Weapon of the Guild [The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 2]
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by Alastair J. Archibald
Category: Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Description: Grimm Afelnor, the youngest Mage Questor in Arnor House, has sworn to expunge the stain from his reviled family name. Grimm's arduous first Quest with his best friend, Dalquist, seems simple enough at first: to retrieve a magical gem from a magic-using Baron. Along the way, Grimm has to kill a man, destroy a demon, conquer unwitting drug addiction and break free of magical infatuation cast by a young witch-nun. Grimm regards the wealth and title of Baron as more than ample recompense for his pains, but even more good fortune comes his way, when, soon afterwards, he becomes a Fifth Rank Mage Questor, due to a clerical oversight. Life for the young mage seems to be going his way. With a scaly titan, a mighty albino swordsman, an elven thief and a six-inch imp amongst his allies, and Grimm feels confident when ordered to assist in tackling a renegade General who seems to be abducting Guild Mages. His only problems are: the prejudiced and domineering senior mage, Questor Xylox; a young female pickpocket; and a mysterious, insidious sickness lurking in the Shest Mountains.
Read all seven great books in the series!
A MAGE IN THE MAKING [The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 1]
WEAPON OF THE GUILD [The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 2]
QUESTOR [The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 3]
TRUTH AND DECEPTION [The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 4] DRAGONBLASTER [The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 5]
THE DARK PRIORY [The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 6]
RESOLUTION [The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 7] (available March 2013!)
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2007
eBookwise Release Date: October 2007
128 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [472 KB]
Reading time: 298-418 min.
"Author Alistair J. Archibald once again delivers the fascinating style and steady characterisations of A Mage in the Making. Readers will find themselves rapidly turning the pages as the plots and subplots race on, simultaneously turning back to reread favourite phrases and passages. Weapon of the Guild is a must-read and worthy of the keeper shelf. This reviewer can't wait for further installments in The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster series."--Annie, Euro-Reviews
"In reading fiction, we always look for someone we can relate to. It should not matter the age of the protagonist, but it should matter as to their humanity. Many a writer has, in these contemporary times, added flawed and damaged people with something decent about them so we do not become so repulsed by them, we can't stand to have them in our head. Unlike television, a book actually gets into your brain. It is there that we develop the image, the texture, the taste, and even smells and flavors if we are given such.
For such experiences do we crouch down into a favorite seat, shut out the world, and live among others. It is probably the closest thing we will have as humans of mind-to-mind connection. So the story has to be good, the character has to have enough goodness to allow us to live in their skin, and not leave us so sullied by it, we ourselves feel violated. So I introduce to you Weapon of the Guild, book 2 of The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster, set to be a seven part series (or more?) by Mr. Archibald. O.K. I've finished, Weapon of the Guild. Now where is book three? (The Author himself has kindly informed me, March 2008 is the intended date of publication of book three.) Yeah, book two was that good. Grimm Dragonblaster has now grown from a skinny half-starved kid of around six or eight, kept on as a charity, and forced to become a Questor by The Ordeal because of the greed of the head school taskmaster... Weapon of the Guild brings delightful characters and worthy friends for the journey and quest. How they survive and the cost, makes a riveting read as well as the cliffhanger that makes you hunger for book three."--Nancy Louise, Novelspot
Chapter 1: The Eye of Myrrn
Grimm Afelnor, the youngest Mage Questor in Arnor House of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Magic-users, Thaumaturges and Sorcerers, lay back on his divan and put down the book he had been reading for the last thirty minutes. He could not remember a word he had read: his mind was too full of fizzing frustration and boredom.
The young mage bore the resounding title, 'Mage Questor of the First Rank', but, until he had completed his first Quest, this was only a courtesy. Although he wore the ornate, blue-gold ring denoting a Guild Mage, the absence of a gold ring on his staff, Redeemer, marked him as a rank tyro: a mage who had not completed even a single Quest. For the six months following his triumphal Ceremony of Acclamation, Grimm had waited for the call to prove himself a worthy Questor: at first, with eagerness; then with impatience; then with desperation.
Just over a year before, he had been a callow Neophyte, making slow but steady progress towards an uncertain vocation. Then came what he thought of as the Nightmare Time: the brutal Ordeal that had driven him to the very edge of the abyss of irrevocable insanity. Although Grimm did not know it at the time, this relentless torment had been intended to force him to access the inner powers that his tutor, Magemaster Crohn, saw within him. Where most mages took many decades of diligent study to reach their potential, those with the strength of mind and spirit to withstand the brutal Questor Ordeal matured while still young. Very few Neophytes were chosen, and fewer still prevailed. Grimm knew now his friend, the gentle, would-be entertainer, Erek Garan, had faced the same Ordeal and failed.
Erek had destroyed Senior Magemaster Urel with an uncontrolled blast of energy and then hanged himself. The tormented Neophyte had stared into the same chasm of madness as Grimm, but he had taken the last crucial, fatal step forward.
The young Questor looked around his opulent cell in the West Wing and sighed.
I almost lost my mind, too. I demolished a classroom and nearly killed Magemaster Crohn. Instead of killing myself, I ended up with a Guild Ring and a comfortable cell.
Grimm raised an imaginary glass. Here's to you, Erek Garan. Wherever you are, I hope you found peace.
He had to admit that his current accommodation was a far cry from the dismal cell he had occupied as a Charity Student. The food was much better, too. Nonetheless, Grimm found little pleasure in this new, easy life. He had sworn on his soul to redeem his besmirched family name, and he could only begin that onerous process by proving his worth to the Guild. His beloved grandfather, Loras Afelnor had once been a Mage Questor of the Seventh Rank, a man at the peak of his calling: a man with Guild honours and great wealth gained from numerous glorious Quests. Then, he had thrown it all away by attempting to kill the sick, doddering Prelate of the House. Although Grimm felt sure his grandfather had acted out of compassion for a suffering man, Loras' deed had resulted in disgrace and his expulsion from the Guild, stripped of his powers. Now, the old man scraped out a basic living as a blacksmith in the village of Lower Frunstock.
Grimm's world had been stricken to the core when he had first learned of Loras' former life on his first day as a Student in the House, nearly ten years before. After his Acclamation, he had been given leave to visit Lower Frunstock, and he had given Loras his solemn oath: "I will make the name of Afelnor shine again in the Guild, Granfer. I swear it."
The young Questor laughed, although there was no humour in the hacking sound. He thought of Loras, sweating and straining in the smithy, and of his own, almost sybaritic life. A true Mage Questor, an avatar of magical power, should be on the road, fighting tyrants and monsters, not lounging in a comfortable chamber!
Grimm felt ennui suffusing his bones like a canker, a sickness that seemed to grow worse with every wasted day. He groaned and lay back on his velvet divan, feeling like a traitor.
It can't go on much longer. This waiting is almost worse than the Nightmare Time.* * * *
Grimm's friend, Dalquist Rufior, felt almost as frustrated as his younger fellow Questor. A Mage of the Fifth Rank, Dalquist lived for the excitement and danger of the Quest. Dalquist's service to his House and his Guild had brought him wealth and status, but his ultimate goal was the day when the seventh ring was placed onto his staff, Shakhmat.
The tall, dark-haired young man had not been sitting idle for the past year: far from it. Nonetheless, most of the assignments Prelate Thorn had sent his way had been mere 'flag-waving exercises', as Dalquist called them. Ordering a Mage Questor to accompany a wagon-train of gold to High Lodge, the centre of Guild operations, might be a prudent precaution to prevent molestation, but such humdrum expeditions could not be considered heroic sagas leading to lurid, glowing accounts in the Deeds of the Questors. This was no way to gain great wealth or advancement.
After a handful of mundane, uninspiring Quests, the Lord Dominie, Horin, accorded Dalquist the fifth ring on his staff, but the young mage knew this was the highest status he would attain without either heroic deeds or years of dedicated service.
To be sure, arduous, rewarding Quests did crop up from time to time, but Prelate Thorn tended to assign these to the senior active Questor, Xylox Ceras, called 'The Mighty'. Xylox, a mage of the Seventh Rank, was respected and well-known in High Lodge, and he had amassed a huge fortune from his Quests.
So that leaves me with the dregs, Dalquist thought with a bitter grimace. He sipped a glass of fine wine but scarcely registered the taste. Replacing the glass on his worktable, he sighed and tried to muster sufficient motivation to complete the written report on his last Quest. This undistinguished spying mission was not the kind of noble undertaking that might lead to a mention in the Deeds of the Questors, not least because, officially, it had never taken place. The young Questor had spent a week skulking in the sewers beneath an earl's castle, listening at drain openings for snippets of potentially useful information. The whole disgusting affair had cost him a good set of clothes and much self-respect, and all it had gained him was insincere thanks from Lord Thorn and an injunction to keep the matter secret.
Dalquist heard a soft knock at his cell door. With more enthusiasm than he felt, he offered a cheery "Come in."
The door opened to reveal the hunched, wizened major-domo of Arnor House, known to one and all as 'Doorkeeper'.
"Greetings, Questor Dalquist," the ancient mage said, offering a clumsy bow. "I trust you are well after your last Quest."
"Quite well, thank you, Doorkeeper," Dalquist replied, trying to maintain a bright tone of voice. "Among my munificent rewards were a dismal cold and a rat-bite on my right leg, but I have recovered from both. What can I do for you on this glorious morning?"
"Beg--er, begging your p-pardon, Lord Mage," the wrinkled factotum stammered, "but Lord Prelate Thorn wishes to see you at your earliest convenience on a matter of the greatest urgency."
Dalquist sighed and smoothed his robes. "Doubtless there's some rich dowager who needs escorting to some society function, and she thinks the presence of a Questor will impress her friends."
Sarcasm was wasted on Doorkeeper, whose eyes opened wide. "No, Questor, Dalquist, I don't think the Lord Prelate said anything about any dowager, whatever that is. He said it was very, very important. What was it he called it?"
Doorkeeper frowned and scratched his white-sheathed pate, as if this might stimulate his powers of recall, but then his expression cleared.
"Ah, yes--'an undertaking of the gravest import for the security of the Guild', Lord Thorn called it," the old man said, beaming. "I'm to take you at once."
Things may be looking up, the Questor thought, feeling his heart beat faster as he followed Doorkeeper out of the cell.
This doesn't sound like another sewer expedition.