The Chalice of Forever

Chapter 1

THE WIZARD PACED as he pondered his dilemma.  His grey robes rustled in the silence, and a hint of breeze from the open window lifted a corner of parchment from the nearest pile on his long oak bench stained and fusty with the evidence of his craft:  splashes of potion and dustings of powder used in spells.  Around him the evening gloom deepened, its shadows on rack and bench softened by candlelight from a triple-armed iron sconce hanging on the narrow stretch of stone wall between a set of bookshelves laden with worn-leather tomes and ancient scrolls wound on wood, and a set of stairs curving up to his bed on the upper level.

He halted facing a mirror behind which lay hidden a closed cupboard bearing an enchanted padlock—one of many secret enclosures in his lair.

He could not allow Larana to accede to the throne of Albesh.  She was young and inexperienced, to be sure, for which reason he might have considered her suitably malleable.  But she had an inner power that mystified him.  And terrified him.  More than once, even as a tyke, she had stared hard at him, as though her eyes could pierce to his inner being and perceive his thoughts.  And his unease in her presence had only grown as she did.

She would know, he was certain.  The moment she touched the Chalice of Forever upon her coronation, she would know.

He must do something, and quickly.  The Council of Eight had already convened.  This very night, the Chalice must disappear.


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