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Authors: Curtis Cornett

Tags: #curtis cornett, #epic, #magic, #fallen magician, #dragon, #fantasy, #rogue, #magician, #prince

Magician Prince (12 page)

BOOK: Magician Prince
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Byrn also noted that the food tasted less…
stony, there was no other word for it, than the flavors he had
grown accustomed to for much of his time in the largely underground
kingdom of Ghant as he spent a little more than a year traveling
the world to get back to Aurelia.

“Any luck finding a family that would be
willing to take Kaleb in?” Sane asked in passing. At hearing his
name, Kaleb stopped chewing and looked to Byrn for the answer.

“No luck, I’m afraid,” Byrn answered and
noted that Kaleb had gone back to eating. Not for the first time,
Byrn questioned if Kaleb truly wanted to leave them. The young boy
seemed content to travel with the men, rarely uttering a word of
complaint and he was always quick to help with cleaning up their
campsites when they couldn’t find a town to stay in. Byrn had to
admit that Kaleb had grown on him as well and he did not look
forward to the boy’s leaving, but there was too much at risk to
keep the boy with him for any longer than was necessary. Byrn was
unsure of the reception that he would receive in Wolfsbane and knew
there was a chance that they were riding into danger. They would
need to find someplace for Kaleb to stay before they reached the
home of the Collective, but it would not be in this little hamlet.
“The people are too suspicious of strangers. They fear that anyone
they don’t know could be a magician.”

Sane nodded, “It is obvious that we have been
regarded with mistrust since coming here. Even now, I have caught
more than a few gazes flickering to our table and away just as
quickly. They like your coin and know that we are just passing
through. Those are the only things keeping them from running us out
of town.”

“This is harder than I thought it would be,”
Byrn confessed, “Some families were willing to take in a stray
child, but they weren’t the type of families I would feel good
about leaving him with. They were the kinds that seemed not much
different from his uncle.”

“I don’t mind traveling with you,” Kaleb
chirped between mouthfuls. He took a long drink of ale to wash his
food down. Marian would have said that he was all stomach and
Tannys would have commented on his strong work ethic. They would
have liked this boy… Byrn let the thought and the sudden sadness
that accompanied it go as if it could be picked up by the wind and
carried away like smoke. His parents would not want him to wallow
in grief. He had done enough of that already.

Byrn poked at his beefsteak without thinking
for a time. Eventually he looked up to see his companions staring
at him, visibly concerned. “Nothing to be worried about,” he gave
them a smile and hoped that they believed it, ”I was just lost in
thought considering the rest of our journey. We should leave
tomorrow morning.” He would say no more there. The people dining in
the inn were more subdued than most tavern and inn goers and were
clearly suspicious of the three travelers. It would be best to
leave this place as soon as possible. Besides the uncomfortable
feelings of this place, every moment that they lingered they
increased the likelihood that a band of Kenzai would catch up to
them looking for Sane or a courier would deliver a wanted poster
with the old sorcerer’s face on it and Byrn wished to avoid any
needless confrontations.

In another week they would be in Wolfsbane
and Byrn was more worried about how he would be received there than
he was about sneaking into the king and queen’s bedchamber. When he
visited his royal parents, he half expected them to call the guards
immediately, but if that had happened he would have been able to
escape with ease and he personally wouldn’t have been any worse off
than he was before.

However, now he was on a diplomatic mission
to convince the Collective magicians to agree to journey to
Mollifas to discuss peace. He should have been excited at the
prospect of returning to Wolfsbane. He was well known and respected
among the Collective before he left and he considered many of them
to be friends, but it was Xander and Alia Necros that gave him
pause.

What must Alia think of him to be gone for so
long? Did she hate him for not coming back or did she even care at
all? She might think him dead or that he had abandoned her. There
could be another man in her life by now and where would that leave
him?

Then there was the question of Xander Necros.
When Byrn last saw him, he was taking over leadership of the
Collective. Byrn considered him a friend at the time, but his
brutality in Colum caused Byrn to reassess that summation. Xander
killed more than ten thousand people and destroyed Byrn’s hometown.
However, he would have to treat the necromancer with respect
despite his personal feelings. As the most powerful member of the
Collective, Xander would be integral to seeing that an agreement
was reached with the kingdom. Not for the first time, Byrn wondered
if he was up to the task of uniting these two groups.

Chapter 11

 

 

 

The enchantress cursed under her breath at
the simple gold choker that sat on the worktable. The last few rays
of sun shone in through her workshop’s window. She briefly wondered
how long she had spent trying to break the enchantment with no
success. Its clasp seemed to stare at her like an ever-present
golden eye.

Ryonus had done his best to help. He tried
explaining how paralysis magic worked and in theory Alia understood
the concepts he presented, but there was something holding her
back. Something that prevented her from being able to cast the
spell in its basic form and without that knowledge she was unable
to break the collar’s enchantment.

“It is frustrating, I know,” Ryonus placed
his hand on her shoulder. His touch was gentle, but did not hide
the strength that he commanded. Ryonus was a handsome man with a
straight jaw and broad shoulders who commanded the attention of
many of the ladies throughout the castle. His good looks were of no
surprise considering that he was of noble birth even if his claim
was unrecognized as the bastard son of some forgotten southern
warlord. “You will get there,” he added confidently.

Alia turned away so that his hand would fall
from her shoulder without her having to be so callous as to remove
it herself and risk insulting the man. He was only here to help,
she reminded herself. Ryonus came to her home at her request. It
was easy to see that the master of manipulation magic was attracted
to her. Most men were. It was common knowledge among magicians that
with mastery of a magical discipline came inherent abilities. Just
as Byrn was resistant to the elements and Ryonus, who was a master
of manipulating the physical world, had enhanced senses, enchanters
had a special talent all their own. People were naturally more
attracted to them and liked them. It was a discovery she made years
ago as a teenager and had proved to get her into trouble almost as
often as it got her out of it.

In later years, she used that ability to draw
the attentions of people of influence and to put herself in a
position of power outright when she married Duke Astom Snakeshield
of Wolfsbane and became the Lady of Wolfsbane. Astom was a not a
very kind man to his people and was slow-witted to boot, but he
treated Alia like she was a princess for the brief time they were
together. It was believed that the duke died in a hunting accident,
gored by a wild boar. There were witnesses to the tragic event, but
it was all a lie. Alia had enchanted the minds of the duke’s
hunting party and placed the memories in their heads. She had done
that so that she would become the ruler of this land without a
fight. Astom had no children and there was no other with a rightful
claim. If there had been, Alia would have found another noble to
make her husband.

The truth was that Duke Astom was not dead at
all. Alia had altered his memories as well, so that he no longer
knew who he was and left him in the care of priests several days’
travel away. He would awake with no memory of his former life and
nothing except for the considerable coin in his pockets. It would
have been easier to kill him outright, but he had been generous to
her and it seemed wrong to repay that kindness with death.

Byrn fell victim to her inherent
attractiveness as well, but Alia viewed their relationship as more
of an equal partnership. She had cared for the elementalist, even
loved him. At first it was the power that he wielded that drew her
to him, but it did not take long for her to begin to care for him.
He was full of passion and determination, and soon it was no longer
his power that she coveted, but his heart. He gave her a child, but
vanished in a misguided attempt to protect her before either of
them even knew the seed had been planted.

“Controlling a man’s mind is easy,” she
frowned at the memories of lost loves, “but controlling his body is
a decidedly more difficult task.”

“It depends on your point of view, I guess,”
Ryonus spoke dispassionately. Alia had a hard time imagining him as
someone who would give in to his desires at a moment’s notice. He
was too cold, too rigid to be motivated by pure passion. “The brain
is as much a part of the body as an arm or leg.”

The enchantress clenched her fists, and then
slowly released them before facing Ryonus again. “We should take a
break for the night and try again tomorrow. Maybe a fresh
perspective in the morning will make a difference.”

Ryonus collected the grimoire he had brought
with him to help Alia learn about paralysis magic, but stood in her
workshop for a minute without moving, lost in thought. Finally he
said, “A different perspective may be just what you need.”

Alia was about to ask what he meant, but
Ryonus had already reached out with his free hand and cast a spell
on her. Her arms would not raise and her feet became rooted where
she stood. She could not move! “What do you intend? I’ll personally
castrate you if you so much as even touch me.” There was no fear in
her voice, only a promise that chilled Ryonus to the bone and
caused his expression to change from its normally stoic façade to
one of utter shock.

He placed the book back on the table and held
his hands as if he was the victim. “Do you think so little of me
that you believe that I would try to take advantage of you? Gods,
the thought of your father seeking vengeance is enough to keep most
men away.” He did not wait for answer before trying to explain his
action. “The spell you are under is a fairly simple paralysis
spell. Focus on your body and feel it coursing through you. Try to
wiggle your fingers or turn your head. It holds you from within and
won’t let go.”

Alia tried to move her arms to strangle
Ryonus, but could not. The spell held her firmly, but it was an
internal feeling. She thought that it would be more external like
invisible hands grabbing her and holding her in place, but it was
more like her body was in a state of rest and her mind could not
galvanize it to take any action.

“It feels like your mind is separated from
your body, doesn’t it?”

She would have nodded if she could have. This
feeling was similar to the descriptions given to her by the few
magicians who had worn the collar briefly during her earlier
attempts at disrupting its enchantment. Slowly, she calmed down and
focused on the effects that the spell was having on her as Ryonus
had instructed.

As Ryonus had promised the spell had worn off
a minute later. She took Ryonus’ book from the table and made as if
she was going to hand it to him, but used the opportunity to place
her hand on his chest to cast a spell. She released a jolt of magic
into the manipulation master’s body and caused him to stiffen.

“I think I have the handle of it,” she told
him. Her voice sounded dire to his heightened ears.

Ryonus struggled against the spell and was
able to move his arms, but it was a slow and difficult thing to
accomplish. A moment later Ryonus regained control of his body. The
spell had not lasted as long as Alia expected and had not been
complete in its hold, but it had been successful on a basic level.
“I think that you do,” admitted Ryonus who looked relieved that
Alia did not take the opportunity to repay him for his momentary
lapse in common judgment.

“You should leave me to my work.”

“That may be best,” agreed Ryonus and showed
himself out of the workshop.

Alia went back to her examination of the
collar and the magic bound to it with a better understanding of
what she was looking at. Ryonus should have asked her before doing
something like that, but she was forced to admit that his little
stunt had helped her. She pushed a sliver of magic into the item
and watched as the bound spell flared around it in a shifting of
colors from red to purple to blue before becoming translucent
again.

Hours passed like minutes and it was now
moonlight that came through the window. A pair of candles, one in
each corner was lit giving her light to see by though she could not
recall taking any time away from her study to light them. It was
only the crying of Avelice that started as a whimper, but soon grew
into a full scream that would tax any adult’s lungs to reproduce
with the same intensity and longevity that finally pulled her away
from the collar. The enchantress suddenly realized how tired her
body was and was surprised at how long she had been working without
a break. With each moment she came closer to a breakthrough and was
compelled to continue on, but now her daughter commanded that Alia
take a break whether she wanted to or not.

She opened the door to find the crying baby
being held to Ryonus’ chest as he gently bounced Avelice and
whispered calming words to her. “That’s a good girl,” he told
Avelice as she started to settle down, but he continued his routine
of bouncing and holding her to him so that she could feel the beat
of his heart. Then he seemed to take notice of Alia and smiled at
her politely. The lines of tiredness were written on his face as
much as Alia guessed they were apparent on her own.

BOOK: Magician Prince
12.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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