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(If you missed the first chapters, check them out online at http://newrichlandstar.com!)

 

Mundrago the Magician stalked about his study in the Too-Tall Tower. Something was wrong, that much was certain. He had felt a draining of the magic around him recently, and today it was especially noticeable. He gazed out the window of the currently stable turret in which he resided. His eyes fixed on the Foggy Forest. Was it his imagination or did there seem to be much less fog than normal?

Mundrago shook his head and turned back to his magical materials. He had a shelf full of books filled with incantations and spells, a cupboard stuffed with herbs and roots to be used in concoctions, and miscellaneous other items he needed for his activities. Everything was the same as it had been week after week since he had taken over the Too-Tall Tower using magic that had been buried deep in those books. Once he overcame the protection spells, it had been child’s play to make this his central point.

He was virtually untouchable while here. The tower was almost sentient, sensing when a resident was under attack and growing to keep any antagonists on a never-ending quest to reach the top where Mundrago now stood. Still, the wizard felt uneasy. If his powers were ebbing, might the tower be vulnerable as well?

Mundrago turned his six-foot frame back to the window. He wore dark clothes and a long, flowing cape that all blended in varying shades with his black hair that hung past his shoulders. He was loathe to leave the tower much, just in case the creatures of Steinland had found a way to overcome him. Bah! What was he thinking? Those pathetic animals wouldn’t have the sense to do anything like that. They might not be happy with his rule, but they surely couldn’t do anything about it. Still, the fog dissipating…

Deep in that forest, Martin sat in council with those creatures Mundrago had underestimated. The Cozy Caves were just that, as Martin’s childhood creations lounged about while their creator discussed the current situation with Fix and Bit, default leaders of the resistance.

Fix stood up higher on his fox legs and launched into a diatribe on how the land was failing due to Mundrago’s magic. “Once he ensconced himself in the Too-Tall Tower, the very energy around us started to lose potency,” he explained.

“Yes,” purred Bit, “it seems as if the tower was watching over us on its own. Now that Mundrago has commandeered it, his hoity-toity attitude seems to be infectious. The tower no longer cares about the rest of the land.”

Fix took over again. “Plants are withering, streams are drying up, and even the pinkish hue of the sun seems faded,” he said. “We need to find a way to remove Mundrago, Sir Martin!”

“But how can I possibly help?” asked Martin. “I can barely register that I’m here, much less weave some magic spell.”

“Our hope was that since you created everything here, you’d know a way to…” Bit hesitated, “destroy that which you made.”

And there it was. Martin Stein was like a god to these creatures. He was their creator; because of him, they had life. Their theory was sound: he should be the one capable of eliminating the power of Mundrago. But how? He had read plenty of stories about wizards and magicians, but he didn’t really believe that magic was real. Of course, here he sat in a fantasy land of his own making, so clearly he had been wrong.

A thought struck him. If all these creatures viewed him as a god, shouldn’t the same hold true for Mundrago? “I think it’s time I went on a visit to the Too-Tall Tower,” Martin said at last. The audible gasp from all the creatures surrounding him was not unexpected.

“But what shall you do once you get there?” asked Fix with some anxiety in his voice. “Do you have some magic which will allow you access?”

Martin hesitated. “Er, no, but if I don’t approach with malice, the tower’s defenses shouldn’t kick in, right? If I get a chance to talk to Mundrago, I know I can convince him to change his ways.”

Fix and Bit looked skeptical, but both finally nodded. “We shall escort you to the edge of the fields surrounding the tower,” said Bit. “We dare go no farther; you will be on your own.”

Martin gulped. “Well,” he said, “let’s be off then.” His previous optimism was rapidly dwindling. Still, what was the worst that could happen?

To be continued!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is hoity-toity, which means thinking too highly of oneself, as in, “The hoity-toity aura around the candidate caused the voter to change who she was voting for in November.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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