Stepping off of the magical, travelling map, rolling it into a scroll and sliding it back inside her sky blue satchel, Mapella looked around with a mixture of trepidation and awe at the grim inner sanctum of the Sorceror, Kolciber.
In spite of its ornate architecture; the towering columns of ebony that held up its ceiling; the frightening murals and carvings depicting monsters, fire and torments that seemed to cover every inch of the room; the colossal, obsidian idol of a terrifying, three horned, fire-tongued and dragon-winged demon and the large, jet black cauldron like a feeding bowl between its taloned feet, it had the air of some wild beast's dark, subterranean dwelling.
And then, from somewhere deep below them, Mapella and her ghost-like companion heard a terrible, loud roaring, howling, screeching and wailing and then, shivering, the spirit said,
“I’m afraid. What if Kolciber catches us. He may put me back in that dark prison or do something even more terrible to me”.
But Mapella had more courage.
“Don’t worry”, she replied, “Azram Mazra is watching over us. I am sure of it”.
And then, using the magic quill that her master had given her, Mapella drew a short silver sword and a small, round golden shield on the air which, becoming real, fell to the floor with a loud clatter.
Then, picking them up, she said to her timid companion, “There now. If Kolciber does show himself then he shall have a fight on his hands”.
But then, suddenly, the eyes of the huge, black demon idol lit up with a bright, blood red glow and, creaking and grating loudly, the mouth of the idol opened; its bottom jaw falling to the ground like the gangplank of a ship.
Then, emerging from the darkness of the idols cavernous throat and striding down, over its long flame-like tongue, towards them, came the evil wizard Kolciber, garbed entirely, from head to foot, in a black suit of armour with a black, three horned helmet and visor on his head, masking his face and, hanging from his shoulders, a long black cape which billowed behind him.
“You have courage, stranger; coming here and facing me”, he said to Mapella as he drew forth a long, flaming broadsword from the scabbard on his back, “But, like all who dare to oppose me, I shall feed your flesh and wretched soul to my demon masters”.
Mapella raised her sword and shield bravely.
“My Master, Azram Mazra is greater than those you serve”, she replied.
The dark wizard only threw his head back and laughed.
“Ha! How little you know”, he said, “My masters rule his world too. Wherever there is evil, they are king”.
And then, raising his blazing blade, the dark wizard gave out a terrifying yell that sounded more beast-like than human, charging towards her.
But, suddenly, the timid spirit that was cowering behind her shouted, “ I remember now. I remember who I am”.
And, as Mapella courageously and unflinchingly stood her ground; to her utter surprise, the spirit rushed headlong towards the charging black-clad sorcerer, passing right through his dark armour and into his body.
“What?”, asked Kolciber, all of a sudden bewildered; stumbling in mid-charge and falling helplessly to his knees, “What am I doing?”.
Then, to Mapella’s further astonishement, Kolciber took off his horned and visored helmet and, underneath was a face that she recognized; the face of the ghostly prisoner she had rescued.
“I remember it all now”, said Kolciber, sombrely, “When the demons came to Ormalu, I was just an ordinary mortal but they tempted me with dark powers; told me that I could have everything I wanted and that they would make me king but only if I locked away my soul in a magical prison”.
Now, understanding what had just taken place, Mapella smiled.
“I have restored your soul to you”, she said, happily, “That must have been what my master, Azram Mazra sent me here to do”.
Kolciber nodded, thanking her and then declared, “Henceforth, I swear that I will no longer be a tyrant but a good king; the kind of king that the people of my country deserve”.
Mapella was happy to hear the difference that she had made to the king and his people but then; in a sudden, bright, blazing flash of rainbow colours, she was no longer in the palace of Kolciber but in the gigantic workroom of her master Azram Mazra.
“You have done exceptionally well, Mapella”, he said in a warm, booming voice, his two immense eyes shining, like celestial spheres, with happiness as he gazed down upon her, “The land of Ormalu is safe from the powers of darkness, at least for the time being”.
But Mapella was curious about something, something that had been nagging at her and, kneeling before him, she asked, “Please forgive me, great Azram but, if it is not too impertinent a question,
why do you make Maplands?”.
Reaching down one of his enormous hands, as vast as a sandy beach, he gently lifted her up and then, taking her outside of his workshop, held her up high so that she could see the starry skies of his world and, looking up at all the trillions upon trillions of stars, she gasped in wonder.
Then Azram told her, “Aeons ago, I vowed that I would use my magical knowledge to solve all the great problems of the universe; find a way to end war, poverty, famine, disease and all the other evils inflicted upon mortals by the forces of darkness and I created the maplands; real, living worlds in miniature, so that I could study them. When I have made the perfect mapworld, a world of total and everlasting goodness, then I will have found the answers I am seeking”.