I stood there for a moment after Jase left, giving him time to get out the door with the kids. I wandered over to my mirror, checked that I was presentable. I was, but it never hurts to be sure. I headed to the door then remembered something.
The shard that Lyphia had given me. I smiled to myself as I walked over to my bedside dresser. It was sat there glimmering in the light. I picked it up, prepared for the rush of information. It came as a trickle, flowing in to me. My mind gradually absorbed the information. From the feel of the magic I could tell it wasn’t permanent, but it could be if I invested some time and effort into understanding the new learning. I didn’t have time right now, I should be on my way to the guild. I placed it in my pouch, the ideas and images stopped flowing, but I could feel the ones already there staying, at least for now.
I checked myself in the mirror again. I looked fine. I tied up my hair. I was going to be working hard today if what Lyphia had said was anything to go by. I smiled again, another look in the mirror. No, I tore myself away. I couldn’t spend all day worrying I have work to do. I walked to the door, I resisted the urge to stay and keep checking. I wiped my palms that were oddly sweaty, down my trousers. I walked out.
The dining room was empty, Jase had taken Sophia and Airis for the day. One less thing to worry about. I made my way through the mages academy, it was bustling. small groups of people wandering around chatting to each other, there were even some mage aspirants trailing along. I looked to the walls, one of the wall screens displayed a glowing sun about a third of the way through a semi-circle, late morning. I quickened my pace. I was soon racing down the halls. I ran right past the reception, Kristina was sat there as usual, I didn’t have time to apologise for scaring her, Sophia had managed to make me feel bad about my treatment of the girl. It wasn’t my fault she assumed incorrectly, but I shouldn’t have used it against her. I would apologise later.
The streets were clear, very few people were about. I guessed it was because of the time of day. It wasn’t lunch yet. too late for morning shifts too early for afternoon. The sky was cloudy and overcast, all in all, a dim and grey day. My path to the stone guild was very short. I arrived at the magnificent building slightly out of breath, I had run most of the way there. I knew I wasn’t expected, but I hoped it would endear me to the guild, that I was willing to stop by whenever I was free to help out.
The foyer was the same vast hall, although the patterns has shifted, a dim glow came from the floor itself. That illuminated the etchings in a different way. I refused to get drawn in again despite their beauty. I made my way to the back of the hall where one of the desk had an occupant. A man roughly my own age. He was dressed in a similar way to the other stone guild workers, but the material had a faint shimmer, denoting quality. He was a large square jawed fellow a stern expression on his face, that matched his serious tied back blond hair. As I approached, his head turn towards the echoing clunk my steps made on the stone, his pale eyes looked me up and down.
“You’re the mage?” he asked, a disappointed look coming with his words.
“Yes, I’m Mage Representative Tristan Sodden. I’m here to report for duty to Lyphia Terra,” I said.
“Well we have standing orders concerning you, Lady Lyphia is on site. Go there,” he said quickly turning away.
I stood there clenching my fists.
How dare this bloody spark talk to me like this, he’s nothing, I thought before I opened my mouth, “Who the fuck do you think you are? I could bury you alive under the rubble of this pretentious hall, and leave you gasping your last breaths, crushed beneath the stone,” I said in a hushed voice. Anger pounded through my veins, I’d never been this furious.
He gasped as he turned back to look at me. The colour in his face drained away.
I leant over the desk to make sure he didn’t mistake my intent I could feel my magic swirling around the air, lending a flickering light to me.
He fell of his chair in his haste to get away, as he lay on the floor with a look of horror on his face,
I asked, “Where is the site?”
“T-Th-The old foundry,” he stuttered out.
I stood up and turned to go. I looked over my shoulder to see him pulling himself up. “Watch your tone with me next time, or I may have to teach you a lesson,” I said as I walked out.
I stomped down the street, the sky then opened dropping cold rain down on me. I was still surrounded by swirling energies, I needed to get a grip before I did much else. I stood still in the middle of the pouring rain, letting the cold water wash away the residues and cool my temper. I had no idea what came over me. My emotions were all over the place. Before the man had even said I knew it would be the foundry. That didn’t justify my temper which had flared before it even came up. Was Lyphia right? Are all mages arrogant and entitled, looking down on the masses, I thought. I didn’t know if that was the case, but I usually wasn’t. I just felt so frustrated dealing with unpleasant people that always thought the worst of us. I looked up to the sky, the rain was soothing, I opened my mouth and closed my eyes. Enjoying the feel of the cool water running down my face, the refreshing taste. I opened my eyes I felt clearer not exactly better. My temper was still blazing, what was it that got under my skin so much. I shook my head, the rain had weakened the binding on my hair. Rather than redoing it to have it fail again, I let my hair hang loose. Another thing that could irritate me, just great. I tromped of down the street, not thinking, just walking. The foundry district wasn’t awfully far, I just didn’t want to be there. Nothing reminds you better of your failures than a large chunk of town reduced to burnt rubble and ashes. I walked slowly over the shattered cobbles towards the twisted remains of the foundry. There were a group of maybe five people stood in front of my destination. They were arguing fiercely. A great deal of arm waving and raised voices. Lyphia was the only woman there, she was stood slightly apart from the group, a look of resignation on her pretty face.
“We have to repair it,” shouted one of the people, a man. He looked to be in his late forties. Bald with skin like leather, his dark eyes glimmering with green flickers, as his magic rose.
“Cut it out Velten!” said another. He was younger, paler and had hair, dirty blond cut short, he was built more solidly than the first man. Velten, I guessed.
“It will be less work to repair, most of the foundations are solid,” Velten said.
“Have you no thought of the people that lost everything here?” the other man said.
The remaining pair stood looking between the two arguing men. Neither voiced an opinion.
“I have, Eron, I have. Won’t they want their old homes restored?” Velten said, his tone sounded far less convinced.
“No you haven’t, you old fool. They would have to live with the residue of the event. Better to start fresh and do a better job, we get paid either way. The wizards are footing the bill, may as well drag it out,” Eron said, a greedy smile appeared on his face.
Lyphia stood looking over the destruction, no longer even paying attention to her employees.
I felt now might be a good time to announce that I was here. “I think not, gentlemen. The wizards are footing the bill, no dragging it out. You are contracted for high quality work. It takes as long as it takes,” I was guessing, but the look on Eron’s face told me I was right.
“Nice of you to join us, Tristan, as you can see we are just deciding on how to proceed,” Lyphia said. The rain had soaked her hair darkening it even further to a deep red, it was beautiful.
My mouth dried instantly, and my palms felt sweaty again, I don’t know how I could even tell in the rain, but that’s how it felt.
“I can see that,” I struggled to get out, she hadn’t even turned around. I was getting tongue tied looking at the back of her head.
Lyphia chose that moment turn around and face me. She was soaked, her thickly woven dress clung to her every curve. Her face was stern though and wet, her eyes slightly bloodshot with fatigue. “ Thoughts?” she asked.
“Thoughts?” I repeated.
She sighed “Yes, do you have any? On how to proceed?”
“Oh, I may not be the best person to ask,” I said.
“Mage, I didn’t ask if you were a good person to ask, now did I?” She said, her hazel eyes seemed to be studying me intensely.
“Start from scratch, wipe this place clean,” I said slightly more forcefully than I had intended.
I flushed and looked away. Everyone was staring at me. I walked a few steps away. Surprised once again by my emotions getting the better of me, what was going on with me.
I looked over the blasted ruins of my failure, feeling the pain I had felt then again, I noted the spots where the bodies had been cleared away, but still remaining were smudges. Those smudges were all that was left of a person. Each one special and important to someone, if not to me personally. I could feel my anger coming back, it had been weeks and nothing had been done to remove the damage or find the cause.
My reading came over me gradually bringing glimmers of muted colours to sight. Twisted streams sluggishly moving, build ups in stagnant pools, soaked into the shattered rock and cobbles. Patches of deeper, darker shades where people has died. Faint echoes of their dying screams hung in the air. Near the far edges of the blast zone, brighter livelier streams encroached, stimulating some of the lifeless areas, by dragging some of the corruption away. Bad things always leave a mark. This was my legacy. A failure that would poison all who came here. I looked back towards Lyphia she was radiant in oversight. She didn’t belong here dealing with this darkness. She looked straight back at me, an odd considering look. I must have looked rough, I knew I had tears in my eyes, but if they were from sadness or anger I couldn’t tell. I turned to look back on my mistake again. I could see the darker areas were slowly spreading like rot. The pure magic inside me was whispering to me, I could feel it trying to rise, I let it out a touch, it sparkled in the air around me. spinning flickering sparks appearing all around me. I heard a gasp behind me, but didn’t care enough to turn and look. The magic within me was building, slowly drawing out to join the rest in the air, some going down through my feet into the cobbles, I focused trying to feel my way through what I was doing on instinct. A sudden rush as the magic flowed out of me faster. I opened my link wider to replace what was leaving, I started to feel the strain of channelling then. I could handle it, but it still knocked the breath out of me. I couldn’t feel the effect as yet, but something was happening as the magic built up. A hand touched my shoulder. I turned.
“What are you doing?” Lyphia asked me, her eyes wide with something I couldn’t name.
I smiled although it was more like a grimace as a huge rush of magic went through me. “What should have been done before you were called out,” I said as I realised what I was doing.
“Don’t be cryptic,” she said. Annoyance battling with the wonder as my magic became visible to the others.
The others let out gasps of their own as they saw what was really happening. I ignored them.
A deep rumble came from the stone beneath us, vibrations rocking us slightly. Lyphia’s hand tightened.
My power was breaking down the darker shades, vitalising the streams. Rubble started to warp, shifting to a more fluid state. Still my power flowed. It felt like it was never ending. The strain was starting to take its toll. I sunk to my knees, Lyphia reached out to support me.
“I knew you liked me,” I said with what I thought was a charming smile, it was probably a pained rictus.
“Shut up and stop it, you don’t need to do this yourself. there are more mages that just you,” she said, a concerned crinkle formed between her eyes.
“I do, its my fault its like this,” I said.
“That was you? The sole survivor?” she asked surprised.
“Yes, I need to fix this,” I said
“Stop it, this helps no one if you die,” she said
“Maybe it would,” I said softly. The horror of this place must be getting to be, I wasn’t normally this morbid. I pushed harder with my magic. The earth shook violently, as it took back the stones of the broken buildings. A vast tide of power burst out of me. It tore the damaged streams of energy apart. I reached out to draw purer flows into the area, the magic’s voice guided me in the last steps. One last burst set temporary beds for the new flows. It should hold long enough for the streams to find their own paths.
I went limp, the last of my energy gone. The final thing I saw before falling into the black of unconsciousness was Lyphia’s face hovering over my own, tears in her eyes as she held me to her.