Authors: Christopher Williams
The Guardians: Book One of the Restoration Series
Copyright 2009 Christopher Williams
The Three Forms of the Mystical Arts
Magic is a learned art. All that is required to learn magic is a good mind. The magic user focuses on their need, and then casts the appropriate spell. Spells can be as simple as single words or chants, or as complex as multi-person rites and rituals. Magic is by far the most common of the three forms of the Mystical Arts.
Sorcery, unlike Magic, is something a person is either born with or not. It can not be learned. Sorcerers are born with the unique ability to control their spirit and use it to manipulate things in the world around them. Touching other people's minds and moving objects with just a thought are some of the more common uses of Sorcery.
Wizardry is the use of the elements to summon demons. Wizards use their will to control the demon and force it to do their bidding. Wizardry has been forbidden for two thousand years, ever since the destruction of the Demon Lord war.
Startled, Kelcer sat bolt upright. He was lying on a bed, but he couldn't remember lying down. His head pounded, and everything was blurry, but after a moment his vision began to clear. He was in a circular room, roughly twenty feet wide. Wooden rafters were maybe six feet above him, and they showed the age of the building, as they were aged and weathered. A way too small fire burned in a tiny fireplace at the end of the bed, but the fire couldn't chase away the cold. Spiral stairs led downward, on one side of his bed, and a set of double doors opened onto a balcony on the other side.
The double doors were closed, but he still knew they led to a balcony. Vague memories of stumbling out onto the balcony flittered on the edge of consciousness. How long had he been here? He tried to remember, but his thoughts were disjointed. It was cold, but he could remember several times when this very room had felt like an oven.
Had he been here that long?
The more he tried to focus his thoughts, the more they slipped away. Reaching up to scratch his chin, he screamed and thrust himself back away from the horrible vision. Only then, did he realize it was his own hand. Three fingers on his right hand ended not in fingernails, but in bloody stumps, and there were disgusting sores on his hands and forearm, but the worst part was the wasted look of his right arm. Glancing down, he let out a small whimper at the sight of his body. Wasted, little more than skin stretched over bones, he was a mess.
How could this be? He was a captain in the King's guard. That thought surprised him. He knew it to be true, but how had he remembered it, and why couldn't he remember other things?
The memory of the King's guard started to slip away, and the ragged man clutched at the thought like he was drowning. It was the only thing he remembered and he would not let it go. He closed his eyes and thought on the memory. Here and there, other memories floated up.
Pride at being accepted into the guard.
Serving the King, and suddenly his eyes popped open and a cold foreboding ran up and down his body. Something along those thoughts was wrong. He wasn't sure what it was, but he knew it was horrible and he wanted nothing to do with those thoughts.
For the first time, he noticed a small desk that sat to the right of the double doors. The desk was small, but covered in papers, with a tiny wooden chair pushed under. Climbing to his feet, he stood beside the bed for a moment, as a wave of vertigo swept over him. He would have fallen, but for grabbing the wooden bedpost. He swallowed hard, and the dizziness passed, although his poor hands ached from grabbing the bedpost.
Stumbling several times, he managed to make it to the desk without falling. He leaned over the desk and shuffled through the papers. That cold sense of foreboding came back, and this time it was stronger.
The papers on the desk were covered in lines of text, but in many different styles. Literally, the writing changed from one word to the next, but still he knew that he was the author. Once again, he didn't know how he knew, he just did.
Here and there words jumped out at him, and he flung the papers away, but it was too late. Memories flooded back. Memories of what he had done and he fell to his knees weeping. “What did we do?” He cried; his voice little more than a croak. “What have we done?”
More memories flooded back, and now he knew what had caused his madness. He fought hard, pushing away the memories, no longer wanting them. No longer wanting to know, but it was too late.
Sobbing, he climbed back to his feet. The guilt was unbearable. 'How can I atone?' was the thought that kept repeating, and it was followed quickly by an answer, '
Frantic now, he hobbled over to the stairs; he had to get out of the tower. He stopped at the top of the stairs and sobbed anew. Ten steps down was a small landing.
A landing that ended in a heavy wooden door.
Even from here, he could see deep gouge marks on the door, and what looked like blood smeared in the gouges.
The panic seemed to rise to new heights as he realized he was a prisoner. Frantically, he looked around. There had to be another way. His eyes came to rest on the double doors, and without hesitating he rushed over as fast as his broken body would allow.
Yanking on the two doors, he was immensely relieved when they flew open. He staggered out onto the balcony, only then realizing that the snow was a foot deep. The wind blew hard, and the snow was still falling. The moon was up and the night had the feeling of extreme lateness.
Looking around, his spirits sank as he realized there were no other ways off the balcony. He glanced over the edge of the railing, and the vertigo flared up again, and he quickly moved back from the edge. It had to be several hundred feet to the ground.
“There's no way out.” He said quietly with tears streaming down his face.
“There's still one way.”
He looked around for the speaker, but there was no one. “What way?”
“You know.” The answer was barely audible, and he wondered if it was real or another manifestation of his madness.
“What way?” He screamed into the wind, but this time there was no answer. What way could there be? He turned and looked back through the double doors. Breathing hard, he shook his head and backed away from the doors. He was not going back in that room. Absolutely not! In fact he would rather die than go back in, just then, he backed into the railing and stopped. Turning, he looked out over the deep blackness and this time there wasn't any vertigo. No dizziness, just a peace. The blackness with the snowflakes floating on the wind was inviting.
After a moment, he looked around and was surprised to see that he had climbed up on the railing. He stood there, with his back to the balcony, looking out over the black nothingness. It all looked so peaceful.
Perfectly at peace, he stepped forward off of the railing. Closing his eyes, he let the feeling of falling take him.
The wind from the open doors ruffled the papers that lined the small desk. Each paper had one word scrawled across the top.
It was a cool morning in the elven city of
, as Flaranthlas Eldanari approached the palace. Flare, as he was known, grew more anxious with every step, sending small tendrils of tension through his stomach.
His grandfather, King Feilolas, was expecting him for lunch, where they were supposed to discuss Flare's future. When elves reached their one hundred and twelfth
, they were expected to make a decision about what path they would follow in life. Flare was only approaching his thirtieth birthday, but he was half-human and therefore had aged faster than full-blooded elves. His appearance was similar to that of a sixteen year old human. Like most elves he was tall, over six feet. But like humans, he had a more muscular build. He had inherited the blue eyes of the elves, but his shoulder-length hair was red while the elves always had blond hair.
His mother was Princess Aliston, who had been raped by Flare’s father. His father was believed to have been one of the two hundred and seven human dignitaries, which had been in Solistine at the time. Unfortunately, she had been unable to identify her assailant, and as a result, all humans had been ordered to leave elven territory. Since that time, elven human relations had deteriorated dramatically.
His choices in life were quite limited. Because he had no father, he would not inherit anything. And because he was half human, he could not enter the elven guard. At least being the grandson of the king, he would not be asked to become a servant. He would most likely become a teacher or healer, although neither choice remotely interested him.
These thoughts weighed on him as he climbed the steps to the palace. The elven city was built with the palace on a hill in the center. The city had been meticulously laid out, with trees lining the streets and growing amongst and over the houses.
“Well. Well. Look who it is,” said a voice from just to the side of the palace steps. Standing amongst the trees and pillars were a group of elven youths. They were slightly taller than Flare, with long blond hair and blue eyes. Even though they were older, they appeared the same age.
“Uh-oh,” Flare muttered. He had never gotten along with the other elven youth, as his humanity was just too obvious a target for them. Trying to ignore them, he continued climbing the steps.
An elf named Antholein, stepped up blocking Flare's path. He was taller than Flare, but was slimmer. “What are you doing at the palace”?
“I... I was just going to see my grandfather. He is expecting me,” Flare stammered.
“Why would grandfather want to see you?”
Asked another voice.
Flare turned to see his cousin Bantharuis. Bantharuis’ father, Yolstice, would succeed King Feilolas to the throne. Bantharuis would one day be king of the elves and he had a deep hatred of Flare. Initially, their conflicts had only been verbal, and easy for Flare to escape from. As time had passed, Bantharuis had become more demonstrative and they had almost come to blows.
“You should not be allowed to live among us,” Bantharuis said quietly, stepping closer. “You know that one day my father will be king, and when he is...” He let the words trail off leaving the threat unspoken.
“You forget that I am half-elven,” Flare said, fighting hard not to stammer. “You and I share the same blood.”
“Your blood is corrupted by your filthy human heritage. Humans are no better than animals. Your conception was proof of that.” Bantharuis voice was cold and ruthless and he took another step toward Flare. “My father will not tolerate the humans as my grandfather has.”
“What is going on here?”
a deep voice from the top of the steps.
Flare had a burst of hope, which quickly disappeared as he recognized the person descending the steps. It was Prince Yolstice, his uncle. The prince looked like Bantharuis, except thicker through the middle. His white robes fit loosely over his shoulders, and he still had the youthful look of the elves.
“What trouble are you starting now, Flare?” Yolstice demanded.
“I didn't do anything. Grandfather is expecting me, but they stopped me and wouldn't let me by.” Flare said quickly, already knowing it was hopeless.
father. We did nothing, but he tried to start a fight.” Bantharuis said, grinning wickedly.
...” Flare started to say.
“How dare you call my son a liar? You're nothing but trouble. I don't know why father allows you to live amongst us.” His voice took on a cold dangerous tone. “Be assured, when I am King, I will not make the same mistake.” Yolstice paused, watching Flare.
Flare knew what he was doing. He was trying to goad Flare into doing something stupid, but Flare had learned to play this game too. “Uncle, the king is waiting for me.”
Yolstice's eyebrow twitched in irritation, he hated being called 'Uncle' by Flare. “Get into the palace and stay away from my son.”
Flare darted around them and ran up the steps, with his heart beating rapidly. These incidents were becoming more common, and he was starting to worry about what would happen when his uncle became king.
He was still shaking a little and breathing hard, as he entered the palace. He stopped just inside to calm down.
The palace was rectangular, longer than it was wide, and it was built around a huge outdoor courtyard. As long as the weather permitted, the king held court outside. The palace was lavishly decorated with elven murals and paintings. Ornamental pillars supported the roof that was high above the floor. Sections of the palace were kept open to allow in light and water. In these sections, plants were scattered along the hall and among the rooms, and ivy grew around some of the pillars.
There were a large number of people in the palace. Some of them were servants who were performing their usual duties. Guards were moving among the hallways, and standing in the doorways. Elven nobles were standing and talking in small groups. Off to
left, a couple of elven magicians were sitting and talking quietly on a bench.
Flare paused to calm down. The anxiety of the confrontation slowly eased up, but it was replaced with another anxiety. What would his grandfather say about his decision?
He passed through the inner doorway, and into the courtyard. The courtyard was an elaborate garden where the elves had spent years growing the plants and trees into just the right patterns. In the middle of the garden, was a dais upon which rested the elven throne. The builders had carved the throne from the ancient oak tree that dominated the center of the garden. The king always enjoyed holding court in the courtyard.
Flare’s grandfather, King Feilolas, was standing about half way down the steps talking to a small group of three or four elven nobles. Flare did not recognize them, but they were apparently discussing something of importance, because two of the nobles appeared to be arguing with the king.