Dojo Darelir, the School of Xenograg the Sorcerer

Elmö’s Obligation

(Y83)

One evening about a week after Xenograg takes Elmö into his service, the story of the young elf’s very short adventuring career is told. The party foolishly broke into a sealed tomb and encountered its restless dead. One person died fighting skeletons even before the true threat appeared: a raging spirit. One member broke and fled immediately upon seeing it. The party leader, who described himself as a Templar, threw himself at the apparition but was obviously overmatched. His horrid death scream drove the remaining three adventurers to flight. The party disbanded the moment it arrived back in town–ridiculously named Bravetown. Elmö headed home to Eldicor the next day.

Something about Elmö’s story leaves Xenograg uneasy for some reason. It is late, and the two men seek their beds. Xenograg will sleep on it, in Barsi.


Xenograg starts awake two hours before dawn with a revelation. After telling Amaltea to go back to sleep, he dresses in the dark and strides to his secret sanctum in Nestrian Palace. Passing through the magic mirror to Dojo Darelir in Rhydin City, he rushes up to Elmö’s apartment. Xenograg pounds on the door to wake his equerry.

“My Lord?” Elmö asks after opening the door.

“The tomb, Elmö!” Xenograg growls. “You said the interior was defiled. Are you sure?!” Elmö blinks at the suddenness of the inquiry.

“Yes, we pointed it out to each other before the skeletons moved. Deliberate damage to statues and murals.”

“But the tomb was also sealed from the outside!”

“Yes, My Lord.” Xenograg takes a deep breath. His face was tense and grim.

“Then we have a problem, Elmö. A serious one.” Xenograg starts cutting orders.

“Get dressed. Wake the household. Prepare a travel party. We are going to Bravetown.” Xenograg turns and walks away without waiting for any reply.

Standing in his doorway, Elmö struggles to to mentally catch up to the situation. ‘Get dressed, idiot!’ he thinks to himself. He can think while doing that. He closes the door.


Xenograg returns to Barsi to wake Amaltea and inform her of the expedition. There is no question that she is coming along. His next destination is Xenodar. This trip is twofold: inform Amanda (who will not be allowed to come) and retrieve three items from the tower armory.

Amanda cannot object to her exclusion. While her pregnancy is not a physical limit, the danger is simply too great to risk.

“You are taking Wyheree and Toby with you,” she says in her question-actually-command manner.

“Yes, Beya,” is his patronizing answer. They both chuckle.

Amanda accompanies Xenograg down to the armory. The items he seeks are hanging together in the center of the room’s main wall. Xenograg reverently takes down each item. First is a quiver of arrows which he belts on. He adjusts the quiver to hang across his buttocks. The second is a wing-shaped shield with a plain verdant field. He settles his left arm into its straps. The last is a primitive club: a stone ball bound, offset, to a slightly-curved wooden shaft. Its form is intentionally archaic, an unchanging centuries-only tradition.

“Would the blessings have faded over the years?” Amanda asks.

“Just the question I was asking myself,” he replies.

“You should go the Rellugai winter encampment and have them checked.”

“That will cost me a day.”

“If the tomb was unsealed three weeks ago, what is another day?”

“It might matter very much, but I need to be sure of these implements. I will go to the encampment.”

“Good.” Amanda walks with him back to the magic mirror. She embraces her father.

“Do not take any foolish risks, Old Man. I mean it!”

“Who, me?” Xenograg replies, feigning innocence.

“I love you, Father.”

“I love you, too. I will see you again in a few days.” With that, Xenograg returns to Dojo Darelir.


Xenograg finds his Rellugai armorer waiting in the dojo hall with his elven mail. Her eyes go wide as she recognizes the arms he has returned with. He hands them over to her and says he will not need the mail for a few hours. She moves off to store the Rellugai equipment for later. Xenograg seeks and finds Elmö in the stable inspecting horseshoes.

“We will not be ready to depart for at least an hour, My Lord,” is Elmö’s succinct status report.

“I will not be ready for another three,” Xenograg replies. “You can have more time if needed.”

“How many people?”

“Six: you, me, Amaltea, two comrades, and someone chosen by you to manage the horses and baggage.”

“One pack horse should suffice, then.”

“I agree.”

“Coursers and palfreys for the six?”

“Just palfreys.”

“Anything else?” Xenograg realizes he had forgotten something.

“Oh, yes! I need you to go and hire the flying galley, again. Make it for a week.”

“Yes, Lord.”

“I am leaving the Dojo, now, to collect my comrades. I expect to be gone at least an hour.”

“Understood.” Xenograg leaves Elmö in the stable and returns to his sanctum for another magic mirror trip: to the homestead known as Sanctuary.


Xenograg chooses to recruit Wyheree before Toby. It is still early morning, but she is sure to be up. Being a frequent visitor with a standing invitation, Xenograg just walks up the house’s back porch and knocks on the kitchen door. Wyheree answers almost immediately.

“Xeno?”

“Good morning, Wyh.”

“Good morning. Come on in.” He does and is immediately greeted by a scream of joy.

“Pop-pop!” Shanni runs up to Xenograg, and he lifts her to his hip.

“Hello, Precious! Are you being a good girl?”

“Yeess!” she whines but with a smile.

“Good.” He kisses the 4-year-old’s forehead. Wyheree speaks up.

“You have not finished your breakfast, Shanni.”

“Yes, Mama,” she replies. Xenograg sets Shanni down in her usual kitchen chair, and she gets back to eating.

“Have you had breakfast, Xeno?”

“Actually, no. It has been a hectic morning.”

“You rarely break your morning routine. I am afraid there is not much left. The cook has already left,” she says with a smile, referrring to her husband, Roran.

“Whatever is left will be fine, Wyh,” he says while sitting down at the kitchen table. That consists of two muffins and a few scraps of scrambled eggs. Shanni gives him her last half-strip of bacon. He caresses her cheek to thank you. Knowing he does not drink coffee, Wyheree fills a glass of water for Xenograg. Wyheree takes her own seat across from him and sips the last of her coffee.

“All gone!” declares Shanni.

“Very good. You can go play now.” Shanni is out of her chair like a shot.

“Bye!” she hollars halfway out of the kitchen. Xenograg has to stop eating a moment because both adults are laughing.

“So what disrupted your morning?” Wyheree asks. Xenograg’s mirth evaporates.

“You are going to regret that question.” Xenograg looks her straight in the eyes. “I did not come for breakfast.” Wyheree frowns.

“I should have guessed.”

“I am sorry, Wyh.”

“How serious is it?”

“I do not know, but I suspect very serious. I do not want to be under-prepared. Amanda is unavailable, of course.”

“Yes, of course. Amaltea?”

“Of course.”

“What are we facing?”

“I fear a vengeful spirit is loose.”

“Wraith or spectre?”

“I do not know.”

“More than one?”

“I fear so.”

“Where?”

“Down southeast, near Bravetown.” Wyheree makes a face of disgust.

“Ugh. That hellhole?”

“You know it?”

“I adventured out of there for a short time when I first arrived in Rhydin.”

“A party of adventurers from there unsealed a tomb. Elmö was one of them. I am obligated to clean up his mess.”

“Idiots!”

“My exact sentiment.” Xenograg takes a long drink of water and a deep breath. “I need you.”

“I would never refuse you. How soon do we leave? How long will we be gone?”

“I am thinking this afternoon, but I can wait for tomorrow. I cannot see this taking less than half a week.” Wyheree frowns in thought.

“No promises on this afternoon, but I will try. I need to talk to Roran.” Xenograg nods and stands up from the table. “Is Toby also coming?”

“He is next on my list.” Wyheree nods before turning to call down the hallway.

“Shanni, come say good-bye to Pop-pop!” Shanni barrels into the kitchen for a quick hug and kiss on the top of her head.

“Now get out of my kitchen, troublemaker,” Wyheree commands with edged humor.


Toby’s reaction to Xenograg’s request for aid is guarded and serious, but Xenograg detects a hint of excitement in his friend. He wonders if Toby has cabin fever. As with Wyheree, Toby does not promise to be available today. Xenograg informs him so without complaint.

This meeting is likewise attended by a child of the host. While all four St. Germain children enthusiastically greet ‘Grandpa Xenograg’, Maurin stays to listen to the adults’ conversation. She sits with obviously-forced patience and silence until her father agrees to accompany Xenograg. Then she drops her bomb.

“I want to come, too.” Toby’s reply is instant and incandescent.

“Absolutely not!”

“I’m twelve years old. Old enough to become a page for Gran…Lord Xenograg.” Xenograg blinks in surprise.

“You want to become my page?” he asks her.

“Yes! I want to go and learn more from you. I know it’s a job; I’m not stupid.”

“This is stupid,” corrects her father. “Not another word from you, now.” Xenograg turns to Toby.

“I certainly would not take her along on this dangerous trip. I am not opposed to her serving me this summer, though. I could use the help.” Maurin bites her tongue and stays silent, but beams at her father. Toby frowns in thought.

“We’ll discuss this later.” Maurin also frowns, but realizes he did not say ‘no’.

“Thank you, Daddy. Thank you, Grandpa.”


So everyone, including the flying galley, needs until the next day. Elmö is relieved to have more time to prepare; mistakes and omissions made in haste are being rectified. He considers taking a second pack horse, but decides to just store extra supplies on the ship and retrieve them as needed.

Sixtus, Dojo Darelir’s captain of the guard, confronts Xenograg in the afternoon about the lack of a bodyguard detachment. Xenograg replies that his companions and Elmö are his bodyguard. He informs Sixtus that prior adventures have always resulted in high mortality amongst his guards; he will not drag more to their deaths.

“Ask for volunteers,” replies Sixtus. Xenograg snorts.

“No one will. The Rellugai know how many of their kinsmen have died with me on such adventures.”

“I volunteer, My Lord,” Sixtus says, surprising Xenograg.

“No! I need you here; in my absence, of all times.”

“Not this time, My Lord. I invoke my life debt.” Xenograg sighs.

“I ask you to reconsider, Sixtus. Another time, another task.”

“No, My Lord. This is the time.”

“Very well, Captain. Tell Elmö to prepare your horse.” Sixtus smirks at that.

“I already have.”


(to be continued….)