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Authors: Curtis Cornett

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

Magician Prince (28 page)

BOOK: Magician Prince
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Sane’s muscles pulled at whatever binds Eldar
used to hold him in place. His staff was still in his hand and he
drew on it to focus his power inwardly, examining the spell that
was wrapped around him like a cocoon. He could sense the magic
trailing back to Eldar like a spider’s web. There must be a way to
exploit that link.

“That connection could be exploited,” said
Eldar, again reading his mind, “but not by one of your limited
knowledge. The more you struggle, the more you prove that I am
right to hold you like this.”

“I am merely trying to determine my own
fate,” Sane answered. There was no way out of this. They were far
more powerful than him and they could read his mind, stopping any
plan he might concoct before it even began, but perhaps that was a
link that could be exploited too.

“This is the future that my world will
suffer, if you do not let me go and allow me to take the grimoire.”
Sane drew on his recent memories, recalling the waking vision he
had in Wolfsbane. He could see it as clearly as if it was happening
right in front of him. Byrn’s hand reached out to grab Sane as
darkness flew off him in waves. His touch was like ice on Sane’s
shoulder as Byrn grabbed him and death oozed from his very essence.
Sane had tried to push him away, but Byrn gripped all the harder
for his struggles.

His eyes were as cold as his grip and the
spark of life that could be found in all those living was
extinguished. Slowly, inevitably, Byrn pulled in Sane until the
husk of a man’s lips were almost against the sorcerer’s ears.

“Don’t let him take me,” Byrn’s whisper was
hoarse and raspy not unlike a dead man who refused to accept his
fate.

“Who?” Sane had begged for the answer.

The husk turned his head to look behind him
and Sane followed his dead eyes to the countenance of Xander
Necros.

Southernstar looked to Eldar, but neither
dragon said anything. Eldar nodded his head to one side to her. If
there was a mental discussion playing out between them, then Sane
was being excluded.

Then, he recalled an older vision. This one
was less clear, because it came to him in a dream, but Sane found
that as he gave himself over to the memory fully he could remember
details that he had thought were long forgotten.

He could see it all as if he was a bird or,
perhaps, a dragon soaring overhead. A supernatural shadow grew over
the land of Wolfsbane beginning at the city and expanding out into
the countryside. Healthy grasslands browned and flowers, once
blooming, wilted as the shadow passed over them. A lone shepherd
tending his flock aged decades in a matter of seconds before
falling over in his field leaving a dead, shriveled husk where
moments before stood a virile man. His flock, too, died from the
shadow's plague, as did a wolf stalking the herd.

The shadow moved westward, extending over the
kingdom of Aurelia. The Blackwood Forest died as the trees decayed
and fell one after another. Mollifas fared no better as the largest
city in the kingdom, home to hundreds of thousands of people, fell
to the plague of darkness in a matter of seconds. King Janus, newly
came to his throne, clawed at invisible hands around his throat as
his eyes rolled back in his head and his body shuddered a death
spasm.

The southern shipping port of Lion's Landing
on the other side of the kingdom crumbled beneath the shadow’s
approach. Women and children died in the streets of the once
prosperous city. Sailors frantically ran to their ships trying to
cast off before the shadow reached them to no avail. The ocean
quaked and the boats capsized trapping the sailors underneath.

The North Lands fell next. Kellen wore his
armor- now dull; its enchantment had faded- and stood against the
shadow. His natural speed and strength did nothing to help him push
back the shadow as others fell around him and in the end his blue
flames that held its advance at bay for no more than a few seconds
were extinguished by the dark and it took him as well.

Once the lands of man were emptied of all
life, the orcs fell next as the shadow consumed the Dread Marsh and
the lands beyond. Their mightiest warriors were as nothing when
faced with the formless death that Korok had predicted long ago.
Then the goblins fell. For all of their ingenuity, they could not
hide from the shadow.

The shadow enshrouded every corner of Aurelia
leaving the kingdom devoid of all life so that only the sorcerer,
Sane, stood alone; the last protector of a dead land. Then the
shadow came for him too.

“Enough!” Eldar’s voice roared through his
head, making Sane want to cover his ears though it would have done
no good even if he could have. “We will not become involved in your
confrontations. That is not the way of the dragon.”

In opposition, to his words, Eldar released
the spell that held Sane in place. “However, if your visions hold
true, then I cannot prevent you from trying to avert such a
disaster.”

“Then you will allow me to take the
grimoire?” asked Sane. He rubbed at one shoulder that had grown
sore while under the spell’s affects.

“You may borrow it, but it must be returned.
Southernstar will accompany you to the land of the humans and once
your trials are over- for good or ill, she will return with the
book.” To Southernstar, he added, “Assuming you are willing, dear
girl?”

“I am,” she answered after some momentary
hesitation.

Eldar returned his attention to Sane, “The
way of the dragon is one of non-violence. Though Southernstar will
travel at your side, she is forbidden by our customs from getting
involved in your conflict even if it might mean the loss of your
life.”

“Thank you, I understand, but can’t we do
something about Xander while he is here? You could freeze him as
you did me.”

Eldar shook his head. “We will not move
against him as long as he does not seek to do violence in our
realm.”

Sane wanted to ask Eldar to take a more
active role in dealing with Xander, but knew that he would only be
wasting his time. Instead, he thanked Eldar for the aid he was
given and left with Southernstar for one of the city’s many
libraries.

“Your visions are quite strong,” she told him
at one point. “As long as we are to travel together I could teach
you how to focus that aspect of your magic, so that you can direct
your foresight. In time that ability could grow so that you can
project your mind into others as we do to communicate.”

“I would like that,” answered Sane.

Chapter 27

 

 

 

Grandraco was the only place in the entire
world where every one of the remaining gods had a temple erected in
his or her honor. It was certainly the only place near Aurelia
where there was a temple to Kassani, the goddess of death. In
Aurelia, the people seemed to be enamored with her sister goddess,
Ashura, who was the patron of life, making Kassani seem almost like
a villain in comparison though they were truly only opposites sides
of one coin. That is why some referred to them as the sister
goddesses, because without one the other could not exist.

The temples were enormous by human standards
by virtue of the dragons’ girth so that they could easily enter for
worship and prayer. Learion’s temple stood at the center in a place
of honor while to its immediate right was Ashura’s temple, carved
of mountain stone rather than the elven trees imported into
Aurelia, and to its immediate left was Kassani’s temple. Further
out and forming into a circle were the temples of other lesser gods
like Vailon and Waicosson in positions representative of their
natures. Vailon, god of war, had a temple besides Kassani’s and
Waicosson, god of forests and the hunt, had a temple nearer
Ashura’s. The pattern was not set to draw any sort of battle lines
between the gods, but merely served as an ornate way to show how
the gods were supposed to be connected.

Kassani’s temple was also a creation of
stone. It had carvings of spirits and wraiths carved into its
exterior walls coming off of columns and making swirling designs
meant to depict her subjects between them. However, it was not a
ghastly building to behold for Kassani was not feared by the dragon
race and the ghouls that adorned her walls were not created with
grim expressions, though they could not be categorized as happy
either.

Inside, the temple was devoid of life until
Xander entered. It was probably just a coincidence, as dragons
would come here on occasion to commune with their ancestors and
attempt to gain greater wisdom from the experiences of those who
came before them. It was a shame that humans did not do so as well.
How many various forms of magic had his race lost over a millennium
of fighting? One only had to look at the dragons that collected and
hoarded all manner of lore to have an inkling of the answer to that
question.

He knelt at the altar before the statue of
Kassani. The statue was in dragon form as the temple’s creators
viewed all of the gods. It was a mutual conceit among the higher
races that they only envisioned the gods as members of their own
race. However, Xander liked the idea of seeing Kassani as a dragon.
It was a fitting form for one that held ultimate power over all
things living. In time all those who walked the earth would come to
know her embrace, so Xander had no qualms about sending others to
meet her sooner rather than later when it served his purposes.

“Goddess Kassani,” he whispered reverently
with his head bowed, “please answer my summons.” He did not release
any magic to call her to him. He did nothing but focus his mind on
the statue before him and silently hoped it would answer in this
place devoted to her. There was no power in the world that Xander
knew of that could make a god come when they did not desire to.

He knelt in silence for a few minutes without
speaking. The gods were slow to react and required patience of
their followers. Sometimes the person praying would have to wait
for hours and even days before their patron would deign to answer,
and that was when the gods actually chose to answer them at all. It
was just another way that they could remind their creations that
they were the superior beings.

Finally, the air grew heavy and Xander felt
charged with a great energy. Kassani answered, “My prodigal son
returns. What name do you go by now?” Her voice answered demurely
within his mind not unlike how the dragons communicated, but
Kassani was nowhere to be seen.

Xander chose to look at Kassani’s dragon
representation as he addressed her. “My latest incarnation is as
Byrn Aurel, but for now I will continue to use the name Xander
Necros to avoid confusion for the question that I must ask.

“When I took this body the previous owner,
the first Byrn Aurel, told me that it was cursed so that if I ever
took a life, then I would suffer the same fate. Is there any truth
to this?”

“There is,” replied the disembodied voice,
“Byrn Aurel or Byrn Lightfoot as he was known at the time was
cursed by Ashura after killing a handful of sick and injured people
on the grounds of one of her temples and I agreed to take his life
should he ever kill again.”

“But why curse him so?” asked Xander. “Surely
I and many others have killed more than this, at the time, boy. Why
were others not cursed in a similar manner?”

“Decades from now your world will be on the
brink of destruction and we have taken it upon ourselves to weave a
solution into the fabric of your reality. Learion began it all by
moving his chess piece, Sane, into a position where he would become
entangled with Byrn Lightfoot and your daughter. They would learn
magic together under Sane’s tutelage and over time a deep love
would grow between them, but they never met. Byrn chose to return
to Colum and fight the ogres at a critical moment. Alia escaped
from Sane and Byrn was imprisoned.

“In order for us to give mankind the key to
saving its world, their love would have to flourish and certain
events would have to take place to make sure that still happened.
We subtly manipulated other events so that Byrn was put in a cell
near yours in Baj. Through you he met your wife and through her he
eventually met your daughter.”

“But the curse?” asked Xander.

“Byrn’s potential was too great. He needed to
be limited so that he would need the help of others for the first
few years as he grew into maturity. Otherwise his course would have
been too unpredictable. He could have grown drunk in his own power
and that would have lead to too many possible futures to contend
with.”

It was a sensation that Xander knew too well.
The power could be intoxicating and since entering Byrn’s body he
felt it tenfold. It was only Byrn’s warning about the curse that
kept Xander from going directly to Mollifas and single-handedly
laying waste to any that stood in his way.

“Then I have ruined your plans when I took
Byrn’s body,” Xander guessed. There would be no romantic love
between him and his daughter. Whatever the gods had intended was
already wrought asunder.

If Kassani had been there in physical form,
he guessed that she would have smiled when she answered. “Not at
all. Our plans have already been achieved though Learion still
views you as an unintended consequence that must be dealt with. I,
however, see you as a potential solution to our future
problem.”

He did not understand what she meant at
first, but a spark of inspiration told him the answer. “Avelice. My
grandchild. You wanted them to get together so that she could be
born.”

“She is the culmination of three of the
richest magical bloodlines in your pocket of the world even though
her father’s side has a tendency to drown their magician offspring.
One day she will command a magical power unknown in your time and
as your kingdom’s future queen she will have an army of magicians
and normal humans at her back. She is the light that will one day
shine over your world. You may do whatever you wish as long as she
is protected and ascends the Aurelian throne.”

BOOK: Magician Prince
6.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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