The boy’s expression showed little interest. His eyes were already glazed over and his mind was elsewhere. He was bigger than the others, at least those who had served Khaal Wraath in the past. Fledgling squires, fleeing the unpredictable streets of Rauxes for the abuse and mistreatment promised them in the employ of the officers’ barracks.
Khaal Wraath glanced over at the boy again.
He doesn’t even look like he knows who I am. Perfect.
Khaal Wraath‘s casting trademarks, obvious to his colleagues but mysterious to strangers quickly took effect, the light of the candle on the desk faded and fluttered, but he kept his narrowing eyes locked on the boy.
“Agen arentilas cuthalian…” The words curled off his lips, and the boy snapped out of his dream to fix his eyes on Khaal Wraath. A thin, raspy whisper startled the boy from across the room, its piercing, cynical tone cutting through the thick silence of the shadow-filled chamber.
“Deliver this message…” the voice began, growing louder, “…to the Imperial Court Mage’s tower messenger and tell him…” The boy was frantically searching the room for the source of he who spoke to him.
“Hello?” the boy asked into the darkness. “Who’s there?” his curiosity pleased Khaal Wraath almost too much for him to concentrate. The voice continued…
“The… Master… of… Mages?” His face showed shocked amazement and terrible fear. “You wish to speak with him? Is that where I have to go?” The boy straightened his back to compose himself. He seemed more uncomfortable now, the warmth of the hearth and the many candles did little to stop the shiver that wracked him, and he seemed small and frightened in Khaal Wraath‘s midst. He had lost that dreamy look in his eye when The Master of Mages was mentioned, and rightly so, thought Khaal Wraath.
“Is there a problem…?” the mysterious voice whispered. Khaal Wraath glared purposefully at the boy as the haunting voice started again from the depths of his study. The boy seemed panicked now, who was this who requested to see the Master of Mages? Would he be punished if he failed to deliver this message? But the boy stepped further into the room to look for who was telling him what to do. Khaal Wraath remained motionless, watching the boy carefully as the voice he commanded continued, “Because if you have difficulty with these instructions, your incompetence can be very easily communicated to your superiors.”
“No,… no problem sir. The message,… of course, right away.” The boy straightened his tunic. “I’ll go right away.”
Mention of the Master of Mages always got a similar response from these minions. Rumours circulated through the contingent and thus through the city that the Master of Mages was, in fact, Ivid‘s aid, but few people ever saw him, and even delivering a message to his tower was startling, especially to a boy. A thin smile escaped Khaal Wraath‘s lips; sometimes, fear can be entertaining…
Slowly backing towards the door from whence he came in, the boy bowed awkwardly and turned to the door to escape, his eyes wide with the apprehension of his task. With a thought, Khaal Wraath willed himself to the doorway and let a moment linger at his portal; framing him against an awful backdrop of flame and darkness. Startled, the boy recoiled from Khaal Wraath, his fear now focused on the form of the tall, imposing figure who just teleported right before his very eyes! An impenetrable mask of uncaring, Khaal Wraath reached down and grabbed the boy by his collar, lifting him again to his feet, but keeping hold of his tunic. Leaning down from his great height, Khaal Wraath continued now with his voice, “Heed my instructions, boy… do well and you will be rewarded with further service… do poorly and you will wish you stayed in the squalor of Rauxes.” Placing a small, sealed scroll in the breast pocket of the still horrified boy, Khaal Wraath finished, “…now… go…”.
Satisfied that his point was made, Khaal Wraath released the boy, raising his arm in a grandiose fashion to allow the boy to scamper past, half-stumbling as he reached for the bolt on the chamber door. Khaal Wraath sighed in silent contentment as the page’s frantic footsteps could be heard sprinting down the hallway…