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Devil Tower - Prologue

All the rules change when the tower appears.

DEVIL TOWER

Prologue

What do you desire most in this world?

"I wish to be a god."

Your wish is granted...

*

From out of the ground, it rose up in complete silence: The Dark Tower, so it was called then at first. It grew like nothing ever before, the ground did not quake, the winds did not howl at it's coming, it simply emerged in the dead of night; reaching high above the clouds, perhaps even to the stars themselves.

The tower arose in the center of the known world, inside the borders of the Evercain kingdom, the heart of Grimnar. King Aldon sent out his men to scout the tower. Up close the knights found the tower looked like a dark grey stone but was smooth to the touch and even though winter was upon them the touch of the tower didn't feel cold, nor did it feel warm. Stranger still the tower, despite its closer appearance, was smooth to the touch; smoother than any gems the captain ever touched before in his life.

Around the tower was nothing, save for a single massive set of double doors that had an ornate demonic creature engraved over a vast part of the surface. Because of the creature on the door the knights called it 'The Devil Tower', a name which stuck with many people of the region and the kingdom of Evercain. Any attempts to open the doors were futile and the knights returned to their king empty handed.

The first rays of the morning sun shined down through a window into the morning keep. The light slowly hovered over Jesebelle's face as her golden hair glistened. Thrain, who was already awake, lay across from her smiling at his wife's sleeping beauty in the first moments of morning. Jesebelle was like a gift to him from the light goddess Laeryn.

Slowly Jesebelle opened her eyes to see her lover staring at her, his eyes a deep green, his hair dark and reaching to his neck. Thrain moved in for a kiss and Jesebelle complied. He kissed her a few more times and she giggled lightly. Thrain smiled and said, "It's a beautiful morning this day, spring is coming up fast."

Jesebelle climbed out of bed and grabbed her winter coat off the coat rack. She wrapped it around her, the wolf pelts sewn through it kept her warm and felt good against her bare skin, as she walked to the window looking out over the queen's garden. The snow was mostly gone, Thrain was right spring was coming upon them fast and soon those beautiful flowers would return in bloom.

Thrain joined his lover's side by the window and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. She looked over to him; he was not wearing any clothing despite the cold. She gazed down his naked body, her eyes settling upon his battle scars, (though few and far between) she hated the sight of them. Thrain however liked his scars and wore them like badges of honor.

"How are you not cold?" Jesebelle asked.

"Because you are here to warm me up," Thrain answered.

Jesebelle opened her coat to him and gestured him to join her in its protective warmth. Thrain smiled and placed a hand on her belly. It was starting to swell: she was two months pregnant now. Thrain kissed her then turned to spark the logs in the fireplace. Only in winter was a fire ever needed to warm up the keep.

The Morning keep was a special wedding present to Thrain from King Aldon, it took nearly a year to build but when it was complete it was so beautiful and had a special spot that would always catch the morning sun from that eastern window; hence its name. The keep also had some magic forged into it during its construction, so that even the coldest winter would not freeze Thrain or his wife, nor the hottest summers roast them.

With the fire lit, he returned to his wife's side and began to kiss her more, until a knocking came at the door. Irritated at the interruption, Thrain called out for the person knocking at his door to come inside. The door opened up and on the other side was Garren, Thrain's young squire. Garren was seventeen of age and very promising with a blade. Most other knights would have knighted Garren by now, if not sooner given his talents, but Thrain believed he had a little bit more maturing to do before becoming a knight.

"I am sorry to interrupt sir Thrain but there has been a council meeting called and your presence is requested by the king immediately," Garren said.

Thrain did his best to hide it, but he was concerned about this; a council meeting this early could never be a good sign. He glanced back to his wife and flashed a smile of reassurance to her and then turned back to his squire. Garren was wearing his unique squire uniform with Thrain's sigil (a soaring eagle) embroidered onto the sir coat. It was a good sign his squire was not fully garbed in armor, and Garren would wear his squire uniform almost every day even when he would not see Thrain for some time; the boy was proud to be his squire.

"Alright wait outside for a minute while I dress," Thrain said.

A few minutes later Thrain came out of the keep dressed in long robes of deep blues and purple. A brown soaring eagle was embroidered onto the chest of his robes and on the back was embroidered a golden pair of angelic wings folding inward and crossing over each other; the sigil of the Evercain kingdom. Those were his commander robes, he wore them whenever there was a council meeting; or with his armor (of same color and design).

Thrain was proud of those robes. Only the greatest commanders of the kingdom were awarded them, and he was, in fact, the greatest commander of the kingdom. "Anything you can tell me beforehand about this meeting," Thrain asked walking at a brisk pace.

Garren, moved swiftly to keep up with him. "None sir," he answered. "Lord Tarbeck dispatched his messenger at the king's request immediately."

"And why is it that you call upon me like some lonely messenger? Surely lord Tarbeck has others at his disposal to send the same message and not waste a squire's time?" Thrain asked sounding annoyed.

"He does sir, but it seems all his other messengers are in fact dispatched as well on other duties. Something big must be happening. As it were, I told the messenger to go find the others and that I would proxy the message to you myself. The poor lad has to run around the entire castle with that message to the other council members and your keep is furthest out of the way from them."

Thrain remained in silence for a better part of their walk, thinking to himself. "Were we the first ones the messenger was sent to fetch?" He asked.

Garren hesitated briefly to answer; he could hear the subtle worry in Thrain's voice as he asked the question. He did not wish to worry him further by answering truthfully, but he knew better than to lie to Thrain. The noble knight seemed to have an incredible gift to always detect a lie from someone, as if magic were guiding the truth to his ears; perhaps it was.

"I believe so sir," Garren answered.

"The only reason the king would have to urgently summon me and you this early is for war. Either a neighboring kingdom attacked our borders or they have a battalion, perhaps even their entire army, marching to attack us right now. Regardless this does not feel good to me. Let us make haste."

The council room was designed originally as a 'safe room' for the royal children to hide in case the kingdom and the castle ever fell to enemy hands. Known only to a select few, this safe room also has a secret passage tunnel which stretched northwest all the way to Lemias Port.

Hidden away in under the castle's library, king Aldon decided to clean it up and furnish it to serve as the new council room. The old council room was much nicer in comparison. But in more recent years too much information from the council meetings has leaked out to the ears of Evercain's enemies.

It wouldn't be too hard for a spy to listen in on those meetings before. Or perhaps a guard, too drunk to stand, may have overheard a thing or two and was stupidly repeating what he heard to the pretty whore in some brothel who knows just how to loosen a man's tongue. Regardless of the reasons before, if any information from the meetings were to leak out to his enemies the king would have a much smaller list of suspects to interrogate.

The two guards standing before the library nodded at Thrain and Garren and stepped aside for them. They entered the library and found the secret passage to the council room, under the only portion of the rug that came up with ease in the east corner, already opened. The passage way lit up too.

The new council room was a round room with simple stone walls and torches lining around them and the narrow passage before it. In the room center sat a large round table with eight chairs. It was always cold down there, come summer or winter.

In one chair sat Aldon, the 12th king of Evercain. Aldon was an average looking man, a bit tall and a little slender. He had no facial hair and kept his light brown hair cut very short.

Next to him sat lord Tarbeck; he was a little shorter than average and slightly plump. What little hair he had on top of his head was very short and receding. He had a thin dark mustache that seemed incapable of growing thicker or connecting with any other facial hair he might grow.

Thrain and Garren stopped at the edge of the table and bowed their head before king Aldon. In response Aldon tossed his hand through the air and said, "Bah, there is no need for formalities as such down here; both of you. Now raise your heads and sit."

The two found their seats on opposite ends of the table overlooking the door. Thrain then turned to the king and asked, "My king may I ask what this meeting is about for being called in so early?"

Aldon muttered something incoherent under his breath and said, "It's just Aldon down here please. And we shall discuss what this meeting is about when all the members arrive." He paused a moment in short thought then concluded, "It's not a meeting about war though, so on that you may at least relax."

The next person to arrive was the grand magister Cambren. He was an older man with white frizzy hair and a thin grey beard. He wore a long plain dark green robe and slippers of the same color. It seemed as though he hadn't bothered dressing and decided to wear his bed clothes. With him was magister Veera. A woman in her late thirties with brown hair tied hastily into a bun. She wore more appropriate attire then Cambren, but still was a little messy in her haste. Without all her make-up she was very plain and mildly unattractive.

Veera was first in line of succession to the title of grand magister for the kingdom whenever Cambren passed away. This will be her fourth time sitting at a council meeting.

The next to arrive was the kingdoms financial keeper. A brilliant young man named Brian. The final person to appear was prince Rugal, the first (and only) son of Aldon and heir to the Evercain kingdom. He was a handsome young man. With light brown hair, just as his father's, blue eyes like the sea and a strong physical build. The Prince also had some charisma to his character, which was good for a future ruler.

He wore his full body armor, save for the helm, with sword strapped to the belt included and even had his gauntlets on; this would at least explain why he was so late. When he took his seat next to his father's side, the council meeting had begun at last.

King Aldon was silent for a time, trying to decide where to start. "To begin all of you are aware of that mysterious dark tower that sprouted up south of here; seemingly overnight correct?" King Aldon asked.

"How can we not, the ugly thing can be seen all the way from the Drogav mountains I bet," Veera said condescending. While everyone else sufficed a simple, "Yes."

Aldon ignored her attitude and continued, "Well it seems that this 'Devil Tower' is a far greater threat than we realized before."

Prince Rugal placed his hand on his sword, as if expecting something to burst through the thick door at any moment, and asked, "What kind of threat father?"

"I received many reports from the southern farm lands closest to the tower that their crops are simply dying out entirely. They also claim that the lands around the tower seem to be dying as well, almost 'eroding' if you would. Now with it being winter still, I thought very little of it. But had lord Tarbeck sent a scout out to the tower to see for himself these dying lands." Aldon turned to lord Tarbeck and gestured for him to continue in his place.

Tarbeck cleared his throat and said, "My scout rode tirelessly for three days until reaching the tower base. Around about a two mile radius he found that not only was there not a hint of snow, but the grass which should have been green and lushest was instead a dingy brown. And within a-hundred feet of the tower base itself the once hard ground of grass and dirt was nothing more than soggy swamp ground. His horse had trouble just walking through it.

"Next he went to the farm lands, and the ones closest to the tower can barely keep enough crops alive to feed their own families in the next coming harvest. I'm dismayed to say that the southern farm harvest will be very poor this coming season."

Everyone sat in silence thinking this news over and for a long time. Until grand magister Cambren spoke out the conclusion that the king and lord Tarbeck must have discovered some time after they got this news. "The ground around the tower seems to be dying off, but at a slow pace," he said. "As I see it now the southern farmers will simply have to relocate north a few miles to continue their work. That shouldn't be an issue, however the real issue is what may come."

Cambren was then silent for many long moments until Garren inquired, "Grand magister do you wish to elaborate a little more upon that?"

Cambren clicked his tongue then said, "Ahh yes sorry. The problem I fear to come from this is if the dying lands from around the tower continue to spread out. As it stands now it's about one mile of dead lands per a month that the tower stands."

Prince Rugal rose to his feet and cried out, "Well then the answer is simple, we must destroy the tower."

"I agree with the prince on this," Thrain said. "This dark tower is obviously a bad omen and a threat to our kingdom. With the goddess Laeryn by our side we shall smite this dark force and destroy it."

King Aldon looked around the table at the council members and asked, "Then is everyone agreed on this?" The answer of them all was 'yes'. And so later that very day king Aldon dispatched Thrain, Cambren, and many others to destroy the tower from its base.

Thrain, Garren, prince Rugal, grand magister Cambren and a dozen knights rode out to destroy the tower. Cambren had a small caravan drawn with four horses. Inside it he claimed were numerous potions and brews that ought to do the trick (if raw power didn't work so well). The uneventful trip took them a over a week at their pace, they had to slow down marginally so that Cambren and his caravan wouldn't get left behind.

At the tower they discovered it was as lord Tarbeck's scout had claimed, dead grass for a couple miles out, and closest to the tower the ground was like a swamp. The enormous doors with the strange devil on them still remained closed. The doors happened to be facing south aimed at the red scorched lands, and mount Daenfur (the same name of the ancient legendary fire demon).

Looking at the door and thinking of its opposition, Thrain called to magister Cambren and asked, "This door is facing out towards the red scorched lands. Does that devil on it look familiar to you?"

Cambren studied the door for a minute then said, "Yes now that you mention it. It looks just like the illustrations of the fire devil Daenfur. You know Sir Thrain some people believe that after the light goddess Laeryn defeated the fire devil Daenfur that she spread out his magic as a gift to many magi potent humans."

"And you believe this tale?" Thrain asked.

"I do indeed," Answered Cambren. "In fact nearly every day I thank our light goddess with prayer and try to remember carefully where this destructive and powerful magic comes from."

Thinking back to a time long ago Thrain said, "Not all magisters, or 'magi' if you prefer, are sorcerers wielding fire and lightning. Some deal with sheer force to move objects, others are more attuned with nature and can grow a tree from a seed in a mere hour. And the worst of them all I hear are ones who craft and manipulate the hearts and minds of the weak willed."

"Yes," acknowledged Cambren. "There are indeed a great many number of magi out in this world, all with their own particular and unique talents." He sighed then half cursed, "If only one of them could discover a cure to this dammed aging!"

Thrain smiled lightly to Cambren and strode his horse along to catch up with the others on the far south east side of the tower. He didn't get far before Cambren called out to him with a question. "Do you pray, sir Thrain?"

Thrain stopped a moment and thought about his answer. Then he said, "Yes, I do in fact pray."

"What for, if I may inquire further?"

"I pray after each battle or duel that I survive through. I pray to Laeryn to take the souls of both my fallen comrades and slain enemies to her kingdom of light."

"I cannot say I have ever met a man before you that would pray for his enemies, except perhaps their deaths."

"All my enemies died fighting for what they believed in as would I and my comrades. The only real difference between us is that we believed in different sides of the war. And by the way, dying of old age isn't a curse, it is a blessing. Too many have died at a very young age, male or female. Whether it be battle, illness, or other worse fates; so you should count your blessings Cambren and not curse them." With that Thrain was off again, Cambren following behind him.

Further on the eastern side of the tower base the knights stood in waiting for Thrain; armed with spiked hammers typically meant for destroying large boulders in swift fashion. They had placed some large flat wooden boards down on the swamp like ground to give themselves a better foothold for the task at hand. Thrain gave the order and away they swung the hammers over their heads with all their might. The loud sounds of metal clanging together erupted as the hammers hit the tower, many of the spiked hammer ends completely chipped off, others broken into smaller pieces and even a couple hammers shattered apart entirely: knocking those knights wielding them on their backs.

Rugal quickly stepped forth drawing his blade from his belt, "Move aside," he commanded. The knights parted out of his way and he hastened his steps and swung his sword in a strong diagonal arc, like he was hacking at an enemy. The blade smacked hard against the tower and threatened to push Rugal back, like what happened to the couple knights, but he held strong and all that anyone could hear was the loud ring of the steel as it vibrated rapidly. With not even a visible scratch on the tower Rugal shouted in rage and started swinging his sword at it again and again, one meaningless strike after the other.

He kept going until Thrain grabbed his wrist stopping him. Rugal flashed a look of anger at him, but Thrain ignored it and pulled the blade up to eye level to examine it. "We will have to get this repaired back at the castle," Thrain said.

The prince looked along the blade and saw numerous small bits chipped off of it. Garren came up to them too and examined the blade alongside them. "What kind of stone or metal can do this much damage to a mithiril blade?" Garren asked.

"I have only ever seen a mithiril blade damaged by another blade made of adamantite, an even rarer and stronger metal than mithiril." Thrain said. "But the damage was nowhere near that extensive. I am afraid that no man made weapon will be able to damage this cursed tower." Rugal sheathed his sword and walked away from the tower with Garren, muttering some curses under his breath.

"Magister Cambren you're our last and best hope. Whenever you're ready you have my permission to unleash your magic." Thrain said. He called for all the knights to back up far from the tower base.

Cambren made sure to get as close to the tower as he could while still standing on the wooden boards. For a moment the elder magi was silent in concentration; un-moving almost lifeless. Then without warning he thrust his hands out in front of him and a massive stream of scarlet fire erupted from his palms and hit the tower. A high pitched screeching noise came off from the flames as they were so intense.

The stream of fire kept up for several seconds as the tower tried to repel it, the flames pushed back in all directions but were still close to the base of the tower. Everyone could feel the immense heat even as far back as they were, lucky for them Thrain told them to take a good distance, if not some of them may have even been burned.

After near a full minute of the fire-stream Cambren stopped and bent to one knee in exhaustion. Thrain and Rugal rushed over to check if he was alright. He was out of breath and covered in sweat but was otherwise fine. Rugal then moved to check the tower; he noticed no visible signs of damage to it. Then he removed his gauntlet and dropped it to touch the tower with his bare hand. After running his naked hand over the tower surface he punched it in rage and screamed, "NO! Fucking Fuck!"

Garren came up to the prince and asked, "What's wrong?"

Rugal punched the tower again in rage and turned to his friend saying, "It's not even hot; or hell a little warmer than before." He turned and shouted to the sky, "This fucking tower will be the end of my entire kingdom!"

No-one said anything more for a short time while the prince picked up his gauntlet and turned away from the tower. As he passed by Cambren the magister placed a hand on his shoulder and said, "Don't worry I have a few more tricks up my sleeve yet. My caravan is full of alchemy potions to bring this thing down. Of course I had hoped that my fire stream would do the trick but I always come prepared."

Cambren and Thrain then walked to his caravan and Thrain helped him pull out numerous bottles filled with mysterious alchemy potions. First he tried a lime green liquid that sizzled and smoked when it touched the tower but ran down it harmlessly. He then moved onto another potion, then another and another after that. The other knights had already started a fire by then and Rugal and Garren had joined them around it and started to eat.

After a few hours of trying various potions, and taking notes afterwards, Cambren and Thrain joined them around the fire and ate. The two were silent for their meals, which no-one there knew grand magister Cambren too well, but for Thrain it was a little unusual. If dismay had befallen the first knight at all today then that was the only sign he showed of it.

When they finished the two were back at it again. They finished when the sun was near set and still the tower remained; apparently unscathed. The knights had already pitched the tents and Thrain and Cambren had returned to the fire for supper. All the other men ate save for Rugal and Garren who were filled with too much anticipation to eat just yet. Thrain sat by the fire, along with Cambren, and the men looked somber as they just shook their heads at Garren and Rugal who were staring at them expectantly.

The next day the company had to reluctantly return to the kingdom with solemn news. They arrived back at the capitol city Ewroth over a week later, as Thrain and Cambren presented their findings, or lack of, at the council meeting. With nothing to show or do, but research and study more, they all returned to their normal lives while grand magister Cambren and the other magisters of the kingdom came together to find a solution to the tower problem.

On the night of the second full moon since the tower appeared, a shadow began to overcast the moon blocking it out entirely. Thrain, who was unable to sleep and looking at the moon at the time, felt a strong sense of drowsiness overcome him; and he was unable to remain awake no matter how he struggled. The next thing he knew he was standing at the tower base in front of the doors with the devil engraved on them.

Silent and swift the doors opened inward and countless eyes glowed in the endless darkness inside; most red or yellow but some even sapphire or violet. Soon enough the eyes faded and a voice echoed from inside, "To whomever manages to reach the top most floor of the tower first, one wish of any desire, power, wealth or otherwise shall be granted. But be wary the tower inhabitants will attempt to stop you from climbing and making your wish come true. Beware the devil inside."

Thrain woke up in sudden exhilaration, covered in sweat and gasping for breath. He was on the carpet floor of his keep with the first rays of morning light shining into the room. "Thrain!" Jesebelle cried out from her bed. Thrain rose to his feet and came over to her, "What is wrong? Is it the baby?" he asked.

Jesebelle shook her head and said, "No it wasn't the baby I just had this surreal dream. I was at that 'devil tower' off in the distance, as in actually in front of it. It was exactly as you described it to me, then the doors opened up and there were these glaring eyes in the dark and a voice inside. It said be the first to climb the tower and have any wish you desire granted."

Thrain spoke quietly saying, "Yeah I had the exact same dream too..." Before long he was already getting dressed in his commander robes. "I need to call a council meeting about this," He said pulling his boots on and tying them. "For now I want you to keep this weird dream stuff between us, who knows what would happen if word about this got around."

Thrain rushed out the door of his keep and jogged through the halls to the spiral stone steps. At the bottom of the steps he found Garren dressed in his formal wear rushing to the stairs himself. He stopped and let out a small gasp at Thrain's sight saying, "Thrain. I was just coming to meet you we have a problem."

Thrain continued on walking at a brisk pace going south to the throne room saying, "Can it wait? I have urgent news that the entire council needs to hear." He would say no more of it in open.

"Sir if it's about the dream of the tower then that is what I came to speak with you about," Garren said hastily.

Thrain stopped in place and turned around to stare at Garren. He searched his eyes then asked, "You had the dream too?"

Garren let out a partial sigh then said, "Yes and I'm not the only one." Then he turned his head and looked over past Thrain. And for the first time Thrain finally noticed all of the castle servants moving about and talking quietly to each other. The entire castle was livelier than it had ever been at such an early hour. "What is going on why are all the servants up and so active this early?" Thrain asked.

"That's what I am trying to tell you," Garren said with a hint of irritation. "I had the same dream as did my," he paused a moment in thought for his next words then continued. "Evening servant. And after getting dressed I found many others up and about. All talking about the same dream. It seems the whole castle is alive with this talk."

"I don't believe this," Thrain muttered under his breath. Then he looked back at Garren and said, "Alright you go find lord Tarbeck or someone who can. I will speak with the king."

Several hours had gone by since everyone had the dream and it seemed more than just the castle inhabitants had it, the entire city was talking about it. Since everyone seemed to have the dream so far there was no point in calling a council meeting to discuss it and even now King Aldon sent out a handful of men to guard the tower in case the doors were truly open; he didn't want anything getting out unchecked.

The many days that followed were chaotic as King Aldon had to deal with more and more people inquiring about the tower and if it's safe for them to journey inside. The promise of any wish granted was too tempting for the common man it seemed. He knew it wouldn't be long until some of his knights had gotten too curious about the tower and abandoned the kingdom to search it out if they had to.

Aldon's prime concerns came a couple weeks later when his spies confirmed for him that the dream had entered the thoughts of the other three kingdoms. He feared for how long it would take before the other kingdoms turned their sites on his lands in an attempt to get into the, what is now being called, Devil Tower.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © Jake Pendragon all rights reserved 2015

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