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Author Topic: [May 2013] Magic - Submissions Thread  (Read 4618 times)

Offline Idlewilder

[May 2013] Magic - Submissions Thread
« on: May 05, 2013, 08:47:41 PM »

This month we're going to head back into the realm of fantasy with something that is at the core of every good fantasy story.


Specifically this month I want you to flex your writing muscles and give us a creative use of magic - be that a brand new magic system that you can show us in a short story, the story of a conjurer of classic illusionist or even just a wand-slinging bad-ass wizard story: let's have some fun with one of the major reasons we're all here on Fantasy Faction!

Your challenge this month is to write a story, in whatever combination of fantasy subgenre you like - but it must include MAGIC as a core element. (Fan fiction is not allowed) Once again, I'm going to open the contest to both prose and poetry as I'm excited to see what you guys can do!

1. This can be prose or a poem. Be creative.
2. "Magic" must be a core element in your piece.
4. Prose must be 500-2000 words long.
    Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
    You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits by any more than 10%.

Entry will close at Noon (GMT) on the 1st June 2013, barring any extraneous circumstances and voting will be open for the month thereafter.

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website in July 2013.

Good luck and Happy Writing!  :)
« Last Edit: July 12, 2013, 01:50:48 PM by Autumn2May »
Make Another World.

Offline Arry

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Re: [May 2013] Magic - Submissions Thread
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2013, 04:09:41 PM »
Shade of the Shadow

From the darkest, murkiest depths of the underground enclave, a vaporous haze began to coalesce. Tendrils slowly seeping from the muddy earth, collecting in fissures. From the surface, a drop of liquid works its way down, through crevices, fissures, any break in the soil large enough to allow it’s passage, slowly, shedding its size as parts of it are left to be absorbed. The price of passage to the deep underground. Eventually, the scarcest trace of moisture found the haze. The nebulous form immediately shifted, quickened, built size and depth.  It no longer just swayed on a whim, now it crept ever forward, upward, it moved with a purpose, searching for a way out, a way to the beyond.


Charl kicked dust from the path. He knew he was late, but couldn’t muster the will to care. He was bored, but happier out here and had no desire to go home. He decided to head over to the Raynin Cliff, watch the sunset, enjoy his time before he headed back. Late was late, may as well enjoy it. He dug up a Saffron root to chew, and headed to his favorite rock.  His thinking rock. As he settled down, he observed a darkening rising, not from the horizon, but from below, up past the edge of the ridge. He leaned forward, squinting to make out the smoke. No. Not smoke, something different, darker. It moved with a fluidity, pouring itself over the lip and and across the rock, flowing towards him as a swirling shadow. Charl took a step back. And another. And another, but the  midnight violet haze moved swiftly, and his stunted attempt at a retreat was nothing. The form overtook him, he felt a cold embrace followed by a flare of heat. Something radiated down through the very center of his core, extended to every nerve in his body. He was on fire, he was charged, he was cold. And with this burst came knowledge. Ancient knowledge of a time past, of powers lost. Of powers he now gained. With a force of gravity, he knew he was forever changed, altered. Powerful. Awakened.

He gasped, and fell to the ground. Panted for breath, on all fours, hands and knees. The shadow was no longer anywhere to be seen. He had taken it, consumed it, possessed it. Or had it possessed him? Either way his life, his soul, his being was now eternally intertwined with what he now knew was not a shadow or a haze. It was magic, long lost and forgotten. A magic turned legend as it festered, trapped underground. Trapped but now released. Magic with a bitter edge.

Charl stood, felt the power coursing, churning, firing through his veins. His eyes shifted to the setting sun, took in the depths, the colors, the refracted light. No longer was the sky just a pleasant blend of crimson shades. No, now he saw distance, weather, patterns. He saw the movement of wind and understood it’s course, it’s destination. He saw the power contained within the sky, a force to be respected, revered, controlled. He turned his sight to the ground beneath him. Rock, aged and worn, details of its life, formation displayed in cracks and edges. Stone that had taken ages to wear to the shape it now donned. Charl leaned down and picked up a piece that had broken free of the rock face. He stared at it in his palm. Saw the changes it had undergone through the ages, he slammed his fist closed around it, forced his will upon it, imposed unnatural alterations, demanded it to become what it was never meant to be. The rock shifted in his hand, changed from a cold smooth weight to a warm building pressure. Light emanated from between his closed fingers, bright, burning light, a gold tinged red, like steel in the heat of a forge. But there was no heat. Just power and energy. An overwhelming force contained within his fist, turning, changing, molding the rock to his whim. He sensed the completion of change, the light faded to where it had come and he was left with just his hand held in front of him, still closed around what was once a rock, a piece of the mountain. Slowly, he uncurled his fingers to reveal what now lay in his open hand. No longer was there the fading grey stone of before. What he found instead was a fine cut gem, dark and shadowed. A color he had seen only once before, a midnight violet, the shade of the shadow that now lived within him. He held the gem up to the dying light of day and sensed the movement within. A slow grin that spoke of plans and devices to come slowly spread across his face. A grin unlike any Charl had worn before.

In the recesses of his mind, Charl cried out that he needed to go home, that this, whatever this was, was not him. But the shadow within surged and Charl’s voice was choked out, left behind to whimper on its own in the crevices of his mind. He sensed laughter, joy, elation from the shadow, then suddenly, as rapidly as it had surged, it retreated, backed away, granted Charl control over the body that had always been just his and not shared. Charl looked to the sky, he could still sense the variances in light, could calculate the speed and direction of the wind, he looked down and understood the history of how the rock beneath his feet came to be. But he was in control again, he no longer cowered. His fist closed around the gem, proof that he had not gone mad. He pocketed it, and headed home as if nothing had happened. But he left with a chill,  a blast of arctic blood pulsed through him, not cold from the air, but from within, because from the depth of his mind, he felt it. The violet shadow was there, watching and waiting. Biding its time, but for what, Charl did not know.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”
-- George R.R. Martin



Offline xiagan

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Re: [May 2013] Magic - Submissions Thread
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2013, 09:30:10 PM »
The girl on the picnic blanket Nightrealm

Thunder rolled. Toby watched the sky, concerned. He had to shade his eyes because it was short after noon and the sun was almost blinding him. There wasn't a cloud to be seen. Only blue, immaculate sky as far as the eye could reach. And still.
“Did you hear that?” he asked Juniana who was sitting next to him on the neatly spread picnic blanket, ending the awkward silence between them.   
“What?” she asked, turning to look at him. She was a cute girl, long brown curls framed a face she must've spent hours on to look as if she hadn't don any makeup. He liked what he saw. Alas, there wasn't more. And he knew that she felt the same. The date had been a bad idea – which they unfortunately didn't notice until the time it was already running and they both struggled to find something to talk about. Something they both were interested in. Something that apparently didn't exist at all. It was painful and every minute felt like hours.
   Her light brown eyes eyed him quizzical. “What?” she repeated, a little irritation showing.
There was another clap of thunder, this time so forceful that he nearly jumped out of his skin. Juniana, on the other side, was entirely unfazed. She hadn't heard anything. He tried to swallow, his mouth suddenly dry. She lifted an eyebrow, then let out a small sigh and turned away from him again. He could imagine what she was thinking: Great, not only a moron but a freak too.
He lay down on the blanket, draping his right arm across his face. Usually this was a good way to blend out his surroundings and to relax.

   The moment he closed his eyes, he saw the lightning which accompanied the thunder. An excessive amount of bolts were flashing in the darkness of his closed eyes. It was no longer the simple darkness he was used to when closing his eyes, but a stormy night sky filled with masses of thick clouds he could make out in the short but plenty flashes of lightning. He tried to open his eyes to make it stop but couldn't remember how to do it. After all, his eyes were open or he wouldn't have been able to see the thunderstorm.
   “Juniana? Can you hear me?” he asked, no longer caring if she thought him a fool. But there wasn't an answer. He stood, uncertain what to do next. He recognized a small grove nearby, but the road and the distant city were as gone as the picnic blanket, the food they hadn't eaten and Juniana. One thing he didn't need to worry about anymore, he thought with a fatalistic smile. It was a depressingly short list of things in his favor.
   He started to walk in the direction the city should be. This, whatever it was, couldn't go on forever. Or could it? He wasn't sure. He wasn't sure of anything anymore.

“You look lost.” somebody said.
Toby spun around and nearly lost his footing. An old, tiny and completely wrinkled man was standing there. He looks more than a dried fruit than a man. Toby thought, too surprised to think anything useful.
“Uhm, yeah. Er, yes I am.” he said.
The old man wagged his head. “You humans... nobody else manages it to get lost in their own mind. It's a strange twist of fate that your species especially did so well on Earth.”
“You are not human?” Toby asked, because it was the easiest question.
“I'm in your mind's Nightrealm, do you know any humans that can do this?”
Toby hated answers that weren't answers but just a way to introduce more questions.
“Why am I here?” he asked, refusing to answer a question they both knew the answer to.
The old man – if it was a man and not a Goblin or a distant relative of Yoda smiled. “Do you want the short or the long answer?”
Toby shrugged. “The short?” He was getting impatient and didn't feel comfortable talking in this place to this creature.
The old man made a gesture which would've looked grand if a ringmaster had performed it but felt a bit patronizing coming from this little man, and said “Magic!”
   Toby suddenly decided that Juniana's company hadn't been so bad after all. How was he going to get rid of this guy and, equally important, how was he going back?
“I'm Iko,” the creature said, “thanks for asking.” He shot Toby an evaluating glance. “If you're finished with the useless questions, maybe we can move on to the helpful ones.”
Toby felt his face redden. He was blushed easily and he hated it. Hopefully Iko wasn't able to see it in the dark. That was when he noticed that there hadn't been any thunder and lightning since he met Iko. He looked up. The clouds were gone and he saw a clear sky, full of constellations he didn't know.
   “Your Nightrealm mirrors strong emotions.” Iko said. “You were greatly annoyed by something and wished to be somewhere else when you entered it. Now that you are somewhere else and I distracted you from the initial panic, the storm is gone.”
Toby thought about that. Iko annoyed him too, so where was the storm? “Can you tell me how to go back?”
“Of course, but why should I? I enjoy talking to you. I haven't seen a human with a Nightrealm like this in ages. It will be fun to teach you to use it.”

Iko smiled and Toby involuntarily stepped back.
It was a smile that made sure he knew for whom of them it would be fun.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2013, 08:09:58 PM by xiagan »
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Offline Charlemagne

Re: [May 2013] Magic - Submissions Thread
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2013, 12:57:23 AM »
My first entry, so be nice everybody! :)   


I live in a bookstore. I grew up here, work here, and live here. I have at least skimmed nearly every book in my family’s store, and I know characters like Valjean, Candide, and Frodo almost as well as I know my own friends. I have lived many lives, seen through the eyes of thousands, and imagined things even crazier than the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. So perhaps it should not have been quite so surprising that I found Master Tomas Peshell III, Court Warlock to his Majesty the Great Gavin Shonisha, singularly unimpressive.

“Really?” I asked, vaguely disappointed. “Is that all?” Peshell managed to look both miffed and condescending simultaneously, a look he must have practiced in the mirror. I had no idea who he was, or how he got there, but I was just going to roll with it. Funny things happen in bookstores.
   “Look, my boy,” he began. Bad start. At 19, I am well past the age where I consider the title “boy” an appropriate form of address. “Magic is an immensely complex subject. Even the simplest spell is—“
   “Look, I get that and all,” I interrupted, exasperated. “But look!” I pulled my lighter from my pocket, and clicked it. “Magic!”
   To be fair to Peshell, he kept control of his emotions well. “I see… that…” he was visibly struggling for words, and considering his attitude, I imagined it was not a common occurrence.
   “Listen, I know magic is difficult, and heck, this isn’t even magic.” I clicked the lighter again. “It’s just science. Pretty simple stuff, really. After all,” I added innocently, “it’s not your fault if magic isn’t quite as grand as we’ve been led to believe it was.” Okay, so maybe it wasn’t pity that had made me talk.
   “You arrogant Borshok!” Peshell fumed. I had no idea what a Borshok was, but I gathered it wasn’t entirely complimentary. “Magic? Not grand? I assure you, young sir,that even the lowliest of acolytes at the Grand Academy of Sorcerers would have no trouble—nor any qualms—in teaching you a lesson otherwise. At great personal cost to you,” he added, as if I was too stupid to understand the not-at-all veiled threat he had just hurled at me.
   “As it is,” Peshell continued, the smug look beginning to reappear on his face. “I, as Chief Court Warlock to His Majesty Gavin Shonisha, am weighed down by considerably more responsibility, and—” he looked at me meaningfully. “A commitment to acting decently and reasonably at all times.”
   I had to stifle a chortle. He seemed to take my silent shaking as some sort of apology, however, and continued.
   “Yes. And I would counsel against trying my patience again. You may find that it has run thin.” He drew his purple robes up around himself in what he clearly thought was a mystical and dramatic pose.
   I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing. I laughed so hard I had to sit down, leaning against the L-R section of the Romance shelf. All the while, Peshell simply stood there, incredulous. I assumed that laughing at wizards was something that, where he came from, was simply not done. When I was done laughing, Peshell simply stood stock still, incredulity radiating off of him. It was as though all the pomposity had been momentarily drained out of him, leaving behind only a sad, embarrassed old man. I almost felt a little regret for doing that to him. Almost.
   However, I do live in a bookstore, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s a good story. I saw a story blossoming in Peshell’s sad demeanor, and in the way he held himself. I saw potential to tell a great story, about a wizard who ventured to a far away land, only to find himself in a place where all his miracles and powers were regarded as no more than commonplace, mundane tricks, hardly worthy of recognition. I saw potential in—
   “You infernal boy!” Peshell exploded, disgust twisting his face. Clearly it had been my turn to misjudge his facial expressions. “You arrogant, falconeering menace! You clearly cannot fathom the depths of the power that well-handled magic provides its owner! You cannot comprehend the forces that even the basest sorcerer must deal with every day, just to stay alive. You do not know the measure of self-control required to cast even the most basic spell! And so,” he went on, breathing deeply in an attempt to regain his self-control. “It appears I am wasting my valuable time in conversing with such an ignorant boor. Cease wasting my time, and instead make yourself useful. Take me to your king.” Once again he flourished his robes in a way he clearly thought was suitably dramatic.
   “Our king?” I asked, my surprise entirely genuine.
   “Yes, yes,” he waved his hand nonchalantly. “Or queen, duke, baron… anyone in a suitably noble position to recognize my talents and merits.” I paused.
   Misinterpreting my delay, Peshell frowned. “Is there some problem?” his eyes lit up suddenly. “Is your king sick, or injured? As Chief Court warlock, I am often called upon to treat members of the royal family for wounds or illnesses. My proficiency in the field of healing arts is among the greatest in recorded history!” He continued to ramble about his fabulousness, but I had stopped listening. A wonderful, insane idea was forming in my mind.
   “Excuse me, Master Warlock?” I interrupted him, but I was counting on my ego-stroking to counteract any bad feelings that might cause. “Are you really…,” my voice dropped to a dramatic whisper, “a true master in the art of healing?”
   “Well, I wouldn’t go quite that far, my boy,” Peshell said in what had to be the least convincing show of modesty I have ever seen. “But yes, I am somewhat proficient.”
“Excellent," I gushed, preparing to cast my web of lies. "As I'm sure you have known for some time, I myself am not of nobility." 
         Peshell nodded in a knowing, paternal way. "I know the feeling, my boy. I was born several levels short of silver dishes myself. But remember that if you wish to reach higher than your allotted place in life, all you must do is reach up and grab. Though some will try to tear you down again, you must hold on with all your might. Eventually, they may allow you to stand up."
        "Wise words," I said, humoring him. "And well-taken." Peshell nodded sagely and opened his mouth as if to speak again, but I quickly cut him off before he could embark on another tangent. "As I was saying, though not of noble birth, I have recently reached a high level through nothing more than sheer luck." I had his attention now.
      "His Austere Majesty, the great George Baker," I began, my heart quickening at the sound of my father's name, sure he would see through the lie. "Is ill. Very ill." Peshell's eyes lit up. "He has hidden himself away in my family’s bookshop,”—I gestured vaguely around myself at the shelves—“for he fears what would happen should his subjects learn of the terrible illness that racks his body. He has a condition called cancer," I confided. "It means there are lumps of flesh inside his body where there should not be, and these are making him quite ill. Do you understand? Would you be able to heal him?"
For the first time since I'd met him, Peshell’s expression was completely serious. Then he began to nod slowly.
   “Yes,” he said. “I believe I would. It would be extremely difficult, mind you,” he added quickly. “And success is far from guaranteed. But yes, it is certainly possible.”
   “Is there anything you require?” I asked, hoping to keep the process moving quickly, and my father better soon.
   “Oh, yes,” he bobbed his head affirmatively. “For as complex a spell as this, I shall require many materials, ingredients, plenty of time, and, most importantly, patience.” He stared at me. “I will not tolerate any interruptions. Is that perfectly clear?” It was my turn to nod. “Good. Now, I will require a decent sized pot, or a small cauldron, two candles, or an equivalent amount of wax, three quarts of clean water, seven figs…” The list went on and on. I just kept nodding and jotting it down, though I was inwardly shaking my head. What on Earth would he need a wheel of hard, aged cheese for? How about the turtle? Whatever. I had a chance to save my father, and if I had to listen to the demands of a kooky old wizard, then so be it.
   “And a box of cookies,” Peshell finished. When I looked up quizzically, he clarified, “In case I get hungry. Just because I’m a sorcerer doesn’t mean I don’t have to eat!” I nodded sagely, as if it suddenly all made sense, which, clearly, it did not.

It took me almost two hours to locate everything, and just over two hundred dollars to purchase it. At least the cheese smelled nice.
   When I got back, Peshell was leaning against the New Releases shelf, scanning for titles that interested him, I suppose.
“Are you ready to meet him?” I asked. “His Majesty?” Peshell started, then suddenly stood up straighter. He brushed off his robes, and cleared his throat.
   “Yes,” he replied, “I am ready.” I led him to the break room, where I knew my father would be relaxing on a small cot.
   “Your Majesty? I poked my head into the room. “You have a visitor.” My father did not even bat an eye at being addressed in this manner, remaining completely still.
   “I thought I left orders that I was not to be disturbed,” he said, his tone menacing.
   “Yes, sir. But this is a very important visitor. He is the great warlock Tomas Peshell, and he claims to be able to cure your disease.” At this, my father looked up.
   “Truly?” he asked. Peshell pushed past me and into the room, then went down on one knee.
   “Your Majesty,” he began. “I am your servant. On behalf of my lord, the great Gavin Shonisha, I believe it is my duty to perform any services you may request, and I will do them to the utmost of my abilities, without deception or misleading.” My father coughed.
   “Very good,” he said. “I have heard of you, Tomas Peshell. Your reputation precedes you.” Peshell puffed up, but seriousness returned quickly.
   “With your leave, Your Majesty,” he said. “I would like to begin now. The spell is long and complex.” My father nodded slowly.
   “Of course. You may proceed.” I was shooed out of the room, and was unable to see what happened after that.

   Well, it’s the weirdest thing. The spell worked. Peshell invited me back into a room reeking of cheese a day and a half later, to reveal a man I had not seen since my father had been diagnosed 14 months ago. Even in the face of this miracle, my father managed to seem less than impressed, maintaining an air of regal detachment.
   “Thank you, Lord Peshell,” he intoned. “Your help has been invaluable in disposing of this illness. In return for your aid, I will grant you one boon, if it is within my power.” Peshell bowed deeply.
   “My lord, it is my greatest wish to be returned to my master’s court in Shonosu. I would ask that you provide me with the means to return home.”
My father smiled benevolently.   “Lord Peshell, now that you have dazzled us with your magic, I believe it is time for me to dazzle you with ours.” He padded over to a box of books. I recognized the box, as I was the one who had carried it into the room two days before. It was the first shipment of a book that would be released three days hence. My father popped open the crate and pulled out one copy.
   I caught a glimpse of a purple-robed figure on the cover before my father cracked the book open and intoned words I’m sure he was making up right on the spot. Peshell was sucked inside the book without a sound, leaving only a purple mark on the inside cover. My father flipped the book over, and handed it to me.
   “No one’s supposed to read this book until Friday,” he said, smiling. “But I think we can make an exception.” I flipped open the cover, and watched the purple mark form itself into an elaborate signature. Tomas Peshell, it read.
   “Dad?” I asked, and he looked up. “How? …Why?” Really, no question seemed to be quite right. He gave me a smile I had not seen on his face in more than a year.
   “The books are testing you, son,” he said. “It happens to all of us. This was your first encounter with the denizens of the literary world, but it will not be your last.” He seemed delighted.
   I still don’t truly have an explanation for what happened. But I do know one thing. It makes for one fine story.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2013, 07:35:02 PM by Charlemagne »
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Offline JonRock411

Re: [May 2013] Magic - Submissions Thread
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2013, 03:01:07 AM »
The forest was eerily quiet as he made his way through the dense groups of tree, twigs snapping beneath his feet.  His joints creaked as he continued his climb, leaning heavily on the scratch covered walking stick grasped in his left hand as he did so.  He grimaced as he breathed in acrid tasting air and his furs grew heavy on his brittle bones.  He was much younger when he last made this climb, the forest was livelier then as well.   They were both close to the grave, he mused as he continued his climb.  He coughed into his free hand; his gnarled hand away dotted with blood.  The old man sighed, not in annoyance but resignation.  Most of his affairs had been put in order, every thing put in place for the inevitable.   He only had this last mission to take care of, then he could rest. 

He placed his hand on the moss-colored wood of a tree as he climbed over a fallen branch.  "Leech", he spoke in a raspy whisper as the palm of his right hand burned in response.  The wood was contrastingly cool beneath his touch, the moss browning as his hand passed over it.  Glancing back at the tree as he passed, he gave the briefest of nods.  The exchange of life, no matter how small the exchange or how willing the exchangee, must be respected.  So goes the laws of Jelx, Master Of Magic.  The exchange wouldn't serve him well though.  He could still feel the age in him,  weather leather-like skin, joints that creaked with every slight movement, cracks lining both skin and bone.  His dark skin was drawn tight across his face, revealing dark eyes that bulged from their sockets and remains of teeth that more resembled the rocks on the ground below than they did the smile one would expect from a hero of the Empire.

He finally reached his destination, a small clearing with a fire burning in the center of it.  The ground was littered with the corpses of small animals, unrecognizable in their scorched appearance.  The elder shook his head at the glyphs carved in the dirt.  Protection.  Death. Power. Fire.  He was almost mocking them with that last one. Fire was the first glyph taught to novice students at the academy, three slanted lines crossed with another going the other way.   The other three however, those were much more complicated.  The master was unsure how he pulled off the death glyph, that one was unique.  Most glyphs must be contain the blood of the person drawing the glyph to give them power. The glyphs around him were no different, he could see the dark crimson liquid residing within each carving.   However, death could only be made with the blood of another, yet with the blood of the glyph-maker inside them as well.   The senior bowed his head deeply as he lifted the weight of furs off of his back, revealing a simple tunic and thin dark arms criscrossed with glyphs.  A crack of wood behind him caught his ears as he lifted his head and stood, dropping his staff to the ground.

"I cannot take you alive now, Tylor. Those who kill kin must be given the same greeting. The law is clear." 

The voice that responded was less raspy than his, but it still held a weathered tone. "I would be insulted if you didn't make an attempt, Master Stelan." 

Stelan turned his head slowly, watching the woods around him carefully for signs of the estranged pupil of his.  "I have not used that title in years, Tylor.  There is a new Master now. "

Tylor still remained hidden. Stelan assumed the boy to be biding his time, he had never been one to strike first.  "Who would that be?" He asked, voice lined with apathy.

"I know you do not care and it would not be of any relevance to this situation even if you did."  Stelan caught sight of a flutter of leaves to his right as he raised that arm.  "Wind"

A glyph on the underside of his wrist burnt this time as he drew on the power there to tap into the forces of magic encircling him. The air around him reacted as it funneled with increasing swiftness toward where he gestured, blasting leaves, dirt and bodies away in their wake as the burst of wind struck Tylor's supposed hiding place.

"Stone" Tylor's voice came from behind him as his back felt as if it was caught in the fire whose smell still infested the air.  Stelan turned as swiftly as he could, his back straining painfully as he did, and looked at his opponent.   Tylor was not a young man, by most standards that is, his crimson hair already graying at the edges.  He wore much more ornate clothes than Stelan, his suit made of some odd shimmering fabric.  His arms were however as bare as the former master's; an equal number of glyphs covering the tanned arms of the kin-killer.  Tylor's right arm was gripped tight, the skin around it textured like granite.   "You are weak, Stelan."  His voice seemed almost pleading, an odd contrast to earlier Stelan noted, "If you had come decades prior, than I would have relished a battle.  I do not wish to kill you.  That is not a sin I wish to add to my count."

Stelan's eyes locked onto Tylor's worried blue ones, their gaze as hard as Tylor's own lithoidal hand.  "The law is clear. Shatter." Stelan stomped his foot into the ground as the glyph on his ankle burned. The ground beneath him shook before splitting in lines that radiated from Stelan's stomp, disrupting the glyphs as the lines cut through anything they touched.  Tylor growled as he leapt to the right, two of the lines cutting through where he had previously been.  "Bash" Stelan continued as he waved his right hand toward Tylor, glyph on elbow burning this time.  TylTyor was thrust backwards as the now misshapen geology forced him onto his back.

Tylor rose to his feet as he wiped the blood from his chin, sneering a red and white sneer.  "Statue" He shouted as he waved his hand toward Stelan.

"Protection" Stelan uttered nonchalantly as he waved his own hand, right armpit, the feeling of stiffness retreating as quickly as it came. 

"Geyser!" Stelan was the one thrown off his feet this time as a burst of boiling water erupted underneath him, sending him flying sideways into the treeline.  Snaps echoed in his ears as he fell in a crumpled heap to his feet.  Warm blood ran over his skin before pooling underneath him as he glanced at the death glyph in front of him.  Tylor walked towards him, hands held defensively at the ready. 

"I didn't want to do this, Master Stelan." Tylor began as he walked over the glyph, looking at Stelan's body, now as shattered as the ground. "You gave me no choice"

Stelan grunted, "You had plenty of choice, Tylor. You had the choice to leave your countrymen in battle, you had the choice to show cowardice in the face of the enemy, you had the choice to leave whether than accept punishment and you had the choice to kill our kin."  Stelan breathed in deeply, "Before I leave this world, who was it?"

Tylor's lips pursed before he answered, "Your grandson, he had caught the plague and I thought this would save him. If the glyph could kill the living, perhaps it could do the opposite to the ones who had died.  I am sorry, father."

Stelan sighed, his son hadn't been the first to make such a mistake and he wouldn't be the last.  However his other crimes had no such justification, none he would hear at least.  Loyalty to family was important, but nothing trumped loyalty to empire.  Stelan watched as his blood ran into the glyph as he looked up towards Tylor with eyes that echoed the sorrow in Tylor's. Stelan breathed out slowly, he knew what he must do.

"Death" the master spoke.

Offline simonster

Re: [May 2013] Magic - Submissions Thread
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2013, 12:23:04 PM »
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Martan closed his hand and the illusion vanished.  Not a virtuoso display perhaps, but a delicately skilful one, and it would leave no doubts that he had the talents he claimed.

He looked up at the others around the table to judge their reactions.

The woman opposite nodded in acknowledgement, as though the display had been exactly as she'd expected.  She had introduced herself as Ahden, and had done most of the talking so far.  In contrast, the giant to his right had spoken just one word - "Brunnach" - which Martan took to be his name.  His expression gave away no more than his speech.  On his left, the wiry man called Jarne rubbed at the patchy stubble on his cheeks and muttered, "Creepy damn stuff."

As Martan had heard it, the three had arrived at the inn four days before.  He wondered how many people since then had sat where he was now sitting - at this secluded table in an otherwise bustling bar room - and tried to impress them.  He wondered what sort of impression he himself was making.

"Where did you earn your robes?" asked the woman.

An admirably direct question, and Martan thought for a moment how best to answer.  Over the years he'd made up any number of fantastical histories for himself to impress hot-headed farm boys and would-be adventurers (and credulous bar maids, in his younger days), but even if the three at the table knew little of the unseen arts, he didn't think they would be easily bluffed.  He decided to stick as close to the truth as dignity would allow.

"I didn't," he said.  "I was bound to the Dark Wheel in King's City for eight years, but when the young Prince marched to war, I felt - a number of us young patriots felt our duty to the Crown was stronger than our vows to the Wheel.  After the fighting I -"

"You don't look like a soldier."  The man to his left did look exactly like a soldier, but Martan bit back that retort.

He laughed politely.  "No, I never fought - well, not in the sense you mean.  The Prince took us along to guard his dreams against sorcerous intrusions -"  The man on his left made a derisive snort.  "- And he was right to!  Two-thirds of us burned alive while the Prince lay sleeping!  The soldiers on the battlefield faced much better odds than us poor souls in the Prince's tent."

"This was the War of Bloody Spring?" asked the woman.

Martan nodded, a little surprised.  He was a poor judge of age, but the war had surely been some years before the woman's birth.  With all the conflict the kingdoms had seen since, he would've thought that few but historians would remember it now.

"And you never went back to the Dark Wheel?"

"No, I never went back."  Going back had never been an option.  The severing of ties with the Dark Wheel was not a process one could undo, and Martan wondered whether the woman knew that.  He studied her face for a moment but couldn't see the answer there.  "But they'd taught me enough by then – at least, being young, I thought they had - and I wanted to travel to Easterly to see the Crystal Forest with my own eyes.  I had a notion the Elder might have buried lifestones there, although of course I never found one.  I worked the caravan routes through the Dry Isles for a time after that, taming the rains for the caravaneers, until a local Earl hired me to school his daughters in pyromancy."  Unbidden, his finger was tracing out his life's travels as though it saw a map on the scarred tabletop.  "When I left it was with some adventurers heading south to join what later became known as the Treacher's Crusade.  But I never got further than Fennton.  I decided I liked the Fennish Hills, and the people hereabouts pay well for charms and medicines, so I've followed the roads from town to village ever since."

Martan had to smile at how romantic he'd made his own life sound, with only modest embellishments.  Of course, much of his life was woven from much darker threads: his endless bullying by the other apprentices; the fights with his companions on the road; those he had seen die and those he'd wanted to see die; the betrayals by partners over trifling sums of gold; his ill-judged marriage; the sons he hadn't seen in twenty years; his life in the hills as little more than a common pedlar; and, at the heart of it all, his desperate, burning need to achieve something, something so great that the Dark Wheel would one day beg to take him back.

No, those parts of his story weren't for strangers to see.

He took a long drink from the wine glass in front of him, and floated for a moment in the noise of the bar room.

No one had spoken at the table, but from the looks the three exchanged, Martan sensed that a decision had been made.

"We're going into the Tanhic mountains," the woman said, as the man to his left refilled Martan's glass, then the woman's and his own, and passed the bottle down the table to the giant.  "Us three.  Four if you'll come."

Of course, it was the outcome he'd been working towards, but until the offer was made, Martan hadn't let himself think of these adventurers as potential partners.  Now he tried the thought on for size.  The two men frankly scared him.  The giant could probably break him like a twig, even shielded by magic, while there was something in the eyes of the soldier that made him think of cut-throats and pick-pockets.  But it was the woman who led them, and Martan had the sense that she chose her companions carefully.  It gave him a strange sense of pride to think that he might be about to join them.

His response though was guarded.  "What's in the mountains that you need a magician for?"

Despite the noise of the inn, the woman lowered her voice.  "We think we've found a tomb of the High Elder."

Martan fought to keep himself from laughing.  Outside of children's stories, claims of those lost tombs were reserved for the rantings of drunks and crackpots.  But then he had to chuckle, because he realised that he absolutely believed the woman.

Another realisation struck him.  "That's why you need a magician.  If no one's entered the tomb in a thousand years, then the seal is unbroken."  Could he even detect that sort of magic, let alone penetrate it?  And what if the tomb were guarded by more than old stone and fading sorcery?  Ah, but to think of the secrets, the ancient mysteries, that might await inside!  Martan tried to drag his thoughts back to practical matters.  "What makes you think that you've found something?"

The giant placed a cloth bundle on the table in front of him, and gently unwrapped it.  Inside was a triangle of stone, the size of Martan's palm, worn smooth at the edges.  Its face appeared completely featureless.

"Other side," said the woman.  "Tell us what you see."

Martan carefully picked up the stone, and turned it over in his hand.  A sigh escaped him as he saw the symbols carved into the surface.  He tilted the stone to catch the light.

A prickling in his skin gave him a moment's warning of the attack, but he assumed its source was the stone, and threw all his defences against that.  When he realised his mistake, the coil of magic was already inside his skin, paralysing his muscles.

He tore at it with chains of energy, aether, and shadow, but nothing slowed the invasion.  He retreated deeper and deeper within his own body, until in a moment of terror he realised that he could no longer defend both his brain and his heart.

The voice was an angry whisper, but inside his skull it echoed like thunder.  "There is nothing for you here, old man.  Be on your way!"

Martan's own thoughts were a babble of acquiescence.  For a moment the dreadful noose tightened around him.  Then it was gone.

Blinking, he stared back at the three puzzled faces before him.  What had they just seen?  Had his humiliation happened so fast that they hadn't even noticed?

His hand started shaking, and the stone fell from it to the table.  He gestured at it to try to cover up his loss of control.

"I've seen many like this before," he said too loudly, fighting to keep his voice steady.  He rose to his feet, grabbing the back of the chair to stop himself from falling.  "You're wasting your time if you think it'll lead you anywhere."

He turned away from the table, unable to bear the surprised looks on their faces.  The woman was asking what he meant about the stone.  The soldier was saying he looked ill and should sit back down.  Unsure if his legs would carry him, he started walking anyway.

His flesh, which had been so easily snatched from him, was cold with sweat, and there was a rising bitterness in his stomach that made him want to vomit.  Death had been just a moment away, and his heart still pounded with the terror of it.

He had to work past a crowd of people to get to the door.  As he reached it he willed himself not to look back at the table, but movement there caught his eye.

A small girl with a mess of blonde hair had taken his seat, to the apparent surprise of the three still sat there.

He was too far from them to hear what was being said, but as the girl's mouth moved, a faint echo of words resonated in his skull.

"You're going to the Tanhic mountains.  I want to go with you."

Not waiting to see the response, Martan pushed through the door out into the mild summer evening.  There was perhaps an hour of daylight left, but it wouldn't take him long to prepare.  Nightfall would find him on the road again, his back to the mountains.

His strength was starting to return, and as he walked to his lodgings he imagined himself sitting one day in an inn with a group of adventurers, and one of them asking him why he'd left the Fennish Hills so suddenly after so many years.  Perhaps he would shrug and say with a laugh, "Not even a magician understands the tangles of his own destiny."  Perhaps.