I went home to get my weapons and to think about the approach I needed to take. There was no task stone this time, which meant that this was outside of normal tasks.
I had no idea about what to do.
I grabbed my staff, all mages are given one on completing the tests. It still felt unnatural in my hand. As I turned to the door I realised I knew nothing about gnomes, other than what my father had told me when I was young. I left my apartment, trying desperately to recall what my father had said. I looked around. I still wasn’t used to living in this part of town, and I couldn’t ask for directions. I was carrying my staff,doing my best to project a facade of competence, and it came to me, I just had to walk to the main fountain. It was laid out like a compass.
Wandering round the town during the day, can be a joy, but today the streets were crowded. There looked to be a cart collision just off from the fountain that was causing the blockages. Just what I needed, more problems I found myself wondering why it hadn’t been fixed already. As I got closer, I could see two self powered carts had collided. The enchantments had melted them together. This felt like something I could to do something about. Mage’s duty.
Looking with my other senses, I could see the problem. One of the enchantments wasn’t limited properly. It had linked the two carts instead of keeping all the parts together. Things like this happened sometimes if the enchantment was overworked. I reached out to touch the enchanted wooden core. I smoothed my earth power over the enchantment to smother its power. I threaded a touch of water in, to wash the remains away. As I came back to myself I noticed, I had a spectator.An older man, who had been watching me, offered a cup of water. I accepted the offering, as heavy magic always makes me thirsty.
“Thank you,” I voiced between gulps of water.
He gestured to the carts
“No thanks required. I want payment. That’s my cart you just broke!” he seemed slightly put out, but that had to be expected.
“It was dangerous. It needed containing,” I said simply. Having finished drinking, I handed the cup back to him. “I can’t do the rest of the work to fix it, but they are safe to move. Go to the headquarters to arrange restoration.,” I warned him before maneuvering between the carts to the east path.
Now that that distraction was dealt with I felt more confident about my abilities to handle these gnomes. I did have a nagging feeling that I was forgetting something, I patted myself down, but didn’t seem to be missing anything, I’d remember eventually.
Once I was out of center of the town, I noticed how run down this part of town was. The streets were still paved but cracked and dusty, dead leaves all over. At the remains of the east gate I recalled why it was in such a state, this part of the town hadn’t fared well in the dismantling of the dome. Most of the people that used to live here had died as the dome over this part of town had shattered, raining debris down on the houses and streets, no one came this way except those that had too, it was a stark reminder of what our survival had cost. Saddened by what I had seen, I tried to focus on the task at hand, which was the gnomes, at that a memory struck me. My father had mentioned that direct effects don’t work on gnomes. Hopefully I wouldn’t need to worry about that. This was purely recon.
Past the east gate on the broken road to Haven I looked for signs of gnomes, I wasn’t sure what I should be looking for. So I used my other senses, earth is great for detecting life if you can think of it the right way. Nothing showed up as life, but I was getting something odd, from the left of the road, it wasn’t life, more a smudge on the normal background magic. Dropping out of viewing, can be disorienting, but I needed to be ready for anything, I’d feel a build up or discharge.
I gripped my staff tighter as I slowly crept towards the undergrowth. I readied my earth magic, forward another step ,out of the bush came a tiny, furred, blue thing, I panicked and lashed out with my staff. Not surprising, I missed. The staff went flying out of my sweaty hand, the gnome went after the staff, completely ignoring me. I took the opportunity to act while it was distracted, I sent my earth magic into the dirt under the bush. I formed it it into a network of bars around the gnome, then hardening it into stone. Remembering my father’s remark, I pulled all the magic from the cage. In the moment or so that I took to do this, the gnome had gone berserk beating at the bars and chittering at me. The odd smudge feeling was confined to the cage and I was sweating. so that was combat, not really my thing clearly, I mused, but I was quite pleased with myself.
While I stood there congratulating myself, I felt a sharp pain in my left leg. I jerked in surprise. I looked down, I saw another gnome had bitten through my trousers. More than just pain. I could feel my magic, that was a huge part of me, being torn out, it felt like I had fire running through my blood, burning my mind, my identity dissolved in the flames, I couldn’t think in that moment, in agony. I was helplessly falling to the ground, out of the corner of my eye another gnome, was approaching, I thought, this is it the end.
Then something happened. The earth opened around me. Down I fell, the gnome in surprise let go of my leg. Down even further, a shard of stone caught the gnome through the chest impaling it, killing it instantly. The pain had gone, but something was replacing it, an opening of my mind, the magic that was stolen was running back into me. On instinct I reached out, earth and water flowing together as never before, hardening my skin like stone, reaching out to anything to slow my fall, roots burst out of the sides of the crevasse, wrapping around me. It that hurt, but my hard skin took the brunt of it. The roots slowly raised me back up to the surface. The gnome I had trapped was still in its cage, the others were gone. The roots wove together under me, filling in the hole. I stepped towards the cage, wincing at the pain in my leg although the bleeding had stopped, I sent my earth magic to separate the cage from the ground. Forming a handle and retrieving my staff. I picked up the cage and using my staff to take some of the pressure off my injury, I slowly made my way back to the road.
“Junior Mage Tristan, status report,” came my bosses voice from my pendant, which startled me, I had no idea it could do that.
“Sir I’ve been injured, there were three gnomes, one is contained, I’m bringing it in, another is dead, the last vanished in the confusion,” I reported. I felt stupid, admitting a gnome had harmed me.
“Stay where you are. I’ve dispatched a squad to cover the area and assist you. Give the gnome to them. Stay well, and be careful there may be more in the area. The squad should be there in a moment,” was the response I received. To be honest I didn’t care about how well I had performed anymore. I was stunned at my boss seeming to be concerned about me.
I took the time to think through what had happened.
I had merged my magics, creating a single effect. I didn’t even know that was possible. I thought they had to be used separately, like parts of a tool. It seems I didn’t know as much as I thought. Even now that I had calmed down my magic felt different, stronger more malleable, if a bit low. I’d had to have subconsciously used it to form the hole. It’s the only explanation I could think of.
I looked around me. A group of men were approaching, dressed like soldiers, enchanted leather armor, Swords and wands. Grim looking men, the leader I identified by the black glyph attached to his armor. I used my magic to request an ident from it, I should have clearance for it, turns out I did. I got back
<Telsan> sent right into my head.
I raised my staff to signal them. I called out
“Squad Leader, I’m Junior Mage Tristan, there is a situation here.”
Telsan looked me up and down, his orange glowing eyes narrowed.
“My squad has been sent to deal with the gnomes, I see you have been injured ,do you require assistance? We have a medic with us,” Was his clipped response.
“Yes I do, I have been informed that you need my gnome,” I stated.
“Yes Sir we do, it needs to go to Greenlaw for study, This is our Medic Mage Niven,” at that he turned to the youngest member of the group, still at least five years my senior. Niven stepped forward. Then the rest of the squad moved to scout the area.
“Sir, if you would sit, I can set up a scan,” Niven seemed surprisingly nervous talking to me.
I sent a thread of magic into the ground, I formed a small mound of earth as a seat. Niven looked so shocked, that I had to ask
“Niven, you have seen other mages work before, haven’t you?” Niven nodded sheepishly, clearly getting the insult, he was a mage after all.
“Yes Sir, but not ones that use magic so easily or that I could sense from down the road,” I was confused by this, I didn’t think I was anything special, to cover my confusion, I pressed forwards.
“What’s involved with this scan? It doesn’t hurt, does it?” I queried. I’d had bad experiences with medicals in the past. Niven reached into his satchel, he pulled out a blue crystal. The routine seemed to calm him.
“This is the scan device, it uses water concept architecture to detect abnormalities within your body. It can also sense the flow of magic through you, so if you could cancel any enhancement you have active sir, that would help,” he responded professionally.
That made me think, I didn’t know how to craft enhancements yet, but the stone skin thing had to be one. With that my skin reverted to normal. Realising I was doing it had disrupted it, the bite in my leg throbbed and started bleeding again.
“Thank you sir, just a moment.”
He held the blue crystal towards me then moved it down my body, flickers of light rapidly shifted within the device, giving him the information, I guessed. It was over and done within a minute, a look crossed his face too quickly for me to catch before turning into a smile.
“Lets patch up that leg sir. This is a mend charm. Wounds only,” he said as he pulled out a small metal disc with a white quartz chip in the center, he held it above my wound.
The pain just vanished, as a humming vibration pervaded my leg. Followed by intense itching.
“Sir, sit still please , the itch will pass shortly,” Niven reminded me.
“All done sir, the wound is sealed. Take it easy for a day or so, as the charm has a short after effect. Now, I saw something odd in your scan, that I am obligated to reveal to you. Your magic levels are extremely high, there are no blockages in your flow at all. Which is unusual to say the least. My medical opinion is, that it’s not a problem, but its worth being aware of,” Niven related to me.
Niven seem relieved that his dealings with me were over.
He left me mulling that over. No one has ever mentioned to me high magic levels, or blockages, what does it mean?
“Junior Mage Tristan, well done, your pendant has forwarded all relevant information to me. I’m pleased with your performance, despite your shortcomings, you show potential, you are to report to the mage academy in the morning for assistance in choosing and designing your first mage item, please pick carefully this is the only time I can do this right now. You know the protocols on mages and equipment?” my boss was in a good mood, it appeared, I decided not to question it. I didn’t have the energy.
“Yes sir, all enchantments a Mage carries on his person must be crafted by him,” I recited. I hated that rule, a simple heal charm could have saved me waiting on medical assistance.
“Good to see that you remembered that! The penalty for breaking it without proper authorization is suspension at the least,” Rysan’s voice held a note of annoyance, maybe he wasn’t as impressed with my performance as he was letting on. I had been ordered not to engage.
“Dismissed, rest up, you will have a long day ahead of you.”