Lore Spotlight -Chaos Mage Beyna of the Gnostics

That Time I Met Chaos Mage Beyna of the Gnostics

I slowly crept closer to the campfire I saw glimmering through the reeds. I heard several voices, joking and cursing good-naturedly as they shared a meal. I kept low, like Grandpa taught me.

“Good chicken, this,” said a scruffy man in leather armor. “Told you these parts had good fowl.” He took a big bite out of a leg.

“Yeah, but otherwise it weren’t that good of a haul,” grumbled a kobold sitting nearby. “I was promised gems and treasures! But that was just yer average village, nuttin’ special about it!”

“Come on Pipsy, you’ve gotten that fine axe there, that’s something!” A bearded man with an eye patch said. “That thing’s probably chopped wood for many a warm fire!”

I felt a hot tear forming at the corner of my eye. I knew that axe – I had used it, and my pa and grandpa before me. It didn’t belong to them.

Illustration by @6maker_nft (Twitter)

“…I don’t need no stinkin’ axe,” Pipsy was complaining. “Sticks and stones is enough to break dem bones, I always say!” The other bandits chuckled at their fellow’s complaints as I crept into position. The fires that they started, that had taken everything from me had not yet died away, and they were laughing? I knew I had to do something, even alone. Grandpa always said I had a warrior’s spirit, and now I could feel what he meant. I couldn’t walk away from this. I took my hunting bow from my back and slowly, quietly notched an arrow. I tried to calm my breathing and empty my mind. I counted 5, 10, 15 of them. I needed to take down as many as I could before they got to me. But before I could draw, I noticed a solitary figure approaching the bandit’s campfire.

The scruffy leather-clad man spotted her first. “Hey, who goes there? Oh, it’s a lady! So, you come here often?” he smirked at his pals as a few snickered.

The woman’s face was shrouded by a hood, but she pushed it back as she approached the fire, revealing a stern and serious expression. I immediately noticed that she had a large scythe strapped to her back. But she didn’t look like any farmer I’d ever met. The more observant of the bandits noticed too and immediately looked more alert than they had been moments earlier.

“Good evening,” she said. “I don’t wish to take much of your time, but I had some questions for you all. I’ve come quite a long way to find you, so I request your cooperation despite the late hour.”

“You talk pretty nice, lady,” Pipsy said. “What you want with the likes ‘o us?”

“I’m looking for a wizard by the name of Miyo, though I’m told she likes to be called ‘Chaos Mage Miyo’. Am I correct in stating that you are some of the famous ‘Miyo’s Boys’ that have been making waves around here lately?”

The bandits glanced at each other. “Aye, we’re Miyo’s Boys, but she ain’t here,” said the scruffy bandit. “We’re a…whatchacallit, a branch chapter ‘o the Boys.” He gave her an impudent grin, showing a few missing teeth.

“A satellite group are you?” said the woman, giving a huff of impatience and stroking her long, single braid. “And I don’t suppose you know where Miyo and ‘headquarters’ happens to be?”

“No idea, love,” said Eyepatch. “I’m sorry we can’t be of greater assistance, but Miyo finds us, not the other way around. Now it sounds like you know about us, so you should know that it’s not a good idea to walk into a camp of the Boys by oneself without an invitation. We’ve just had a long day of work, so if you’re done with questions, I suggest you continue your travels. You won’t get another warning; you get my meaning?” He casually eased a dagger partially out its scabbard on his hip.

The woman’s eyes quickly glanced around at the campfire and the motley group gathered there. I was amazed by how calm she seemed, given the situation. She sighed. “Fine, I don’t have any quarrel with you…I’ll take my leave. If you see Miyo, please let her know that Chaos Mage Beyna would like a word.” I realized that this was the perfect time to start my assault! But as I drew my bow, Pipsy decided he wasn’t done with her.

“No, lady wait!” He pointed at some jeweled flowers pinned to her hood. “Those are pretty! And I didn’t get any pretty things from that town we just busted.” He pouted. “Can I have some of those?”

“You may not.”

Pipsy’s brows furrowed together. “What you mean, no!?! I even asked nicely!” He started walking towards her.

Eyepatch called out, “lad, I’d stay back if I were you,” but Pipsy was nothing if not single-minded.

“Stay back, final warning.” Beyna reached a hand behind her back.

I noticed a bandit I hadn’t seen before creeping out from behind a bush in the woman’s blind spot, likely a scout. I quickly shifted aim but didn’t fire.

“You should know that if I see something I want, I get it.” Pipsy said, standing a foot away from the woman. “Just today there was some old guy who didn’t want to give me my axe…”

Hearing the mention of my grandpa broke my concentration and I let go of the arrow. It whistled through the air, and slightly off-target, buried itself in the scout’s gut. He immediately went the ground, groaning loudly in pain.

Several of the bandits cursed and jumped to their feet. Beyna sighed, then her scythe was whistling through the air. I’d never seen a weapon move that fast, but a second later Pipsy’s head was on the ground, brow still furrowed in anger. His body followed a few seconds later.

Eyepatch took charge. “She’s got a sniper! Ben, Tinker, take ‘em out! Rest of you, with me! We gotta take care of this.”

Most of the group quickly wielded their assorted knives, clubs and axes and fanned out around Beyna. She hadn’t moved from where she had dispatched Pipsy. But my eyes widened as a sort of dark shimmering appeared in the air around her. And then, swear to Dotta, she multiplied! From one form emerged many, each indistinguishable from the next and surrounded by that dark aura.

“She’s a witch!” shouted Scruffy, terror showing in his voice.

“It’s an illusion,” Eyepatch said. “Just attack them all and we’ll take her out! Forward!” the men shouted and rushed toward the squad of Beynas.

Rustling nearby brought me back to my immediate surroundings. The events had distracted me from the fact that Eyepatch had sent men after me too! Before I could move, they emerged from the reeds a few feet away and saw me with my bow. With a wordless shout, they ran at me, and I knew that they would not hold back. I had seen it first-hand.

Before their blades reached me, an otherworldly screech rang out. The men’s’ eyes shifted above my head and focused on something behind me. Their faces contorted with horror and they froze in place. After a few moments, I realized that they would never move again…they had turned to stone!

A hulking creature flew above me and toward the campfire. As it landed beside Beyna, I realized that her copies had vanished. And the bandits, were…still there, in a sense. But they wouldn’t be bothering any other villages again.

“Well done, Anzu,” Beyna said, stroking the creature’s head. As far as I could tell, it was a chicken-dragon. I noticed it kept its eyes closed as it enjoyed the pats.

Beyna started to walk around and examine the bodies around her. “You there, come over here,” Beyna said, glancing over at me. I decided to comply – I sensed that I couldn’t escape her if I tried.

“These aren’t actually Miyo’s Boys,” Beyna said to herself as I approached. “This one has a tattoo of the Rune of Cinnabar,” she said, pointing to the black circle and double-cross symbol on Eyepatch’s arm. “He likely used the Boys’ name and sigil to recruit the others, but actual Boys are branded by Miyo directly.”

She picked up Grandpa’s axe and handed it to me. “I believe this belongs to you.”

“Wait, how did you know-”

“I saw how you reacted when that kobold mentioned the axe. You didn’t mean to loose that arrow.”

As I took the axe in my hands, my knees gave out as the events of that day caught up to me. “They’re all gone…” sobs shook me uncontrollably.

Through my tears, I saw Beyna watching me. A thin trickle of blood was coming out of her nose, although it seemed the bandits hadn’t laid a finger on her. She ignored it.

“Aye, your loss today was great. We can’t bring them back, and revenge is done. All you can do is honor them. Live how they would have wanted.”

“I can’t…I’ve got nothing. This village is all I’ve known. I’m done.”

A cloth bag clinked to the ground beside me. “Well, only you can be the judge of that,” she said. “This lot didn’t have much in the way of coin, but you might secure some camping supplies and sundries from among them. And you can have that gold to help you get to the Bastion. It’s not far from here, just take the market road north. They’ll take you in.”

I looked dully at the bag of coins. “I can’t take your money, you’ve already done so much…”

Beyna took out a silk handkerchief and delicately wiped the blood from her face. “Well then, sell me something. Surely there’s some small knick-knack or memento you carry around.”

I sniffed as I remembered the carving. I got it out of my pocket. “I carved this last year. I thought it would be my good luck charm, but that’s obviously not true.”

She took the carving and examined the small horse I had crafted. “This will do.” She unfastened a pocket on the inside of her hooded robe and dropped it inside. By the way it sounded as it settled, I could tell there were other small objects in there but couldn’t imagine the where’s and why’s of such a collection.

“They’re my tethers,” Beyna said by way of explanation, noticing my curious expression. “Well, I’ll take my leave, good luck out there…” She turned to leave, then paused. “This is where you’re supposed to ask to come with me.” She half-smiled. “Maybe I’ve grown too fond of fantastic tales. But it’s better for you to go your own way, your destiny lies down a different path.” She called to her pet beast, and he screeched again and took to the air, flying ahead of her as she began to walk back the same way she’d arrived.

I watched her go, the events of that day and evening still running through my head. Although I felt despair and still struggled to see the point of anything, I remembered Grandpa’s words. I had a warrior’s spirit. And that meant never, ever giving up.