“Ugh, I always hate this part, Francis…” Said Jayce as he eyed the dagger that his friend was offering him. With a sigh, he accepted the blade and a moment later he pierced the flesh of his victim. He ran the knife blade ever so gently along the flesh, but with a firm grip as he was cutting. He then carefully reached into the incision he had made, and removed the ribcage. After looking up at Francis and smiling, he then handed his friend the freshly cut salmon fillets he had just prepared.
“This will do good, nice catch by the way!” Said Jayce as he looked towards the heating stand, and skillet that Francis was preparing. Francis grinned, as he took the fresh fillets from Jayce, and set them into the pan.
“This is going to take a while. Especially since it’s just a candle.” Said Francis as he pointed towards the heating stand. Jayce nodded, and leaned against the side of the ship as he peered out over the ocean.
“A few more hours yet, and then we’ll be at Magincia. Should be dark by then.” Said Jayce. Francis nodded, as he kept a steady hand on the skillet. Jayce continued:
“Remind me, what we are going back to that awful mine for again?”
“Closure.” Replied Francis. He then hesitated for a moment and continued:
“You said yourself when you stole the ring, you glanced upon a tattered book on the ground. What did you say about it? It contained something referencing Spiritcap?”
Jayce nodded, and took a seat next to Francis.
“What were you able to learn from having that book for the past several months now?” Inquired Jayce.
“Quite a bit actually. Let us go over what we know thus far… The first thing to come into our possession was the shard of Lacuna itself. The Shadowclan Orcs took possession of it from the Crimson Dagger, and well, you stole it from them. I have still yet to figure out how something like this can even exist in our realm, but nonetheless; it is here. Next, we have the collection of works on Lacuna, which you stole from Glennys the Gypsy when the orcs attacked Minoc, looking for the shard. I have been looking over this book for months now trying to piece this all together. Oh, and don’t forget the ring you stole from the mine during the battle the other week… I’m assuming it fits in together with these nicely.” Replied Francis. Jayce sighed deeply and sat in silence for a few moments as he thought about his previous thefts. He then inquired:
“So where do the Spiritcaps fit in with all of this?”
Francis shrugged, and replied:
“I’m not quite sure, but perhaps that book is still down in the mine, and can provide us with some insight.”
“And Yughor Crow?” Inquired Jayce.
“Well, as you heard from that mage we were eavesdropping on, he is a Shadowlord. But from what I can tell, he is not at his full strength. It looks like he was summoned here from Lacuna; Perhaps by the corrupt mages, or by the Crimson Dagger… I am not quite sure.” Replied Francis.
Jayce nodded, and pointed to the skillet.
“Fish is ready.”
Several hours later, the merchant ship Francis and Jayce were aboard docked in Magincia. The two thieves disembarked the vessel, and quietly made their way to the mine entrance located on the beach. They both stopped dead in their tracks when they saw the two guards patrolling the entrance to the mines. Jayce whispered to Francis:
“What do we do now? We could perhaps sneak past one, but I don’t know about two guards…”
Francis thought for a moment and then reached into his satchel and took out two small vials of a purple liquid, and handed one to Jayce.
“I’m going to head in that direction, when I give a signal, shake this very hard and throw it over that way.” Said Francis.
Jayce nodded, and crouched down with a keen eye on Francis as he crept his way closer to the mine entrance. After a few moments of observing the guards, he looked back in Jayce’s direction, and waved his hand. Both simultaneously shook the vials of liquid, and threw them as far as they could. After a few moments, the calm Magincian night was lit up by two very bright and loud explosions. This immediately caught the attention of the patrolling guards, who ran over to investigate. Francis made a gesture to Jayce to hurry along to the entrance. After a few moments, they were inside the mineshaft, carefully climbing their way down.
After about an hour of navigating their way down the shaft, the two finally reached the bottom. Francis took the candle from the heating stand he had brought, and lit it from the nearby forge. He was immediately struck with awe at how the various crystal, geode and diamond veins sparkled and glistened in the light.
“Why didn’t you just grab a handful of these while you were down here?” Inquired Francis. Jayce smirked and replied:
“The passage I found is this way. Mind your step, we have to get pretty close to a lava flow.” Said Jayce as he motioned for Francis to follow.
After several minutes of creeping along the mine walls, the two thieves were in the chamber that once served the corrupt members of the Mages Guild.
“You remember what she said, right? Some corrupt members of the guild were practicing necromancy down here… no doubt involving that shard your carrying.” Said Jayce.
Francis nodded as he looked around the chamber at the various bookshelves, gemstones and scattered debris. He then stopped for a moment, and observed a pile of bones that looked as if they were made of stone.
“Let’s keep going, the altar is this way.” Whispered Jayce.
Jayce continued onward briefly, but when he noticed the light from Francis’s candle was not following him he turned around.
“Jayce, get out of here!” Exclaimed Francis.
Francis then dropped the candle on the ground, and began to levitate in the air, to Jayce’s surprise. Standing behind Francis with an outstretched arm was Yughor Crow the Shadowlord. With a swift gesture of the hand, Francis was thrown against the cave wall with immense force, and his lifeless body collapsed to the ground. Francis was dead.
In a panic, Jayce turned around and began to run deeper into the mine, but as he turned the corner, his gaze fell upon that of Yughor. Jayce immediately felt a burning pain that he had not felt in a long time; as Yughor raised a hand and levitated Jayce off the ground. The beast did not speak a word, but Jayce could hear what he was thinking:
“I have one more task for you…”