“Mage you are summoned to headquarters immediately!” Rysan’s voice echoed through the room accompanied by a bright light hovering over my face.
“Urr, I’m sleeping” Lyphia mumbled before rolling away from the light.
I blinked, trying to adjust to the glare that was coming from above me.
“Orb, I thought we had got past this whole waking me up by shouting thing,” I said irritatedly.
“Well Tristan, that was before you did what you did, Rysan is very angry with you”
I sat up and rubbed my face, as Orb’s words sunk in.
I jumped up, grabbed my uniform and left the room, Orb followed along behind me.
I made my way to the large table and chairs in the main room. I started to get dressed.
“You don’t have a pendant, we have no other way to contact you. Master Jase has been ordered to provide you with a new one,” Orb said, its glowing body flickered with strange shapes and colours, far more than I had ever seen in him before.
“Don’t bring up my pendant. You know why I don’t have one.”
“Tristan I know, but that doesn’t change the fact that as an active mage, you need to be accessible.”
“I’m still active? I thought I would be suspended already,” I asked as I pulled my trousers on.
“Why would you be suspended?”
“You know, reasons.”
“Tristan you have to be more specific than that. I don’t know what you have done to earn Rysan’s ire, but whatever it is, fix it. We need as many mages as we can to fix the town. The wave knocked out most of the enchantments.”
“How come you and the academy weren’t affected?”
“The academy is…. I don’t know how to explain it. As for me, my forms aren’t as rigid as most of the constructions, I’m closer to a spell than an enchantment. I was still affected, my connections to things outside of myself was disrupted”
“Really?” I asked as forced my feet into my boots.
“I don’t know exactly, Orbs are not allowed the design schematics of their own construction. I only know what I know through observation.”
“That’s very clever.” I commented as I stood. “how do I look?”
“Very helpful. I know you don’t need clothes, but you can do better than that.”
“You are now wearing your uniform.”
“Shall we go then?”
“Representative Mage Tristan Sodden, I have heard some very disturbing news. Explain yourself,” Rysan ordered me.
Orb had escorted me to Rysan’s office, where I was confronted by a rather stressed out Rysan and a placid Jase.
“You will have to be more specific about the news you have heard…sir” I said.
“Don’t be glib with me boy!” Rysan shouted into my face.
I leant back.
“Sir, I don’t know what incident you are talking about.
“You killed a mage, not just a mage but my friend, in cold blood. That is what I am talking about. Explain before I do the same to you.
“Rysan, don’t threaten the boy. That is not your place.” Jase snapped at Rysan. “Step back from him and compose yourself as befits your position.”
“Fuck you Jase, you’ve pampered and protected this little shit since day one. He is reckless, disobedient and down right murderous. I should put him down like a dog.” Rysan screamed at Jase. Spittle flew from his lips as he spoke, his face was red and his fists were clenched.
“Rysan, compose yourself or I will dismiss you.”
“He murdered my friend, give me a single reason why I shouldn’t bleed him here and now.”
“One, Tristan will have a good reason for what he did. Two, you do that, you even attempt to and I will burn you to cinders where you stand.” Jase replied calmly.
“Give me your fucking report, Tristan.”
“I had just finished restoring a wall strengthening charm in a shop on the edge of the residential district. My Apprentice Sophia came to find me as I had taken longer than expected. We were on our way back to the academy when we encountered a mage threatening a man in his own home. We witnessed the mage…”
Rysan grabbed my shirt, and pulled me to him.
“Use his name. Say the name of the man you killed. You little shit, I will not stand here and hear you make up lies to cover your actions.”
“You asked for my report, now unhand me and listen to it.”
“Or what? You going to get Jase to fight your battle for you?” Rysan looked to Jase who hadn’t moved at all.
“No I fight my own battles, you want to hear this or not?” I grabbed Rysan’s arm and calmly pulled myself from his grasp.
“Speak the truth. No more lies.”
“Sir, he has spoken no lies, the only stress in his voice seems to be from being threatened by a superior,” Orb interjected from behind me.
“Silence Orb, I neither need nor want your opinion.”
“Sir you made this an official matter, in which case you are required by law to have an Orb present for truth reading. If you disregard the law I will have no choice but to suspend you and contact the wizards for further instruction.” Orb said in its monotone official voice. I was starting to see the massive void between Orb as a being and Orb as a tool.
“That’s the last thing we need, the wizards have only just left. Fine make a note that I’m listening to the opinion of the Westhaven Orb acting in its professional capacity.” Rysan’s gaze rested on Orb, you could have melted stone with the heat in it.
“Continue your report representative mage, use names where possible.”
“Very well sir. We came across a man being threatened in his home by Mage Selac Freant, he used magic to damage property to intimidate the man, from the conversation I overheard it sounded much like extortion. Some form of protection racket.”
“Speculation,” Rysan barked.
“It may well be speculation sir, but I feel it is relevant. My apprentice is a child, she is eight, if you don’t remember. She felt the need to inject herself into the situation. Mage Selac Freant used magic to harm her, he left a large bruise on her face, for her interfering in his wrong doing. I had to intervene.”
“Rysan, Selac harmed an apprentice, Tristan was well within his rights to do what he did.”
“I don’t care.”
“I named him,Ventrastus, for his abuses of the people and for his harming of my apprentice, I executed him for it.”
“You jumped up little fucker, you killed my friend on a pretext.”
“No I killed your friend, because he was abusing the people he had sworn to serve. I named him oath breaker for it. I killed him because he tainted all mages by association. But the real reason I killed him is because he harmed a little girl. My little girl!”
“Fuck you, she isn’t your daughter. She’s an apprentice, she means nothing,” Rysan spat.
“I have had enough of this. I was justified, I broke no laws. He earned it. Now either punish me or shut up,” I found myself saying.
Rysan’s eyes went wide, he roared then turned to swing at me.
I stepped back, and raised my own fist.
“Tristan don’t,” Jase shouted, he rushed out of the corner in an attempt to stop what was happening.
It was too late. I was faster than Rysan. My fist connected with Rysan’s eye. I could feel it squish slightly under my blow. Rysan staggered back. I grabbed at his collar, and swung again and again. My heart pounded in my head. My breath came in short, ragged gasps. Each blow hit with the dull thud of flesh striking flesh.
“Tristan, get off him,” Jase ordered from the corner.
I pulled myself off of Rysan who had fallen under my uncontrolled flailing. I was breathing hard, almost dizzyingly hard.
Rysan stood, bruises were just beginning to show around his eye, his lip had swollen and spit.
“Orb what is the punishment for striking a Senior mage?”
“Depending on the circumstances: relocation, dismissal, suspension, permanent severing of his links, bar his basic link.”
Rysan’s swollen lips, pulled back into a grim smile, blood was visible on his teeth.
“Jase, strip his links,” he ordered. “This boy isn’t fit to be a mage.”
My blood ran cold, I could feel the heat leave me in a rush.
“Sir, that is not possible in these circumstances,” Orb said.
“I’m the one in charge here. Do it Jase.”
Sir, you can’t overrule the wizard laws,” Orb said, his monotone voice loud over the beating of my heart in my ears.
“I don’t give a fuck. Strip his links,” he spat blood in my face.
“Rysan, I won’t, Orb has told you that it’s not allowable. So pick another punishment.” Jase said, his face was tight with tension.
“You are always defending him Jase, he is not your son. He doesn’t deserve it.”
“It doesn’t matter what you think Rysan, you are wrong. Choose another punishment.”
“Relocation then, I won’t have to see his face. You hear that boy? You are going away from the only home you will ever have, and I’ve done it to you. hows that make you feel?”
“Just fine, sir. In fact, far better now that I’ve punched your face into a swollen bloody mess.”
“Get out! I don’t care how special you think you are, if I see you again I will kill you!”
“Take it back Rysan. Now!” Jase called out.
A sense of power flowed into the room, faint but unmistakable
“Why should I?”
“Because you are about to be oathed, you fuckwit.” I shouted at him.
“Fine I’ll take it back, I’m sending you to Nelar. Hopefully that will do my task for me”
“You can’t send him there! It’s out of our jurisdiction,” Jase said.
“I can. Orb replay the message.” Rysan said as he turned to his desk. He rooted around in a drawer to pull out a small cloth. He sat in his chair and dabbed at his face.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a great deal of satisfaction every time he winced.
“To all Seniors, we would like to restart efforts to increase our holdings. We are facing increased pressure to expand from the lower council. Please do all in your power to expand your regions, increase trade and productivity. Use your resources carefully, we don’t have as much to spare as we would like.” Velar’s voice came from Orb. “End of message” Orb said.
Jase looked between me and over my shoulder at Orb, I assumed. “That said nothing about Nelar. In fact, that said nothing about anything really”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you or to him. I’m well within my rights to handle this matter in the way I have chosen. Aren’t I Orb?” Rysan said smugly, the effect was ruined by the wince he made as his lip split again.
“You are, technically correct sir. I feel it is…” Orb said.
“I didn’t ask how you feel Orb. Now Mage Representative, I want you out of my town by dawn. Dismissed.”
I stood looking at Rysan for a moment, my mouth twitched in an attempted grin.
“Didn’t you hear me? Get out of my sight.”
I turned and walked out, passing Orb who was flickering again. Steps followed.
“Not you Jase, I want a word with you.”
I left on my own.
I walked back to the academy is a daze, my skin still felt cold with fear, the risk of having my links severed, I would have just been a knack.
I found myself dragging my feet over the paving as I realised something. the early morning sun shone through the clouds, illuminating the tops of the buildings. this was my home, and I was being forced to leave it. Nelar? I’d never heard of it. some tiny little backwater no doubt. this was my home, I had ties here. my family who I admittedly never saw lived a short distance from where I stood. I had visited the market with them long before I wanted to be a mage. the academy where I now resided had been my prison, while of my own making it was still a cage, had become my home filled with my family, Jase and Sophia, Airis and Lyphia.
I sighed as I thought about Lyphia, there was no way I could take her with me. she had her work here and I had mine. it was debatable if I could take anyone with me. I didn’t know what I would be doing, exile that’s what this really is.
I passed people in the streets with smiles on their faces, I received many a nod and greeting. I didn’t feel like it but I forced a smile onto my face and nodded back.
I walked with as much speed as I could, I didn’t want the people to think their was something to be running away from, but I did want to get home quickly. Sophia should be awake, I knew Airis would be, that boy never really sleeps.
What would I tell them, ‘sorry kids I have to leave because I killed a mage and punched Rysan in the face repeatedly’ I didn’t think that would go down too well.
I looked at my home. The looming mage academy made of stone blacker than night, its high walls stared back at me revealing nothing, the people in the street walked by as if this massive edifice wasn’t here, it was normal, a part of their lives, nothing to be remarked upon. For me it had always been more, even as a child it had been a constant it was visible everywhere in town, it was the core that Westhaven had grown from, once just a breeding ground for knacks to feed and provide for the mages, now it was a relic struggling to be relevant to them, is this what we were? were we needed anymore? yes we did good work but many were not entirely as good as they proclaimed. men like Rysan who followed the rules except when it suited them, men like Selac who broke them for profit and pleasure. would the world be better off without us? I didn’t know.
I stepped inside the lobby to see a woman arguing with the receptionist. I aimed for the corridor I needed and walked as fast as I could. I didn’t need to be a part of anything today. it wasn’t my problem.
“There he is!” a voice announced, the sign of relief that accompanied it was also announced.
“That’s Mage Tristan Sodden?” The woman that had been arguing with the receptionist said in a tone laden with doubt.
“Mage Representative, yes that’s him.” the receptionist said.
I didn’t make it to the corridor without notice, the arguing woman headed right for me. I stooped and plastered a blank but hopefully polite expression on my face.
“What appears to be the problem…madam?”
“You are the mage that abducted my niece!” she accused me, her finger inches from my nose.
I could only stare at her.
She was an older, medium built woman, short red hair, with grey eyes. she looked familiar. she also looked really angry.
“I have no idea where you have gotten that idea from but I assure you that is not the case. Mages do not abduct children.”
“You have my niece. I requested she be sent to me so that I can care for her, but no one answered my letter. That is kidnap at the very least.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Sophia Leif, daughter of my brother. who are you talking about?”
“I wasn’t talking about anyone. I was saying we don’t abduct children. this now makes far more sense.
“Are you sure I’m talking to the right person? This one appears to be an idiot,” Sophia’s aunt called over her shoulder at the receptionist.
The receptionist, who I should really learn the name of, paled and nodded solemnly.
“Miss Leif, I don’t really care who you are right now, I have a lot to do. But please remember that I am a Mage, you should treat me with respect.”
I didn’t have an answer for her that wouldn’t sound as if I was puffed up with a sense of self importance.
“I guess it doesn’t really matter, not all of us are worthy of respect, but a word of caution, not all mages are restrained either.”
She did nod at that, slowly. That was the first bit of thoughtfulness I’d seen from her.
“If you will follow me, I can take you to see Sophia. there have been issues regarding her care, that I’m going to have to tell you about, but that can wait until you have seen her.”
I started off down the corridor.
The woman matched my pace
“Why did she pass into the hands of a mage? She should have been with her family.”
“Her family died, we sent out the call for relatives the night they died. No one, and I mean no one, came forwards to claim her. She is my apprentice. my responsibility. I claimed her. Where were you?” I said.
“I was at home. I don’t live in Westhaven I’m from Greenlaw. I was coming to visit my brother and his wife. I’ve not been here for years. Sophia was a baby when last I came. I sent a letter ahead of me. but it turns out they were dead before it arrived. I don’t know what happened to it.”
“Sophia doesn’t know you then?”
“I don’t know what she remembers or what she was told. It’s a long journey. I can’t make it as often as I would like. I have work commitments”
“What do you do?”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m getting to know you”
“You haven’t even asked my name, its Clarise by the way.”
“Its been a rough day, I’m sorry that I’m not at my best
“And my niece is in your care? you’re hardly more than a boy yourself what do you know about raising a child?”
“Do you have any of your own?”
“No but that’s hardly any business of yours.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“I work for the wizard council”
“So do I, but that doesn’t answer my question now does it?”
“If you must know I work in a teaching capacity.”
“Magic of course.”
“How? you aren’t a mage or a wizard”
“I don’t need power to teach. I can see you are bursting with it, and I’ll bet you know nothing.”
“Hey, that’s not true. I do well enough.”
“Magic isn’t just about power is about knowledge and thought.”
I groaned as the line reminded me of something Jase had said.,
“there we go, you are exactly like some of my students. disdaining knowledge over power.”
“No, you just reminded me of my master.”
we reached the door to my apartment. I turned to her.
“now let’s cut the lecture short. I want what’s best for Sophia. I’m not convinced you have the space in your life for a child but I have to leave soon. so I’m not overwhelmed with choices, that I can dismiss you out of hand.”
I raised a hand to cut her off.
“Don’t interrupt me. I’m in earnest about this. You speak with great pride about you work but there is no mention of a husband or children in your life. There is no warmth apparent in you. you have been harsh and dismissive to me. A grown man and a mage to boot. I have fears as to what you would do to a child in your care. There are things I will discuss with you once Sophia has seen you but do not think that you can lay claim to her without her consent. Am I clear?”
“How dare you, she is mine by blood. I can claim her by the laws of the wizards themselves.”
Not really, you can’t. I thought. I felt a smile curve my lips in response
You arrogant child,” she raise her hand to slap me.
I grabbed it, “I’ve already been in this position today. Make no mistake it will be something you regret. The law isn’t as clear cut as you might think. Now I’m going to release you and you are going to calm down. I won’t take you in to see her in this state.”
She pulled her hand out of my grasp and stood glaring at me, before nodding shortly.
I opened the door and walked in, leaving the woman
Inside was Sophia and Airis both seated at the dining table. Lyphia was talking into a mirror. She absently waved at me before walking back towards the bedrooms.
“Good morning Sophia, Airis. I’m sorry I had to leave so early.”
“Tristan, we saw you weren’t here but Lyphia said you would be back soon enough.
“I have someone here to see you Soph she says she is your aunt. Her name is…”
“Aunt Clarise? Really? I thought she lived far away, I never met her, and dad didn’t like her much.”
“Well, I can understand that. She has come to see you. I left her in the hall to give you a moment to process the news.”
She sat looking at me blankly for a moment, then nodded, looking me straight in the eye.
I smiled at her then I turned and gestured Clarise into the room.
She stepped in with a kind of trepidation, as if she was walking into a room of wild animals. She stopped just inside and looked, really looked at Sophia.
“You look just like your mother. I’m so sorry child. I wish I could have been here sooner, then you wouldn’t have needed to be with strangers.”
“They aren’t strangers. Airis is my friend, he’s looked after me and we play and have fun. Tristan is nice, he is my master but he isn’t mean or bossy. He loves me. And Lyphia is very pretty and we dress up and talk and stuff. I miss mum and dad but I’m not with strangers. you are family, but I don’t know you. you are a stranger. so I would have been with strangers if you had taken me away. I would have been away from my home and I wouldn’t be able to come back or see the places that I saw when I went shopping with mum. or the places I went to with dad. and all my friends from school would be here and I would be away.”
“Shush child. I’m not a stranger I came to take you away from all this. I live in Greenlaw do you know of it? its a big city on an island. it floats above the ocean. have you seen the ocean?”
“No but Tristan will take me, won’t you Tristan?”
I stood there wanting so much to tell her I would, but I couldn’t
“Tristan is something wrong?” Lyphia asked from the other side of the room. she had just re entered, the mirror in her hand just a blank mirror now.
“No, could I have a word with you though. work stuff.”
“Of course. Sophia, Airis be good for this lady. we won’t be a moment”
The kids nodded.
I fixed Clarise with a glare. I hoped she got the the message. I then walked to the table grabbed the letter and went to my room with Lyphia.
As soon as the door was shut she asked “ what’s wrong? you left so early this morning and without saying a word.
“Orb came. I was summoned to appear before Rysan and be judged for my actions. it didn’t go as well as I had hoped.”
“But you were in the right.”
That doesn’t matter. what is right anyway? I still killed a mage and apparently he was Rysan’s friend. it didn’t help that I punched the Rysan a bit.
“You punched Rysan a bit?”
“Eh, just a little bit.”
“You are a very stupid man.”
“I have my moments yeah. Well Rysan wanted to kill me on the spot. Then he wanted to strip my links, which I didn’t think was possible.”
“It is, most go mad though. My father mentioned its like having a part of your mind just torn away. You don’t even know what is lost but you can feel the hole”
“That’s what happened to him?
“Not quite, but the generalities are the same. It wasn’t done to him so much as his oath had merged with one of his lesser links. I don’t know the details I doubt he does either. Anyway that isn’t the subject at hand. You aren’t dead and you are still a mage. So what punishment have you been given?”
“I’ve been reassigned. I have to aid the expansion efforts in a place called Nelar, I’ve never even heard of it.”
“I have but I can’t place it, did you get told anymore? How long will you be gone? Is it permanent?”
“I have until dawn to be out of town, on my way I assume. I didn’t really want to press for details, it was a bit touch and go if I would even walk out for a moment or three.”
“What are you going to tell Sophia? She will want to come with you. Is she allowed?
“I don’t know really I don’t. I have no information about the place, other than its not a good place to go, Rysan was gloating about sending me there.”
“Appeal to the wizards. Explain the situation.”
“They won’t believe me, I’ve been an active for how long now? A few months. Rysan has been here for years and he served the council before coming here. Who would take the word of a such a junior mage over a senior? Its not like I’ve even got a perfect record as it stands. Suspended for medical within a week of service. Disobeying a lawful command. I have years of my debt still to serve. Its just not going to happen. Even if they did believe me. I’ve just killed another of their servants, I would be pissed in their shoes.
“You have to do something, you can’t just meekly accept your lot in life. You have to fight this.
“Why? I’m tired Lyph, its been a few months, that’s it. I’m tired already. I have an apprentice, Sophia, who looks up to me, should I show her that she should fight everyone? Should I show her its okay to disobey her superiors? or should I show her what it means to fulfil her duty even when its unpleasant. to do the right thing? I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where I am going or why. I just don’t know.”
“Tristan of course you should show her the right way to fulfil her duty but you should show her how to think. Show her when to fight and why. you both need to learn how to fight. clearly you are going to come off worse on of these days.”
“You’re telling me, I lost against Selac, it was the people who won that one for me. I can’t rely on it all the time. I don’t know what to tell Sophia. If it’s a dangerous as I’m guessing I can’t take her. How can I leave her after everything?”
“We will cross that bridge when we come to it, but for now you need to put a smile on your face and go back out.
“I need to read this letter. Sophia never mentioned an aunt neither did Orb. It seems strange that she has just appeared.”
“Orb doesn’t know everything. You know most of the older people aren’t in the census. the nobles didn’t care that much as long as they had all the soldiers they needed and trade didn’t dry up.”
“I know Orb doesn’t know everything but surely if she is who she says she is, she would have shown up, she said she teaches magic in Greenlaw”
“That is odd, she didn’t look like a mage or a wizard.”
She isn’t, I didn’t look but there is no sense of that about her, and her eyes are normal.
“Sophia doesn’t have the eyes yet either.”
“I guess. But she is really young there is nothing to say she will get the eyes for awhile.”
“Read the letter I will go out and see to the children for a few moments, come out when you are ready.”
Lyphia headed to the door, kissing me on the cheek on the way out.
I stood gazing at the letter for a moment before opening it.
‘To my dearest brother,
I’m sending this letter on my way out of the city, it may reach you before I will. I have come to collect Sophia as we discussed in previous communications. I will never understand why you don’t use the mirrors. But that is neither here nor there. please make sure she is informed of my arrival. I don’t have the patience to deal with a reluctant child. she is to be provided with all she needs, clothes and essentials. I believe you are doing the right thing sending her to me. Westhaven is a backwater compared to the floating city. She will do far better here and I can educate her, make her ready for work. I wish you would reconsider joining me, but I suppose you never will. I will be arriving as soon as possible. A few weeks is likely as I can’t use the new transport systems, the golem birds, they make me sick to my stomach. Those self powered carts confuse my senses, and they are expensive for such a long journey. I will be there soon, keep looking for me.
Your loving sister Clarise.’
I folded the letter up and looked at the envelope, there in crossed out and faded ink was Sophia’s old address. Someone had added in directions to the academy. So someone knew that Sophia had been relocated. It wasn’t important. In a town this small everyone knew everyone, although the mages were outside of that. Town gossip didn’t pass the academy doors.
I still had no idea what I was going to do. Reading the letter hadn’t told me all that much. It certainly hadn’t given me any answers to my questions. If anything it had taken one away. Clarise felt cold, Sophia was such a warm child, it just felt wrong to leave her with such a person.
I took a deep breath and walked out to the main room.
Clarise hadn’t moved neither had Sophia they remained looking, more like glaring at each other. Airis and Lyphia were stood to the sides, both waiting to intervene. Not a word was spoken.
“Is everything alright in here?” I asked.
Clarise stalked towards me. “This child is disobedient and insolent. She should show respect to her elders.”
Sophia bristled and opened her mouth to respond.
I raised a hand to forestall her outburst.
She closed her mouth but continued to look angry.
“She is a wonderful child, that you have come here out of the blue to take away from the home she has, you have undoubtedly commanded her, instead of asking her. She has no reason to respect you, she doesn’t know you. I don’t respect you, I can barely stand the sight of you and you have been in my home for no more than a few moments. Don’t start. I haven’t finished. She is my apprentice, she is my responsibility, blood means nothing to me. If she wants to live with you, then that is her decision.”
“The law clearly states ……”
“Did you not listen to me? She is my apprentice. The law doesn’t apply to me. She is my ward until such a time as I release her. I will not release her into the care of someone I don’t trust nor someone that she doesn’t want to live with.
“That’s illegal, you abducted this poor child from the site of parents death. She is my flesh and blood, you can’t keep me from her.”
“I can and I will. Sophia, what do you think about living with your aunt?”
“I don’t want to. I don’t know her. I don’t want to move away.”
“Then you don’t have to.” I turned back to Clarise. “You will not try to press your claim to Sophia. It will go badly for you. you will not attempt to remove her from the home she has chosen. Am I clear?”
Clarise said nothing.
“Am I clear?” I repeated louder. I could feel my eyes flare with power as my anger rose.
Yes,” she answered sullenly.
“Good, now I’m not going to be unreasonable. If Sophia is willing, I’m more than happy for you to spend time with her. Get to know her.”
“I will have to find accommodations, I hadn’t planned on staying in the area.”
“I will ask Orb to see what he can do, as a family member of a mage in training we can provide temporary housing. If you can go down to the reception, I have some things to take care of.”
“Right now that that is dealt with for the moment I have something to tell you all.” I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, taking a moment to gather my thoughts. “I’ve been reassigned. I will be leaving first thing.”
Sophia burst with questions. Airis wasn’t far behind. In the end they both had the same questions.
Could they come with me? How long would we be gone?
“I don’t have any answers for you right now. I need to get with orb and find some things out, like where the forsaken place is and how to get there. Sophia from what little I know I’m not sure if taking you is a good idea.”
“but you just sent her away, if I can’t go with you who would look after me? You promised you wouldn’t leave me.”
“I know I did Sophia and I don’t want to. I will do everything can to stay with you but this isn’t in my hands. I’m bound to the council, I have to do my job wherever that may be.”
“Lyph make him stay.”
“I would if I could, I can’t leave I have the guild.”
“Then you can move here. You are here all the time anyway. and we can be together until Tristan comes home.”
Lyphia smiled gently.
“We will see Soph”
Well I need to do some research before I can do anything else. If you need me I will be in my work room please knock first.
I got a round of nods of varying degrees of certainty. I walked back to my room.
As I entered I noticed the sword on the wall. The thing that had caused all this. I was reminded that I could have found another way to handle things if I’d just used my mind, a bit of thought and I wouldn’t be having to deal with all this. research and arrangements for Sophia, not even counting travel and what I would actually need to do when I got to Nelar, wherever it was. I continued through to my work room and sat at the control terminal. I lay my hand on the panel to activate it. my hand stung as I lay it flat. my knuckles were skinned and bled lightly. I fought a grin off my face at the reminder of punching Rysan in the face. I sobered quickly, I needed to find out what mess I was being sent into. I swiped my fingers over the screen looking for the archives, there was a tiny glyph in the corner that I tapped. it pulled up a voice search.
“Please state your request” The terminal said.
“That information is restricted to masters and above. Please present your ident.”
I channelled a tiny glimmer of power into my hand.
“Access has been granted. No copies of this information are allowable. Do not repeat this information to anyone, this is punishable by suspension, and an inquest.”
I felt my eyebrows rise at the warning, I’d never encountered it before, although I didn’t use the archives as much as I should. My studies had taken a blow since I’d become an active.
On the screen were dense rows of tiny scrolling glyphs in mage. But for all that the information was thin.
I read parts that seemed pertinent aloud to fix them in my memory.
“Nelar was once a large city in the holding of the Vestris noble house, due to various factors the city declined till barely twelve structures were still active.
In the area surrounding the holding of Nelar is a disturbance in the ambient energy, this has caused large alterations in the way people can live their lives. All enchantments fail abruptly. Wild elementals roam the area. Use of magic is strictly controlled, it often has unfortunate side effects as well as a corrupting influence on a mage or a wizards. This town has be struck from the list of viable trading areas.
Efforts to address the distortion have failed. The distortion has grown over generations. the cause of the disturbance is unknown. why the small population of Nelar have stayed in the area is unknown. Allowed uses of magic are unknown. Golems are prohibited. Untrained mages are prohibited. Enchantment is prohibited. Prolonged exposure to the area is inadvisable. There are a few unconfirmed reports of ghosts and spirits. The local populace seems to have a deep distrust of magic users.
I stood up feeling rather overwhelmed.
I couldn’t take Sophia into that mess, nor Airis. I still didn’t know how to get there but I at least knew where it was now. Up near the mountains quite a way from here, but there was a broken road I could use for most of the way.
I looked down at the screen that was now flashing at me, a small map was showing but it wasn’t a terrain map, it was an ambient map the magic plane was superimposed over the land in washes of colour. Nice healthy,light colour everywhere except a patch of darkness in a part that without even checking I knew was Nelar I couldn’t look anymore.
I walked out to my room, and started collected everything I thought I might need. Enchantments were a no go. so it kinda made up for the fact my bracer was no where to be found, it was odd that I could now do the effect myself but handy. a pile of clothes formed on my bed, all mage uniforms, I should really get some other clothes but they were durable, it served my purposes. I looked at the sword, I didn’t want to take it with me I barely knew how to use it. But without my magic I was helpless. In the base of the wardrobe was a bag that I’d found in my rummaging. it was sturdy hide, it looked as if it would fit all my stuff in it. and it had a strap so I could sling it over my shoulder.
I needed supplies, and I needed to talk to Sophia and Lyph and Jase.
Armed with slightly more information and the start of a plan I headed out to the main room. Lyphia and the kids were sat around the table with matching expressions of confusion and hope on their faces.
“Soph, I don’t think I can take you with me, it doesn’t sound like a good place for anyone let alone someone as young as you.”
“But you promised you wouldn’t leave me”
I’m not leaving you, I’m still with you. I will always be here for you but my duty comes first always I’m sorry.
Tristan do you have to say it like that?” Lyphia said.
“It’s the truth, Sophia means the world to me but I have a job to do. part of that is doing things that I don’t want to. like being away from you all. I can’t take Airis for reasons that I can’t go into. Lyph you have the guild, if possible would you be able to look after Sophia while I’m gone, I’m going to ask Jase too,” I turned back to Sophia. “Is this alright with you? I can’t change having to leave but I will come back. I need to make sure you are safe and well before I can do anything.”
Sophia nodded reluctantly.
“Good, Airis I need you to make sure she stays out of trouble too, can you do that for me?”
The golem boy saluted with a closed fist to his chest.
I responded in kind, a smile quirked my lips.
I need to finish getting together what I will need, I saw Jase earlier do you have any clue when he will be back?”
“No, but I think he is due to visit Avery soon. They spend their afternoons together.”
I avoided looking at Sophia, I didn’t want to see her cry. I turned and walked out to the hall. I shut the door behind me. it may have been the hardest thing I’d ever done. I didn’t want to leave her, but…
“Do your duty mage,” I said to myself.
I didn’t know if I said it to remind or mock, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth.