Snowflakes danced in the air, twirling elegantly before falling to the pale ground. It was the first day of winter and the grass was already covered by a thin layer of snow. Winter sun was hiding behind the clouds but would appear from time to time though small cracks in the cloudy sky.
Darlakus was a medium sized city and quite recently built; only a few decades ago when the trade treaty with Kalmer was signed and need for a port arose. The area was swampy, and close to the sea, thus often flooded but the people found ways to deal with that. The houses and even the sidewalks were built on wooden pillars, so the rising water would no flood them. The water level never fully went down as the sea kept crawling deeper and deeper into Midland. This made the city a perfect port for it was a city literally built on water.
Gvera slowly walked the unfamiliar streets leading Clover by the reigns. Streets were crowded: merchants trying to sell their goods, sailors and dock workers loading and unloading cargo into ships, local residents going about their business. Sounds of the sea mingled with sounds of animals and voices of the people in the crowd and the occasional cries of seagulls.
The girl looked around the crowd; she came here to meet with a comrade. He never specified a place for the meeting and she had no way of finding him. Using magic with so many people around was out of the question since not many liked magic users, it could get her into all kinds of trouble. She found a less crowded spot by the well, infron of a shady looking tavern. It had red fish caught on a fishing live in its sign and some rather suspicious and ominous looking people were standing around the entrance.
It was getting dark. Perhaps he got held up somewhere and didn't make it on time. She tried not to think about the other possibility – he simply decided not to show up. In need of a place to stay she began considering asking for a room at the "Red Herring".
Suddenly there was a sound, a melody. No one else seemed to hear it but Gvera heard it loud and clear. She followed it, as the sound got louder she knew she was getting closer. It lead her to small two story house. Outside it stood a young man playing a flute.
His hair was short, neatly cut. The shirt clung tightly to him showing the muscles of his arms and broad shoulders. Gvera could hardly recognize him. Solean was no longer the skinny long haired boy she met almost three months ago, he was a man.
"I was beginning to thing you were not going to show up" he said putting flute into its holster.
"Sorry I'm late, got a little lost" she said smiling sheepishly
" I'll show to the stables " he took Clover from her and began leading it behind the house.
She followed him not sure how to feel.
"So how did it go?" He asked
"We won the battle, but not the war" She said
"So I've heard. "the rumors of the siege and the unexpected victory was the talk everywhere.
"But really, I have no idea how they did it or why. None of the gates were opened we checked them. And it makes no sense for them to attack a city like that, if their goal is to free the demon."
"I'll tell you everything inside, it's a long story." She said
Clover was left in a pen with food and water. They removed all the bags from the pony so it could rest properly, then headed into the house that was small inn. Most people completely missed it because it looked like a regular house. It only had three rooms . Theirs was in the upper floor. Once Gvera opened the door she was shocked.
On one of the beds sat a little girl. She was around ten or eleven years of age wearing a dark blue wool dress and a grey cloak. She had amber eyes and pink hair. It was the same girl Gvera had seen the vision months ago.
"This is Krona" Solean said.
"Hi" the girl smiled at her
" Hello, I'm Gvera Cross" She said approaching the girl and giving the magician a questioning look.
" I met on the island, in the shelter." He explained
"Krona, do you have magic powers?" she asked not sure if a child her age would command any such abilities.
"I'm a morph" she said
"So you can become an animal?"
"I can become many animals, Only small ones thou" she said
"Like a rat?"
"Want to see me do it?" she began shrinking and changing and soon in her place was a grey rat just like in the vision.
"Amazing!" Gvera exclaimed
"She was the girl you saw in the vision?"
"Yes, but she is only a child, this doesn't feel right." She lowered her voice
Krona changed back into human form.
"Aren't your parent worried about you?" she asked the girl
"I used to live with grandma, but she's been gone a long time. It's just me." Krona didn't seem upset in the slightest.
"It's going to be dangerous where we're going. " Gvera said
"I can't fight very well, but I can help out!" she seemed determined to go along with them.
"Well, you'll have to keep yourself out of harm's way."
"I can turn into a bird and fly away if things get scary."
" Alright, you do that if things get too dangerous ."
"We still need to decide a course of action." Solean reminded her
The long talk began. Gvera filled them in on what she had learned about the necromancer and about the king mentioned in the scroll being an actual demon. She also mentioned the warning Gilbereth gave her. The lady running the inn brought them some food and the conversation stopped until she left.
" So this king from beyond Death is a demon? " Solean was as surprised as Gvera had been the first time she heard it.
"Are they really after that thing?" the boy wondered
"Everyone is searching for them, the Ripper clan, the rangers, wizard clans are warned to be on a look out, and Newguard knights are combing the woods. But they found nothing, it's like the necromancer and his lackeys just vanished. If they are not trying to revive it some else might be, it said it will rise when the year ends. Scroll mentioned the frozen sea, you said it yourself it sounded like Kalmer. "
"I know, but we have no idea where exactly that place is. Kalmer is not a small, you know."
"Castle!" krona said "A king must live in a castle"
"Castle? Well Aleera did say the man was some kind of human king who became a necromancer. The demon must have taken over his body while he was wondering in Death. Demons need a physical body to use their power, but only then they can be defeated. This actually ties in the story. Even if it happened a long time ago, the ruins of the castle might still exist somewhere. Good job , Krona."
"Well there are quite a few castles, most inhabited by nobbles, there are quite a few ruins as well. We don't know what part of Kalmer it was in or the name of the location but we don't necessarily need to know. You can use your magic to locate right?"
"Well yes, unless it is warded from location spells. And for such an important place in sure it's well protected, but that means the enemy wizard can't find it as well. "
"We could just wait here, they will need a ship to cross" Krona said
"It's a good plan but it won't work in this case, the wizard can teleport them across with magic." Gvera explained.
"That's not fair."
"There might be old maps with locations of castles so we can still find it even if there is nothing left." Solean said.
"Worst case scenario, we tail the enemy, if the necromancer is really after it"
"I've been trying to find them with magic but all I get is a green glow, they are all still alive where ever they are. And with many other wizards trying to track them down I don't think they could stay in Midland and remain hidden."
"Right. So chances are they might be already…"
"We don't know for sure, but I'm sure if the demon was already free we would know." Gvera said
"We have only a month until the end of the year, and the enemy might already have a head start on us. We leave tomorrow on the Sea Devil, its cargo ship but the captain will smuggle us on board."
"Another thing I remembered" Gvera said
"Dein mentioned that someone has been breaking into ancient vaults and stealing historical records. I don't know if this has anything to do with the necromancer or the demon. Perhaps there is a deferent group after it. "
"So you thing they might have a map? We'll never catch them if they do."
"No, the Order wanted that thing to remain sealed forever, why would they make a map showing it where it was, so anyone could find it. I think there might some leads to the approximate location but as Dein said it's all cryptic code."
"So they might not know where it is as well."
"At least they won't be able to get there using magic. So it's not that bad, we have plenty of time to do our job and hope the other do theirs as well."
"You think they will make in time? They might not have to if we stop the demon from coming back by not letting them free it."
"We better get some rest, it's an early start tomorrow" Solean said.
The room only had two beds. Solean sleeping on the left and Gvera sharing hers with Krona. The girl transformed into a cat and curled up at her feet, using its fluffy tail as a pillow.
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