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Authors: Kel Kade

Tags: #Fantasy, #Ficion

Reign of Madness (Revised Edition) (9 page)

BOOK: Reign of Madness (Revised Edition)
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Jimson considered the question carefully before answering.
He thought about the general’s conflicting reactions toward his warrior friend.
King Bordran’s faith in Rezkin had prompted the general to place his trust in
the young man, whether the general wanted to admit it or not. The general’s
antipathy seemed to stem from a completely different source.

“General Marcum’s dislike of Rezkin is of a more personal
nature. Professionally, I believe he has the utmost respect for Rezkin and
complete faith in his abilities. That approval simply does not extend to the
matter of the general’s niece, who Rezkin has been pursuing, as you know. If
not for Lady Frisha, I think the general and Rezkin would get along quite
well.” And, it was true. Looking back at the reactions he had witnessed, the
general’s hostility was all centered on Rezkin’s pursuit of Frisha. With
Bordran’s approval in hand, General Marcum would not have otherwise had a care
for the nature of Rezkin’s profession, except in that it was for the benefit of
the kingdom.

“Hmm, I suppose that makes sense,” Drascon remarked.

Millins nodded sadly. His voice was gruff as he said,
“Family does funny things to protect the people they love. It’s why I joined
the army. My girl’s father wouldn’t approve of the marriage because he said I
would never amount to anything. I joined the army to prove him wrong. The man
was a veteran and was always going on about the honor of soldiers. But, while I
was away at training, he married my girl off to the dock master, a man twice
her age.” The soldier’s eyes found purchase on everything and nothing in the
distance.

“The man beat her,” he continued quietly. “She died twelve
years ago in an early childbirth.” He spat off to the side in disgust. “She was
twenty-three. The healer said that with the beatings her husband dealt her, her
body was just too weak to take the pregnancy. Even if I’d stayed a stable hand,
I would’ve been better for her than that monster.”

Jimson and Drascon both nodded silently in acceptance of
Millins’s story. Neither spoke out of respect for the man’s grief. As soldiers,
anything more consoling would have been awkward and uncomfortable for them all.

Jimson’s eyes found Rezkin and Frisha in the distance.
Frisha was smiling and talking as Rezkin nodded every so often. “In spite of
what I know about Rezkin, or perhaps because of it, I believe he is what is
best for that young woman. I truly hope the general will change his mind,” he
stated softly.

Drascon smirked and chuckled, “And, with him out of the
market, the rest of us might stand a chance at getting one of the ladies, eh,
Captain?”

Perceptive, indeed.
Captain Jimson just grinned.

Chapter 4

When the party was about half way back to Teurning, they
came upon an odd sight in the road. An injured donkey lay in the path, and in
the dirt beside it, sat a young man in dark grey mage robes. The donkey groaned
and snorted out a heavy breath, and the young mage buried his head in his
hands.

Rezkin held up a fist, and the others stopped a respectable
distance from the scene. He encouraged Pride to continue forward slowly.
Captain Jimson followed even though he knew Rezkin intended for him to stay
back with the others. The mage glanced their direction but immediately dropped
his head back down, unconcerned. Rezkin stopped beside the mage and peered down
upon a light brown head of hair from high upon his perch. Finally, the young
mage looked up at the warrior. His eyes were full of sorrow, and he wore his
dejection like a cloak. As though pleading with them to understand, he said, “I
have been trying for the last two hours to heal her. I just do not have enough
talent
in healing.”

The donkey groaned, again, and the young man winced, looking
upon her in misery. He sniffed, “I-…I just cannot finish her, either. I have
been sitting here trying to figure out what to do. I cannot leave her like
this, and my packs are too heavy to carry.”

The mage was about Rezkin’s age, and he had short, unruly
hair somewhere between dark blonde and light brown with hints of highlights
bleached by the sun. His skin was lightly tanned, and he had a light scattering
of freckles across his nose. His eyes were almost as light as Rezkin’s except
they contained equal parts blue and green mixed together. With his thick
lashes, full lips and high cheekbones, he was the kind of pretty, young man a
mother would forever call her sweet baby boy, the girls would innocently flirt
with and call
friend
, and the boys would beat up at every chance.

Seeing little threat in the young man, Rezkin dismounted. He
nodded to Jimson to keep an eye on the mysterious mage while he squatted next
to the injured animal. Her rear leg was twisted at an unnatural angle. Rezkin
surveyed the ground. The beast had somehow found the deepest divot in the road
and broken her leg just below the hock.

Rezkin looked at his group standing further back and sighed
inwardly. Everyone’s attention was riveted on the mage and donkey. No one was
watching the sides and rear. He would have to have a talk with the captain and
his men. This was the perfect setup for an ambush had one been present. He
waved his companions forward and called for them to dismount. The young mage
barely took notice, wrapped in his misery as he was.

“Well, Mage…” the young warrior paused in question.

The sound of his voice broke the mage free from his
thoughts. The young man looked up startled, as if just realizing everyone
else’s presence. “Journeyman…Wesson,” he nearly stuttered.

“Journeyman Wesson,” Rezkin nodded in greeting. “I am
Rezkin, and this is Captain Jimson of the King’s Army. The other introductions
can be saved for later. It seems we have two options here, Journeyman Wesson.
We can put the beast out of its misery, or our companion, here,” he waved
toward Reaylin, “can attempt to heal it.”

The mage directed his attention at the pretty little
warrior, and his eyes widened with surprise. Whether it was due to her strange
choice of dress or attractiveness was unclear. “You are a healer?” he asked
hopefully.

Reaylin scowled and replied a little too loudly. “I most
certainly am not!” She directed her glare at Rezkin and said, “I am a warrior,
not a healer!”

The young man looked at Rezkin questioningly. “Her powers
just awoke a few days ago,” the young warrior explained. “She performed her
first healing in a moment of distress and has since been in denial.”


Why
?” the young man asked in dismay. “It is a rare
talent! As you can see from my own failure, not every mage possesses the
ability. Likewise, those with strong healing affinity usually lack the ability
to access the other powers, so they often go undiscovered.” Wesson pushed
himself to his feet and took a step toward Reaylin with pleading eyes. “I could
help you harness the energy and direct it for you. You would not have to do it
all yourself.”

For a moment, Reaylin looked like she would cave under the
young man’s piteous stare, but she simply stomped a foot in the dirt and said,
“I won’t do it! I am a warrior.” Wesson’s face fell, and his eyes grew watery
as he looked away.

Anxious about the number of people surrounding it and Reaylin’s
sudden shout, the donkey lifted its head and began kicking its legs in an
attempt to rise. When its broken leg shifted, the creature bellowed and shook
its head, gnashing its teeth at the air. Wesson threw his arms around the
injured animal’s neck and stroked its head with soft, comforting whispers. A
crisp tingle filled the air that Rezkin recognized as a mage’s power in use.
The beast groaned and laid its head back on the hard packed dirt of the road.

Rezkin pulled the dagger from his waist and said, “Well
then, there is only one thing left to do. Journeyman Wesson, would you prefer
to do this yourself or shall I?”

The young man did not look at Rezkin as he answered, “I-…I
cannot.” His mouth clamped shut as he choked on his words.

Rezkin nodded once, even though no one was looking at him.
Everyone’s eyes were staring pitifully at the young mage – except
Reaylin’s. Hers were glued to the suffering donkey that flicked her ears and
occasionally released a shuddering puff of air. Rezkin motioned to the packs
and said, “Perhaps you all should gather these packs and head up the road a
way. I will join you when I am finished.”

Lieutenant Drascon stepped forward and offered, “Lord
Rezkin, I can perform the deed, if you prefer to join the others.”

Rezkin, in his fancy doublet and polished boots, met the
soldier’s eyes. “Thank you for your offer, Lieutenant Drascon, but I am
capable. I would prefer for you see to your duties and keep watch over the
others,” he remarked, motioning mostly toward Frisha.

Drascon’s eyes found Captain Jimson who tilted his head in
affirmation. The lieutenant nodded once and said, “Of course, my lord, as you
wish.”

Frisha and Tam each collected a few packs and then followed
the soldiers a few dozen paces down the road. Captain Jimson wandered in the
opposite direction, and to Rezkin’s approval, surveyed the trees around them.
Journeyman Wesson still had not moved. After a moment, he heaved a heavy sigh
and hung his head as he shuffled after the others. Reaylin finally pulled her
eyes off of the injured animal and met Rezkin’s crystal gaze. She looked like a
cornered wild animal, her eyes imploring.

“Wait,” she snapped. Wesson stopped and turned to look at
the young woman, his face full of hope and apprehension. “You-…you said I don’t
have to do anything, right? I mean, you just use my…um, power…and do the
healing yourself?”

Wesson spoke calmly, soothingly, as he said, “For the most
part. You would have to call up your power, which I can help you do; and you
would need to direct your
will
, but I can form the healing for you.”

“Direct my
will
?” Reaylin asked uneasily.

“It just means you would need to focus your intent. You have
to
want
to heal the injury and focus your power on doing so.” At seeing
Reaylin’s lack of confidence and discomfort, he attempted a different approach.
“You carry a bow,” he nodded toward the bow strapped to Reaylin’s horse. “When
you take aim at a target, you are directing your will at hitting the target.
You are not focusing on hitting the trees or rocks around the target, but on
the target, itself, and on what you wish to do.”

Reaylin, understanding more with the bow and arrow analogy,
nodded her head.

“It is the same thing with the
vimara
, our mage power.
You focus on what you want to hit. But…it is not just about hitting the right
target. You need to tell the vimara what you want it to do once it hits the
target. Like making a sandwich,” he said almost cheerfully. It was obvious he
enjoyed talking about mage things.

“A sandwich?” Reaylin asked skeptically.

Wesson nodded enthusiastically, “Yes, like a sandwich. You
take the ingredients and put them together, but you do not want to smash them
into a pulp or slap them together haphazardly so they are falling out all over
the place. You want to stack them gently and orderly so that they form a neat
stack. Maybe you even want the ingredients stacked in a certain order. You have
to decide and make your hands do it the way you want. It is the same with the vimara.
For healing, you have to direct the vimara at the injury and then
will
it to heal. Is it safe to assume you do not have healing knowledge? You do not
know how to repair a broken bone, do you?”

Reaylin huffed, “No, of course not. I told you, I am a warrior,
not a healer.” Her eyes darted to Rezkin, and she flushed slightly. Rezkin had
told her that he was both, but she was still not sure she believed him, despite
the fact that he had treated her injuries on more than one occasion.

“Then, if you would do this for me, I will help you call on
your vimara. You direct it at the injury and
will
it to heal, and I will
guide the actual healing of the injury so it heals properly. I will be doing
most of the difficult work, so you do not have to feel overwhelmed,” Wesson
explained cautiously. Reaylin looked like she was about to dismiss the whole
idea and bolt down the road with the rest of the party.

The young woman looked back at Rezkin. He was staring at her
intently with those beautiful crystal blue eyes. His gaze was judgmental but
not commanding. He was letting
her
make the decision, but she knew his
opinion of her depended on her making the
right
decision. Her voice was
barely above a whisper when she finally answered, “Okay.”

Wesson slapped his hands together, and he hopped a little
from foot to foot excitedly. “This is wonderful. Please, let us get started. I
do not want her to suffer anymore. I have had Shiela for years, you know. She
belonged to my master, but I had to use her when we traveled. He let me take
her when I finished my apprenticeship.”

A slow smile spread across Reaylin’s lips. “Your donkey’s
name is Shiela?”

The young mage nodded enthusiastically. “Oh, yes. I named
her, myself. A pretty name for a pretty lady.”

Reaylin snorted and then chuckled. Finally, her giggles
turned to all out laughter as she bent over holding her middle, releasing much
of her tension.

Wesson stared at the young woman as if she had lost her
mind. He turned his confused eyes toward Rezkin, who actually felt a slight natural
tug at the corners of his own lips. “I am sure you will find out soon enough,”
was all that he said in response to the unasked question.

The mage waved Reaylin over and then took her hand as he
guided her to the lame beast. “Okay, um…what was your name?” he said as he
realized he did not know.

“Reaylin de Voss, but just call me Reaylin…none of that
mistress stuff,” she informed.

“Okay, Reaylin. Place your hand here. You do not actually
have to touch the injury, just some part of the body, but new healers usually
find it easier to enforce their will the closer they are to the target. Some of
the most powerful, experienced healers do not have to be touching the body at
all, although they still must be within close proximity. Now, I am going to
send a bit of my vimara into you, and then you will feel a tug. I will be
trying to pull your vimara out of your
well
. You need to release it…let
it go,” the journeyman explained.

Reaylin nodded anxiously. “O-okay.”

While the two were focused on their work, Rezkin scanned
their surroundings. It was a pleasant, although entirely too warm, summer day.
The sun had started its descent toward the horizon long ago, and the buzzing of
cicadas had already begun. Every so often, he caught a yellow flash of light
from the darker shadows where tiny insects called to their mates. The air
turned crisp and a slight vibration invaded his flesh as the two mages began
pulling on their power. The hum of mage power had always been enticing to
Rezkin, as though somehow it was calling to him, but he had never had any power
of his own. As far as he knew, it was simply a general side effect of the mage
power.

Reaylin closed her eyes and was startled when the warm
tingling entered her. It seemed to seep into her skin and then fill her throughout.
As it worked its way into her chest, she felt an answering tingle from within.
Her inner tingle started to squirm like a restless child trying to escape its
mother.

“Let it go,” Wesson whispered.

Reaylin did not want to let it go. It was frightening, and
somehow she felt that if she let it go now, she would lose part of herself. She
wanted to hold onto it with all her strength and keep it inside. A warm hand
covered her own.

“Reaylin, you must let it go. Do not be afraid,” a soft male
voice said beside her ear.

“I’m not afraid,” she snapped at the mage and huffed
inwardly. She could not let a silly tingle get the best of her. She was a
warrior, and if she backed out now, everyone would think she was scared and
weak. With a silent growl, she released her hold on the energy inside her. In
the next moment, her body and mind were flooded with sensations. It felt like
the warm summer sun and cool fresh water and the sweet scent of nectar on the
wind. It was soft cotton and burning fire and sticky, sugary syrup. Her eyes
popped open as she stared at Wesson in awe.

The young mage smiled indulgently and nodded as he
continued, “Now, feel the vimara, gather it up, and push it toward the broken
leg. I will help guide you, but you need to
will
it to be so.”

BOOK: Reign of Madness (Revised Edition)
6.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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