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Mother Lode of Mages
It was an unusual night at the Encyclopedia Magika, Moonglow’s premiere meeting hall for the local mages. A fair-sized crowd had gathered around a rather odd looking mage and his apprentice. He looked odd, at least, to the other mages, because he wore neither robe nor pointed hat, and instead preferred trousers and a short sleeved shirt. His apprentice was often quick to point out that due to the nature of their experiments it was easier to replace shirts and trousers than a fancy robe. Robes caught fire rather easily.

“All right, everyone! Calm down then, that’s right!” Kronos the mage was guiding people towards some seats or indicating good places to stand. Dexter, his apprentice, was hastily arranging the table upon which sat the object of their discussion. Dexter hadn’t seen it yet, since he’d only just arrived and his master had covered it with what he hoped wasn’t the guild’s silk tapestry.

“Oh, there you are!” a pleasant voice called out in the bustle. He turned to face a pretty young woman, robe slightly askew, heading towards the table.

“Melissa! I’m so glad thou couldst…”
“Ah! Melissa my dear!” Kronos cut in unexpectedly, quite oblivious to his apprentice.
“Thou’rt up to something, eh?” she coyly teased the mage, and he kissed her cheek.
“Ha! Well, you’ll see, you’ll see! There we are now… excuse me!” He had turned towards the crowd, “Everyone! Excuse me!”

“First, I’d like to welcome each and every one of you to this most auspicious occasion. I certainly have a bit of a surprise for you.” The crowd had respectfully quieted by now, and Dexter moved closer to his master.

“Before we begin, I’ll tell you where this object of interest came from. Now, I do admit, the story is secondhand, but it’s quite entertaining! So do listen, please.”

“It would seem a miner of no particular renown had made his way deep into the Lost Lands recently, a foolhardy venture, of course, considering recent events with the Ophidians, but who can understand how a menial worker thinks?” Dexter grimaced at the slight to non-mages.

“Anyways, apparently, he ran into a cache, no, dare I say, a mother lode even, of a most rare and curious geological specimen. What treasure digging story would be complete without a twist, though, eh? Haha. Well, it seems that the area was guarded by beasts most foul! He couldn’t even identify them, that’s how strange they were. But he still managed to make off with a rather large piece.”

“Ah, but that wasn’t all! Ha, no. Wherever the miner went, there would come a time where he’d run into animals and monsters that would attack him without cause! He fought a few, but pretty soon made it to the little town of Papua. Figuring the thing was cursed, he sold it off to a jeweler and left town. Well, my friends, that strange, mysterious object is with us today!”

Kronos turned to Dexter and said with an obviously conspiratorial tone: “Cost a pretty penny though, mind you!” The crowd seemed amused so far by the story, and Kronos walked to the edge of the table and caught a grip on the table covering.

“And so, my dear friends, here is the moment you’ve all been waiting for!” With an unusually dexterous flick of the wrist the silk cover slid off the object it’d been hiding.

“Oh!”
“…”
“Aha!”
“What on…?”
“Is that…?”

The varied gasps and murmurs of the crowd couldn’t have been more pleasing to Kronos. On the table sat a rock, not unlike obsidian, yet somehow darker. It was a blackness that seemed to attract the light, and, rather than reflect it back at the viewer, preferred instead to absorb it. Dexter couldn’t well tell, but it made the edges seem fuzzy.

“Master, what is this?” Dexter had pushed forward, eyes wide.
“Blackrock my boy, blackrock. Largest piece I’ve ever laid eyes on.”
The young apprentice shot Kronos an incredulous look.
“I can see that, master! But by the virtues, look at the size of it!”
“Aye! I barely believed it myself, but here it is, for truth.”

By now the crowd had surged around the table, and everyone from arch-mage to alchemist was trying to edge in closer for a good look. The lucky ones were already poking at it, a few even casting incantations under their breaths trying a few divinations.

Dexter grabbed Kronos by the arm and pointed roughly at the stone, his voice lowered to a hiss.
“Hence the ‘Art thou mad?’ tone to my voice, master. How many times hath this substance exploded in our experiments!”
Kronos idly replied, “I think… almost every time, I should think, yes.” Melissa had managed to get behind the table and he was trying to get her attention.
Dexter was unperturbed: “And how large were those pieces?”
“A pebble’s size, I suppose. Some a bit larger?” Kronos had sidled up to Melissa, arm still clenched by Dexter who’d followed along.
She had just noticed him and was halfway into a compliment before Dexter’s next question hit home.
“So, this rock, note I say rock, not pebble, shouldst it explode, how much more powerful will it be?”
“About a town block, I suppose, I don’t have my abacus here at the moment or I’d…”

The room had become rather quiet by that point, and Kronos looked up into a sea of worried faces. “What? Just nobody cast anything silly, alright?”

Published: August 2007
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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