Tolle leaned back, bored out of his skull. Night had covered the small town of Nottum with its heavy shroud and the adolescent could not imagine a more mind-numbing scene. The constant rumble of the wagon wheels mingled with the clopping hoof beats as he returned from a day trip, lulling him to sleep. Suddenly, a bright orange glint caught his eye.
Tolle turned in the leather of the carriage seat to look. A tower stood, illuminated against the dark sky, flares rising and falling from its black turret. The flame twisted sending navy smoke sailing into the air like a wave in the sea. Tolle watched as the flame grew lower and lower until at last the tower sank completely into the black.

Town of Nottum, England, 1694

Streets bustled in the marketplace of the busy town. Merchants shouted their wares out to possible customers. Beggars wailed for coins. Jugglers and illusionists astounded adults and sent children into fits of laughter. Tolle pushed his way through the crowd. He was not here to be entertained. He did not want small luxuries.
Last night he had told his father about what he had seen from the wagon window. Gau had scoffed at him.
"A boy like you shouldn't be sticking his neb where it doesn't belong," he roared. "Get back to your chores and some sense might be knocked into your brain. Hah, a glowing tower!" reluctantly, Tolle dropped the subject. His sister, Lyndly had been the only one who seemed interested. Today, he had picked the matter up again.
As he reached the outskirts of town he came to a curious old house. Vines mangled the crumbling stone walls and the thatch roof had seen better days. He walked up to the leaning door and rapped lightly. A moment later a hunched old figure came to the door. Seeing Tolle, he broke into a toothy grin, revealing crooked yellow teeth.
"Tollemar, my boy, come in! I have not seen you for an age," he addressed him by his full name. "All of the children have lost their interest for my tales." Tolle smiled. Kutum the storyteller's 'children" had grown up. He himself was sixteen, hardly a boy.
"Kutum, I've come to ask you about that tower near the road leading into town. Last night, I saw it burning. Do you know anything about it?' the old man's grin disappeared. He glanced around the empty street. He beckoned to Tolle.
"You'd best come in,' he said. Tolle had to stoop down to get through the door. He sat himself down on a crudely made bench while Kutum busied himself making tea. His face was grave when he sat down to face Tolle.
"Boy, what color was the flame at the top of the tower?' Kutum demanded of him. Tolle raked his mind. Was there anything odd about the flame? Not that he could thin of- wait. The smoke was an odd color. Perhaps it meant something.
"The flame was just a plain orange. Nothing unusual. But the smoke- it took funny shapes and was the color of deadly nightshade berries." He told the little man. He screwed his face up so Tolle could not see what he was thinking.
"They say a sorcerer lived there, a long, long time ago. He was powerful. Yet there was one thing he couldn't do. He wished with all his foul heart to be a necromancer. He settled his cravings by seeking out young mages of the craft and hypnotizing them to do his will. Stay away, my boy. Stay far away. I must do some research on this. Come to my house tonight. Best for you to go now," with that, he shooed Tolle out of the house.
Tolle stood outside for a moment more. He tried to comprehend all that he heard. Necromancer? Mages of the craft? Hypnotizing? A large crash and a yell from inside the house knocked Tolle into reality. He rushed back to the cottage. He peered through the window and called.
"Are you all right?" he waited another moment before a muffled "yes, yes" came from inside. Satisfied of the man's safety, Tolle started off. Yet a feeling of someone watching sprinkled itself down his back, icy fingers tracing his spine. For a second he heard an ethereal voice in his ear, chanting. He gave an involuntary shudder and started on his way home.
He had gone about halfway back when he heard a familiar voice calling from the crowd. He spun around, surprising himself at his own skittishness. He saw his sister, Lyndly, running towards him. She was his twin, a cheeky girl with the same streaked hair and black-brown eyes as him. She caught up, panting slightly.
"I knew you'd be here," she told him matter-of-factly. "You were at Kutum's, weren't you? Asking about a certain tower." Tolle smiled. She didn't miss a thing. But still he felt a small nagging at the back of his brain not to tell her everything. He sighed.
"Yes, I suppose I was. He didn't tell me anything though," he lied. Lyn grimaced sympathetically and they walked home together. She seemed wary of him, though, as if he had the smell of foul deeds wafting around his head.
That night, Tolle lay awake on his small tousled bed. Peering through a crack in the stone wall of the family's house he waited. At last, he heard the sound he wanted to hear- his father's snore. Before he left, he glanced at Lyn. Sound asleep. He slipped out of the cottage and into the dark. Slinking down the dirt road Tolle found thoughts dripping into his mind. Many were unwelcome.
He reached the storyteller's abode and knocked slightly on the door. No answer. He tried again. And again. And again. At last he decided to go in. The door creaked as he pushed it open. Nobody was inside. Hadn't Kutum said to come tonight? He sat down on a stool inside. Perhaps he had gone somewhere and forgot. He would be back soon. As he sat and waited he felt that same sensation as earlier. The burning of eyes on your back, the tingling of an unknown presence. The voices came back to his head, this time louder in their chanting wail. Without knowing why, Tolle felt himself get up and leave the house.
His feet lead him down the road. A dead silence had fallen over the land. Tolle saw the tower rising before him. Up close it was twice as foreboding as from the carriage. He leaned against the black stone of the stone. Deadly nightshade twisted up its sides. Grotesque inlays of ivory flanked the huge oak door. Something was pulling him in. Without thinking twice, he started to climb the vines of nightshade. Something gave him unnatural confidence.
A window filtered light onto the ground right below Tolle. He steered his course over to it. All of a sudden, a flare burst out of the turret. His eyes were drawn up. The flame was a bright apple red this time. He couldn't tear his eyes from it. This proved to be a good thing. Voices were coming from inside the tower.
"Yes master, he will come. I guarantee that. I convinced the fool Kutum to invite him over tonight, and when he came I laid the spell on him. By the time that stupid old codger realizes what he's done it will be too late," A rat like voice drifted out over the crinkle of flame. Tolle froze. They were talking about him!
"You did well, Virman." A far more sinister person spoke. "Prepare the cauldron." The sound of his words brought evil and hatred to stain the night. Tolle heard Virman scuttle out. At last, the man spoke again. "So at last, we meet Tollemar." Tolle gasped and lowered himself down a bit. Had he been seen? He felt someone tugging at his mind. His arms and legs began to move, carrying him into the tower. He tumbled into a round room in front of a man dressed in gray and black. A vileness seeped out of him.
"Do not be alarmed. I have been told that you are gifted in the skills of necromancy." he was cut off by Virman entering the room again. He was lugging a large cauldron. He looked like he had seen a ghost.
"Master, sir, there's something you might want to see," he suggested quietly. The man paid no heed to him. He had begun chanting and brewing an evil looking substance. Tolle stood, entranced in front of the bubbling pot.
"Now, demonstrate your power!" the man cried. Tolle lifted his arms. Virman braced himself while the man watched- nothing. Nothing happened. The man rounded on Virman. "WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO SHOW ME?" he bellowed at the cringing Virman. As he struggled to explain the predicament before the fuming sorcerer a slender hand grabbed Tolle's Shoulder and dragged him over closer to the window. Lyn hung to the nightshade looking at her brother anxiously.
"Tolle, wake up. You're under a spell. I talked to Kutum. We have to go now!" she pleaded to her brother. When he didn't wake up, she did the natural thing anyone would do. She slapped him. His eyes shot open.
"Wha-" he said. Lyn clapped a hand over his mouth. Tolle just slipped out when the man had finished throwing a tantrum.
"Seize them!" he commanded only to look around to see Virman escaping out another way. The siblings ran and ran until they were safely back to their home.
Lyn, what WAS that?" Tolle questioned his sister. She shook her head.
"I don't know. I don't know."