Mage (The Elemental Magic Series Book 2), page 1
The Elemental Magic Series
BY Michael A Nowotny
Edited By Trent Landt
Cover Art By Mark Woodhouse
COPYRIGHT © 2015 BY Michael A. Nowotny
Cover Art created by Mark Woodhouse © 2015
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Alec lay in his bed completely exhausted, mentally. He just couldn’t force his body to go to sleep. Christi and her family had skirted the topic of him losing his power all evening. He almost wished they had said something rather than give him the looks of pity when they thought he wasn’t looking.
Staring at the ceiling, he could acutely feel the emptiness within him. Checking his well every few minutes was like picking a scab over a fresh cut, it hurt each time, but he couldn’t stop himself from doing it. It was gone. Every last bit of power that he’d had in his well was just gone. Once again, he found himself wondering if it might not have been easier to just let the hole in his heart kill him.
Allen had told him earlier that Tom would most likely accept him into his martial school full time, with the help of their family. It was exactly what Alec had originally wanted to do when coming to the King’s Academy. Having had no prior training at all, he had fallen back on the fact that he had magic in order to stay out of the Enlisted. Alec seriously doubted that four months of training would allow him to pass the test to get in and that was if he decided he still wanted to go.
Alec had told Peter and Christi that he wouldn’t let anyone decide who his friends were. However, that was before this last beating and he’d had his own power and a purpose. Now he just didn’t know if it was worth it.
The tears ran out of the corners of his eyes before he even realized he’d been crying. Things back home weren’t all that better. He remembered all the harassment and beatings he’d taken from Greg and Jason just because he was smaller and didn’t have a father. Travis and his cronies had beat on him because he was a commoner. It just wasn’t fair.
The Goddess of Twilight paced back and forth in the pass. She had never been one for patience and being made to wait was a sure way to risk her ire.
The gathering of power was all that was needed for her to know the lesser gods had arrived.
She turned to where they would appear and drew her power around her, so they would know of her displeasure.
“It’s about time! I for one have things that require my attention!” she told them.
“That may be, but we too have duties to perform. You asked us here and we are. What do you need?” The older of three asked.
She could have easily killed two of them by herself but with three of them, they could overpower her.
“A Mage has been born and he is coming into his power. He could rival us in power. The boy must be put down before he becomes a threat. The other elder gods refuse to see the wisdom of protecting ourselves. Therefore, I must seek your assistance in removing him. You will order your followers to seek him out before he gains his full power! Then we will crush him!” She clenched her fist in front of her.
“And why would we want to do this when your brothers and sisters won’t?” Aaron, God of Rivers, asked.
“Because this Mage will come after you first, you who aren’t as powerful, you fool!”
“We will look into it and consult with our siblings. We are well aware that the last Mages to come after a god were driven mad, somehow. I prefer to take a more cautious approach when dealing with someone that powerful,” he said as the others nodded in agreement.
“If the mage begins killing you off it will be on your heads, not mine!” She yelled as she vanished from the pass.
Aaron turned to the others he knew how he felt. “As I suspected, the mage is a born mage. If anything, I think we should either help him or just try to stay out of it all together.” He told them.
“The rest of us aren’t nearly as powerful as the Elders. If she finds out that we’re helping him she could come after us. I know you said he carries a great affinity for water, but can he be that strong? Melanie has that affinity too and is much stronger than any of us.” Julie told him.
“I think we need to do our own research. If he’s losing his mind then I’d rather eliminate him now, when he’s weak.” Tony shrugged.
“We know you won’t be able to help much. Giving your power to Marcus has helped him to maintain the shield.” Aaron told him. “Julie and I will try to locate the mage and determine his stability. I for one don’t think the other born mages went insane by accident. Mage Bernard has proved that by not losing his mind.”
The other two gods left the pass. He already knew where the boy was and how to find him.
Alec headed to the sitting room, where everyone else was already seated, after an exhausting night of restless sleep. He took a seat next to Christi, giving a weak smile to her. She grasped his hand in response as Bill handed him a glass of a dark red morning wine with a strong fruity aftertaste. He just barely sipped it.
The family made small talk while giving Alec looks of sympathy that he found himself trying to withdraw from. He didn’t want to be pitied. Alec had finally reached a decision late last night. He would do everything he could to live his life normally. As the family relaxed the day away George told them that a captain of the guard would be by after supper to take their statements.
Apparently an attack on a noble just outside of the city walls was a big deal. They probably wouldn’t come if it had been just me, Alec thought to himself irritably.
They had a large supper of juicy roast beef and little reddish potatoes arranged around it. Brian served more of the dark red wine with the meal giving Alec a warm smile as he set a glass full in front of him. Alec thanked him and took a large drink, feeling it go to his head. It felt good to feel something other than the loss of his power. By the end of supper Alec had a good buzz going and sat in silence with the family in the sitting room. Things seemed to slow down and fade away as he sat there finishing the glass.
Alec looked up at Allen in a daze as he pushed a warm cup into his hands and motioned for him to drink. The cup was almost half gone. It was sweet and had a sharp bitter taste with just a hint of cherry. Halfway through the rest of the cup Alec’s head began to clear. Blinking his eyes, he noticed Captain Mel seated in a chair by the cold fireplace, a tray on his lap. He was writing as Bill told him everything he could remember from the attack. Alec didn't remember the captain coming in. He looked around not seeing Christi or her mother.
He turned to Allen who'd taken a seat next to him and asked. "Where did Christi and your mother go?"
"Mom said she needed to write a letter for Christi to take back to the school tomorrow. Are you feeling okay now? You were out of it for a bit there."
"Mother can probably explain it best. Let’s just get this over with first, and then I'll ask her to talk with you." Allen reached over and patted Alec on the shoulder.
Captain Mel asked Alec to give him as much as he could remember about what had happened. Alec told him what he could, which wasn't much considering he was unconscious for most of it. The captain told them he'd have some of the guards look into it as George bid him thanks and a good night.
George sat back down after walking Captain Mel to the door and asked. "Are you alright Alec?"
"Yeah, I think so." Alec said not so sure if he believed it himself.
"I think he has that alcohol waking sleep thing." Allen told his father.
"That's what it looked like to me and a severe case of it too," Jessica said as she came back in to the room followed by Christi.
They all sat back down so Jessica could explain it to Alec. Christi basically pushing Allen out of her seat next to him and giving him a cheesy grin as she sat.
Jessica explained that it was called The Waking Sleep. "Most Magic users have it to some degree. Although with most users it’s just the feeling of being somewhat dazed after just a couple drinks. Others, like you, are almost catatonic after a couple drinks. Allen gave you Pansick tea with some Cannitee juice and some cherry juice; it stops the alcohol from reacting with your system. You’ll feel like you were kicked in the head by a horse in the morning. You must be very powerful for it to take half a cup to bring you out of it,” she explained. “Normally just a sip will stop it. I've never heard of someone drinking half a cup."
Christi walked him to his room and gave him a kiss before his door. She giggled saying she wasn't allowed in his room anymore and her mother would be by shortly if she wasn't in her room when she checked.
Alec went in to his room, changed into some night pants, and pulled his shirt over his head, tossing it in the corner. He was still feeling a little dazed when he heard a knock on his door. He opened the door to find Jessica standing there with two steaming cups on a tray.
"May I come in?" she asked.
"Oh sure." Alec was embarrassed to be standing there without a shirt on in front of her. He turned and walked over to his shirt and quickly put it back on.
"Oh my, Alec, what happen to your back?" Jessica asked forgetting herself for a minute.
"The school, for defending myself, the reason I was suspended," He told her in a flat voice still feeling like he was in something of a daze.
"That's not right! Christi said those others just got suspended! That is so very wrong." She was so mad she'd forgotten the drinks till Alec said something about them.
"Is one of those for me?" He asked.
"Oh, yes, just some Chamomile tea. I thought it would help settle you for the night." She said handing him one of the cups.
"Thank you. I still feel like my head is swimming through thick syrup." He took a sip letting it soak down his throat and settle in his stomach. "What can I do for you?"
"I’ve sent a letter with Christi for Peter. I'd be surprised if we don't see him before lunch tomorrow." She had a puzzled look on her face.
"Thank you Jessica." He'd never thought someone would do so much for him without getting something in return.
"How are you feeling, now that you've had a chance to relax?" She asked thinking he was acting a bit strange. "You said your head felt thick. Is the tea helping or is it more of a tired feeling?"
"I'm not tired. It's like I'm having a difficult time thinking or am moving through mush." He tried to explain it as best he could.
"I think for some reason you could use more of the herbs. Either they’re not working for you or you’re extremely powerful." She held out a pouch to him. "Put just a couple pinches in your cup and we'll see if it helps."
Alec did as she said and swirled the tea in his cup to mix it before tilting his cup back.
Setting his cup down on the dresser he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. The fog in his head slowly lifted after a couple minutes. It was the difference between standing in a shadow or in full sunlight. He opened his eyes. Things seemed sharper, more vivid.
"Wow. That really helps," he told her as he shook his head and stretched. "I do feel a lot better."
"I was wondering. Sounds like you'll have another question for Peter tomorrow."
Jessica sat with him asking what his plans were. When he told her he still wasn’t entirely sure if he’d try to go back to the academy she reassured him that everything would work out for the best.
She walked to the door taking his empty cup from him. "Get some rest. I'll have Christi bring you something for the headache you'll have in the morning."
"I will. Thank you again. I’m sorry to burden you with all my problems." He felt embarrassed depending on someone else so much.
"We'll talk in the morning after the kids leave." She patted him on the shoulder as she left.
Alec closed the door and stripped his shirt off again. He doused the lamp on the dresser and climbed into the bed hoping to get a decent night’s sleep.
Father Albert Tillman sat down at his desk, before him sat his mail and the reports he'd been reading through. Most of the reports forwarded to him didn't amount to anything but he was required to check them over to see if there was a problem on the horizon. He picked up his mail leafing through it quickly till he came upon a letter with only his name written on the front.
He set down the other letters and carefully opened it. It gave the name of a tavern, The Gale's Wind, and time at an hour after sunset. The name Merrill was signed below it.
Albert threw the letter in on the hot coals of his fireplace. It wouldn't do to have things sitting around that could be traced back to him.
He sat back and read his other letters, paying close attention to Father Marcus's report for the month. There was going to be a wedding coming up. It wasn't the wedding that really interested him but that the letter said Alec Carter would be attending it.
If his contact didn't manage to uphold his part of the deal then there was at least a possibility of taking the boy out on the way to or from the farm.
Albert made some notes in short hand. Very few people would be able to read his notes. He wondered what Merrill had to report and could barely contain his eagerness through the rest of the day. As the sun began to set, Albert set out for The Gale's Wind leaving his coach down the road even though it wasn't that bad of a neighborhood. With high hopes of good news bringing a smile to his face he took a seat in the tavern off to one side.
Albert was well into his second ale when Merrill and his accomplice showed up. They took seats across from him as Timmy signaled the bar for a couple drinks.
“What's the good word, my enterprising man?” He asked.
“Well, there are some good and some not as good,” said Merrill.
“Better give me the not so good news first, so you have a chance to cheer me up afterwards.”
“Sorry to say the boy still breathes.” Merrill held up a hand asking him to wait. “It's not for lack of trying. First we found him outside the city but he had shields up that we couldn't get past. The second time though we ambushed him on a road to the east and shot him in the back with an arrow. The little bastard managed to live through it and healed himself. Now from what I've heard, one of your priest friends sucked all the power out of him. I'm told he's now a total burnout, I think that's what they called it.” Merrill finished his story with a weak smile.
“He's not dead but is without power for now is what you’re telling me. If he is what I suspect then it won't be long before he gets his power back. You need to hurry up and finish the job now before it becomes near impossible.”
“That's what I needed to know. We weren't sure if he still needed to be taken care of now that he doesn't have any power,” Merrill said.
“I think he does h
His good mood destroyed, Albert stood from the table and stormed out of the tavern. Throwing the minor fit was an act that had gotten results in the past. He believed it gave others the impression that they had better get their job done or he would come after them.
Albert walked to his coach thinking about making a bit of a backup plan. It would involve him trying to intercept the boy himself when he came back from the farm headed for the academy. He'd rather catch him on the way there but knew he wouldn't be able to question the right people with him being at the academy.
Robert shook Sherry trying to ignore the rocking of the ship they were aboard. He'd been sensing the boy's power for the past week aboard the ship, trying to narrow down where he could be. Now the power signature was gone. After plotting the direction of the boy on a small map he had, he was fairly certain the boy was in Kingston.
“Sherry, wake up. We have a problem!” Robert said shaking her again.
Sherry sat up bleary eyed and gave him a glare. He quickly explained that he couldn't get any sense of where the boy was.
Sherry settled back trying to concentrate, searching for herself.
“Either he's dead or burnt out. What do you think, should we return or go on hoping that he's burnt out and just hasn't found his power again yet?” She asked.
“We've come this far, we might as well see if we can find him or wait and see if he resurfaces. It would be irritating to head back just to turn around again after he finds his power again. I know how much you love this tub we're on but I'd rather have something that doesn't move so much under me,” he said.
She told him they would most likely be to Bellsing by the end of the day according to the captain. It was easy for her to say, she'd grown up around ships. Robert on the other hand felt like he'd been turned inside out for half of the week.