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Secret of the Azure Stone
Excerpt

"Secret? What do you mean secret?" Owen asked, almost laughing as he spoke. Since killing the dragon Kalureth, and ridding his home village of the evil King, Owen was now a hero amongst his people and the dwarves. So much had changed in his life. No longer was he a picked-on kid, but a respected knight of both human and dwarven kind. Yet, after all of his adventures, here he was sitting with his mentor, afraid that more challenges may await him.Uthgar's arms lightly shook under his immense bulk, obviously still weak from the evil King's powers. Owen thought he heard a low grunt as his old friend repositioned himself higher on the bed and pillows. "The Azure stone is no ordinary piece of rock, it is not something that we come across very often. The one you and I retrieved was the first I had ever seen in my time.""Well I gathered it was pretty important given the fact that both you and the evil King wanted it. And I know it was much lighter than it looked, and stronger. But, that's not really what I would consider a secret. You forged it, made my armour and sword, which are awesome, so there can't be too much else, right?""On the contrary, Owen. The azure stone contains mystical power that if placed in the wrong hands can be tremendously dangerous.""Wait, did you say mystical power? You aren't serious," Owen smirked at Uthgar skeptically."I am very serious, Owen. There's a reason the evil King wanted the stone so badly. He too knew of the immense power the stone contains.""Listen, Uthgar, I know you're really tired from the fight and it's going to take you some time to recuperate, so why don't you lay back down and get some more rest. I'll go get you a glass of water and put it beside your bed. Then I'll leave you be for a little while longer, ok? I'm sure you are under some heavy medicine from the doctor as well." Owen smiled reassuringly as he stood to leave the room."Owen, stop!" Uthgar commanded. Owen was more than aware of the seriousness of his friend's tone, and immediately turned, looking quite agitated. "Now listen to me. Although you may not completely understand what I am trying to tell you, it is paramount that you remain here and allow me to finish. We could all be in great danger. Now sit, and be quiet.""Alright, I'm listening," Owen sighed as he sat back down in the wooden chair adjacent to Uthgar's bed. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude. It's just that when you started mentioning mystical power I was a bit thrown off. Go ahead."Uthgar cleared his throat, his eyebrows wrinkled with irritation. "As I was saying," he began sarcastically, "the Azure stone does contain power. That power translates differently for the intended user." "Intended user? What is that, like good and evil?" Owen asked. "Yes, that's one way to describe it. Think about yourself, Owen. You wear the armour and wield the sword, what does it do for you?" Owen's mouth opened slightly and his eyes narrowed. He stared hard at Uthgar, not sure what answer his friend was looking for. "For me? Well, um.... I don't really know," Owen stumbled over his words. He didn't want to upset Uthgar again, but in his mind, he didn't know how to take the question seriously. "Think, Owen. When you fought Kalureth, how were you able to find the strength within yourself to hold your ground as he blasted you with fire? You were still very early in your training. Would you have been strong enough to withstand the force without the suit on? Or when you faced the evil King?" "When I fought the dragon, the suit started melting, you had to repair it, and I wasn't wearing the armour against the King. You know that," Owen argued. "Yes, but you were holding the shield." Uthgar painfully adjusted his position once again. "Owen, it may be difficult to understand, but there are healing properties within the Azure stone which assist you; healing properties and an aura of strength. While these properties may seem mild, they are present, nonetheless." "O.k., let's say these mystical powers are there, what happens if someone like the evil King gets a hold of them? Do they heal him too?" Owen still didn't believe Uthgar's claims but decided to play along. "Someone as powerful as the evil King would gain even greater strength and increase his abilities. It's impossible to say exactly what would happen to him, however, it would certainly be a tremendous evil." "Why are you telling me this? The King is gone. He vanished before our eyes in the castle the other day, you saw it yourself. Why are we even talking about this?" Owen asked, exasperated. "Your adventure is far from over, my son. While the King may have vanished, I fear his hatred and lust for power lives on. There are still those who would seek the scepter in his name." "But, if there is only one azure stone, and..." Owen stopped talking and slunk back in his chair, momentarily allowing his head to drop into his hands. "There's another stone out there somewhere isn't there?" Owen grumbled in a muffled groan. "Not another stone, but something that was crafted by my kind many years ago when the last Azure stone fell to this earth. It was many days travel from here. The stone was considered a gift from wherever it had fallen. The dwarves tried to craft it. For years they toiled in their forges until one day, a great dwarf named Kralthin discovered that by heating the stone to a specific temperature and adding other minerals to the molten, he could craft a scepter of enchanting beauty. Once the scepter was finished, Kralthin polished it and presented it to the King, my great, great grandfather. It was then that we dwarves discovered the healing powers the azure stone possessed. The scepter was a symbol of strength and allowed my great great grandfather to have a clear mind when he made decisions that would affect the masses. As years went by, he passed it to his son, my great grandfather. His reign was one of much war and unrest. Not wanting the scepter to fall into the wrong hands, he decided to protect it. He wanted it destroyed, however, the best smiths could not break or destroy it completely. Instead, they could only break the scepter into three pieces which were then scattered throughout the land." Uthgar stopped speaking momentarily. Owen could tell he was getting weaker. "Lay down Uthgar. Here, I'll help." Owen stood and guided the ailing dwarf to gently fall back onto the bed. He remained standing so Uthgar could see him. "Thank you," Uthgar replied. "If the scepter has been broken, then hidden, why be concerned about it? Does anyone know where the pieces are? If they are found, can the power be used?" Owen asked, feeling much more intrigued with the idea than he had been at the beginning of the conversation. "No one knows exactly where the pieces lay, but I do have approximate locations where the pieces should be found. The pieces still hold power, and if put back together, are much stronger. Before you defeated him, the King sent out several of his soldiers to find these pieces. He wanted the scepter. I fear, they are still out there. There's no telling what could happen if they are placed in the wrong hands." "That's what he meant," Owen whispered. "He, who?" Uthgar asked. "When I was tied up in his castle, I thought the King wanted my armour to re-forge, so it would fit him. He laughed and told me I had no idea what power the azure stone possessed. He wanted a new scepter, or something like it. It makes sense now." "Yes, and he wanted me to create it for him. Also, if he found the pieces of the scepter, he would want me to reform them. Luckily, that did not happen," Uthgar smiled. "I still don't understand why you're telling me this now. I mean, I get that you don't want the scepter to be found and used for evil, but we don't know who would want it now." "I do, Owen. I want to give the scepter to Stephanie." "What? Why give it to my mom? Are you expecting her to need to fight off some monster or something?" Uthgar sighed and rolled his eyes. "No, I want to give it to her as a symbol of peace and unity between humans and the dwarves. If she holds the scepter, created by dwarves, all who dwell in this land will respect her and we can finally live the way I've dreamed of." "Where do I find these pieces?" Owen asked, still feeling somewhat overwhelmed and unsure if he believed everything he had just heard. "I must rest now. I'm so very tired. Send Kaia to me in a few hours. I'll explain to her what I know. I need her help to translate the words of old scrolls into your tongue. Then, you must go and find these pieces before anyone else. I fear, the search by the King's men has already begun. We cannot risk losing the freedom and peace we've worked so hard to achieve." Once again, Uthgar turned his body, his face strained, unable to hide his pain. "I'm getting better Owen, but I must rest. Go now. Discuss this with Kaia and Elsa. You will need help in your travels." Owen didn't know what to say. Instead, he nodded his head, then reached down and hugged Uthgar.

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