Spoiler for the Sequel to The Mage’s Gambit

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Far away from both the school of magic and the great capital of Angoma, there lay a dusty and forgotten town, shrouded in rainy clouds and dark streets. It was night, and few people were walking the streets at this hour. Still, there were a brave few: dwarf merchants, men on horseback, and people hurrying home, late for supper. It was a colder night than normal, and rain watered the streets in a dismal fashion.

One traveler, swathed in a dark cloak with a bulgy satchel on his back, moved through the streets with a steady gait and a bright eye. He was unsuspicious, and everyone was determined to mind their own business anyway. The clack of steel on stone sounded whenever he took a step.

Presently, the traveler took a turn and entered an old abandoned warehouse. The door swung open after a slight push, whereat the traveler sidled in and closed the door behind him. He cast back his hood, revealing a face with a sharp black beard and two boring eyes. The eyes were duller than they were eighteen years ago, and the beard had noticeable streaks of gray in it. He glanced about suspiciously and observed that the roof had several visible holes in it, from which rain was leaking through.

He muttered a few words, and an orb of red, blazing light appeared in his palm. He took it up with his fingers and held it aloft, studying the room. His eyes darted about warily. This was the place, all right.

Suddenly, the stranger felt a small poke on his back. It was sharp like a knife, as it probably was. The stranger raised his hands uncertainly but quickly. A voice spoke from behind the stranger.

“He who controls his will…” It said, as if waiting for the traveler to answer. The blade remained in the stranger’s back, and its pressure increased slightly.

“…controls his reality.” Said the stranger, smiling a grim smile. The blade left the man’s back, and his arms drifted back to his sides. The stranger then turned to face the voice behind him, and saw a man who was similarly arrayed in a dark cloak. His face was completely obscured by a near-featureless cowl, and in his hand he held a knife which he quickly stowed. The man seemed to have great perception, even though his mask had no eye holes.

“You must be the master I was ordered to meet.” He said, bowing slightly in obeisance. “Our queen is here, as well. May I inquire as to your name and rank?”

“Xanchaktis.” The first man replied, throwing his hood back fully. “Third only to the queen herself.” A haughty air filled him. “I expect you to address me as such. I will tolerate no disrespect from one like you.”

The cowled man tilted his head slightly. When he spoke, he was not the least offended. “Rai Kalpha answers to the queen alone. When our great empire still lived, you were third. I remain the second to our queen-goddess.”

Xan’s lip twisted in a sneer. “But there is no more kingdom now, is there?” He mocked. “I remember you. You’re as pathetic as when I once met you doing our great queen’s dirty work. You have no pride, Rai.”

“And you have too much of it, dear servant.” Rang a third voice in the room. Xan would have been tempted to draw his sword had he not recognized the voice before he saw the speaker–the deposed queen of the Kul’nah herself, Vaviena Kanesh.

“Do not fight with my…former second in command.” Said she, stepping into the red light that Xan’s wisp afforded. She was also in a dark cloak, but one that was thinner and less bulky. It wasn’t hard to guess the seductive figure inside, and Xan guessed that that was the point. Kanesh’s beautiful face poked through the half-concealing hood, far enough to reveal an arrogant smile. It looked as if she hadn’t aged a day in the last eighteen years. But such was the smile that she conferred upon the fallen mage Xanchaktis and her former second-in-command, Rai Kalpha.

Xan sank to both knees and bowed, face to the floorboards. Rai Kalpha also bowed, albeit on one knee and with a slight inclination of his head. Kanesh strode imperiously over to the two great warlock lords, glorying in her control over them. 

“Rise, my servants.” She said, beckoning for them to stand. Xan and Rai did so obediently. Kanesh then turned her attention to Xan. “It has been so long since your service under me. Did you encounter more of our kind during your travels?” She cooed softly, as if she didn’t care. Xan, however, detected that she did care, and he was careful about how he worded his answer.

“No, my queen.” He said in an even tone. “I did all I could to avoid capture at the hands of the Kensu knights. I was barely able to escape.” He half-expected Rai to say something, but he did not. The queen’s enforcer was as calm and even as Xan could remember.

“You did well.” Said Kanesh. “It is likely that all of our soldiers were captured and brought to the capital to face trials. I hear the Spawn were put to death, as well.”

“Your majesty has wise informants.” Said Xan. 

“I always get what I want, in one way or another.” Kanesh said, giving him a lascivious smile. “I have more eyes and ears in this realm than kings do. They keep me well-informed.”

Rai leaned forward slightly. He was literally impossible to read under his cowl and heavy cloak. “What of the new school of magic?” He asked. “Hrothgaard’s school. Should this be one of our top priorities?”

Kanesh’s lip twisted into an imperious sneer. “Koren.” She said, pronouncing the name with the utmost contempt and hatred. “The fool will know soon enough what kind of powerful enemies he has made. No one resists the charms of Vaviena Kanesh without paying for it.”

“Then what is our first move?” Said Xan. “Should we sabotage the school? Start picking off the students?”

“That would be unwise,” Said Kanesh, “Since he would notice it before we would be able to do any real damage. He might call out a hunt and chase us down. He has forgotten about us…for the moment. Let us keep it that way.”

“Shall we strike at the school in any way, then?” Asked Rai.

“I foresee a far more potent ploy.” Said Kanesh. “I have received an important piece of news that you should be glad to hear.” A dark smile appeared on her lips. “Our enemy, Koren, has had a child born to him. A son. His name is Triston. He resides at the school and trains there.”

“How does this play into our hands?” Asked Xan. “Koren is stubborn. He will keep his child out of our hands with his dying breath, and killing him will not be so easy.”

Kanesh raised a slim finger. “Ah, but there is one fortuitous factor…for us.” She said. “The child was born by my daughter…Amkala, the Huntress.”

A slight Ah was heard from Rai Kalpha. He crossed his arms over his chest. “So…Hrothgaard’s runt has the blood of great royalty in him. It is doubtful whether or not he appreciates his gift.”

“So Hrothgaard’s boy is the grandson of a witch. How does this change things?” Asked Xan.

“If I can have such influence over a prodigious magic-user, what makes you think I won’t have a much greater pull on my own descendants?” Said Kanesh, cocking an eyebrow. “We will see, my trusted servant. We will see.”


Koren Hrothgaard paced in his office, muttering to himself. Triston had failed once more. When was the boy going to learn? Ah, but the lad had guts. He’d fail any number of times, but he wouldn’t admit defeat. The master in Hrothgaard told him that the boy’s pride was an inhibition to his studies, but the father in him was proud of his boy.

There was a knock at the door. “Excuse me?” Came the voice of a female teenager from the other side. “Master Hrothgaard? Are you in there?”

“Come in.” Said Hrothgaard, seating himself at his desk. The door opened, and in shuffled one of his star students. She looked embarrassed at having disturbed the Archmage. Her blue eyes darted nervously around the room as she touched her white-blonde hair, which was tied up in a high ponytail. Her name was Cynara, as Hrothgaard now recalled.

“What can I do for you?” Asked Hrothgaard. Cynara mumbled something and then swallowed. She was very conscientious, especially for her age. 

“There’s a woman here to see you. She calls herself a Kensu Knight Commander, and she’s just outside the door.” She said in a low tone. “She saw herself in, and insists on talking to you personally. I tried to tell her that you were busy, but she seemed pretty determined. She said that she’s an old friend.”

“She probably is.” Said Hrothgaard, chuckling. “That’s fine, Cynara. Let her in. You can see her out when she’s ready.” Cynara bowed and then turned to leave. But something seemed to stay her as she froze in place.

“How’s…eh…Triston?” She asked tentatively. “I heard he failed a test.”

“I wonder why you’re interested.” Said Hrothgaard with a twinkle in his eye. He chuckled. “He’s down, but not out. He promises to pass the next test. Don’t worry.”

The worried look left Cynara’s face. She relaxed, and her shoulders untensed. She nodded and continued her walk to the door.

But Hrothgaard stopped her again. “Strange, isn’t it?”

She turned around in surprise. “What is?” She asked in dismay.

“How Triston’s told me nothing of you.” Said Koren, holding a mischievous smirk back. “I had no idea that you knew him. Take care, Cynara.”

Cynara stuttered, and then backed out with a blush. Hrothgaard laughed out loud. He faintly heard Cynara’s voice speaking to an older lady. The woman thanked Cynara, and Hrothgaard noted Cynara’s retreating footsteps down the hall. She seemed to be in a slight hurry.

The door opened once more, and a woman with medium-length blond hair and green eyes entered. She was dressed in a gray uniform with medals, but wore no armor. She shut the door behind her discreetly. Her face had more lines on it than Koren had recalled, but there she was: Commander Adrianna Numa, in the flesh.

“Hello, Adrianna.” Said Koren, standing up. The sight of her made him feel at least a decade younger, maybe two. “It’s been a long time.”

Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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