Authors: A. Christopher Drown
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A Mage of None Magic
The Heart of the Sisters, Book One
A novel by
A. Christopher Drown
Copyright © 2014 by A. Christopher Drown
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be copied or transmitted in any form, electronic or otherwise, without express written consent of the publisher or author.
Cover art and design: A. Christopher Drown
Cover art in this book copyright © 2014 A Christopher Drown
Interior Illustrations: Jason C. Conley
Interior Illustrations in this book © 2014 Jason C. Conley
and Seventh Star Press, LLC.
Editor: Karen M. Leet
Published by Seventh Star Press, LLC.
ISBN Number: 978-1-937929-58-9
Seventh Star Press
A Mage of None Magic
is a work of fiction. All names, characters,
and places are the product of the author’s imagination, used in fictitious manner. Any resemblances to actual persons, places, locales, events, etc.
are purely coincidental.
Printed in the United States of America
First published September 2009
As I said last time, my deepest gratitude goes to Alexander, Meredith, Tammy, Mom, Dad, Jennifer, Meggan, Erin Branham, Katharine Huffman, Barbara Franklin, Linda Wyatt, Joel Rosenberg, Felicia Herman, Dave Baker, Kris Martin-Baker, Mike Broderick, Dana Commandatore, Debb Dribin, Scott Dribin, Chris Clark, Dave Florida, John Santore, Lyndsay Ryor, Mark Maggs, Trina Lance, Regina Arndt, Ben Potter, Traci McSwain, Mary Forrest, Juanita McCants, Ashley Huttula, Jay Martin, Kim Martin, Sabrina Vollers, Faunne Anderson Brown, Rachel Townsend, Dorothy Murphy, Bill Roth, Laura Lee Phillips, and Bret Funk.
Now, though, I’d like to include Amanda Trowbridge, Roland Mann, H David Blalock, Herika Raymer, HC Playa, Melissa Royer, Juanita Dunn Houston, Nisha Taylor, Jon Klement, Madison Woods, Corey Mesler, Mark Kaiser, Erin Wells, Wendy Sumner-Winter, Roby Hutchison, M.B. Weston, Alexander Stephen Brown, Bill Eakin, Jackie Gamber, Dan Gamber, Elizabeth Donald, Barbara Gatewood, Tim Gatewood, Kara Fergusson, J.L. Mulvihill, Stephen Zimmer, and Bethaney Taylor Harris.
Again, they all know why. At least I really hope they do.
In memory of my father,
Douglas R. Drown
and my grandfather,
Irenee Joseph Lachance.
Heroes in all the ways that matter.
The Collected Writings of Professor Ignalius Potchkins,
Fraal University Society of Letters
Scholars know little of Uhniethi’s beginnings. Some argue he heralded from as far away as the Outer Kingdoms. Others maintain he was born of two demons—one of shadow, one of fire—who bestowed upon him the sum of their terrible powers. Most agree, however, that a thousand years ago Uhniethi enrolled at the College of Magic and Conjuring Arts, and that there, despite his irreverence, the faculty recognized him as an astonishingly gifted student.
So voracious a learner was he that, by the end of his freshman term, Uhniethi had surpassed in ability many of his instructors. His exceptional talent for magic fostered a growing arrogance, and during his years as an upperclassman, schoolmates noted an increased volatility on Uhniethi’s part. Accounts exist of brazen public stances against high-ranking College Members. Beneath those, whispers of heterodoxy—pursuit of magic beyond Canon; the gravest crime in the eyes of the College—raised questions of Uhniethi’s soundness of mind. Some worried whether the prodigy had become too dangerous even to be called before the Board of Elders.
Following his senior term and subsequent confirmation, Uhniethi accepted the post of chief minister to Lord Juleon of Talmoor, a prestigious placement given Uhniethi’s inexperience. Lord Juleon hailed from a lesser house within the aristocracy, but in that day his tiny domain counted among the wealthiest in the Lands. Many believed Uhniethi taking the position meant he had forsaken the impertinence of youth and at last had fully embraced the tenets of the College.
That was not to be the case. Indeed, the very day he arrived at Talmoor to assume his duties, Uhniethi discarded any regard he might have held for the traditions of his education. Upon meeting the Lady Anese, Lord Juleon’s wife, he did what for a magician is the unthinkable: He fell desperately in love.
Like Uhniethi, the Lady Anese fostered no esteem for convention. She was many years Juleon’s younger, and the arranged marriage they shared conveyed little mutual affection. Flattered by Uhniethi’s attentions, Anese’s intrigue soon gave way to acceptance of his overtures and the two began an impassioned affair.
Months had passed when word came to Talmoor that the Lord Elder himself desired Uhniethi’s assistance in a matter of great urgency. Gratified by the distinction of a personal summons, Uhniethi left for the College that same evening.
Instead of being allowed to rest after his long journey, Uhniethi was ushered to the Old Tower the moment he reached campus. Once inside the main audience chamber, attendants barred the doors and brought up the lamps to reveal the full Board of Elders along with countless rows of spectators. Uhniethi immediately realized he had been extended no mere invitation. He had been brought to trial.
Well-known are the lengths to which the College will go to punish those who violate its laws—magician and aristocrat alike—and for the first time in anyone’s recollection, Uhniethi showed fear. He attempted to flee, but the Elders’ collective will wove itself about his body and held him in place. After a brief struggle, Uhniethi resigned himself to captivity and demanded to know what had happened to the Lady of Talmoor. At first, the only response was silence.
Uhniethi shouted his question again. From somewhere in the chamber a single voice called out the fateful reply:
“Everything that can.”
As vigorously as historians debate Uhniethi’s origin, the details of what transpired at the Old Tower that day are also a matter of deep dispute. However, on the following points nearly all concur:
Uhniethi, unbalanced by the notion of Anese coming to harm, and in an astounding display of power, tore himself free of his magical bindings. Those few Elders not slain by that brutal trauma went instantly and irretrievably insane.
Uhniethi next turned his wrath upon those who had come to ogle his demise. He spewed vile incantations into the gallery, each more horrific than the one before. As though fueled by the terrified cries that filled the chamber, he mauled, gutted, or flayed alive any upon whom he could fix his gaze.
Amidst the wails of the wounded and dying, Uhniethi ceased his rampage to work an even more grisly spell. From the mangled bodies strewn at his feet, he pieced together a massive winged creature. When the monstrosity was complete he climbed upon its gory back and soared away to Talmoor to rescue his beloved.
When he reached Lord Juleon’s castle, Uhniethi discovered not a moment had been squandered exacting Anese’s punishment. He found her alone in the empty public square, chained to a scorched wooden beam atop a pyramid of still-orange embers—burned alive. Worse still than even her murder was how her charred remains had been left unattended and on display. Regard for the dead in those days reflected a decidedly more reverent age, when people observed without fail the rituals governing burial. Mourners interred everyone from peasant to lord with equal deference.
As even the most uneducated among us is well aware, Uhniethi did not permit such vulgar disregard for the Lady Anese to go unanswered.