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A Simple Courier Assignment – Prologue

“Yes, we do have a mission we can use you on. In fact you would be ideal.”

Archmage Simon was seated behind a desk which was conspicuously free of books or apparatus. The light of the morning and a cool breeze came in through the windows beside me. It would be hot enough come noon, but it was pleasant now. The fireplace was empty, of course; late spring had come to PenAnnot and fire would not be needed until the fall.

Simon was only fifty years old, twenty years my elder, but he had almost no hair on his head. Standing before him with my red beard and shoulder-length hair, I felt the burden of my youth and was very conscious of the fact that I was only barely a member of the guild at all. Other than being prematurely bald he was fit and trim, and he wore a stylish singlet and hose under the ceremonial robe of the Archmage.

“Sit, sit, Associate. Would you like a drink?”

“Root tea, please. It is far too early for anything stronger.” He rang a bell and ordered the servant to bring us both tea.

“I traced your recommendations back through two Worlds, Associate. Most impressive. Your loyalty to the guild is clear, as is your resourcefulness. What is more important is the fact that you are unable to do magic yourself and therefore cannot be tempted by the scrolls.”

“Tempted? By scrolls? What is this mission?” Scrolls may make interesting reading, even useful. Temptation should come from red-heads — or blondes.

“Three powerful scrolls of necromantic magic. We had heard rumors of their existence, but Master Robin found them. He’s being treated even now. He had to carry them for three days. The priests say that he will recover, but not soon. We need to study them, and there is a mage in the guild in Halston who can do it safely. We have to get them to Halston and you should not be affected by them.”

“Where is Halston?”

“A World away. You will be given a go forth and a return amulet and papers, of course. What makes you so useful is that you aren’t actually a mage. We know that there are necromancers looking for the scrolls as well, but a simple swordsman isn’t going to attract their attention.”

I hoped he was right. I don’t like necromancers. Still, “Why not bring this mage to PenAnnot?”

“It is a combination of his magic and that of his World that will allow him to unlock the scrolls safely, then destroy them. Once he has done that we will have not only understanding, but powerful tools to fight the necromancers.”

The tea arrived and I negotiated a reasonable price for my services. Just because I am a member of the guild does not mean that I must work for free. I was given the case that held the scrolls, and instructed in how it would work, and what the recognition signs would be to ensure that I turned it over to the correct person. I set forth at once. Simon felt it was urgent and it matched my desire.

I had ridden from Krallow the day before and stayed at Emille’s suite at the Royal Arms before coming to the guild hall. She and I were still friends. It was the fact that we had been more than friends that made me want to find a job away from Krallow and PenAnnot. If I made it back in time for the weddings that would be good, but right now I needed to remove myself from a situation where we would be continually reminded of our former intimacy.

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