Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Giant Problem

We settled into our stations. I was in the town of Pire. My garrison had three other sorcerers. And I actually had some connection to all of them.
There was Neriel. He was actually my second cousin on my father's side. This was his fourth year at the University, and he was already learning the True Name of stone. Since his branch of the family didn't own a Tower and an estate the size of a small country, he was planning to remain at the University, and hope to become a Master. Frankly, that was exactly the life I wanted.
There was Othin. Taerin's son, Arelin's brother. After three days of alternating boredom and terror, he had decided to become a mage. Othin asked Neriel about the True Name of stone. That was a good idea. Neriel explained that it was a complex subject, but a worthwhile one. Othin asked me about the True Name of air. That was something of a mistake. I launched immediately into a detailed explanation of the intricacies of the lightest element. But he was undeterred. If anything, he seemed to share my enthusiasm.
And then there was Arelin herself. The woman I had made a fool of myself chasing. She didn't mention it. But, then again, she didn't ever exactly talk to me.
"Can you really feel the tremors in the ground," Othin asked.
"Not very well," Neriel said. "I'm still a student. But I do practice. Symbule's book says to listen to the sounds of the soil eight times a day."
"Can I watch you? Would you mind? I mean, it's totally fine if you don't want me-"
"It is perfectly acceptable. I suppose I aught to do so right around now anyways." Neriel lay on the ground, and pressed his ear to the dirt. I'll admit I found it interesting. I wondered what he was hearing. I decided to do some listening of my own. I felt the air. First, I felt the currents moving over my skin. Then, I expanded my range. I could feel Othin breathing. I could sense the wind outside. "Neriel, do you hear something... big?"
"I hear a shaking. Could it be-"
I ran outside. And found myself facing a giant. That wasn't exactly what I wanted.
I spoke the True Name of air, as quickly as I could. The wind grew. It picked me up, and carried me to the top of a nearby building. I took a moment to get my bearings. It seemed that a host of giants had entered the city. I used the True Name of air, moving the suffocate them, one at a time. How long does it take for a giant to run out of air? I held my concentration, while the giant began to gag. Almost too late, I heard another of the lumber beasts approaching me. Perhaps standing on a rooftop in flowing white garb was not the best way to remain inconspicuous. How could I stop the second monster? I would need to truly draw upon the True Name for this. I concentrated upon the air. I was fully immersed in it. And, that's how I managed to suffocate a giant while lifting him up and throwing him into his brother.
I was panting. Fortunately, the True Name of air helped me with that too. I looked at the damage. One of the giants was clearly deceased. The first thing I had ever killed. I was wallowing in the magnitude of that, when I saw Neriel smash the other giant's head in with a rock. Not the sort of behavior one expects from a milquetoast academic.
I looked for another giant to fight. I found one chasing after what looked to be a family. I rode the winds to a better vantage point. I cast a spell, shooting a small bolt of fire at the creature. There. I had successfully acquired the attention of an enormous monster that now wanted to kill me. I felt very proud of myself. It took some work, but I managed to defeat this monster as well. Othin and I pelted it with spells while we waited for it to run out of air. I liked him. I liked his dedication to magic, and I liked his personality. Also, I liked his sister.

All in all, things were going well. The giants were falling one by one. I saw Dragoneyes in some other end of the town. I saw the giants flying through the air, as one by one they came to his attention. This wasn't him straining himself, of course. This was just him practicing. He only had one real fight. And it was with someone a lot harder to kill than a very tall man.

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