Petrus had been back in Hollyburg a week from his trip to Valhalla, where he and Gabby picked up Karissa. After his brief date with Karissa the following day, when she helped him learn a bit more about necromancy, Petrus threw himself back into his studies; Karissa had returned to her studies as well without anyone making any comments regarding her return. During the week the wizards who tutored Petrus, and others who were full members of the academy, seemed to treat him with more respect.
Toward the end of the week, as the young apprentice was studying in his room, a knock came at the door. Petrus opened the door and found Morion, a young transmuter who’d passed his trials two years prior; Petrus knew the young wizard was fairly high up in the wizardly order, but didn’t know exactly what he did.
Morion, after entering and taking a seat at Petrus’s request, began talking to the apprentice about politics among the order of wizards and the war with the Witch King. The wizard told Petrus that his trials were going to be initiated soon and that he was expected to pass and become a full wizard, which many were looking forward to. Morion was sure to let Petrus know that he wanted him to be an advocate for Mivon’s continued neutrality in the war; in the mean time, he said that he’d be willing to help or give Petrus guidance if he needed.
Much to the young apprentice’s surprise, he was summoned a couple days later. He’d expected to have more time at his studies before being sent out on another assignment. Additionally, he’d been summoned to King Osprak’s throne room, which was a first for him, instead of Galen’s study, the place he’d received all prior assignments.
Having never been to Osprak’s throne room Petrus was a bit surprised that it was considerably smaller than he’d expected. What it lacked in size, however, it more than made up for with the magical items. The walls had what appeared to be portals into other planes on them as decoration, the stone statues seemed human-like in that they moved just as people, a great number of magical creatures, and an indirect magical light illumined the room.
Osprak greeted Petrus and asked him if he was ready to undergo his trial. Once Petrus agreed, the king described the dragon Dunkelzarken, a gold dragon, who was constantly meddling with the affairs of Mivon and other humans. Petrus thought Osprak’s task was somewhat unusual; he was to go visit the dragon and remind him that Osprak suffered Dunkelzarken to live in the stolen lands and not the other way around. Additionally, Petrus was to provoke the dragon to attack him, which would accomplish two objectives – the first of which was full membership in Osprak’s Wizards , which would be evidenced when a bronze medallion the King gave him with the seal of the wizard’s order turned to silver, and the second of which was to cause the dragon to break the oath he’d made never to attack a wizard of Mivon under any circumstance; breaking the oath would allow Osprak a certain amount of power over the dragon.
Since there were no caveats or provisions to the dragon’s oath Petrus was free to do whatever he needed to in order to get the attack to happen; of course, he had to survive it and return to Mivon in order to enjoy being a full wizard. Osprak told Petrus that any bladesman willing to accompany the apprentice and help him and return from the ordeal would automatically be granted the title of Blade Sworn.
Osprak also told Petrus that he knew that the dragon had sent spies into Mivon and that there was even one in attendance as an apprentice to become one of Osprak’s Wizards. Petroclus Goldenclaw was a sorcerer and Osprak seemed to be a bit derisive about the fact that this heir of Dunkelzarken thought he might be able to perform as well as a wizard, but said he would try the sorcerer on his own merits when the time came.
Finally, King Osprak told Petrus to see Galen, that he would provide assistance and-or any materials that Petrus might need. Upon delivering this final bit of information, Osprak dismissed the apprentice. Before leaving the king, Petrus asked the king for a list of known relatives of Dunkelzarken, which the king provided. Then Petrus left the floating tower and returned to the city of Hollyburg.
After making a copy of the list of Dunkelzarken’s heirs and storing it someplace safe, Petrus’s first visit was to see Bellona, the bladesman. He explained a bit about his trial and asked her if she could get Syrakan military regalia and armor and a robe from the White Tower. She informed him that her armor is already of Syrakan design and that the few pieces of color that might be needed wouldn’t be difficult to get – she’d merely need to take a trip to Crownguard, which would give her opportunity to clear up some unfinished business, but there was no way for her to get a robe of the White Tower. After telling him she’d return in four days, she left Petrus and made her way to do as he requested.
Petrus then went to see Galen to get access to the King’s library. He was hoping to find information on Dunkelzarken’s treasure horde, specifically items that might be used in the war against the Witch King. Galen, being the diviner he is, had already pulled a book that had been written a couple centuries before by a Pitaxan writer; the book was entitled “Treasures Stolen by Dunkelzarken.” Petrus also asked Galen about robes from the White Tower, which Galen told him could be found in the apprentice’s library.
With the book from Galen in hand, Petrus went to the apprentice’s library to get the other book Galen had told him about with styles of robes of the various wizard’s guilds in the nations surrounding Mivon. The book was easily located and Petrus found a number of Syrakan styles, each more intricate than the last the higher in the order the wizard was. Choosing a simple one that indicated an apprentice or new wizard, Petrus took the book to a local clothier and commissioned the robe with all of the needlework to be finished in three-days time for 100 gold pieces.
With the robe commissioned, Petrus returned to his room and read through the book about Dunkelzarken’s treasure horde. The items that stood out to him most were a vampire-bane sword and a set of knightly armor enchanted to prevent the undead’s life-draining ability. Additionally, items of art that might have been worthy of Petrus’s plan were the 12 statues of the ancient Mivonian kings, a painting of the goddess of Selene which displayed every aspect of the goddess (apparently something not even known by her current followers), and the Necklace of the Dawn (a necklace from Roxana, one of the founders of Syrak).
Later that evening Karissa visited Petrus and suggested he get out of his room, that it wasn’t good for him to always being in his room studying. Petrus told her that he’d soon be getting out because Osprak had assigned his trial. Despite her insistence for more information, Petrus told her nothing about his plan; the truth was he didn’t fully trust her with the information and didn’t want to tip his hand to the dragon.
Realizing that Petrus wasn’t going to divulge anything regarding his trial before it began, she offered to help him by way of a spell that acted a bit like the magic jar spell and like the resurrection spell rolled into one; the idea being that if he were to die, his soul would return to an amulet and then be transferred into another person of his choice, the downside being that the person chose would cease to exist.
Petrus chose Strom as the body he’d take over, should death come to him during the trial. Karissa prepared the spell and within an hour of midnight it was completed.
Two days later the Syrakan-styled robes that had been commissioned were complete and Petrus took them and enchanted them with an enhancement to his strength. His goal was to make them so that they resonated magic if checked and a slight boost to his strength was something that he thought could be beneficial. He then went to Galen’s study to return the book on Dunkelzarken’s treasure horde and to see if the diviner had any additional advice for the young apprentice.
Galen suggested that should it come to it, Petrus should sacrifice his bladesman to save his own life. Despite having no moral qualms with killing anyone or even sacrificing anyone should the need arise, the thought of just throwing her life away seemed a bit distasteful to him. Apart from the advice, Galen had nothing to tell the apprentice.
Upon Bellona’s return, Petrus, decked out in his Syrakan wizard robes, went to a seedier side of Hollyburg and hired a Pitaxan rogue to help “liberate” items that “someone” had stolen from Pitax and Syrak. The price was 50 gold pieces and half of all wealth removed, though the possibility of death was real. Ullan, the rouge agreed that the risk sounded worth the potential reward.
Using a teleportation circle, Petrus and his two companions traveled to a circle quite near Dunkelzarken’s lair. The lair’s entrance was a huge cavern but just inside there were palatial styled rooms. Not far from the entrance was a stair going down into the mountain; at times it was several bodies wide but it eventually narrowed to a space just wide enough for a single person.
At the bottom of the stairwell, the cavern opened up to a large underground courtyard with a fountain and magical lighting. Sitting at the fountain was a warrior named Ezran, who inquired about the group’s business there. Petrus told him that they were there to liberate items from the dragon’s horde that would be helpful in the war against the witch king and asked him to kindly point the way. With the exception of Ullan, none of the group gave Ezran their real names.
Ezran told the group to get lost, but Petrus was insistent, and Ezran drew his weapon. Petrus told him that he’d prefer not to fight, that they merely wanted the treasure. Ezran wouldn’t back down, so Petrus created a spiked pit under the warrior which he wasn’t able to avoid and fell 20 feet onto the spikes.
Taking the opportunity to escape the room while Ezran was trapped in the pit, the three would-be thieves entered a large hall. One of the servants cleaning up the room came over to them and Petrus explained that they were supposed to meet Dunkelzarken in the horde room but had gotten turned around. The servant told the group how to get to the treasure room; they thanked him and quickly made their way in the direction he pointed them.
About mid-way down the hall toward the treasure chamber a large horn blasted, alerting the castle to the intruders. Footsteps not far behind them indicated that their pursuers were nearly on top of them. Petrus summoned a small horse to appear immediately behind them and then the three ran full out to the treasure room. The pursuers were trapped on the other side of the horse as Petrus, Bellona, and Ullan entered the horde room.
The room was pretty much devoid of art, but the wealth in it was substantial, and Ullan ran over and began filling his pockets. Immediately a solid rock barrier slid down, preventing their exit from the way they’d come. The benefit to it, however, was that their pursuers couldn’t follow them. There appeared to be an exit on the far side of the room that was dragon-sized.
After finding the military items described in the book Petrus had read and picking them up to carry them off, they looked at the escape route. Unfortunately a wall of force was blocking the opening. Petrus, not willing to touch the field and not wanting any of his companions to do so either, summoned a dog to try to go through it; the dog was unable to, though it didn’t injure the animal in any way.
Suddenly a mouse entered the room from some small hole in one of the walls and transformed into a huge gold dragon. Dunkelzarken confronted the three as to their business there and Petrus lied, saying he was from Syrak and was trying to get something that would help in the war effort. The dragon didn’t believe him, so the apprentice attacked him.
The stone wall on the other side of the room that was blocking their escape disappeared and Ezran and six other guards entered the room. The dragon told them to capture the intruders and that perhaps in a year they’d feel more like telling the truth.
Bellona turned and attacked Ezran, beheading him, before going on to attack some of the other guards. Petrus summoned a number of creatures to impede and thwart any progress to hamper his group. Unfortunately, when all was said and done, Bellona lay grievously injured and Ullan was scared out of his mind – catatonic.
Dunkelzarken told Petrus that Ezran was his grandson, to which the apprentice said that his plan was really to destroy the dragon’s line because it would please the witch king; Petrus even told him about the list of heirs that he had. The dragon, seemingly unfazed ordered the three remaining guards, all of whom were injured, to capture Petrus.
One last spell from the apprentice broke the dragon’s resolve of non-violence. Dunkelzarken picked Petrus up and squeezed his body tightly, preventing any movement; the grappled condition caused the bronze medallion around Petrus’s neck to burn a bit as it transmuted from bronze to silver. He questioned the wizard about the list of relatives, to which Petrus named off several from the list. The dragon squeezed the young man, bruising his muscles and breaking a rib as he told the wizard that he was irritated with the boy.
Petrus then explained that just as the dragon doesn’t like it when people meddle with his family and riches, the king of Mivon doesn’t like others meddling with him and his kingdom either. Furthermore, he had broken his oath to not attack any of Osprak’s wizards. The dragon demanded proof that Petrus was a wizard of Mivon and Petrus presented the silver medallion from under his robe.
The dragon threw the wizard to the ground angrily and told him that if he could carry his friends out of there, they could leave. Anyone who couldn’t get out either by being carried or on their own would remain his prisoner. He told them that if they came back to his lair, they would be killed as enemies.
Petrus gave Bellona a healing potion and she was able to move on her own, albeit extremely slowly. Together, they guided Ullan, the catatonic thief, out of the dragon’s horde room. Dunkelzarken demanded they leave the vampire-bane sword and the armor they had taken in the room. The three made their way back to the stone circle, where Petrus teleported them all back to Hollyburg.
Bellona made her way to the temple of Isis where she and Ullan were treated for their injuries. Ullan, had escaped the dragon’s horde room with his pockets full of gold and jewels, though his mind never fully recovered from the ordeal, Petrus let him keep everything stolen.
Petrus met with King Osprak and was congratulated on his completion of the trial; Osprak told him that he was not likely to go back to Dunkelzarken’s lair anytime soon. Petrus told the king that it was a fortunate thing that neither he nor Bellona had given anyone their real names or told anyone else about the trial. Retribution, hopefully, would never come.
As a gift for completing his trial, King Osprak presented the new wizard with a staff topped with a glowing blue gem. The young wizard had provided exactly what the king needed and now had all of the rights and responsibilities as a wizard of Mivon.