Fan fiction:The Mage Academy of Gea Kul/Chapter Thirteen
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The voyage north was uneventful, as was our hike west, through the outskirts of the Dreadlands. There was no trade in this area, and no good roads. The inhabitants were fishermen on the coast, and nomadic trackers and hunters inland. The only permanent dwellings were small farms, each staffed by a few desperate souls struggling to scratch a living out of the short summers, freezing winters, and rocky soil. The forces of the Burning Hells could hardly have chosen a less-appealing area of Sanctuary to invade, but here they had come, as we were reminded by every person we met, most of them refugees fleeing south, towards the inner sea we had so recently sailed across.
It was three days before we saw our first demons, and they were a spindly, mangy pack of Fallen. Two of my fellows wiped them out with a casual flurry of ice spells, and we were examining their shattered corpses when two men raced over the hill and into our midst. They were not Barbarians, but were clearly warriors of some sort, and well protected in their gleaming plate mail.
"Well met, noble Mages! If you've come for battle, you'll find plenty to the north. A vast Hellgate split open the side of that low mountain two days past, and the demons are still pouring forth. The girl witch and her Crushers lead the attack, as always. We aid their cause by hunting down strays."
Maester Corwyn offered the knights some of our supplies, which they declined with a laugh, before turning and racing back over the rolling hills, their footspeed far greater than any normal man could have managed.
"Those two were Paladins," said Maester Darwin, the oldest of our company. "Their order was nearly destroyed by Mephisto's corruption of Sankekur and his high council. It is good to see that some live on, and hold to the old ways."
No one in the company felt the need to point out the obvious undertone of the Paladins' words. That Zia had grown famous in this land, and was surely the "girl witch." The "Crushers" must be her Barbarian allies, and the fact that they were hardened, experienced warriors was definitely a complication. No one spoke of this; we simply hoisted our packs and set off to the north.
We slept uneasily that night, leaving two men awake and on guard at all times. Our greatest concern was a tide of ravening demons, but the possibility of Zia and her savages walking into our camp was not so remote that we could sleep unguarded. Our advantage, as I saw it, was that she could not be expecting us. After so long without any pursuit she must think herself forgiven, or at least forgotten. Her worries were the demonic creatures which poured straight from the Burning Hells, against which a few desperate human defenders seemed no more than straws before a gale.
Our plans, to murder her and slaughter her defenders, were almost treasonous. No one in this land would forgive us for putting a private clan matter above the larger battle against the demonic hordes. But we were here on orders from our Archmaester, and this was a matter of pride and justice. By previous agreement, we would speak to no one about our mission. We hoped to speak to no one at all.
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