Far away, there is a place where magic lives. Where it governs the lives and destinies of every living thing. Controlled by masters of the great magic realms, the world is observed, and watched over by ancient practitioners from the Djinn, the Sorcerers, and the Goluems…
Most mysterious of the Magic Tribes, however, are the Wishcharmers. Untrusted by all, it is unclear whether this shadowy group stands ready to save the world, or destroy it…
The Wishcharmer Saga
Restoration of a Wishcharmer
A horn sounded in the distance. Raj felt a shiver crawl up his spine at its call. Ahead of him, Will walked down the long hallway. While Rajhu felt an overwhelming panic taking hold of his mind, Will seemed collected. He couldn’t understand why.
‘Rajhu my boy, what have you gotten yourself into?’ he breathed, hurrying to catch up to his friend.
As they descended the stairs, Rajhu could hear the commotion from the yard. Although he hadn’t had much time to focus on it, he had seen the gathering force. He hadn’t known how many soldiers there were, but it was more than he thought was reasonable. Even now, as they drew closer and closer to this seemingly unavoidable conflict, Rajhu felt his heart beating heavily in his chest. He wasn’t a fighter. No, not in the least. Rajhu was a swindler. A con artist. There were few situations in which he was susceptible to violence. Even when such an occasion arose, his first instinct was always to run away from the battle. Here, now… Rajhu was walking headlong into it.
‘Will… Wait just a moment!’ Raj called, grabbing his friend by the arm.
In a flash, Will rounded on him, his eyes a storm of anger. ‘What?’
‘You understand you’re marching into a war, Will?’
He paused, his eyes studying Rajhu for a moment. They flicked away. ‘Raj… What else can we do?’
‘Maybe there is another way… Maybe we don’t have to blindly deliver ourselves to death’s cold hands!’
Will scoffed. ‘I don’t have any plans to die, Raj.’
‘Then why are we involved?’
‘Because that’s what we agreed to do, Raj!’
He rolled his eyes, putting his hands firmly on his hips as he looked away. Rajhu sensed Will had no less fear surging through his own veins, but beyond this, the drive to help these people, to stop this slaughter, seemed to be greater.
Rajhu turned to face Will, but before he could utter a word, Buri called out to them, hurrying toward them. Glancing to the entrance, Raj could hear the mulling of the crowd outside. Even from his limited vantage point, he saw the great numbers that had come to this place.
‘Will, the blade…’ Buri insisted, coming to stop between him and Rajhu. ‘You hold it now, but I warn you, it is a great responsibility… Every warrior who has used it has been tested by it. Take care to bridle your passions, or they will destroy you.’
‘What are you talking about?’ Rajhu demanded. ‘What blade?’
Will shifted his weight as Rajhu looked to the sword held at his side. It was secured in a heavy looking scabbard, but from all the talk he had heard over the years, he knew what that sword was.
‘Rajhu… It’s not as bad as you think,’ Will placated.
‘That sword is a legend, Will!’
Will paused. ‘Wait… you’re okay with this?’
Rajhu tilted his head, ‘Can it help us survive?’
Will looked to Buri, who nodded in turn. ‘It can lead you to victory, and more… As long as you take control! Will, I can’t stress the fact enough. The Taintless Blade is as alive as you or me. It doesn’t take kindly to upstarts, either. Control your feelings, master yourself, and you will master the Taintless Blade!’
‘I don’t understand…’ Will admitted.
‘Very soon, you will…’
Rajhu looked from the old man, to the gathering army outside the building. He felt himself wilt at the mans words. There had been a great part of him that had been hoping for something a little more substantial. Something that would drive him and Will to face this challenge.
‘What about me?’ Raj asked, after a silence.
Buri canted his head to the side. ‘What of you, Rajhu?’
He stared at the man. ‘What about me? You said you needed the majesty of a Wishcharmer to win this battle. You said that I was a Wishcharmer…’ He clicked his tongue in distaste, looking away. ‘You made me feel important…’
Buri chuckled lightly. ‘Oh, Rajhu… You are needed. More that I could possibly explain to you. You are a Wishcharmer… And Will wields the sword of a Wishcharmer. Together, I believe, you can bring that majesty to pass. Together, as it has always been, yes?’
Rajhu looked to the man, the words piercing him. It had, as he’d said, always been the two of them. Rajhu and Will. So long now, it had been their friendship that had brought them through the hard times. Rajhu dared not think of the days before he’d found Will. As he looked once more, to the men outside, as their enemy screamed from beyond, demanding surrender, demanding this Taintless Blade… Rajhu nodded once more. Despite his best intentions, and despite all his instincts screaming for him to run, to hide, he still nodded.
‘Together, then… Into the fray…’
Will smirked, the two walking side by side to the doorway.
The sun was higher now. The sky held streaks of pale blues, and fading pinks, while further away, Will saw the dark forms of storm clouds. They were retreating. Fleeing from the carnage that they knew was about to unfold on the earth below them.
‘Who are you?’
The voice clawed Will’s attention to the source of the words. He looked down, to the hulking figure that stood only a few paces away. His hard eyes observed Will with disgust, his strong, jagged features speaking only of a power that Will dared not deny.
The armour covered his body foot to shoulders. Only his head was exposed. The dark steel, like his features, were hard, jagged, menacing. Each piece of the intricate design seemed to roll back on itself, leaving not one break, not one weakness. It was methodical in its structure, and mechanical in its appearance.
‘General Val’kez,’ Will said, his voice shaking. ‘I am Will…’ he faltered. He had no surname. Like Rajhu, he was an orphan, yet he knew nothing of his parents, beyond where they had lived. He had no name to call his own. Besides Rajhu, all he could call his own, was his freedom.
He lifted his head a little higher. ‘I am Will Freeman; master of the Taintless Blade.’
Beside him, Will could feel Rajhu wincing. A boast, Rajhu always said, was no more than an axe hanging over your neck, unless you were positive you could back it up.
‘Master?’ The General spat, looking Will over with his iron gaze. ‘You are no more master than I am slave, boy… Now hand over that sword, before I am forced to pry it from your dead corpse.’
Rajhu stepped forward, pointing at the General. ‘A challenge!’ he shouted.
A silence separated them for a moment, before the hulking form of armour turned, his eyes falling on Rajhu.
‘What are you prattling on about?’
Rajhu took another step forward, reaching the very edge of the buildings deck. ‘I issue a challenge to you, General Val’kez! You against us! If we win, you leave here… And if you win…’
‘You die.’ Val’kez growled.
‘Then it is an agreement?’ Rajhu asked, swallowing his fear. He stepped back, glancing to Will.
‘The General grimaced. ‘There is no deal… If you are the first who wish to die by my hands, then by all means, step forward… But know that I will not leave here without that which I came for… I swear this.’
Rajhu took in a sharp breath.
‘If that’s what you want…’ Will growled, ‘then come at me!’ With the sound of glass scraping stone, Will drew free the glimmering form of the Taintless Blade. The diamond sword shone in the morning light. Will drew the sword down to his side, holding it lightly in his hand as he descended the steps of the porch to the soft grassy yard. Rajhu drew another deep breath and followed Will down.
General Val’kez cracked his neck, glancing behind him, to the mass of soldiers. ‘Got, Yemet… Take the shivering fool. Leave the Freeman, and the sword, to me.’
From the ranks of soldiers, Rajhu saw two massive men break free. They were clad in simple armour, each with a battle-axe hanging at their hip. They looked dirty, stained with mud from their travels. Their eyes were dark and empty, and as they charged, Rajhu cursed himself for ever leaving the city of sand.
Will leapt forward, colliding with the General. They tumbled back, out of sight as the two burly men reached Rajhu. Axes in hand, they swung wildly, screams ripping through them as they hacked. Rajhu threw his arms out, unable to think of what to do. He ducked, a wish springing to his mind. A wish to survive.
How had he been so effective against the Magi, back in Dwell? He had stood against him, with great strength. If he were a Wishcharmer, as he’d been told, then how did it profit him anything, without knowing how to use such power?
He surged upward, magic bursting from his chest. Blue mist coiled, forming into arms, and grabbing the throats of the two attacking men. Rajhu let out a shout as he pushed forward, with all his might. The ethereal arms acted as he commanded, bringing his attackers up, off their feet, before plunging down, smashing them both into the ground. Air rushed from them as the power of the attack displaced in the ground around them, rupturing the surface of the soft earth.
As his foes lay motionless at his feet, Rajhu straightened, looking across the sea of warriors. Their faces contorted in confusion, fear, and rage. It didn’t take long for several dozen men to break ranks, pulling free jagged weapons as they rushed at Rajhu.
He took in a sharp breath. ‘Oh, Koliba…’
Will gasped as an uppercut crushed into his stomach. He retreated, falling back several paces as he desperately tried to regain his breath. This man, this General Val’kez was nothing short of a mountain, trying to crush him.
Will surged forward, bringing his sword up. He lunged, swinging the Taintless Blade low, going for the man’s midsection. The attack found its mark, but cracked off the armour, without leaving so much as a scratch.
‘How do you expect to beat him that way?’ a voice scolded from Will’s side. In front of him, the massive form of General Val’kez took a step forward, a smile crawling its way across his face.
‘Stop looking at him, and look at me, Will… I asked you a question.’
Will turned, the image of Buri shimmering into existence before his eyes.
‘You…’ he tried.
‘Quiet, Will. Your skills are hardly enough to carry you to victory against him… Not the way you’re fighting, anyway… Oh, wait a moment… He’s attacking. You should feint, then go for the neck. Feint now!’
Will stared at the man, then looked to General Val’kez, who was stepping forward, his fist swinging out.
‘Oh, you should have listened to me…’ Buri sighed.
Will felt pain explode against the side of his face, his jaw should have broken with the force of the attack, but it didn’t. As he flew backward, crumpling to the ground, he could feel his face swelling as blood leaked free from his mouth. Will struggled to sit up, but fell back at the effort. His head rolled to one side, and as it did, the image of Buri appeared before him again, in an instant. It looked as though the air were piecing him together, like some impossibly complex puzzle.
‘You’re confused, right?’ the man smiled. ‘I don’t blame you… But I do applaud you on containing your anger. It’s a powerful emotion that could have easily destroyed you…’
‘Buri…’ Will slurred through broken, swollen lips.
The man shook his head. ‘No… Well, I suppose you can call me that, if it makes you more comfortable. To be truthful, I’m more of a ghost… Well, sort of…’
Will groaned as he saw General Val’kez coming to stand over him.
‘I’m actually a copy of Buri. Will, don’t look at him. He won’t attack you just yet.’
Will tried to scoff, but it was no use. He looked to Buri, his head swimming with pain, and now, confusion.
‘Where was I? Oh, yes… I’m a manifestation of the man. You’re right to suspect the sword… It made a copy of Buri, to store the sum of his knowledge. As it has done with every warrior who has ever swung this blade. I know it may be a lot to take in, but you should probably focus on this battle now… Oh, your friend is coming to save you. Look left…’
Will forced himself to turn away, slinging his head around. True enough, Rajhu was rushing toward him, blue mist stretching out from his chest toward General Val’kez. The mist congealed into fists, striking the General in the centre of the chest. Both men careened backward, out of sight. Will could hear the battle continuing as he tried to find the strength to stand.
‘That’s good, Will… That determination, that loyalty… The Taintless Blade likes you.’
Buri snapped into existence beside Will once more, a smile on his wrinkled face. ‘You have a bright future ahead of you, but that’s dependant on what happens here, today.’ He sighed, glancing to the battle out of Will’s sight. ‘Now would be the opportune time to strike, by the way. General Val’kez is distracted, but he won’t be for long… For a victory against such a skilled opponent, you’re going to have to use surprise. I would say greater force, but you don’t have it Will, not yet, anyway…’
Will glared at the man, who held up his hands in placation, then vanished. Silence enveloped him and he grabbed the hilt of the Taintless Blade harder than before. Buri hadn’t warned him of this… He hadn’t told him the sword would test him in this way…
Biting back a curse, he climbed to his feet, using the sword to support himself. He took a deep breath, then lifting the sword out of the ground, rushed into battle after Rajhu.
Rajhu pushed harder as the General locked his feet, the armoured boots digging into the ground. Rajhu faltered as he saw the man smiling. He knew, just as this General Val’kez knew; the upper hand lie not with Rajhu, but with this warlord. He grit his teeth, setting himself to the task. He had committed himself to this cause, however foolhardy that had been. He couldn’t abandon it now, not even in the face of this monster of a man.
Goodness, what’s become of me? My mind has been poisoned by this blasted magic!
Val’kez grunted. ‘You’re a… Wishcharmer? That explains much of this. Why Buri would entrust the Taintless Blade to a child, and why he would hide inside his cabin, like a coward…’ He shifted his arms, bringing them up, grabbing onto the undulating forms of Wishcharmer magic. The blue arms countered, trying to reach for his throat, but the General blocked them, with some effort.
‘Do you even know how to control the power those ancients have given you?’ He growled as he shifted the weight on his legs again. Rajhu felt the balance change. He tipped backward as Val’kez pressed his advantage. ‘No… You have no idea. You disgrace the very idea of a Wishcharmer… For that, I will destroy you, and everyone who would stand with you!’
He shifted again, breaking through the lock that Rajhu had on him. Stumbling back, he gasped as the man collided with him. A series of punches snapped against his ribs, and before he could recover, he felt himself lifted from the ground.
The world spun in a flurry. Rajhu cried out as he hit the ground, hard. He felt something in his arm give way, a wave of pain shooting through him. Looking up, he realised he was laying on his back. He tried to move his arm, but the effort was futile. With the pain of impact still coursing through him, Rajhu cursed as General Val’kez suddenly filled his vision.
‘It doesn’t matter. You may have the magic of a Wishcharmer, and your friend may wield a sword forged by the same power… But you still don’t stand a chance against me, boy…’
‘Then how about you take me on?’
Rajhu barely saw Will as he lunged at General Val’kez. He was moving faster than Raj had ever seen him move. It was an incredible display. He brought the diamond blade down, the heavy blow collided with the General’s armoured shoulder. Rajhu saw sparks fly from the impact as General Val’kez grimaced, stepping back, keeping his distance. He wasn’t sure why, since the blow hadn’t created any visible damage.
‘You’re still swinging that thing around like you know how to use it, Freeman?’
‘I’ll show you just how well I can,’ Will growled. He stepped forward again, the sword coming up, in a slash. Val’kez had to throw his hand up to deflect the blade, only just managing to keep the point from cutting into his throat.
The General spat on the ground, then looked to Will. ‘I’ve wasted too much time letting you meddle in my affairs. You won’t stop me. Not with that sword, or with that Wishcharmer pretender!’ he pointed to Rajhu with a grimace. ‘I will get what I’ve come for…’ He glanced behind him, to the host of armour clad men and women.
Rajhu felt something inside of him sinking. Whatever was about to happen, he didn’t like it.
‘Kill them all!’ General Val’kez roared.
The earth shook with the sound of cries and thundering feet. Rajhu could see the wall of death rolling toward them. The steel hearted horde was as merciless as it was numerous. This was beyond him, it was beyond Will…
Just in front of him, Rajhu heard Will growl. It was a guttural sound, and Rajhu could see the muscles tensing on his friend. Before he could call out to Will, before he could yell for his friend to run, to retreat, Will moved, striking out like lightning, the sword leaping in his hands.
The strike was exact, but even as it was made, General Val’kez was retreating. The tip of the blade slipped into his cheek, dipping into the flesh, as easily as if it had been water. The man hissed as he stumbled, his armoured hand coming up to the deep gash, smearing the crimson across his gloved hand. He observed the blood, all attention to the battle drawn away by the insignificant wound.
As Rajhu watched, the General was engulfed by his army, the massive force flowing around him, obscuring him from view. The cacophony of enraged screams crashed against Rajhu as did the force of the enemy. For a moment, all he heard was noise. The bight of cold steel roused him from his confusion, but it was too little too late. He pushed against one of the warriors, but felt a blade slip through his flesh, piercing his stomach. Rajhu moaned as the pain tore through him, only worsening as the knife was pulled free. He tasted copper in his mouth, and knew it wasn’t a good sign. He threw his arms out, forcing all of his strength into the act. The magic forced its way out of his back, blue and coiling as it crashed down around him and Will, blasting many of the attackers off their feet, throwing them back, into their compatriots.
It wasn’t much, Raj knew, but it had given them a little breathing space, and maybe, just maybe, a chance at escape.
Just removed from him, Raj could see Will straightening, that blasted sword held tightly in his hands. There was a bead of blood running into the fuller, painting the diamond red in its wake. Beyond him, the General held out his stained hand, a wilting frown solidifying on his face.
‘For all your proposed skill, Freeman, you’ve not even delayed the inevitable…’
With a staccato shrug of his shoulders, Val’kez clenched his fists, his armour lurching. Two long blades extended from the elbows, running up, along his triceps. ‘In gratitude, I’ll kill you painlessly.’
He jumped, launching far higher into the air than should have been possible. The armour fell in a heavy arc, the elbow-blade flashing as it reached for Will’s throat.
Rajhu cried out a useless warning, unable to do more than watch.
Faster than Rajhu thought believable, the Taintless Blade came up, meeting the attack, pushing the vicious edges clear of doing unrepairable damage.
Val’kez kicked out, catching Will in the side, throwing him to the ground. Rajhu rushed forward, a tendril of blue magic snapping out, and wrapping about Val’kez’s throat. It constricted, but the General caught it, the elbow-blades coming up and cutting through it. Rajhu stumbled into the man, confused. How had he been able to break his magic?
A fist crashed into Rajhu’s face, and he felt his jaw shatter as he crumpled beside Will.
This wasn’t good. Not at all.
All around them, the army began to close in. They moved toward the house, their shouts and growls sounding, to Rajhu, more like a pack of wild beasts, than humans.
Above him, above Will, the General glowered, watching as his army rushed around them, toward the log building.
‘You’re going to give that sword to me, Will. It’s my destiny. All of this is unfolding exactly as the old one has foreseen. Now give me the blade.’
‘Then die, and get out of my way.’ The man stepped forward, his hands flexing before tightening into fists. Murder was in his eyes, and Rajhu felt not the least bit of strength in him to stand against it. Blood slipped from his mouth freely. The bone of his jaw had ripped through his skin when it shattered, and even now, the pain was impossible to withstand. Now, looking up at Val’kez, Rajhu saw his death before him.
A scream rose up from somewhere behind Raj. From the ranks of the General’s men, he could hear a battle taking place. He wondered for a moment, if they had, at last, fallen upon the heroes of the retirement home, but when the body of an armoured bandit flew overhead, crashing into a pile of loose rocks, he wasn’t so sure.
Looking up, Val’kez growled. He straightened as another mighty scream ripped through the crowd. Rajhu turned to see a dozen or more of the soldiers flying backward, through the air. They collided with their comrades, taking even more to the ground.
Rajhu turned, looking in the direction of the commotion. He could see the host of soldiers beginning to turn, running in the opposite direction, back toward the trail that led down the mountain.
As the scene cleared, a man came into view. He couldn’t have been many years older than Will, Rajhu was sure. He was short, thin, with lean muscle covering his body. A messy mop of red hair sat atop his head, sticking out in swaths of spiked and matted groupings. He had a soft face, almost boyish in nature, but a rage filled his eyes that was anything but. In his hands, the trunk of a splintered evergreen was held. The ancient trunk was far larger than he was, but as Rajhu watched, the boy swung it in a wide arc, batting away nearly twenty men, as if they were flies.
The body of the tree cracked under the assault, and the boy threw it to the ground as he glared across the distance at General Val’kez.
‘You want to fight, Val?’ he screamed. ‘You can’t attack the old man’s home and just expect to get away with it!’
‘Rua…’ The General growled.
‘Come on, Val! If you think you can take me on, come here!’
The boy ripped the remnants of a shirt from his back, tossing the rag to the dirt. He shifted worn shoes into the ground, wiping his dirty hands on the stained, baggy white pants he wore.
‘Men!’ General Val’kez called, ‘Move to retreat!’
‘Not that easy!’ Rua screamed, leaping forward. He bounded across the distance, landing before Val’kez, his eyes ablaze.
‘You don’t get to just run away! If you want to leave, let me show you the shortcut!’ The boy screamed again, slamming a fist into the armoured stomach of the General. In a burst of dust and air, Rajhu saw the General blasted back by the blow, flying high into the air, arching over the lawn, past the crest of the path that wound down the mountain, and out of sight.
‘Anyone else wanna turn?’ Rua growled, rounding on the remaining soldiers.
There was the slightest hesitation, before the mass of armour and weapons turned, scattering toward the path, screaming as they ran from the boy in the tattered clothes. As they fled, the noise went with them.
As silence slowly began to return to the large meadow, the boy turned, looking down on Will and Rajhu. The anger drained from him easily, a wide smile crossing his face. The expression only enhanced this Rua’s boyish features.
With a young, high tone voice he gave a small laugh, ‘bunch of wusses didn’t even want to stand toe to toe!’ He sighed, closing his eyes and smiling wider, still.
‘It’s kinda funny, I told Buri I only needed time to think about it… and he went and found a replacement for me…I guess the old man was right, though… It looks like I’m not the last Wishcharmer after all!’
Rajhu stared up at the boy as blood continued to slip from his mouth.
‘Jeez, are you two alright?’ Rua asked.