Back when I first started blogging I named my blog ‘Stories from the Voices in my Head’. My intention was to deliver short stories on a regular basis as training for my actual writing. They paid off well because less than a year later I got my deal with AEC Stellar. Unfortunately that didn’t leave much time for any writing, other than the projects I was writing to sell.
However, now that I have some spare time (a rare luxury), there’s been a story I wanted to write. For those of you who remember The Scribe and The Ranger, this is in the same world, the same theme and same epic feel. Maybe one day I’ll pack them all up and call it something obnoxious like ‘The Epic Collection’.
But for now, please enjoy the story:
The match was getting intense. Since the beginning the Wizard felt at a disadvantage, one that was clearly displayed as the First Rank wizard opposite him launched spell after spell in a series of quick evocations. The Wizard dodged a fire lance but stumbled in his own footing and was sent sprawling on the ground.
He heard the crowd snicker.
This was just unfair. He was only an apprentice level, taking his exam to reach Novice level, the lowest category a Wizard can be. It was quite shameful – when he first entered Endymion Castle, everyone had thought a genius had joined their ranks. They were in for quite a disappointment when five years later he was taking his Novice exam – something talented students overcame in their first year of study. It had taken him five times the time, and he was failing.
From the ground he palmed a fistful of dirt and threw it, muttering a kinetic spell. The First Rank easily dodged it but underestimated the blast. A speck of earth entered his eyes and he stumbled, giving the Wizard time to get back on his feet. The crowd began stirring, hungry for blood his blood. He cursed them all and launched his own, smaller, fire spell.
How dare they pit him, a complete novice, against a First Rank wizard?
First Rank meant the student was well on his way to becoming a Master, the beginning of the elite. What chance did her stand? This was obviously subterfuge – the school had had enough of his incompetence so they decided to fail him on purpose and thereby banish him.
The First Rank countered with a wind spell, extinguishing the Wizard’s pathetic spell with a gust of air. The current grew stronger and the Wizard felt himself being levitated. His legs kicked pathetically as he rose and suddenly fell on his face. Pain flared and his eyes watered immediately. He felt blood trickling from his nostrils . The crowd was now laughing as the First Rank made a spectacle out of him.
The Wizard felt like crying and screaming and hurting the First Rank. The first rule of magic was to never loose your focus but damn those rules. He wasn’t going to play by anyone’s rules any further – all he’d ever gotten from that was humiliation and defeat.
Lightning crackled violently in his hands and he cried a thunder spell whilst thrusting all that energy forwards. Of course he couldn’t control it: the spell hit the First Rank ans sent him hurtling backwards but the backlash exploded into the Wizard with as much force. Once again the Wizard was on the ground.
He crawled to his knees only to find the First Rank had already gotten to his feet. The kinetic spell he launched hit the Wizard fully in the chest and sent him spinning. The Wizard lied on the floor, winded and unable to breath.
“That’s enough,” cried the Professor, who acted as a judge for their match. “The winner is First Rank wizard Icarus.” He beamed at the victor. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you, Master,” said Icarus, sneering at the Wizard.
And just like that it was over – not just the match but also the Wizard’s life as a student at Endymion Castle.
It was the middle of the night, well past curfew, when the Wizard stealthily made his way towards the Archmage’s office. Since he was to be expelled and banished either way, the Wizard decided to indulge in the one curiosity he’d always had since first entering the school. It was five years ago when the Archmage, who acted as the school’s headmaster, took his new student for a tour around the Castle. The school did not get a lot of students and only the wealthy and those coming from strong bloodlines were privy to Endymion’s teachings. The Archmage had taken him to his office where he showed the Wizard a book: the legendary Spellbook of Endymion. As a child, the Wizard had heard about such a tome, one said to contain all the secrets of magic. It was a spell book, a powerful grimoire, unique in that only the ones chosen by the tome itself were allowed to gaze upon its contents. The Archmage had told him that no one in five hundred years had been powerful enough to open the Spellbook – not even himself. In fact he gave the Wizard a stern warning to never touch the book, since it contained such powerful magic that it would instantly kill those who picked it up without being chosen by the book itself.
Until tonight the Wizard had always fantasized of being the prodigy who opened the Spellbook of Endymion but now that he had nothing to lose and was out of time, he was adamant to try his luck with the legendary tome.
He entered the Archmage’s study to find it empty. He had correctly guessed that the Archmage’s sleeping quarters were separate from his study: a stroke of luck the Wizard was all too glad to exploit.
The Spellbook of Endymion was at the farthest wall, adjacent to a window. It sat on a wooden pedestal, devoid of any protection spells. There was no need for them – anyone who knew about the tome also knew of its destructive power. It was perhaps the only treasure in existence which protected itself.
The Wizard stepped up in front of the Spellbook until he could smell the old leather. He could feel power emanating from the book, a low but constant hum in the astral planes, like a coiled spring waiting, almost begging, to be released.
Before he could satisfy his curiosity something else caught the Wizard’s attention. He heard voices coming from one side of the study and upon investigation discovered that one of the heavy book cases could be pushed aside to reveal a narrow set of steps. The voices were coming from down there. Unable to stifle his curious nature, the Wizard descended the flight of steps. It was bathed in pitch black darkness and he had to feel his way down using the walls and the stone beneath his feet.
Finally he came to a small dimly lit circular chamber. The Archmage stood facing the wall opposite the stairs, across the room. His form was illuminated with torchlight and he was talking to someone in a low voice. Maybe the Archmage had been keeping a prisoner, or perhaps there was some enchanted item bestowed with speech that was kept here. Or perhaps, in his old age, the Archmage took to talking to himself.
The Wizard listened closely.
“All goes according to plan, Master,” he was saying. “The preparations for your return are nearly complete.”
The Wizard felt another presence in the room and was suddenly hit with a wave of primordial fear and horror. He watched as the darkness in front of the Archmage seemed to slither into the shape of a massive beast, one with three pairs of deep crimson eyes. The Archmage promptly knelt as the being manifested.
The Wizard could not be sure, and had no desire to inquire what the monster was, but judging form the massive power it had and the sheer terror it brought with it, there was only one option.
When it spoke, it sounded like the grinding of stones and the crack of glass under heat.
“I get tired of waiting. Be quick with your duties, Archmage, and I shall reward you posthaste, once I conquer your world.”
“Yes, My Lord,” replied the Archmage.
The Wizard stared in horror. He could not believe what he was hearing. The Archmage, the wizard which everyone looked up to, a servant of a demon?
The Wizard looked up and his heart stopped. One of the demon’s three heads was looking directly at him.
No, it was looking past him, right into his soul, knowing everything he knew, every failure and desire, every intention.
“You have been careless Archmage,” roared the demon. The Wizard nearly doubled over with the sheer force of power. “You have been discovered.”
“Impossible,” cried the Archmage. But then he turned and saw the Wizard at the edge of the stairwell.
“Kill him,” ordered the demon.
No longer caring for subtlety and stealth, the Wizard bolted up the stairs – just in time to avoid having his head seared off by the Archmage’s fire spell.
The Wizard got to the study and pushed the bookshelf back in place, securing it with a spell. It wouldn’t hold – of course not. This was the Archmage of Endymion Castle, the strongest wizard in existence. What chance did a failed apprentice have?
The bookshelf exploded into smithereens and the Archmage calmly made his way up the stairs, his hands crackling with power.
“Meddlesome little runt. Even on your last night at my school you are a thorn in my side.”
A stream of white energy shot at the Wizard. He rolled over the table and launched his own counter spell – a pathetic ball of green energy. It extinguished the moment it came in contact with the Archmage’s spell but had succeed in deflecting the attack and merely winging the Wizard in the shoulder.
The Wizard charged his thunder spell, hoping to catch the Archmage off guard with his strongest attack, but the Archmage was having none of it. The large oaken desk shot towards the Wizard slamming him violently against the wall, before a second blast of light from the Archmage punched into him. The Wizard felt as if he had been torn in half, his eyes bulging and lungs on fire. He was in more pain than he had ever been throughout his entire life. It dawned on him that he was going to die and there was nothing he could do to change that destiny.
“You’re a pathetic excuse for a wizard. You are a disgrace to this school, to your lineage and to magic in general. Just die already,” spat the Archmage as he charged another blast of light.
Something tugged at the corner of the Wizard’s mind: the Spellbook. He was right next to it. Every instinct told him to grab the ancient tome and given his lack of options and certainty of death, he opted to die from the Spellbook’s power rather than at the corrupt Archmage’s hands.
He lunged at the Spellbook and fully expected to be vaporized. Instead he lifted the tome, feeling the warmth and light it bathed him in.
“No,” cried the Archmage. “That’s impossible.”
But possible it was and the Wizard felt more powerful than he had ever felt in his life. Brimming with newfound power he took a step towards the Archmage, intent on retaliation.
But the Spellbook had other intentions. Light exploded from it, completely encasing the Wizard, bathing him – no, drowning him – in its power.
When he opened his eyes again, the Wizard felt normal. He looked around, expecting to be back at the Archmage’s study. Instead all he could see was a sea of red desert and canyons. The horizon was a barren wasteland of sand dunes and the sky was devoid of clouds dominated solely by a distant yet scorching sun.
He felt the weight of the book in his hands but none of its formidable magic. He tried prying it open, in search for answers to his predicament, but the Spellbook of Endymion remained shut, yielding no clue.
The Wizard was on his own.
“Where am I?”
Hope you enjoyed the story 🙂
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Later guys. Peace out,