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|This actually is my novel that I'm writing. It is a midieval tale about six children who are inadvertently pulled into a war that will have more to do with them than they realize.||
The Path of Magic
A deafening silence fell over the small town of Feylad, as an older man wearing a blue robe with silver stars sewn on it walked inside its walls. As he walked through the streets, everyone he passed stopped and gave him a small bow, which he graciously returned. He wandered the dusty streets as if looking for something, when he entered the market. Merchants cried out to sell their wares. The old man yearned to see what treasures he could find but kept his mind focused on the task at hand. He walked to the edge of the village and stopped in front of an older house. Although its walls looked new, he could tell the house had seen many years, with its thatched roof browning in the heat of the summer sun. He stepped forward and paused for a moment. It's not really the place for a young wizard to grow up, he thought. Nevertheless, he shook off the feeling of doubt that had entered his mind and knocked on the door.
Instead of opening the door, a woman’s voice came from inside. “Who’s there?”
“My name is Myrdin Andraste. I came from the university looking for Ziazan Orania. I believe you sent for me?” the man asked.
“Oh! I didn't realize it was you sir. Please, come in and make yourself comfortable.” He heard the sounds of locks being undone and a short woman who was a little plump around the waist opened the door. Her brown curls fell against the sides of her face and she tucked them behind her ear as she looked out the doorway. Her face was serious but it showed age and her sparkling green eyes gave away her love for life. She wore a simple, light brown, cotton dress. She looked at the man standing outside her house with questioning eyes.
Myrdin stepped inside and entered a small living area. The walls were gray, and there wasn't much in the way of furniture, just an old rocking chair and a wooden chair. Both were set in front of a well-used fireplace. There were a few small tables with wooden vases filled with flowers on them to brighten up the room but they didn't help much. The woman shut the door behind him and walked through a doorway motioning for Myrdin to follow her.
“This way milord. If you'll come in here I'll get you some water while we wait for Ziazan.”
Myrdin nodded and followed her into a small eating room. In the room, simple wooden chairs surrounded a somewhat small wooden table. The woman gestured for him to sit and then went into the kitchen to pour three wooden cups of water. After pouring the water, she brought the cups out to Myrdin who was seated comfortably in one of the chairs. She set a cup in front of him and then called up a flight of stairs, on the far side of the room. Myrdin wrinkled his nose at the cups. He was used to pewter goblets but he would be polite and not show his distaste.
“Ziazan, Master Myrdin is here to see you.”
A few minutes later a boy that was too tall for his age came walking down the stairs. He was dressed in a green shirt and brown breeches. Soft leather boots covered his feet muffling his footsteps. His slim frame made him seem agile but as all boys are at the age of thirteen, he was a little clumsy. His brown hair was tied in a horse-tail to keep it out of his face, which was slim and his cheekbones were high which made his cheeks look as if they were sunken in. The boy walked across the room and sat down and looked at his mother and then to Myrdin. Myrdin looked the boy in the eyes and saw that his eyes were black and had tiny, glowing specks of silver inside them that sparkled like tiny stars. Myrdin also noticed that there was excitement mixed with bitterness showing in the boy's eyes.
Ziazan walked over to the table and offered his hand, “Hello, I’m Ziazan.”
Myrdin took the offered hand and Ziazan sat down.
“How knowledgeable are you in the ways of magic?” Myrdin asked him getting right to the subject.
“About the only thing I know is element control and I learned that from our village hedgewitch,” Ziazan stated picking up his cup of water and taking a sip.
Myrdin leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table, “Are hedgewitches not simply midwives with minor magical abilities? How well could she have taught you to control them?”
“Well I’m not the best but I’m not helpless either,” Ziazan answered looking confident.
“Is that all?” Myrdin asked, drumming his fingers on the table.
“Well, I really don't know much. But the only thing that is strange, is when I throw fire defending myself or attacking someone, the flames are white, but when I try to light a fire the flames are their normal colors,” Ziazan said, his eyes drifting to the floor.
“Look at me boy,” Myrdin said, after draining the cup of water. Ziazan looked up from the floor and saw an old man who had a long beard that hung down to his waist and his face was full of wrinkles. But through his age he showed wisdom and power. His eyes sparkled with a goldish tint and a love for life. A large robe that had many large hidden pockets disguised his bent frame. “Is that all you know?”
The boy regarded Myrdin with wary eyes, “Yes, it is. Why do you ask?”
“Well, I can tell that you have true potential for magic,” Myrdin said, shifting in his chair to be more comfortable. Ziazan smiled and his face brightened.
“How is it that you can do that?” Ziazan asked.
“I can sense your power, though, don't even know if you are the one I'm looking for, but we'll find out soon enough,” Myrdin said, getting up. He stretched and looked at Ziazan's mother, “We better be going it is getting late and we need to go quite a distance before nightfall.” He looked at Ziazan who nodded and walked up the stairs saying something about “getting his things”. Myrdin turned his look on Ziazan's mother, “Thank you for your hospitality.” She blushed. “By the way, are you his birth mother?”
Ziazan's mother looked surprised, “Well, no I'm not, milord.”
“How did he come to live here with you?”
Ziazan's mother looked troubled, “I really don't know how he got here, that whole night was very vague. I was cleaning up a mess when I heard screaming and snarling outside. So I quickly grabbed a lantern and a cloak and went to see what was happening. The night was stormy and very dark, except for when the sky was lit up by lightning. I followed the sounds of the snarls and screams until I reached the village square. There I saw a troll chasing a woman carrying something. She was dressed in a dark purple dress with a gray cloak over it. As she ran her hood fell down and her golden hair fell down around her shoulders. I noticed that she wore a crown of silver and carried a bundle of blankets.” Ziazan’s mother paused to sigh then continued, “I had never seen the woman before but she must have seen the light from my lantern, because she ran to me. She had escaped the troll and stood in front of me gasping for breath, the rain soaking her hair. She looked at me and thrust the bundle into my arms and whispered ‘Take care of my baby!’ Then I heard the troll coming and she pushed me into a dark alley and turned to face the troll. She loosed a ball of fire in its direction but the troll dodged it and leaped at her knocking her into the mud and seemingly unconscious. But when I looked around the corner of the building I was hidden behind I saw that she was awake and she blew a handful of powder in my direction, and that’s the last thing I remember of that night.”
Myrdin nodded and looked at the woman. He searched her mind for some clue that she might be lying. She is telling the truth, he realized. “What happened next?”
The woman sighed and looked around, then began her story again, “The next thing I remember was waking up the next morning in the alley next to the bundle. Then I remembered that it was a baby and I uncovered his face and I fell in love with him right away and then picked him up and walked out of the alley. I looked around and saw that almost the whole town had come to see the troll's body, I guess the woman must have killed it and kept running. But I carried the child home and found a pendant around his neck.”
“What did the pendant look like?” Myrdin asked.
“It was a flat round stone set in gold and it hung on a silver chain,” she said twisting her face trying to remember, “the stone was black but it shimmered with fires of every color, I didn't know what it was. So when he was old enough I gave it to him telling him exactly what I told you, and I haven't seen it since.”
Myrdin thought this over for a while and soon Ziazan came down the stairs. Myrdin said goodbye to Ziazan’s mother and walked out the door.
Ziazan walked over to his mother, “Goodbye mother. Be well.”
“Try to stay out of trouble, my child. And be sure to come back and visit.”
Ziazan embraced his mother, “I will mother.” She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek then watched as he went out the door.
Once outside Ziazan found Myrdin and walked over to him. Myrdin led him to a pair of horses that were tied to a tree outside the town. Myrdin stepped up to a black stallion and mounted it and pointed to a black and white gelding, “Well, get on it boy, we've got to be on our way.” Ziazan looked up at him defiantly and then with a grunt mounted the horse and began riding away. Myrdin followed closely, but quietly wondering what made the boy so bitter.
They had only been on the road for a short time when Myrdin led them to a small clearing on the side of the road. A small stream ran through the clearing and Ziazan bent down to take a drink from the crystal, clear water. As he drank, the water cooled his hot, parched throat. Then he got up and went walking into the woods.
“Ziazan!” The boy turned to see Myrdin sitting on a rock by the stream, “Don't go to far out and be back in a little while.” Ziazan nodded and began walking again. He soon reached a huge boulder that jutted out of the ground and rose above the treetops. He walked around the boulder and put a hand against it. The stone was cold and rough, and the moss that covered the stone tickled his hands. Then he hoisted himself up and began to climb. The climb was hard and felt good to the boy. When he reached the top he was out of breath and sat down for a rest as he looked around. He looked across the countryside to see emerald colored treetops and white, clean mountain peaks in the distance. He took another look around, sighed and began his climb down.
When he reached the ground again, bugs viscously attacked Ziazan. They buzzed around his head and bit into his flesh. He tried swatting them away, but to no avail. When the boy reached Myrdin again, he was in a very bad mood.
“What's the matter, boy?”
Ziazan looked up at him with a look of disbelief, “What! How can you sit there and ask me that? It’s these blasted insects. They’re going to make me go mad.” he replied swatting a few more away.
Myrdin laughed and reached into pouch, pulling out a small strange looking root that was a dirty red color. He handed it to Ziazan who looked at it suspiciously. It was a small thing, no bigger than his thumb, and it seemed to be relatively free of dirt. He brought it closer to his face and sniffed it, when he smelled nothing; he looked at his new teacher.
“What is it?” he asked warily.
Myrdin smiled innocently, “It's just a root for you to eat to keep the bugs away from you, I use it all the time when I travel.”
Ziazan put it in his mouth and immediately wished he hadn't. The root was clean but tasted terrible. The taste filled his mouth and nose, and it was all he could do to keep from retching. He swallowed, then ran to the stream and gulped down water to rinse the taste from his mouth. However, the foul taste still lingered in his throat and nose.
He walked back to Myrdin wiping his mouth. “Nine Gates of Hell, what was that? It was nasty.”
Myrdin hid a smile, “It was a root dipped in a special potion to keep the bugs away from you.”
“Well it didn't work,” Ziazan said swatting a bug on the back of his neck.
“Give it a while,” Myrdin said gesturing toward Ziazan's horse, “Shall we continue?”
Just before sundown, Myrdin led him off the road and to a small clearing. It was far enough from the road that any passing travelers would not see them or a fire if they made one. The trees saw to that, for they blocked the view of the road and seemed to hide the trail they walked on to find the clearing. Ziazan thought his eyes were playing tricks on him and shook his head but the trees didn't change. When he looked back, he found Myrdin arranging rocks in a circle on the ground.
“I'm going to get a fire going,” he said after he was finished. Then he picked up a pack and rummaged through it. “And you are going to catch most of our dinner,” he said tossing Ziazan a roll of fishing line and some hooks. He tried to catch them but they fell to the ground and he picked them up with a sheepish grin. “There's a large creek over that way and you might want to wash while you're there,” Myrdin said standing up and pointing away from the camp.
Ziazan nodded and he walked in the direction that Myrdin had pointed. He went into the woods a little ways, found a path, and followed it through the woods. He pushed branches out of his way and stepped over small bushes in the middle of the trail. It occurred to him that this was a path that was not used very often. He skirted around a patch of wild rose bushes that had taken over the right side of the path, when he heard the sound of gurgling water. He followed it to the large creek and decided to wash up first.
When he entered the water he gasped, it was COLD. He washed quickly and scrubbed hard to make sure he was clean. After that, he set his fishing lines and sat down under a tree to wait. He was about to doze off when he felt the lines start to pull away from him. He made a wild grab for them and pulled in two, fat trout. He smiled as he picked up the fishing tools and headed back to the camp.
Upon walking into their camp, Ziazan saw that Myrdin had indeed made a fire and had a pot of rice boiling over the flames. Myrdin looked up just as Ziazan stepped into the clearing. The boy held up the two fish, with a broad smile.
“Think this'll feed us for tonight?” he asked.
Myrdin nodded, “We'll be fed, with fish left over,” he exclaimed taking the fish from the boy's hands. They flopped weakly from lack of air and then were still. Myrdin fashioned a spit out of a few sticks and soon the fish were cooking over the fire and filling the camp with delicious smells making the boy’s mouth water.
After eating, Ziazan began asking Myrdin about the university.
“For starters, you are my sixth apprentice,” Myrdin said with a sigh, “and thankfully the last one. I don’t know if I could train any more than that.”
“Perhaps you should tell me about the others,” Ziazan suggested. “I’m curious to know about their powers.”
Myrdin laughed at this, “I suppose you're right about that. Well, whom do I start with first, Estara Therania. She's a sorceress, with the power to turn her enemies into animals. She also can turn them into stone.” Ziazan just stared and Myrdin continued. “There's Morgana Rayvan, she's a witch and she can curse her enemies with many different ailments. There's Calandra Drystan, she's a Changeling.”
“What's that?” Ziazan interrupted confusion clouding his face. “And what's the difference between a witch and a hedgewitch?”
Myrdin smiled at the boy's curiosity, “The difference ~ to answer the latter ~ is that hedgewitches are midwives with powers for healing and minor protection. A witch is a more powerful being who calls upon the powers of nature to attack and protect. Understand?” Ziazan nodded and Myrdin continued in his explanation, “A Changeling is like...a person that can change their physical form, like a werewolf. But imagine a werewolf that could change at will, and the animal they change into would be a more powerful werewolf with better predatory traits. That's Calandra; her wolf form has eyes like an owl, the strength of a bear, and the speed of a tiger.”
Ziazan leaned forward, “ I never dreamed that things like this existed.”
Myrdin laughed, it was a full-throated sound that rang in the air, and said “Well then you are going to be amazed in the next few years. Anyway, where did we leave off?”
“You were just finishing up about Calandra, the Changeling.”
“Ah, yes. There's another girl named Amiri Fintaal, she's a cleric.”
Myrdin gave the boy a sharp glance, then continued, “Think of a priest or priestess who can perform spells. They have the ability to protect, purify, make guardians out of everyday objects such as sticks, animals, rocks, anything, as well as heal. And the last one is my granddaughter, Rose Gwrtheyrn. She's an elemental.”
“Forgive me for interrupting but, what's an elemental?” Ziazan asked.
Myrdin answered his question with a slight smile, the boy was learning, “An elemental is a being that can control the elements, like fire, water, earth, and wind. However, since she has the raw force of the elements raging inside her, she can get a little moody. And she doesn't use the element in its raw form, she has more control than that. She doesn’t just throw fire or water but she does things with them that no other magic user can do. She can throw spears of ice or throw fireballs and control what they burn or where they go. Some of our more troublesome scholars have had the experience of making her mad and getting a toasted backside. I warn you now, do not vex her.”
Ziazan thought about this for a second and then smiled, “I would love to remain untoasted.”
Myrdin stood up with a laugh, “I’m going to place the circle now, are you ready?”
Ziazan looked at him confused again, “What?”
“I'm going to place the protective circle or “circle” for short. Do you need to relieve yourself before I do?”
Ziazan shook his head, “No, but thank you anyway.”
“Alright.” Myrdin held his hands in front of him, open with palms to the sky. Then he began to speak some words in an unfamiliar language and his hands began to glow with a faint bluish light. Suddenly blue flames sprung from the ground and spread in a circle around them. Now they were inside a ring of blue flames. Myrdin slowly raised his hand and the flames leaped toward the sky. Now they were high above the head of the old wizard. Myrdin then began to close his hands and the tips of the flames began to turn inside toward each other. They kept turning until all the tips were touching and the boy and wizard were completely under a dome of flame. Then, just as quickly as they appeared, the flames vanished. Myrdin stood for a minute more then smiled and crawled into his bedroll. Soon boy and wizard were fast asleep.
He stood on the edge of a cliff and looked around. The sky was black and the clouds were a dark crimson. The space below him was black and seemed to go on forever. He turned to look behind him and saw a silver light in the distance. As he watched, the silver light grew dim and finally was snuffed out. When that happened the world was engulfed in darkness.
Ziazan forced his eyes open and sat up. The dream had been frighteningly real, and this was the third time it had occurred. What if it's an omen, he thought with a shutter. He lay down again and looked up at the stars wondering if the dream was trying to tell him something. As he pondered this, he fell into a dreamless sleep.
He awoke to the sounds of the morning, birds singing and the sun shining in his face. He sat up with a yawn and then looked around. It's going to be a good day, he thought looking around. He gathered up his bedroll and tied it to his horse, then sat on a log waiting for Myrdin to stir. It wasn't long before the old man was awake and ready for breakfast. Myrdin got some dried meat, cheese, bread, and dried fruit out of his pack and split it with Ziazan and they ate in silence. After that they mounted their horses and then were on the road again.
After a while of being on the road, Myrdin began telling Ziazan about the university. Ziazan was told that the university was actually the old palace where the king and queen had lived before the new one was built in the city. Myrdin also told Ziazan that he had gotten rooms for his students that were separate from the rooms of the scholars.
They traveled all day talking about what would happen when they got there and finally topped a hill and were within view of the university. Myrdin sighed looking at the gray stone castle surrounded by an enormous garden.
“Home,” he said. “Let's go.” He then rode toward the university with Ziazan close behind.
They were on the trail to the front gate of the university when three men dressed in brown breeches and gray shirts with swords at their hips, jumped from the woods on either side of the trail. One of the men looked like he hadn't been able to shave for a couple days so his face was covered in a fine layer of blonde hair. They all looked like they had been away from civilization a long time. They were followed by a tall figure in a hooded black robe, who kept his face hidden.
“What do you want?” Myrdin asked calmly.
The men said nothing but looked to the figure in the black robe, who nodded. The men then turned their attention back to the boy and wizard. They drew their swords and walked toward the boy and wizard. Myrdin started to say a spell but one of the men stopped him by putting a blade to his throat.
“Don't even think about it old man,” the man said.
Myrdin looked scared but only for a second, then he resumed his cool, calm attitude. “What do you want?” he asked again.
The robed figure laughed, a dry, hacking sound that was more of a cough. “Haven't you figured it out Myrdin, we're here for the boy. Get him!”
Two of the armed men roughly pulled Ziazan off his horse. Once he was on the ground, they dragged him in front of the figure in the robe. Meanwhile the third man guarded Myrdin, with a blade at his neck. Ziazan whimpered as the figure in the robe looked down at him.
“Well, are ye goin' ta kill the boy now? We want our pay,” one of the men holding Ziazan said.
The figure in the robe looked at him and sighed, “Why are you so impatient, you don't even know who I am.” He reached up and pulled his hood down. Myrdin gasped and Ziazan shrank away from him. The figure was a goblin, his skin was a pale green and his hair was gray. His face looked more like an animal than anything else. His eyes bulged out away from his head and were red, his nose was somewhat long, and his lower jaw was set behind his upper so that two long fang-like teeth hung on either side of his mouth. His cheeks were sunken in and that made him look even more evil. The black robe that signified him as a mage covered the rest of his body. He sighed again putting a green hand to his temple. His fingers were long and ended more like claws than fingers, with long nails. “Now do you still want your pay?” he asked with a laugh. The men just gazed at him in fear.
Myrdin couldn't believe it. “Jada!” he said. “What are you doing here?”
The goblin's head snapped in the direction of Myrdin and he smiled evilly. “So you finally remembered our years at the University of the Magi?”
“Why are you doing this?” Myrdin asked glancing at the men who seemed to be frozen in fear.
“I was taken in by the promises of Barak, so now I work for him.” Jada said walking in a circle around Ziazan. “He sent me to find the boy and kill him.”
“Oh, so he just sends you to do his footwork,” Myrdin said with a smirk. “You never were your own person, always hiding behind someone else.”
Jada growled deep in his throat, looked down his nose at Ziazan and turned toward the forest. “Kill them both!”
The men holding Ziazan began snickering. One moved to hold the boy in a kneeling position while the other moved around to face him. Ziazan looked up at the man who gazed at him through gray eyes. Then he raised his sword and was about to bring it crashing down and slicing through Ziazan's neck, when suddenly he went flying through the air and crashed into a tree. He slid to the ground unconscious and Ziazan looked at Myrdin.
The man guarding Myrdin slowly backed away and he was sent flying through the air to land roughly on the ground. Ziazan saw this as an opportunity to get away from the man that held his arms. He jerked away from the man, catching him by surprise and then rolled away from him. The man let out a growl of anger at being surprised like that, then followed. Ziazan was on his feet in an instant, looking around. He saw the large man barreling toward him and decided to move; fast. Ziazan dodged the man and saw Myrdin locked in combat with Jada, but he couldn't help because he had troubles of his own. The man lunged at him again and caught Ziazan by the hair. He pulled making the boy cry out in pain and anger. The young magic user raised his hand and white flames lashed from his fingertips, hitting the man full in the face, charring flesh and burning hair. Once he was free, Ziazan picked up a good-sized stick and hit the man over the head with it. He dropped like a stone.
Ziazan quickly looked around to see the man that Myrdin threw on to the ground was holding his teacher’s arms while Jada stood away from them holding a ball of fire in his hands laughing.
“This is the end Myrdin!” Jada screamed. The fireball went flying. Myrdin cringed.
“NOOOOO!” Ziazan screamed breaking into a run. He ran faster than he knew he could and threw himself in front of Myrdin to block the deadly fireball.
The ball of fire hit Ziazan in the back and hot flames seared his torso. His shirt blackened and became ash, then fell off his body in charred pieces. Suddenly there was a flash of multicolored light at his chest and the flames were sucked into the black opal pendant that he wore under his shirt. Ziazan looked around confused. Jada shrieked his rage.
“Kill them,” he shrieked, “KILL THEM!”
The man holding Myrdin threw the old man on the ground and drew his sword. Ziazan roared in defiance and the sky turned black. Thunder rumbled as the man and Jada gazed up in the sky wondering what being had the power to perform such sorcery. A soft silver light surrounded the Ziazan’s body and his eyes began to glow red. Jada and the man looked at him in growing terror.
“Don't...you...dare!” Ziazan said in a deep booming voice that made the ground shake. He thrust his hands out in front of him the palms toward the man. Silver fire spilled from his hands to surround the body of the man. Ziazan turned to find Jada but he was running away. Ziazan lifted his hand and silver colored fireball, as tall as a man and twice as wide, rocketed after him. Then the boy turned his attention to the man who Myrdin threw into the tree and the one whose face he had burned. He also covered them in silver fire. Ziazan then waved both hands and the men began to fade away. They screamed for help as they became harder to see. The screaming went on until they were gone entirely. Then the glow around Ziazan faded, his eyes stopped glowing, and the sky returned to its normal color. Then Ziazan slumped to the ground unconscious.
Suddenly laughter rang through the air and Myrdin looked up into a tree, only to see Jada. His robe was scorched and he was breathing hard. “Won't Barak be happy to know that I was the one to kill you?”
Myrdin regarded him with a wary eye, “You have hardly any energy left, that fireball must have been very powerful.”
Jada glared at his adversary, “Well you're right, but I'll be back to finish what I started!” Jada mumbled a spell in the language of the magi and vanished in a flash of dark purple light.
Myrdin shook his head and turned his attention to his sleeping apprentice. He pulled a vial from his robe, uncorked it, and waved it under Ziazan's nose. After a minute of that, Ziazan began to stir. Myrdin put the vial away and helped him to his feet.
“What happened boy?” Myrdin asked him, when he came out of his daze.
“I don't know,” Ziazan said, shaking his head and rubbing his forehead with his fingers. “I just lost my temper for a minute.” He looked up at Myrdin, “How did those men go flying?”
Myrdin smiled, “Its a spell that gives me that power to move objects without touching them, I cast it so I could have a quick way of defending myself.”
“How many other magic-users know that spell?”
Myrdin smiled, “Lets just get to the university, before I answer any more questions.” He found an extra shirt and enchanted it so it would fit the boy, then helped Ziazan over to his horse and helped him mount it. Then Myrdin got on his own horse and they rode toward the University of Scholars.
When they finally reached the university, Ziazan sat on his horse in awe as the huge building loomed in front of him. The university was made of a gray stone, which looked like it had been at one time, a sandy color, but had turned gray with age. The towers seemed to go on forever, and at the top, there were flat roofs that had parapets surrounding them. As they rode closer, Ziazan noticed that there was a high stone wall around the entire building and the surrounding grounds.
At the front gate, which was large, heavy, and made of iron, with intricate designs on the top of it, there were two men dressed in full plate armor, without helmets, holding spears. One of the men had brown hair and dark brown eyes; the other had blonde hair and hazel eyes. They edged closer together when they saw Myrdin and Ziazan, but when they could see who it was, they relaxed.
“Hello, gentlemen,” Myrdin said, as they rode up.
“Hello, milord,” One of them said, with a salute as the two rode up.
“Who's the boy?” The other one asked, pointing at Ziazan.
“His name is Ziazan Orania and he's my newest apprentice,” Myrdin said, turning to Ziazan. “These men are Yardan,” he pointed to the one with brown hair, “and that one is Gavan,” he pointed to the one with blonde hair.
“Where did you find this one?” Gavan asked.
“In Feylad,” Myrdin replied simply.
“But I seem to recall that you said that you were going to Radnor, though,” Yardan said
“I was misinformed on the location of my last apprentice,” Myrdin said with a wry smile. “Now could you be so kind as to open the gate, before I have to do it myself.”
They both nodded and pushed the large iron gate open. It creaked as it turned on its slightly rusted hinges, filling the air with an ear-piercing squeak. Ziazan gasped and covered his ears as Myrdin grit his teeth and said nothing.
Once the gate was open Myrdin led the way through, with Ziazan following. As they walked through the courtyard, Ziazan saw a huge fountain in the center. It jutted up from the ground like it was put there at the time of creation. It had two other bowls where the water would gather then fall over the sides to either gather in the next bowl or the bottom.
Myrdin noticed the boy looking at it as they walked by, “The water from the fountain comes from an underground spring. That one spring supplies all the water here at the university.”
Ziazan turned to look at him, “One spring supplies all that water?”
“That's not even all the water we get from it, there is more that is pumped to other areas like the washrooms and the kitchen.” Myrdin said smiling as Ziazan's jaw dropped.
“How is it pumped?” Ziazan asked
“It's pumped by a system of pipes that the king himself devised and had put in this university,” Myrdin explained leading the boy around the side of the university to an enlarged version of a lean-to.
The boy could tell from the smell of manure and hay, emanating from the structure that it had to be stables of some kind. The building was made out of wood and held up by thick wooden posts that were anchored into the ground. The roof was thatch like the houses in Feylad and the stables that housed the horses were large and roomy.
As Ziazan and Myrdin rode in, a short, chubby fellow with sandy brown hair and plain brown eyes met them. He wore brown breeches and a cream colored shirt, on which he rolled the sleeves up past his elbows. When he spoke, he had a light country accent.
“So Myrdin, are ye goin' ta introduce me to this young lad?”
Myrdin laughed, “Yes, yes, Bahari, this is my last apprentice Ziazan.” Myrdin turned to Ziazan, “This is the Stable master Bahari Dakarai, and if there is anything you need or want to know about horses, you come to him.”
Bahari laughed, a deep, belly laugh that made his gut shake. “Now Myrdin, don't be tellin' the lad that. I simply have a knack with horses.”
Myrdin hopped off his horse and shook hands with Bahari, “Well that's more than I know old friend.”
Bahari laughed again and motioned for Ziazan to dismount his horse, “Come down from there boy, I don't bite.”
Ziazan climbed down from his horse and went over to stand next to Myrdin, who continued talking to Bahari. “So how have things been here while I was gone? I know I asked you if you would keep an eye on the rest of them, and that's not an easy thing. But I don't dare ask one of the teachers.”
Bahari shook his head, “You were right ta ask me ta keep an eye on them, why shortly after you left there would have been another fight had I not stepped in.”
Myrdin sighed and rubbed his temples, “What am I going to do with them?” he said thinking aloud.
“I don't know, besides that's your job. Was there something you came in here for?”
“Actually I was wondering if you would stable our horses as I walk Ziazan inside?” Myrdin asked.
“Of course I will, just for today though. The boy will have ta learn ta look after his own horse after awhile.”
“Of course, of course,” Myrdin said steering Ziazan out of the stables. “I need to get him settled in upstairs first.” And with that, Myrdin led Ziazan around the building to the front doors of the university.
Ziazan looked up at the massive wooden doors that towered above his head. Myrdin gestured and they opened silently, revealing a large room. The high arched windows, filled with colored glass, allowed light to stream through filling the room with splashes of color. The floor was made of marble tiles that were mottled black and white. As Ziazan scanned the room, he saw ornate white marble pillars that had pictures carved into them. Most of the pictures depicted people or creatures of legend, such as dragons, griffins, fairies, as well as trolls, ogres, and goblins. There was also one pillar that showed six people floating above a giant castle.
“Who are those people?” Ziazan asked pointing the pillar.
Myrdin looked in the direction he pointed, “Those people? That is the Council of Magic, they ruled all of Nirvana and Elandrake. That was before the Lord of Demons, Barak, took over.” Ziazan noticed that Myrdin sounded bitter as he explained about the Council. However, the young boy thought nothing of it as he looked around.
Suddenly the sound of a ringing bell was heard throughout the room. The main hall began to fill with young boys and girls. All of them were dressed in the same uniform, a cream colored shirt and brown breeches. As they passed the boy and wizard, the young scholars looked at Ziazan strangely. But the boy shrugged off the looks and concentrated on following Myrdin.
Myrdin led the boy across the room and through a door on the far wall. The door led to a long slightly curved corridor. The floor of the hallway was covered by a thin, red carpet that curved with it. The corridor was well lit, even though it had no windows. There were candleholders mounted in the walls. The holders held long, slender, un-dyed candles. Ziazan noticed that the candles didn't have any wax dripping from them.
“What makes the candles not drip?” the boy asked his teacher.
“They are enchanted to not drip wax,” Myrdin said simply. “They also light themselves as night falls. The darker it gets, the brighter they get.”
“All that is possible with magic?”
“Yes, mages from the University of the Magi helped build this place when it was the castle. But when it became a university for scholars, they wanted to take all of the magical devices away.”
“But that wouldn't be fair!” Ziazan exclaimed as they walked. “The scholars have just as much right to study magic as the mages do.”
Myrdin nodded, “But the only problem is that the mages don't want everyone knowing their secrets. They argued that the scholars didn't need to study magic, because they had none. However, the king ruled that the scholars needed to study the magic that is present in their everyday life, such as the candles. The mages agreed, albeit reluctantly.”
Myrdin led Ziazan down the hallway to another hallway that was in reality stairs. The stairway was exactly the same as hallway. The red carpet was there and the stairway was lit in the same manner. Myrdin led the way up the stairs and when they reached the top, there was yet another hallway. Myrdin turned right and walked quickly down the hallway. He stopped in front of an arched wooden door. The older man grasped the knob and pulled it open. He entered with Ziazan at his heels.
The room they entered was a fairly large room that had bookshelves on three of the walls. They wrapped around the room about halfway, leaving the rest of the grayish wall showing between the tapestries. Most of the tapestries were simply squares of fabric that were embroidered with scenes featuring other races, elves, dwarves, even the amazons of the far south. The floor was stone, but many different rugs, all colors, and sizes, that added a homey feeling, covered it. There was a large, square, oak table, surrounded by chairs that took up one side of the room. Large comfortable chairs arranged around the fireplace took up the other half. Around the room in various places, vases of flowers stood and added splashes of color. There were roses, tulips, and all kinds of others. Sunlight streamed in through tall, thin, windows covered with glass panes.
Standing in front of one of the windows was a tall girl. She had straight, crimson hair that was cut at her shoulders, and when the sunlight hit it, it became the color of blood. Her slender figure was covered by a tight, black, dress. The sleeves were long and they were tight against her arms from her shoulders to her elbows, but from her elbows to her wrists her sleeves flared out in an archaic style. Around her neck hung a black stone, it looked like a stalactite that would hang from the ceiling of a cave, but instead it hung from a silver chain.
She was bent over a vase of bright red roses and was chanting something. As the boy watched the color of the roses dimmed. They went from being bright, rosy red to a dark crimson red, then the roses faded to black. But they weren't dead, because the stems and leaves were still a bright green.
“Morgana!” Myrdin said sharply. “What are you doing?”
The girl spun around in surprise, “Master, I...I didn't know you were there.”
“Obviously.” Myrdin said crossing the room to the vase. “How many times have I told you not to meddle with my flowers?”
Morgana looked at the floor.
“I thought so,” Myrdin said. He put a hand above the now black roses and spoke a word that neither Morgana nor Ziazan could understand. Then rainbow colored points of light flowed from his fingertips. The lights wrapped around the roses and they became all different colors. There was white, red, yellow, pink, blue, orange, and purple. Myrdin put his hand down and smiled.
“There,” he said. “That's much better.” He walked over to stand by Ziazan.
“Who's that?” Morgana asked leaning on the table.
“This is Ziazan Orania, he's your newest friend,” Myrdin said mysteriously, clapping the boy on the shoulder.
Morgana quirked a brow, “How so?”
Myrdin smiled, “He's my newest apprentice.”
Morgana's jaw dropped, “That scrawny, little country boy...is a magic user?”
“Yes I am,” Ziazan said, perturbed. “And at least I have the sense to listen to my teachers when they tell me things.”
Morgana glared at him and he glared right back. Myrdin thought it best to step in before things got too bad between the two from the start. He grabbed Ziazan and pulled him through a door on the other side of the room. The door led to yet another hallway. This hallway was like all the others, with the red carpet and the candles. But there was one difference; there were doors on each side of the hallway.
“Where do those doorways lead to?” Ziazan asked as they walked past them.
“Those doorways lead to the bedrooms of my other students,” Myrdin said stopping in front of one of the doors. “And this one is yours.” He pulled a key from one of the pockets of his robe and unlocked the door. Then he handed the key to Ziazan and pushed the door open.
Ziazan entered a small room, there were two windows on the right and left sides of the wall opposite the door. The left one was just above the foot of the bed, and the right one was just above the bed. The bed was small and there was a small chest at the foot of it. Right next to the door on the same wall, was a desk with an oil lamp on it. Right next to the desk was a large, empty bookshelf. The entire room had candles on the walls the same as the hallways.
Ziazan walked in and looked around, then he noticed the empty bookshelf, “What's that empty for?” he asked gesturing toward it.
“That's empty so you can put any books or scrolls on it that you might want to keep here,” Myrdin explained.
“How would I get those?” Ziazan asked.
“Well you'll get them from the library when you go.”
“You have a library here!” Ziazan exclaimed, excitement sparkling in his eyes.
“Yes,” Myrdin said with a laugh, “but before you go anywhere, we need to get you a robe.”
Ziazan looked down at his clothes, “What's wrong with my clothes?”
Myrdin smiled, “Nothing, it's just that magic-users don't dress like commoners.” He gestured at his own robe, “Magic-users wear robes to let people know what they are or they dress like nobles.”
“But I can't dress like a noble!” Ziazan exclaimed.
“And why not? What's wrong with nobles?”
“I'm...just not one of them.”
“Tch, that means nothing,” Myrdin said walking back to the door and opening it, “you have begun a new chapter in your book of life. Now come along.”
Ziazan sighed and walked back out into the hallway. Then he turned to Myrdin. “Which way?”
Myrdin walked further down the hallway and stopped walking when he reached a door. Instead of pulling out a key to put into the keyhole, he waved a hand in front of it and mumbled a series of words. Then the door opened on its own, and Myrdin stepped inside. Ziazan followed him.
The room he walked into looked nothing like any of the others he had seen before. The walls of this room had shelves on them. Those shelves held bottles every shape, size, and color you could imagine. There were tall thin bottles, and short fat ones, and others that looked like they were made of squashed bubbles piled on top of one another. Some of them contained liquids, some contained powders, and still others tiny crystals. In the middle of the room was a table, larger than the one in the study and a lot more cluttered. There were boxes, bottles, scrolls, rolled and unrolled, and devices that Ziazan couldn't even begin to guess at. On the far side of the room there was a fireplace that heated and lighted the room. On each side of it was a wooden door.
Myrdin walked over to the door on the right and opened it revealing a small closet. He bent down and opened a chest that creaked as the lid opened. He rummaged around it for a minute then stood as he pulled something white from it.
He turned around to hold out a white robe. It was made of a bright white material and had shiny, metallic blue trim. “Here, try this on for size.” Myrdin said gently tossing the robe to the boy.
Ziazan caught the robe, opened it, and slipped it on. The robe was light and felt as though it weighted nothing. Myrdin then went over to the table and began rummaging through the mess on it. He looked until he found a small wooden box that was carved and painted like a kings treasure chest. He picked it up off the table and walked over to Ziazan. He opened it and pulled out a ring and handed it to the boy. Ziazan took the ring and examined it closely.
It was a simple gold band that had a very large ruby placed on it. Around the gem, there was what looked like dragon wings made of silver. They surrounded the gem and kept it embedded in the ring. Ziazan slipped it on his finger and the ruby flashed a bright red. The young boy yelped and almost yanked the ring off. But he restrained himself to only asking a question of his new teacher.
“Wha...what was that?”
“That,” Myrdin said, with a tiny smile, “was the ring letting the world know that you are its new master.”
“You make it sound like the ring is alive,” Ziazan speculated.
“Well, if you speak in magical terms, yes, the ring is alive with magic abilities that only it’s master can ever hope to unlock,” Myrdin said mysteriously.
Myrdin pointed to the door on the left of the fireplace, “That's the door to my own bedroom. If you knock on the door to my lab and I don't answer, ring the bell. I'll show you how to ring it on our way out.”
Myrdin walked over to the door, opened it, and gestured for Ziazan to leave the lab. Ziazan reluctantly left the lab and went back out into the hallway. There, Myrdin showed him how to pull a rope right next to the door. Myrdin then explained how pulling on the rope would cause a bell to ring in his bedroom, to let him know that he was needed. Soon Ziazan found himself returning to the study, and Morgana.
She had been reading a book under a window when the two walked in. As she looked up the stone around her neck caught a ray of sunlight streaming in from the window. The minute the sunlight struck the stone Ziazan could see that there was a silver light inside the blackness of the stone. If she noticed the stone she gave no indication, instead she stood and focused all her attention on Ziazan.
“So, the country boy is staying? At least he looks like one of us now. But will he act like one of us?” Morgana circled him like a cat as she asked her questions. Ziazan had a feeling that the last question was rhetorical, so he didn't answer it. He just stood and glared at Morgana.
“Morgana, don't forget the state you were in when I found you. I think you were worse off than he is at the moment. And just for the way you've been acting toward our newest student, you'll be in charge of his tour,” Myrdin said raising one eyebrow.
Morgana sputtered and glared at Ziazan, admitting defeat. She walked over and grabbed Ziazan by the sleeve of his robe. She pulled him out the door saying, “Come on, and let’s just get this over with.”
The two young magic-users went out the door and down the hallway. Morgana led Ziazan down the hallway, down the stairs, and back into the main hall. She walked quickly down the corridors and the stairs without much explanation, but that all changed after she led him into the Grand Hall, where all the scholars were gathered. Once she entered the room, most the scholars near her eyed her nervously, but looked at Ziazan curiously. As she walked through the hall the scholars made room for her without saying anything. She walked through the hallway and a servant bumped into her. She turned to him and spoke coldly.
“Watch where you're going, fool. Now quit gawking and get some tea up to Master Myrdin.”
The servant looked at her with wide, frightened eyes before he bowed, hurried off through the crowd, and disappeared. Morgana laughed quietly to herself as they continued walking.
“What was that all about?” Ziazan asked.
She turned to him and eyed him, “Why shouldn’t we treat them as inferiors? We have power and can make their lives miserable!” her eyes glimmered with malice.
Ziazan shrugged, “But that’s not the purpose of magic.”
Morgana started to laugh but caught herself, “You’ll change your tune after you get a taste of real power.” She tuned around and walked away after speaking and left Ziazan wondering.
She walked around the large hall to a doorway larger than the one that led to the study. Ziazan followed her through the door and down the hallway. She led him through a maze of hallways and stopped in front of a large set of oak doors. She stopped in front of them and turned to face Ziazan.
“This,” she said, “is the grand hall. It's where the scholars eat all their meals. We don't eat there of course, all our meals are brought up to the study.”
“Why?” Ziazan asked, puzzled.
Morgana shrugged, turned around, and continued through the maze of candlelit halls and stairways. To Ziazan it felt that they wandered through the hallways for hours. After a while she stopped in front of yet another set of large wooden doors.
“These are the doors to the library,” she said. “When this was the palace this room was the throne room. When the king left, he had it remodeled and filled with some books from the royal library and the library from the University of the Magi.” She turned to walk down the hall.
“Could we go inside for a minute?” he asked her meekly.
She turned around, shrugged, then helped Ziazan open the heavy doors that led into the large room. As the doors opened Ziazan didn't know what to expect. But what he saw absolutely astounded him.
|Dawn of Darkness||Vampiric Truths|
|Dawn of Darkness Prologue||The Path of Magic part II|
|The Path of Magic part III|