Chronicled by Dro'gan NiteFlier
Disclaimer: Some characters copyrighted by Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha. I'm still not idiot enough to claim them. Some elements were taken from the game Lords of Magic, copyright Sierra Games and Impressions Studios.
I have fled far. Farther than I thought I would be able to. Mayhap some god is looking favorably upon me.
But that favor is sure to end, for my strength is failing. I have been on the run for nigh two weeks, but have not slept for near three days, always knowing that they are behind me, and coming closer.
As the golden light of dawn stretches from the east, I falter, but see a line of trees on the horizon. If I can but make it there…
I reach the trees, and fall into a hollow formed of roots, and sleep.
I woke to the feeling of something poking me.
My eyes snapped open and I looked down to see a brownie looking back up at me. It pointed out of the haven I had made, and hopped out. I crawled after it, and cautiously looked out.
The brownie that woke me was talking with another. Their chirps and trills were unintelligible to my ears. The two creatures concluded their conversation, and hopped back to me. They both then started chittering at me, but I still could not understand them.
But then I felt something to the east. I had practiced my skills of magic, for with them I could see others of my Faith, and now I saw a group of Life energies coming this way. With what little I had gained from the scrolls I had read, I could discern little else. The two brownies were now looked expectantly at me, as if waiting for me to make a decision. I looked at them, and cautiously pointed towards the approaching force. They immediately began jumping up and down, their cries filling the air. From their tone, I could tell they were not happy. I sighed in relief. They were not trying to make be go back.
I got up and started walking further into the forest, but the two brownies quickly caught up to me and steered my course from northwest to true west, a path that would take me parallel to the sea, far in the distance.
I decided that I would trust these brownies for now, and followed them deeper into the forest.
I am cold.
The wind howls around me on these icy peaks, and my clothes, long since worn thin by travel and time, offer me no protection at all. It has been nearly four months since I escaped the Temple and was found by a tribe of wild brownies. The brownies were not the tame scouts that the Thieves Guild employed, but were wild and mistrusted people of Life. I believe that the only reason they helped me was because I was running from others that shared my "Faith".
The tribe had "borrowed" a few supplies for me, and then sent me on my way again, clothed for travel and bearing food and a little coin, when the searches for me died down enough to let me travel without being caught.
But the searches were not completely dead. I still had a purpose, after all.
There were a few more times that I was spotted and hunted, but those have faded away, even as I began to climb in altitude.
That was two months ago.
From the brownie enclave I went west, into the highest mountains in the world, and hoped that I could find refuge among the people of Air.
But it seemed that it was not to be. This storm had descended upon me almost five hours ago, and I had yet to find shelter. Not a cave, nor a copse of trees, nor even a small niche.
The mindnumbing cold was strangling the senses, and it was all I could do to keep one foot going in front of the other. I realized that I would probably die out there, alone and frozen, a corpse for someone to find come spring, if spring ever did come to these high mounts.
The one thing that decried this, the spark that shouted "I will not die!" was my desire for revenge against the priestess that had taken my innocence from me.
But as my mind faded into the cold, that spark was hidden under a blanket of ice as I tripped on an unseen object under the snow, and fell down and down and down. The last thing I felt was a dull pain from my legs as I heard a sickening crack.
I was mildly surprised when I awoke that I was awake at all. I immediately dismissed the idea that I was dead, for if I had been taken to the Bright Lands and the Meadows Beyond, then my legs and head would not hurt so; and I doubted that the Under Darkness would provide me with a bed this comfortable. I took stock of myself without moving, feeling my arms and hands, legs and feet, torso and head. My upper extremities seemed fine, with only my headache to prove differently. My legs, however, felt broken, and I could feel the splints and bandages that kept them straight.
When I had had enough of this internal cataloguing, I opened my eyes. My first thought was that the ceiling was quite high. Sitting up, I found that the bed I was in, and indeed, everything in the room, was of similar gigantic proportions. I was quite obviously in the home of a giant.
I recalled stories from my childhood at the Deindra mansion, and other whispered tales passed among the acolytes at the temple. Giants were mean, giants had fairy spies, giants would steal you away at night and eat you up as a midnight snack.
I had never before believed any of those stories, but they came back to me now, I quivered in fear, halfway praying that I could escape before the giant came to eat me, before more logical processes took over.
If this giant who had found me had meant to eat me, then why was I in his bed? Why had my wounds been cared for? These actions were not those of someone looking for a "midnight snack".
I sighed, and lay back down. There was nothing for me to do about it but to sleep and wonder.
I woke a second time to voices.
I could tell that they were trying to be quiet, but their whispering was as loud as my normal speech. I could not understand the language, but I identified two people. I wondered idly what they were saying, and cracked my eyes to look at them.
They were both giants, one standing eleven or twelve feet and clothed in robes, and the other standing perhaps thirteen or fourteen feet and clad in a simple jerkin and pants. The robed giant had an air of magic around him and carried a staff near as tall as himself. His magic was different from what I was used to, not holding the vibrancy of energy, but instead lending itself to the changing currents of the storms. The taller giant had more the look of a melée warrior, and I could well imagine him wielding a sword as long as I was tall in his calloused hands.
The robed giant was gesturing at me, and his tone was as if he were arguing with the other. The warrior giant obviously was holding steadfast to his position, and kept shaking his head at the robed giant's words.
Finally the robed giant looked like he gave up, and placed his hand to his face. He turned to me again, and looked quite carefully at me. "So you are awake, little elf?"
The warrior giant seemed startled, and looked from the shorter giant to me and back, then said something in their language. The robed giant replied, then turned to me again.
"You need not worry, little elf. Talapin here has taken an interest in you, and has contracted me to care for your wounds. You've done him a great favor without knowing it, but I'm afraid he does not know your language well enough to even thank you for it." Here he turned to the other giant and said something in their language. The warrior giant, Talapin, nodded to me, and placed his palm on his chest, and then extended it to me. I was not sure what to do, so I copied his movements. He seemed pleased by this, and brought over a chair so that he could sit by the bed.
The robed giant looked upon this and snorted softly. "Well, little elf, you have both acknowledged your debt to each other. My name is Mochal, and I am a Storm Sorcerer. If you wish, I can teach you the language of the Air and Winds."
I gave a small, uncertain smile. "I would like that, Mochal of the Air. I am… I am…" I trailed off.
Talapin leaned over to me, concern on his face. I smiled at him and pointed to myself. "Chrys," I told him.
His face scrunched up. "Karyis." He shook his head then gave a bellowing laugh. "Krystal!" He looked expectantly at me, and pointed. "Krystal?"
I blinked. It was close enough to my nickname, yet quite different from my birth name. I grinned at him. "Krystal." I then turned to Mochal, who had watched the exchange expectantly. "I am Krystal."
The sorcerer nodded. "As is well. You have not yet been let on to the reason for Talapin's mirth. You see, he was searching for you, going off information given to him by the border patrol, who had last seen you entering the blizzard before they were forced to retreat. Somehow you fell into a cavern that he had not discovered before, and have made him quite a wealthy man. That cavern contained the greatest vein of Crystal I have seen in years. Talapin will be able to mine it for quite a great sum of money. Your name sounded enough like what you brought him that it is quite astonishing." He nodded once more. "But it is time for me to return to my own homestead, and gather the materials I need to begin teaching you to speak like one of the Air." Mochal said a few words to Talapin, and exited.
Talapin looked to me, and I held my hand out to him. He extended his own and I laid my hand across his palm. He closed his hand around mine gently, and I smiled at him.
I don't know if my plan to draw attention away from my sisters worked, but I now know that if it didn't, I will someday be able to avenge them.
Mochal did indeed teach me how to speak the language of Air, and Talapin doted on me while I rested in his bed while my legs healed. He would, of course, spend some time away from me, for not only did he need his own rest, but he had brought down other friends of his, who evaluated the vein of Crystal that I had found for him. And indeed, as Mochal told me, it made him quite rich, as I later found.
But that was later, and at the time I focused on learning to speak — conversing with Talapin to expand my vocabulary — and healing.
Talapin had brought me my pack when I asked for it, and I retrieved the scrolls I had stolen so long ago. I had read them over a few times in the brownie enclave, and tried to learn the spells on them, but limited my casting to when I was alone, with neither Mochal nor Talapin to witness it.
Mochal, however, did find me out.
As a Storm Sorcerer, he could feel my untrained castings as far away as his own home, ten leagues away. The first time I tried to practice casting, he told me, was a near uncontrolled burst that he could not tell the source. However, as I gained proficiency, he was able to locate the cause quite quickly.
He was quite astonished that I was magically active, for even though he had felt a strong aura of magic from me, he did not expect one so young to be able to control magic so well.
When Talapin found out, he found himself in a quandary.
On one hand he was rather surprised that I could do magic, and demanded to know why I hadn't merely told the blizzard to go away. Mochal then informed him that even if I practiced the magic of Air, I was not at a level that I could do such.
On the other hand, and after being reprimanded by Mochal, he was quite pleased that I would not be defenseless if I were to be separated from him. Mochal looked rather exasperated at this, for he knew that Talapin had not realized that even if I knew some bit of magic I was not powerful enough to even defend myself against one of the scouting dragonflies. Talapin, upon being informed of this quite forcefully, asked Mochal if he would teach me.
Mochal almost fell on his face at this.
It was at this point that I was entertained by Mochal quite forcefully explaining to Talapin that if he were to teach me he would need the permission of the Council of Sorcerers at the Tower of Air, and he doubted very much that the Storm Giants that made up the Council would let an elf, no matter that I had been adopted by a Storm Warrior, learn the Way of Air. He proceeded to tell Talapin that if he were to even suggest such to the Council, he might be thrown out of the Tower, and forbidden to practice the very magic that Talapin wished for me to learn.
Talapin nodded at this, and then said that if Mochal wouldn't, he would.
At which point Mochal did fall face first to the floor, and when he got up I could tell that he was barely restraining himself from beating Talapin over the head with his staff.
Mochal did eventually pound it into Talapin's head that if anyone were to go before the Council and ask, it would have to be me. Talapin just blinked at this, told me to heal up quickly, and left to go back to his new mine.
Mochal sat down in the chair that Talapin had vacated and put his face in his hands, and started muttering about thick-headed giants and why warriors should keep their noses out of sorcerer business.
After he calmed down, I asked him why I needed to be trained at all, for I could see that it would be a great hassle.
I was then treated to a lecture by Mochal about why someone who is magically active, yet has no training, should at the least, be trained enough to be safe.
It turned out, that someone as myself, who was able to access their own reserve of magic, yet could not defend that source, could be quite literally controlled by another who knew how, and had the magic to do such.
I asked him if it would break the rules if he could teach me that little, but after he had thought about it, he said that he did not know, for a situation like mine had never occurred before.
By this time, my legs were whole enough that I could get around Talapin's home with the aid of crutches, and I had a room of my own. Although still large and holding a great chair, most of the furniture in it was bought from fairies, so it was of a comparable size to me. Mochal bade me follow him to the courtyard before the entrance, and began casting small spells, showing each of them to me slowly. I quickly caught on that even if he was but "practicing", he was performing each of them slowly enough for me to memorize the gestures, incantations, and flow of magic around him. After a bit, he stopped, and allowed me to take his place. I worked my way through each spell, doing them each quite slowly until I was sure I had gotten them down, but then I had an idea.
My magical reserves were running low, and I had no potions to restore them, so I knew that I had perhaps one spell left, before I ran dry. I called to mind the Lightning Ball, and the Storm Call spells. The first had made a small, spherical ball of electricity, with far less power than its namesake. The other was the opposite of what I had needed a few weeks ago, and called down the clouds to an area.
I began weaving the Storm Call spell, but interlaced it with a bit of the Lightning Ball spell. Mochal must have seen me do something odd, but he restrained himself until he fully realized what I was doing. At that point, however all that was left was for me to call:
The explosion from the blast of light destroyed the stone pillar that we had been using for a target. The last thing I remember before passing out was Mochal rushing towards me as I fell.
"You don't understand! She did it on her own!"
I hear Mochal's voice yelling at someone, and I crack my eyes open as my head begins to pound. Talapin is sitting in the chair beside the bed, and he face is torn between overwhelming worry and overflowing pride.
"Wh-what?" I croak.
"Shhh." Talapin leans over me, and whispers. "You've got some talent, Krystal! Mochal told me that you worked your way through to a spell that he had not taught you yet! But…" he became even quieter. "You've also got one of the High Sorcerers from the Tower here because of it. Mochal's trying to worm responsibility off of both himself and you, but I don't thing he's doing to well." He suddenly perked up. "Oh, yes. Mochal told me to give this to you when you woke up." He reached up to the bedside table and brought down a small bottle to me. I quietly drank the contents and my pounding headache immediately started to fade.
"What… what did you say I did?" I asked him.
The giant beamed at me. "Lightning. I've seen it before, and it's a quite powerful spell. Mochal told me that he was astonished not only at your creativity at working to such an advanced spell on your own, but also that you didn't immediately kill yourself by draining all of your energy. That's a mana potion, by the way. He said it would at least bolster your reserves." We could hear that the yelling from outside had stopped.
I slid down off the bed, and took my crutches. Talapin and I walked out to the receiving room, and entered.
Mochal was there, facing toward another Storm Sorcerer. This one was older than him, with his grey beard reaching down to his belt, and his clothes and staff were more ornate than Mochal's. With him were four fairies, the winged creatures just a bit smaller than myself. One of them bore the mark of a Fairy Thief, and the others looked to be his stoneslinger escorts.
The old Sorcerer broke off his speech as Talapin and I entered, and looked at me carefully. He gave one glance back at Mochal. "A potion? That concerned were you?" Before Mochal could respond, the Sorcerer focused on me. "So you are the little elf that has caused so much ruckus. Come here, girl." I looked to Talapin, but his face is as a granite cliff, and showed nothing. I looked back to the Sorcerer, and hobbled my way to him, stopping just out of his reach. "Well then, elf, what is your name?"
"I am Krystal, my lord," I told him.
The Storm Sorcerer raised an eyebrow at this. "I would have expected something a bit more… flowery from an elf of the Plains."
"My lord, most ladies of nobility do have such names," I replied.
He nodded then. "Well, that leaves out you going back. But if you would tell me why you left?" He looked at me expectantly, but I solidly shook my head in denial of his request. Mochal and two of the fairy stoneslingers gasped at this, but there was no reaction from the Storm Sorcerer or Talapin. "As well. Do you know what you have done, Krystal?"
I shake my head again. "No, my lord, not besides attempting to learn from examples, and letting imagination and creativity loose."
He raised his eyebrows again. "That, Krystal, is exactly it! Pardon for a moment Sorcerer Mochal's actions. You, by merely watching Mochal work his spells, were able to mimic them down to perfection! And what is more, you went beyond that, and of your own, came to a spell that took the Tower's best researchers years to discover!" He leaned towards me. "Do you understand what this means? You, an elf from the Plains, are better at our own magic than we are! It is no wonder you have my comrades in an uproar."
"My lord," I began. "Mochal was merely trying to teach me enough so that I would not be vulnerable."
The old Sorcerer turned to Mochal, who looked quite nervous at this. "Was that truly your intent, Sorcerer Mochal?"
"Ah, my lord… That is, I felt that it would be better if she deepened her magical reserves before she, uh…" Mochal trailed off at the quiet stare that the elder Sorcerer was giving him. "No, my lord." He sighed.
I blinked. What had been his purpose then?
The old giant had turned back to me, and saw my confusion. "Lady Krystal," I started at the title. "Mochal is of a group of Storm Sorcerers that is trying to change the Council's current position on who we teach the Way of Air to. Their most current thrust has been to allow women to study the Way, but I had not expected that he would go so far as to attempt to teach a woman who is not a Storm Giant." The elder Sorcerer looked at Mochal's bowed head. "He is quite fortunate that I, too, am a part of this group." Mochal's head snapped up and he stared wide-eyed at the Sorcerer. "Heh. It does me well to see that I haven't quite lost the touch. Now then," he turned back to me. "You know a smattering of low-level spells, and one mid-level spell. Not quite enough to force the Council into accepting you, I'm afraid." He laughed again at the look on my face. "I see that you don't quite understand. According to the ancient laws of the Tower, anyone, and I do mean anyone, who knows more than a certain amount of the Way must be accepted into the Tower." He smiled at me then. "So, Krystal! Do you feel up to learning another mid-level spell or two?"
I solemnly nodded, then broke out into a grin. I was wanted once more!
That day old Cirrus taught me three mid-level spells, and many more low-level ones. By the time I went to bed that night, my blood was singing with magic from the mana potions that I had taken, but I could tell quite easily that my reserve of magic had nearly doubled in size over the course of a single day!
Lord Cirrus had also let me drink a single potion of health, obtained at quite high price from the Amazons of Water, yet this speeded my recovery enough that by nightfall I could walk without crutches, and by morn I was as healthy as I had ever been before.
Throughout the following week I worked with the spells I had been taught, and came up with many more besides, yet Lord Cirrus also requested that I tell him of these before I tried them out on my own. So too, when I delved into my knowledge of Life magic, I found that my creativity was working here, too.
I think I shocked Talapin out of a decade of life when he heard my voice come from a sturdy brown-haired human instead of the frail-looking golden-haired elf that I had been. He recovered quite quickly though, when I dropped the illusion, then put it back. Lord Cirrus was surprised as well, and nearly remanded me, when I reminded him that he had said I was not to try any spells of the Way, and that he did not say anything of the spells of Life.
The old Sorcerer chuckled then, and expanded his request. He also said that it was probably for the better that I was "human" now, for the Council would be more lenient to humans than they would be to elves. When I asked about this, he merely replied that even if elves had more in common with the Storm Giants, and indeed, worked hand in hand, there was more contact with the Barbarians of Chaos to the north and the Knights of Order to the south than Elves of Life.
It was then that I learned that millennia ago a cadre of Elven Riders had taken up residence in the Land of Air, and their descendents were now known as Windriders. This would be quite interesting later on when I first met them, for their traditions were like those I had known, yet incorporated a great deal of the ways of the land they had settled.
But for now, it was time for me to finally meet the Council of Sorcerers.
Lord Cirrus had been staying at Mochal's home, and that is where Talapin and I went to meet them to begin the trek to the Capitol and the Tower of Air. Talapin had given a great deal of coin to the Fairy Thief Miis, to purchase appropriate traveling clothes for me, and had been pleased that the Fairy had returned in three days with quite fine furs and a cloak for me.
I was wondering at this, for had not Lord Cirrus, Miis, and the stoneslingers all arrived within a few hours?
Talapin told me that the Council was powerful enough to send one of their members and his escorts to his far away homestead. Part of me worried that the disturbance I caused was important enough to warrant such speed, but when I posed the question to Lord Cirrus, he told me that it was due to the Council not wanting to be forced into doing what we were about to coerce them into.
I was rather pleased at that.
It took us five days to reach the Capitol, although Miis went to his guild immediately, so as to procure more escorts. They arrived on the second day of our journey, two more groups of stoneslingers and a great eagle, that Lord Cirrus called down to his arm. I believe that the bird conveyed some message to him, but what it was I knew not.
On the eve of the fourth day, we were joined by two groups of Windriders, who told of the request by the master of their guild to Talapin. Neither did I hear of this conversation, but the Windriders attached themselves to Talapin as the stoneslingers had done for Lord Cirrus.
Our formation now numbering three individuals, five groups of Fairy stoneslingers and Windriders, and the eagle, who mostly flew the skies.
We arrived at the Capitol of Zefer without fanfare, and took lodging for the night as the stoneslingers and Windriders left for their guilds, and Lord Cirrus sent the Eagle ahead to convene the council on the morn. We had passed by the Warriors Guild, and had seen some of the younger Giants sparring with blunted swords. They had stopped and saluted Talapin with a roar, which he had returned.
The next day we left Zefer and passed down the short road to the Tower of Air.
It was a majestic structure made completely of ice, great spells and magics keeping it from melting even with the blazing sun and ambient temperature inside.
We three immediately went inside through the great doors, made of worked metal. There were Sorcerer attendants waiting to take us to the Council chambers, and we swiftly ascended.
"Lord Cirrus, please join us. Warrior Talapin, you may go now." The aged Giant who sat in the middle of the Council nodded to each as he spoke. He frowned when Talapin refused to move. "Warrior Talapin, you will leave us."
"My lord," spoke Talapin, "I have right to be here."
One of the Council members off to the side snickered. "Warrior, you only have right if she is your family. And I doubt that you married the girl!"
Talapin inclined his head to the unknown speaker. "My lord, this is not the time for jesting. I have not taken her as a wife, but as my daughter. The ceremony was witnessed by the Sorcerer Mochal, who is my friend."
There was a moment of shocked silence from the Council. The chairman squinted at Talapin and myself. "If such is so, we shall hear it from him, but later! Time now to the matter at hand." The Council shifted for a moment, then fell silent. "Now then, speak your name, girl."
"My name is Krystal, my lord." I told him.
The Sorcerer blinked. "Krystal, eh? Sandoval! You are recording this?" the Council member to the far left started and began scribing on a sheet of parchment. "Harrumph. Well then. Tell us about what the Sorcerer Mochal taught… er, showed you."
I explained what had happened that day, and found that most of the council members' features were growing dark. Several of them, Sandoval, Lord Cirrus, and surprisingly, the unnamed chairman watched me with quite interesting expressions.
At the end of my tale, the same Council member who berated Talapin jumped up. "I move that we dismiss this matter and this girl immediately! It has no bearing on the Tower or the Way!" Several of the others with dark faces agreed with him.
However, the chairman hushed them, and proceeded to ask Lord Cirrus to tell his version of events. After he was done, the same Sorcerer once again jumped to his feet and demanded that not only the issue and myself be thrown bodily out, but that Lord Cirrus had gone against the Way and taught me when the rules stated that he should not have.
Lord Cirrus replied calmly, "Lord Erath, she had already jumped from two low level spells to a higher one. In the course of my teaching, she proposed six different spells to me, all but one of which I led her through and showed her how we have preformed them. She has a grasp of the Way of Air that I have not seen in all my time!"
Erath drew another breath to rebut this but was interrupted by the chairman. "Lord Cirrus, you said that you led her through five spells, yet you also said that she proposed six. What was that last?"
Silence reigned in the chamber while Lord Cirrus swallowed nervously. "It… It is a spell of the Way…" he hesitated. "Yet it is one that I have never come across in our books and researches."
For a moment, nothing stirred. Then the Council chamber was in an uproar! Several different groups began arguing amongst themselves, Sandoval was whipping his head around trying to catch what was being said, the chairman was trying to call for order, but none listened.
I looked to Talapin, whose face was still serene. He gave a small smile to me, then reached up to the amulet around his neck and whispered, "Calm."
Immediately a sense of complacency and docility came over me, and I could see that the Storm Giants were being affected the same.
Finally there was silence again, and the chairman stood. "Thank you, Warrior Talapin, for bringing order to the Council of Sorcerers. It seems that we are in need of your aid even off of the battlefield." He glared at a few of the Council members. "Be that as it may, I have made the decision to accept the Lady Krystal into the Tower, dependent on her approval of a Teacher that this Council will select." He stared down the few Sorcerers who made noise at this. "Lady Krystal," he met my eyes. "I formally welcome you to the Tower of Air, on behalf of all practitioners of the Way of Air."
I smiled then, and bowed deep. "Thank you, my lord. I shall strive to act as the Way decrees."
To be continued.
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