Excerpt One: From Chapter 9 of Fire Born
Bees. The buzzing was bees, thousands of them. A bee hive, but how had he disturbed them? He swung his arm to swat them away from his face... but... he couldn’t move it...
Gakulisan gasped in his breath, but held it to prevent it from becoming a scream. He only saw darkness, but he sensed it shouldn’t be dark since he felt the sun on his skin.
“Calm yourself mage,” a voice said from beside him, a male voice that he didn’t recognize. He followed the voice’s advice and began to take inventory of his surroundings, the bindings on his arms, the sound of the breeze through pine needles, the crackle of a small fire, the smell of the air and the light, constant splash of water. A dull throbbing on his arm where he surmised he was just injured.
“I am sorry I had to wake you this way, but I am in a hurry. Your vision will return to you soon.”
Gakulisan concentrated on the feel of the bindings digging into his wrists. It wasn’t rope or twine, though it was thin. It felt of animal origin... leather. He let his skin take in the hum of the smooth material.
“Don’t,” the voice commanded, and a firm grip twisted his arm. “I am no mage, but I can recognize the signs. Try to use magic again and I’m afraid our relationship will change dramatically. I have no interest in harming you, you are simply a means to an end.”
The man released his grip and Gakulisan forced his eyes closed, feeling them sting and taking that as a sign his vision was returning.
“What end?” Gakulisan asked.
The man paused and the wizard thought for a moment he wouldn’t tell him. “It is said,” the voice started, speaking slowly, “only a mage can open the door to the mage’s tower.”
Gakulisan gasped, unable to keep his surprise in check.
“But the truth is that the tower has no doors. A mage wanting to enter must create one.”
Gakulisan considered denying his powers, the but man obviously already knew what he could do.
“Why do you want in the tower? If I am to agree to allow you entrance, I must first know the reason.”
“That’s not your concern!” the man yelled, and Gakulisan braced, thinking the man would strike him judging by the sudden anger in his voice. Instead, the wizard heard him exhaling. “I’m not going to steal anything, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“Did you injure anyone in my party?” Gakulisan decided to ask.
The man paused again, longer this time. “Just the thief, but he will recover. The elder elf still sleeps.”
“Did you make us sleep?”
“Oh no, that was you dragon. But you already knew that didn’t you?”
Gakulisan smiled a little and nodded. Looking towards the voice, he could see a black blur surrounded by bright white.
“Yes, I saw your dragon. I must admit I was surprised, when most mages travel by self-flight. I am curious, though, why you didn’t land at the base of the tower like the other mages do.”
“Because I intend to break in,” Gakulisan spoke with resolve.
“I am not aligned to the mages of this tower, and judging by your reactions, neither are you.”
The man exhaled through his teeth. “You’re lying, your dragon...”
“You asked yourself, why didn’t we land at the base of the tower? She didn’t want us to be seen.”
“These peasants, you aren’t bringing them in to study?”
“No. I am not a mage of Arnith, and I can prove it to you.”
Gakulisan stood, using magic to assist his unsteady legs. The man rushed towards him, but the wizard pulled a stream of fire from the pit, making it surge and spin in a protective circle around him.
“The mages of Arnith are allowed one element to manipulate,” Gakulisan stated in a raised voice. The man had stepped back from the disc of flame, holding up his arms to the bright light. The wizard reached back with his senses and pulled up a stream of water from river. “The amount of concentration needed to control a single element is immense, and the ability to manipulate more than one requires the individual to give themselves completely to the magic, which Arnithian mages are forbidden to do.” Gakulisan sent the water in a spinning disc around the dark blur, and as it encircled him he added a thick stream of dirt from the ground. “They are required to bury themselves in research, and are never allowed to completely understand the use of magic. They seek new ways to control it, while wizards, like myself, have learned that to master the magic...” Gakulisan combined the earth with the water and tightened the rotating disc to where it almost touched the man, who dared not move due to the speed of its rotation. “... you must give of yourself.” The wizard snapped the leather free from his wrists and sent the fire forward. But he didn’t aim for the man; he wrapped the fire around the mud, and in the same instant froze the spinning and tightened the disc around the man’s chest. The mud instantly solidified, and the man was trapped.
Gakulisan could not see an expression on the man’s face as he approached, but could hear his labored breathing. He stopped before him, rubbing his wrists.
“You never told me why you wanted to enter the mage’s tower.”