Unmagic, p.1

Unmagic, page 1

 

Unmagic
 


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Unmagic


  Unmagic

  Jane Glatt

  The Mage Guild Trilogy

  Unguilded

  Unmagic

  The Unmage

  Unmagic

  Copyright © 2018 Jane Glatt

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage & retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright holder, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third party websites or their content.

  This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this story are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  Any resemblance to persons living or dead would be really cool, but is purely coincidental.

  Published by Tyche Books Ltd.

  Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  www.TycheBooks.com

  Cover Art by Niken Anindita

  Cover Layout by Lucia Starkey

  Interior Layout by Ryah Deines

  Editorial by M. L. D. Curelas

  First Tyche Books Ltd Edition 2018

  Print ISBN: 978-1-928025-84-9

  Ebook ISBN: 978-1-928025-85-6

  Author photograph: Eugene Choi

  Echo1 Photography

  This book was funded in part by a grant from the Alberta Media Fund.

  Thanks as always to everyone at Tyche Books and especially Margaret Curelas.

  Chapter One

  “GYDA!” KARA SWORE. The knock on the door had startled her and the ball of mage mist she’d been controlling spun away and crashed into the bookshelf. A dislodged book toppled and hit the floor with a thud.

  “We’ll need to introduce distractions,” Santos said as he rose and headed to the door. “We can’t have you losing control of spells like that.”

  “Sorry,” Kara replied. She got off the small stool and went to retrieve the book. In the month since her mother and Rorik had walked away from her, Santos, and Reo, she’d been desperately trying to learn how to manage her talent. Days like today, where she showed such little progress, were far too common. And that lack of progress was frustrating.

  She had yet to clear spells from Warrior Guild’s hall: every day that went by without that task completed increased her fear that Warrior Guild would demand Reo return to them.

  Not that she’d seen Reo much in the past month. Their conversations seemed to always end up with him apologizing to her. As if he was to blame for every single terrible thing her mother had tried to do to her.

  “It’s for you,” Santos said. “I’ll go see what’s going on in the kitchen.”

  Santos left and Chal Honess stepped through the door.

  “Chal!” Kara hurried over and hugged him. “What a nice surprise.”

  “It’s not just a visit, I’m afraid,” Chal said. He looked her over, grinning. “But you look well. Are you happy?”

  “Content,” Kara replied. “I have a home and people I consider family.” And if she still felt as though something was missing, well, it had only been a month since they’d all felt safe from Mage Guild. And Reo had moved in.

  “Good.” Chal placed his ebony hand on hers. “I’m glad. I too have a home; which I must return to.”

  “You’re leaving Rillidi? When?” She pulled him further into the room and gestured for him to sit on Santos’ chair while she took her usual perch on the stool.

  “I sail tomorrow,” Chal said. “Now that Reo is no longer in Warrior Guild, my services are no longer needed.”

  “I don’t believe that,” Kara said. Warrior Guild had always partnered with Seyoyans who could see magic, and now that they knew at least one person could also manipulate it, they were probably more interested than ever.

  “Nor should you.” He grinned. “But you’d be surprised how many people do believe it.” He shrugged. “Another Assassin has tried to persuade me to stay but I’ve received word from home that my talents are required there.”

  “And you’re not sad to leave,” Kara said. She couldn’t imagine Chal working with someone other than Reo.

  “No,” Chal agreed. “But I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. Or inviting you to come visit me in Seyoya any time you wish.”

  “I’d like that,” Kara said. “I’ll have to brush up on my Seyoyan first.”

  “Reo can help with that.”

  Kara frowned. “I’m not sure he’d be willing to: I think he’s been avoiding me.”

  “Don’t let him,” Chal said.

  “I’m not going to force my company on him when he’s been very clear that he wants nothing to do with me.” She tried to keep the bitterness out of her voice, but it was impossible. She’d thought she and Reo were . . . at the very least friends. And it hurt that he didn’t seem to feel the same way.

  “Kara.” Chal leaned closer to her. “Reo isn’t avoiding you because he doesn’t care; he’s avoiding you because he cares more than he knows what to do with.” He paused. “And he’s ashamed of how he treated you and is furious with himself for putting you in danger.”

  “I know.” She sighed. She’d told Reo that she didn’t blame him; that she too was responsible for their desperate situation on Mage Guild Island. But he didn’t seem able to forgive himself.

  “He’ll grow up,” Chal said with a smirk. “Eventually. We all do.”

  “He’s already a grown man,” Kara replied. “He’s years older than I am.”

  “But he has been free of his guild for less time than you have been free from yours,” Chal said. “And that, being responsible for yourself, did that not make you grow up? Give him time.”

  “I guess,” Kara said.

  “I really must go,” Chal said. He wrapped her in another hug before he sighed and stepped away. “I promise I’ll visit next time I’m in Rillidi.” Then he headed out the door and was gone.

  Kara sat staring at the open door. She had grown up since she’d run away from Mage Guild. Maybe that was all Reo needed; time to grow up. Or time to decide what he wanted out of life. His goal had been to be free of his guild, but perhaps he’d never really thought he would be: perhaps he’d never thought beyond that point and now he wasn’t sure what he wanted his life to be.

  Kara sighed. And really, was she being fair? It wasn’t as though she was sure what she wanted from Reo. Friendship, she thought, but they’d never actually been friends. They’d made a bargain and she’d spent time with him and Chal on Warrior Guild Island. But they hadn’t been friends, especially not at the end when she’d defied him.

  But they’d become close during their escape from her mother, and then he’d found Osten so she’d thought they were headed . . . somewhere. She sighed. She did know that this distance between them was awkward and frustrating. But was that because she wanted his friendship? Or because she wanted something more? And what did he want?

  “YOU’RE READY,” SANTOS said.

  Kara was concentrating on her task so it took her a moment to understand what he meant.

  “For Warrior Guild?” she asked. It was the only thing she’d been preparing for. When Santos nodded, she almost lost hold of the spell she was controlling. “You’re doing this on purpose; trying to distract me.”

  “Yes,” the Mage agreed. “I am. And since you passed this test, I believe that you truly are ready.”

  Kara pushed her hand into the spell, concentrating on making it disperse, watching as the grass-green mist lightened to white and then disappeared. “Are you sure I can do it?” She still had trouble determining if spells were malevolent. “I might miss a spell or two.”

&nb
sp; “Warrior Guild Primus Ungaro understands,” Santos said. “I told him that you are a Journeyman, learning how to use your talent but that you are capable of doing some of what he needs done. Come along.”

  “Now?” Kara hurried after Santos as he left his workroom and headed down the hall towards the kitchen. She shrugged at Pilo, who was chopping vegetables, and followed the Mage outside, through the garden to the recently rebuilt pier that jutted into Pontus Bay.

  She skidded to a stop, smoothing her hair, when she saw Reo standing stiffly on the pier. A small boat was tied up beside him.

  “Are you ready, Reo?” Santos asked. The former Assassin nodded and moved aside to allow Santos to step past him and into the boat.

  “Well?” Santos turned to her. “We don’t have all day.”

  Averting her gaze from Reo, she hurried by him and scrambled into the boat. As soon as she’d settled in the prow she felt the boat shift as Reo got in. Santos waved a hand and green mage mist—a spell—surrounded the small boat and sent them skimming across the water.

  Rather than look at Santos, and Reo behind him, Kara stared ahead, towards the walls that lined Warrior Guild Island.

  She wrapped her arms around herself, trying to ward off the chill sea breeze. Santos could have warned her that she’d be out today; she would have brought a wrap or a cloak.

  But then she would have spent the early part of the morning wracked with nerves, and not just because this was the first true test of her abilities. Reo’s presence was a reminder that if she failed he could be sent back to a life he hated and worse, a life that would very likely be short and end badly.

  So she wouldn’t fail.

  Kara closed her eyes and concentrated on making everything go away; all the doubts, all the worries, all the thoughts of how unready she was. She dismissed them all to concentrate on her goal: reading the magic and eliminating any spells that held any trace of ill will. She took a few deep breaths before opening her eyes.

  Stone walls loomed straight ahead: they were here. The boat slowed as it approached a pier that stretched out into the bay. A couple of Warriors stood beside an older man whom she recognized from Founders Day as Guild Primus Ungaro.

  Someone in their boat—Reo, probably—tossed a rope, and one of the Warriors caught it, pulling them close and tying their boat to an iron ring.

  Kara put a hand on the wood of the pier and stood up, waiting until Santos had been helped from the boat before taking the hand offered by a Warrior.

  “Santos Nimali,” the older man said. “It is my pleasure to once again welcome you to Warrior Guild Island. Reo.” He inclined his head towards the former Assassin, before meeting Kara’s eyes. “And Kara Fonti. I remember seeing you at Founders Day, and I am especially happy to see you again. I am Warrior Guild Primus Ungaro. Come this way, please.”

  Santos took Kara’s arm and leaned close to her ear. “You can do this,” he said.

  “Yes,” she replied. “I can.” She stayed focused as she walked into the hall, ignoring everything except the task at hand. And Reo, who followed her.

  SHE LOOKED AROUND the large room. She’d been here only once, on Founders Day, when Reo had presented her to the Guild and she’d been seen by Noula.

  There was even more mage mist here now but none of it seemed particularly ominous.

  “Do you want all magic gone or just in certain areas?” she asked as she walked around, studying the spells. Ah, that one. “Although I will remove any spell that was cast by the previous Mage Guild Secundus.” She frowned and waved a hand. After a moment, the grey-black cloud faded to nothing. “I assume that is acceptable?”

  “I know from our Seyoyan friends that each mage has their own colour but I am surprised that you recognize the spells of Valerio Valendi,” Ungaro said.

  “I’ve seen his spells before. I’ve even seen him cast them,” Kara replied. When the Mage Guild Secundus tried to kill her and Reo, but she didn’t say that out loud.

  She stopped scanning the room and stood eye to eye with Ungaro. “You know my mother is now Mage Guild Secundus?” At his nod, she continued, “I can identify her spells, in addition to those of her predecessor.” Who was the father of her unborn half sibling, but she didn’t say that out loud either. “And I have met—been threatened by—Mage Guild Primus Rorik.”

  “You have powerful enemies,” Ungaro said. “As do I. I would appreciate it if you could eliminate spells cast by any of those three.”

  “Along with any others I get a sense of malice from,” Kara agreed. “Shall you escort me?”

  “Reo can take you,” Ungaro said. “Along with Jacopo here.” He gestured to a dark-haired man who stood near the door. “I would appreciate it if you could give me a report, once you’re done.” He turned to Reo. “And you wanted to view something in the Hall of Records, you said.”

  “Yes, Mage Primus,” Reo replied. “There is a record there that Kara should see.”

  Curious, Kara looked over at Reo, but he avoided her gaze.

  “You have my permission,” Ungaro said. “When you’re finished, Jacopo will bring you to me. I’ll stay out of my office—and out of your way—for the rest of the morning.” Ungaro nodded and strode out of the room.

  Jacopo led them through hallways and into a series of office spaces for the next hour. There were quite a few spells, but none of them felt overwhelmingly dangerous. At least not that Kara could sense.

  Until they came to the office of the Primus. It was blanketed in mage mist, some of which made Kara’s skin itch. Surprisingly, it was Rorik’s tan, not Valendi’s grey-black or her mother’s purple that felt the most threatening.

  “Apparently Rorik doesn’t trust Warrior Guild,” she said as she started removing the spells. “Oh wait, there’s a Valendi spell as well.” The darker mage mist had a more sinister feel to it. She concentrated as she waved her hand over it: it faded to white before disappearing completely.

  “It’s not Warrior Guild that Rorik hates,” Santos said. He stopped in the middle of the room and gazed around as though he too could see the spells. “It’s Ungaro. He blames him for the death of his brother.”

  “Was he responsible?” Kara asked. Rorik’s spells were easily cleared away. Was that because his magic was weaker than Valendi’s or because at heart he wasn’t as evil?

  “In a way,” Reo replied.

  Kara glanced over at him. Other than explaining what went on in the rooms they were visiting, he’d been silent.

  “Ungaro approved the contract.” Reo shrugged. “It wasn’t mine, but I know which Assassin fulfilled it.”

  “Rorik should blame whoever took out the contract,” Kara said. “Shouldn’t he?”

  “Ungaro wouldn’t let him see it,” Reo replied. “Warrior Guild will assure confidentiality for those willing to pay for it.”

  “Otherwise the records are public?” Kara asked.

  “Just within the guild,” Santos said. “Any guild member who has found their talent or reaches the rank of Journeyman can view the records. Except records that are confidential. Usually only council members have access to those.”

  “And the record you think I should see?” Kara asked Reo. “Is that confidential?”

  “No,” he replied. “At least it wasn’t when it was first commissioned. Come, if this room is clear, the Hall of Records is our final stop.”

  Reo led the way down a hallway to a set of double doors. He stepped aside to allow Jacopo to open the doors, before he stepped through the doorway.

  Kara followed him into a huge room. She stared up at tall shelves. Books and scrolls and boxes lined the ones she could see, but higher up everything, including the ceiling, was obscured by writhing swathes of mage mist in every colour imaginable.

  “And some of these records have spells of protection on them?” she asked. With her eyes skyward, she started walking along the shelves, one hand trailing along the wood. There—that must be it.

  “Some do, yes,” Jacopo replied. “
I’ve been asked to tell you that those are to be left intact. Why?”

  “Because I can see that Rorik has been sending spells to this record here.” She reached up and pushed her hand into a thick rope of tan mage mist. She spread her fingers and the mist started to dissipate. “But I don’t think he’s been able to access it. The record itself is bound in a different colour of mage mist. Is this where the contract for his brother is?”

  “Probably,” Reo said. “But we are not authorized to see it.” He paused and met her gaze. “But there is one we can see, if you want to.”

  “Yes,” Kara said, although she already knew what it was: her mother’s contract to assassinate her.

  Reo studied the shelves as he walked along them, finally stopping and pulling a scroll from one. He unrolled the paper and glanced over it before handing it to her.

  Kara stared at the paper in her hand. She’d thought it wouldn’t hurt but it still did, even after all these weeks. Her own mother had wanted her dead—no doubt still wanted her dead.

  She spread the paper so that she could read it. And quickly rolled it back up. It was a contract, written in dry language. There was nothing here that said why this contract was being created; none of the language spoke of the hate or anger that must have been behind this order; the words held no emotions at all. All it contained was the terms of the contract and her mother’s agreement to pay upon proof of fulfillment.

  “This should be guarded and preserved,” Kara said as she ran her hand across the smooth paper. “Santos, can you do that?”

  “Are you sure, Kara?” Santos asked. “Every time you come in here you will be reminded of what your mother tried to do. Is that what you want?”

  She stared at the scroll before lifting her eyes to meet Reo’s. His held sorrow and worry; for her. She sighed and looked over at Santos.

  “Yes. I don’t need to be reminded that my own mother wants me dead, but I will never let her pretend that she didn’t do this; that she didn’t order my death.” And there would be a sibling who one day might need to know what their mother was capable of.

 
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