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

Mundrago had always considered himself a nullifidian, thinking he had more power than any other living being in Steinland. If there was a higher power than him, the magician had a hard time believing in it. However, as he glanced out the top window in the Too-Tall Tower and saw a man striding determinedly toward his home, that belief system was shaken. Instinctively, Mundrago knew who that was.

The wizard hurried down the stairs and prepared himself to step foot outside the protections offered him by the tower. Still, if that was who he thought it was, those protections probably didn’t matter anyway. Mundrago threw open the gates and strode out to meet Martin Steinbauer.

Martin, for his part, was shocked to see Mundrago marching out to meet him. Martin thought he’d have to do some smooth talking to gain access to the ruling power in the land. He decided to stop where he was and wait for Mundrago to reach him. While he waited, he finally decided on how he would address the magician.

Mundrago stopped about ten feet from Martin. He hesitated before asking, “Are you my creator?”

Martin responded, playing up the voice he used for announcing, a deeper rendition of his conversational voice, “Yes, Mundrago, it is I, Martin Steinbauer!”

Mundrago took a step back at the resonance of Martin’s voice. “What is it you wish? Why are you here?” he queried.

“We need to talk about your use of magic,” said Martin. “It might be best to…” He coughed suddenly. Usually, he didn’t say much at a time when announcing and had access to his water bottle. The job at the microphone wasn’t as easy as it looked. “Ahem. It might be best to go inside the Too-Tall Tower and discuss this further.”

However, that slip had set Mundrago’s senses afire. Was this really a god before him? This Martin Steinbauer might well be the creator of the land, but he didn’t appear to be much and certainly had some frailties which he could take advantage of. The wizard brought himself up a bit taller and responded, “I think we’re fine out here. Say what you have to say.”

Martin realized his plan to get inside the tower’s defenses and make it to the top before turning threatening had failed. His only chance was to appeal to Mundrago’s better side. He had to have one, right? “Very well then, I’ll get right to the point. The land around you is dying a slow death due to your use of most of the magic. Plants are dying, water sources are drying up, the animals are weakening, and even the sun is dimming.”

Mundrago glanced around. Of course he had noticed some of the extremes, but he needed that magic to sustain his ever-growing needs. The tower alone took a great deal of magic to keep under his control. In addition, he kept draining energy from everything in the land to keep the creatures there docile and unable to resist his rule. “Don’t worry, Martin.” He sneered the name. “I won’t let everything die. But this land is mine. You may have created all this, but I now rule it. Somehow I don’t think you have the power to depose me.” With that, he turned his back on Martin.

Martin panicked. “Wait!” he shouted. “I created you as well. Doesn’t that count for something? If not for me, you wouldn’t exist.” Martin started to gain back some courage. “You must follow my will!”

Mundrago turned around slowly. “I must, must I?” he drawled. “I think not. Stop me if you can.” With that, the magician turned and headed back toward the tower.

Martin watched him until Mundrago was just inside the gates. The accountant sprinted after the wizard and barely managed to get inside the gates before they clanged shut. Mundrago disappeared in a flash of teleportation as Martin reached him. As Martin looked up, he saw Mundrago looking down at him from the top of the turret and knew he had failed.

However, he still made an effort to get to the top of the tower, knowing all along it was futile. He climbed the equivalent of eight flights of stairs before confirming the power of the structure to increase in height in order to keep out intruders. Martin trudged back down the stairs and sat down hard by the gates, gazing up at the tower.

After resting there for a time, Martin pushed back out through the gates and headed back to the Foggy Forest. The creatures waiting there looked expectantly at him, but quickly realized the result of Martin’s foray by the dour look on his face. “I failed,” he told them. “I tried to talk to Mundrago, but he refused to listen. I was unable to assault him physically before he again took refuge in the Too-Tall Tower.”

Fix and Bit tried to comfort him. “We’ll come up with another plan, Sir Martin, you’ll see. Let’s head back to the Cozy Caves and find some refreshments. Maybe a good night’s sleep will bring a new idea.”

Martin shook his head. “I doubt it. I just want to go home,” he said resignedly. “Is Shedeerbit rested enough to take me back?” His thoughts went to Pam as the group marched back through the forest, surrounded by an ever-increasing mist.

Suddenly, Martin stopped. “Wait a minute!” he exclaimed. “I just may have another idea to stop Mundrago!”

To be continued!

 

Word of the Week: This week’s word is nullifidian, which means a person who has no belief in a god, as in, “The nullifidian was confronted with his lack of belief when he lay on his deathbed, wondering if he’d been wrong all along.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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