Mage Life Chapter 22

Darkness

I blinked, it didn’t help. It was still dark.

I wasn’t outside. The air wasn’t moving, I had the feeling of being enclosed, you know the one. I found myself in a very dark place. I was laying face down on what felt like solid rock, rough and cool. I pulled myself up and took a look around.

I couldn’t see. I activated my reading. Nothing.

Huh, that’s weird, I thought. Then I noticed something else. I couldn’t feel the magic, at all.

I stood up hesitantly, I raised my arms to feel around to make sure I didn’t hit anything. Or I tried.

I was stopped by a pressure around my wrists, I could move my arms, just not far. I brought my hand to my other wrist and felt. Cool metal, thick and what could be…

Chains.

I had woken up in a cold dark room in chains.

Don’t panic, I thought. Panic never helps. Think. How did I get here? Where is here?

I cocked my head.

I could hear something.

Even better, I could see something.

There was a faint glow of yellow light flickering from the other side of ,what I could now see was, a door of bars. Footsteps. A shadow as the light drew closer, slowly, so slowly.

A figure carrying a torch. Young, about my age. Tall and slim, with short hair. I couldn’t make much else out

“You’re awake, I see,” he said in a deep, deep rumble that was startling, I would never have expected such a voice out of such a slim man. It was familiar, but I couldn’t place it.

I attempted to speak, but my throat was dry. “Who?” I rasped out.

“That doesn’t matter, what matters is what you and your colleagues were doing,” he said as he moved the torch closer to get a better look at me.

I flinched and stepped back, the light from the flames too bright after my time in the dark.

“Look at me, boy!” he said sharply.

I blinked, my eyes watering as I tried to look at him. “Why am I in a cell?” I asked.

“Because I will it so, watch your tongue or I’ll cut it out,” he warned me, his voice harsh.

I recognised it.

“Try it,” I challenged him. I lunged forward snarling my sudden anger in his face, only to be brought up short by the chains.

He stumbled back as step before stopping. I had seen the fear on his face.

“I suggest you mind your manners, I do have your friends,” he said, the rumble absent this time.

I couldn’t talk, I was snarling and growling like a maddened animal. I pulled so hard on my chains I could feel the metal dig into my flesh, I ignored it.I didn’t care. I wanted to tear the bastard’s throat out.  I was pulling so hard on my links, that the feedback floored me. there was no magic here, I thought as pain roared through me.

The bastard laughed, it echoed from the stone.

I managed to move into a one knee kneeling position, panting. My hair was loose, it hung down around my face, as I looked at the floor.

“I’m going to kill you, and if you harm my friends, I will make it last a long time,” I said softly, I wasn’t sure he heard, but his shadow seemed to flinch.

“Your friends are in my hands, you are in a cell in chains and you dare to threaten me! You have spirit, boy, but you’re a fool,” the man said with a laugh. “I hold all the cards and you spit in my eye.”

I could hear his footsteps retreating taking the light with them. his laugh stayed echoing in my ears

I stayed where I was, listening, waiting as I racked my brain for clues. How did we get here and why were we locked up. It turned out I didn’t have answers, but I did have the glimmerings of a plan.

I shuffled over the rough floor of my cell, which was set into a very natural cave. on my hands and knees, I crawled, following my chains, to their anchors. They had to be set in something. The floor dug into the tender flesh of my hands and was harsh on my knees. I couldn’t risk standing and making the chains rattle while someone could be so close.

I found the anchor, a simple ring projecting out of what felt like a massive slab of metal sunk into the stone locked to my chains by a very large, heavy lock. So much for my original plan of wiggling the screws out of the stone. I couldn’t lift the metal let alone move with it if I managed.

I scooted round the other side of it gently, so I could keep an eye on the door. I felt the lock, maneuvered it so it was flat on the plate. I did my best to line up my wrist restraints to the edge of lock, but it was dark. I raised my arms. I brought them down with all the strength I had in my body.

The sound of metal striking metal sounded, loud, echoing. Sparks flared, that blinded me.  I clenched my teeth to keep from screaming out as my arm caught in the operation. I blinked away the sudden tears that welled. No time for weakness, as I stared towards the door. I looked for light, listened for footsteps. I waited some more, I had no clue how long I had, but they would come for me eventually I needed to be ready. I rose my arms again. I could feel warmth trickling under the cold metal. Blood, I assumed. Down again. Wait again. Three more goes, that felt like forever as time crept along.

My arms were numb, the vibrations throbbed through my bones. Sweat made my scalp itchy and drops ran into my eyes, I blinked quickly to clear them. I rose my arms again, they were so heavy. I blinked. I felt dizzy. I slammed the manacle into the lock. In the light from the sparks I could see the lock had separated.

I felt giddy.

I was free.

I took a deep breath. I wasn’t free. I still had the door to get through and find Fion, Jase, and Avery. But it was progress. I pulled my chains out of lock gently, my hands shook. I gathered up my chains in my arms. I crawled back towards the door, slowly. The clunk of the chains was making it hard to listen for footsteps. I guessed when I was at about the previous limit of the chains. I knelt on one knee again. I grabbed one of the chains and wrapped it around my arm, looped around and around. I did the other arm. I placed the ends in my hands. I left a few hands free, which is hard by feel alone, to dangle from my hands. I hoped that would fool whoever came for me.

I felt weak and woozy.

I tried to keep my mind focused on the plan, but I drifted to thoughts of Sophia in Airis’ arms limp and pale, she is my responsibility. I will make this right, I will do what I have to and get back to her. My tears threatened again, but I held them back.

No. This will not break me.

I focused on where I remembered the door was and I waited.

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23 thoughts on “Mage Life Chapter 22

    • Oh, I thought it was the perfect length considering what is going on.
      Judging length is quite difficult, I could extend it but then I run the risk of repetition and fluff.
      If I get a consensus, then I will throw out another chapter next sunday. Does that make it easier to bear?

      • thank you for considering it. the rate of the story has almost convinced me to delete the bookmark to here and put it into my diary to check three site in six months.

      • I wouldnt want to lose readers due to the speed of output.
        I have also placed a donate button for those that are unhappy with the current speed.
        There are many reasons why its fortnightly, mainly real life reasons, but a couple of creative ones too.

  1. I thought it was pretty short as well, but I think that might be just because I didn’t really find out what’s going on and I really want to know. I did like the suggestion of putting up an extra story next week though.

    • Then I have done my job right, getting you guys hooked is supposed to be the idea.
      I would rather not break my schedule, its part of the reason the donate button is there. Not to generate revenue but to give the readers the option of getting the content they want, faster.

  2. Quick comment. If the main character recognizes someone, you should go ahead and let us know who it is. We are seeing the story unfold through Tristan’s eyes, and if he recognizes someone but it’s kept secret from us readers, then it pulls us out of the story a little.

    • The problem with that is Tristan recognises him but doesn’t know his name, has never seen him, he has only heard his voice. It makes giving you more details about him awkward.

      • Then you can say where he recognized him. For instance, if you instead said “I recognized it from the factory.”, if it was one of the guys from there.

        Along those lines, you have ‘recognized’ spelled wrong. Didn’t notice until I copied that line and saw it.

  3. Short chapters are a fairly common issue in the web serials that have been popping up recently. I checked – this chapter is 1261 words. Drew Hayes’s SuperPowereds averages around 1300 words. That’s maybe 2.5 pages in Word, not nearly long enough for a chapter. I understand that it’s difficult to write that much in such a short period of time, but there are ways to get around that (like writing ahead). The issue isn’t just superficial – it has an actual impact on the story. Think of chapters in a book like phrasing in music. Even if the actual notes are unchanged, how music is phrased can dramatically alter your perception of a piece. It’s the reason that the same piece played by an amateur and a professional can sound so different. In the same way, chapters in books affect the strength of your buildup and climax and have an impact on the pacing of the story. Moreover, since every chapter needs to have a logical beginning and end, short chapters end up making the story sound ‘choppy’. Even Worm had this issue in the beginning. If you take a look at each arc, the chapter length increases steadily as time goes on. The first chapters aren’t much longer than this, middle chapters are around 4000 words, and by the end chapters are almost all well over 10000 words. This may sound absurdly long, after all, this entire story would fit in just two or three 10000 word chapters, but 10000 words is only about 20 pages, which is about what you would expect out of a chapter in a novel. The Order of the Phoenix, for example, averages 23 pages per chapter. Sorry about the long comment, I’ve noticed this in a few stories (like SuperPowereds and Portal) and finally decided to comment somewhere.

    • Worm is generally the exception to the rule.
      I do understand the issue and can see why people but be less than happy with it. The main problem I have right now is that of finding stopping points. Some of the chapters in my backlog, still to come for readers have grown to 5-9 thousand words. I also have the issue of it being a draft. Once the story is complete it will be undergoing massive rewrites.

      I don’t mind the long comments, it shows an investment, a level of care and interest, that is lovely to see. Thank you for caring enough to write a comment.

  4. I think it’s just fine. It’s not _too_ short. I prefer to have 1300 words of meaningful contents instead of 6500 words of fillers. 😀

    Oh, and sorry about the “Follow” spam, Tempest. I just got the WordPress app for my phone and everytime I opened it, it’d “unfollow” someone. *is embarrassed* No hard feelings?

    • No worries, wordpress is a bit awkward sometimes on any platform. Just wait until it eats all your formatting for no reason.

      I think most of my readers are used to Wildbow length chapters, its understandable if annoying that they might be displeased by less. Length fluctuates a lot most of the way through the story, so its hard to do average chapter sizes.

    • I mean, 1300 words is objectively too short for a chapter in a novel length story. Realistically though, I completely understand that it’s hard for an inexperienced author to write that kind of chapter with that amount of substance. Wildbow may or may not be an exception, after all it did take him over a year of biweekly posts until he started putting out that length consistently. So yeah, the chapters are too short, but when you’re not getting paid to do this it can’t be easy to find time to write 6000+ words per week.

  5. Its not time thats the issue, its that its draft status. The story isnt already written, in many ways what goes up here is the skeleton of it, once its finished I can rewrite.
    Thank you for realising that payment is a thing too. Writing is hard, while not physical, it’s still work. The amount of time I spend a week either writing or thinking about the story is unreal. We are looking at 40-50 hour weeks.
    Having considerate readers does help ease the sting a great deal, so thank you, again.

  6. The mistake being made is assuming that “chapter” means the same thing here, a web serial, as a book. Even though they are called chapters, they are nothing more than blog posts and can be whatever length the author decides is appropriate and are capable of writing, with a certain expectation of editing, within the time they have. Enjoy the journey we are allowed to take with the author as they unfold the story for us! ^_^

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