Mal sits atop the butcher shop, cross-legged and rocking back and forth slowly. He holds his black wand in both hands, wringing it like a wash cloth and mumbling quietly. As he recounts his story in guarded whispers, it’s not long before the wand whispers back in its customarily cynical tone.
“First was Duristan; the fallen hunter; the traitor; the beast; the savage. Blodwin was still deaf, crippled by the dead-song priest, and we were spent for the day. We retreated to the barn where our horses had been stabled, all of us but Cy… he wanted to explore on his own for a bit. I was in the loft, trying to make the most of a pile of wet straw when Cy came running, and at his heels was a werewolf. He was fierce, but no match for us combined.”
Getting deeper into his thoughts, Mal begins to rock faster, kneading the wand until his knuckles are white. “Second was the pack of Prince’s Wolves. The next day, after Blodwin had prayed for the ability to cure his deafness, we made for the place where Cy had stumbled across Duristan. According to Cy, Duristan had tried to lead him deeper into the city to meet his friends, but that was obviously a trap. Not far from there, we found a building where the Prince’s Wolves had hidden themselves. They would not open the door to speak to us, so I visually removed the door… I think this only unnerved them, to be honest.”
“This is no surprise… a dog is bewildered if you pretend to throw something that doesn’t exist. These wolves are no smarter.”
“We flicked one of Rhakis’s buttons under the invisible door, proof that we came peacefully, but they still would not speak to us until I dismissed my illusion. Once that was done, they told us that they would not engage the Demon Wolves until their leader was taken care of… something called Adimarus. We plotted different ways to accomplish this, including raiding the mill where he was hiding, but we ultimately decided to lure him back to the butcher shop, far from wandering threats. We again returned to the barn and the horses, and there I summoned a home of dirt and –”
“You have no home, idiot. You may have forgotten everything else, but you should at least remember that.”
“…I summoned a cottage of dirt and wood to protect us for the evening. The next day, Arlad went to the mill to challenge the Demon Wolf leader and we sent Cy to be his invisible guardian. It was a close thing, I hear, but Adimarus agreed and met Stefan in single combat. We all did what we could to prepare him with magic and skill, but Adimarus made it clear to his followers to kill us all if we tried to interfere once the fight began. From the rooftop, hidden from view, I twisted fate around Stefan to continue aiding him, and he eventually slayed the beast. Once down, the Prince’s Wolves burst forth to help us crush the enemy.”
“For a fool, you are occasionally useful. Write this on your hand so you never forget it: deceit and trickery is the core of all true power. Anything else can be stripped away, but shadows and lies live forever.”
With a heavy sigh, Mal slid his wand back into his sleeve and wiped the sweat from his brow. Remembering things in such a way always drained him, but it was the only way to be sure it wouldn’t fade by morning and he had forgotten too much already.