Coming to in the ruins of the foundry district was a distinctly unpleasant experience. The feedback always left lingering pain. So as I eased myself up, my body was clamoring for me to stay put. I looked around. I saw the blackened shards that were all that remained of the foundry. The scent of burned flesh hung in the air. I rolled to the side as vomit erupted out of me, the harsh acid scalding my throat. I wiped my mouth and ignored my body’s command. I stood up on shaky legs. I took stock. Apart from the feedback pains. I had a nasty bump on the back of my head. Maybe from passing out and I had a tender burn under my bracer.
All in all I had survived well, something that should have killed me. The area was still simmering in other sight. Just the tiny use of my sight sent me to my knees in pain, my channels had taken enough punishment, they protested loudly. I staggered back to my feet. I surveyed my surroundings from my vantage, nothing really remained of the district. Rubble was everywhere. Bodies, charred beyond recognition. I gagged at the sight. Thankfully nothing was left to come up. I had to get to headquarters and report this. The world wavered around me as I slowly made my way over the broken paving. My body was trying to shut down. I forced myself to go on. I owed it to these people to do my duty.
Finally in sight of headquarters. Mages were running all over. I’d never seen so many before. New mages were kept away from the older ones, until after our first few months. Supposedly, so we didn’t pick up any bad habits right at the start, I’d been told.
A few noticed me, I must have stood out in other sight. Magical debris. Surviving things like that always leaves a mark. One came over to me and hesitated. He was in his late thirties, solidly built. Hair fading to grey.
“What are you waiting for mage? I could use a hand. I have a report to make,” I commanded roughly. A cough bubbled up with the words. The older mage took my arm and slung it over his shoulder.
“Sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you,” he mumbled out.
I must look a fright to get that response from such a veteran mage.
“Its fine. I need to talk to Master Mage Jase, or whoever is senior around here. Is Rysan back?” I said briskly. The pain was making me far more abrupt than normal.
“Orb is relaying information to Senior Mage Rysan. Not that we have much,” he informed me.
“Sorry I’m being rude, but its urgent. What’s your name?” I asked.
“Me? I’m Mage Lysar. You would be Junior Mage Tristan. Correct?” he replied.
“Yes. How did you know?” I said taken aback.
“Its not often we have to make a new rank,” he replied with a smile.
“A new rank?” I queried. I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Oh, I thought you knew. We had to make the Junior rank just for you. No one else has come through Mage training so quickly, but you would be missing a lot protocol, that we learn in the later years,” he explained.
“Oh, I wasn’t told,” that explained why I was kept away from the other mages.
“Yeah looks that way. It must be to keep you from getting a big head,” he joked.
The conversation had distracted me from the pain which I was thankful for. It also distracted me from the looks I was getting from the other mages. Most looked scared. I didn’t know why. I must have looked worse than I thought.
Orb was in the reception. Rysan’s voice was coming from him as he spoke to Master Jase
“What is going on? I’m supposed to be in council with the wizards,” Rysan thundered.
“We don’t know. The foundry has exploded. There was an incident call, not long before. Saying that a smelter had overloaded. Suspected sabotage. we dispatched three mages to the site. According to Orb. Tristan also went on his own to back them up. None of the three got there before the place went up. Tristan hasn’t been seen. We don’t know what’s happened. His amulet stopped broadcasting,” Jase reported looking upset, his hands were wrapping around each other nervously.
“Jase, I told you that place was a problem and I wanted it shut down. You overruled me. Now look at what’s happened,” Rysan’s voice screamed through Orb.
“This is neither the time nor the place for blame Rysan, I was just following orders. We need a plan. How are we handling this?” Jase said calmly
“Containment. We need information. Cordon off the area. Send in pairs of mages to assess the damage and collect what evidence there is. If they can find information on Tristan do so, but he is not a priority,” Rysan commanded.
Nice to know how important I was. This may be an appropriate time to announce myself.
“Sir, I’m here,” I said weakly. My escort angled me towards the desk before letting go. I staggered but didn’t fall.
“Tristan! My boy, what happened to you? You look like you have walked through the blasted plains,” Jase hurriedly asked. Surprise and shock warred with happiness across his face.
“The foundry blew up. I was right outside it. I shouldn’t have survived,” The realisation that I should have been dead stopped me in my tracks. I did my best to put it to one side as I continued. “There were mages, two were guarding the door. I asked to go in, so I could check that it was under control, they refused. Started to get aggressive. I left, but I knew something was wrong so I snuck round the back. Through a window, I could hear voices. The mages were talking about torching the place something about a wizard, and blaming one of the workers for the accident. They mentioned a portal, whatever that is,” I said losing the thread of what I was saying as it all caught up with me. I wavered on my feet. the pain made me gasp.
“My boy, that’s enough. We need to get you looked at and let you get some rest. You’re not making sense anymore,” Jase said rushing to my side he helped prop me up.
“Junior Mage Tristan, You are suspended for medical leave as of this moment. Get your rest. We will talk soon,” Rysan ordered through Orb. “We will handle this.”
“Mage Lysan, can you take Tristan to his quarters and fetch a Medi-mage please?” Jase asked.
“Yes sir,” Lysan answered automatically then blinked as he processed what he had agreed to.
Lysan took my arm again to support me, and half carried me out the door. I turned my head briefly to see Jase talking animatedly through Orb, waving his arms. That was my last sight, before the strain of being carried, brought the pain back. Unconsciousness claimed me.