The next day’s journey was just as uneventful as the last. Marek had another pointless conversation with Razoun. Barsheel was drilling Dynast heavily and making him read volumes of scrolls every chance he could. By this Dynast was kept very quiet. Still the men seemed in good spirits and Marek could feel the love growing between him and Miranda. Marek concluded that it was in fact a very good idea to bring Dynast along. He would have to let Barsheel know.
When they rested for the evening outside the walls of Kortone he did exactly that. Barsheel was teaching Dynast simple energy spells, which he seemed to be mastering quickly. Suddenly one of the energy balls went astray and shocked Marek in the behind. The men laughed at this spectacle. Marek simply said, “I see you still need practice.” The men laughed some more. Everyone went about their evening duties and soon it was time for bed. They planned on covering Kortone in the same manner that they did Demaus. Everyone slept soundly that evening.
The awoke early in the morning and prepared to enter the city. When they approached the walls they were stopped almost immediately. They were searched heavily and were not allowed to enter with their weapons. It turned out that several council members had disappeared in the last few days. The remaining members had began to enforce a very strict state on everyone who entered the city. There were curfews in affect and everyone was suspicious of everyone. Marek asked to meet with the remaining council members, but they put him off until the afternoon. Marek decided to go with Barsheel to meet the Light Mage while the other men proceeded with their plans.
Marek, Miranda, Barsheel, and Dynast took their time reaching the other side of town. They approached the residence of the Light Mage with great caution. They did not want to appear threatening in the least. Barsheel raised his staff to rap upon the door, but did not get the chance to finish his motion. The door creaked open and a voice emanated from within.
“Enter at once and do not waste my time.”
They all quickly went in. The voice continued to come from the darkness.
“I see it is the one who slayed Slyfer. I am impressed by your deeds Marek. You, young lady, are obviously he his greatest weakness. Yet your strength is not to be trifled with either. Barsheel, you are growing in power, we have much to discuss. Mainly we must talk about this one, what is your name apprentice?”
Dynast stepped forward and stated his name with a low bow. The voice came once again.
“My apologies, you deserve some light.”
Torches sprang to life all around the room and suddenly there before them stood a tall, lithe man. He was in ornate cream colored robes. His staff was wrapped in an ivory web and topped with a light grey crystal. His hair matched his robes, with streaks of barely visible orange. The blue in his eyes were almost translucent. He smiled and squinted at the same time.
“My name is Youtan. But you already know that. Please sit, I am not used to having guests, or else I would offer you something to drink.”
They all stood somewhat stunned.
“Come now, we mages may like our privacy but we are not without our manners. Please sit.”
A table and the right amount of chairs shimmered into existence. They all sat immediately.
“Now Marek, what is it like being connected to a dragon?”
“How do you know these things?”
“Because it is my business to know these things, that is all you need to know.”
“Razoun is an odd creature. It is difficult to get a straight answer from him.”
“So it shall always be. He is dead, in the physical sense. This is difficult for him to cope with. It is hard to give straight answers when one is not constricted by a body. Moving on then. Miranda I have heard of your healing efforts across the land. You are to be commended. I have a gift for you.”
“For me? I do not deserve…”
“Nonsense, your work is the most noble of all. A piece of advice, do not turn down a gift from a mage, we are prideful creatures and our egos are fragile.”
“I am honored to receive your gift.” Miranda lowered her head.
Youtan waved his hand and from his sleeve he produced a scroll.
“Please wait until later to read this. May it save many lives. Now Barsheel, how did you come across Dynast? It was wise of you to make him your apprentice.”
Barsheel recounted the details of how the boy was found, and what he knew about the boy’s power. When he finished he asked Youtan what he thought.
“The boy has the potential to be an extremely powerful mage. Tell me Dynast, are your parents alive?”
“No.” Dynast said as he hung his head.
“Your mother died in the dragon attack, and you’ve never known your father, correct?”
“That is correct.”
“You understand that you have great potential, and that your powers are already promising, if not unique.”
“That is what I am told by Barsheel.”
“Barsheel is correct. When you are done learning all that you can from Barsheel, you should return to me, so that I can further your studies.”
“I would like that very much.”
“Good, you should. Now Barsheel, his power is affecting you and it will continue to. You will become a mage in your own right. Although believe it or not you would have without Dynast. It just would have taken longer. A lack of confidence has always been your weakness. Stay committed to your desire to learn and you will be just fine. When you go to the cliffs with Marek, you will aid him in getting the missing council members back.”
“You know where they are?” Spouted Marek.
“Of course I do.”
“Then why haven’t you don’t anything about it?” Marek raised his voice.
“Because the affairs of those in this city do not concern me! We mages would just as soon abandon people if it weren’t for the fact that we still have mortal needs. Now if you interrupt me again I shall not be as kind as Slyfer, and not so easy a foe.”
“Dynast, you have a great power residing in you. By now you have figured out your ability to amplify the emotions of those around you. But did you know that you can control them as well? You can make the sad turn happy. You can make the angry turn forgiving. You can make the hateful turn loving. Of course you can turn the emotions the other way as well, but do so only sparingly, for whatever emotion you turn affects your own disposition. You also increase the abilities of those around you, as such you can also decrease their strengths and make them your own. To master that skill will take some time, do not rush to attempt such feats for you may also draw their weaknesses unwittingly and that may be to your peril. Work with Marek to quiet your mind and spend time with your powers on the inside before projecting them outward. You do still meditate Marek?”
“Good the time has come for you to go then. Good day.”
The four of them left. Barsheel and Dynast headed back to camp. Marek and Miranda went to make their appointment with the council. When they arrived they were searched again and escorted in by heavily armed guards. There were just six council members there, three men and three women. Marek’s suspicions were confirmed when he asked if the others were all missing. A mousy looking woman, with a slight build, said as much. Marek told them of all that had happened so far and gave them the same warning regarding Avaxia. The remaining council members agreed to warn their citizens appropriately. Marek then turned to the matter of the other council members.
“We will rescue your other council members. We have it on good authority that they have been taken to The Cliffs.”
“Who would do such a thing?” Asked a wiry looking councilman.
“I do not know, but I will bring them to justice and save your missing members.”
“We would be eternally grateful. We could pay you a small ransom.” Continued the wiry man.
“That will not be necessary, just give us food and water for the next leg of our journey.”
They went to the market and gathered their necessary supplies. The council made good and made sure the supplies were free. The four of them returned to camp and waited for the rest of the men. While they waited for the men to return Marek spoke with Razoun.
Razoun please tell me what to expect at the cliffs.
It’s nothing that you won’t be able to handle.
Can’t you be more specific?
I could but it is not necessary. Tell me more about Barsheel. Nevermind, I know all that you know. So you went to see Youtan?
Yes, how did…nevermind.
We dragons keep track of those with magic in them. I knew of Youtan long before you ever did. If he says Barsheel must go with you, then you should listen to him. He is eclectic, but this does not diminish his wisdom. Chances are you will need Barsheel.
I would still feel better if you could give me more information.
This evil you seek is not random, it is driving it’s forces against you for a reason. I cannot say how I know this, only that it is the case.
That does not exactly help.
It should, if you think about it. Tactically, what would you do if you were chasing you?
I see your point. Thank you.
I must go.
Just like that the conversation was over. It was getting late and the men were returning. The men heard scattered rumors of what was over The Cliffs, but none of it made sense and none of it could be verified until the next day. The evening was quiet and everybody went to bed peacefully. As they laid their heads down Marek could hear Dynast reciting lines that Barsheel was drilling him on.