Kazard and the Red Dragon — April 2022 Challenge Winner

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Kazard and the Red Dragon — April 2022 Challenge Winner


Scintillating Scrivener
Inner Sanctum Nobility
Local time
Today 3:04 PM
Years of work and preparation had all led to this singular moment. Decades of research, action, and wealth had been spent to make this ritual possible. He would not fail. He must not fail. All of this was on his mind as Kazard wheeled through an arched doorway into small stone chamber at the pinnacle of his tower. His black robes fluttered about his frail frame as he spun toward a marble pedestal where upon lied a single, massive tome. He ignored the bloodied corpse hanging from the torture device in the corner and the acrid stench of death. That was yesterday's sacrifice and was no longer relevant. In fact, nothing on this plane of existence mattered to the aging sorcerer anymore. The knowledge brought a tight smile to his thin lips and his dark blue eyes seemed to light up in anticipation of what was to come.

There could be no delay. The blood had dried and the stars above were aligned correctly. A dozen other conditions were in place, but not for long. Kazard began reading from the ancient book on the pedestal, a long bony finger tracing the letters on the page as he vocally weaved sentences using the spidery language of magic. Almost immediately, a strange bolt of lightning crackled in the sky and struck the top of the tower followed by a massive clap of thunder that shook the stones in the walls around him. Seconds later, as more words were uttered, a ball of blue-white energy formed several feet beyond the pedestal. As time went on, it grew larger and larger until the ball seemed to transform into a tall, oblong mirror. Only, there was no glass and the images Kazard could see were not a reflection! It was a world beyond this one!

He completed his incantations and weakly stumbled toward the portal. The spell had sapped him of his physical and mental strength. Yet, he must enter now while it was stable if he was to acquire the most powerful spellbook ever written. Hidden within its pages, the secret of immortality would save him from the wracks of old age. He had heard rumor that the book was guarded by a horrifying Red Dragon but that was a detail he would work out later. Cackling maniacally as he inched toward the energetic orifice to another world, Kazard new he would be victorious. He would conquer the mightiest villain himself, death! That thought firmly in mind, he threw himself into the portal and experienced the disorienting sensation of being spun and tossed about. His vision faded into blackness and then he knew nothing.

It was impossible to tell how much time had passed when he did wake, his eyes blinking open and squinting in bright sunlight. He could hear the sound of birds singing a morning song and a dog barking off in the distance. He also heard a strange, loud rumble that came and went before he could see what had made the sound. A monster of some sort? At the thought, he scrambled to his feet and clutched his obsidian staff defensively. After examining his surroundings, he found this place to be green and full of life, yet also full of oddities and inexplicable sights. For example, what were these smooth square stones doing arranged in an obvious but nonsensically curved and twisty path? Where did the path lead?

Kazard chose to sit for a moment, huddled in his robes as he considered where he might be. He was most definitely no longer on his home planet Asaringin. The sky was a vastly different shade of blue and the flora and fauna were similar but strange at the same time. He could hear children playing off in the distance somewhere as well as dogs barking but there had been that horrid sound earlier. Surely there would be no children in a place where monsters exist! Frustrated, he stood and decided to follow the odd smooth stone path to see where it led. He was unsure of how to measure time here, but it likely only been one or two hours before his path led time to an even wider one. His square stone trail continued both up and down this new one along its side but he was confused by its black color and the double yellow lines running down its center.

However, on the other side were short, squat structures with strange glass windows and many colorful signs. He could not read them, so he quickly weaved a spell of understanding and waited as his mind caught up to the magic and he was able to read the letters. One pink and white sign read "Hair and Nail Salon" which was less than helpful at this moment in time. The next was a coffee shop, apparently, whatever that was. Suddenly he gasped and smiled broadly, his arms flailing in excitement. Without hesitation he ran across the dark, yellow-lined path and moved toward the only obvious door into a place called "The Red Dragon's Books and Artifacts".

Kazard approached the door and looked around carefully, suspicious of anyone who might be watching his actions. He saw no one and so he lifted a pale, bony hand and grasped the oddly shaped metal door handle and yanked it open. A clear bell rang out to announce his arrival, startling the old spellcaster. He dove into the building and took shelter near wooden shelves lined with books. He remained there as the door slowly closed on its own. It was then he realized that he was likely trapped in here and the Test of the Red Dragon would soon commence! Thus, when a tall, blond man in strange clothing suddenly came around the corner, Kazard nearly jumped out of his robes with fright.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I'm Kyle, how may I be of assistance?"

The spell of understanding was still in full effect, yet, the aging sorcerer was sure this man was attempting to deceive him. This place was obviously overflowing with books of knowledge and power, all well organized and on clean shelves. No, he was the caretaker of this ancient place. Perhaps this Kyle was even the dragon itself, using illusion magic to appear as a human? Kazard was no fool. He would not suffer this deceit any longer. He took a few steps back and pointed his obsidian staff in the man's direction, "You'll not fool me, Kyle, if that is even your true name. I must warn you, however, I am a foe far beyond you! Keep your distance and point me in the direction I wish to go, or you shall face suffering and pain the likes you have never seen or known!"

Kyle seemed confused, even taken aback. Kazard's threats seemed to be having an effect. In fact, Kyle seemed to be completely amenable after that round scolding he had just received. "The spell cards and other tabletop stuff is all along that back well. Help yourself, sir mage."

Smiling ear to ear, the Archmage of the Five Continents Kazard Rendorian realized he was obviously known in these parts as well. Why else would this guardian of arcane secrets yield so readily? "I shall help myself and you may carry on with whatever tasks were set forth by fate for you to complete." With that he spun on his heels and moved straight for the back wall.

He arrived there and was instantly confused. There were hundreds of books here, yet many had multiple copies or even differing versions. There were Dungeon Master Guides, Character Sheets, Player Guides, and specific stories based around magic and dragons but what he sought did not seem to be on these shelves. He continued looking however, as he realized that this had all been too easy. Kyle had given up not because of Kazard's own reputation, but because the real trial was a riddle or puzzle he must solve within these books! Only one with the wisdom and patience to research these tomes could find the answer and locate the real knowledge hidden somewhere in this place. This actually excited the sorcerer who had known many a long night of reading and studying. He would refuse food, water, and the comfort of rest and pour himself into this project at once!

He began removing books from the shelves and stacking them in a pile. That was when he noticed, from the corner of his eye, the entity Kyle standing around in a nearby aisle. He had a small device help up to his cheek and was saying, "You have to come and see this, Max!"

Kazard began to sweat. This was not going to be a safe place to sit down and research. He would have to take these books elsewhere, and in a hurry. Who knows whom else Kyle would bring here to deter him in his quest? Kazard began to gather up as many books as he could and bolted for the door, clutching a respectable stack of knowledge and as well as his staff tightly to his chest. He didn't make it far before Kyle shouted at him.

"Hey! You have to pay for those!"

The old sorcerer did not stop, instead he hurled threats as he paced toward the door, "Try to stop me and you shall pay with your life, Kyle!"

Instead of moving toward Kazard, Kyle moved toward the door and did something to it the spellcaster did not understand. Then Kyle backed away and Kazard closed the distance to his only visible escape. The door had a clear little sign that read "Push" and push the sorcerer did. However, it was to no avail. The dastardly Kyle must have locked it! Kazard wheeled to confront his opponent, robes fluttering around him, only to see that Kyle had the small device pressed once again up to his face.

Kyle was in some level of distress and was speaking quickly, "Yes, I am being robbed by an elderly man in wizard robes. Please, send the police."

"What? The police!" Kazard raised his gravelly voice and began shouting, "How dare you summon the constabulary! Do you know who I am? What my quest is? I shall not be starved of the knowledge I seek by the likes of you!" He charged at Kyle, tossing aside the books and lifting his staff, the words of a spell formulating in his mind. He would transform this insolent pup into small insect and crush him upon the floor! Before he could being the spell however, Kyle balled a fist and swung it straight at the charging sorcerer. Kazard felt the blow connect and then everything went dark.

He awoke, tied to a bed of some kind in a square room that seemed to be moving! There were two others there and they appeared to be in uniform. The spell of understanding had long since expired, so Kazard understood nothing as they tried to calm him. He began thrashing about and screaming wildly, "Untie me, you swine! I will not be treated like this by lower forms of life! Unhand me! Wait, was is that? No, please do not stick that in my ar-" Everything went black again.

And that is the story of how Kazard The Wizard, as he is known now, ended up at Shady Maples Retirement Home. He is cared for by loving, professional staff who play Dungeons and Dragons with him every other day and often pretend to go along with his "spells" when he casts them. Well, provided they aren't the unseemly or dangerous kind, but those never really seem to work as intended anyway. He is treated for delusional paranoia and bipolar disorder and everyone feels sympathy for a man of his age with no family or relatives of any kind. Occasionally Kyle from the local fantasy bookstore does pay him a visit to bring him new Tomes of Knowledge but all in all, he lives a quiet life in a peaceful place.
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