Mage Life Chapter 29

I pulled so much magic around me that it was visible in streamers, water streaming from me and my wound stopped bleeding, useful to know but not particularly relevant right now. I sped down that hall

The scene before me would have been funny, if I hadn’t run there naked.

I slowed as I entered the main room, which was what I had just decided to call it.

Sophia and Lyphia were sat on one of the sofas. The wizard was nowhere in sight.

Airis was stood shifting between his boy and stone forms rapidly, well as rapidly as he could, which was a lot faster than I had seen before.

The girls were urging him on laughing and giggling.

I had misheard the screams of laughter as a reason to panic.

I attempted to slink backward slowly and quietly, it didn’t work. I did manage to cover the important bits

Lyphia noticed me. Her eyes widened and her face flushed. She gulped, then promptly fell off the sofa.

I was still walking backwards when Sophia looked around for Lyphia and saw me, she burst out laughing.

“Tristan, what are you doing? You’re naked, there are girls here,” Sophia informed me, with a huge smile on her face.

“Um, I heard a scream, thought you were in trouble,” I replied sheepishly as I backed away some more.

“Nope, go get some clothes on. Lyphia is taking us to dinner. Isn’t that right Lyph?” Sophia said cheekily.

“Yes, get dressed,” Lyphia said recovered from her, what ever that had been. She hadn’t taken her eyes of me, to be fair I hadn’t off her either, barring a glance at Sophia.

“Um, give me a few moments” I said just as I got out of sight.

That went well I thought with a grimace.

I walked back to my room, my wardrobe was just to the side. I opened the door and I looked.

I still didn’t have any clothes, I had my uniforms but that was about it.

It will have to do, I thought as I grabbed a fresh set. I picked up the spare boots from the bottom of the wardrobe.

I carried my clothes to the bed. I dumped them as my stomach cramped, hard. I doubled over, it had been awhile since I had eaten and while mages don’t eat as much as knacks we still needed to eat. I did my best to ignore the burning pain in my belly as I got dressed. once I was done I stood before the mirror, I could do with a shave but I was presentable.

I decided to try something Jase had mentioned years ago.

I raise my hand and sent a sliver of my magic to run over my fingernails, it mimicked having a sharp blade along the edge of my hand.

I carefully ran it over my stubble, it cut with no tugging or pulling, a moment later I was as close to done as I could be. my hands were steady, but they felt like they should be shaking. my stomach was in knots, either hunger or nerves I couldnt tell.

I tied up my hair with my trusty charm  and I walked out to meet the girls.


The women hadn’t wasted the time while I was getting ready. They must have sent Airis out for awhile, he would turn up.

Sophia had a dress that I had never seen on, a deep green like her eyes. It flowed to her ankles which had wrapped leather sandals. Her hair was styled in a complicated pattern, up and yet down. her face shone with her smile, what worried me was the faint glow to her eyes.

I ignored Lyphia who was standing beside Sophia for a moment, I felt bad about it but I didn’t think I would be able to give Sophia the attention she deserved if I looked too closely at Lyphia.

I knelt down to Sophia, and gave her my very best serious face.

“You look wonderful, Soph, really you do. I don’t want to upset you, but is your magic under control?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I think so but it feels different,” she said hesitantly.Her smile faded and her face showed a large amount of doubt.

“We don’t have to go out if you’re not ready.”

“But I really want to, I dressed up Lyph helped,” she looked to Lyphia and smiled.

I continued not to look at Lyph, as Sophia was calling her.

“Well then just for tonight, I will bind your power, so we can have a meal out together. How does that sound?” I said.

“You can do that? But I thought people die without their magic, you told me that,” she said, she even backed away as if I’d threatened to kill her.

“Well, yes they do,but only if its gone for a long time, a week, maybe a bit more. This would be just for a few hours. and its not quite the same, your links are still there they will just be constrained,” I explained.

“Whats con-st-rained mean?” she asked, her little face scrunched up with confusion.

“Umm, it means kinda locked or tightened,” I hedged, I took a moment to think of an example, one came to me, I smiled, pleased with myself. “Like the faucet, you can control how much comes out, so I would be making less come out. Does that help?” I offered.

“Yep,  faucet me, but just for tonight,” she said brightly. “Does it hurt?” she asked as I place my hand on top of her head.

“No, shush a moment please.”

I called my power in a whisper of magic, I activated my reading and I looked deep into this amazing little girl. She had earth and air. A strange combination, must have been something about her awakening that made that happen. Her links glowed like the sun, brighter than Airis’s, but not brighter than mine. They wrapped around each other magnifying what could be pulled through, thank the magic she only had two. I pushed a delicate thread into the the point where they joined with Sophia’s core. With a skill I would never have been able to manage without my reading, I wove my thread around the openings. I created a majorly restricted flow. I twisted my thread gently so that it would hold but would dissolve on its own sometime tomorrow. That done I looked at Sophia with my normal sight and announced “Done.”

“I feel strange, not bad, just strange,” she said, she raised her hand to poke at her own head. “It doesn’t hurt” she said in a soft tone of wonder.

“Nope, painless, told you,” I said with a smirk.

Sophia stuck her tongue out at me.

“As amusing as you pair are to watch, we have a meal to eat,” Lyphia said.

I looked, I had to, it would’ve been rude not to.

Lyphia was in the same dress she’d worn earlier, that I hadn’t paid much attention to, mortified by my own nakedness as I was. It was blue, sky blue, it hung down to her ankles like Sophia’s did, but where Sophia’s covered most of her Lyphias hugged her in some very interesting ways, her shoulders were bare as were her arms. She had some nice jewelry on, rubies set in silver, which I had never seen done before. A necklace that flowered with silver petals and ruby cores. A matching ring and bracelet.

Her hair hung down her back in subtle twirls, of ruby redness, it looked so soft. I was tempted to touch it. Her face was a beautiful as ever, set in a mildly amused yet still impatient expression.

“Of course lady Lyphia, we are at your service,” I said charmingly. I executed a small sweeping bow.

Sophia giggled and curtsied.

Lyphia sighed, but smiled.

I gestured to the door. “Shall we go?”

My ladies both nodded, so off we went.

Out on the street, the setting sun cast a deep red glow over the white stone of the town. We walked down the street, Sophia and I on either side of Lyphia. The path was clear, in a way that set my teeth on edge. People just weren’t out, it was silent. But maybe I was just jumpy

We made our way to a small restaurant, that must have been new. Bursts of laughter  escaped from the brightly lit interior, I turned my head this way and that in confusion. The street lamps were still out. I activated my reading.

The threads of the enchantments were dull, a stark lifeless grey. Everywhere I looked, my heart fell a little more at the scope of the damage the wave had done. It was nothing physical but the amount of work that will be needed to to restore the networks. The lights. The sewers, even the street cleansing was dead. The academy was layered with protections, but the town was just too large for the few mages that we had to protect entirely.

From the restaurant the magic were natural, raw. It was knack magic. washes of colour flowed across my sight. The pyros cooking and lighting. The hydros washing and cooling. The terras doing, well I didn’t really know. I had never learnt the more household applications of my magic, duplication of effort Jase once said. If a mage got called in it was beyond the common people.

I looked at Lyphia, she was smiling, while fixing me with a smug look.

“We aren’t helpless, Tristan,” she said. “Shall we enter?”

“Yep, come on Tristan,” Sophia said with barely contained excitement, while she grabbed my hand and Lyphia’s and started dragging us to the entrance.

“Let’s,” I said.

The inside was far larger than I had expected, the smooth white stone of building had been changed in areas, murals of each of the elements shone on the walls. An open forest, the greens startlingly crisp, there were even small animals animated somehow, a pair of knacks, no, I shouldn’t call them that, they were daydreamers. Not quite lucid but with very fine control of their admittedly limited scope. Sat on each end of the murals. One caught me looking, an older woman,she winked and smiled at my open mouthed expression. It was the same with the other walls. Air clouds scudded across the sky, small drafts emanated from it. Water was a shifting wall of actual water, I could feel the depths somehow, as if it opened into a real sea. Creatures made of ice, swam with the false currents. Fire, was a shifting wall of coloured flames, no creatures roamed that wall but the play of light and heat was beautiful.

“How?” I asked Lyphia as she guided us to a table.

“Oh come now Tristan, since the nobles fell, people have been playing with their talents, I know most of the people here. Many are experts, but even the younger, less experienced, ones use their magic more than you mages think. Up in your academy you have enchantments do everything for you. We work for our’s. How do you think all the food gets grown and cooked. The clothes you wear, the water gets purified, this is how.” she answered gently.

I sat at the table we had reached. Sophia sat next to me and Lyphia took a seat across from both of us.

“Open your eyes Tristan, you are one of us, even though you’re a mage, surely you have seen more than they tell you,” she continued.

“Well yes, my family are like this but we lived out of town. We had to be,” I said awkwardly.

“It’s not just your family, it’s everyone. This is how we live our lives. We might not have the same versatility that you do but we work together. Now, keep your eyes open and enjoy the evening.”

“I think its pretty, my mum and dad used to put little shows on at bedtime, nothing like this, but I miss them,” Sophia said. Her face had fallen, a tiny tear threatened to spill from her eye. She caught me looking and forced a smile. “I’m being silly. Don’t mind me.”

“It’s not silly to miss your family, Sophia. I will see if I can figure out how they do this then we can put on a show, what to you think?”

“Yeah, that would be nice,” she said, her smile firmer.

Lyphia looked at me strangely, a almost considering look. she caught me and smiled.

“What would you like this evening?” a soft male voice came from behind my left shoulder.

I turned to see a young man, maybe eighteen. Slim, fair hair and skin, blue eyes.

“Yes please, could we have some chilled silver juices please, and um..” Lyphia said. “I don’t know what the special is for tonight.” she looked between us as if trying to make up her mind.

“I will eat anything, I’m starving,” I said. My stomach growled to prove a point.

Lyphia laughed.

Sophia smiled before saying “Could I have an egg, ham and fried potatoes please?”

The boy, man, waiter inclined his head then looked to me.

I thought a moment, then decided to ask lyphia “You brought us here. What do you think is best?”

“Oh, the venison was good last time I came,” she said. She looked a bit surprised to be asked, but not displeased.

“The I will have the venison, please,” I informed the waiter.

As will I,” Lyphia said.

The waiter hurried off with a nod.

“This place is amazing, Tristan can I have a wall like that one, at home?” Sophia asked pointing to the water wall.

“Yeah, can she?” Lyphia teased.

“Can you two stop ganging up on me, it’s not fair,” I said.

They grinned at each other.

Lyphia reached her hand out over the table, and rested it on mine, she gave me a squeeze and a warm smile.

“But master mage, it’s so much fun,” she teased.

“Oooo,” Sophia said as her eye caught something  She got up and walked to the water wall. She poked a little ice fish with her finger.

The knack, no the daydreamer, controlling the wall, smiled and closed his eyes.

A group of small fish swam out of the depths to the surface. They swam circles around Sophias digit, she giggled and pushed her hand flat against the surface. they followed her hand as she waved it about.

I looked down to my hand, then up to Lyphia, she was looking at Sophia.

“You did a very good thing, taking her in like you did, I thought you were going to be like all the other mages, but you’re different,” Lyphia said softly without looking at me.

“Thank you?” I said, what was I supposed to say to that.

“You really are an idiot sometimes aren’t you?” she asked with a smile.

“Only around you,” I said jokingly, hopefully she wouldn’t bite my head off.

“Ha, yeah I don’t believe that for a moment, but you get a point for attempting honesty,”

Our drinks arrived with a different waiter. This one had dark eyes and hair, blocky build, but seemed far more cheerful.

“Here you go. Your meals will be along shortly,” he presented us each with a tall glass of metallic looking juice, I loved the stuff.

He placed each on the table, pausing briefly to pass a tingle of magic into the juice. I watched ice form inside them, I hadn’t seen that trick for years, most of the places I went were all enchanted nowadays, but it seemed some of the older tricks were still being used.

I nodded my thanks to the waiter who left.

“Sophia, your drink is here,” I called to her.

“But I’m playing with the fish,” she whined disappointedly, but she came back anyway.

“I will see what I can do about getting you your own fish,” I said my mind was already whirling with ideas.

“Not tonight,” Lyphia said.

I raised an eyebrow at her.

“Did you think I could grow up with a mage and still not know how you think? I’ll bet you, the price of dinner that you were thinking of ways to make one for her” she replied to my unspoken question.

“Well, kinda. I was thinking about making a wall enchantment that could switch between different scenes…”

“I knew it, you are paying for dinner” she said satisfied with herself.

“Really, you was going to make one for me?” Sophia asked me, surprised I think.

“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” I replied confused.

“You know, cos I’m your apprentice, not your kid,” she said, she looked sad for a moment.

“Sophia, I would be happy to have a child like you one day, but until then I have you and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you are happy, even if it means making ice fish.”

Sophia looked shocked, then burst into tears.

I looked at Lyphia who was smiling widely.

“Come here Soph,” I said as I pushed back my chair and spread my arms.

She came to me, burying her head against my chest.

I winced as she brushed my wound but didn’t let go of her. I said “This is a happy night, you’re awake and I’m home and all is well. No need for tears. We are in a wonderful place with wonderful company.” I gave Lyphia a gentle glance to tell her I meant her before continuing “ Now dry your eyes Soph, dinner will be here soon.”

Sophia nodded and wiped the tears from her face, her smile bloomed brighter than the fire wall. She went back to her seat.

We chatted for a few moments drinking our juices, the cool drinks and gentle conversation doing much to ease the wait.

When our meal did arrive our drinks were gone, but I ordered another round as the waiter left.

Only then did I let myself look at the meal. I had done my very best to avoid even smelling it, roasted venison with vegetables and a sauce of some kind, my hunger roared at me to eat it as quickly as possible. I couldnt, I was in a civilised place. on what could generously called a date. I forced myself to take small bites, it was maddening, almost painful. In between mouthfuls of deliciousness, I acted my most charming, prompting, giggles and smiles from the girls. Lyphia told some stories about her growing up, some were hilarious, Sophia nearly choked. It was a fun and relaxing evening. We soon reached the end of the meal.

“Time to pay up,” Lyphia reminded me.

“Oo Tristan lost,” Sophia said. She flashed me a smile.

I laughed, “Fine. Just so you know I was planning on paying anyway so you didn’t win anything.”

I stood up and walked to the counter in the corner to discuss the bill with our waiter. I got the fair haired teen that we had taken our order.

“The meal was wonderful, what’s your name?” I said when he stopped rushing around.

“Jak, I’m pleased you enjoyed the meal. Will you be staying for the show?” he said.

“I didn’t know there was a show,” I said slightly confused.

“Oh yes, we do a show most nights. We turn off the walls and put on a play of one of the folk stories,” he said. His enthusiasm for the shows animated his features.

“Not tonight, its been a long day. But I would definitely like to see them, now can I pay my bill?”  I asked.

Sophia would love the shows, maybe I could bring Lyphia back another night, just the two of us. I thought.

“Oh what was the other waiters name as well?”


Would it be alright to give you both a few knacks for such a lovely evening?” I asked

The teen, Jak, blushed. “That is allowed, but please don’t feel you have to. We treated you the same as everyone else.” he protested.

In the end he took the tip, I paid the bill and another tip went to Milen. I walked back to our table to find Sophia and Lyphia coming up with unlikely situations to explain why I had been so long. The one they were currently discussing involves me trying to buy the walls to take home with me

“Hey, it was nothing like that, I was just complimenting him on a wonderful evening,” I said. “Everyone ready to leave?”

“Yep” from Sophia she jumped up with far more energy than she should have after such a heavy meal. She came over to hold my hand.

Lyphia rose with more decorum but no less energy. “Of course.

We walked out together.


Our walk back was quiet, it was dark, but peaceful. it wasn’t too late but I was tired.  Lyphia even held my hand as we walked down the wide streets, I was relaxed. We talked about small things until we reached the academy

Then Sophia asked “Lyph, can you stay? can she Tristan? Please, please please”

I looked at Lyphia, as much as I would like her to stay, I couldnt force the words out.

“Where would I sleep?” Lyphia said to Sophia.

“In my room of course,” Sophia declared. She gave me a pleading look.

“If thats what you want,” Lyphia said, she blushed so hard that I could see it, in the dark.

“Yay,” Sophia said excitedly.

I stood there, completely befuddled by this.

“Come on Tristan, its past by bed time, don’t ya know.” Sophia teases.

I was dragged, well dragged is a strong word, guided by my two ladies up to our rooms. I was beyond tired, the nap earlier had helped but it wasn’t enough to undo everything I had been through in the last few days.

Sophia ran to her room to get ready for bed leaving Lyphia and I alone.

“You don’t have to..” I started.

“Shush, it makes her happy, and I want to,” Lyphia said, moving closer to me. her arms came around me, then she looked up at me.

I did what I felt was needed. I kissed her.

She kissed me back. It was better than all the magic in the world.

“Ewww,” Sophia lamented behind us.

I could feel Lyphia’s lips twist against mine as she smiled.

“Come on Lyph, boys are icky, you can sleep in my bed, with me,” Sophia said. She took Lyphias hand, and pulled us apart in such an adorable way.

“I’ll leave you girls to it then, I’m off to bed myself,” I said smiling at the unprotesting lyphia, once so fierce, being manhandled by a small-ish child.

I waved then I followed along behind them. Sophia’s door slammed shut just before I reached it, I could hear giggling from behind it.

I opened my door, to find Airis there. Boy Airis. I’m not sure I could have handled stone Airis unexpectedly

“Is everything okay Airis,” I asked.

“Yes, Tristan. Sophia knows what I am now. And the wizard just wanted to see me shift, he didn’t do or say anything then he left,” Airis said.

Odd I thought venar had planned on doing more

“I’m sorry I missed you,” I said. I really did feel guilty for leaving him out.

“It’s alright, I don’t really eat unless I have to, and I had to check my skills are fully functional. The days in the woods could have compromised me,” he said, there was something else in his tone, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Is everything working how it’s supposed to?”

“Yes all the tests confirmed, the module is fully integrated, there is just a lot to process. Do you think Sophia will still like me now that she knows?” he asked, a hint of worry in his voice.

I smiled. “Yes, Sophia will still like you, you saved her. Don’t worry about it. I can have a word with her tomorrow if you like, but I think it may be best to just see how things are in the morning, I doubt it will be a problem, you two are going to need each other.”

“Of course, I’m sure you’re right. Night Tristan,” Airis said, happier almost relieved.

“Night Airis,”

i stepped out of his way so he could leave.

I closed the door, then undressed and threw myself in to bed.

I was asleep not long after.

It was dark, I could feel someone’s hand slide over my chest, I winced as it stung my wound

“Calm down Tristan, if I’d know you would act like this I wouldn’t have come,” Lyphia said.

I could make out her shape in the darkness.

What? Ow, injury,” I said somewhat groggily.

“Oh sorry,” she rested her head against my shoulder.

I moved my arm so she could get settled, then wrapped it around her.

She snuggled in closer, I noticed she was naked.

I kissed the top of her head and wiggled slightly to get more comfortable.

“Now that I have you all to myself…” Lyphia said, leaving it hanging in the air.



Exciting and yet terrifying.

To my readers. You have stood by me for a while now. So I feel it would be about time for me to inform you of a change in my life. 

I’m just starting college, better late than never. The ‘plan’ is basically a quick route into university, yes they are different things over here. To do that I have a very intensive nine months of stuffing my head with knowledge and seeing what sticks. Hopefully the rust falls off.

So I wont be as quick in answering comments. It shouldn’t affect my schedule as Book 1 of ML is already written. But if it does this is the reason why. 
I dithered a bit about telling you as I wasn’t sure if, A) you would care. B) It was appropriate. But in the end I thought it was only fair.

Also I’m running a quest on Sufficient Velocity. A quest? I hear you ask. Well a quest is a sort of role playing but instead of everyone with their own characters its a majority thing, Rping by democracy. 

This is just a little fun, something to unwind with. Come and have a look. Here. Play as a tribe of goblins making their way from the dawn of time.

There are lots of other things that may catch your interest. Its a fun site. Go wild. Maybe not wild. Go mild.

Mage Life Chapter 28

“Hello Tristan. Were you going somewhere?” Lyphia said with a mischievous lilt to her words, I could hear her smile.

My heart did a little dance, her voice, I could listen to it all day. Yet at the same time I was terrified to turn around. I didn’t want her to see me like this.

“Are you listening?” she asked as I waited a moment too long to answer her.  She softened her tone into something gentle and low.

I let go of the handle and turned. the sight of her was welcome. I smiled like an idiot.

She gasped.

“Tristan you look awful,” she said, she lifted her hand to cover her mouth as if she was surprised she had said it.

“And you Lyphia, look wonderful, as beautiful as the dawn,” I said, my smile wouldn’t go away, but my bad mood fled in the face of her beauty.

“Thank you, but where were you going?”

“Um, you know it’s my door, I was going to my room, its been a long day already, I really want a wash and a nap,” I said with a bone deep tiredness that seemed to creep up on me.

“Tristan, get in here and see this little girl, she needs you. you are all she has,” Lyphia berated me softly, which was far better than when she did it loudly.

“I really had hoped for a few moments to clean up, I smell.” I said.

“Yes, you do, but she doesn’t care,” Lyphia said with a smirk. she hadn’t taken her eyes off me, as if I was going to slink away.

I sighed, stood up straight and nodded.

Lyphia stepped back and gestured me into Sophia’s room.

Sophia was sat up in bed, she looked tired but seemed healthy. She was gazing out the window. Her hair was tangled in ruby threads.

“How you doing kid?” I asked, smiling at her.

“Tristan! I-I – I was scared,” she said as she turned her head to me.

I crossed the distance to her, I looked at the edge of the bed.

Sophia bobbed her head quickly, dashed the fresh tears that welled from her bright green eyes, they were a little red round the edges. he features looked shaper as if all that she had goes through had worn away at her.

I sat on the bed, pretending to not notice the tears. I took her small hand in my own. I ignored the sting as my sleeve caught on my wrist wound.

“I hear you was very brave Soph, Airis told me,” I said. I patted her hand at a loss for what else I could say.

“The blue things came out of the woods, I didn’t go far. One bit me. I did what you and Jase Taught me, I used my magic, but it didn’t work. there was nothing there. it hurt.” Sophia said, broken and confused but clear enough for me to know what happened.

“Its okay Soph. You were brave. It was my fault, I should never have taken you out there, but you will be alright now,” I promised, even if I had to keep her locked in here she would be safe.

“No, it would have been fun, it was such a nice idea,” she protested weakly, her smile flickered

I’d tightened my grip on her hand, I only noticed when she winced.

“Sorry Soph, didn’t mean to do that”

“Its okay, why do you look funny?” she asked, then paused, her little face scrunched up. “Is that you?” she sniffed.

I laughed.

“Yeah, that’s me. It’s been a busy week,” I said.

Lyphia snorted from behind me.

I turned to look, she was smiling.  Stars, she was beautiful. Her eyes glowed, not with magic, but with laughter.

Sophia started to giggle.

“Hey, it’s not my fault,” I said with good humor, but still whiney enough to set them off again.

I laughed with them, it felt good, like all the worry and fear just evaporated. The knot I’d carried unknowingly in my belly loosened.

I patted Sophia’s hand again before letting go. I stood.

I smiled down at her, she smiled back.

I turned to Lyphia, who seemed to be having trouble breathing. she was trying to contain her amusement

I stepped up to her. I lent in, her eyes widened but she didn’t pull away.

I kissed her hard. I pulled her tight to me.She tensed briefly then melted against me.

Behind us Sophia made a little protest. “Ewww.”

I pulled back smiling like a mad man, I felt invincible. Then I walked out leaving a dazed redheaded woman, and an amused redheaded little girl.

Huh? lots of redhead’s I thought then dismissed it.

My room called me.

I opened the door, I barely slowed as I went straight to my bathing chamber. The door was recessed into the wall, I had barely noticed it when I first surveyed the room. It was just a doorway against what looked like more wall. Sophia’s had been open, so I had just assumed.

It was more of the same in appearance, apart from there was no carpet in here. Tiles of such a pure blue covered the floor, it felt like being in a glass bubble under the sea, the light gave it hints of purple and greens.

The large ceramic bath was set against the back wall, next to it was a wooden storage cupboard, it had taken me awhile to figure it out. nothing but the best for the mages. Most of this was leftover from when the nobles had ruled. Old enchantments, but they were still functional. The cupboard was simple really. It dried and cleaned fabric and leather. Uniforms and towels.

I started to pull off my clothes, they stuck in places. I could feel blood start to flow on my chest.

I stood naked in front of the mirror on the other side. The last few days, really just days, had felt like life time,I had lost weight, I was lean and rangy, my muscles stood out in stark relief, my cheeks had hollowed, I had dark circles under my eyes, which were bloodshot and dry. I had stubble darkening my face. My hair, which I was once so proud of, was tangled and matted. Once I thought, like it was a long time ago, it was only a few months. I looked more wild than man. all that not even counting the wounds I had, a large gash on my wrist and a few cuts on my chest. My pendent gem was embedded in my flesh, what was left of it at least.

I raised my hand to pick a piece out, only to realise my hands were filthy, crawling around in a cell will do that to you.

I was too worn out to even get angry about it anymore, it was only yesterday and I felt old.

I turned away from the mirror, the man looking back at me, disturbed me.

I tapped the enchanted faucet. Hot water poured out, the bath filled quickly

Steam rose in massive plumes, fogging the air.

I used my power to condense some of the steam into a hand shape, which is far easier than pulling solid water about, I focused on my chest wound, placing the water fingers around the fragment, I let the tips flow back into dense vapour around it, to cleanse the area.

I winced as the heat penetrated my wound.

I forced the vapour in, I could feel the edge of the gem warm. I looked down. It was tiny, but it felt huge. The small red wound close to my heart. Not too deep but angry. Scabs loosened under the water. I saw the gem shift, the pain just magnified in a heart beat. I wavered on my feet and gritted my teeth. I decided I didn’t need to look at it. I could feel enough through my magic and the sight was making me feel sick. I closed my eyes as I pushed more water behind the fragment,  I found two other splinters, I flushed them too. I poured more water over the wound. The now cooler water ran pink down my chest. It mingled with my blood, far darker at the site of the wound.

My bath had almost filled. I leant over to tap the faucet again. I was dizzy. I placed a hand on the wall a moment to support me while I took a deep breath, my limbs were shaking as the shock of pain calmed down to more manageable levels. The steam probably wasn’t helping that much.

I stood back up, looked around for somewhere to place the shards. There was a small shelf above the basin but below the mirror. I put them there. Then I got into my bath. the heat enveloped me as I sunk into the deep water. Hot, very hot, maybe too hot. My muscles ached for a moment then relaxed. I sunk deeper as I lost the strength in my legs. I lay like that for a long time, the water cooled. I may have fallen asleep. The water was a murky greyish brown when I pulled myself out, I felt heavy. I placed my feet on the warm tiles, sometimes I love living here. Warm floors. I stepped carefully over to the cupboard, I pulled out a towel. I started patting myself down when I heard a scream.

Cant this wait until I get something to eat. I’m starving, I thought with a resigned mental sigh.

I ran into action

Still wet and naked.

Mage Life Chapter 27

I sat on the hard floor of the arena, racked with sobs, I spend a long moment trying to control my breathing to stop it, there was an odd hiccup as I suppressed it. I wiped my eyes to find Velar standing next to me. Well, over me.

“Come on, there is no need for tears,” Velar said, as he looked down at me. He offered a hand.

I nodded more to myself than anything, and stood on my own.

He lowered his hand and his smile slipped a touch. “ Can we talk a moment? I understand that you might not be feeling up to it though. Jase and Fion mentioned what happened,” he said with what was apparently sincere concern.

“If I’m a Mage, then you’re my boss, I kinda have to talk to you,” I agreed reluctantly.

He gestured up the step out of the room.

We fell into step, him to the side of me. The twins had pulled themselves up, and followed along behind like dogs.

That really didn’t put me at ease, two lethal, legendary mages, that had shown themselves willing to harm me, at my back. I could feel an itch start just between my shoulder blades.

“It doesn’t need to be like this Tristan. I’m sorry you feel hard done by, but we have to be sure,” Velar said. his hands moved in large expansive movements as he talked. his voice was gentle but firm. He sounded a bit like my father. That brought me up short.

“Stop it,” I said.  I turned to look at him. The twins hung back, but close enough that if I tried to harm the boss man they would kill me.

“Stop what?” he asked, an expression of guileless innocence on his face.

I wasn’t buying it, a powerful man is never innocent.

I thought briefly for a moment. I checked my feelings and thoughts. I almost dismissed it, but something wasn’t right. I cocked my head to the side as I looked at him. There was nothing to support my growing suspicion, but I had screamed at the man because of a vision already. I may well be past the need for evidence.

“Stop whatever you are doing to influence me. It’s not necessary. I have to hear you out. You’re the leader of the bloody wizards,” I said slightly bitterly.

His face changed to one of pure surprise.

“You could feel that? I thought that was impossible,” he looked at the twins who looked ready to kill me right now. They seemed equally surprised. “Of course I will stop, I just wanted you to be more comfortable.”

“You think you’re the only being that’s tried to mess with my head? Just say what you want to say and leave me be.”

The familiar friendly tone evaporated, now I was talking to the head wizard. “Fine, Tristan. I want to know several things. One, what is your involvement with Brak?” he left it hanging in the air, waiting expectantly for me to answer.

I resumed walking. I need the time to think.

Brak was the wizard that captured us. With Iason Alerus, Vance and Lessor. The ones from the foundry. Why ask me?

“My involvement with them is nothing, I have none. They on the other hand, seem to go around blowing places up,” I said with a detachment I didn’t feel, I was angry again. Dealing with them, with this, more things that kept me from my duty. Which at the moment was the newly awakened child upstairs in her bed.

“Fine I will accept that answer for now. Two, when did you learn sigils and reading? We received a report of a mage developing reading, but we thought it was wrong. Turns out it wasn’t,” he said firmly, but there was something else under it. Something I couldn’t put my finger on.

We walked through the deserted halls of the academy, I didn’t really know where I was going, but I soon saw the end of a hall that looked familiar, I aimed in that direction while I considered my answer.

“Reading happened after an encounter with a god, well supposedly a god. Sigils, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. I don’t know sigils,” I said in a rush, anything to get this guy to leave me alone.

“You used one. It sent the twins flying. How can you not know?”

“Look, I’m tired and not in the mood for this, can we move on? I need to see my apprentice” I said.

We were now in a well travelled part of the academy, my suite of rooms just down the hall.

“Tristan, whatever you may think of me, I suggest you put it behind you. You have a bright future with us. Don’t let the past colour your judgement,” Velar said.

I looked over to him, the impression of a jovial uncle, lingered around him, but it was tinged with sadness. His laughter lines, creased deeper than they should be.

“I don’t really care about the past, I’ve done my share of things that I’m not proud of. But how could you do it?” I asked in earnest.

“The nobles oath was insidious, we had very little choice. Some of us could fight it, others were left little more than shells, puppets. There were horrors, but the worst part is do their bidding or worse would happen. They died so that others could live,” he said

“That is the crap, rationalise it anyway you want, it was wrong,” I said.

“Yes it is. It was wrong and it’s still wrong. I have to live with that and a great many other things that I wish I didn’t. There is a reason there are no nobles now,”

I looked back at the twins, they looked grim.

“Not just them,” Velar said with a chuckle.

“If you will excuse me, I have a little girl to see,” I said as we reached my apartment door.

“One moment, I heard you have made a very special construct.”

I stopped, panic flooded through my my hand clenched on the door handle as the breath went out of me.

“I would be interested to see it, Jase says you are very talented. With all the reports about you, I have to agree, but it would be nice to see evidence with my own eyes.

“Is this just academic interest, or something more?” I asked as I eyed him with suspicion.

“Oh, Calm down,” he said with a laugh, his kindly facade back on. “I’m just curious. I love golems. I don’t mind that you ‘may’ have broken a few rules. We aren’t such stick in the muds about little things like that. If you had made a warrior, then I’m sure we would be having words.”  The faintest hint of menace, radiated from him with the last words.

I froze, then tried to cover it.

“Ah, I would rather see to my apprentice right now,” I hedged.

“Is there something you need to tell me?” he said. He was looking at me intensely once again.

Those rainbow eyes are disconcerting, particularly when they were focused on me.

“He’s a warrior, for design purposes. I made him to be a protector. And he is still a very early step in my project,” I said before I even realised.

I stopped and blinked.

“Thought I told you to stop it, I said harshly.

I opened the door ready to go through and slam it behind me.

“Hold, Tristan. I’m still a leader and secrets have a habit of coming back to bite me, so forgive me for the invasion, but I will make no more excuses for it. You don’t want someone in your head, I can understand that. Learn to protect yourself,” Velar said.

“Fine, I can’t protect myself from it yet, so leave,” I said, maybe harsher than I should, but I was done tiptoeing around people.

“No, let me see the golem. I don’t want to pull rank on you, Mage”

“Then don’t.”

I opened the door and walked through, I turned to close it behind me to find a foot wedged in the frame.

“Move your foot,” I instructed.

“Tristan I like you, but don’t push your luck. You live on my sufferance,” Velar said without heat.

It struck me cold, my whole life depended on this man, who I had been treating like he was beneath me.

“Sir, I apologise,” I forced myself to say as I opened the door. “It’s been a trying day.”

Velar chuckled at that and stepped into the room.

The twins attempted to follow.

I looked to Velar, “Can they not come in please? I doubt it would be conducive to my apprentice’s health.”

“Oh, of course,” Velar nodded to the twins, who took position on either side of the door. Guarding.

Good luck with that, I thought.

I called out “Airis.”

“Tristan, you’re back. What was that all about?” Airis’ child voice replied. The actual boy followed along shortly. He stopped in the entry of the room.He was a boy again.

I let out a small sigh of relief, I’d had my doubts about showing him to be harmless as a giant stone man.

Airis stood looking between Velar and Me. If it hadn’t been so serious I would have laughed at his expression. Perplexed just didn’t cover it.

“Relax Airis. This is Velar, the head wizard. He wanted to meet you,” I said helpfully. “Oh, is head wizard the official title? That’s all I even hear you called.”

“Sir,” Airis bowed.

I guess all that information I had implanted served some good.

“No, head wizard isn’t the title, it’s arch wizard,” Veler said amused. “It’s nice to meet you Airis.”

“Airis, how’s Sophia?” I asked worried.

I started to head toward her room.

“She’s awake, Lady Lyphia, is in there with her,” Airis informed me.

I stopped in my tracks.

“Lyphia? Here?” I looked down at myself, I was a mess. “Do I have time to bathe? Change my clothes?” I asked in a rush of words. My heart raced. All thoughts of Sophia fled.

Airis shrugged and Velar laughed.

Helpful of them, I thought before continuing on my way.

Sophias door was closed, I could hear the faintest of murmurs from beyond it. I tiptoed to my door, which was opposite, I reached the handle. As I went to turn it, I heard a door open behind me.

“Hello, Lyphia” I said without turning.

New Serial.

Yes, it’s that time again. I recently came across a very interesting piece of fiction.

It is called Cages. Which intrigued me. 

I would tell you more but I don’t think I can do it justice.

So go take a look, you might like it.

Interlude 2

In greenlaw, the floating city of the wizards council, it was early afternoon, not that it was apparent. The weather was bleak, storms raged all around the high towers. The dark clouds were broken by flashes of lightning that struck the thin, magically supported spires.

Velar was seated behind his desk, in most ways he was unremarkable. But the thing that was different about him were his eyes, they were pools of rainbow light.

Random flashes of light from the highly set window illuminated the room, it was circular, with dark wooden panelling, nowhere near as ostentatious as most would assume for the high wizard’s office.  A glowing map was on his desk.

He found his gaze being drawn again and again to one point marked on the map. Far, far on the edge, out of his territory.

“Sir, they are waiting for you.” A voice from his desk said.

Velar stood and walked around his desk, his long robes flowed out behind him revealing the tight leather clothes of an active mage beneath.

In the hall outside, the twins waited in their deeply hooded black robes. They flanked his door.

“Let’s get this over with,” Velar said with a deep air of resignation.

They moved quickly down the hall to the stone disc that hovered in the centre of a tube.

As the disc descended the twins looked at each other, something in their look signalled that something wasn’t as normal.

“What is it?” Velar asked. His shoulder slumped, there was no respite from his cares not even here in this, the most private place he had with his most loyal servants, but not friends, never friends.

The twins looked at each other again, neither wanted to be the bearer of bad news.

“Spit it out,” Velar said in a tone that would have been angry if he could summon the energy.

“The merchants are pushing for expansion, the lower council want higher taxes and increased trade. They want Westhaven restored. The roads aren’t enough. They want it to be the nexus that Haven was,” Delec said, the twin on the right of Velar.

“Haven was a city. I’ve just got back from West Haven. They have maybe five thousand people at most. It can’t support that level of development.”

The stone disc stopped as did the conversation.

They walked quickly down the short corridor, through the small door at the end and into the council chambers.

The sounds of argument hit them like being plunged in deep water. The air of conflict filled the room.

Velar sent his power out in a soothing wave, silencing the room. He continued to walk to his seat just in front of the door they had used. He looked down the table on the members of the council.

“Before I release you, I want you all to remember: we are united. We are not enemies. Debate, discuss, do not argue here. We have enough problems without fractures forming.” he called out in a loud but tired voice. He waved his hand and released his power over them.

“Sir, that is unacceptable you can’t use your power on us, you are first among equals. You are not special. We do you honour by allowing you an exalted position, the least you can do is grant us honour in return” A small wizened old wizard said, his hair was long and stringy grey, his eyes had the wizard rainbow effect.

“Shut up, you were stupid enough to go unprotected. I’m sick of these meetings, all everyone here does is argue, and for no reason. No matter what I tell you every time. Nothing gets decided. You all hide here in Greenlaw making laws and passing motions. It’s all very….. masturbatory,” Velar said after a moments fumbling for a word.

“Velar, that is no way to talk to us. I call for a vote to remove Archwizard Velar from his position.”

“Sit down, Estus. No one wants to replace him. Would you want his job? He has always been direct. That’s why he is Archwizard and you are barely welcome in this room.” The wizard Merrick jeered, from the far end of the table.

“Thank you Merrick, although I would be happy to be replaced. These meetings bore me.” Velar looked around to see if anyone seconded the vote.

No one raised a hand. Of the twenty-two people in the room only Estus was standing. The rest looked as if they would do anything to be anywhere else when the Archwizards gaze passed over them.

“Right, what’s on the agenda today?”

“The waves and Nelar. We also want to discuss the road works and the project.” A small younger man said from next to Velar.

“Nelar? What the fuck are you lot cooking up? You know that place is a wasteland. Did anyone attempt to convince the town to leave?” Velar rose to his feet, shouting his words at the assembled wizards.

They flinched as a collective.

“None of you,” Velar stated with a flat tone.

“Sir, you know we can’t go near it. The warping is too much.” Estus said. He wrung his hands, fingers twining and untwining around each other.

“Estus, say one more spineless thing, here in this room to me and I will challenge you to a duel. Then your house will need a replacement. Do you have any promising mages we can raise to wizard?” Velar said in a conversational voice, the stark contrast between his earlier anger and his pleasant threat, warned the council that he meant every word. They knew it was the calm in the eye of the storm.

Estus gulped loudly, the sound travelled to every corner of the room in the hushed silence

“Now tell me the truth about Nelar” Velar said. He retook his seat.

“We need to get past the warping, we are surrounded by it, as long as we are contained here we can’t expand, we are sterile, lifeless.” Merrick said.

“That is your argument? You had better have something better than that, because that is weak as shit. We aren’t the nobles. We don’t do things because it pleases us. We do them because they must be done for the good of all.”

Merrick flushed with anger, his nostrils flared as he suddenly exhaled, “and what do you know of the nobles? I spent my life as a wizard bound to Flenec Yanre, you were free. the Solen’s hunting dog. I was trapped, doing his will!” Tears leaked from his eyes as he screamed his anger, his pain, at Velar.

Merrick didn’t even notice the trails of wetness on his face.

“Then you know what I know of them, they are gone now. We did what we had to. Now we might have to expand but we don’t need to breach the warping. It’s beyond us. For now. Take a moment to compose your self. We have time. The heart grants us that.”

Merrick nodded before fleeing from the room.

“Let’s move on, shall we?” Velar asked.

“Sir, we need to deal with it,” one of the members at the far end of the table called out.

“Stand up man I can’t see you very well.

The wizard stood, a large man white in hair and pale skinned. His rainbow eyes were dull.

“Vincent, good to see you here. Why do we need to deal with it right now? We have a great many things that would do more immediate good. all I suggest is sending someone to help the inhabitants relocate. That is all we can do while our resources are so stretched”

“Velar we have been friends a long time, you know I wouldn’t push for it if I didn’t think it needed doing.”

“Vincent I do know that, but I need reasons for all we do, I can’t justify it otherwise.”

“It’s a feeling, it needs doing and its right. We wounded the land. We have to set it right. It’s what we stand for, isn’t it?” Vincent stated with a passion that showed no where else, his body didn’t move.

“Yes we do stand for doing the right thing, well, I like to think we do, but the needs of the many… The warping isn’t harming us. It doesn’t cost us.

“Sir, I really do feel that it needs doing.”

“Tell me why. I can’t just order it done. It will cost lives when we can least spare them. Waves hit Westhaven.”

There were gasp as the news hit the room.

“We had one in Kelan.”

“We had one in Vilate.”

“Have they struck everywhere?” Velar asked looking around at the gathered members, these men were the most powerful in the world and yet they were trembling in fear.

“We don’t know, the orb network was disrupted. We don’t know the sources of the disruption,” Estus replied. “We can’t figure it out while its ongoing, we would need to summon all seniors again to get their reports.”

“Let’s not go down that route. The last time didn’t work so well. We now handle things amongst ourselves. You each have a few trusted seniors that you can speak to, but don’t reveal much. The Brak incident has left doubts in some minds.”

“Has he shown himself?”

“I don’t want to get into it in open council. We have other things to worry about right now. I want a progress report on the roads.

“I have three teams of golems clearing the rubble, a mage following being laying the bases. Master Enchanter Fion is working on the enchantment.”

“I spoke to him when I was in Westhaven, he is working on it. But he needs more details before he can do much more than the basics. He said something about how he can handle the self-repair but the protections depend on the materials used in the roads. He also wanted to know if you know what it needs imbuing into. I will let you get in touch with him about it. How much has been completed?”

“About ten miles on each road. North, south and east. We need Fion to figure out the permanent lifts to the city too.”

“We are wizards, surely someone here can do it, stop trying to hand it off to someone else.”

“But sir, he is a genius in his field.”

“He is also a nightmare to work with. You know who his master was. There are reasons, I just don’t want to put too much strain on someone that fragile.

That man is tough, he can take it.

Its not a matter of he can take it. its an issue of over reliance. What are we going to do if he dies? Or if he breaks again? Brak damaged him.”

“Sir, I feel now might be the time to discuss Brak,” Merrick said as he reentered the room.

“He has shown himself. We don’t know what his goals are, but he was working with a rebel faction in Westhaven. They destroyed the foundry, and its surrounding district, Senior Rysan still doesn’t have a complete body count. but the costs are in the millions of gold wizards range, just in damages. The harm caused by the loss of production we won’t know until we have restored the area. As most of you who keep up to date should know: the stone guild have been contracted to clear the area and restore as much as possible as quickly as they can. We need it functional.”

“So Brak was in Westhaven. what could his plan be?”

“I don’t know. He spoke to Fion briefly in another event not long after.It involved Tristan Sodden.

“Tristan? Is he that young Westhaven Mage?”

“Don’t play that game with me, you were the one that advised raising him. It has worked out so far, he passed the test. We now have a new member. During the wave a small group were attacks by gnomes. I have a few covert agents looking into it, but our forces are spread thin, it’s becoming an issue of what we can afford to do.”

“Raise taxes then” someone down the table called. The suggestion was met was many nods and agreements.

“That is an option but money isn’t the real problem. We don’t have the forces the men and women needed to do the work. We need more hands and minds.”

“Then we continue with the expansion slowly, but not beyond the warping, we need to consolidate our hold on what we have before we overextend” velar conceded

“I will send out a message to the seniors.”

“What else were we supposed to discuss today?”

“Just the project sir,” The young man reminded him.

“Alright to we have any further developments regarding the project?” Velar addressed the table again.

“A few. Greenlaw is almost fully converted. Participation in the training of various skills is on the rise. We have a huge number of intakes to the mage program, so much so that in a few years we will nearly triple our number of actives, if all goes well. Enchantments are becoming more commonplace. We have some more product lines coming along well, but we are suffering a shortage in both skilled workers and pure enough bases. We are missing a great many of the more homely items, we lack experience in those aspects.

“Can we not call in some advisors?”

“We don’t know where to get some from. This is a problem we are running into again and again. None of us know much about the more common usages possible, a lot of them got wiped out. We are having to start from scratch. The bigger usages, things like farming and construction aren’t a huge problem, we know enough and can call in people who are professionals.”

“Go regional. Each area has different needs. Send someone, a mage that is well balanced, in to see what people want, what they need.”

Nods went round the table again.

“Thank you sir. I will set up a research team.”

“Are we done here?” Velar called out, looking around at the wizards council. No one raised another issue. “Good, then I have some business to attend to.”

Velar stood and walked out.

The twins followed behind him.

“Find Brak, I don’t care what you have to do but bring him back. We can’t have wizards going rogue, I had hoped that the seniors would be able to report his whereabouts before he caused trouble but that seems a lost cause. Keep it quiet, we don’t need to alarm the people. But that’s the same reason we can’t put out a kill strike on him. I hope he has good reasons for all this.”

“He has done this before. You tasked him with the things that we can’t be seen to be doing.”

“I know, but this? He blew up a large chunk of one of our towns. He has been agitating for change for years. I trust him. I do, but this is too far without talking to us.

“He could be anywhere sir, he can make portals.”

He won’t do that as much as you fear, they have … costs.” Velar said hesitantly.

“We will search for him. Do you have any ideas where to start?”

“Check his chambers. Don’t use magic, he can tell. If he feels he is being hunted, the harm he could cause would be devastating.”

The twins nodded as one, in that disturbing way they had.

It left Velar feeling cold every time they were around, but they were trustworthy in a way few else would ever submit to.

They left him alone for the first time in years. Off to complete the mission he had tasked them with

Velar continued on to his office alone. He looked at his desk with the glowing map, but didn’t approach it. He stalked over to stand under the window, he looked up at the early moon its cold light shining down on him.

“Brak, where are you? I can’t lead without you. I never wanted this. This was your idea,” he whispered fervently as if in prayer into the deep silence of his office.

There was no answer.

Velar didn’t expect one, but he hoped.

Mage Life Chapter 26

“Trisan get up!” Came Airis’ rocky voice.

I blinked and moaned as I rolled over. I was still dressed. I smelt and felt disgusting. My chest was sticking to my clothes, my wrist hurt and I couldnt remember why.

I was in my room. How did I get here? I asked myself. My sleep fogged mind refused to give me the answer. I wiggled to the edge of the bed and sat up. I blinked my bleary eyes, then remembered what had woken me.

“What is it?” I called, after a moment of croaking. I looked down at my wrist, a nasty looking gash along it. It stung when I poked at it, the sticky feel of the blood as I pulled my sleeve off it.

“There are some people here,” Airis called back.

Shit, it all came back to me. The cell, Vance, Jase’s son. Sophia and my choice.

I stood far faster than was probably good for me the blood rushing from my head. I felt dizzy and sick. I wobbled, but didn’t fall. I racked my brain for a moment, where is my bracer? Where did I last see it. I know I didn’t take it to the woods. It would have been useful there.

I took a deep breath, the worst of the sickness faded. I looked around my room, I must have left it in here somewhere.

“Tristan!” Airis shouted. I trusted him to keep Sophia safe. I just needed a moment.

“I’m coming,” I called as I couldn’t seem to find my bracer anywhere. Another thing lost. Maybe someone had been in here while I was away.

I walked slowly to the door, this is it. My only thought.

I wasn’t angry, I was scared. So scared, that my knees felt weak and I thought I might throw up.

I opened the door.

Airis was on the other side of the hall outside Sophia’s door. He was looking toward the main room, that I still didn’t know what to call, there were a couple of figures there.

“How is she? I asked stopping briefly.

“She’s still not woken, but she’s moving and talking in her sleep,” Airis said his voice pitched low.

I smiled, a small gentle smile.

“Thank you. Stay with her please,” I said and patted him on his rough stone hand.

He nodded and looked at me strangely. It’s hard to read a helmet for emotion, normally it doesn’t come up, but my life is just full of strange.

I stood taller,lifted my head high, set my shoulders and walked to my fate proudly.

I chose this. If this is the price, I gladly pay it, for her.

I didn’t rush, they could wait, but I wasn’t slow.

I walked into the room.

Two very old, but strong looking men were waiting. Black cloaks with the hoods up. I couldn’t see their hair, but each had one blue and one orange glowing eye set in heavily wrinkled faces. They were stocky and about average height. On their wrists were bright silver bracers crawling with glyphs.

I won’t deny, I felt a shiver down my spine as I realise who they were.

The council’s executioners. These were the two men that had passed judgment on the nobles after the waves. Their names escaped me, but their descriptions were everywhere,as was their legend.

Twins that had been born back when our lands were whole, before the nobles turned against each other. The throne has been empty a long time now. The line of the mage king died out about a century ago, but the nobles had waited maybe ten years till they started the wars to see who would become the next king.

The twins had turned ten the year before, the first crown war as it became known. They lived on one of the borders between nobles. Their village was turned into one of the largest battle grounds. The twins had gotten separated, they awakened at the same time. Fire. They tore the battle field apart in a firestorm, trying to get back to each other, they failed. They were some of the first children conscripted by the nobles. Each sworn to an enemy. They faced each other many times. But never fought. They refused. Each battle they would walk off to the side and watch together. They were a legend before the new legend.

When the waves ended and the council rose to power, they had a decision to make. What to do with the nobles that had torn our land apart. While the council deliberated, the twins visited the head of each noble family. They left with the heads. Detached from the bodies.

They then traveled to Greenlaw, to the wizards now floating city, and presented the heads to Velar, the leader of the council. Grateful that they had saved the wizards having to worry about it, but upset that they had taken it upon themselves. The judgement he gave them was harsh, but ultimately wise.

They were bound by their oath, I didn’t really understand what it had meant back when I first heard the story,  to serve the council. All this went through my mind as I stood looking at them. Shivering in my boots with fear at what they were empowered to do to me if they chose.

“Tristan Sodden, for disobeying a lawful order given by an empowered being of the council. You are to come with us for judgement,” said the one on the left, his voice was strong but gentle. There was no hint of age in it.

Neither moved, they stood there, blank expressions that could mean anything.

I looked from one to the other, took a deep breath, nodded and stepped towards them. Time to face my fate.

The one that spoke went to the door while the other walked along side me.

He didn’t touch me. He actually kept his distance, which surprised me.

I nodded to him. I was thankful not to be clapped in irons after all that had gone on before.

He nodded in return a slight upturn to his lips.

I had no idea what to make of that, probably best not to read to much into it.

They led me out the door and through the halls, deeper into the depths of the academy. We walked in silence.

I considered making a break for it, but no I chose this. The least I could do was face it. We went down halls I didn’t even know existed deep beneath the building. We ended up in a huge sunken room. Steps cut into the rock led down to an open floor, roughly hewn out of the natural stone the building was built on. As we walked down I could feel the magics of the room. This was the very core of the academy, the first thing built. Embedded in the floor were old, old spells that I couldn’t begin to decipher. I knew I was distracting myself from the moment, but I just couldn’t help it. Better to be distracted than piss myself in fear. I had been escorted here by two of the most legendary mages even with a reputation for bloodshed. Maybe this is why we never heard of rogue mages. They were led down here like cattle to the slaughterhouse.

I shook myself hard. I took another deep breath and set my face. I wouldn’t show my fear. I lifted my eyes to the far side of the room.

My heart froze in my chest. I recognised one of the men. From a dream. He was older now, but not as much I would expect. He looked to be in his early forties, still slim, deep set eyes that blazed with power. A shimmering rainbow trapped within them. I never heard his name, but I saw him pass judgement on a couple then proceed to burn them at the stake. He wasn’t alone, but I didn’t recognise the other two.

“Thank you for joining me, Mage Sodden, and thank you for bringing him Delec and Kelec. We are here to decide your fate, Tristan. Do you mind if I call you Tristan?” he asked, his friendly voice crossed the room easily.

“No,” I answered. All other answers dried on tongue, unable to be spoken. I stood in the center of the floor, almost an arena. The sides rose gradually up. The tribunal looked down on me. Just behind me the twins Delec and Kelec. It was intimidating.

“Good, right let’s move right along then, we need to get back to Greenlaw tonight. Shame about the wave, but we have lent a hand where we could while we were here. So, Orb, gave me the facts while the twins were fetching you. Rysan is livid, but then again, he always was excitable,” he chuckled to himself at that. “Oh, I’m Velar, sorry for being rude. I forgot we haven’t met. I missed your exam. I normally make a point to attend every one. But something came up. I’m sorry,” he waved his arm, dismissing it but looked really sincere. “Anyway you are charged with disobeying a lawful command, which is a direct breach of your indenture,” he looked at me sternly, the humor fading from his face, it left him looking stern and cold, his eyes swirled with colours. He stared at me intently watching my every movement. “Do you have anything to say for yourself?” his voice, hard and uncompromising.

I felt something rise in me, I bit it back. I looked down at my feet.

“This is your last chance, do you have anything to say in your defence?”

The memory of those words from his lips, made me forget caution.

“In my defence no. I disobeyed. Just as I should have,” I said anger forced my words. “It could have cost my apprentice her life. I did the right thing. I would do it again. If it costs me my job, my freedom, my life, it’s the least I could do for her,” I shouted.

I looked up at him. The head wizard, the man I had seen burn people alive. “Who the fuck do you think you are, standing in judgment of me? I’ve seen you in action. That couple, here in this very town. You tied them to a stake. You burnt them alive and made everyone watch. I chose not to blindly follow, as you should have done. Do what you will. I will not defend my actions to you or to anyone else,” I spat the last words at him.

I was shaking, my magic was trying to help me, I pushed it back. it couldn’t help me here.

Velar stood, he looked like I had slapped him. his mouth opened and closed a few times as he looked down at me.

I felt the twins move up beside me, they grabbed an arm each twisting them behind my back. I was forced to my knees.

I struggled.

“Get off me, you can’t force me to give respect to anyone, it’s earned. I will not bow my knee to him of my own will,” I shouted. My blood was pounding in my ears. My head felt as if it would explode.

“Let him go,”Velar said.

They clearly didn’t hear, they seemed intent on breaking my arms. I let my magic rise. I felt a tingle in my head as something shifted. A sigil surfaced behind my eyes, in my minds eye maybe. Oddly enough I recognised it. It was my bracer’s concept. I channeled my magic into it.

Power exploded out of me. The twins went flying away, as my shield flowed out from my skin in a rush. I stood up, glaring.

Velar looked astonished.

“Who taught you that?” he asked sharply.

“Fuck off, I don’t owe you answers. Let the others judge me, not you,” I said harshly. I stared at them.

The other two men up high, started whispering rapidly to each other, I didn’t care enough to listen in. But whatever it was there was an argument going on between them about something.

Velar looked between his two colleagues, they each nodded once. Velar looked back to me, a smile on his face. “Tristan despite the irregularities, we accept your defence. in fact we are pleased you chose to do what you did.

“Huh?” My shield faltered as I tried to work out what he meant.

“We are not the nobles, I don’t want you to think we are. We want agents, be they Mages like yourself or Wizards who can think. We encourage it, but we also want men like you. That will spit in the face of injustice. That will do the right thing, no matter the cost. You have proven that you deserve to hold the power you have,” Velar said.

I looked from face to face all were smiling, except the twins who were still on the floor, groaning.

“I don’t understand,” I said softly, confusion and hope warred within me. My anger fled in the face of that.

“Welcome, Mage Tristan Sodden, Welcome to the new order of the world,” he said smiling broadly.

Velar and his colleagues stood and as one they bowed to me, a deep bow.

I just stood staring at the wizards, leaders of the world bowing to me, the son of a farmer from a once unimportant town. Emotion overcame me. The exact emotion I couldn’t name.

I sunk to the floor and I cried.



Mage Life Chapter 25

Airis and I made our way back through the woods.

He carried Sophia while I used what magic I could to ease our passage. The branches bent without springing back, and I made the earth soft, so no stumbles or bumps knocked Airis.

There wasn’t much I could do to light our way, although the moon did a fair job.

As we walked carefully through the dim forest I kept my eyes and ears open, trying not to think of what I was going to do when I got back. I failed.

The silence itched to be filled with something,anything. It just waited until someone would be stupid enough to fill it. I stayed as quiet as I could. I felt I had done my stupid act for the day.

Yes, I had found Sophia and Airis at the cost of everything else. A Mage, not following orders in the heat of the moment may be forgiven. What I had done was something else. I had deliberately disobeyed, I had even fought against the order when given another chance. The price was just too high. My dreams would be worthless built on the corpse of a child. What kind of organisation would force the issue? My thoughts ran in circles. I could feel my anger growing both at myself and Orb. My fists tightened and my breath came hard as my rage started to pound in my head. If I had taken a moment to think I might have been able to find another way or talk orb around.

A rustle to my right knocked me out of my head for the moment.

I jumped, and pulled magic into my palm, as I stared into the gloom.

A fox, looked back as it emerged from behind a tree. It chattered at me before scampering off.

I sighed in relief, and laughed softly to myself. The great mage Tristan Sodden, threatener of receptionists, murderer of surges, sinker of districts and frightener of foxes. A hefty list of titles for a mage whose career spanned a few short months. The tinge of humor drained out of me, my mood darkened further with each thought, links in a chain, mistakes all of them, yet part of the job.

My steps came heavier now, each one harder than the one before. My shoulders drooped as I lowered my hand, the anger gone.

My victories seemed to mock me, even this. I won the battle but I felt like I had lost the war.

I trudged onto the path, the way back clear. If not for Sophia I would have turned the other way, run from the consequences of my decision, if it wasn’t for Sophia I would never have made the decision in the first place.

Airis’ came closer as I had slowed. “What is wrong Tristan? Why have you slowed? I thought there was some urgency in this. Was I wrong?” he asked, his stone face hidden by his helmet and the low light, eyes bright and pure.

“I’m  just weighing my actions Airis, but you’re right. We don’t have time for it,” I said looking into his pure light I felt small. This being, that I had made, had no thought for himself. Here I was wallowing when Sophia needed me to be strong.

“Fuck the consequences, I will deal with it when I must. I still have a job to do,” I said aloud without realising.

“Tristan, what are you talking about?” Airis asked.

“Nothing, nevermind,” I lied smoothly. “We are nearly there. I’m not sure how to handle you. Are you a golem or are you a boy?” I asked. It was serious question.

“Does it really matter? We have bigger issues at the moment.”

“It does matter, I went for a picnic with two children. Do I come back with two or just the one?”

“Tristan, I am both. I don’t care. Ask another time,” Airis said he stepped around me,

I let it go, while it would have ramifications whatever choice we went with, I was too tired to give it the thought it deserved and as he said we had bigger issues.

I followed the golem boy through the thinning edge of the forest, the road ahead beckoned, the town just a hop away. The thought of running came and went again. I’d been taught better by my father and by Jase.

I caught up looked to the side at Airis as we reached the unmanned gate. It was never closed, I wasn’t even sure why there was a gatehouse. A distraction.

“Let me do the talking please,” I pleaded with Airis.

He merely shrugged, as much as he was able with the small girl in his arms. She looked so tiny against him in this form.

The town was still few people would be out this late, one problem I didn’t have to deal with. The streets were dark all the lights in this part dead. They must have been affected by the wave. The pavement was whole though.

I hesitated, unsure where to go. The mage academy might be closed to me now. I don’t know how quickly I would be registered as rogue. A rogue mage, one of the things we were informed didn’t happen. None of us questioned it back then, I’m wishing I had now. I decided that going anywhere else would be cowardly.

I set my feet in the direction of the academy, it was my home. It was Sophia’s home the only one she had, I would be severed before I let them take it from her.

My anger rose again, taking with it my fear.

We walked in silence bar the loud echo of our steps on the solid paving beneath use.

The academy was lit, brightly lit in contrast to this side of town, but there was no one stood outside barring my way. We marched into the lobby. Empty. The only sign that Jase, Fion and Avery had been there was a small tracery of blood, probably from Jase. He had been the only one that was really wounded. I turned towards the entry to the halls. I stopped a moment looking at Airis, unsure if he would fit, but it looked as if I worried needlessly.

On we went through the empty halls until we reached our apartments. The door was stood open.

I stopped Airis with a raised hand. “Let me go in first, we don’t know why the door is open.” I looked at him intensely, for a moment I thought he was going to argue, then he inclined his head slightly.

I took a deep breath and pulled my magic up, ready to trigger in a moment. A raw blast, but I doubted I would be facing gnomes in here. Raw would be fine.

I stepped through the door, Fion was sat at the dining table. His massive frame dwarfing the wooden chairs. He was sat facing the door while he fiddled with something, I couldnt see what.

“Put up your magic, boy,” he said without looking up from whatever he was tinkering with. “You don’t want to fight me.”

“Why are you here?” I asked as I let my magic subside. He was right, I really didn’t want to fight him.

“Did you find your girl?” he asked ignoring my question.

I walked further into the room, but not within arms reach of Fion through

“Airis, it should be fine, come on in,” I called, not taking my eyes of Fion.

Airis stepped into view, his warrior form looking even larger than if had in the woods. His eyes were so bright. Sophia was cradled protectively, almost out of sight.

Fion jumped out of his seat, his eyes widened in shock.

“What the fuck is going on here Tristan, where is the boy?” he asked quickly.

I smiled, a thin strained smile, “This is the boy, as you put it.”

Fion looked between me and Airis, his gaze lingered on Sophia. He looked back to me again. “You clever little fucker, you made a human golem,” he crowed, a smile so wide that my own twisted into something more real. I also resisted the urge to correct him. Airis was his own being not a ‘human golem’.

“How’s Jase?” I asked, while he was distracted.

Oh, he’s fine,” Fion said offhandedly, his attention was firmly fixed on Airis. he looked like a giant child, his mouth open eyes wide and roaming. “He is beautiful Tristan, you’re going to get yourself in a lot of trouble for him.”

It’s not like I can make things worse, you heard Orb earlier,” I said. I looked away I couldn’t bear to see how he felt about the matter.

“Bah, I didn’t, I don’t really care what Orb had to say. You got a healer here for Jase and the woman,” Fion said. Real emotion coloured his voice for the first time, gratitude.

I looked back at him.

“Thats what mattered to me. Any ways you left. How was I supposed to hear the little ball?” he said with a shrug.

I didn’t have anything to say to that, so I moved on.

“Can you help Sophia? I don’t know what to do for her,” I said. I held my breath.

“She’s awakened. What have you done this time? For fuck sake, boy, she’s a child! We can’t have a child mage,” he said heatedly as he looked at her, with his distant look.

I assumed he used oversight to check her over.

“Help her, please! She is all I have left,” I said, desperation roughened my voice. it was bubbling up with the fear that she would stay like this.

“Calm yourself, she is fine. She should wake up soon. How long has she been like this?” Fion asked he looked at me.

I turned to Airis.

“Just under two days, since the wave,” Airis said. His first words since entering.

Fion looked at me seriously for once.

“Shes been out for two days, see it’s nothing. You was out for a week if I remember Jase right. and more importantly you made a stone golem that speaks,” his childlike glee came back, as a little hitch in his speech. “That is so amazing, you knew the old ones couldn’t talk? Only the air and fire ones, they were a nightmare to build, you couldn’t anchor them to anything,” Fion just shook his head in wonder.

“Airis could you take her to bed please? Oh and guard the door. Don’t let anyone enter, not anyone,” I asked sternly.

Airis nodded and carried Sophia to her room.

Fion and I watched him go.

“What did the ball say?” Fion asked.

“It doesn’t matter now. It’s done.” I said softly. I wavered on my feet. Now Sophia was safe, my drive was gone. The last few days caught up with me in a rush. “I need to sleep.”

I walked off leaving a dazed Fion standing there.

“Oh, could you shut the door on your way out please” I called as I left the room.

I heard a faint grunt then the door hit the frame. A small click as it caught.

I made it to my bed, mine for how much longer I had no idea but it was for now.

That was the last thing I remember as my exhaustion rolled over me.


MageLife Chapter 4 Rewrite

Waking up to bright light shining through my eyelids, turning my world red, I blinked my eyes open. There was no Orb, the light was sunlight coming in from the window. It was just after dawn, hints of red and orange still coloured the sky. The sun itself barely more than a sliver on the horizon, wreathed in frayed wisps of cloud.

I reached down and absently scratched at my leg, it itched. My whole body ached but in a good-just-woken-up-and-need-to-move-way. I flipped the blanket off me, the cool air rushed in, tightening my skin. Getting up didn’t hurt, my leg took my weight, it didn’t shake or show any weakness. There was a vague mark reminiscent of the bite but there was nothing to feel, just a blue stain on my skin.

I padded over to the basin, had a wash, the fresh water dispelling any lingering lethargy. Getting dressed showed the paucity of my wardrobe, one uniform down two left, I would have to fill in the forms to requisition a new set soon, but that could wait for now. I had an appointment to keep.

I smiled, my very own enchantment, before remembering where it was.

My old home, that had never actually felt like home, more like a prison of my own making. The Westhaven Mage Academy. It was close to my new apartment which was a plus, I didn’t want to strain my leg. It might feel healed but it wasn’t worth the risk. Slow and steady. The Academy is huge and I didn’t have a clue which room I would be in or who I would be seeing. Enchantments are a fairly generic skill among mages but the real masters were rarities. I would probably be with someone with limited skill but greater experience, which suited me fine. Mages that are highly skilled in one area are normally half mad or at least very odd.

I set off at a steady place down the hall in my building, there were no windows in the centre of the building, but light was provided by glow-globes set in the ceiling. This building was new, something else had been here before this but I couldn’t recall what it was. Something small, maybe dilapidated house or a leather workers. I shrugged it aside. The plaster on the walls was still soft and the air which should have been close and cloying was fresh still smelling vaguely of wood shavings and paint. At the end of my hall I had a choice, I lived on the third floor, the top floor. I could use the small stairwell or the floating stone disc that hovering in the middle of a shaft cut through the core of the building. It was a new thing that had been imported from the wizard towers in Greenlaw I’d tried it when I moved in and it was a bit disorienting. A lurch in the stomach as it fell. But it was better than risking a tumble on the stairs. Stepping on to the disc, it didn’t move despite no visible support. I stood was in the middle away from the edges, not that being on the edge was dangerous, it was protected, but it was still terrifying for me. The idea of the walls of the shaft rubbing the skin off as I fell. Too much like the pit and the gnome from yesterday. So much like yesterday that I almost changed my mind about taking the stairs. Stilling my rising claustrophobia, I called out, “Ground floor.”

The enchantments took care of the rest, I could sense the faintest hint of what was happening but I didn’t look. The bottom fell out of my stomach in a strange rising fall. Then the disc settled and revealed the ground floor lobby.

A simple room that provided access to the rest the building, the shaft at the back where I now stood. On the sides there were hallways leading off to more apartments. I had yet to meet a neighbour but its only been a few days. It’s not every day that a mage moves in. I walked over the polished stone floor, my boots clicking with every step. I opened the wide door and stepped onto the street. Early morning is a wonderful time to be out and about. The crisp scent of dawn mixed with the smells of baking bread. Sounds quiet but clear, people getting up and going about their business, work, children going to the small school run by educated sleepers, teaching reading writing and basic maths. Their chatter and inane-but-cheerful questioning made me smile.

I made my way through the sparse but increasing traffic, taking in the space. The streets were wide and smoothly flowing, almost sinuous. Even the straight parts curved ever slightly. The central plaza with its fountain lined up exactly with each of the four gates, but the path between them wove, meandered gently like a stream. Smaller, thinner paths branched of like tributaries leading to the more residential parts of town. Westhaven was far bigger than it needed to be, it could hold easily about fifty thousand people. Over a quarter stood empty. The level of surviving refugees had been vastly over estimated. In time it would be filled.

Just off the main plaza with its amazing fountain, the source of all water in the town, was the Mage academy. The fountain is fed by an underground river, diverted to anywhere it was needed. The Academy seemed to suck all the light from the air and with it my warmth and optimism. It was built of a deep black, fine grained stone, far darker than the rest of the town. The stark contrast set it apart, another divide between mages and the common people. It was tall and foreboding, dominating this part of town. Its shadow seemed to reach out and devour all in its path. The world was a tiny bit darker just for having this building in it. As a child I had heard tales about it. Built on blood and darkness, the home of the ravens with the glittering eyes that feed of misery, I had heard a lot, none of it stopped me entering when my time came. And now my time had come again.

I’d spent a long time here, almost five turning of the seasons, never walking free, never seeing the sun except from short lessons in the gardens. Contact with outside influences was restricted, twice a month in the early turns but even family lost touch as the training got more intense. The isolation and frustration were supposedly good for the development of our abilities. Fewer distractions. Higher emotions to fight through. All in order to make our use of magic more intuitive, more easily. Its hard to do some of the finer applications when you have to concentrate on merely holding your power. The training eliminated the need for conscious control so you could focus on what needed to be done.

While I was lost in recollection the sun’s light slanted over the nearby buildings, falling on my face. The warm golden light broke me out of the spell. No more delaying. I took a deep breath of the fresh morning air, still cool from the night, and stepped up to the doors.

They were much the same as the rest of the building, massive, far beyond what was really needed. Thick, darkly stained oak covered in carvings and glyphs, they swung open at my touch. A mage is always recognised by these doors. The raven’s roost welcomes all ravens.

I stepped into darkness.

As I walked in lights flickered to life, old style glow globes that didn’t glow. These burnt with fire trapped inside. The darkness receded to the edges of the room where it hung in swathes of shadows. The hall was imposing, huge and empty, cold. It discouraged visitors, fitting the legends that surrounded this place. At the end on the long hall was a large desk set in the middle between the only two corridors out of the hall. The chair behind it sat empty. On the desk was a glowing glyph screen, its clear substance filled with motes of light.

I laid my hand on the surface.

“Junior Mage Sodden, attend me in research lab seven. This screen will guide you.” A voice I knew very well informed me; my old mentor Elder Mage Jase.

Picking up the screen I saw the motes forming into a map of the building, a glimmering line showing the route I must take. With a deep sigh I set off to the corridor on my left.

The map led me down wide corridors, burning globes lit my way with flickering treasonous light, down past the aspirant cells. Iron doors with clear crystal glyphs recessed into the black stone walls.  My old cell was here. I was tempted to access the crystal and find out who had taken my place, but the map led me on further past the cells taking the decision out of my hands. The smell of damp stone and iron brought back memories best faced in the light of day, there was no daylight to be found down here.

I reached the research area shortly after, it was where the masters work rooms were. We had walked past them everyday on the way to the training rooms, although that didn’t help much when travelling through this warren of rooms and corridors. It was confusing, even living here for so long didn’t give me much to work with. All the corridors looked the same. Without the map I would have wandered for a long time. Just off from the masters workrooms was a small corridor, barely noticeable if it wasn’t for the map guiding me. I turned down and saw rows of staggered doors. Each one had a large central glyph representing a number. Room seven was on my left, a new glowing globe set above the door, glowing green.

I set my feet and prepared myself before laying my hand on the door, a small ring like a tiny bell sounded and the door opened.

Elder mage Jase looked exactly as I remembered him, it had only been a week, but it felt like a lifetime. Taller than me, slim almost ill looking, he had ghostly skin that emphasized his bright blue glowing eyes and his straight black, shoulder length hair. He was standing, there smiling at me.

“Come in my boy, come in.” He gestured with a gloved hand.

I came closer, uncomfortable standing near the man who had beaten and starved me when he felt I wasn’t trying hard enough. As if he sensed my discomfort he spoke.

“I hope you don’t bear me any ill will Tristan. It’s how we are all trained, you know. So many don’t make any effort to develop their magic, we have to be sure the ones who do are the right sort. Yes it’s harsh and grossly unfair, but everything needs to be earnt to be appreciated, if it was easy undesirables would gain our power.”

“Yes Sir I do understand, but I don’t have to like it.” I retorted, barely keeping respectful.

“You were a special case, we had to be harder on you because you were so much quicker than the others, we had to be sure!”

I gritted my teeth through his little speech.

“Let’s drop the subject, on to business,” he said quickly. His expression turned softer as he gazed at me, regret and no it couldn’t be, but shame. The expression vanished so quickly I doubted what I’d seen, a calm business like mask replacing it.

“Your first custom enchantment is unique, all the others are standard, this one is personal. What do you would serve you well? A weapon? Defence maybe?”

I’d been thinking about it. While healing would be useful, not getting hurt in the first place would suit me better. Pain is not my friend.

“A defence would be best for my abilities I think Sir.”

“Right, let’s do that. As a Mage, you are not limited to the base ‘elements’.” Jase did air quotes around elements to complement his sarcastic tone.

“You should understand by now that they are not ‘elements’, they are associated concepts that allow you to relate to your magic.” I nodded. Of course I knew, he had been the one to beat it into me.

“We need to build the architecture, you have never done this. All the enchantment you have dealt with are either infusing a prepared device or voiding a faulty one.” Jase paused for a moment, looking around his workroom.

“This can be done in one of two ways, wild or controlled. Both have advantages and drawbacks. Controlled is a studied effect, carefully built, as most of the recent developments have been. Wild is considerably more powerful, but less nuanced. First enchantment is always wild, so wild is the way we start.” As he was telling me this, he was looking through a pile of crystal discs. Seeming to decide on one he passed it over.

“As this is your first, you get a pure disc. All you need to do is summon your power and build the concept you want then just push it into the disc.”

I looked at this black disc. Defenceis an easy concept, everyone understands it.Reaching with my power into the disc, I tried to impress defence into it. saying that doesn’t cover the complexity of the task.  a concept is more than just an idea or a thought, it is a tangled arrangement of thoughts, ideas memories and associations, all layered so that the concept can be compressed enough to be useful. Certain patterns were taught so that we could build concepts. They all did the same thing, compressing something vast into something that could be handled and manipulated. Oddly, the disc resisted. I ramped up the force until something stuck, an architecture form I had never seen before. Fluidic and sharp, it shifted under my sight, never settling. Slipping out of viewing, I found the disc had warped from a flat round shape to a curved oval.

Jase clapped like a child, his earlier smile returning full force.

“Well done, my boy. I was worried you wouldn’t manage it. Pass it over, let me have a look”

I held it out to him, but as he tried to grasp it it warped again, turning liquid and retreating up my hand to my wrist. I was shocked. I had never heard of enchantments having a mind of their own. All I could do was look at it.

“Sir, what’s going on?!” I asked, a hint of fear colouring my voice.

“Tristan, calm down. It’s perfectly normal; wild enchantments can only be held by their creator. All the devices you use every day are based on wild ones, eventually the form you used will settle down and you will be able to understand it, then you can teach it to others. I only asked to test that it was well done.” Jase’s tone was the same as when I graduated; calm but proud. That more than anything reassured me that he was telling the truth.

A question occurred to me.

“Sir why are we not taught this in school? Concept building isn’t overly taxing. Wouldn’t more people want to become mages?”

“Tristan, you have to realise how dangerous this information is. The wizards don’t want this known by the common people. It could mean the end of society! War, violence, widespread destruction, all would be possible if magic such as this fell into the wrong hands. The devices we provide are safe and reliable, wild magics are none of those things. Magic is complex, most just aren’t suited to wield it at higher levels.” Jase answered passionately. “When you have seen more, you will understand. Now, I have a busy day and you should go and test your new enchantment. I will log it as ‘success but unidentified’, until you figure out what it does.” He turned back to his work table, clearly done with me. I headed for the door

“Oh! Tristan, before I forget. Here is a shard on basic forms, you are authorised to enchant your equipment now you have a touch of experience. But no more wild magic, practice your forms for a while yet.” He rushed over to hand me a silver shard no bigger than my pendant. Then Jase smiled and turned away again as if I no longer existed. Absorbed in his work.

I went home. I had a lot to think about.

I sat in the chair gazing out the window at the darkening sky. Night was coming, light fled the coming darkness. The first early stars twinkled faintly high above. My hands were wrapped around a cup of cooling coffee, the heat radiating into my hands, warming and comforting. I raised the cup to drink then caught sight of my new adornment.

It had wrapped itself around my left wrist much like the bracers of some archaic armour, I couldn’t decide if it more like was a swordsman’s or an archer’s, one to defend the wearer from incoming strikes, the other to protect against the wearers own weapon, something in that thought felt significant, but I couldn’t say what. Its once black colouring had been replaced by a shifting blue green. Even the crystal it started off as felt more like metal, smooth, striated with colour

I opened my other senses to really look at it gave me a clear sight of a tangled mess. The central concept was dense with lines and threads, many smaller concepts flowed out of it before being led back in as if the enchantment danced. It was beautiful but it conveyed no meaning. Too convoluted and murky to pick apart what was doing what. I dropped my other sense and finished my drink. Cold coffee, bitter and thick on my tongue. Thankfully it was finished. I stood and walked over to the basin, rinsing the ceramic cup of the residue.

Night had finally fallen, the stars gained in brilliance, more appearing as I watched. My thoughts naturally went to what Jase had said about free magic and the wizard’s restrictions. If more people had known just what magic can do, more might have survived the waves, the dome might have been stronger, it wouldn’t have shattered at the end. Maybe the waves could have been stopped instead of us hiding and hoping. I thought. It took me a few moments to realize: If more knew, then the waves might have been far worse, any other conflict escalated beyond all control. Weapons in the hands of children, fools and the bloodthirsty. The thought horrified me. Better a world confined than wild magic.

I watched the moon rise, its glow casting shadows. All light casts shadows, even light in the darkness. Using the moonlight that filled my room I prepared for bed then laid down. Sleep came slowly.

After what seemed like forever I woke from a restless slumber filled with nightmares of flames and death. In my head was a burning. The air thick with heat and pain laden magic. The moon’s white light still shone through the window, tinted with flickering reds and oranges. I pulled myself up from my sweat soaked sheets and saw a pillar of flame shooting hundreds of feet into the sky, fighting the moon for control of the night’s light. It came from the east of town.

I rushed, pulling on my uniform and boots, then I threw myself into action. I couldn’t hear the bell. All towns have a warning bell installed normally in the mage headquarters but it wasn’t ringing. What that meant I didn’t know, but it couldn’t be good.

Flying down the stairwell and through the lobby I emerged into the cool night. I ran down the street heading to the central fountain, from their I should be able to see where to go.

As it reached the plaza a roaring stream of heated air burst from the road to the east. Civilians had left their homes and milled around aimlessly, unsure what was going on or what to do about it. I pulled water from the fountain, it flowed under my feet and up my body, taking the tightness from my skin. Pulling more water I ran towards the east, the heat getting more intense as I got closer to the source.

A wide pillar of fire rose from the street, in its core was a dark twisting shadow. Mixed with the roaring of flame and the hiss and crackle of stone heating was a human voice, almost unrecognisable as human. Its pain maddened screams filling the air. He was the source of the fire. The magic writhed, even without engaging my other senses I could feel it contorting.

The water I had with me started to heat but I cooled it with my magic. Water to soothe the flames.

I stepped closer hesitantly, calling more water from the air to shield me from the furnace. The water coated my hands and face cooling the air that I breathed. It still seared my lungs.

I opened my senses to find the cause and help the poor man, but my sight confirmed the feeling that had been growing inside me. his link was open, wide open. Way beyond normal capacity and was forcing power in its rawest form through him. I reached a water coated hand into the flames. Steam burst from me but kept the worst of the heat away.

This is raw wild magic. The thought ran through me. This is the horror of free magic.

I worked my way through the sheath of flames that coated the man, finally laying my hand on his head.

He wasn’t burnt yet, but he wouldn’t last much longer at the rate power was pouring through him.

I pushed my own power into him in an effort to close his link, his time was running out and his pain was crossing our connection.

I strained to tighten his link to close it before it finally consumed him, but it resisted all my efforts. The flames reached higher and the water coating me was almost gone.

Time ran out.

Fire licked his flesh, finally burning, and his screams reached higher than ever.

I knew what I had to do. I couldn’t help him but I could end his pain. I used my power to command the cracked and scorched paving to flow over his body, smothering the flames. Up higher it flowed covering him in cold liquid stone. My connection to the stone told me more than I wanted to know, I felt it slide down his throat, filling his stomach and lungs. I felt it in my own in sympathy, a tight gagging feeling like drowning. With a final twist I released my power, solidifying the stone.

A moment later the pillar died with him, collapsing into nothing. The heat dispersed on the freshly flowing breeze. Drying my eyes as my fallen tears sizzled on the hot stone coffin. The only sign left of a man who had lived and died here.