The Fallen Fortress - By R. A. Salvatore

Chapter One
Aballister walked along Lakeview Street in Car-radoon, the wizard's black cloak wrapped tight against his skin-and-bones body to ward off the wintry blows whipping in from Impresk Lake. He had been in Carradoon less than a day, but had already learned of the wild events at the Dragon's Codpiece. Cadderly, his estranged son and neme-sis, had apparently escaped the assassin band Aballister had sent to kill him.

Aballister chuckled at the thought a wheezing sound from lips withered by decades of uttering frantic enchantments, channeling so many tingling energies into destructive purposes. Cadderly had escaped? Aballister mused, as though the thought was preposterous. Cadderly had done more than escape. With his friends, the young priest had obliterated the Night Mask contingent, more than twenty professional killers, and had also slain Bogo Rath, Aballister's second underling in the strict hierarchy of Castle Trinity.

All the common folk of Carradoon were talking about the exploits of the young priest from the Edificant Library. They were beginning to whisper that Cadderly might be their hope in these dark times.

Cadderly had become more than a minor problem for Aballister.

The wizard took no fatherly pride in his son's exploits. Aballister had designs on the region, intentions to conquer it given to him by the avatar of the evil goddess Talona. Just the previous spring, those intentions appeared easy to fulfill, with Castle Trinity's force swelling to over eight thousand warriors, wizards and Talonan priests included. But then Cadderly had unexpectedly stopped Barjin, the mighty priest who had gone after the heart of the region's goodly strength, the Edificant Library. The following season, Cadderly had led the elves of Shilmista Forest in the west to a stunning victory over the goblinoid and giantkin forces, chasing a sizable number of Castle Trinity's minions back to their mountain holes.

Even the Night Masks, possibly the most dreaded assassin band in the central Realms, had not been able to stop Cadderly. Now winter was fast approaching, the first snows had already descended over the region, and Castle Trinity's invasion of Carradoon would have to wait

The afternoon light had grown dim when Aballister turned south on the Boulevard of the Bridge, passing through the low wooden buildings of the lakeside town. He crossed through the open gates of the city's cemetery and cast a simple spell to locate the unremarkable grave of Bogo Rath. He waited for the night to fully engulf the land, drew a few runes of protection in the snow and mud around the grave, and pulled his cloak up tighter against the deathly cold.

When the lights of the city went down and the streets grew quiet, the wizard began his incantation, his summons to the netherworld. It went on for several minutes, with Aballister attuning his mind to the shadowy region between

the planes, attempting to meet the summoned spirit halfway. He ended the spell with a simple call: "Bogo Rath."

The wind seemed to focus around the withered wizard, collecting the nighttime mists in a swirling pattern, enshrouding the ground above the grave.

The mists parted suddenly, and the apparition stood before Aballister. Though less than corporeal, it appeared quite like Aballister remembered the young Bogo - straight and stringy hair flipped to one side, eyes darting inquisitively, suspiciously, one way and the other. There was one difference, though, something that made even hardy Aballister wince. A garish wound split the middle of Bogo's chest Even in the near darkness, Aballister could see past the apparition's ribs and lungs to its spectral backbone.

"An axe," Bogo's mournful, drifting voice explained. He placed a less-than-tangible hand into the wound and flashed a gruesome smile. "Would you like to feel?"

Aballister had dealt with conjured spirits a hundred times and knew that he could not feel the wound even if he wanted to, knew that this was simply an apparition, the last physical image of Bogo's torn body. The spirit could not harm the wizard, could not even touch the wizard, and by the binding power of Aballister's magical summons, it would answer truthfully a certain number of Aballister's questions. Still, Aballister unconsciously winced again and took a cautious step backward, revolted by the thought of putting his hand in that wound.

"Cadderly and his friends killed you," Aballister began.

"Yes," Bogo answered, though Aballister's words had been a statement, not a question. The wizard silently berated himself for being so foolish. He would only be allowed a certain number of inquiries before the dweomer dissipated and the spirit was released. He reminded himself Copyright 2016 - 2024