The conference of the Council of Elders had been interrupted by a deafening turmoil.
"The Witches! The Witches!" a young voice was shouting, and fists were knocking on the door of the assembly hall at which the ancestors of the Chaos Magicians had met. Finally, the door had been opened, and a young female magician came rushing into the hall. "I've seen them!" she was shouting gaspingly. The stern looks of the elders made her pause.
"How dare you break in on our conference?" the venerable spokeswoman of the Council of Elders sharply rebuked the disturber. "And if this is really important, then talk to us reasonably. What did you see?"
Shara Nindee, the young Chaos Magician, took a deep breath and made herself report everything that she saw, one at a time. "I've been to the south, on the edge of the forest. There's Witches everywhere. They're riding their stupid broom sticks above our heads, then landing in the southern forest. And their number is still growing! They're about to settle here!"
This was an unpleasant message, indeed. The Council of Elders had just decided to cut down the southern forest to redirect some lava streams there and transform that forestland into treeless wasteland — just how they liked it. The teams for this task had already been formed. And now it seems the Witches had preempted that. Witches were a forest-dwelling people and as such, they had spread to a number of forests. Even worse — they used to plant trees where there had been none to convert all land gradually to forest. What a nightmare for the Chaos Magicians who try hard to transform all land into wasteland.
Then Malkuzar, an old and wise Chaos Magician, spoke up. The reason they called him wise was that he had survived five or more of his self-experiments. "There is nothing that can be done. It's not necessarily bad for us to have neighbors, it's good for trading. When building our own settlements, we can save a lot of gold by trading."
Some of the elders nodded, others looked doubtful. "But our people are ready to go and commence the groundwork," argued the spokeswoman. "Shall we just give up? We need more wasteland!"
"Send her to the west, to the mountains," Malkuzar suggested. "Usually, there are some underground lava streams in the mountains that we can open up. Mountains are much easier to convert to wasteland than forests, anyway. This is how we may preempt the Witches!"
The decision was taken. "As to you, Shara..." The young magician had to gulp when she met the serious look of the old Malkuzar. "As you're so keen, I've got a mission for you. Immediately travel to the west, to the mountains. Check if things are still calm over there. Dwarves are usually hanging around in mountains. That's just what we needed."
By Kay-Viktor Stegemann