It was a slow process moving through enemy soldiers and goblins. The fight had become a brawl. I punched at the enemy troops sometimes successfully, sometimes missing the enemy entirely while moving my injured body. Arrows hit my hard shell and swords from both sides bounced off my hard armor-like skin.

I hurled myself towards Jorn while ignoring the pain that surged from my legs. I stopped. My legs gave out and crumpled onto the floor. Why had they done this? I didn’t know. I crawled with my hands, pulling my limp body towards the mage. He was only about five feet away from me. He was so close but I could do nothing about it. My body felt sluggish, more sluggish than it had ever felt.

I looked at Jorn’s uncaring eyes. They weren’t full of hate, just indifference. It was only an obstacle to him, in his way of achieving what he had planned. I knew at that moment he was the reason I could barely move. It was as if I was swimming in syrup.

I could do nothing to the mage. I closed my eyes and waited for him to bring down his sword. While I knew this journey would be difficult and hadn’t brought me closer to finding my master, I regretted nothing. I just hoped Darryl would do well and Captain Pickford was safe traveling on the sea.

I waited and waited but the sword never came down. When I opened my eyes, Jorn was on the back foot defending himself against large blasts of mana. I looked over to find Goran, shooting spells from his staff. The fire, lightning crackled as it sped towards Jorn. I watched as they exploded on Jorn’s mana shield. I watched him grit his teeth as he took the hits.

As I peered around, I saw that most of the goblins were dead as well as the men that Jorn had taken with him. I realized at that moment, the advantage that mages had over a regular person. No one in this room stood a chance against either Jorn or Goran. I thought about the speed and power that both Mark and Malik had shown. They were truly a cut above everyone else in power.

I continued crawling towards Jorn. I wasn’t going to stop now. Goran was working hard keeping Jorn occupied but I knew that it likely wasn’t enough. Goran had feared Jorn after he watched the mage murder every other companion on his journey. While Goran had just graduated from the mages academy, Jorn was an older more established wizard. Even after a century of being trapped below the surface, I was certain that Jorn was more powerful than Goran.

Spell flung past me as I was able to crawl behind Jorn. It was nerve-wracking watching fireballs and chains of lightning zing past my head. He didn’t notice more or anything else going on on the battlefield. Jorn’s eyes were glued to his foe Goran and rightfully so. As I pulled myself off the ground behind the mage, I knew it would be his downfall.

I brought down my hands, knocking Jorn out cold. He was too focused on the front to worry about anything happening to his back. I watched the few remaining mole men scramble once they saw their boss slump to the ground. They weren’t going to risk their lives for a deadman.

Most of the goblins were dead, their corpses unmoving. Of the handful left alive both the hobgoblin and Florg danced around the dead bodies. We’d achieved victory, or more accurately Goran achieved victory. I didn’t feel like I contributed all that much, nor had the goblins. From the look, Goran gave the rest of us, told me that he thought differently.

“Thank you for fighting alongside me. It brings me great relief knowing that Jorn won’t get his hands on that evil artifact.”

“But what about my artifact?” the hobgoblin impatiently asked.

“Ah yes, the magical artifact I’m guessing Glomp promised you. It takes great practice to control the mighty artifact and shouldn’t be used for evil.” Goran responded.

Goran handed a small trinket to the hobgoblin. I watched the creature grasp it in his hands as if it was very fragile. I wondered what happened when magical artifacts were broken. I didn’t imagine anything ever good happened when that happened. I assumed at best you’d be cursed at worst you’d be turned to dust. Or maybe being cursed might be worse. I guessed it depended on the type of curse.

I was shocked that Goran had given the artifact so easily to the goblin. I knew he’d use it to slaughter his kobold neighbors. As the goblin departed, I limped my way up to Goran.

“Why’d you give that hobgoblin the artifact. I know I promised it to him, but really if it's as deadly as you say it is. I don’t think the hobgoblin should’ve gotten it. He’s going to decimate a whole tribe of kobolds!” I said in a panicked voice. I watched Goran smile, trying to hold back a laugh.

“I didn’t give him anything special. The locket I gave is just some ordinary locket I’d found off some dead adventurer years ago. The real is here. Jorn knows what the real locket looks like and recognizes its mana signature. The hobgoblin won’t know any of this.”

“But he’ll find out eventually?” I responded.

“Maybe. Maybe not. He might come to realize that he’s just not suited for magic.”

“And what’re you going to do with the locket now that Jorn is gone. I can’t imagine destroying powerful artifacts is easy.”

I had seen my fair share of magical mishaps. Never was my master or any of his visiting mages trying to destroy a magical artifact but I had seen spells go wrong. Their destruction was horrifying. The idea of breaking a magical artifact scared me.

“I’ll have to perform a ritual to safely contain the magic within the artifact. It’ll implode until it ceases to exist. Then we can talk about that dragon you want to slay so badly.”


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