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.
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.
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.