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.
Regent Moorcroft attempted to sleep in his castle bed chamber, but was having little success. He hated the cold and pulled his bearskin bed cover up to his chin in an effort to retain a bit of warmth. The fact that his men had as yet been unable to discover the whereabouts of Isabelle and her knight companion was also keeping him awake. With a shiver of dread Moorcroft realized that eventually he would have to answer for this failure. Even as that thought flashed through his mind a cold breeze whipped around the chamber; it extinguished all of the candles in the room and caused the heavy curtains which surrounded his bed to flutter.
Suddenly the curtains at the foot of his bed were ripped away and Moorcroft squealed in surprise as he saw the hooded figure of Calibex standing there. With only flickering light from the fireplace illuminating the room, frantic shadows appeared to dance all around the wizard. While his face was hidden by the folds of his cowl, Moorcroft could see two glowing red pinpoints of light within the darkness.
“You complete and utter fool!” Calibex hissed at the trembling regent.
“Eep?” Moorcroft squeaked in terror.
“I gave you a simple task. You were told to send men out to locate the child and her guardian and bring them back to me,” the wizard stated. “A small child and an aged knight, wandering about the land with hundreds of skilled soldiers seeking them, and yet they still elude capture.”
“But, I—“ the regent started to say, but was immediately cut off.
“ Silence !” Calibex roared and even the shadows appeared to pull back from him in fear. “Now it seems that dead bodies of your soldiers litter the forest floor and there is still no sign of the brat. How does that failure aid me?”
“Uh, I…er…” Moorcroft stammered.
“Be silent, you worthless sot,” the wizard growled. He then reached out a thin arm toward the regent and slowly clenched his fist.
Moorcroft was suddenly unable to breath. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound emerged and his eyes grew wide in fear.
“You are useless to me,” Calibex murmured as the pressure on the regent’s throat tightened. “On the other hand,” the wizard said softly, as if a new thought had occurred to him, “if I kill you, who would I have about me to torment?” He dropped his arm and Moorcroft gasped as air rushed back into his lungs.
“It is obvious that I will now have to handle this affair entirely on my own,” Calibex said and then pointed a boney finger at the regent. “But you have not heard the last of this,” he threatened.
The figure began to slide backwards away from the bed and was soon lost in the shadows. Moorcroft heard a slight ‘pop’ and all of the candles in the room once again flickered with flame. The regent sighed in relief and then shivered as he realized that in his fear he had wet himself.