The Lich inhales deeply after he steps out of the dark passage and into the brightly lit laboratory. The pitted walls are coated in blue, crystalline mold, which magnifies the torchlight and pushes the shadows into the farthest corners of the cavernous room. The Lich fondly remembers the smell of powdered bone incense and bubbling herb mixtures that surrounded him during his training days. The necrocaster glides among the crude metal tables, which are covered in brewing potions, hardened wax, and scattered notes. He could never understand how his old master was able to find anything in a lab that looked so cluttered. The Lich stops when he comes to a large, rocking chair made of dark red wood. Five piles of gems and gold coins rise to the stalactites behind the oddly mundane chair. A smile crosses his skeletal face when he recognizes a smoking burn mark on the ceiling.
“You still find that memory amusing?” asks a voice from the shadows. “I gave up trying to remove your final gift a long time ago. I consider it a reminder to never take on another apprentice.”
“I said I was sorry, master,” the Lich humbly apologizes. “I was young and foolish. I have since learned to be more careful with my magic.”
“I do not doubt it since you still exist under his thumb,” the voice whispers without trying to hide its disdain. “I warned you about working exclusively for monsters like him. Your lust for power will prove to be your downfall just as I predicted on the day that you left.”
“Can you please reveal yourself, Kalam?” the Lich requests. “I have something important to discuss with you.”
“Your master has need of my services,” Kalam says, his voice dripping with boredom. “Why should I be willing to help him this time when I have refused every other offer?”
“This time is different,” the Lich vehemently swears. “Please, teacher. I wish to discuss this to your face like gentlemen.”
A fireskin wearing the tattered remains of black leather armor steps out from behind one of the piles of gems. His smooth scales have been bleached of color and his eyes are an eerie gray. A tuft of steely hair is on his chin and he strokes it softly with his right hand. His vampiric nature is obvious since his reptilian jaws make it impossible for Kalam to hide his five-inch long fangs. A nine-foot staff of charred oak with a rough-edged, metal demon’s claw screwed into the top is gripped in his left hand. The caster uses the staff to help him get to the rocking chair since he is missing his left foot. Warm blood seeps out of the chair once he sits down and his scales absorb the liquid before it can pool on the ground.
“Gentlemen,” scoffs Kalam with a sneer. “A Lich and a vampire fireskin are not the types of creatures one would use that word to describe, especially considering you were not a gentleman until you met me.” He waves his hand and a stool skitters across the floor toward the Lich, who stops it with his bony foot.
“I sense that you are not happy to see me. Do you regret ever meeting me?” the Lich asks.
“You always jump to conclusions without analysis. I do not regret our meeting or my decision to train you,” Kalam replies. His scales begin to show a red tint as he absorbs more blood. “A Lich without an understanding of magic was an enigma that I refused to let slip through my fingers. I still remember the days of teaching you how magic works and the most basic of spells. You were an undead sponge that could absorb anything I threw at it. If I were to regret anything, it would be my expectations of you. One should realize that apprentices are just like one’s own children. They never listen and rarely follow the path that you set for them.”
“You wanted me to hide in a lab to build monsters and horde treasure,” the Lich angrily argues. “There was a world out there that I could change to my whim.”
Kalam laughs with a sound that resembles a shattering tree branch. “You forget that this world holds heroes. It is better for creatures like us to stay in the shadows and come out only when the risk is minimal. Our survival lies in our ability to remain in our lairs and ignore our desire for power.”
“Old fool,” the Lich hisses.
“Young fool,” Kalam hisses back with his forked tongue worming out from behind his teeth.
“I do not have time to get into a philosophical debate, teacher. At least, not until my business with you is settled,” the Lich claims. He clasps his hands in his lap as he waits for a response.
“I see. So, your new master has sent you to destroy me. I felt it was only a matter of time before he considered me a threat,” Kalam says as he leans forward. He begins to mutter a spell until the Lich literally throws his hand into the vampire’s mouth. Kalam yanks the skeletal hand off his tongue and tosses the disconnected extremity to the ground. He looks disgusted as he bends down to drink a geyser of blood that spurts from his chair. It takes a few deep draughts to remove the taste of rotten bone from his mouth.
“That is not why I came here. I have a proposition that my new master has little influence over. It is a plan of my own design that has brought me to your doorstep,” the Lich says. He picks up his hand and reattaches it before sitting on the stool. “Please, hear me out before you strike at me. It is in your best interest.”
“A plan of your own design? I must say that I am intrigued and cautious. Please explain,” beckons the vampire with a grin.
“What do you know of the Callindor family?” the Lich inquires.
Get Ready for Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies to Debut on December 1st!!!