For the next few hours I struggled through the book which was mainly based on spells aimed at maintaining a spectacular garden. Although the information on some of the local flora was slightly interesting, at the end of the book, I felt I was no better at reading and I knew nothing more of my lost abilities.
Mrs. Gerald’s grandmother must have been a powerful enchantress to have been able to maintain some of those spells. Being able to cast them was something anybody (except me) could do; but these spells were held over long periods of time, years even. The physical drain on ones magical abilities, in this way, would be like a long drawn out death sentence, unless you had an untapped well of power to draw upon. Even if you had that well it would run out. The only other reserve of power that exists after this is your own life, which if drawn from, can leave you unconscious for days: it can even kill you.
“Got any ideas?” Mrs. Gerald asked, putting the book to one side.
“Not one,” I sighed.
“Well,” Mrs. Gerald started, “maybe you should go see your dad, see if he’s calmed down?”
I flinched without meaning to, “Maybe...”
“Don’t look like that,” She got up, indicating that I should do the same, “you need to go back sometime.”
“If you say so,” I replied sarcastically, walking around her and heading to the front door.
Mrs. Gerald sighed, “Damalh do try to cheer-up, it can always be worse.”
Outside the house I heard the door click shut behind me. I looked to the left, up to the hut where my dad would be, as smoke drifted up from the chimney. I guessed that he was either awake or a fellow magician was visiting.
Turning left, I put one foot in front of another and made my way past the small apple orchard, to my left and chicken coop to my right. Laughter resounded from inside the hut, hopefully that meant he would be in a good mood. Pushing the door gently I flinched in case the door trapped me inside one of dad’s seals but there was no need.
Inside the hut, dad’s friend Biron sat lounged in my chair while dad stood at the mouth to the fireplace. Before him he was manipulating the fire into a small table shape, which was on its side with no legs.
Silently, I moved up beside the two magicians and peered into the fire that my dad was controlling. As soon as I was close enough, the flickering red and orange shades morphed into people and then as I got even closer, an arena emerged. After watching for more than a few minutes, the figures began to move across the fire of their own accord. One of the figures walked out of sight of the fire plate and when he came back he brought back a cage. However the fire could not show its contents.
Dad sighed, frustrated.
“Past it to me,” Biron grunted, his excessively low voice echoing in my ears.
Reluctantly dad floated the fire oblong in front of Biron who picked up where he had left off. It was then that my dad turned around to spot me just inches from his elbow. He threw up a shield and I was blown backward into cabinet under the window. Something cracked behind me as I landed on the floor. As I opened my eyes my dad was in front of me picking me up by my hair. I cried out and tried to grab his arm, without success.
“What do you think you are doing?” He sneered.
“Nothing,” I squirmed, “I was only curious.”
“Curiosity kills gnath’s boy.”
“I’m not a gnath.” I protested, as my dad’s grip on my hair tightened.
“You are a gnath until you are accepted by a magician’s guild and I’m afraid you need to be a magician for that to happen - which you are not.”
“I’m sorry.” I mumbled, the only words I could summon through combined pain from my scalp and back.
He dropped me, his glare silencing me as he turned back to Biron; who seemed to act as if the affair behind his chair had never occurred. My dad peered over his shoulder.
A chair scrapped its way across the floor until it was directly behind my dad. He fell into the chair as he moved the oblong above the fireplace. The oblong was no longer just flames, from the floor I could see people were made of fleshy pinks and blue robes, symbolising the Quart guild - although you could not see the details on the robes. They were in the centre of their famous stadium, the Kinqolm Stadium, with fans from other guilds gathered around the sandy ring.
Two magicians’ held the centre of the arena while others rushed around them. The magician on the left side was young, with blonde hair that stopped at the base of his neck. The other was tall and lanky, with his ebony hair slicked down to shape his head. They displayed many forms of light magic to wow the less magical viewers. They also threw in some illusions which would show up differently, in different people, according to how much magic they possessed. I of course saw nothing but from the grunt my dad gave and the laugh that Biron produced I guessed this was what they were seeing.
Occasionally the image from the flaming oblong was distorted by orange marks and lines. As the magicians walked across the stadium to the cage, their form dragged back across the screen in the orange colour. Biron muttered something, altering the image back to its full viewing capabilities, as the two magicians showed off the creature inside the cage known as an Ealear.
Within the cage the Ealear had transformed into a beautiful woman with pale features and who was purposely naked. It cowered in the corner of its metal prison and was decidedly silent. Its flaxen hair fell down its neck and emphasised its chest.
It watched the two magicians with weary eyes, trying to bring to life the human morality inside the two men. One of the men kicked the cage, causing the woman yelp in a raw, sharp voice that did not match the picture of the woman. In response, the rows of people in the stadium came to life, telling the Quart pair to stop dragging it out. The pair nodded to each other and blew the lock of the cage, allowing the Ealear to break free. But it stayed. With the laughing jeers of the other magician’s guilds the two Quarts advanced on the Ealear. Occasionally Ealear choose not to fight back but Ealear that don’t fight back don’t allow the given guild to show off how powerful they are. This particular Ealear continued with her, or his, illusion of innocence.
On the left of the Ealear, the blonde magician expelled a tendril from his hand. Latching onto its foot he dragged the Ealear out of the cage. Not a sound was uttered from the Ealear as it squirmed before the magician. With the Ealear held in place, his fellow magician stilled. Mesmerised, the crowd fell silent watching the magician who directed his palms towards the ground. While underneath the Ealear the ground began to grow with grass, oxide daisies and creeping vines.
Panicking, the Ealear’s illusion began faltered and briefly flickered from the image of a woman, to a black and yellow lizard of the same size - presumably the Ealear’s preferred form. Its captor spoke briefly to it. Once he had finished, the dark haired magician shifted slightly and the vegetation around the Ealear became nettles and thistles. The vines gained thorns that drove their way underneath the Ealear’s illusionary skin. As it screamed, the Ealear’s form switched to that of a lizard and it tore at the vines and crawled free.
Biron cheered with the crowds in the arena and my dad smirked at the spectacle, sufficiently impressed by the Quart’s mastery of the earth element. Not only had he controlled its growth he had done so without touching the ground. Something supposedly only Birks could do.
The Ealear gave up with the plan to remain inactive and roared at the two magicians, who continued to circle the lizard. Foreseeing their plan to surround it the Ealear charged at the dark haired magician. Prepared the magician threw up a physical shield, deflecting the lizard into the side of the arena. The lizard landed on the arena wall, using the wall to rebound into the sand and burrow underneath the whole arena.
People in the seats above ran down to the very edge of the arena to peer down into the hole that the Ealear had created. All the while the blonde magician, who had spoken to the Ealear, positioned his right hand in front of himself, tilting it left and right, left and right, until the earth began to shake.
Now it was the crowds turn to panic as the miniature earthquake shook everyone in the stands. Here several days away from the arena, the small village of Marmon experienced an aftershock. Yet my eyes stayed on the arena as the Ealear resurfaced underneath the dark haired magician and encompassed the magician’s legs between its jaws. The man cried out as the eyes of the arena paused to stare.
His partner, the first to recover, punched his fist into the ground sending magic to some unseen force beneath the ground. The rumbling of the earthquake stopped and cracking sounds, loud enough to hear through the flaming image, replaced the earthquake.
Pausing, the lizard stopped trying to chomp down the magician, who was now unconscious from blood loss and focused on the ground. In a last minute decision the Ealear dropped the man between his jaws and ran for the walls of the arena. To late was this decision made as spikes drove up though the ground spearing the Ealear on its serrated edges.
Silence ran through the people in the arena until they realise that the surviving magician was running across the sandy floors and scooping up his fellow magician in his arms. Applause rippled through the crowds as the magician tried to pump healing magic through his friend. A group of Quart healers followed him across the arena and gathered round the pair, hiding them from the eyes of onlookers. Anyone could have told you the man was dead but they announced it anyway, to the cheers of the people of Avvenire.