Battlemage: Book 10 - Darkness Under a Scarlet Moon
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2010 by Risq

A lone wolf stood and looked out over the hillside down into the valley, and seems to be watching the large town below him in the darkness.

If one didn't know better they might believe that the wolf was angry as he stood there.

And they would be correct.

As the wolf looked out over the valley he was angered by the growing town. More and more humans seem to either be born there or they seemed to be coming to stay instead of moving on.

The wolf couldn't stand those humans below, who while poor prey, often would do well in a pinch as food. But they often fought back far too viciously to be considered a good food source.

They were almost as cunning as wolves, he thought, and they had a long memory and often held grudges well past the time they should.

Tonight however he was irritated how much more of the wolves' land he could see that was being taken over by the humans and the things they planted in the ground. Their presence here was chasing away all the good game.

Whatever they the wolves didn't hunt themselves, was now almost gone into extinction.

The wolf shook his head in disgust and he knew he would still need to report any changes to the pack leader. The only thing of interest for him was his visits to the town to see all the changes. Sometimes interesting things did happen in the human packs.

Yet once again though, they had expanded even further into the surrounding forest. They had been busy since the last full moon clearing away more trees and brush. They also had put up even more fences surrounding their pitiful dwellings.

He would need to take a closer look to make sure he got all the details right.

As the wolf turned and started to fade from view, one might mistake him for a normal wolf, save for the extremely bright red eyes that seemed to miss nothing below him.

Soon the darkness swallowed them up, as well as his form, as if they had never been there.

Nathan just barely managed to tuck his head as he slammed into the wall upside down, where he then slid down the wall, but rolled and came to a crouch facing the wrong way.

Jumping up he was extremely angry as he turned and hopped over the bar counter and raced back into the fight. That shouldn't have ever happened he thought, as he waded in.

Ariel was close by, and while now she was giving him a look of amusement, he had noticed earlier before that she sometimes appeared distracted or at times as if she was doing her fighting by rote.

Once during that time Nathan had noticed that as she broke one man's arm she used the back of the man who bent over to nurse that arm as a base as she threw out a kick to catch the man trying to sneak up on her before she then caught the same man under the chin with a vicious knee to the face.

That made him smile as he realized that in spite of the situation no matter how distracted she might be, she was still dangerous.

Nathan reached the man who threw him and he perfectly imitated the same move the man just used against him to slam the man into the very same Tavern wall that he was just occupying only moments before, but the man hit far harder and was out cold on impact.

Turning he looked at her questioningly a moment. While bedlam was still going on around them she took a spare moment to catch a breather and talk to Nathan.

"They shouldn't know how to do this. Mountain bandits shouldn't know this type of grappling. This is something deck hands from the east use, as this combat's principle is based on the swaying motion of a ship. It makes them unpredictable, but how they know how to use it makes no sense," smiled Ariel as she noticed Nathan's eyes and ducked.

Nathan grabbed the man swinging at her head by his out stretched arm and used it to flip the man.

Gaining another moment to breathe, she continued at Nathan's questioning look.

"Oh cut it out. It's not like I didn't train you and the kids for most all occurrences. There is no way to train you in every form of any combat you might see, no matter how obscure it may be, but what I did was train you to give you a good fighting chance no matter what you encounter," said Ariel as she did a front snap kick at another a man as he flew past them out of the blue.

Terrance threw her a smile as he turned to greet a different playmate. He was only trying to get the man away from him to get in better position, but throwing him Ariel's way now appeared that it was the best way to go, even if it was unintentional.

Rory was on the other side of the room was just now getting in a good shot that knocked out his target as he concentrated on the next guy heading his way.

"So how do you know about it?" Nathan asked, as he used his elbow to hit a man who had just jumped at him.

It was an opponent who was in the process of swinging his knee up at him, while attempting to connect to Nathan's face.

Had Nathan not grabbed the man's leg and hit the man, the kick the man was attempting to use would have hit Nathan squarely in the bridge of his nose.

Everyone kept trying to hit him in the head when they weren't trying to throw him upside down at walls. Most were frustrated that their body blows on him were mostly going unnoticed.

"Nathan I was on a lot of battlefields as you know. We fighters didn't get to pick who we faced or where we went. I've seen more types of fighting than you could possibly imagine. What our family uses is what I came up with as the best defense against many styles, and with your reflexes and memory it's not like you're not going to incorporate some of this into your own personal style," smiled Ariel

Smiling Nathan leaned in, kissed her and said "Soon as some of this craziness dies down you need to start writing down what you know on various styles. It's something we can pass on to all the children as something that can only help them later in life," and then they were back into the thick of the fighting.

But as he did he missed the look of deep longing she gave him, before she returned back to the fight and once again appeared to be fighting as if her mind was a million miles away.

Looking around at the mess and all the unconscious men, the four of them smiled.

This was a pretty involved fight and one that had to happen so that they could capture their target that they were hired to bring in. The mayor of the city was desperate to have him stopped.

The target was a mountain Bandit Chief who every spring came down from the mountains and raided the city. Not only did they steal everything they could get their hands on, but several women and girls went missing only to come back traumatized weeks later telling horror stories about their treatment.

Their usual method was to come to town, take over a tavern, drink all of their alcohol and eat all their reserves, and once it was all gone they would raid the town before they left.

The city of Carlson's Grove was willing to pay whatever they could to get someone to help. With his having an estimated 50 – 70 men backing him, it made most guilds decide that fighting a small war might not be the best thing for them to do.

But the Phoenix's guild decided to take the contract and felt they only need to send these four to take care of the matter.

Knowing that a frontal assault might give the man time to escape, the four of them talked at length and Ariel came up with a plan that, while it was a plan she wasn't remotely comfortable with, she also knew it would give them the greatest chance at success.

Nathan wasn't sure about letting her go in there unarmed with so many men surrounding her, but a quick deep kiss from Ariel, that seemed to go on longer than it should have by the way, quickly convinced him to let her try her plan.

Rory and Terrance both looked on quietly with their usual envy.

With the three men now in position, giving the appearance that they were just milling around, they drew no attention as they started to slowly approach the Wounded Dog Tavern from three different angles.

Ariel waited until she could see them closing in on the building before she slowly and coyly walked right up to the front door, smiled a toothy and dimpled smile at the men standing there with their backs against the door frame guarding the entrance, and put a hand on each of their chest and lightly pushed her way past them inside.

The men, seeing her do this, seemed to be entranced as they both stepped back and allowed her to step inside as they continued to turn and watched her walk further into the room.

The room seemed to fall silent of all conversation as Ariel stood in the doorway and allowed her eyes to adjust to the lower level of light.

All eyes seemed to be focused on the entrance of the striking woman with the flowing long red hair hanging high in a ponytail on her head behind her, and the bangs that were cut long to reach just to the tops of her cutely arching eyebrows.

Those who were the closest could see the bright emerald green eyes and deep dimples on her face as she stood there for a few moments.

But none could miss how the plunging neckline of her black vest combined with the light blue blouse underneath that came to her neck, and how the form fitting black leather pants did nothing to hide the hips.

This all worked to complete the impressive hourglass figure, and if anything the outfit only accentuated them.

After a few moments, and once she could clearly see around the room, Ariel looked around and soon was able to spot the target Brandon Standish. He was seated and he appeared to be holding down on his lap what appeared to be a very unwilling serving girl.

The poor girl had short black hair that was closely cut to her head. She was a mildly attractive young girl with red lips, brown eyes, and a smattering of freckles on her face.

She was a touch heavy for her youthful age, but working the long hours at a tavern on her feet would soon fix that, though right at that moment terror was the only thing that was etched on that young face.

The girl had been struggling to keep Brandon from kissing her face, but she wasn't trying too hard as she was scared to anger him, and as she did Brandon had been laughing at her as he kept trying.

At Ariel's entrance, while he was still holding on to the woman's waist, she became long forgotten pursuit as he now watched Ariel slow entrance along with his men.

Ariel thought dryly as she noticed the girl, that she must have not been able to get out of the Tavern when they approached like the other women because she saw no other women around. The poor woman was so scared Ariel could see the whites of her eyes from where she was at the front of the room.

With her conviction confirmed even more by what she saw, and smiling even bigger which made her dimples even deeper, Ariel slowly sauntered towards Brandon as she looked him over.

She stopped in the center of the room to let him look her over as she studied him in greater detail.

He had a jagged scar along the left side of his face. It was obvious that whatever caused the scar also took his left eye, as it was puckered and closed. The man was large and muscular, just a touch larger than her husband Nathan. He had a thick bushy mustache and needed a shave badly from the day's growth around his chin.

While Ariel was approaching the man she realized that she could smell him a mile away.

It didn't help that his dirty grey short sleeve shirt, with a single torn and ragged sleeve, was stained with things she couldn't even begin to identify. The shirt was covered by an opened brown leather vest. She could just barely make out his homespun dirty brown pants underneath the girl while he was seated.

Smiling as she approached him she did her best to swing her hips as much as she could to ensure that everyone's eyes were on her and not on the door she just entered through.

Something in her green eyes flashed and you could almost smell and taste the barely hidden sexual desire just dripping off her, and that realization made every man in the room go hard as they looked at her.

Very hard.

As soon as it was apparent that she was headed for Brandon, he quickly stood, causing the serving girl to fall forgotten to the floor, where she gratefully and quickly jumped up, and raced to the back of the Tavern headed for the back door, but none of the men seemed to notice as they were entranced by Arial.

The young woman couldn't believe any woman would be fool enough to ever seek Brandon out, but she was grateful she was no longer his main focus as she fled.

"So I hear you are Brandon Standish, the terror of the mountains. Is everything they say about you true?" asked Ariel with a coy smile.

Staring at her for a moment Brandon said with a cocky smile "That depends. Are we talking about how no man can match my considerable fighting prowess or how the bitches seek me out because they hear the ones I've been with just can't get enough?

"Oh, so you're just that much of a man? Well I'm just someone who was passing through and I heard about you and had to get a look at you just once so I could say I did. So do you think you might be man enough for me?" asked Ariel suddenly softer which causing her deep voice to get deeper and raspy.

Brandon's smile grew larger as he started walking towards where she was in the middle of the room.

As he reached her, Ariel quickly placed her hand on his chest to hold him away from her for a moment. Stopping he looked down at her hand before he looked up into her shining bright green eyes. The heat of his own desire could be felt through her hand.

"Before we get started I have to make sure you're man enough to even be with someone like me," said Ariel softly with a seductive smile.

Grabbing her wrist he held it for a moment as he said "There is no one more manly than I am," and then he yanked her off balance towards him.

As Ariel started towards him she seemed to spin and ended up with her back to him so that he was now holding onto her arm and that arm was now across her own chest.

Brandon leaned in close to her head and she could hear his breathing as close as he was, but the stench he had was almost overpowering as close to her as he now was.

But if she hadn't turned as she did, she was sure that his pulling movement would have ended up in a kiss. While they were this close Ariel spoke again.

"Oh? Well then you better hold on best you can, so I can see your manliness. This way you can prove it to everyone here," said Ariel as her seductive smile suddenly grew very, very evil in nature.

The other men in the room all looked around at each other in confusion at her quick change of facial expression as she looked back at them.

While she did this she had looked back towards the door she had entered through and she could now see that Nathan, Terrance, and Rory were now just inside the Tavern's doors.

They all smiled at her and gave her thumbs up. When she saw that she seemed to show an explosive movement.

Stepping slight forward Ariel stomped Brandon's foot as hard as she could with the flat of her heeled boot.

When she did, and as the pain registered Brandon started to lean forward, but when he did as she expected Ariel hit him squarely in the throat with a savage elbow as he released the hand he was holding onto her with in surprise.

With his foot long forgotten Brandon tried to now grab his throat with both hands as he stared at her with watering bug eyes trying to gasp for breath. But it didn't matter, because as she was turning to face him she did a jump kick that just caught him under the chin.

Brandon appeared to be sprouting wings as he flew backwards and crashed into his former table shattering it. Brandon was out cold and would be for a long time.

Everyone stood in silence staring at what she had just done.

"Oh my, I guess you really weren't really man enough for me, were you? Only one man really is, and he wouldn't have been caught by that nearly as easy as you were," said Ariel as she smiled at the down man in a playful manner.

She could now hear the noise behind her of the men who were starting for her, but Nathan's voice suddenly roared out "Hey honey guess what I found" as he grabbed the nearest man in front of him from behind, and threw the man across the room at about waist height.

The man he threw had been one of those guarding the door, and the man hit the bar counter head first and that took him out of the fight. At that noise all the men turned to see what was going on at the door.

As the men looked at the door they couldn't miss a lightly tan, yet thickly muscled man, with extremely thick and curly brown hair, with a single silver forelock in it, in a brown short sleeved tunic and brown leather pants with what looked to be a collapsible staff across his back

Nor did they miss the stocky brown haired man with the thin black mustache who seemed to be running full speed at the nearest man with his arms opened as if he was going to bear hug them, or did they miss his slightly taller lean companion with blonde hair and blue eyes that seem to be spoiling to get into a fight as he scanned around himself before he leapt at the nearest man to himself.

As the men spread out and started grabbing anyone with in reach near them Ariel turned back to the men nearest her and started using her arms and legs to take out anyone she could reach.

From that point forward the fight was on and bedlam ruled.

Now that it was over and done Ariel looked around the room.

"Well that went better than planned. God I hated letting him touch me. I wanted to break his arm for it as soon as he did, but I had to let him get that close because I didn't hear you enter yet.

"I should still break an arm now just purely for the sake of his lack of hygiene, but I don't want to ever get that close to him again. What took you so long?" asked Ariel while she looked at her husband.

She was still sweating, even though the fight was long over, and she also seemed to be frowning at her husband.

"Sorry, we tried to move faster but Rory kept stopping to stare at your butt," said Nathan with a smile.

"Bwwaaa, no I didn't ... I mean not that I wouldn't ... but ... I ... I mean I... , ' stammered Rory as he started blushing hard.

"He's pulling your leg and he better stop," said Ariel as she looked at her husband dangerously.

She never did tell him that the two men had once asked if she and Nathan ever traded partners.

Ariel was capable of handling this and felt it was already handled, but she knew Nathan wouldn't have ever said that as a joke if he had known.

"Just kidding, just kidding. We made one last quick pass first to make sure that there wasn't anyone left outside," said Nathan with a smile as he looked at still blushing Rory.

Now that they were finished here, they planned to collect Brandon solely by himself, tie him up, and deliver him to the local jail for safekeeping.

"We'll collect our fee, but we may have to still destroy his camp to make sure that he is discouraged from doing this again," said Terrance as he stepped past Ariel and started for Brandon.

As Rory also moved past her to start for Brandon, Ariel waited before she reached out and grabbed her husband and pulled him into a savage kiss as he also turned to move towards Brandon.

For some reason, he could now feel her lightly trembling as she did.

"Nathan it's been five nights, almost six. I know we needed to plan this out, to ride hard to get here, and still have time to scout the city. So because of that we never had any time to ourselves as desperate as the situation was, but I'm not going to last much longer.

"If anything, this fighting has made it worse. We need to do something about this and we need to do it fast!" said Ariel as her green eyes looked as if they were flashing. Almost as if they had their own pulse.

She had leaned back a little so she could look him in the eyes.

As Nathan looked at her, it was almost as if just by her proximity and by her look that she seemed to convey such a desperate desire that he felt himself getting swept up into it. The looks she was giving him had him hard in mere seconds, so he knew she must be straining at her limits.

"Ok, what do you say tonight we..." started Nathan with a smile, but never got to finish.

Grabbing him again as she kissed him very hard, as she also ran her hand up under his shirt, now not caring who saw, and harshly tweaked one of his nipples.

"No, not tonight NOW! This can no longer wait! I'm honestly going to lose it shortly!" hissed Ariel harshly under her breath as she stared at him hard when she drew back to stare at him a second time.

What Nathan didn't know, was that after this vicious fight she was now fighting extremely hard to not lose control of the wild magic running loose in her system, and she was struggling very hard to just stay looking as normal as she did.

They both always knew it was a chance they would have to take by going so long this time to get here to this city so they could stop Brandon while he was down from the mountains, and as such they just didn't have a chance to really be alone with how desperate everything was going on around them.

Smiling he took her hand.

"Boys we have to run. There is something I have to take care of and we're going to leave everything to you guys. We have to balance that out and I doubt you'll see either of us before morning," said Nathan as he headed for the door, by way of Ariel insistently pulling him into the waning afternoon light.

As they left Terrance and Rory looked at each other for a moment, and then they bent back down to quickly work before any of the various men around them regained consciousness.

"Knowing what we know, we know she's going to totally destroy him and we won't see him for a while, probably not until late sometime tomorrow morning. But I still at times wish it was me," said Rory as he tied Brandon's hands

"God don't I know it," said Terrance as he quickly tied Brandon's feet.

Moving quickly, the two of them left the tavern that was now in shambles, as they carried Brandon between them and headed for the prison to lock him up before they were accosted by any men they may have missed and who wanted to stop them.

Upon reaching their room, as soon as the door was closed, Ariel completely destroyed Nathan's clothes as she quickly ripped and tore them off of him. Almost as quickly as she had also destroyed her own.

She didn't even give him a chance to remove them, as their first coupling was frenzy and desperate with the two of them doing it with their boots still on.

Nathan thought to say something about his shredded clothing, but when he saw Ariel's eyes flash brightly red for a moment in the darkened room before they returned to normal, and he heard her growling, he thought better of it and kept quiet.

They always packed lots of extra clothing for a reason, but he really liked that shirt.

She took him with such wild abandonment that it was all he could do to hold on for dear life during the first round.

He thought he heard someone banging on the wall for them to be quiet, but it also might have been the headboard smacking that same wall that he had heard.

While he had these thoughts he could feel his wife shift her position slightly and then he could feel her smooth, yet lightly, muscled thighs tightly gripping him in the most delectable way possible.

He still wasn't sure where the knocking noise was coming from and soon didn't really care as her warm body covered his.

"You are such an angel my dear. I wish other young people had your level of dedication and willingness to help others, especially their elders," said a little old lady as she held on to a younger woman's arm.

The much older woman was using Kathryn's shoulder to walk into the city of Carlson's Grove as Kat smiled down at her. As they got closer to the city Kat's mind started to wander to the events over the last few months.

Kat hadn't really intending to come back this way after already having passed through this town once already on her search for Elliot, but fate had to step in just a few towns over where there was a young couple who was being bullied by several men and she just had to step in and help.

She heard the various folks talking about a young man, who while he tried to defend his wife, just wasn't up to being strong enough to fight off a couple other men who were far larger than himself who for some reason were determined to take his wife from him

The young man she heard tried but the other men went from giving him various beatings and then insisting that he hand over his wife to them, and some times to stalking her themselves, to finally deciding that they were going enter his house and take her from him one night.

As he refused to accept the possibility of living without her, it was common knowledge those men were determined to beat him unmercifully to try and force him to do what they wanted. But the man never gave in.

The local law enforcement wouldn't seem to step in because the men had relatives who were high up in the local government.

While investigating this Kat had later overheard some other men talking about what they heard some of them saying the men were going to do that night while she was in a Tavern that she had stopped into to quench her thirst. Asking for directions to the home she decided to see if what they said among themselves was even remotely true.

One of the things she over heard was that during the last attempt they had tried vainly to get the woman to come with them and tried to drag her off, but she managed to break free and she fled. This time the plan was to make her husband look bad in her eyes and then take her as if she was spoils going to the victors.

That thought of using a woman that way angered Kat.

Not only that, but what else really bothered her though was the lack of anyone willing to stand up and help this couple because of the fear of having those in power come down on them. No one seemed to want to help them as they were scared of the gang of men who were terrorizing the town while seeming to have the backing of those in charge.

As she finally reached the home, and watched that meeting between them, she could see the young man as he tried hard to stop them from entering his house.

He managed earlier to hide his wife from them when they first came to his door, but Kat had already made her decision when she overheard their plans and decided to step in and help him where she could since no one else would.

But unfortunately she had arrived too late to step in directly and prevent the fighting and she had to watch the start of his beating in his front yard from within the shadows.

Then Kat got an idea.

She knew a spell that would temporarily empower the young man physically during the savage beating. The spell made it appear as if he got desperate strength when attacked and then he was the one who was able to beat the other men with in an inch of their lives.

As they picked themselves up and ran off into the night, the wife came out from where she had been hiding and hugged the young man while happily crying before she began to dress the wounds of her husband.

Kat was happy to stay in the background as it warmed her heart to be able to witness their love. Helping him look better in the young wife's eyes could only be a good thing.

And Kat knew she had done the right thing when the young man said that that night they were packing up to head far away from here to another city where his family was staying. She knew he was putting his pride and worldly possessions aside to guarantee the safety of his wife. That impressed her even more.

Kat still held out hope that this would be her and Elliot one day.

While it bothered her she hadn't found a trace of him after a solid season of searching for him, the one thing that made it bearable was some of the new friends she kept making on her journey.

She really never realized how many people were being abused like she was and who were powerless to change their fate. It bothered her that what she had always seen as those in power abusing the people, but sometimes it might be their fellow neighbors as well.

Being able to help those who were being harmed like this was something that made her failures to find Elliot a little easier to bear as she saw the difference her help made.

But she also made up her mind to stick around to make sure that those young men didn't try again for the young woman before they left the town. She also had no idea how all of them were going to divide her up, as she reflected on it, or if the main one spurring them on was the only one planning on keeping her for himself.

But it really didn't matter because she had a plan.

Following them back to the tavern she listened to their plans, and wasn't remotely surprised that they almost talked themselves into trying again that night. But Kat decided to make herself look like someone closely resembling the young woman and nudge their minds into blind lust for her.

She managed to get them to all wait their turns, meeting them in separate rooms, and eventually gave them all such vicious nightmares from their coupling with her that they refused to even look at anyone's wife that way again.

Kat's plan wasn't to put them off women in general, but off of trying to take someone else's wife as if she was "property" to be stolen.

It also served the purpose of allowing her to build up her reserves at the expense of these men and after she was done they were out cold for at least three days, giving the couple plenty of time to escape the town without being harassed, while also giving the young men plenty of time to experience that same time trapped in their nightmares as punishment.

She left that town and just as she reached the next one it was in an uproar over a missing little girl. As much as she wanted information on Elliot the middle aged couple whose child it was, was desperate. She could see that they had the child late in life and they were devastated that they might never see her again.

Because of how small the town was there wasn't a mage in this town or the next so the town's people were worried because she had been missing for two days so far and they didn't know how much longer such a small child could survive on her own. They had searched everywhere in the town and she hadn't turned up anywhere.

Asking them to take her to the home of where the little girl was from Kat was able to find some hair from her brush and use it to run a trace spell to show her the direction the little girl went.

Following the direction they were eventually able to find the little girl several miles outside of town, and once they got close enough they could hear the sounds of her crying.

She had fallen down a small gully that was over grown with brush and not easily seen. Because she remembered things her parents taught her she found small berries to survive on, but she was tired and dirty and wanted to go home.

The couple both hugged Kat and thanked her profusely for her help. At some point the little girl came to Kat and hugged her and said thanks and said that her mommy said that she was an Angel sent to help them and thanked her again.

Kat was starting to blush because she was starting to hear that more and more, but really she was just happy to help because she couldn't stand by and watch others without at least trying.

As she left that town shortly after confirming that there wasn't anyone familiar with Elliot, while on the road headed to the next town over from that one she found this family of twelve being attacked by bandits in broad daylight.

The bandits were so brazen they figured that no one would remotely try to help or would run from them as to not get caught up in the craziness as well.

While Kat didn't want to be sidetracked again, and tried to act as if it didn't involve her, she no longer could when she saw the burly men push down the grandmother as they went through their wagon to rob them.

Also during this time she noticed some of the other men were separating the women from the men, and it was obvious it was solely to rape or sell the women into slavery once finished.

When she saw that flashbacks of when she was kidnapped to sell into slavery came to mind, so she knew she had step in and she had to do something. Having been captured once to be sold and having watched how badly the women were abused she wouldn't allow that to happen to any woman again.

She used a lighting spell to kill the men just outside of the range of the family; where she could safely attack and not worry about anyone getting caught up in the attack. When others saw what she did, they did as she expected and tried to run from her.

Once they were far enough away she turned each of them into fireballs as they attempted to run.

None of them ever really stood a chance, but it wasn't like she cared if they did given what they were about to do. They were preying on the weak solely because there wasn't anyone else around to stop them. Now they wouldn't prey on anyone ever again.

The family while traumatized now begged her to now travel with them for protection because they were traveling merchants. The father said that this trip would allow them to feed their family for the spring and they would be able to finally be able to hire some real help. Not only that, but if she would help them they might be able to pay her as well.

Kat, while anxious to get away, couldn't refuse the stricken looks of the family as every one of them appeared to be working hard to make the family business a success. Over the last season she had worked a few different places for both information and money, but looking at this family she knew she would never take their money from them.

It was two month's out of her life because of the travel, but they were finally finished and back home and she would finally be able to get back to her own pursuits.

Well at least while she was here she could see if the Bandit Brandon had been back. He had just left when she was last there and the mayor asked if she would stay around and help out.

They were impressed with her ability to heal all of the people who had been sick from a fever that none of the healers could seem to come up with medicine for.

She recognized what type of fever it was from the symptoms from the memories of Maxwell, and using some of the white magic she knew, combined with Maxwell's knowledge of some local herbs, she was able to cure everyone.

But at the time, Kat couldn't take out any more time right then.

She had already spent a month there curing people and if Brandon was going to be back shortly she would have stayed a few days and helped, but seeing as he only came down once a season she needed to move on in her search.

As she saw the family safely to their home, and refused any payment she was sure they couldn't spare for her help, she then went to check in with the Mayor to see if it was time for Brandon to visit again. If not it was time for her to go.

She would stay a couple days to see, and if not then she would leave and head for the next town. Kat hoped no one would call her the autumn haired "Angel of Mercy" again. While she didn't really mind, it put a lot of pressure on her to be someone she wasn't.

What she didn't know was that the legend of her kindness was in the early stages of just beginning to grow with each town she visited.

Young Jerrod Landers hated that he was a black mage.

He hated that instead of useful magical powers like other mages that he had heard about growing up his was only seen as one of only death, decay, and destruction. He was a happy child growing up and was always bright and smiling, so this power didn't suit him or his life.

After that accident when his power spontaneously activated, it took him forever to find someone to teach him how to contain this evil power that he hated, and it wasn't even someone he even respected.

His parents had disowned him because of this uncontrolled dangerous power, and he had totally destroyed their family's farm, enough that nothing would ever grow there again.

He had basically turned the land into a swamp.

It wasn't his fault. A bear had come out of the woods at him while he was out gathering firewood and it was the first time his power activated. As he stumbled backwards away from the charging bear he saw what looked to be a thick black substance fly from his hands.

As it hit the bear he heard the terrifying sounds of the bear screaming before it dropped to the ground thrashing. The substance had quickly spread and completely covered the bear, and soon there was nothing left behind but its gleaming white bones.

It all happened so fast, that if he had blinked he would have missed what happened to the bear.

But Jarrod didn't notice, because once he saw the substance coming out of his hands, he started flinging his hands around, and the substances was now getting on everything in sight around him. The boy then ran screaming through the surrounding farmland looking for his father.

Thankfully it stopped before he reached his father, but unfortunately for the family Jarrod had run a good distance and had covered much of the farm in the substance. Everything that it touched was now dead or dying from decay and would soon be unable to sustain life.

Jarrod's parents fearfully put out the ten season old boy to fend for himself in the world. They had no idea if his power would ever activate again or what else he could do, but what he had done had been enough.

Jerrod had always hoped there was another way he wasn't familiar with to use his power so that it would be seen as helpful to others and be seen as something respectful, but in the short time he was with his master he never saw it.

The master he was apprenticed to was soon killed by the local villages because of his past actions and dedication to the dark allure of his own black magic. Jerrod only escaped at that time because he pretended to be an unwilling victim of his master.

He would have fled from the man sooner, but his master told him he would kill him and raise him as an undead servant if he ever ran. That was enough to ensure the boy stayed where he was.

What Jarrod didn't know was that his former master was scared of him because of how powerful the boy was for an untrained mage. The boy was easily sixth or seventh circle black in power in his estimation, and far greater than his pitiful third circle.

Jerrod had hopes at the time when he sought his help as an apprentice that he could at the very least learn to control his power safely, but the man was so amoral that he didn't care about anyone else but what he wanted.

Jerrod's deepest desire was that he learned to not spontaneously cause new problems for others as he magic activated on it's own at the weirdest times, and often in times of great stress. Half the time he had no idea what he would do or how it would affect those around him.

Even though he hated it, he realized it was time to start looking once again for someone who could teach him how to use his magic.

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