Aaron held the crystal in his hands, it shone a brilliant golden yellow, and it shifted to a deep blood red, then a cool dark blue, and finally back again. A never ending rotation of the elements. Aaron could sense powerful magic within the swirling surface...
Rena listened to the wizard with interest beaming in her eyes. This sounded like it would be the coolest adventure ever! Knowing that she had made the right choice in leaving her forest home, she giggled and said. "I think we should listen to him! Let's go to the town to the south and save them from the undead zombie thingies!" She had a thought that made her gasp before asking excitedly. "Oh, do you think after the battle we'll be heroes? Will they hold a feast in our honor as bards sing songs about us?" She was already imagining being treated as a hero who just defeated a dragon.
"I don't like this, but I think we should head south. It would not make sense for it to be a trap. I he wanted to kill us, I don't think any of us would be alive right now."
Drogon sighed and put his eyes the crystal, tried to feel the magic it emitted.
Whatever this crystal was, it was at least something. But would that something be useful? He could not tell for sure.
"Besides, we are mostly done with our actual mission. We can go there, and if everything is in order, we get our rewards and part ways."
"Oh lovely,wizards talking while in smoke,strange crystal appearing out of nowhere,this sounds like one of those adventure stories my uncle used to tell me.South it is then." Athgar let out a sigh and was ready to move out.
Gnūrlon had thanked Athgar for reviving and tried his best listening to the mage. He managed to hear all the important details but were too dizzy to remember, it all. When the mage had left, Gnūrlon tried to focus on the crystal he suddenly had in his hand. How can a crystal kill the undead? Does the undead even exist? Did that mage even exist?
All the questions made Gnūrlons head spin and he started to throw up on the floor.
Sorael was overwhelmed by what he heard but did not believe a bit of it. "Damn mages, If he expects me to believe him just like that he must be a moron." Sorael thought to himself not believing what he was just told. Sorael looked to the others and they sounded like they wanted to check it out. "Fine, seeing as we have nothing better to do we might as well see if that mage was telling the truth." Sorael decided.
Sorael and the others walked out of the cave and sorael looked around to where they would be heading. The only town sorael knew about that was a days walk to the south from there was the town of Newbridge. He tried to think why someone would want to attack newbridge since nothing of importance was there. Sorael was stumped as to why they would want to attack Newbridge but the others wanted to go there so he would go and see if the mage was telling the truth.
"Okay guys lets go, if we are to get there at a good time we might as well go now." Sorael announced while he found the path to the south. Sorael started to head down the path while everyone else followed, going this way would take a day by foot so he had plenty of time to think about what had happened back at the cave.
Rena giggled happily as she exited the cave and flew above the others. Looking ahead and acting as a scout, she saw that their route was strangely empty, and consisted of very little to distract them. Deciding that the best way to make the time go by was to talk, she flew down to the group once more and landed on her feet, deciding to walk for a little. Looking to Sorael, she said. "How long is it going to take us to get there?"
Sorael watched the fae fly around and it looked like she was looking ahead, he then noticed that she had landed and was walking next to him. "It should take us about a days walk, that's depending on if we aren't interrupted on the way there." Sorael answered. "Stay on the lookout rena, seeing as you can fly you can warn us if you see anything coming towards us." Sorael added seeing a use for the fae.
Drogon followed the little crowd, unsure how to spend this travel.
He could walk in silence, but that would be to waste time.
And he did not feel like reading would be much better.
He started to look around, scouting for company.
"Hey Gnūrlon!" The cryomancer approached his target. "How are you doing? I almost thought we had lost you in there. Is your host doing fine?"
"Hey Soreal, can I talk to you for a minute?" Malyc asked as he gestured off to the side. "In private. I don't want what I have to say to effect the morale of the group" he said in a low voice, so the others wouldn't hear.
Athgar walked silently looking around the landscape.He muttered "I hate walking."
"Albin is fine, thank you very much. It seems that trowing up your breakfast can do wonders!" Gnūrlon responded to Drogon.
"No, but lets be serious now. Well my arms are hurting after the shock from the mage, I'm starving and I'm also hungry!" Gnūrlon added.
Rena heard something fun coming from Malyc and with a giggle, Rena flew into the air and 'scouted' above them. What she was really doing was controlling the winds so that words said between Malyc and Soreal would be heard even from her height. Having acute Fae hearing also helped. She would definitely hear what was going on! To herself, she said. "Hehe~ Eavesdropping is fun."
Sorael was wondering what malyc had to say to him, he silently nodded as they walked off the path where they could talk in private. "Make this quick, so what is it?" Sorael asked a little irritated at the delay this is posing.
"What I'm about to tell you is important, something I havn't spoken to anyone about in almost 10 years." Malyc said, unsure of where to start. "You probably havn't heard, but, I was a sellsword during the war. I fought for Malum, mainly for the challenge, but also because I believed that they were in the right in the border disagreement."
"I worked my way through the ranks, eventually becoming the leader of a platoon. I didn't know it at the time, but based on what Kaladin just told us, I believe the men that I commanded were these undead soldiers he was talking about. I have only suspicions, of course, but being that we reached Regnatores with almost no losses leads me to believe he wasn't lying about that."
"Once we reached the gates, the Sage's magic took affect, and men I had watched fight through dozens of battles were suddenly dropping like flies all around me. They still managed to take down their fair share of enemy soldiers, but were nowhere near as effective as they had been. For some reason, I wasn't killed when the soldiers from the city routed us. I lost every man who fought with me that day, but escaped nearly unscathed." Malyc said, guilt at having lived while so many others died adding heat to his voice.
"Anyway, if what the wizard says is true, if the men I commanded really were undead, then his magic does indeed work on them. I guess the only way to find out is to fight the men at the village."
"OK, then you better eat some. I am sure someone has some food to give you."
And with this message, Drogon slowly removed himself from the depressing company of the dwarf.
There had to be someone here that had something interesting to say, that did not drip of self-pity. He had never liked people that felt it was their mission to constantly complain about their situation.
That he tended to do it as well was not so important.
Aaron saw Drogon sulking, and decided to cheer him up. "Hey there Drogon! What's the matter?"
Aaron noticed how Drogon separated himself from the group, "Most of them don't make for good conversation, huh?" Aaron mumbled shrugging.
As Aaron approached him, Drogon could guess the fellow mages intention. Though, he appreciated that someone tried to cheer him up.
"No, they don't. Some of them want beat me bloody at every given oppertunity, while others want to depress me to death. But I have seen it before, the money makes most companies worth it."
He took a short pause, remembering some... curious characters from earlier days. He still hated the sound of accordions after that one job guarding a caravan.
Sometimes he wondered what happened to Aargrim after they spilt ways. Hopefully, he was laying in a gutter somewhere, accordion in hand and a knife in the guts.
"Well enough about me, how are you doing Aaron? At least you still seem to be breathing. And that is better than can be said for most of the people we have met so far."
Sorael listened to malyc speak and he was caught off guard a little, not by the story but that malyc was willing to tell him this. "I don't know why you would have wanted to tell me that since there are some things that are meant to be kept in the past. That being said you could have some useful information on the enemy so I will overlook your past." Sorael responded. "But, That doesn't mean that I won't be keeping an eye on you now. If you betray us I promise you I will personally see that your death is slow and painful." Sorael added before walking back to the group.
"I would expect nothing less." Malyc said, as Soreal walked away. "You don't need to worry though", he muttered. "If I had any intention of betraying you, I'd have done it by now."
Rena giggled a little bit from above them but didn't say anything about it for now. She had heard something interesting and fun so that was good enough for her at the moment. If she wanted to cause some mischief later, she would definitely have some ammo now. Flying a little ahead, she resumed her scout duties.
Athgar pulled a sandwitch from his backpack and took a bite. "Ugh,no onions?" And he tossed it on the ground.He kept walking with a bored expresion on his face.He took out a sketch pad.While he was flipping through to find an empty page there we're detailed sketches of a strange tower."Well,i got nothing better to do." said Athgar while starting to sketch the landscape.
Aaron shrugged "Still alive I guess," he said to Drogon, "I kind of lost it back there with the bandits."
Aaron pulled out a small leather bound square from his pocket, concentrating for a moment it grew larger and larger until it was a normal sized spell tome. Aaron quickly scratched down words in the margins, making notes of spells he used and their effectiveness, as well as ones he came up with on his own and wanted to try.
Drogon looked interested in what he was doing "What, you never write down ideas you get for spells?" He asked "Helps me keep track of what I know."
Gnūrlon started to bend over to pick up the sandwich that Athgar dropped but suddenly stopped.
"Don't. Just don't." Albin said to Gnūrlon.
"Why not? It is food!" Gnūrlon said irritated.
Gnūrlon rose and continued on walking.
"Flying girl! Could you spare me some food, please?" Gnūrlon yelled to get Renas attention.
"What? No, I never do that. There is two reasons why I never do that. Firstly, I don't carry a tome with me, and I don't like the idea of needing a item to practice my art."
Drogon took his eyes from the book and looked at Aaron.
"For that is what magic is, art. I am like a painter, except I do not use brush and canvas. The world is my canvas, and I fill not the world with colours. I paint my mark upon the world in life and death, not white and black. And no artist finds joy in redoing his work, over and over again. That is my second reason. I need to keep my art alive, and art comes from a person, not a book."
Drogon was talking loudly at the end, and his gesticulating hand were a menace to all that came in their path. He was exited, to put it nicely.
But who did not enjoy talking about their great passion?
Athgar tossed Gnūrlon a spare sandwitch and began sketching once more.Athgar started sketching his companions figuring he had nothing better to do"You know, this is why horse exist" said Athgar jokingly.
"Well if you haven't noticed these are just ideas for spells, rather than spells themselves. And another thing, I practice both methods of casting with equal frequency. Calling the names helps me focus on the desired effect but I mostly do it for fun." Aaron quickly cycled through a few spells, keeping them contained in the palm of his hand. Lightning raced across his finger tips, than a fireball appeared, the fireball consumed itself and out grew a brilliant ice crystal, which burst and became a pulsating orb of electricity. "See I can do it just as well either way." Aaron said.
... strange, he thought, frowning to himself. He had cycled through his spells in the same order as the colors of his crystal.
"Want to know a secret? After I left the academy, I never really trained. I tried out new magic, and I got training through experience, that is true. But I never did what other mages did. Not once did I set aside two hours every day to train. I gathered knowledge, and let a mixture of instinct and logic do the rest."
Drogon drew his book from his pocket.
"That is why I carry this around, and not a tome. I believe that magic is about the caster, not the number of fireball he can throw. I rarely train my casting, I train myself. Many think that magic is a tool. I think you are all wrong. I think we are magic."
"Training? You think this is for training? Do I look like that kind of a bore to you? I'm actually wounded I think." Aaron said, stepping away, feigning a wound to the heart. "Like I said these are just ideas. MY ideas, and I never practice them. I wait until I see an application for them, then I use them!"
"All of the spells in this book are either entirely my own, or edited versions of common spells that every mage seems to know, like fireballs and such. You'd be surprised what a mage is capable of when he puts a little imagination into it." Aaron slammed the book shut, the sound hung in the air like a challenge.
"But.... how to explain this?"
Drogons puzzled look scouts the empty air around him.
"You still record ideas for later use, you still bind your true potential, your creativity to something else. You claim to be original, yet you are bound to your way of understanding magic. You aim to create and utilize the perfect tools, while I aim to be the perfect tool."
Drogon sighed, he had verbally battled to many fellow mages in the past to not know where this was heading.
"You all see the word in a haze of white, black and grey, while we who see things differently see nothing at all. You are skilled, and you have a great talent for sorcery. You understand a lot, and you are a creative within your way. But that way is the tip of the iceberg, a iceberg of proportions so great that I, who know of it, barely can fathom its existence."
Uncreative huh? Aaron thought he'd show him just how "uncreative" he was. Aaron put his spell book away, refusing to refer to it for any idea whatsoever. He gathered energy from everything he could, his hair standing up on end. "Let me show you my potential!"
"I do this on my own power!" He cried as a lightning bolt rained down from the sky. He gathered all the energy into a pulsating orb, and he concentrated until it began to take shape. The lightning grew and took on a form slowly. The orb turned flat and shone with shining symbols, almost as if it were a summoning portal. A clawed talon ripped its way through the mock portal, then another. The head of a dragon made purely out of lightning peered through. Finally it stepped forward and spread its wings out, letting loose a mighty roar. It was twice as tall as the trees. It flapped its wings creating great gusts of wind before it took off. Soaring through the sky. It breathed lightning, turning a tree into a smoldering stump before finally disappearing behind the clouds. Aaron released the spell and the dragon disappeared with an almighty boom.
Aaron wondered if it had something to do with the crystal, but the spell wasn't as draining as he thought it would be. He leaned against a tree to take a quick break. "Who said I was limiting myself" He asked, catching his breath
Drogon studied the unneeded boasting from the human. He was quick to defend himself, this one.
"What a wonderful show, if this whole battlemage thing doesn't work out you will be a great street artist. Unless that is your wish however, you might want to broaden your understanding of magic."
Oh how he enjoyed taunting this hot-headed human.
"And what I said earlier still stands, you are a hell of a mage. You are just a bit... ignorant. You still view yourself as a wielder of magic, like a man with a sword. In that fashion, most brutes have evolved more than the wast majority of mages. They know that the blade is the cutting edge. Like the spell. They know that the arm is the conductor of energy. Like the mages body. But they know that the body of the swordsman powers the arm, while few of us know that the world power our bodies. Or, to be precise, most of us know. But all to many refuse to learn to understand it. You can control the sword. You can move the arm. But you still need to properly strike with your body."
Aaron had caught his wind once more. Since it was obvious he could not sway the cold mage, and he didn't feel like casting geomancy, he let it go. "I'm more skilled than you seem to think, Drogon. Perhaps we should settle this one day." Aaron turned away pulling his hood up. He saw Athgar off drawing in a sketchpad and walked over, curious.
"I didn't know you could draw too," Aaron said, "You're just full of surprises."
Athgar turned around,noticing Aaaron walking to him."Yeah,my uncle taught me.He was a great artist.So you can draw too?" Asked Athgar seeming to want to change the subject.Athgar started closing his sketchpad when a peace of paper fell out with a beautiful woman sketched on it.The woman was half naked.Next to the picture was written "Love,issabela".
Aaron eyeballed the piece of paper incredulously "Cute, gift from your trip to the tavern?" Aaron asked with a smirk. "I used to draw but I quit after a while, I only had a knack for the basics." Aaron shrugged. "It happens to a lot of things I try, I'll like something for a while and turn my attention elsewhere."
"You ever been traveling Athgar?" He asked