Oh boy not this again, I thought as I was woken up by a small glowing orb. The same orb from yesterdays orientation. It hovered flashing next to my potted fern. Then a voice came from it, “Mage, you are summoned to headquarters for assignment,”
The voice was a recording. Which the commander had dispatched to fetch me. The orb barely had enough intelligence to do that, but it didn’t know that, so we mages had been told to treat all the summoned or constructed beings with respect.
The Orb continued in its own voice, which was rather childlike: “Do you need any help getting there?”
Poor thing. I doubted it could find its way back on its own.
“Sure why don’t you ride on my shoulder. You can give me directions from there. Sound good?” I responded. “Give me two minutes to get dressed.”
The orb just blinked.
I pulled myself out of bed, looked around proudly at my far larger room, courtesy of passing my mage exam. As part of being a mage you end up working for the Wizards Council, that’s where I was being summoned to. The regional offices.
I pulled on my mage uniform. Simple black trousers and shirt. A full length leather overcoat with colour coded bands at the wrists. Green on one wrist, Blue on the other for me. And tough leather boots. Nothing I was wearing was enchanted. I had to do that myself, once I got the chance.
“Right, I’m ready,” I said, rather more cheerfully than I felt.
The orb floated over to my left shoulder and off we went.
Headquarters wasn’t too far away. It was one of the perks of my new mage apartment, I only had to travel about 100 yards. The poor orb was fading slowly. The boss must have forgotten to feed it.
I picked up the pace. I really feel for the conjured, they have no life of their own, but what we grant them. Even if I wasn’t ordered to be nice to them, I would anyway. I remember my first golem as a kid. He died, because I didn’t know how to look after him. It still hurt, but was a valuable lesson now.
I got to the headquarters doors, a large oak double affair. Sending my magic ahead of me, the authentication charm detected me, opening the doors.
My boss was sitting at the big desk in reception, staring right at me, red in the face and looking really cross.
“Junior Mage Tristan! What time do you call this?” he shouted at me.
I mumbled out an incoherent mess of syllables, that was supposed to be an excuse.
“No, don’t answer. Orb, you get over here, you took too long,” he continued, he raised his hand and pointed at his feet.
Orb floated over to my boss, flickering slightly.
“Sorry Dad,” it said
It brightened as it got closer to its “father”. Absorbing the ambient energy of its creator.
“No! How many times have I told you we are at work? You call me ‘Senior Mage,’ or ‘Sir’ at work,” my boss said to Orb
Orb shifted colour from a pale blue to light pink.
“Sorry Sir,” Orb said.
I was fuming, you don’t treat created beings like this. They can’t understand at their age and power. I remained silent. It was only my second day as a qualified mage. I really didn’t want to get on his bad side already.
The boss turned back to me. He looked mollified by the submission of his “child”.
“Junior Mage Tristan as this is your induction week. You are to attempt as many different tasks as we can find for you. I have your testing shard here. It says you were top of your class in earth, Is this correct?” he asked.
I drifted off slightly as I remembered my earth classes. I’d missed that he’d asked a question.
“Is this correct?” He shouted at me.
Wow, where is my head today? I’m not normally this much of a pixie, I thought.
“Yes Sir it is. Golem creation and skill implantation are my best earth skills. I’m okay with plants and infused enchantment,” I was understandably proud, my voice just vibrated with pride.
“I didn’t ask for your life story, Junior Mage, a simple yes or no is more than enough for me,” he reprimanded me, before continuing, “And it says here you have water skills as well?”
“Yes sir,” I answered very firmly not wanting to overstep.
“Well, Mud boy, let’s send you out to help the farmers today,” he said with a smirk.
I did my best to hold in a groan. Not only was he calling me names, he picked the most boring task ever.
“The farmers west of the town are having an irrigation problem. Do you think you can handle it?” he asked,
I hate this man, doesn’t he know what I can do? was all I could think.
“Yes Sir,” I voiced sullenly.
My boss just looked at me doubtfully. “We shall see. Remember this is induction, if you can’t handle it report back to me or send a message, and we shall find you a simpler task.”
He handed me a small rock.
I went, carrying my rock.
I wasn’t feeling too great as I left. My second day and the boss was already giving me a hard time. I will show him. Maybe he will give me a better task once he sees what I can do, I turned my attention to the rock. I used my magic to access the information stored in the innocuous piece of flint. It played like any other recording but this one is in my head, guiding me to the mission.
<Turn left at sprite fountain, keep going, Would you like to get more details on your task while you travel.>
Hmmm would I? Not really, but I best had in case the boss checks, I directed the thought
<Your task is to fix the irrigation systems before you leave for the day,> I then got a list of possible causes for the water problems.
“Really? Monster attacks? How is that a possible cause?” I exclaimed momentarily forgetting to silently say it to the rock.
Monsters and magical creatures hadn’t been seen in a decade. I got some very funny looks from passers-by. I guess I did look strange. I was young for a full mage, just turned twenty, most were in their late twenties by the time they took their tests. Long black hair, tall, slim. Even my faintly glowing eyes set me apart. Not all of the looks I received were funny. The ladies loved me. Although the older ones just wanted to fatten me up. I had no idea why.
I approached the farms appropriately named East farms. I could see golems in the fields watering the crops. Large, man shaped rocks, I assumed as a temporary measure till water was arranged.
Looking around I didn’t see anyone about. Where are they all? As I wandered I thought maybe they are at the irrigation system. Looking toward the east I saw a bit of movement. As I got closer I could see it was the farmers, standing around a stone plinth. It had to be the irrigation system access point.
“Hello?” I called.
The oldest, he had to be in his fifties, just looked at me. I thought, more than a hello may be needed here.
“Hello, I’m Tristan Sodden. I’m your assigned mage for this incident. Can you please tell me what the problem is?” I declared as assertively as I could. The farmer, still not looking very happy with me, just snorted.
“You’re a full mage?” The other three farmers behind him sniggered quietly.
Now I felt rather insulted.
“Yes I am, just qualified,” I rather stridently stated.
“O boyo we were ‘specting a older one. Didn’t know they made them so young,”
He smiled at me with a glint in his eye before saying.
“We just messing with ya, don’t take it personal like. Rysan at the office mirrored us saying, you would be young. Sorry if we upset you.”
“Thats quite alright sir, I understand. So what seems to be the problem?”
I felt much better now and I now knew my boss’s name.
“There ain’t no water in the system is there?”
For some odd reason it sounded like he was asking me. I mean, wouldn’t he know? Apparently this was part of my task. I should have listened to the rock.
“I shall investigate sir,” I responded in my most authoritative voice, which wasn’t that authoritative, but I needed the practice.
I sat down on the edge of the plinth, trying to remember my water lessons. I still wasn’t very good, but I passed. Water is supposedly a good second knack if you have earth because they are often found together, they affect each other. Like earth, but wetter is all I really got out of that lesson. Not the most helpful. Instead I resorted to my natural knack.
Earth has always felt right to me. I sent my senses into the earth around the well, looking for anything that changed. That’s odd, the earth and stone had no trace of powered enchantment, Coming back to myself. I looked around at the expectant faces of the farmers, they just looked back, the stares made me forget what I was going to say
“The system is empty, like it’s never had water in it,” I just blurted out
The lead farmer looked so disappointed
“Did you not pay attention to your task stone? This is a new system, you are supposed to do the final shaping and enchant it to summon water, boyo.”
I flushed angrily at being made to look stupid by my boss. Keeping my anger hidden from the farmers. “I’m sorry Sir. My boss didn’t say anything about it, and my stone didn’t inform me.” I responded
The lead farmer softened at that, “Well no harm done, can you do it or should we sent for someone else?”
Proudly I declared, “I can do it.”
The lead farmer seemed to think about it for moment then slowly nodded his head and walked off, his fellow farmers followed him.
My boss had set me up to fail, intentionally, but I would show him that I was better than he expected.
I sat there for a few minutes thinking about what I needed to do. The final shaping needs to go last, after the enchanting.
For this device I needed to summon water. Stone isn’t normally great for water based stuff, but it would work in a pinch, so I got to work on the stone base of the system. An hour later we were done with the enchantment. Now to move on to the shaping. A nice smooth finish and a bit of strengthening seemed right. Pushing my power out to surround the structure. I had it smooth the edges helping the individual pieces feel part of the whole structure. A feeling of oneness with each other, before my eyes I saw imperfections fade and the whole device shift slightly fitting together far better. A faint chill touched me as the device activated, drawing some of the moisture out of the air. Condensation beaded on the surface briefly before being sucked deep into the stone. Then it was done, just in time for lunch.
I bade farewell to the farmers, as I was doing that I turned towards the road, back towards the town wondering what I should have for lunch. I passed through the market looking for a good meal when I felt a heat pulse on my chest. Puzzling. I pulled out my pendant, it had warmed. The pendant was a clear green stone set in silver and one of the first things I made with my magic. To look at, it was nothing special, but a look with my other sense revealed a knot of magic in the center. It had appeared during my tests. It seemed stronger than yesterday.
My stomach rumbled, distracting me from the bauble around my neck. Food. What do I want? The market had to have a food stall. There were lots of stalls in bright colours displaying all sorts of crafted items, even a few enchantments. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I couldn’t find anything to eat until I came across a tavern just off the main square. Nice clean lines. Clear insect aversion wards. I stepped inside. The light globes were clear, but dim. Getting to the bar was like a maze, and I had to weave around tables and push past patrons tucking into their own lunches to get across the room.
“Excuse me could I order some food please?” I called out.
The comely waitress came over to me.
“Of course you can, Master Mage. What would you like?” Her smoky voice made me smile.
“Um. Could I have steak and vegetables and a glass of silver juice please?” I asked.
“Find a seat. I’ll bring it over to you,” she replied.
I meandered back through the patrons until I found and sat at an empty table and waited, thinking over what had happened today. While lost in my reverie, my lunch arrived.
“That will be Three Knacks please,” The waitress said.
“Sorry I was distracted, here you go,” I said
I reached into my coat and pulled out my credit shard, a touch of magic transferred the funds
“Thanks, enjoy your meal,” She sauntered off through the throng of patrons.
My meal, while nothing remarkable, was filling and pleasant. The silver juice hit the spot. I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with my time. I had finished my task for the day, I could practice my magic, but all I really wanted to do was go back to my new quarters and settle in. Having decided, I got up and headed for the door.
As I was wandering back to my quarters slowly taking in the view of the town I realized I’d never really paid it much attention. I noticed how clean and smooth the pavement was, how crisp the edges of the buildings were, even the wind was clean and fresh. The whole town radiated light and openness with such broad streets. My journey to my new home was quiet and brief.
As I walked in to my new apartment, I felt at a loss. I hadn’t had this much time to myself for a long time. I sat on my bed and took off my boots.
I should really be doing something. Anything. I survived the waves, I’d worked so hard to pass my exams, and for what? To deal with an abusive boss and petty problems. I know I’m just a junior mage, but I’m a prodigy! I’m five years ahead of anyone else my age.
As my thoughts went round in circles. My frustration reached higher, I realized something. This anger and frustration served no purpose. It was only my second day, my first real task and just like that my anger was redirected onto myself for wasting my time with petty thoughts instead of improving myself.
With the anger now channeled I felt renewed. Things were clearer. I must prove myself or I will never be a wizard.
I turned to my potted fern gently stroking the leaves infusing my earth magic to encourage gentle growth. The feel of the leaves made me feel more at home. Plants had always comforted me.
Feeling better, I went to the basin in the corner and activated the enchantment imbued in the faucet. They were in every modern building. The basin filled with cool clear water. As it reached the three-quarters mark the enchantment sensed it and shut off. Taking the basin over to my chair, I concentrated pouring my magic into the water. The surface rippled. I was trying something I never managed in my lessons: scrying. I could get an image to appear, but it wasn’t what I was looking for, again. Disappointed I used the water to wash up and headed to bed. I used a sliver of magic to turn out the light. I fell asleep hoping tomorrow would bring me the chance to prove myself.