Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Cave of Twelve Winds

Our small convoy rode through the mountains. Dragoneyes was focused on a clump of soil he was carrying with him. Every so often, he would drop it, and pick up a new one. He was trying to commune with the True Name of soil.
I was doing much the same. Feeling the breezes. Their air currents. I could feel a hawk the next mountain over. I could feel a storm brewing to the west. And I could feel something else, too.
"Someone is using the True Name of air."
Dran was suspicious. "I thought every other person who knew the True Name of air was a Master at the Green Tower."
I tried to see if I could recognize the signature of the mage responsible. I had spent time with both Ar-Alam and Taminer when I was a student at the university. In fact, Ar-Alam had been something of a mentor. But at the time, I was only beginning my studies into air. I couldn't tell their magic apart, certainly not from a distance. But... "It feels like he is fighting someone. The winds howl with his pain."
"Any sense for who he is fighting," Dran asked.
"Perhaps I can tell," Dragoneyes said. "What direction is it?"
I pointed. He closed his eerie yellow eyes. "There is so much moving through the air. Being blown around.  Wooden branches... Small rocks... and water. A lot of water." He exhaled. "Someone is definitely using the True Name of water."
"Should we investigate," I asked.
"Two mages are creating a small storm in an attempt to destroy each other," Dragoneyes said. "Why wouldn't we investigate?"

We arrived to see Kyotr floating inside a giant sphere of water, trying to chase down Ar-Alam, while my old Master flew as fast as he could. The two of them seemed rather beaten down. Kyotr's water had a reddish tinge I suspected was from blood. Ar-Alam's breathing was haggard at best.
I was about to intervene, but Dragoneyes beat me to it.
He spoke the True Name of water. For a moment, he was locked in conflict with Kyotr. Dragoneyes was no veteran when it came to water, but Kyotr was injured and tired, and was never much of a mage in the first place. Dragoneyes managed to burst his bubble.
I rushed towards Ar-Alam. "What happened here?"
The old sorcerer stumbled. "Amniel? What are you doing here?"
"Traveling with Dragoneyes- with Bashra- to warn the University that Koteph seeks to free Ochekol'kan. Do you remember who Koteph is?"
"Yes. It seems Kyotr is now serves him."
I looked over. Dragoneyes seemed to have already deduced as much. He and Dran were tying Kyotr up.
"Are you hurt," I asked.
"Very much so."
"Dran knows quite a bit about potions. I'm not sure if he is a capable physiker, but if not-"
"I won't be requiring medical attention."
"I don't understand. You said you were injured. Now you're saying-" then, I understood his meaning. "Don't give up, Ar-Alam. You are strong."
"My magic is as strong as ever. But my body is barely powerful enough to stand. I am old, and I am tired, and I just fought a shade."
"We can prolong your life. I'm sure that-"
"I thank you for the offer, but I must refuse. I can tell that there is a storm coming. I will likely have succumbed to these wounds before I can be of use to you. At the same time, I worry I may be of use to Koteph. If he bent Kyotr to his will, he may do the same to me. If he truly needs to True Name of air, my death would be my greatest contribution to our cause."
I didn't like the logic. Not least because I too knew the True Name of air, and I didn't consider myself a liability.

Koteph was only beginning the long process of bending Cabilon to his will. As he stirred potions and prepared for the next phase, the Red Mage stared at him.  Cabilon was an older man, closer to seventy than sixty. So hanging from chains in some gods-forsaken dungeon didn't appeal to him.
The expensive dyes in Cabilon's cloak were now mixed with a more primal red. He knew he should be terrified. He had already thrown fire at Koteph, and the blue flames had bent around him. His chains were similarly enchanted. Such power suggested a truly dangerous shade. But Cabilon just didn't have the capacity for fear. It was a result of years of being a master of fire, a powerful mage, one of the most important men of the Commonwealth. "Tell me. How many times do you think you can lock horns with other sorcerers before you die."
The black-robed shade looked back. He looked more like a skeleton than a man, with white skin pulled taught over his bones. He didn't dignify Cabilon's bravado with a response.
Terix arrived. The Touchkill bowed. "Lord Koteph. Kyotr still has not returned. He has not been spotted in our camp."
Koteph took this in. "When did you send him on his mission."
"I visited him nearly a day ago. He spent the bulk of that time preparing to jump from the Blue Tower to the Cave of Twelve Winds. The spells we use to track him indicated he met with Ar-Alam about four hours ago."
"You should have come to me sooner. A fight like that should not take four hours."
"I shall go and remedy the matter at once."
"No. Kyotr knows the True Name of water. Ar-Alam knows the True Name of air. Two invaluable assets may be at risk in one place. We cannot allow either to die. This will require both of us. Get one of the monsters to look after our guest. Perhaps Bleos and the Sloo will be up to the task."

I was with Dran, keeping watch over Kyotr. Dran had worked up a potion to keep him in a semi-conscious state. Apparantly, it was a subject on which his father had constantly drilled him. Phorius had used the technique frequently as he dissected monsters in his Tower. I was beginning the sequence of spells that might undo Koteph's work. I kept my eyes on Kyotr. I couldn't bear to look at Ar-Alam.
Dragoneyes and Cassinder were tending to him. "I can cauterize your wounds. I know the True Name of fire."
"That is unnecessary."
"I can see the nature of your wounds. See how they will poison your body. If I don't do anything to help you, you will die in-"
"Shh," my sister interrupted him. "People don't like to know that."
Ar-Alam looked at Cassinder as if for the first time. "So you must be Amniel's sister. The Seer."
"I am."
"Interesting. I always wanted to meet a Seer. I suppose my life his now complete." He stifled a laugh.
I rejoined the conversation. "Is there anything you might need us to fish out of the cave. It seems most of your possessions have gotten rather wet."
"I suppose I could use my staff. And my books." Ar-Alam caught my look. "Of course the books are water-proof. It's a simple spell."
"Well," Dragoneyes said, "I suppose I aught to fish it out."
Cassinder went with him.
I looked at Ar-Alam. My teacher. My mentor. One of the most learned mages in the world. The leading expert on air and the wind. I didn't want to lose him. I didn't want his death to be on my hands, on my watch, surrounded by me and my allies. "Are you sure you want to die? To bleed out?"
"Yes. Once your friend gets me my staff, I want you to leave. Go to the University. Warn them. Leave me to make my peace with the gods." He cocked his head. As if listening for something. "Do you hear that?"
Dragoneyes emerged from the cave, Ar-Alam's staff in one hand, a flaming sword in the other. "Koteph. It seems like we won't be making peace with anyone."

No comments:

Post a Comment