Editor's Note: If you have not yet read the previous chapters to this story, please go to the Fantasy Archive and read those, first. Thank you, TDS.
The wizard Calibex appeared in his chambers--one moment he was not there, and the next...he just was. The pages of an open book fluttered when he appeared, as if a sudden gust of wind accompanied his arrival. He pushed the cowl of his robe back, revealing a hairless head with skin which was nearly the same shade of grey as his robe. In places, the skin at the back of his head was so dry it appeared as if small, brittle scales were forming, and his ears had a hint of a point at the upper tip, suggesting that he perhaps had some Elven blood in his ancestry. However, since he always kept his head covered while in the presence of other people, on one else within the castle knew of these oddities.
Calibex moved over to a long, low table, whereon the open book lay, and placed his hands on the rough wood. "Moorcroft, ye utter fool!" he growled, his anger at the entire situation getting the best of him. The wizard had planned and schemed for many years--secretly and behind the scenes--and now with his goal nearly realized, that simpering dolt Moorcroft had let the brat Isabelle slip through his fingers.
He closed his eyes and took three slow, calming breaths. The anger and frustration he felt flowed out of him with each long exhale, so when he opened his jaundiced eyes, he was relaxed and refreshed, once again.
"'Tis only a small setback, after all," he said, softly, "one which I shall soon set right."
He closed the thick volume and pushed it aside, then picked up a covered bowl and set it down on the table before him. Calibex removed the wooden cover from the wide, shallow bowl and gazed into the thick, dark liquid contained within.
"I will just have to find our missing princess, myself," he said, quietly, with a grim smile. He passed both hands over the bowl and murmured a soft incantation, still gazing intently at the dark fluid. Slowly, a blurry image began to appear within the liquid.
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