"Tell me Riedl, what do you think of this?"
The glowing orb held up so that the stocky man could see it clearly left him with only a few words.
"Not much Bagdel. I mean, such things are not to be trifled with by a mere soldier my Lord," replied Reidl.
The holder of the orb, lord of the Meserin Estates had always been fascinated by magic. The marvelous things it could accomplish that man could not. The glow in his eyes held a light of their own. The wonder of the object he held in his hand left Bagdel with few words as well.
For within Bagdel's hand held the Orb of Illusion. Able to cloud any person's mind with the pleasure they sought most. While under the orbs influence, anything was possible.
Seemingly made of glass, Bagdel held the orb up even higher to catch the gaze of the sun. Looking from afar, Bagdel might seem a hero from some famous story. That impression would be terribly wrong.
His golden hair drifted ever so slightly in the breeze, the look of happiness in his victorious smile. His clothes, glistening in the small spots not coated with blood. This blood came not from man, but from the orbs protector, a dragon.
Bagdel was one of the fiercest warriors in the land. He stood taller than most men and used such things to his advantage. The ownership of the Meserin Estates had not originally belonged to him by right. Bagdel had taken that right. By blood. Blood that did not stain his armor as did the dragon's, but blood that stained his hand in deeds done.
The crest that embedded his breastplate held the sigil of his mercenaries. Now, they could no longer be called such since Bagdel was a lord. They were officially renamed the Dragon's Guard. In the end, the only real good they were was murdering, pillaging, rape, and assassinations. The last was Bagdel's real purpose for them in his employment. Such rabble couldn't even imagine where to begin fighting a dragon, let alone a Guardian.
Bagdel looked from the orb to his slain foe. The corpse at his feet was the toughest duel he had ever had. Dragon's themselves were dangerous enemies no matter what kind you ran into.
The Guardians, however, were in a league of their oown. Their abilities were heightened by the very magic that they were sworn to protect. Control of that magic was lessened to a degree but nonetheless very dangerous.
If Bagdel had not prepared months and months for this encounter, he would have been slain with ease. Bagdel looked to the dragon's home, behind the massive body of its old inhabitant. The pedestle that previously held hte orb created a small chuckle out of Bagdel. After hundreds of years, that pedestle would forever be empty.
Everything began for this adventure when Bagdel had taken over the Meserin Estates little less than a year ago. Bagdel had learned from the Count in an effort to spare his own life during his final moments that the family knew the location of the famed Orb of Illusion.
Upon its establishment, the Meserin line, honorable during its time, was deigned to protect the orbs secrets for when the world of man could use its power for good. Just before Bagdel killed the Count and left the man's wife and daughter to the Dragon's Guard, Bagdel extracted the known information about hte orb.
Known information the Count had gathered was in his study. Most magic was at its strongest when dealing with anything relating to the number seven. This, Bagdel knew, as it was now an established rule of magic. As with the world, magic too had a balance. The Count of Meserin had sent his Lieutenant and five of his men to confront Oreila, the dragon, but could only contain five of the soldiers and struggled with the sixth Lieutenant. The Lieutenant, strongest of mind out of the six men, was able to fight only a moment.
The Lieutenant proceeded to slay his soldiers as they attacked him under Oreila's control. Physically, their combat abilites were close, but Oreila had no knowledge of the fighting style of men. Flowing from one form to the next, the Lieutenant lived the encounter with his own men.
No matter how strong the Lieutenant was though, after fighting five of his brethren who were as strong and quick as he, there was no energy left to fight a full grown dragon. Within a matter of moments, Oreila had killed Lieutenant Bromere.
The rest of Counter Meserin's records were useless to Bagdel. The fool had even had the gall to send in seventy men to retrieve the orb afer speaking to a traveling mage about the secrets of magic. That naturally left every soldier insane to the point of murdering those close to them.
Once Bagdel had finished his record reading, the next few months were spent on a magic immunity spell. It would not stop the orb from invading his mind upon confronting Oreila, but it would dull the magic to that of Lieutenant Bromere.
Bagdel had deduced that to naturally get the orb, it required seven hornoable men to confront Oreila. Such things were in VERY short supply in this world, and definitely not at Bagdel's disposal. Bagdel's sense of honor may not match that of Bromere's, but knowledge of magic and a bit of cunning could overcome any kind of magic that stood in his way. For the rest, Bagdel knew he could confront Oreila easily with the plan he had laid out.
After many months locked up in his study, Bagdel was finally ready. He knew every step of the hardest spell he would ever use. Drawing his sword, Bagdel walked to the setup clearing in the book-filled study. Taking a deep breath, closing his eyes, he began to open his mind to the natures of magic.
Bagdel then began to flow the elements of light and darkness, swirling in his embrace. Keeping the flow constantly moving, Bagdel then drove his sword into the stone floor like it was made of butter. The focus point of the mgaic between two everlasting opposites was established, now to use the forbidden natures together. A single misstep at this point forward would leave Bagdel dead where he stood, and his soul forever ripped to pieces.
With the focus point of light and dark still in circular motion, Bagdel grabbed the nature of death in the strongest hold possible. Now, he guided the nature of life, taken alongside death. Before the two natures could begin their fight that would kill him, Bagdel threw death into the very center of the flow while also gently setting life on the very edges.
The spell was complete. Bagdel looked down at his work. A faint glow in the sword now was beginning to fade.Bagdel couldn't help but smile at his accomplishment. Releasing the breath that he had unconsciously held during the spell, Bagdel pulled the blade from the stone beneath him. Holding the blade up to the windows light, the magical glow holding the sword finally vanished. Turning the blade over in his hand, Bagdel wished to give his crowning achievement a name.
"I think I shall call you, Nullguard."
With the naming, Bagdel felt the exhaustion that he knew would come. Walking ever so slowly to the bed he had used in his research, he slept for hte next week in recovery for the next part of his plan.
When Bagdel finally awoke, he looked out the eastern window and saw the sun beginning to rise.
"Perfect!" said Bagdel with delight.
Standing up with weak knees, Bagdel headed for the door out. The first thing he needed to do was regain his strength wit ha larger than life meal. Bagdel then paused for a moment, a hand on the door.
"What am I forgetting?" he asked himself. "Oh!"
Thankfully, Nullguard still lie next to the bed where he left it. Clamoring over to it, he grabbed the sword and sheath, belting it on before opening the door. Stepping through, Bagdel turned to his left where the Lady Meserin stood.
"Is there anything you need my Lord?" fear touched her voice ever so slightly while she kept her head looking down at the ground.
"Yes, I want a meal fit for three in the bathing chambers five minutes ago."
The woman stuttered a moment and then looked up into his eyes. She had tears pouring down her face.
The woman pleaded "At least spare -!"
Bagdel interrupted her. "The food is for me, fool!" He shouted.
The Lady Countess Meserin jumped at his shout and ran for the kitchens. Seeing her turn the corner, Bagdel turned his attention to the mothers concern on he right side of the doorway.
Bagdel gave his next order. "Tell the maids to prepare me a bath."
The young woman turned her gaze to him, her stare, colder than ice. She hated him, but he did not care. He had long since given up caring what nobles thought of him. None of them knew humility, espcially this girl.
Bagdel repeated his order. "A bath, NOW."
Through gritted teeth, she replied. "Yes," and started walking towards the baths.
"And after that, tell the Guard they may have you until you wish to be subserviant to me," said Bagdel.
She paused only a moment, a slight trip of feet, and she was on her way.
"Riedl!" Shouted Bagdel.
Bagdel knew the man wouldn't be far from his own quarters. Sure enough, only just across the hall, the man came up to him.
"Yes, my Lord?" He bowed repeatedly.
"Stop bowing, and prepare five of your weakest men to follow me to Oreila's Lair by noon. The rest of you will stay behind. Oh, and prepare my horse as well."
"Yes, sire." The man bowed his way out anyways.
By the time Bagdel was facing the opening of the Dragon's Lair, it was already an hour after midday. Oreila lay at the opening of her cave. Bagdel commanded the men to dismount and follow him. The area itself looked mostly natural. Surrounded by fields and long grass, the only thing that indicated something grand of the place was the flatstone platform with which Bagdel knew he would have to kill upon.
Taking his steps to the middle of the platform, he confronted Oreila. The dragon lazily opened her eyes, seemingly bored with everything.
"Are you another fool?" Oreila exlaimed to Bagdel through his mind.
"I am here for the orb," said Bagdel.
"So be it," she replied.
Instantly, Bagdel turned to the five men behind him. He steelled his mind for the onslaught of both the orbs power filtered through the dragon, and the easy sword fight ahead. Bagdel rolled to his left, as if to flank the group. Upon rcovery from the roll, he quickly cut open the man's throat. Blood gushed from the wound as he fell. The next four men had to move on either side of their slain comrade where Bagdel beheaded another. Now, Bagdel had positioned himself so that the men stood between the dragon and himself. As they tried to circle, Bagdel moved with them.
Oreila growled in frustration.
"What have you done?!" Oreila demanded.
It was then Bagdel realized that Nullguard had blocked the orbs magic completely. He then smiled at his work. Just as the men triangled Bagdel, he used the center man to block vision of him from the dragon and took him through the heart.
With two left, it was a matter of simple swordwork. As the man to his left ran in for a stab, Bagdel deflected and spun to drive Nullguard in his attackers back. Pulling his blade free, he then swept the last man off his feet with a kick and drove home the blade to the heart.
"Now, about that orb miss Oreila." Said Bagdel, wiping the blade off with the last man's clothes.
Oreila roared in full force in declaration of her anger. The mighty dragon instilled fear into Bagdel if only for a moment. Whatever happened, Oreila would defend the Orb of Illusion with her life.
"You will not have it, human!" declared Oreila.
"So be it," said Bagdel. He drew Nullguard once again.
Oreila began with a breath of fire hoping to burn him alive. This, Bagdel expected. He dove off to the side, aiming for the underside of her neck. Bagdel charged, point forward. Simple, yet effective for forcing a dragon to take flight.
Her dodge allowed him to confirm his goal. The orb lie on a pedestle, glowing ever so slightly in all of its grandeur with an energy of its own. Looking back at Oreila, in the sky, he waved his farewell as she was shot down by a ballistae on Reidl's order.
She spired down, trying to steady her flight againbut the damage was done. It had gone completely through her wing. Bagdel steadied himslf as the dragon crashed with the ground, shaking the earth he stood on.
Oreila was still alive, but not for long. Bagdel walked around until he stood in front of her gaze, her breathing labored.
"Still believe I am a fool?" asked Bagdel.
"Yes," she replied.
Bagdel then cut her throat, blood touching his clothes. It was time, thought Bagdel. Trning his gaze to the orb, Nullguard in hand, Bagdel walked over to his prize. Reahing his hand out, he picked it up. It was warm, and welcoming. As Bagdel stepped out of the cave, he saw Riedl coming to meet him.
"Nice aim," complimented Bagdel.
"Thank you, my Lord," bowed Riedl.
"Tell me Riedl. What do you think of this?"
"Not much Bagdel. I mean, such things are not to be trifled with by a mere soldier, my Lord."
As Bagdel held the orb to the sun, his sword started to glow.
"Ah, sword may be as miraculous as this orb someday. Hold it for me would you?"
As Riedl took Bagdel's sword, Bagdel held the orb up once again. This time, the Orb of Illusion began to glow, brighter and brighter until Riedl could no longer look. It seemed brighter than the sun. Then, it was gone. The only bright light left was the normal sun in the sky.
When Riedl looked back for his commander, there was nothing. The orb too, was gone. Riedl never did find out that Bagdel had used the Orb of Illusion on himself.