Why had Queen Artis allowed Chief Marduk to capture her! She cursed in frustration. This imprisonment added to the list of failings from her hunt against Marduk. When he kidnapped newly-crowned Leta Regina of the Riverlands as his paramour, a string of disasters occurred: a landslide buried the entire armory, one-third of the army fell under the hold of a zhinoa epidemic, Sumran archers killed two prominent generals, and right as Her Highness verged on catching Marduk, he disappeared into a well-concealed cave. Now Artis was trapped away from her army.
An older man in a simple tunic and cloak faded from the shadows into the dim light. “Queen Artis, so good of you to join me,” he rasped.
“Release me immediately!” she roared.
The rogue chuckled. “Do you not know of me? I am Enlil the Enchantor, infamous among all four countries in this region, hired by Chief Marduk to hinder your quest for his life.”
Artis grit her teeth. Marduk could safely escape through the Genelian Forest and back to Sumra.
Enlil continued. “I'm sure if your soldiers didn't kill him first, you would have personally. You northerners harbor an overbearing hatred for Sumrans.”
Stepping forward, Artis snapped, “At least we will defend our good name and that of others, unlike those southern dogs. Marduk has no right to abduct Leta Regina as his paramour.”
“It is not for me to decide what passes as right or wrong according to your standards. I have been paid to keep you hushed, and only that matters to me.” The mage crossed his legs and sat in a state of complete calm.
Artis walked to the mouth of her rocky prison and tested the shockwall. Static buzzed through her fingers. She withdrew, fearing the spasms people acquired after attempting to penetrate the magical barricades too many times. Escape seemed impossible.
Artis reached for the massive sword strapped to her back, and using the momentum from her spin, hacked at the wall with one powerful swing. The wall fizzled and dissipated. Enlil awoke from his meditation and lashed out a knotty hand, sending fierce, white-hot arms of electricity through Artis's body. She silently endured the shock that coursed through her flesh. The tendrils disappeared and she slumped onto the mildewing floor. Enlil resumed his trance-like state.
Sound could pass through shockwalls. Artis let out a war cry to alert her soldiers. As she bellowed, a goo enclosed and hardened around her feet, quickly wrapping around her legs, torso, and neck. Artis fearlessly continued shouting in hopes that at least the scouts would hear the warning. Then the bland slime filled her mouth.
“You won't surrender, will you?” hissed the warlock. “For that, I shall not relent: you will feel the wrath of Enlil the Enchantor.”
Artis cleared her mouth and hollered, “For a man your age, you anger as easily as a child.” She grinned, bracing herself for any more physical pain as a result of the comment. Instead she heard Enlil's gravelly musings:
“Perhaps I could test my latest technique. Such a subject! One does not cross royalty everyday.” He addressed Artis. “Would reliving your worst memories silence you surely have buried secrets, Your Highness?”
Artis did not respond. She had heard rumors of Enchantra, those skilled in magic, meddling in memory recall, but none of her Intelligence confirmed these suspicions. The neighboring kingdoms hardly knew of the existence of this power. Only Marduk would allow the Enchantra of Sumra to dabble in this sort of magic. Then Artis remembered the man before her didn't work under Marduk.
“How much?” she blurted.
“You think you can bribe me?” Enlil replied haughtily.
“It is your policy.”
“No amount of money will stop me from making this discovery!” A light blinded Artis and the cocoon around her disintegrated.