Poxig continued to the hallowed Hall of black arts, where mages of every stripe would go to learn the craft. He realized that his grasp of Latin was small, and therefore, his chance of learning any magic would be nil. But his story was too good to keep to himself. He had to reunite the lost widow Conrad to her ancient lover, and so perhaps, save his soul.
He approached the front counter, where concoctions of magic potions were strewn about. There were journeyman mages everywhere saying incantations of an inscrutable tongue. He nodded at the strangely dressed attendant, who wore a coat of rainbow colors.
“May I help you, sir?” he asked.
“Yes, I am trying to find a black magician in order to accompany me on my way. I am going to a dark circle where only dark magicians can navigate the terrain. Perhaps, you can tell me who is selling their services, and I will choose from one,” uttered Poxig.
“Yes, yes.” At that moment he heard some shouting in the back.
“Κοσμος, Κοσμον, Κοσμου,” the strange man chanted.
Poxig did not know it, but he was practicing his Greek declensions. Poxig was very curious what this strange language might have to do with his question. “Who is that?” asked Poxig.
“That is Lakfi,” said the attendant. He’s the worst student here, but his price is very small.
“Will you call him for me?” asked Poxig.
The attendant called for Lakfi, who appeared in a disheveled garment, without any formality. He wore a giant wizard’s cap, although it was apparent by his coarse appearance that he was not a master, but merely a moonlighting mage.
“What were you talking about back there?” asked Poxig.
“Oh, hi. Yes, that was the word ‘cosmos’, which is the Greek word for ‘world.’ I was expressing my general frustration with the world,” chimed Lakfi.
“Oh?” said Poxig.
“Well, injustice seems to come more often than I would like. I should be in a wizard’s guild by now, but I am stuck in Melmond,” he replied.
“Well, it’s funny that you should ask. I am looking for a mage to accompany to the castle of a well known practitioner of the black arts. Perhaps, you fit the description of someone who might be able to help me.”
“That depends on how much you are willing to pay,” Lakfi responded.
As Poxig could not afford to hire him, he tried a different approach. “I am a light warrior. I wish to have someone to aid me in pursuit of the reason of the corruption of earth.”
“A light warrior!” exclaimed Lakfi. “Then, perhaps I can learn something from you! I am always open to learning things. But I must admit, if there is no chance of success.”
“If we find the cause of the earth’s rot,” interrupted Poxig, ” then, you can be sure there will be a reward in the land where I am from, Marginalia.”
“Ha! Everyone knows there are no elves in Marginalia!” retorted Lakfi.
“My father was held captive in the wars of religion. He converted and changed his name.”
“I see. Well, that makes sense.”
“What do you say about this idea?” asked Poxig.
“Well, I don’t very much think I can help you, but a chance to learn something from a light warrior seems reason enough. I will help you on one condition. You must answer a riddle. What is the opposite of happiness?” asked the black mage.
Poxig thought for a while and admitted he did not know. He guessed, “The question is flawed. You must claim to be happy to know its opposite.”
“Clever! We’ll leave it at that! I will join this enterprise.”
The two associates left the hall of black arts in a peal of laughter. It was likely that they would become friends, even if they never accomplished the mission. Poxig was glad at least that he would have some insight into black magic, which would be indispensable if they were to return the vampire to its original state.