In the secluded cave, Tyrus and Salvano finished their preparations for the arcane ceremony.
"Now is the time," Tyrus said excitedly. "Now is the beginning of a new age for Aperans!"
Salvano sighed as his partner raved. "Just don't make a mistake. We have to get this right the first time."
Tyrus ignored him of course, and went on and on about all that he would do once he took over Aperans.
Like I have any intention of letting you live after the ritual is complete," Salvano thought as he ran a hand through his thinning hair. He hated his mad partner, but he still needed him for the time being.
Both men were apprentice magicians with ambitions far beyond their abilities. Salvano had a sharp mind and a perfect memory. He could read through ancient texts that confounded master scholars, but he couldn't put his knowledge to use. He lacked the passion to master the magic of anything more complicated than the simplest spells. Tyrus on the other hand, lived for the magic. His mind was twisted, but that madness was what allowed him to embrace arcane forces that would daunt the wisest mages. While his magic was strong, his discipline was weak. He didn't have the patience to use his gifts to the fullest. As one instructor at their old magic academy had put it. "Tyrus is too mad to ever become a true magician. Salvano isn't mad enough."
It had been that assessment that had given Salvano the idea to align himself with Tyrus. And now that alliance was finally going to bear fruit. By pouring through obscure grimoires, Salvano had found an ancient, powerful spell that allowed mere magicians to summon forth the undead, barbarian Vulkar. He had also found a long-forgotten, crystal talisman that would let him control Vulkar more completely than even a full-fledged, monocle-using wizard could. All he needed was for Tyrus to cast the summoning spell, then he could eliminate the annoying madman and begin his conquest of Aperans. Salvano planned to have Vulkar's barbarian horde conquer the North first. He'd eliminate Dirk Blackpool and Vector, and then claim the monocle as his own, becoming a real wizard as well as a king.
Finally the moment arrived and Tyrus began the incantation. Salvano listened intently.
".....summon forth the evil warlord...."
"That's 'evil barbarian' you fool," Salvano thought. "Why can't you keep the simplest details straight?" Still, Salvano noted with satisfaction that the spell was continuing with no apparent problems. The words were close, after all.
"Return from oblivion...."
"Wrong again, you dolt," thought Salvano. "It's 'return from the land of the dead'. So help me, if you ruin this ceremony..."
Salvano's thoughts were cut off as mystical flames rose in front of Tyrus. Through the flames, a figure took shape.
"Yes! Yes!" Tyrus screamed like a madman. Salvano remained silent, but had to admit he was just as excited. The flames melted away, and standing before them was....a woman.
"What!?" Tyrus exclaimed. "What is this?"
Salvano felt anger welling up within him. Tyrus had ruined the ritual. Before he could throttle his partner however, Tyrus advanced on the woman in a rage.
"You're not supposed to be here! I want Vulkar! Vulkar!"
The woman had seemed dazed until the mad magician started screaming in her face. Her hand shot out and clamped around his throat. She lifted Tyrus up so that his feet left the ground. Salvano was surprised at the sight. His partner may not have been the most imposing physical specimen, but he was larger and heavier than the svelte, blonde woman who now held him aloft.
"Where am I?" she hissed. Although more focused now, she still seemed confused.
"L-l-l-et me go," Tyrus managed to choke out.
"I ASKED A QUESTION!" she screamed and then shot her other hand up to Tyrus's head. There was a sickening crack as she twisted and broke his neck. She dropped the dead man and started walking with purpose towards Salvano. He grabbed the talisman that he had intended to use on Vulkar and held it forth.
"Stop!" he commanded.
She did stop, and her surprised expression told Salvano it was not of her of her own free will. The talisman was working.
"You must obey me," he said.
The burning rage written on her face made the magician nervous.
"Must I?" she asked in a voice filled with venom. "Who are you? Why am I here?"
"I brought you here through sorcery," Salvano answered, not bothering to give his dead partner any credit for the deed. This woman wasn't Vulkar, but she could have her uses. At any rate, she was now all he had. At least she seemed to be a warrior. She was also strikingly beautiful. Salvano pushed aside the nervousness that her hostile gaze caused. After all, she was his to control.
"Hmm....," he said as he appraised her. "Even if you're not my key to power and wealth, you still could be an enjoyable slave."
The fury in the woman's dark brown eyes blazed. "I'm no man's slave!"
"You have no choice," Salvano replied as he gripped the talisman. "What is your last memory before appearing here?"
The woman's rage seemed to lessen as she struggled to remember. She held her hands up to her abdomen as a look of pain came over her face. "I was....stabbed."
"You were dead, my dear. Now you live again....to serve me."
The woman seemed to ignore Salvano's words as she raised a hand to her temple. "There was nothing," she said, brushing a lock of white-gold hair away from her face. "No light....no darkness....no feeling...."
"An interesting description of the afterlife, slave. But now you will come with me. After all, I brought you back."
She looked up at Salvano. The raw, seething hatred in her eyes chilled him to his core. She screamed.
"I DIDN'T WANT TO COME BACK!"
She lunged toward him. He raised his talisman but there was no magic in existence strong enough to control her now. Her rage was too intense. He crumpled to the ground at her first blow, but she was nowhere near finished. After the longest six and a half minutes of Salvano's life, she finally stopped. If he had been able to think clearly, he would have been astounded that a person could feel as much pain as he did without losing consciousness. He couldn't move with every limb broken, and he couldn't speak with his jaw shattered. All he could do was look up at his attacker through the one eye that wasn't swollen shut. She drew her sword.
"You had to do it, didn't you? WHY?" Her eyes were still filled with rage, but there were tears as well. "Did you sit down one night and say 'I think I'll bring Callisto back from oblivion?' Did you think I'd thank you?"
Salvano was shocked as he realized at last who this woman was. In his helpless state however, the knowledge was worthless to him. He saw her raise the sword, but blacked out before she thrust it downward and ended his life.
Callisto walked out of the cave, her boot crushing a now worthless talisman as she did so.
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