My head was killing me as I came to, I doubted the change in scenery was helping. I was laying down on something soft. My eyes felt really heavy, I didn’t want to open them, I was comfortable.
I may have made a noise, I don’t know.
“You’re an idiot,” a familiar female voice greeted me.
I opened my eyes and instantly regretted it. I couldn’t see anything clearly. The light was dim, but my head didn’t care. It felt like getting stabbed. Okay, I was guessing ,I had never been stabbed, but this is what I imagined it would feel like.
“Lyphia, how did I get here? Also where is here?” I asked in a quavering voice. I needed a drink.
“You passed out, I got Eron and Velton to carry you. Here is your room, at the mage academy. You really are an idiot, you know that right?”
“So you keep telling me, oww. Do you have to be so loud?” I asked, I was still trying to adjust to the light. I eased myself into an upright position, it hurt, oh my, did it hurt.
“So, do you need an explanation for why you’re an idiot?” she asked.
I blinked, that sentence had confused me. On the plus side the room came into focus. I was laying in my very own bed. On the minus side, I could see Lyphia. She was sat in the chair to the left of my bed. She looked beautiful, tired and angry, but beautiful.
“Maybe,” I said. I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Well tough, you want an explanation, so do I. You stupid impossible man,” she shouted at me.
“Not so loud, please,” I asked with a wince.
“Oh stop whining, you brought it on yourself,” she said in a still raised voice as she stood up, “I’ve been here watching over you for the last two days, I have better things to do than watch you sleep.”
“Oww, two days? And why were you watching me?” I asked. Bloody woman had a pair of lungs on her, I’ll give her that, but did she really have to be so loud?
“Yes, two whole days. You’re not very interesting asleep,” she said in a calmer tone. She had gotten close to me, I could see the redness of her eyes as if she had been crying, the general bedragglement that came from not sleeping properly. Her cheeks were flushed from her flared temper. It would have been cute if I hadn’t been the one getting shouted at.
“I will endeavor to be more interesting. Can you tell me why you are here though? Even better can you tell me why I have been in bed for two days, in a large amount of pain and appear to be naked under this cover?” I asked with a small smile, a large one was beyond me with the way my head hurt.
“Don’t smile at me, Tristan. I’m mad with you. You tried to kill yourself. In front of me, I might add. You failed. You passed out instead. My colleagues carried you here. We ran into Master Mage Jase, who said to put you to bed while he got a healer, Eron undressed you while I waited outside. Your apprentice,Sophia I think her name was, popped in a while ago. You’re in pain because you’re an idiot,” Lyphia said with a small smile.
“Well that about covers everything except the idiot part, what did I do?” I asked softly. I wasn’t sure if I was asking her or myself.
I looked up to the ceiling as I searched my memory. There was nothing. I remembered waking up, sending Sophia and Airis off with Jase, that was it. Nothing to explain why I had been in bed for two days or in so much pain. I had just noticed that it was nothing physical, the pain. Mental, magical maybe. Well, that was something at least.
“How can you not know?” Lyphia asked me, she had gotten closer again, she sat on the edge of the bed looking down at me.
“I don’t …” I started to say, but the door opened.
Jase and Fion were at the door.
“Is it okay to come in?” Jase asked. He looked worried.
Fion on the other hand looked exactly the same as he had the last time I saw him.
“I don’t know why you ask Jase, we were coming in even if he said no,” Fion said gruffly.
Jase turned to look at Fion, “Because its polite Master,” Jase said tiredly, this sounded like a long standing disagreement.
“Ha, screw polite, just get the job done. And stop calling me master, you know I can’t stand all this sucking up,” Fion said as he walked towards me.
“Its not sucking up Fion, it’s respect,” Jase said as he followed the older mage.
“Well done boy, I’ve been down to the site. Its pure again. And you did a bloody clean job of it. I have no idea how you did it, care to tell me?” Fion asked as he reached the other side of my bed.
I could see right up his nose, I guess being really tall isn’t good for everything, such as hiding nose hair. “Fion, what are you talking about?” I asked confused.
“He doesn’t seem to remember what he did,” Lyphia chimed in.
“Tristan, how are you feeling?” Jase asked. He had also reached the edge of my bed while Fion spoke. He looked small compared to the older mage. Small and frail.
Shouldn’t it be the other way round? I thought briefly before focusing on what I’d been asked.
“Um, not great. My head is killing me, and I keep getting shouted at,” I said.
“Well the pain is to be expected, you did sink an entire district,” Fion said.
Jase gave him a harsh look.
Fion looked back unrepentant, in fact he just grinned.
“Say again? I sank a district? I would remember that,” I said as I looked from one face to another, Jase looked worried, Fion was smiling like a mad man at me. Lyphia had a strange look of wonder as she gazed down at me. Her hand reached out towards me before pulling back slightly.
“You did, I was there. You don’t remember anything?” she asked softly. Her hazel eyes looked intensely into my own, intense, but somehow gentle. I recognised something about it.
I spent a few moments gazing into her eyes, almost lost. I felt a strong hand touch my head, a spark of magic leapt from the hand to deep inside my mind.
“Owww! What the fuck was that?” I shouted. I turned my head to see Fion pulling his hand away from me with a pained but distant look on his face.
“A reminder,” he replied with an echo of the magics voice backing his own.
It was creepy. I even shivered, as I did my headache flared with a vengeance.
“Ouch, you bastard! Did you have to do it that way?” I said with a growl.
“Do what?” Fion asked, his eyes were unfocused and his words were slurred slightly.
“Nevermind master,” Jase murmured.
“I remember. Stars, did I really act like that?” I said softly to myself as the memories came flooding back.
“Like what?” Lyphia and Jase asked together.
“Like the mages of old, entitled, violent, vicious,” I said, quietly, but fiercely. I clenched my fists at the thought of my behavior, outraged at myself as I would be with another.
“Tristan, we weren’t all like that,” Jase started, but Lyphia interrupted
“Yes you were, I remember my father when he was whole, I even remember you Master Jase before your son died, you were both arrogant bastards. Petty and cruel most of the time,” Lyphia had stood as she spoke, passion was in her voice, she had flushed again colour rising in her cheeks. Staring daggers at Jase. “This is clearly mage business, I don’t want to be here anymore,” she turned to me, “I am pleased you are well Tristan, please excuse me,” she started walking towards the door.
I pulled myself out of bed and ran on very shaky legs, I ignored the lingering pain in my head, I reached out and grabbed her shoulder.
Lyphia turned. She saw who it was.her eyes widened and she flushed a bright bright red.
“Wait please. I want you to stay,” I said, I looked her right in the eye. Which kept shifting lower.
“Tristan you, you’re naked,” she stumbled out as she kept trying to meet my eye and failing.
“Oh,” I looked around for anything, to cover myself with. There seemed to be a lack of anything within easy reach without exposing myself more.
“Here,” Jase said as he handed me a blanket.
I took it gratefully, I wrapped it around my waist as brazenly I could. I didn’t want to let on how uncomfortable I was, and it was my own fault. Again.
“So Lyphia, you will stay?” I asked
“For now, I do have work to do, you know, even though I have less now that you did the largest job we had,” she smiled and grasped my hand.
We walked back slowly to my bed hand in hand.
Jase and Fion watched, both were smiling, I’d clearly amused them.
“So why would I suddenly start acting like an older mage?” I asked the two older mages.
“Power can do strange things to a man,” Fion said, he shifted slightly.
“Don’t give me that crap Fion. I know better. Power is not going to make me wake up one day to be a totally different person,” I said sharply.
“You don’t know everything boy, there are powers in this world that could do exactly that. I doubt you will ever touch them, but they exist none the less,” Fion said, his eyes blazed briefly and he clenched his jaw biting his words.
“But that’s not what happened, you think I can’t tell when Jase is hiding something? It looks something like that,” I said nodding towards Jase
He was stood stock still. Not looking at me as he chewed on the inside of his cheek.
“Fine Tristan, you’re right. I wasn’t going to tell you unless it became necessary. I had hopes it would pass you by, it never affected everyone. Magic can change a man. This time it seems to have echoed back. You fixed what you saw as your mistake, but I’ll bet you were angry while you did it. I’ve seen that anger and helplessness in you since the foundry exploded,” Jase said, he still wasn’t looking at me. He looked lost in memories.
“Well yeah, I was angry, but what do you mean “echoed back?”” I asked
“Magic isn’t as tidy and neat as we like to think, in some ways it’s alive. You know that. You have felt it. Sometimes it works like a science, others an art, depending on who is using it and a whole host of other factors that we don’t understand. It called you to..”
“You are magic’s servant Tristan” Fion interrupted, “It called and you answered. Sometimes it changes a man to suit its purpose. When the nobles ruled, magic was weaker, but it still changed a man, often for the worst. Your anger was the magic’s anger. It has been working in you for months. The only survivor, it’s only vessel to work it‘s will,”
“This will happen again?” I asked.
“Yes,” Fion said
“Maybe,” Jase said at the same time.
“Which is it?” Lyphia said. She clutched tightly to my hand as she spoke
Jase looked towards Fion and inclined his head.
“It will change you as much as you let it, it’s not corruption and its not evil. You want to remain the man you are, I can understand that, but we all change as we age. You’re young. You will get angry. You will do harm. You will love and do good,”
“What does that mean?” I interrupted
“It means if you interrupt me again I will smack you,” Fion said, pointing a finger at me sternly before continuing, “Now let me finish, boy. You aren’t any one thing, neither is the magic. None of us can tell how or when it will change you, but it’s no worse than falling in love or losing someone dear to you,”
“Fion is right,” Jase said. “You will change as much as you allow. We lived in different times, part of our changes were our servitude to the nobles and the tasks we had to perform. It’s not the magic’s fault that we taught it how a mage is. You can teach it something else.”
I looked between the mages and Lyphia as I thought through what I had been told.
“Hang on that still doesn’t explain what you mean by echoed back,” Lyphia said.
Jase looked a touch uncomfortable, he shifted away a step.
“No, don’t start pacing, I don’t want a lecture. Just a nice simple explanation.” I said, I knew the signs.
Jase looked crestfallen, but didn’t pace. He looked down at me “Fine, we don’t know exactly, we don’t even know what the magic is, except it’s getting stronger and more complex. We think, I’m stressing think, that some of the emotional effects hit at different times. It seems to have affected you in a reverse cause and effect situation, but we can’t know that for certain. The fact we have is the magic appears to have called you. Fion mentioned that you can hear the music. You have developed reading. You are sensitive, so that could have a great deal to do with it. We just don’t know. I’m sorry, Tristan, that’s all I can tell you,”
“That’s crap, you’re my mentor. If you don’t know who would?” I asked, I looked wildly between the mages, both looked rather downcast. It must be embarrassing to admit they didn’t know. Mages pride themselves on knowledge, well older mages. I hadn’t developed that trait yet. Hard to develop it when I was constantly being bashed in the head with how little I knew.
“The wizards might know, but don’t worry about that right now. Rest for a while longer. You’re healthy, just worn out,” Jase said, he then nodded to Fion and walked out.
“Rest boy, nothing else you can do right now,” Fion said gruffly he placed his hand on my shoulder. A tingle of magic passed from him to me.
“Will you stop doing that?” I asked him, slightly frustrated.
“Maybe,” he smiled then walked out following Jase.
I was left alone with Lyphia. We were sat closely together on my bed, our hands entwined. I looked at her.
“That didn’t go too well,” she said licking her lips, a hint of nervousness. maybe I didn’t have a clue.
“Apparently not, I feel worn out. I had best get some more sleep,” I said as I started feeling light headed.
“Maybe you should, you look awful,” she said with a smile.
My eye was drawn to her freshly moistened lips.
Shiny, I thought, what did Fion do to me? I couldn’t tear my eyes off her pink lips, they looked so soft. I raised my hand to touch them.
“Hey what are you doing?” Lyphia said, as I poked her cheek.
“You look all soft and shiny,” I said stupidly. Why did I say that?
“You’re an idiot,” she said with a large smile. “Go to sleep.”
I laid myself down, far quicker than I had planned. My head hit the pillow hard. Lyphia ended up coming down with me as I twisted round.
“Oww,” I moaned at the sharp pain in my head.
Lyphia was wiggling to disengage herself, hindered by laughter. Her laugh was musical, like the tiniest of bells chiming in the wind. Until she snorted.
Which sent me into a little fit of laughter of my own. It hurt, but it felt good at the same time. Odd.
Lyphia had managed to crawl up me, her face was inches from mine. Flushed and happy. Her hair was tangled, and in my mouth. Urgh.
I blew gently to clear it.
A serious look came over her. She closed the small distance between us and kissed me hard on the mouth.
She tastes of fresh rain, was the only thought I had. I kissed her back. I had only a rough idea what I was doing. I hadn’t been kissed since I was fourteen, I hadn’t done anything with a woman since then. Just before I went to the mages academy.
Lyphia pulled back, kissed me gently again then rolled to the edge of the bed, “Get better, I will see you when you’re well again,” she said before sauntering to the door, she looked back briefly, a considering look in her eye. Then she was gone and I was all alone.
“What was that all about?” I asked the now empty room.
I was still light-headed, but for slightly different reasons now. I guess I knew what Fion had done with that last spark. I shifted slightly to get comfortable and closed my eyes. I could see Lyphia behind my eyelids. I drifted back off to sleep with a smile, dreaming of a woman that confused me more than the events that had put me in bed in the first place.