The mages need their own army. But recruiting one has never worked. It always goes the same way: men with big swords decide to try and seize power. Which means the wizards have to fry everyone and start again. What a drag.
But there might be another way: how about create their own army literally out of clay?
Character Series: no character series
Group Series: Hadesdorff, 2
Author: Chris Wilkins
“We have to do this. We are too weak without it.”
“That is preposterous. Mages have always been weak in that respect. We do not carry weapons. We are not men at arms. We cast spells. We demand respect because of the spells we cast. Not because of large lumps of iron we swing around.”
Exeor let his fingers dance over the gem on the top of his staff. It was a ruby the size of a lemon. Many people had died so that Exeor would possess it, so that he could climb his way to the top of the Mages Guild. Most people thought it just looked nice, and lent itself to the power that was his as head of the Mage’s Guild. He kept it a dark secret that it did far more than that, that it concentrated and amplified his magic. Without it the truth would be revealed quickly, that he was actually a rather weak mage. He had never revealed to anyone the real purpose of the gem.
Certainly in the back of his mind he knew that if Dequille, the female deputy mage of the guild, knew about the gem he would be dead in a heartbeat, and she would be the Head Mage.
She was nice to look at, tall and slender, with long blond hair, and a blue dress that swept down to her feet, with gold embroidery. But Exeor would never dare approach her in a romantic way. It would totally undermine his position within the magic community.
“Yes. But that is why we are weak. We cannot cast our spells without brutes with large sharp bits of iron protecting us. Imagine what we could do if we did not need them.” He thrust his right arm wide, as if revealing the entire landscape to Dequille for the first time. “Yes, we govern this valley. Anyone entering here pays us homage and taxes. But what if we could have a hundred valleys like this too?”
Dequille looked uncomfortable as she scratched her chin. “You are talking about building an empire. You know as well as I do that the books are full of mages who tried to do this. All of them failed.”
“Now you get it,” Exeor exclaimed. “Yes, they all failed because they all relied on other people to bring the swords, the shields, the soldiers and the cavalry. If we can create our own, that are totally loyal to us, that won’t question orders, better still don’t realise they can kill us if they are quick, then we would be unstoppable.”
Dequille hugged her white staff close to her. She was a good mage, capable of some of the most intricate spells known. She had also created some of her own in her long career, but many of them were weak, or so Exeor thought. They were to do with healing, not to do with killing. Some were even to do with increasing the yield of crops for farmers. When he had heard about that branch of Dequille’s magic many years ago he had written her off as a lightweight. But he also realised she would be the perfect partner to rise to the top of the Guild with him. Yet even after all these years he still found her staff to be irritating.
It was white with what she would describe as lovely carvings down it, all to do with trees and flowers. All sorts of soft sentimental rubbish that spoke nothing to do with power. He had of course never told her what he thought about her staff.
However, there was one huge advantage with Dequille which he had recognised a long time ago: she would always go along with whatever scheme he came up with. At times she would complain he was being too much, but she always took the benefits of being with him as he inexorably rose to the top.
And she would go along with his latest plan too. And why not? If it worked they would have their own private army to conquer any kingdom they desired.
“I do not like this, Exeor. I have said for a very long time that one day you will go to far, and I think that day is coming fast. But …..,” she looked off into the distance, taking in one sweep of the valley all the villages, farms, buildings, fields and livestock that supported the Guild, “if this is what you want to do, then I will support it.”
Exeor smiled. “Thank you, Dequille. I knew you would see sense in my plan. When have I ever let you down?”
Dequille did not answer.
“This is not working.”
“I can see that. You don’t have to tell me.” Dequille sat back and sighed. “We have been at this for six months. It has drained almost everything from me. I have no more magic I can bring to bear here. But I am also certain that is not good enough for you.” Dequille looked up at the ceiling. “I actually thought you knew how to do this.”
Exeor glared at the woman. Her attitude was starting to grate. Always complaining, always saying what can’t be done, and why it can’t be done.
They were in Exeor’s private laboratory in the main building of the Guild. Exeor had commanded that no one whatsoever was to ever disturb him or anyone else who came to work in this particular lab. He had made it off limits. None of the slaves were ever to clean up in here, or ever bring food or refreshment. Something he was not used to, but everyone had to make sacrifices.
It was a small room, only seven yards by seven yards. It’s high twelve feet walls were lined with books on all sorts of arcane magic, spells, and incantations. Many of them were known. Lots were not. Some were even of his own making. Certainly none of them were to do with herb lore or agriculture, he sneered in his own mind. He made sure the only books in here were ones that mattered, that could get things done.
But after six months of very long days, trying various spells, trawling through books, researching the vast labyrinthine minds of great wizards long forgotten, they still had not got anything to work. The lump of clay in front of them refused to move.
“And why did you think I would know how to do this?” he snapped, flopping into a large leather couch, sitting opposite Dequille.
She bent forward and reached for a plate of cold chicken and a glass of wine they had brought from the kitchens earlier. She tore off a leg, bit into it and started chewing. A slurp of the wine and she looked at Exeor who just watched her as she ate.
“Why do you think? You suggested this. And if you remember I did ask you if you had an idea how to do this.”
Exeor glared at her. “That is not the same. Yes, I said I thought I had an idea how to breathe life into an inanimate lump of clay to create a golem. It seems it is harder than what I thought.” He grabbed a glass and drained it.
It was getting close to midnight and the two of them had been at it all day, since dawn. They were both tired and getting snarky with each other.
“You do know that the methods of creating golems were lost a long time ago, don’t you?”
Exeor nodded. “Sure. But what was once discovered can be discovered again.”
Dequille leaned forward. “Sure. But that means experimentation. Not rediscovery. There are legends that dwarves discovered how to do this a long long time ago. And certain wizards also figured out how to do this. But we have found nothing anywhere. I don’t think the answer lies in your private library.”
Exeor stared at her. The seconds ticked by. Sounds from deep in the Guild Hall managed to make it into the study, but mere whispers of people moving about trying not to make any noise because most normal people wore asleep.
“Okay. That might mean using magic we have never used before. Going into subjects and topics that perhaps we are not supposed to go into.”
“Well, sure. Since we don’t know how to do this, perhaps we don’t know what we don’t know.”
“Precisely.” He stared at her again.
She stared back. Then realisation hit her.
“You mean using dark magic, don’t you?” Her voice rose ever so slightly. “You mean using dark and chaos magic to get this thing to work?”
He held up his hand. “Hang on. Not necessarily. We don’t know how golems were made. So we don’t really know what type of magic was used. After all, apparently, according to legend, the dwarves did this. They aren’t dark evil creatures.”
“Who says? Some of them are dark evil twisted little fuckers that you don’t want to go near?” she spat with venom.
Exeor stared at her with wide eyes.
“What? You don’t know everything about me. And no, I’m not going to tell you about that. Just leave it at, that where everyone seems to think dwarves are just misunderstood folk who live below ground, that is not the case. They can be just as cruel and mean as anyone above ground.”
“Ah, okay. Well, if that is the case, then do you think they would or could use dark magic?”
“Why not? Any bunch of greedy little bastards who spend their whole lives digging up shiny metal for no reason other than to have shiny stuff, could totally use bad things to help them along.”
“Okay. So does this mean you are on board for using chaos dark magic?”
She sighed. “I guess I have to be if this is the only way this is going to work.” Her eyes narrowed, glaring at him. “But if this goes wrong, Exeor, then you will be on your own. It will by yours and yours alone to deal with.”