The High Forest

Baptism by Fire

This is Bensden’s story. A wizard who grew up during the story of Wellmark, the second book of the Tolk series. It carries further the exploits of Diron Maa and describes the time of the Rage of Mages when the rule of the Wizards Guild was over thrown.

A snippet from Baptism by Fire

Bensden knelt by the path, wet and torn leggings scant protection from the sharp stones, he barely noticed the discomfort. Two days on the run from the Guild Enforcers, overnight rain and little food left no room for considerations of comfort. Ahead the path dipped, disappearing between the trees to reappear topping a slight rise in the distance. He was still breathing heavily, sweat stained his torn shirt. Bensden tore the sopping lace finery from the cuff of one sleeve; he wrung the scrap out and wiped his face. Behind him his companion Di-bin was leaning casually against a tree seemingly unperturbed by their hectic flight through the forest.

“Hey Ben! I see no sign and hear nothing. We have lost them.” Di-bin called softly.

“Perhaps.” Bensden rocked to his feet still looking down the path. Together they walked cautiously down the track till a clearing opened up before them.

They entered together. Hoof prints of many horses had churned the track to the burnt out cottage to mud. The broken windlass over the well central in the clearing in front of the cottage still smoked and flickered with ripples of wizard fire. To Bensden the place stank of fresh spent magic.

“Lots of shooting, lots of horses have been here and no bodies.” Di-Bin retrieved several spent arrows and added them to his quiver. He turned from Bensden and went to the well.

“Now we have bodies.” Di-Bin called to Bensden who was walking toward the remains of the cottage. Something in his voice gave Bensden an uncomfortable feeling. They stared into the well at half burnt and tattered bodies visible in the dark water.

Bensden had never looked upon the newly dead never imagined looking at the bodies of friends. They had been killed he knew not how and tossed with no regard for propriety or respect, tossed like garbage. He felt a dry retch deep in the back of his throat and turned away. Only two he could identify and that by their clothes.

True rage was new to Bensden: Not a rage of demonstration but a cold, white, crystalline thing that scoured like freezing acid through his veins. For the briefest instant he feared it would consume him as he felt his wizards powers awaken with a rush and power new to him. He quashed them fiercely with a strength not previously at his disposal. He drew a shuddering breath and stalked to the burnt cottage. Somehow, someone would be made to pay for these atrocities. Damn the Guild. Damn them all.

Di-bin peered anew at the bodies and turned following Bensden. Death was not new to him but the level of callousness shown the dead revolted him, still he wondered at the obvious depth of Bensden’s reaction. The big man’s silence was a palpable thing.


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