((Perdante's bonding will be postponed. She's meant for another, I feel...!
THE VEILED FOREST, PERDANTE'S CAMP
After seeing the clear logic of Jenna's point, the former Paragon nodded vigorously. "Of course! Then, if and when the time comes for me to bond my thread of life to another, I shall bring him or her my full strength and power, not my shame and weakness. So be it. I wish to rebel against Faren Mageslayer, not only because I now have a sworn vendetta against my opponent in the Duel of the Fates, but because he also seems far more dangerous than I ever thought! My good mage? Is there any chance that I...could combine my fighting skill..." She paused for a moment. "...with the power you used to drive away the bear? If it turns out that Faren's axe, Palach, has a mind of its own, then perhaps I could use that mysterious ability to turn it away from whomever it's attacking." She arched a curious eyebrow. "Do you think you might be able to train me?" Perdante crossed her fingers...
THE EASTERN PLAINS, REMOTE CAMPSITE
Four peasants, who had gone out hunting for a week's time, had experienced a turn of ill fortune. Not only had they not caught any deer or bears, but the most they could hope to bring home to their families was a sack full of rabbits each. This was not a good sign, with the Eastern Plains in the beginning of a recurring summer drought! To compound matters, the tinder that they'd managed to gather up for their evening meal's campfire was so dry that the flames quickly reared high and began to roar out of control. "Help!" they cried.
Suddenly, one of the peasants remembered an arcane incantation that he had seen a mage, an Elementalist, do once as part of a festival in his home village. "Lyod, moroz, upast'!" he shouted. Immediately, ice crystals cascaded out from beneath his fingernails and rained down upon the raging fire. Within a few minutes, it had gone out, and his remaining three comrades cheered! The man himself looked dazed and shocked.
"How did you learn how to DO that?" one cried, his eyes full of fear.
The man replied, "I...I don't know. It was just something I saw a mage do."
"You're a sinner!" cried a nearby female voice. "You called upon wicked arts!"
Before the peasants knew what was truly happening, the members of the Knights Opaque, with Ser Dathrace and Ser Anithrelle at their head, had clapped all four of them in irons. The man who had cast the spell now wore an X of grease painted upon his forehead, and his three comrades? They were to be thrown in prison as accomplices to a sorcerer--if they confessed. If not, then they would also be burnt for such a transgression, along with obstructing the Kyng's justice. All of them marched on into the night, with the Knights Opaque being glad that they could finally return home to the Kyng's Court. They were all incredibly tired, and they had claimed their victory prize.
THE CITY OF STORMRISE, KYNG'S COURT, KYNG'S CHAMBERS
"Who--who are you?" the dying Kyng Varhad asked Faren Mageslayer.
"It's me. Faren. Your lieutenant?" the Dwarf asked with an amused smile.
"Oh! Excuse me for not recognizing your face. You'd think I...think I would remember the only Dwarf at Court for miles around." He and Faren laughed.
"Your Highness," continued the berserker, "have you heard about the mages?"
"The Healers? Yes. How are they doing? Have they found a cure for me yet?"
"I'm not talking about the Healers," replied Faren, "and they have not. I'm talking about the Elementalists and Inceptors, who have been terrorizing our people with their craft. I've recruited and sent out a band of Knights Opaque to hunt them." He smiled again. "Hopefully, that pleases Your Majesty."
"Oh, aye. Aye, it does. I've heard so many stories..." The Kyng trailed off.
"Well, you'll be hearing them no more. Not when my Knights are through..."