Tongues of flame dance under a giant cauldron, throwing crazy patterns onto the wall of the gloomy dungeon. A tall, hook-nosed mage, shrouded in black robes, is fussing over a potion, now and then adding some ground bone or powdered herbs. Mysterious creations of nature – the Elementals - struggle in magical fetters that prevent them from moving. Light, fire, air – everything simmers with the energy pulsing through the veins of these amazing creatures, and with their inhuman fury and pain. The shadows of the objects in the room bend and stretch closer to the cauldron, the water glistens like silver. If any observer were to glance into the laboratory at this moment, they would have felt the ground move under their feet – this is Earth, the last of the elements responding to the summons of the sorcerer.
The mage looked into the pot, and his sullen face lit up with a smile which only appears on the face of a scholar who has succeeded in the most important experiment of his life. The Elementals, dazed and exhausted, cease to strain and pull at their magical shackles. Over many years, little by little magician extracted their life, stole their power for his own unknown purposes... Now his work was nearing its end - the substance in the cauldron bubbled ever stronger, saturated with the mysterious magic of the elements.
- So, it has been done - proclaimed sorcerer, throwing all caution to the wind in anticipation of success - now the power of the patrolling mages will be invincible! One sip of this potion will give them more energy than they could have ever received from the most powerful artifacts. I will personally give them this potion and make sure that they drink every drop!
In his excitement he walked across the cold stones of the dungeon, rubbing his hands and imagining all the accolades that he would receive from the grateful warlord. Strengthening the defenses of the capital, by turning regular patrol mages into true lords of the elements, forever blocking the path to peaceful lands from enemy warriors – this was worth a lot! The vivid imagination of the vain magician already pictured stately palaces, full of devoted servants, delicious dishes from the top chefs of Faeo, a treasure house crammed to bursting with precious stones...
- O my head is like a sieve! – he suddenly slapped himself on the forehead. – I thought of everything, did everything… But how am I going to carry the potion to the patrol? I can’t drag it in the cauldron….
It was a complicated problem indeed. The potion that had been so carefully brewed had an unpleasant feature – in an instant it corroded iron or glass. An ordinary earthenware pot might have done the trick, but unfortunately the mage had no kitchen equipment – he preferred to summon food from the air with a simple click of his fingers. The cauldron was ideal for storing caustic substances – it was protected by all sorts of spells (including one by which the cauldron could bite the hand of a thief). But the back of the respected mage was bent and aching with age and the pot was pretty heavy.
Of course, a small glitch like this would not be able to stop the irrepressible mage. Rummaging about in his shelves, the mage pulled out a handful of simple amulets, on which novice sorcerers practiced beginner’s spells. A couple of magical gestures, some indistinct mumbles and the cauldron was empty, and the colored stones decorating the expensive frames started to glisten with a mysterious light… The Elementals, seeing how carelessly the mage was handling their stolen strength, howled in indignation, but the magician did not pay them the slightest heed.
- Yes, perhaps this is even better, he said contemplatively. Now the patrol mages will not even have to drink the potion. Just try pouring this vile stuff into them and they would be so enraged that I wouldn’t know what hit me. But now it will be no problem – touch the amulet and the mage of one of the elements will appear to help – they will have no choice. Oh, the warlord will reward me for these amulets! I feel that I am going to be rich…..
The magician’s head began to spin with all these thoughts and, not noticing an obstacle underfoot, the inspired sorcerer crashed into his own cauldron. The overturned vessel rolled around the floor and broke the magic crystal that held together the shackles of the Elementals. It was as if a tornado tore through the laboratory, when the enraged creatures broke free, smashing everything in their path, scorching the one who had offended them with a magical fire…. The unfortunate mage, forgetting his plans, quickly cast a protective spell and, praying to Sheara for mercy, fell face down on the floor.
Breaking everything that they could reach, snatching the magical stones from their frames, wrecking the dungeon where they has been held captive for so long, the Elementals one by one broke free with a triumphant shout. The noise coming from outside told the mage that the elemental amulets made with such difficulty were being broken into tiny pieces and carried by the wind throughout Faeo, to end up in beasts’ lairs and monsters’ shelters… Many years of hard work had come to nothing, along with his dreams of a prosperous future.
The mage’s eye fell on the frames – the only valuable items left of the stolen amulets.
- Although it is a pity to part with them, it is necessary, - the unfortunate mage thought, clasping the remains of the charms in his hand. – I will go see the antiquarian, perhaps these frames will be of use to him… I only need a little money and soon I will have some new idea…
The depressed mage made his way to the relic collector, carefully clutching the Frames of all the elements. Meanwhile, in different parts of Faeo warriors were surprised to find fragments of unusual charms next to their prey. They did not yet know that these pieces could be joined together, put in the right frame, and used to summon a mage commanding one of the forces of nature. However, their discovery, resting in the palms of their hands, were already glistening with a wondrous, heavenly light...