By Krel P. Uzaru
Marcus concentrated on the empty space before him, and suddenly a bright, blue ball of incandescent light appeared in front of him. What he saw almost caused him to dispel the Magelight and turn away. He was standing in a long tunnel, winding down on a slight angle and leading on into the darkness. He wasn't a very impressive mage. He got his talent for magick from his elfish father, but the rest he adopted from his human mother. His blue robes were dirty, and his tall and gaunt body wouldn't scare a goblin. He was a wizard all right; he just didn't look the part.
"Well, that's just great," said Marcus and his words stirred the dust, causing him to start coughing. He concentrated again and a translucent sphere of force surrounded him, pushing the dust away.
After letting the dust settle a little bit, he started to head down the corridor. With the Magelight leading the way, the darkness of the corridor didn't seem so foreboding anymore. After few steps, the first trap was sprung. Suddenly there was a tremendous ball of fire heading for him. Franticly he gathered his thoughts in a quick dispelling, but by the time it took effect, his light source was engulfed and his red-white hair was singed.
"I guess the fun starts now," said Marcus but nobody seemed to respond. "Nothing like a bit of magick in the morning to get the heart pumping." He conjured a new Magelight and for good measure, a little trick he learned at the academy to avoid pranks at his expense. He started down the corridor again, and after few more steps, the detect traps cantrip kicked in.
It was a spell tied in into one of the rocks in the ground that would release a barrage of stone missile at anyone who came to close to it.
"Well this has gone far enough," said Marcus as he disabled the stone and put it in his robes for future used. "As much as I would like to, I don't have the whole damn day to play around. Time to improvise."
He took a ruby from one of his many pouched, and sat down on the floor. His brows furred in concentration and bright beads of perspiration appeared on his forehead. Suddenly he opened his hand and the gem started to float upward. It stopped ahead of him, opposite of where his heart would be. It started to flicker, and suddenly a perfect reflection of Marcus appeared where the gem was.
Marcus got up trailing more dust behind him, most of which ended up on his robe. "Well, this should do it," he said. With a wave of a hand he ordered his copy to move forward. Suddenly the imitation was in full run, heading down the corridor. There were explosions as spell after spell was activated. The decoy was battered by almost every destructive spell possible in a mage's repertoire, and then some more which were forgotten in the past ages.
"Damn. And I was going to walk through all that myself," said Marcus. Suddenly there was a big red flash and a loud detonation. "There goes the Mirror Image spell. Something big must have gotten it. I used a ruby as the focus, and it's not that easy to blow up a ruby. I should know, I tried once and had to scrub pots for a month as a punishment."
Marcus started to head down the corridor again. The walls were covered with various burn marks from fire, lighting, acid and other unidentified substances. One of them was even moving and tried to grab him. Slowly the corridor became bigger until it opened up into a big cave. Few steps into the cavern there was a burn mark on the floor and red dust.
"I guess I know what happened to the decoy," said Marcus. "Better be more careful from this point on. Hmm, as a matter of fact I wouldn't be surprised if the spells behind me didn't reset themselves, but I'll worry about it when I'm leaving."
He concentrated again and suddenly a blue shockwave erupted from his body. It spread through the grotto, and after it's passage there remained little balls of Magelight over all traps in the room.
Thanks to that selfsame light, you could see a pedestal at the end of the cave. On top of it was resting the prize Marcus was after. As the spell ran it's course, there was at least fifty different lights surrounding the stand. With the disappearance of the shockwave, Marcus' knees buckled and he fell down.
"That was one hell of a spell, didn't expect it to weak…" he left the sentence unfinished as he fell unconscious. Half an hour later when he woke up, half the light balls marking the traps were gone.
"Damn. I'm too tired to try that spells again. I guess I'm going to have to do it the old fashion way," he said. He got up and with the detect trap spell activated he headed towards the pillar. He was physically depleted and as he walked, he swayed from side to side.
After few more minutes he finally reached the pedestal. Upon it was his reward. It was the Magick-Tech Flux Amulet made by one of the most powerful mages in the history of the Old Age, Xanshu "The Lord of Hell" Threadbeard.
The spells of the wearer of the medallion never fizzled because of presence of technology. True enough that any technological wonder near the medallion never jammed up, or that it had the tendency to bring on the wrath of God because of it's very conflicting nature, but any mage, or technologist, would sell his soul to get his hands on it.
And now it belonged to Marcus. He reaching with his tired hands and lifted it from it resting place. "It's mine. After so many years of hard work it's finally mine," he yelled.
From his happiness he didn't notice the discharges of all the traps behind him. Their mana was being used to power the most powerful enchantment of the previous owner of the amulet.
While Marcus was admiring the amulet, and rightfully so for it was exquisite, the first wisps of the construct of the spell were taking place. The amulet itself was made of an indigo sky gem, which glowed by it's own accord. Inside of it there were tiny platinum gears that were constantly spinning around.
Behind the mage, the released magic was taking on a more firm shape. The outline of creature that was being summoned was becoming firmer. Slowly the red flesh became more and more solid, brining with it the stink of sulfur. By the time Marcus turned around, it was too late. The Demon Lord was already there. His twenty feet body was taking up a sizable portion of the cave. In some sense he was almost beautiful. His muscled body swayed from side as his horned head observed the human. And then with his claws extended, he charged…
End of Chapter 1