In Season 1 of The Wizard Killer, we met a man with no name as he awoke from the dead with his short-sword impaled in his chest, his magic failing, and his memories scrambled.
As he ventured into the barren wasteland trying to figure out what had happened to him, he narrowly avoided being burned alive by a carn and eaten by a family of ghouls.
A chance encounter with a trio of bandits revealed he was something called a weslek, some kind of living mana-battery. Fighting alongside them in a desperate battle against two flaming carnu, the nameless man drained the remaining life force from one of the dying bandits, and shot another. The battle won, their leader, a magic-wielding woman named Ania, took off, leaving the nameless man with the haunted feeling that their business wasn’t over.
And in the final moments of Season 1, the nameless man and a oner woman raced against time to escape the wrath of the raw devastation being wrought by a floating city. As the city passed over them, ripping every speck of life and mana from the surrounding area, the oner woman sacrificed herself for a chance to save the nameless man.
Episode 3 (Part 1 of a Flashback Scene)
“Hey!” yells a deep voice, followed by a hard shove.
I stumble backwards, disoriented, knocking over the chair I must have been in. I hit the wall and slump down. My head feels two sizes too small. Where am I? Why’s my heart racing?
The smell of stale and rancid beer immediately assaults my nose, clearing some of the fog in my mind and waking me up.
Looking down at what’s on my hands, I’m distracted by the floor’s shiny, orange-and-brown sheen. Half my brain tells me the stuff on my hands feels like sandpaper; the other half, like dried snot.
My eyes go from the floor to my sleeve, and then to how I’m dressed. I’m wearing matching brown pants, vest, and long coat—all neatly pressed. On the uneven table in front of me sits a brown, bowl-shaped hat.
After a momentary debate of whether to rub my eyes, I decide against it and gaze about the rest of the bar, ignoring the figure standing beside me.
The tavern has ‘rock bottom’ written all over it. The dingy walls and bowing ceiling don’t do it any favors. There are a few high windows, though I suspect they’ve never been cleaned, and thankfully they’re keeping most of the morning light at bay.
The man standing beside me goes to flick my ear, and I slap his hand, glaring at him.
He clears his throat and glares back at me. He’s got a tall, stocky frame and a big, bushy beard that is dark brown with a white streak from lip to chin. In one of his meaty hands is a black bowl hat, his wiry hair showing that he’s been wearing it for a good part of the day already.
Under his dark long coat is a red-and-silver vest with the chain of a pocket watch showing. Most importantly, he’s got a two-bar, tin rectangle pinned on the outside of his coat and the scowl of authority to accompany it.
“Sheriff,” I say grudgingly.
His face relaxes a touch. “I’ve had to look all over town for you. You’ve almost missed your time to meet with the librarian, and if you miss this one, there ain’t going to be another. Now get up and get moving. She doesn’t stay in one place long. And if a Scourge patrol finds her? You’re going to be looking over both shoulders every minute of every day until you’re having a dirt nap.”
I put a hand out.
He reluctantly grabs it and hauls me to my feet. My head’s throbbing, and the empty beer mugs on the table tell me why. Rolling my other shoulder, it barks at me painfully.
“Mother of Mercy,” I say under my breath. I must have done something to it when I fell off my chair… or last night. All that remains of what happened is a vague hint, nothing more. I can’t remember walking into this place or drinking a thing. All the consequences and none of the fun, that’s no way to live.
“I know that look,” he grumbles, a disapproving smirk on his face. “When you strolled into town yesterday, I told you to stay away from the black beer. That stuff will knock the smile off a horse. I also told you not to play cards with the three sisters who run the place. From what I heard this morning, you’re lucky they left you with your dignity, never mind your clothes.”
I grimace as the shoulder pain subsides a bit. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Good. Now put some gloves on,” he says pointing at my bare hands.
I pull my sleeves up and stare at my arms. “Where are my tattoos?”
The sheriff raises an eyebrow. “I was talking about your hands.” He takes one of my hands and turns it sideways. There’s a blue line that runs along the edge, disappearing up my sleeve. I look at my other hand, it’s there too.
“Unlike most folk, I don’t care where you came from, and I care even less what horrible things happened to you to put that on you. I’m sure it’s why the librarian will meet with you, but I don’t want to know.”
He bends down and picks up a pair of gloves from under the table. “Put these on.” He then hands me my hat. “Keep your head down, and no one should notice the line at your neck.” He leans in. “You remember that much, don’t you?”
I nod and put the gloves and hat on.
“You all good?”
“Yeah,” I reply.
We step out of the bar and into the blinding, dusty outdoors. The sky’s got a familiar red haze to it. My fingers start rubbing together like they’re pulling on a fishing line with an unwilling memory on the end of it.
There’s about two dozen people walking about, all of them dressed up beyond what I’d expect for an outskirts town. Most of the women have shiny dresses and parasols, and most of the men long coats and hats. Either this place is rich in something, or it’s got a secret that some pay handsomely for.
Glancing about at the two-storey buildings and dirt-road nature of the town, knots start to form in my stomach. I’m not sure if I’m paranoid, or I remember something, but I’ve got a bad feeling about the place.
I nudge the sheriff and point at the red haze. “What’s that?”
He gives me a wide-eyed glare. “You stupid or something?”
I frown at him.
Leaning in, he whispers. “It ain’t smart to bring up the affairs of wizards and the like.”
I’m tempted to ask something else, but am interrupted by the image of a floating city being built. Mana leaks… it’s one of the things that can lead to this haze, I remember. Looking again, my stomach turns as I’m sure there’s something far worse going on than building a floating city.
“Come on, people’ll start staring,” he says, leading the way.
I keep my head tilted down as people walk by. “They’re building that pretty close to a town, aren’t they? I thought they were always paranoid about that type of thing.”
He gives me a sharp glare and gets right in my face, his hand resting atop the pistol on his hip. “I believe in upsetting the apple cart a bit every now and then. That’s why I’m helping you. There are things most unnatural happening, and they’ve got to stop. But I need you to understand; I ain’t going to risk my life or this town.”
I slowly nod. Everyone likes to be a little bit of a rebel.
“Wizards have eyes and ears everywhere. I’ve heard a man mention a certain one, and then out of nowhere appears a hot-headed acolyte with the powers of a god and trigger-happy soldiers with something to prove.” He pulls back and straightens his vest. “Now, shut up or I’ll shoot you. We clear?” He flashes a politician’s smile and starts moving.
Across the street’s a two-storey building with a sign reading General Store. There’s an old man, bald, staring at me.
I stare back. There’s something about him, like he’s a person standing among paintings, something that makes him more real than the rest.
Taking a step into the road, the sheriff immediately gets in front of me and shoves me back. “I think we’re having a communication problem.”
I point at the general store, but there’s no one there. “I thought I saw someone I know.”
“Doubt it,” he replies with a scoff.
I look first at the store’s door, which doesn’t look like it’s closing, and then around, but there’s no sign of him. The only thing out of place is a faint buzzing in my head. Strange. I can remember every detail of the man’s face. I swear I’ve seen him before… just not here.
Shaking it off, I follow the sheriff for a few blocks before tapping him on the shoulder.
He turns around, his face showing his frustration.
I raise a finger. “Do you hear that? There’s like— a clicking.”
He listens for a moment. “Might be coming from the trailer house,” he says gesturing at a long building coming up. “That’s where we have the levi-cars. A few horses, too. Sometimes those levis make funny noises when people are working on them.”
As we continue walking, I keep glancing about, unable to shake the feeling of being watched.
I perch my sweaty hands on my belt, feel something. Looking down, I see I’ve got an empty holster on one side. On the other, I’ve got an empty place for a knife. Yig, maybe there was something to that three sisters thing.
Finally, he stops and turns around, leaning towards the light-blue door of the white-washed two-storey building. Glancing around the main street, I’m sure that clicking sound is not coming from the levi’s place.
The sheriff takes his hat off and taps twice on the door with his knuckles. He listens for a second, then straightens up and puts his hat back on. “Go on in. You’ve got five minutes, and then you need to get out of here.”
I narrow my eyes at him, tempted to ask why.
He rolls his shoulders and scans the street, his hands resting on his pistols. Glancing at me, he’s got an anxious look in his eye. “Go on. Clock’s ticking.”
I start to push on the door and stop. “You hear it too, don’t you? It’s like… like hollow bone being hit on hollow bone.”
“Doesn’t matter. Scourge spies are going to know something’s up soon and I’m not going to have this town known as the place where the only free librarian died.”
My palms are sweaty, my heart’s racing. Something bad is about to happen. I just don’t know what.
Episode 4 – (2nd half of Flashback)
The sunlight from the door stops two feet into the room with no rhyme nor reason. Stepping into the room, I close the door and take my hat off.
I stand quietly, listening to the creak of the floorboards under me, waiting for my eyes to adjust. The room seems barren, except for a counter a few feet away.
“Gah… that sound.” I put a finger in my ear and give it a good shake.
A silhouette appears behind the empty counter. “These are dangerous times,” it says, the voice soft and melodic.
The head turns and I’m thrown off. It’s like staring at a star-filled night sky.
Swallowing nervously, I nod. “You’re the last of the free librarians I take it.”
There’s a scream outside, followed by another.
My hands twist my hat, and I stare at the door. “I’m…” I turn and face the librarian. “I’m told you’ll have an answer for me. Though, I hate to say it, I wasn’t told what the question was.”
“The answer is a yes. A wizard can be killed through means other than simply time and frailty of the body. There’s a High Acolyte who knows… in Banareal. He’s learned the secret experiments of his master, the Wizard of Banareal. The Wizard suspects him of treachery. It won’t be long before the High Acolyte is arrested and tortured.”
“Are we supposed to get him before he’s arrested? After?” I don’t even know what I’m talking about. Staring at the floor, an image comes to me. “Old man. Is he an old man?”
I can feel her staring at me; I’ve thrown her off.
“The High Acolyte will be alive for some time, though barely. The Wizard will experiment on him, to see if it’s possible to make an acolyte into a weslek.”
“So, we need to get him out?”
“The wards won’t allow him to leave the laboratory alive.”
I glare at the librarian. “How is this helpful?”
Several gunshots go off on the other side of the door. It’s followed by screeches and a wave of that bone-chattering sound.
“I must go,” says the librarian, pushing open a door at the back, the room filling with sunlight.
Wincing and turning away, I raise a hand. “If I follow what you’re saying, then we need to get him out of there. How do we do that?”
“Take his life from him then give it back. There are a few who can craft such magical weapons. You’ll need to be careful, and make it discreet.”
“Like one of the soldiers’ short swords?”
I wish she had an expression; I can’t tell if she’s agreeing or staring me like an idiot.
“We are out of time.” She exits and the back door closes, leaving me standing in the dark.
The screams outnumber the gunshots. There’s that clicking sound coming from everywhere, even above me somewhere.
I crack the door open a bit and look. The scene doesn’t make sense, people shooting at nothing and being ripped apart by nothing.
Without thinking, my hand goes into one of the long coat pockets and pulls out an orb. It’s maroon and sleek-looking, with a silver streak. Holding it up to my mouth, I mutter some words without thinking. The orb pulses.
“It’s the H. A. of Banareal that we need. He’s going to be taken soon, we have a limited window of time. Wards will stop us from taking him, so we need to suspend his life. We need to find someone who can put that kind of enchantment on a common item, like a short sword. Suspend his life; then we get him out of there.”
Leaning against the doorframe, sweat drips off my forehead. Bowing my head for a second, I recall someone warning me that the orb could suck the life out of you, but wow, I wasn’t ready for this. I feel like I’ve got the flu of the century.
I stroke the silver streak of the orb. It pulses once, and it’s done. I stuff it back in my pocket.
Alright, now I’ve got to get out of here.
Pulling the door open fully, I take in the gruesome scene. There are pieces of bodies everywhere.
Across the street, I see terrified people huddled together on the second-floor balcony. If this was a Scourge Patrol, they wouldn’t be safe up there, and I’ve known Scourge Patrols to be brutal but never to rip people apart like what I’m seeing.
I’m not taking any chances. I step out of the building, closing the door behind me. Glancing each way, I don’t see any fighting going on.
I give the orb a squeeze and toss it into the air. It falls, like a lump, to the ground.
I shuffle over and scoop it up. “Come on, you’re supposed to go.” Tossing it again, I glare angrily as it lands without dignity on the brown, dusty, main street.
Picking it up and shaking my head, I notice the sheriff’s body, one of his arms missing. A thought slips out from my foggy memories and I look around. “Whatever they’re doing that’s causing the red haze, there’s not enough mana in the air to activate the magic for the orb.” I glare at the ground. “What was I supposed to do?”
As if replying, the sheriff gives me the answer. “It needs more from me.”
Just then I catch sight of a blur in the wind, then two more. This isn’t what I needed.
I reach down and snatch one of sheriff’s long-barreled pistols. Spinning the chamber with the back of my hand, I see its got three hopes of me living loaded. It’s not much, but it might be enough to get me to more.
Scanning about, I notice that only the door to the general store is closed. Maybe people are holed up in there, or maybe it’s a front for something. Either way, it strikes me as a good place to go.
I make a dash for it, the clicking bone on bone sound erupting from everywhere. The people on the balcony start screaming and crying. They’ve probably watched and heard this play out a dozen times already; now they’re waiting for my torturous end. I hope to disappoint them.
Peeking over my shoulder, everything’s deformed and distorted, like I’m looking through warped glass.
“The wind spiders are all around you!” yells a woman from the balcony.
I’ve never heard of wind spiders.
Sliding to a stop in front of the general store, I turn and accidentally shoot blindly. Yig, down to two.
Holding the orb tightly up to my chest, I wait, my heart pounding. It feels like each thought of mine is fighting through a raging river to get heard, and the river’s growing.
My eyes dart about, waiting for the inevitable. Everything’s quiet.
I scream as something slashes my leg. Falling to the ground, I drop my pistol and put a hand over the bleeding wound. It’s like someone’s put warped mirrors all around me, making the whole world look weird.
I rub my blood hand on the orb. “That’s got to count for something,” I mutter.
The orb pulses twice as I get slashed again, this time from the left and right.
I feebly lob the orb into the air. My heart sinks as nothing happens, as it falls towards the ground. But then it turns, arcing up, and vanishes.
With renewed vigor, I grab the pistol and scramble backwards to the general store’s door. I bang on the door with one hand, and fire at a warped area. Nothing on either front.
I crane my head, looking up at the door, and bang hard again. Then I gasp, as something pierces my chest, pinning me to the door.
All I can get are short, shallow breaths. There’s blood seeping out of me.
Glancing about, I see there’s a slight purple in the air. Then I see it, in all its terrifying glory: the wind spider. It smells of death, and radiates sweaty heat.
I plunge the pistol into where I figure its mouth is and pull the trigger.
Yellow goo goes everywhere, and the other blurry images back off, at least for a moment.
The pistol tumbles out of my hand as it goes numb. I can’t breathe. My head hurts.
I close my eyes, waiting for the inevitable.