The whole town of Astery was barren, save for the tent that the army platoon set up. It was in the middle of the small town. There were some mage surgeons coming in and out of the small crowded tent. "May I help you, sir?" a medic asked Commander Vixoe. "Tell me what happened here." the general ordered. "Okay sir. Come in." the surgeon led the commander. Avatrice tied his wyrm on a post near the tent, "Hey! Not so tight!" the dragon requested. Tiffany also tied her wyrm on the same post. "Your mask suits you well, admiral." the lass commented. They both went inside but were ordered to stand guard outside. They were both standing straight, scanning the noon skies for possible causes of the deaths. Avatrice suddenly saw a small glass bottle at the ground so he picked it up, examined it and put it in his pouch. Then the commander went outside after examining the dead bodies. "The surgeons told me that the mages died of some kind of disease or something." The commander declared. "They still don't have a cure for this plague." the commander continued, "the Flaz have done this. They found this note beside the dead bodies." He said while lifting a thin sheet of paper dripping so that the two minor mages can read it, "The Plague has just begun, you will all die and honor the greatness of the Flaz union -signed, Sirac. What!?" the two surprised mages exclaimed. "Yes, my little ones, the son of Stanfro has come for revenge." the elder mage stated. A faint flickering of light shone from the top of the bell tower of Astery. Then, it grew, no! It came nearer to them! It was aimed at the commander! "Commander! Duck!" Avatrice shouted as he pushed the general. The flare burned the right part of his tunic but he didn't mind. Avatrice saw the assailant mage running away from the bell tower and jumping to the next building. The furious minor mage took out his stone from his velvet pouch and concentrated on it. The next thing he knew, teleportation brought him to the bell tower and he started chasing the attacker. He aimed at the assailant with his stone and the mage sent a beam of mind control towards the fleeing man. He missed. The frustrated mage aimed again and shot another spell this time, it hit the running mage. Avatrice stopped, and so did the assailant. He concentrated and he made the man standing on the other building, jump towards him. Avatrice disabled the psychic control and grabbed the foe at the neck and held him as he jumped building to building until he reached his destination. Avatrice let the mage go when they were in front of the commander. The commander stepped forward, grabbed the mage by the tunic and unveiled his mask. The commander himself, didn't even have a mask on at the moment. "Who sent you?" the master mage demanded as he tightened his grip. Then, suddenly, the assailant burned. His red tunic turned to ashes and his whole body was in flames then he dropped down, dead. Then when the commander, Avatrice and Tiffany looked up at the bell tower, they saw him. Sirac. Though Tiffany and Avatrice had never seen Sirac before, it was known to them thru the pendant the mage wore around his neck. The pendant was no different than the commander's except Sirac's etched the sign of Flaz, not Vaiu. The pendant was given to the strongest mage in each of the five clans and in Vaiu, it was the commander. The one who the pendant was entrusted to, had power to lead the whole clan, that explains why the commander was who he is. Sirac's right hand flickered in flames. He grinned, he wore no mask and it showed a horrifying face of evil. The commander, who was still staring at him, was in rage. He stepped at the floor in front of him and he glided towards the Flazic mage. He formed a ball of disruption around his right hand as he glided. Finally, when he was in range, he smashed his hand at the mage but the mage dodged so the ceiling of the bell tower broke and it made a breakage at the corner of the triangular structure. Sirac stood at the other corner of the tower and he faced his right palm to Commander Vixoe and shot gobs of flame. The commander, who was unaware at the moment, got hit by the fireballs struck at him however, he didn't seem to care so much. The angry general formed another ball of disruption, but this time he formed two, one for each of his hand. He lunged, aiming at the mage's head but the flazic mage ducked so he ended up killing air. Sirac formed a great ball of flame and he aimed for the commander but he teleported to his back and hit him with the other ball of disruption at his left hand. Sirac fell. Seeming defeated, Sirac reached from under his tunic and took out a small bottle. He threw it at Commander Vixoe, it exploded and let out thick black smoke. The commander coughed. Then the smoke vanished, and so was Sirac. He felt dizzy, then he fell, unconscious.
* * *
The commander regained consciousness and was now inside the tent. He was lying on a bunk and beside it, was Avatrice, the captain and the surgeon. The commander coughed once more. He rose up to sit instead of lying down. "What happened?" he asked. "We found you unconscious up on the bell tower so we brought you here" the surgeon replied. "Go outside, all of you. Admiral, stay, I want to have a word with you." the commander ordered, so they followed it, the surgeon and the captain went outside. "Avatrice, sit." the commander gestured to a nearby chair. Avatrice sat down, "Are you feeling better, sir?" the boy asked courteously. "Don't worry about me!" the commander hesitated, "I have seen you fight, and your good, I want you to be my novice, my assistant if you will. And as my assistant, you will continue the fight against the Flaz even when I'm gone, got that? And also, end this plague, okay?" the commander coughed once more. "I consider it a huge honor serving you and the whole Vaiu clan." the polite boy stated. "And also" the commander continued, "take this pendant, the pendant that will help you lead my people to victory." "No sir!" the shocked mage refused, "this honor is too great for me, sir!" "No! No! No!" the commander took off the pendant and gave it Avatrice, "I am much too old for leading this clan, you lead this time." Finally, Avatrice took it and wore it around his neck. He bowed at the commander and started his way to the door. "When you need me, I'll be at the sick bay of the station." Avatrice smiled as he nodded and he turned and walked away. The surgeon wasn't at the tent opening as was Tiffany. "So, what's up?" the captain greeted at the tent hole. "Well, the commander just made me his novice and he exalted me even more by giving me the pendant of the Vaiu." the novice explained. The lass' face shown, now that she took her mask off. Her mouth dropped as she heard the news. "There is no time to waste, captain!" he remarked, "there is a war to be won and a plague to be stopped!" "So, commander, where do we go?" the girl's tone now serious. "To Wegwin Academy, I need to speak to the high mentor, Rijric, about this plague." Avatrice replied as he drew out the small bottle from his pouch, "I believe this caused the deaths. Sirac threw this at the commander, didn't he?" asked the lad. "I believe so, commander." the other one replied. It was morning now. A day had passed since he first joined the army, Avatrice thought as he gazed upon the rising sun.