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We’d fought for most of the day to reach their mage,
a desiccated woman, shrouded in tattered silk
and surrounded by her honour guard. As we rode,
hammers raised, towards that final confrontation,
I felt my throat parch. Magic, of some unknown
I was nearly thrown from my horse. Looking
down, its forelocks were sinking into sand which
had until moments ago been firm. I pulled the reins
and my horse struggled free, moving slower now.
The group of soldiers loomed larger, perhaps twenty
sun-bleached skeletons decked out in ill-fitting armour.
In moments we were upon them.
I crushed two beneath my hammer, feeling their
bones shatter beneath each blow. The long forgotten
scent of cardamom filled my senses and my limbs
became weak, drained by more Naptaan sorcery.
Looking around, I saw my comrades stagger under
the weight of the same witchcraft. I thank the gods
we had destroyed so many, or in that moment we
might have been overwhelmed.
Behind me, I heard Klaus cry out: “Father, they
are rising from the dead!” I realised in horror that
he was right. As the silk-wrapped corpse before us
croaked her dry words, the shattered bodies of her
guards rose again and staggered back into the fray.
“The mage!” I shouted. “We kill her and this ends.
Strike at the mage!” At last, Berthold battled
through the scrum, smashing her from her pedestal
with a single blow of his hammer — although
not before he had been pierced a dozen times by the
blades of her bodyguards. As the skeletons fell to
dust around us, that noble knight breathed his last.
He did not die in vain. Magic so strong cannot
be left to survive. Magic stronger than the sands,
stronger than the bodies of men. Magic stronger
Grand Master Jonas Kortig, commander of the
Knights of the Silver Hammer
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