Saturday, January 24, 2015

An Unexpected Arrival

The Aeronautic shaft was my greatest work, the pinnacle of years of magical research. It was perhaps the most innovative creation of my entire career. It had the potential to revolutionize trade. And someone had snapped it in half on the first test.
"You're supposed to bend it, I said. "I said bend it. The wood flexes. The tension will weaken one spell, strengthen another, and cause wind to blow in the direction you bent it. You know how the wind blows if you break it?"
"No," my manservant trembled. I could see his eyes darting about, expecting to see a tornado forming over the horizon.
"Neither do I. Neither does anyone. It's the weather, and without a powerful enchantment to control it, it is completely random. I am trying to change that. But I can't accomplish anything if my clumsy manservant keeps breaking complex magical mechanisms in half."
Ullic, the Breaker of Shafts, was just about ready to run away. I was reminded of how terrifying a sorcerer can be. "Don't worry about it," I said. "The shaft itself was a piece of wood with some carvings. I can whittle another one in a few days." I went back inside. Ullic followed me. I strode through the white hallways. Through doors and up staircases. I passed Avel, another servant. We nodded at each other as we passed.
I entered my chambers. They were appointed in true sorcerous style, with arcane writings on the walls, exotic potions on the desks, and old clothes lying on the floor. There was also my Sorcerer's Staff. Technically, as a dropout of the University of the Green Tower, I wasn't entitled to it. But I was a powerful sorcerer from an ancient family. I recieved an honorary degree.
I thought about my Aeronautic shaft. As one of only three people who knew the True Name of air, I was in a unique position to create it. And of the three, I was by far the most proficient in the more mundane sorcery needed to construct such a device. An enchanted branch that wouldn't bend with the wind, but force the wind to bend with it. So simple that even a layman could use it. Unless, of course, they clumsily snapped it in half.
I whiled away a few hours improving on the design. And I jotted down some notes for a durability enchantment that wouldn't interfere with the workings of the shaft.    
I was about to enter the testing phase when my mother walked in. "How is the lady of the White Tower?"
"That is actually what I came to talk to you about," she said. "Your father has been dead half a decade. You aren't getting any younger either. Isn't it about time that you take a wife?"
"I couldn't possibly. Far too busy. And if my research with the shaft does reach a lull, I'll just head on over to the University and finish my education. Most of my knowledge of advanced charms is self-taught."
"You know," my mother said, "the two aren't contradictory. A bastion of magic and nobility is an excellent place to find a spouse."
I was about to respond with a witty and well-thought-out counterargument when I heard a crash. "Cassinder," my mother guessed.
"Allos," I said. 

My robes billowed behind me as I raced through the white halls. Billowing charm. They also didn't stain. A vortex blew me up the stairs. I heard two people screaming. The door was locked. No time for an unlocking charm. I melted the hinges, and surveyed the room.
It had two occupants. Allos was the family's one magical servant. He was middle-aged, going on old, but he had a strong body to go with his sorcerous prowess. He was using that body to wrestle Cassinder, my younger sister, to the ground.
Cassinder knew she couldn't compete with Allos physically. But she could compete with him magically. His Charm of Protection was sparking. I'd spent weeks on that, and it was sparking. An untrained young girl exhibiting more raw power than Allos would ever have in his life. "Cassinder, stop that."
She didn't stop. "He is coming. We need to find him!"
Cassinder was gifted with Sight. She could see events days in advance. Sometimes further. With very high accuracy. I once kept count over the course of ten days. She had fifteen visions. Nine were demonstrably true, and only one was demonstrably false. The remaining five were visions of the further future. And some of the things she saw... troubled her. One of her first visions had been of some 'Destroyer,' who would terrorize the entire world, including her. "Who is 'he'? The Destroyer?"
"He's getting stronger. He's almost here. We need to stop him. Let me go, I need to find him! Before it's too late! He's almost here. Almost here!"
Almost. What did almost mean to someone who has seen the far side of eternity? "What will you do when Allos lets you off the ground?"
"We need to find him!"
She didn't look like she was in much of a state to find him. It looked as if she had been trying to strangle herself before Allos came. It wouldn't have worked- I had spells to protect her- but I dreaded the day she turned her formidable magical powers to her own destruction.
It wasn't clear to me why visions of this 'Destroyer' drove my sister to self-harm. I remembered she had once suggested that his coming was her fault, but I suspect that had been insecurity, not prophecy. "What will you do when Allos let's you off the ground?"
"He's coming! He grows more powerful!"
I was about to repeat the question when I heard another crash outside the house. "Really? At this rate, I'll never finish my Aeronautic shaft!"
I ran out of my tower, Allos and Cassinder close behind. I saw a great flaming hole in the ground. I had lived in the White Tower nearly my entire life. And I was pretty sure the flaming hole was new.
What was that? Was someone trying to attack me? I tried to think what sort of magic could create a flaming crater. And who might be responsible. Then, I noticed something crawling out of the hole. Not something, but someone. He was badly burnt, and his eyes glowed a strange yellow, but he was definitely someone I had seen before. "Bashra?"
"I go by Dragoneyes now," my old friend said. "I'll tell you all about it soon enough. But first, I really want to faint." He got his wish.    

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