By: Francis Martin Tuohy

Hunched over the picnic basket, Walter scoffed down the last of the peanut butter sandwiches.

"These really are good. Hope you don't mind?"

Duck lied and shook his head. He definitely did not like the direction the night had taken. It was bad enough that their interloper was a wizard. it't never pleasant to be around someone who looks at you with the confidence that they can split your atoms with a snap of their finger, but the fact that he was a member of the Brotherhood of Khan was positively panic worthy.

The Brotherhood, like most organisations donning that epithet, had built up a reputation that had been centuries in the torturing. Their renown for creative cruelty was the stuff of legend. If you ever had the misfortune of crossing paths with the Brotherhood, it never happened the other way around. You were considered lucky if you survived the encounter with the same number of digits you started it with.

"So tell us about the order and the sceptre," Gerfungle said.

Duck shook his head so hard he almost gave himself whiplash. "don't be silly, there is no need to tell us about Brotherhood business."

Walter swatted him away. "No, it't alright, the Brotherhood is an open society, it has few secrets."

Duck smiled sheepishly and started to think about which direction it was best to run in.

"The sceptre of khan is a magical relic of immense power. With it in hand, peasants have become kings and men have done great and terrible things." Walter paused for dramatic effect as his words hovered in the air and conjured up echoes of times long since past.

"Centuries ago the Brotherhood was formed to safeguard the sceptre and ensure that it would no longer be used for the whims of man. At all costs, those who have chosen to take up that great duty have guarded it and the royal house to which it rightfully belongs. For two hundred years, no man or creature has set their eyes upon it. Its' very description unknown by anyone alive today. It has remained locked in the vault of kings guarded day and night." Walter's head slumped as he gaze shifted to the ground. "Until now."

"Someone stole the sceptre?" Duck said despite himself.

Walter nodded gravely. "Yes, a thief of incredible skill and cunning. Earlier today he outwitted the entire order, waltzing past all the defences as if they weren't there and snatching the sceptre."

"Wow!" Gerfungle said, not for the first time.

"The Brotherhood have been on his trail since. I was on my way to the Mountains of Tersa when I lost control of that infernal carpet."

"You think the thief would take it there?" Duck asked for the second time, ignoring his better judgement.

"We don't think it, we know it for a fact," Walter said. "The sceptre has a charm on it. Whenever it is magically moved it sends up a flare to let us know." He became a few shades darker as a smile that didn't reach his eyes flitted momentarily across his face. "Perhaps I shouldn't have told you that; it is one of our few secrets."

"Our lips are sealed. We will take the secret to our graves," Duck said, cringing at his own choice of expression.

Walter laughed. "I'm sure you will."

"Do you know who the thief is?" Gerfungle asked.

Walter paused for a moment as if making a judgement of his audience. "I suppose there's no harm in telling you. His name is Hewit Wartle, a cunning wizard who has spent his life taunting the Brotherhood. He has stolen countless artefacts from across the Globe. They say he does it for the thrill, a dangerous game to test his skill and wit."

"How do you know it't him?" Gerfungle asked.

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