to get stronger, Vitra thought. But how?
A week passed and Letian was depressed. The young warrior wasn't coming anywhere near his tower. She was too busy training against the young men of the village and going through the stupid obstacle course she'd spent a day building.
Unable to wait another week, Letian sent his new present to the village. It was worth the use of magic it took to compel the horse to stay there when he saw the shock on Vitra's face.
He'd used magic to speed up the horse's training and to change it's colour. The war-trained mare was a deep golden colour with a red mane and tail. He'd sent her with tack done in green leather with red embroideries. In one of her saddlebags, he'd tucked the mare's armour, made to match Vitra's.
The young warrior had been able to ignore the armour and shield but she couldn't ignore a living, breathing animal. Despite her unwillingness to come anywhere near the beast she still fed and cared for the mare and by the end of the second week had come to adore the horse.
When once again Vitra made no move to head to his tower, Letian grew even more frustrated. He enjoyed tormenting the toung warrior in person much more then doing it from a distance. The dark sorcerer took to pacing his study and growling at the oblivious Vitra.
Finally at the end of the third week, the young warrior set out, determination in every line of her body. Letian guessed she intended to end this today, so he prepared as well. He put on armour instead of his robes and cloak, chose his broadsword over his usual long sword and went to wait, standing, in the Throne Room.
During the past three weeks Vitra had been examining the armour and shield carefully and come to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with them so she'd donned the armour before setting out. She had a plan, one that couldn't fail. Even if she died, the dark lord would follow her.
Vitra walked with confidence through the tower's hallways and strode fearlessly into the Throne room. Even Letian seemed to have realized she was really, really serious this time as he was wearing blackened armour with silver spikes jutting out from the shoulders. He was already standing, waiting for her.
The young warrior bowed, showing respect to the man who'd been a worthy opponent. He bowed in reply and drew his sword in a kind of twisted salute. She also drew her blade and set herself. The mage beckoned and she answered the summons, rushing forward. She didn't bother dodging away from the outstretched sword but ran right up onto it. Vitra tried to raise her sword to strike but she'd underestimated the effect pain had on her body. Her blade dropped from numb fingers and she cough up blood.
She was surprised to see the shock on Letian's face. She'd thought he was completely emotionless but maybe she'd been wrong. Oh well, too late now. The sorcerer pulled the blade out of her and slowly lowered her to the floor. She had to give him points for being polite about everything. No kicking her body about or anything. As the blackness slowly claimed her, Vitra noticed the pale pink light of Letian's magic and for once didn't hear him tell her she'd live. Just as well, because this time she wouldn't.