Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Attack

I might have been the first to hear about it. Cassinder told me while we were eating breakfast. "Koteph will come today."
I told Taerin, who told the Masters, who told their students.
It was a bit of a problem. We weren't expecting him so soon. Our defenses were far from complete. Dragoneyes strained himself, and was able to erect walls for the remainder of our perimeter. But the walls were purely material, without sorcerous backing. And the effort left Dragoneyes drained.
We began to notice strange creatures in the sky. I felt the air as it flowed over their wings. They were very much not birds.
A pillar of dust began to rise above the horizon. I heard someone say it was the dust kicked up by an army of monsters. Eventually, Koteph himself appeared. He climbed up our wall. I wasn't there for his big speech, but this is what I believe he said.
"Brothers of the Green Tower. I see that I was expected. I know not what lies you have been told, but I do not wish to harm you." Some bystanders say that his voice sounded sweet and melodic. It's not clear why Koteph would do this, since his looks were still somewhat... skeletal.
"I and my allies need only brief passage through your University. If this is granted, I swear you shall not be harmed. You have until sunset to agree to this request. If you fail to do so... I will destroy you."
It did not take until sunset. Very soon, Taerin approached Koteph's perch, Dragoneyes at his side. The Archmage amplified his voice. "We refuse your demand," he boomed. "And I believe that Dragoneyes would like to add a few words."
Sources differ on what happened next. Some say that Dragoneyes spoke a dozen Names, one after the other. Some say he alternated between them. Some say that he invoked several at once. I myself subscribe to the second theory.
At Dragoneyes' command, a storm of fire and water and ice and iron shot forth from the mage's hand, and slammed into Koteph. Koteph was knocked from the wall. There was a brief pause. Some of the more optimistic eyewitnesses say that they thought the battle was over. They must have been very disappointed when Koteph knocked down a section of the wall wide enough for ten unbathed men to walk through without smelling each other. But what came through was far worse than unbathed men. A horde of monsters came through.
Taerin fired stones at them, trying to slow the tide. The other sorcerers joined in. Soon, there was a full-on battle raging. For the first time in centuries, sorcerers fought giants. Taerin singlehandedly kept three at bay.
Meanwhile, Dragoneyes and Koteph were doing battle, using the most powerful magic ever wielded by men. Every now and then, one of them would miss a shot, and a beam of enchanted light or a ball of fire the size of an oxcart would crash into the ground, killing sorcerers and monsters alike. As I made my way to the growing battle, I saw the wounded fleeing. The physikers of the Green Tower would have many long nights ahead of them.

I realize many other people did important things that day. But it was a bit of a milestone for me. I ran into battle. I had never thought of myself as the sort of person who runs anywhere, let alone into battle. I was an academic, a scholar. I was never a warrior. Yet there I was, summoning great winds, sucking Sassiles into the sky where they would surely by annihilated by lighting or fire or the spells whizzing through the air. It occurred to me that I had never witnessed so much magic being done at once. At any moment, fifty sorcerers were casting a spell like their life depended on it. There were no fewer than eight mages, commanding six distinct elements (not counting Dragoneyes and his ocean of power.) The Green Tower had been like this before. Before the University, it was always in a state of conflict. And now, thanks to Koteph the Black, it was in a state of conflict once again.

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