Wizard's Bane - Chapter 1 by . Crystalwizard

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SUMMARY: Chapter One of Wizard's Bane

Darkness covered the city, flowing down the streets and collecting in the alleys. Silence sat heavily on the sleeping town, its buildings swathed in a thick fog, light pooling in liquid puddles under the occasional street lamp. The town drunk stumbled down the street, his head spinning from the pots of ale he'd just finished off in the pub. Reaching the nearest alley, he leaned heavily against the wall then slid down to sit on the ground. Reclining against the building wall, he threw his head back and began singing loudly, and badly off-key. A brief flash of light a few feet further down the alley startled him and he peered into the darkness. "Who's der?" he slurred, trying to make out anything in the inky blackness. No answer was forthcoming however, so after a few seconds he shrugged and went back to singing.

The reason for the flash stood silently several feet away, his eyes adjusting to the sudden darkness. The putrid smell of rotting garbage caused him to wrinkle his nose in disgust. 'Wonderful,' he thought sourly to himself. 'A backwater planet in the middle of nowhere. And where do I materialize? In the middle of their garbage dump!' He closed his eyes for a second, then took a deep breath, settling his nerves. 'Well, it could be worse I guess. I wonder just how primitive these people are.'

He picked his way slowly through the darkened alley, trying to avoid the larger concentrations of refuse. By the time he reached the street, the town drunk was happily snoring, the words to his song long forgotten in the stupor produced by the ale. 'At least,' he thought to himself as he inspected the drunk. 'I look like they do, physically.' He squatted down beside the drunk and carefully pulled his tattered cloak aside then frowned. 'Clothing...that's another matter.' he dropped the cloak back down over the snoring man and glanced down at his seamless, black jump suit. 'I'll never fit in dressed like this.' He studied the drunk's ratty attire, then stood and glanced cautiously around the street. The fog drifted past, swirling slightly in the faint breezes as he watched, but no other signs of life were evident. Satisfied things were relatively safe, he cautiously stepped out of the alley and turned left then made his way up the deserted street, hugging the rough brick wall of the building and trying to stay well out of the light as he made his way past silent store fronts.

The buildings ended fairly quickly and the street turned into a lane running out into the open land. The man stopped, sighed and turned around. 'Better and better,' he thought, shaking his head. 'Backwater planet, primitive culture, local inhabitants who appear to have all the civility of poorly bred pigs and now this.' He stared back up the street at the few buildings visible through the fog. 'Maybe it's bigger if I go the other way. I need clothes.'

He studied the buildings for several more seconds, then shook his head. 'No, I need a farm. With a clothesline. And a sympathetic farmer.' He grimaced, remembering the drunk's singing.

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