Chapter 2


Raze stared at the Slag scree in astonishment. Very sharp shards as well as hefty rocks were shooting from it at a high velocity. The two men on guard, thankfully not Bilton and Wiggam, had taken refuge behind a wooden barricade made up from the barracks privy doors.

"The whole area is shaking." Nesbit the guard told them what they could feel already. Tremors and rumbles could be felt underfoot.

"Widen the clear zone until you're out of its range." Hal ordered. "Oh and put those doors back. Wiggam is down there looking most distressed. Well, Raze? How weird is that eh?"

"Exceedingly weird." Raze ducked behind a door and Nesbit didn't dare try and move it. "This scree has been dumped here for decades, Hal. Under all that is a natural pit, believe it or not. Over the centuries, the Sunstrokers have dumped all manner of things into it. In modern times it had building rubble and what not piled into it, and on it, with the expansion and growth of the city."

"Cheers for the history lesson." Hal rolled his eyes. "So it suddenly decides to blast out a few historic farts in protest?"

"It's possible. Everything was just chucked in and on it so it's hardly stable. The refuse will have been compressed ..."

"Oh you do go on!" Hal flinched when a particularly large and lumpy rock hurtled overhead. "That is not natural! See it? Eh? Natural ... stuff ... doesn't happen like that. It's freaky."

"How can you tell in this place?" Raze tutted. "Just to stop you ranting I'll show you that nothing magical is afoot. I'll do a simple detect magic spell. If magic is present, then the area will glow like a blacksmith's arse. No glow, no show and you'll have to build more privies." Raze leapt out from behind the door, spell readily prepared. He wafted his hands around, just to impress Hal, then hurled his detection spell towards the scree, leaping back behind the door immediately afterwards.

"What was all that waving tripe? I know it isn't necessary. Don't be so dramatic." Hal tutted loudly.

"How would you know? You're as magical as that privy, nevermind the door. See? What did I tell you. No glow. You'd see the blue cast even from behind here." Raze smiled smugly.

"It's stopped." Hal said warily. "I can't hear anything. You?" Raze shook his head. "Right. I don't like this. Go have a look."

"Me? You're the soldier. You go have a look." Raze replied.

"It's clearly something wizardish! Go on!" Hal nudged Raze in the ribs. Raze sighed and edged out cautiously. All was still and silent apart from settling dust. Raze froze to the spot and his eyes opened wide when he saw an orb of glowing blue light inside the scree hill. It seemed to radiate from a source and actually permeate the rocks themselves. "Psst! You OK out there?" Hal whispered from behind the door.

"Hal this is amazing. Come out, it's safe. I think." Raze called and Hal warily sidled out.

"What is it?" Hal asked, his eyes transfixed on the glowing stained scree. "Was it meant to do that?"

"Theoretically, the whole area and scree should have lit up because magic was in effect." Raze frowned.

"So it's a single object." Hal reasoned. "Why did the rocks stop shooting out?"

"I'm not sure. As for it being a single object, a simple detect magic spell shouldn't have been able to penetrate the scree like that. Even if it did, it displays as a gentle glow not a solar flare. We wouldn't be able to see it." Raze chewed his lip.

"Well I can see it." Hal stated the obvious. "Maybe your spell left a stain? Are you sure you did it right?"

"I always do it right." Raze answered arrogantly. "Magic of that sort doesn't leave marks or stains. In fact, that shouldn't still be glowing. It's only a detection spell and it's effects are temporary." Raze cast a detection spell on his own wrist-cuffs to demonstrate. The cuffs glowed blue but faded after roughly two minutes. The scree glow was still shining brightly after at least fifteen minutes. "We need to know what's in that slag heap." Raze showed that he could state the obvious too.

"That's the Royal 'we'." Hal observed. "There's no way I'm sodding about with that. What if it starts chucking stuff again?"

"You have armour!" Raze pointed out.

"And you have magic. That in there is magic. Me and our privy have no magic. Obvious logic if you ask me." Hal shrugged his shoulders.

"Well I'm not going over there with a shovel. Get back behind the door, just incase. I'll do an air shield spell, and a self protection spell. If I cast a convex shield then I should be able to focus a mild quake spell into it. A series of ..." Raze was interrupted by a deafening rumble and the ground buckled and sent both him and Hal hurtling into the door.

"Must you drag everything out!" Hal wailed. "What's wrong with just doing it? You've pissed it off!"

"Torment's tits! Hal! The Slag face has slid off. Look!" Raze pointed to the scree.

"So you did piss it off! You caused a sodding avalanche! You tool!"

"There's something sticking out of the face." Raze said.

"So buggery? It's a Slag heap." Hal snapped moodily. "What is it? The end of a pipe? If anything vile spews from the end of that, I'm going to lob you into it. So where's the blue light?"

"Dissipated, obviously." Raze began clambering towards the scree.

"Are you mental!" Hal yelled. "Raze! Oh sod you then. Don't come howling to the army when it has at you! Oh bugger it." Hal clambered after him.

"Hal it's a staff! It's the end of a staff!" Raze was cleaning the exposed end with his handkerchief. "Oi! Get back here." Hal had tried to do a U turn at the mention of a Mage tool. "I don't know what it's made from but it's beautiful."

"It looks like black glass but it can't be. Can it?" Hal looked on at a distance.

"No. Too fragile for a start. Also, glass is a poor conductor of magic because ..."

"Yes, yes. I believe you." Hal butted in. "Give it a tug." Raze looked at Hal. "What? You aren't expecting me to yank it out are you?"

"Perish the thought." Raze muttered. He turned and squared himself towards the scree face and took a few deep breaths. He laced his fingers and made them crack, then moved his head to limber up his neck muscles. Next he planted his feet shoulder width apart and rotated his arms in a circle.

"For the love of Pete! Get the naff on with it!" Hal shrilled. "If it throws another tantrum and buries you, I'll bloody well leave you there!" Raze grabbed the end of the staff and pulled with all his strength. The staff simply slid out of the rock causing Raze to hurtle backwards at great speed and collide with Hal. The staff clattered down and burst Raze's nose. Hal swore horribly and shoved Raze off him. "Oo! Now even I think that's impressive." He nodded at the staff. It was caked in dirt and mud and grime but still glittered and shimmered underneath. It was around five feet long and an indescribable deep, deep black. Strings of patterns swirled and moved around it with a mesmerising effect.

"Amazing." Raze stared at the staff and dabbed at his bleeding nostril "How in Torment did it get in the Slag Scree? It has to be stupidly valuable."

"You said yourself, this spot was used as a dump for centuries. The scree is new stuff from the building work." Hal said.

"That's my point, Hal. The staff was in the scree, the new stuff. The scree pile is thirty to forty years old. No one in their right mind would throw something that valuable away in this day and age. It's cash value alone bound to be astronomical, let alone it's magical properties. I need to study it." Raze gingerly picked up the staff and suffered no ill effects. "Yes. Behave yourself. Library."

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