Chapter 31

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There was a knock at the door and the Dark Master's face wavered back to human form. He nodded to Azarel who opened the door and admitted the visitors.

"We have come to formally offer our congratulations," said Zhultanyr. He looked around the room with uneasy eyes, the red glow a bit unnerving. But then he spied the women in the corner and a leering smile broke out across his face. "Everything you predicted would happen has. Just as you said it would, so many months ago."

"Yes, you have justified our faith in you," declared Farhyng.

"And we have faithfully kept our end of the bargain," added Ydryj Jyr. "We delivered the votes you needed."

The Dark Master motioned for the wizards to prepare some glasses. "I am unquestionably indebted to all of you and you have my deepest gratitude. The provisions we had previously agreed upon will be honored. In addition to the various interests you have brought with you upon the Journey of Homage, I bestow upon you the following: Zhultanyr and Farhyng, though you shall both remain in your respective cities, you will secretly assist me in managing the business of the kingdom; Ydryj Jyr, you have expressed a desire to see Khaballe return to the ancient ways. Am I correct?"

"My spirit clings to these old bones in the hopes that I may see those days restored," replied Ydryj Jyr.

"And that is exactly what I intend to do." Glasses filled with a crimson liquid were distributed among the guests and were raised high in the air. They consumed the bitter contents not knowing it to be blood. And as they looked upon the sadistic smile of Athar, neither did they know he was Thaum, nor that he was the Dark Master nor that the time he spoke of was a thousand years ago, before the Great Mystical Wars.

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