“Trick?” Ruok queried as he grins at his tiresome friend. “What’s with the assumption of trickery, my good sir? The day of Halloween is upon us, is it not? His spirit is my incarnation for the hours ahead.”
Taking a step outside, Sir Mark’s mood gradually lightened up, allowing the fresh morning air to rush into his lungs and regenerate enough energy to finally wake. With a refined voice, the awakened knight says, “Now, to try that again. Morning, Ruok! What brings you to my door?”
The soothsayer holds his crystal orb high, letting the rising sun reveal the tales that are sealed within the sphere. Squinting his eyes, the knight could see all that would come later that day:
Here in the plains stood his opponent Darkimus of Hathes, wielding his enchanted dark-blade Kytton in his left hand. Sir Mark of Collara observed him well from farther away, standing tall with the refine light-blade Keeo in his right hand held over his shoulder. They both presented themselves with sinister smiles as they readied their swords to attack. Before either one started to sprint towards each other, the doppelganger summons his army of shadow minions into the battlefield. Slightly dazed, the knight kept his eyes on the leader’s position as the soldiers began to block his line of vision. Once all were there, Darkimus disappeared from the vicinity, placing Sir Mark in a state of paranoia, slowly stepping back as he scanned the fields. A quick turn to his backside and Keeo clashed with Kytton, Darki pressing with great force in his attempt to knock Mark to the ground. It fails, giving the Collarean knight a small advantage over the shadow… until the dark army got their hands on the mortal. For those few seconds, Darkimus believed he was the victor, but he was abruptly wronged, taking two arrows fired by Sir Skael Saxon into his spine. Approaching the fields, Sir Ureo Ralph could be seen leaping around in the horde of the shadow soldiers, swinging Haidan around as he did so, while Lady Margaret dashed through the crowd, firing arca from Poker at heads and hearts with perfect precision. It happened to appear that the team of mortal heroes to was winning the fight.
Ruok lowers the orb and tells Sir Mark, “I hope to see you at the Halloween festival at the capital city. Surely will be a good day to play.” Mark went back inside to dress himself, while the soothsayer disappears from the vicinity, rippling away as if walking into water.
The knight of Collara stood in front of the Abarian blacksmith’s door, pre-attired for the event at the Casche Capital City. He had requested to train with Pynru, using the black-blade Izia in the hopes of practicing control of the untamable dark magic encased within the blade and constricted by its sheath.
As the servant, the Abarian knight, stepped outside, he was told by Ureo, “Make sure to stray from the slashes from Izia.” Sir Mark caught that demand and turned to Pynru.
“Yes,” the Abarian knight stated, “Izia is a rather deadly blade. I’ve been given my orders; now, we will train. Follow me, for I am the guide to our practice field.” Pynru took the Collarean knight on a walk down a narrow dirt road near the Moise Bridge that led to a dense forest. Scanning the place, Mark could see that this may serve as their training grounds but asked for clarity. “This is the place, Pynru? Our training area?”
“It appears so, Sir Knight,” he replied with content, turning to face the other man with his silver-blade Dai wielded high to this face. The Collarean knight pulled Izia out of its sheath and witnessed the black-blade glow a vivid purple. At first, both were astonished by the illuminating sword but were quickly jolted back to training when Mark twisted Izia in his right hand. A beam of light was accidentally emitted from the slight swings, these beams strong enough to rip bark off of the trees that surrounded the wielder.
Pynru studied this blade as he announced, “Sir Knight, I request that you be wary of both your surroundings and your opponent as well as yourself when wielding that dark, magical black-blade. Thou must duel now!?”
Moving his wrist slowly, Mark readied his sword for the match, careful not to make a lot of motion to emit beams. Gripping the handle tightly, the noble knight proclaimed, “Thee may start this match!”
“Very well.” Pynru positioned his sword to his side and rushed towards Mark, faking two swift slacks before clashing with Mark. The Collarean tried to hold his hand firm and strong against Dai. Exerting as much strength as he could to fend the Abarian off, Sir Mark regained enough balance to push his opponent away before holding his breath and created two slashing waves. Dai became Pynru’s shield against these waves; he twisted the silver-blade parallel to the beams, obtaining and neutralizing the dark magic from Izia.
“Mmm,” the Abarian knight said as a smile grew on his face, “You’re becoming rather wise with Izia already. And it looks like Dai neutralizes those beams. This shall be a worthy battle of interest, now, wouldn’t it?” A quick leap forward towards the Collarean again, and Mark nearly couldn’t escape the blade, making a last minute somersault to his right. Standing tall once again, he held the black-blade in both hands and charged for Pynru. The sword began to glow a darker purple than before, something that almost left Mark’s opponent off-guard. Though Pynru used his own sword to guard the next few slashes, Dai wasn’t able to catch all of the beams that erupted as the black-blade Izia clashed with the silver-blade.
Making eye contact with the Abarian knight, Sir Mark jests cockily, “Abarian losing a little strength it appears? Ye’ must stand tall, sir!” Two seconds, the knight of Collara witnessed a change to Pynru; his eyes altered from their natural brown to a sinister red, the skin around them shifting dark gray.
Hearing the man speak, Mark knew what was happening. With a much deeper, darker variation of his opponent’s voice, the Abarian playfully replied, “Guess my strength has weakened to your presence, Sir Knight.”
Sir Mark pulled himself away and took a few steps back, staring at Pynru while pondering what had occurred.
“You okay?” the wielder of Dai queried worriedly.
“Darkimus?” he replied with confusion written on his face. “What do you want?” A blink of his brown eyes, the knight of Collara returns to reality. Pynru’s natural eyes had taken back their righteous place in Mark’s vision while the Abarian’s voice assaulted Mark’s eardrums with familiarity, something that kept him calm.
“The Narmarn Curse is acting up again, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.” Returning Izia to its sheath, Sir Mark plopped to the ground, breathing heavily as he attempts to recollect his sense of touch with reality once more.
“Enough practice for today?” the Abarian knight asked. “Aside from the curse interrupting our practice duel, I believe you’ve received a great handle of Izia. Never really witness a swordsman master that black-blade.”
Taking Pynru’s hand to pull himself from the ground, Mark displayed an abrupt attitude, giving a rather strict reply, “Enough for today, yes.” This time, the Collarean knight took lead back to Abar.
Sir Ureo Ralph of Abar had been resting inside his workplace, reading several books on various spells and enchantments for specific blades. Sitting next to the cabinets at his workspace, he skimmed through two books while sketching out blueprints to Sir Mark’s soon-to-be weapon, setting out some metals and supersteels to be used once the blacksmith had a clear thought of what he desired. As he starts to read a particular spell, Ureo was interrupted by a knock at the door, alerting him to check whom stood on the other side.
Opening the door revealed Sir Mark and Pynru waiting for access to the workplace. “Gents,” the blacksmith said, “you may enter my domain. Right this way.” He gestured that both could proceed inside, with Mark sitting at the workbench and Pynru venturing through the backroom. Returning to his books and sketch, Ureo questioned, “How’s Izia doing for ya, Mark? The black-blade wasn’t too much for you, was it?”
“When I wielded it,” the knight of Collara started, “the blade illuminated and emitted beams of light, the dark magic. Though I attempted to avoid injuring myself and Pynru, it seems that I’ve mastered the beams, using that prowess to my advantage.”
“Mm. Excellent. Can I ask about the status of the Narmarn Curse as well?”
There was a three second pause before the man had given the blacksmith a response. “A doppelganger is running loose in the mortal world, Ureo. He told me that only one of us, either him or me, would rule a monarchy, while the latter remained in the lower depths. Today must be the day that I must be cured of this curse.”
Ureo sat with faint confusion of what it could have meant until it came to him. “Halloween,” he said, “correct?”
Mark nodded. Pynru stepped back into the room, giving the blacksmith what appeared to be a book on special gems.
“Oh, that’s right,” Ureo realized as he took and skimmed through the book. “The Narmarn Curse’s strange, especially for this month. If the cursed last this long without release, the bearer may remain imprisoned within a nightmare that never ends. Halloween’s today; therefore, this nightmare may intrude your mind quicker than normally.”
Making an attempt to avoid potential paranoia, Sir Mark of Collara queried, “What’s in that book Pynru handed you? Will it assist in crafting a promised blade just for me?”
“Actually, yes,” Ureo replied hesitantly. “While I sketch what I want the sword’s appearance to be, there’s a particular jewel that I desire. However, being that I possess the reputation of the fastest craftsman in Abar, you have nothing to fear. Before day’s end, you shall wield something that looks like so.” As he presented his blueprint sketch to the Collarean knight, the blacksmith continued, “Thou shall be named Keeo. Does thee like?”
“That’s astonishing! I can feel the craving temptation to wield such a sword of magnificence!” Hearing a knock at the door, Pynru walked over to answer it. Lady Margaret stood there in the doorway, wearing the suit Berri that she received from the armorsmith the previous afternoon. The servant could not keep his eyes away from the assassin in the illuminating violet suit, but a choice had been selected when his eyes saw Poker in their holsters.
With a bright smile present on her face and voice cheery, Maj greeted, “Hello, gentlemen. Sir Ureo, Sir Pynru, Sir Mark.” After hearing his name, the Collarean knight pulled his rear from the seat and glanced at the Purple Sprite, curious on what could have happened to her to exile happiness in her voice as she spoke.
“Afternoon, Lady Juya,” Ureo greeted, stroking his pencil across the paper, sketching more details and ideas to his illustration. The Abarian knight waved shyly, still distracted with the woman’s figure.
Mark asked curiously, “Are you alright, Maj? Today’s Halloween.”
“I’m doing swell, Mark,” she answered with a subtly joyous attitude. “And Halloween, thee said? Art already excited about the festival celebration in the Capital City of the Casche Monarch.” Maj gestures to the knight of Collara to come closer, which Sir Mark did, and she whispers in his left ear, “Come with me to Skael’s workshop.” Though her voice sounded gentle and angelic in his ear, Mark still felt a slight shiver travel down his spine from utter confusion rather than oblivious fear.
As he took steps to follow her, the Collarean knight turned to the blacksmith and servant to give his farewells. “I have to go give Sir Skael Saxon a visit. Hope to see you two at the Halloween festival at the Casche Capital City! Fare thee well.”
Immediately after closing the door to the blacksmith’s workplace, Mark felt Maj’s arm grip and tug him angrily as she migrated northward. “Get your feet moving, Mark!” she said in irritation. “We don’t have all day, y’know.”
“Slow down, Margaret,” he chuckled a bit. “No need to rush this. We’ll be there, no need to drag.” The Collarean knight could hear her giggle faintly, but Mark did not dare himself to ask why she did so. Reaching the doors to the armorsmith’s workshop, Maj twists the unlock door open and struts inside with Berri altering to the shape of her hips.
Sir Mark and Sir Skael only stared at the woman, studying her swaying before she stopped in the middle of the room and greeted happily, “Hi, Skael.”
“Afternoon, Margaret,” he answered. “I see you’re enjoying the suit I gave you, aren’t cha?”
Blushing slightly, Maj told the armorsmith, “Well, it truly does fit me perfectly. It shall serve as my dress attire for the Halloween festival this evening.”
“Happy to assist.” Glancing over to Mark, Skael gestured him to follow into the backroom as he said, “Mind you step into the backroom? I have a gift for the Collarean knight.” Sir Mark trailed his friend as instructed of him, with Maj following behind out of curiosity. The armorsmith, with an amethyst key in hand, unlocked a large coffin-like chest that stored the knight’s gift. Holding it in his hands, Skael told Mark, “Happy Halloween! Presenting you with my latest craft, Amethya.”
A bright smile was carved into the knight’s face, his voice elated with amusing joy as he exclaimed, “Magnificent! I love it!” As he walked over to take the new armor from the armorsmith’s hands, the lady subtly giggled. The armor was an excellent fit. “Maj?” the Collarean knight questioned. “What amuses thee? Why does she giggle?”
Walking to Mark’s left side, Maj points at the side of his shoulder and jokingly tells, “I made a request for the armorsmith Sir Skael to implement a heart-shaped stone of Ronn. Though I never told you this, Sir Mark, but you are one heck of a hero. While this was meant to be a jest, let it be a symbol of what a knight truly is.”
Sir Mark of Collara smiled at Maj before he told Sir Skael, “Thank you, Armorsmith. Not only for crafting this magnificent armor, but for also implementing Maj’s idea.”
The armorsmith nodded, saying, “Well, I thought it would be an excellent implement for the armor, especially since that heart casts all the important enchants and enhancements to the bearer of the plates.”
Putting Amethya on, the knight felt the magic surge throughout his body, merely attaching to his soul. “Now,” Mark said, “This will be my attire for the remainder of this day. Pardon my hasty retreat; I must go. Margaret and I need to pay the priest a quick visit before we depart for the Halloween festival in the Casche Capital City.”
With a grin on his face, the armorsmith replied, “Okay, guess I’ll meet you guys at that festival then.”
Maj blushed a bit as she said, “Uh, yep.” Tugging the Collarean knight’s arm, she hurried to the door of the workshop. Mark followed the lady outside as they headed to the cathedral to see the priest.
In the Great Casa Plains, the man in dark robes stands in the shadow of a large tree, where he summons Sir Darkimus. Once the shadowy doppelganger is fully raised to the mortal realm, the shady figure states, “In two hours, our war will commence. And five hours into the battle, you shall take the place of Prince Te’on of the Casche Monarch. Everything beyond that point will be my doing.” Darki nodded. The man added, “As the Narmarn Curse progresses for the remaining twelve hours, your opponent, Sir Mark, will grow weaker and weaker to the effects. In order for our plans to work, you must defeat him. Assuming that he will not fight alone, make sure your army’s strong. Don’t underestimate those that oppose you!”
“Yes, Lord Nevan.” Darki turns away from the dark wizard and slowly walked towards Collara but was immediately halted by one final request from Nevan.
“Be sure to obtain Kytton from Asheta. If the legends are true, that blade’s abilities and powers should definitely give us an advantage.” The doppelganger heeds the request as he descends the hill to the small town and transforming into a group of black crows flying overhead. Nevan the Dark Wizard sits underneath the looming branches of the isolated tree. A hysterical laughter echoed through the desolate green plains. Then the voice of the sinister man was heard as he spoke to himself. “It’s not even about the crown; who rules Casche Monarch doesn’t concern me at all. However, I’d hate to strut in a kingdom under the reign of that nobleman. Sir Darkimus of Hathes, on the other hand, feels much more suited, and having him on my side has proven that already.” Pulling his staff from his robes and with a slightly deeper voice, he continued, “My uncle stole that book for a much greater purpose. I mean, what kind of secrets could the Casche Monarch be hiding? A strategy in creating and controlling a strong and elegant kingdom in these barren lands? Or maybe a war tactic… Oh, I got it! A written tablet of famously hidden Majesty’s Sorcery.”
Using his own staff as support in pulling his body from the ground, Nevan started to end his aloud thinking. “Whatever’s in that damned book, it surely wasn’t worth slaying Uncle Naaz.” Wielding his staff as it began to illuminate purple, the dark wizard Nevan disintegrated into shards of burning paper, the wind blowing him to the small of Collara as his physical existence vanished.