“How do you expect to breach the defenses Master?”
The old man quietly stared back at his young pupil, his gaze cold and focused, his face partially covered by his long black hair that blew back and forth in the wind. He knew what he was doing, and he didn’t need anyone questioning his abilities, least of all this young lad. Then again, the old man remembered how everything was both wonderful and inspiring when he was this young, and how he too must’ve gotten on his master’s nerves on more than one occasion.
This wasn’t just any young pupil, and the old man expected more of him than he had of any others he had taught. He was not only training in magic, but also in the ways of Shar, Mistress of the Night, with the ultimate goal of becoming one that combined spell with blade to harness magical might through a weapon as an extension of oneself: a Swordmage.
To be a Swordmage, however, wasn’t enough. His ultimate goal was to become Umbriri, a Swordmage dedicated to the power of Shar – the power of shadow.
“I will be known as Ezmereth Nemrin the Umbriri”, he often said.
But the young man from Shade had much to learn before he would be ready. Although the necessities of living in the floating city had taught him how to wield a blade, they had not shown him the true power of wielding magic. Even now, as he trained to use magic like a true Netherese, he gave lip service to Mistress Shar and the power his loyalty to her could promise, instead focusing on the deadliness of his blade.
The old man stood motionless, eyeing his pupil carefully. The two of them stood by a sealed door, which was a perfect exercise for Ezmereth’s training.
“Tell me, Ezmereth, how would you breach them?”
“Well master Ylormik,” the young man pondered, slowly walking up to the door, “if we could find the mechanical latch that’s currently holding the trap in place, we could block it and…”
Ezmereth felt a large hand grab his shoulder and spin him about.
“Stand back you fool!” Ylormik shouted, pulling his pupil back to safety. “How certain are you that the defenses set upon this door are not triggered by proximity.”
“Well, I assume…”
“Bah!” Ylormik interrupted, “to assume is to invite error and death!”
Ezmereth did not appreciate the scowl of his master, but understood it was meant to teach him, not to belittle him. He studied the door once more, this time from a distance. After a few moments, he knew what he was dealing with.
“The environment around the door indicates that the defenses are not triggered by proximity, but rather by tampering.”
“Correct,” Ylormik said.
“Also,” Ezmereth studied some more, “the traps incorporated within this door are not mechanical, but magical.”
“And as such, a mechanical intervention on the door will do no good.”
The old man nodded, the corners of his mouth forming into a rare smile. His pupil had done well.
“I will therefore disenchant the magical trap that disintegrates anything that tampers with the door,” Ylormik said. “That will be the simple part. Afterwards, you will assist me in performing the ritual required to unlock it.”
He reached into a pouch and drew a handful of a fine, powdery substance. Lifting his hand to his face, Ylormik blew the substance it out of his hand onto the door, all the while tracing arcane symbols within the smoke with his other hand and speaking a few words in draconic. After but a moment, a small glow could be seen on the door, and then a faint pop was heard. The trap was now removed.
“Now time for the ritual, Ezmereth,” said the master wizard. “While I chant the arcane words necessary, you will draw three Xs on the door with a piece of orange chalk. Make sure the angles are all even. If even one is off by a degree, the ritual will not work.”
“As you wish master,” replied the ever eager to learn student, “but before we begin, what exactly do we expect to find on the other side?”
“Hopefully, nothing at all,” the old man answered with uncertainty in his voice.