Sorcerer and sorceress hunched over the giant laboratory desk as they studied the shifting lines of magic. The tome was his, carefully removed from his library and transported to her castle’s lab for their joint review, and it was not just one of the oldest tomes in his collection, it was one of the oldest tomes ever scribed. The frayed pages were no longer held in place by the binding but by the sheer force of will of the spells within. The groupings of words clung to each, refusing to be broken by the passage of time.
The candles in the sconces on the walls flickered as they burned down to stubs, small entrails of smoke twirled up to disappear in the darkness clinging to the ceiling. Hours had passed as witch and wizard had perused the words to the spell, memorized them, and reflected upon the power held within such simplicity. They were in awe of the capabilities the ancients had coaxed from their magic.
“Where did you find this book?” The sorceress finally broke her gaze from the tome to look across at her new friend.
He laughed slyly, without removing his own gaze from the book, “I found it decaying below a pile of bones in a cave… There was a dragon there that didn’t relish my presence and attempted to thwart my efforts to retrieve the tome, but it rather overestimated its advantages and abilities.”
A dragon? He has fought one of the fabled beasts? And he won? Her mind was rent from thoughts of components and articulation as she visualized the encounter. The cadence of his storytelling captivated the sorceress, though, and she quickly turned her full attention to him.
“It was a close fought battle, but in the end it relied too heavily on its healing abilities and I was able to wear it down. It flew off, nursing its wounds, and I procured the spellbook and used the last of my strength to cast the spell that would send me back to the safety of my home. I slept for three days afterwards and then spent the following three weeks devouring the secrets I could decipher from the book.”
Her face held an expression of unabashed respect, and he bowed in acknowledgement of both the achievement and her admiration. “If only you had been there,” he whispered, “we could have easily defeated the beast and seen what other treasures he held in thrall.”
The sorceress sensed a trap in his words, but was ready to spring it. She wanted to know what he was truly capable of. She wanted to follow him into the den of the beast and see how it played out. “Do you remember how to get to the cave?”