The Pathfinder Of Magic - Part I - The Hunt
Andy doesn’t know how long he has been running. He only knows that he dare not stop for a rest. The only thing that helps him to continue running is his own mantra. A constant phrase that drives him to continue though his strength is long gone; just a little bit further. Just a little bit further.
He kept on running while the rain lashed against his chilled and stunned face. The rain and the cold wind made his skin so numb that neither the hands nor feet felt the damp chill that spread and penetrated deep into his body. He must find a shelter from the wind and rain. Black spots were beginning to appear in his vision that grew bigger and bigger. A little longer and he would be running around blindly only to pass out from exhaustion. The steady clatter of rain began to draw itself away to become a distant hum in the background. The only sounds that he was aware of, was his own pulse pounding in his head and the hissing sound from his breathing.
Andy took off from the dirt road and followed a small stream where the water ran slowly towards the nearby valley.
The stream was shallow enough for him to wade in, without the water reaching over the top of his worn boots. He was hoping that the pursuers would continue to hunt him in the belief that he still ran along the dirt road.
He knew there was an Elemental among his pursuers. A Fire-Elemental that has the ability to control, create and mold fire after his own will.
He had seen the Elemental from a hiding place in a barn where he took shelter during the night. The Elemental had threatened everyone in the village that he would burn it down if they did not point out Andy’s whereabouts. None of the people knew anything, no one knew, except an old man.
When the old man saw the threatening Fire-Elemental make a sweeping gesture with a burning arm towards the gathered village people, he walked up in front and pointed towards Andy's direction. Andy saw how the flames danced around The Elemental's arm for a moment before they vanished. He did not stay to see the questioning that The Elemental had with the old man.
The hunt was on and he ran like he’d never run before.
* * * *
Andy knew that he had used enough magic yesterday for the Magic Pillars to reveal his position for the Magicians Orden. He knew that they would come for him but he couldn’t just leave the people in the village without trying to help them.
The people of the village were poor and hungry from starvation. He had walked over the ground that hadn’t provided any crop for the villagers. The drought and the heat had lasted a long time. All the water that remained in the shallow wells went to the people and the skinny and dehydrated animals were slaughtered one by one.
He had gone down on his knees on the dry soil and felt what was missing. He had closed his eyes and seen with his mind's eye, an underground river a good distance away. It was far from the village's water wells and it would never find its way over here without help. He did something he hadn’t tried before or even knew he could. His breathing was deep and slow and all his energy was spent focusing on the water.
When he felt that the time was right, he had sent out his energy towards the water like invisible threads. When the energy threads had met with the water he instinctively felt how he should proceed. He had sent out his magic along the energy threads to blend with the water. With the help of magic he then began to draw the water in his direction. The water had run unhindered towards him as he stood on his knees.
When the water along with Andy's magic moistened the dry crops in the ground, they started to sprout and grow. He doesn’t know how long he had sat there on his knees concentrating on his task.
When he finally opened his eyes, the land was full of vegetation and the smell of all the greenery spread across the arid countryside and the village.
The villagers had been kind-hearted and generous. They had shared food and water even though they had so little. Many were sick and weak but they still lived on the hope. The hope for a future in the village they had created a home and the hope for an end to the terrible drought and famine.
Andy had hurried away from the spot, hoping that no one had seen him sit there on his knees in the dry soil. But all this had happened yesterday and he had been seen. And today… today, he was being hunted.
* * * *
Andy belongs to the unfortunate small group of people that all other men and tribes refer to as The Forbidden.
The Magicians orden has since its foundation had as its primary mission, to capture all people suspected of being one of The Forbidden.
The Forbidden possesses a magic that is instinctive and natural. It is an innate magic that is not schooled and controlled and is therefore seen as a serious threat to all Magicians and the Magicians orden.
Everyone born as one of The Forbidden is captured as children by the Orden and the majority gets executed immediately. The only exception is if they find that the magic within the child is too weak to be a threat.
* * * *
The fear of being captured gave Andy more stamina and more willpower than anything else. He had heard stories about what the Magicians Orden did with people like him and he himself had seen them kill his mother. He knew they were approaching and that the distance between them was decreasing. He had to hurry.
A slippery stone lay just below the surface and the fall was unstoppable. He fell helplessly into the stream. The chilled body did not feel the cold water that surrounded him and he sat up quickly and got up on unsteady legs.
By The Eternal! Help me escape from the Magicians orden. Don´t let them catch me. Why am I being punished for being one of The Forbidden? Andy cried to himself. Panic and despair spread throughout his body and he thought he heard distant voices getting closer.
The first steps were unsteady but he urged himself on and refused to be distracted by the terrible images that he unintentionally created of torture and abuse. Dreadful horrors that he would face if they caught him.
The sound of nervous drumming fingers filled the room. The man who sat opposite Overlord Murar stopped immediately when he realized that his bad habit was not appreciated. The sweat ran slowly down from his forehead and the man wiped his hand across his face.
Nobody said anything. The man could not stand it any longer, he stood up and began to pace around in the room and his shoes clapped loudly when they hit the hard marble floor. "Sit down Likel!" The man stopped abruptly and looked at Overlord Murar. "Sit down and sit absolutely still. I can not stay in the same room as you when you’re pacing up and down like that." "I'm sorry My Lord, but we are so close. Erax the Fire-Elemental must obtain the boy. I have never had such a clear foreboding. The boy will open the gate to The Eternal unless we get hold of him." Overlord Murar looked at his nervous Seer. Of the three who remained, Likel was the best. It was not reassuring to see him as a nervous wreck when so much was at stake.
"We have fought the darkness before and won. The Four Darkmagicians will be unable to best us, even with the gate opened. Their alliance with those cursed elves has not given them anything”, said Murar confidently. "But my Lord ... the darkness that I fear is not that which already exists here among The Living. I fear the darkness that will come through the gate,” Likel said nervously. "There will not be any darkness coming from the gate…" Murar roared loudly, "… because we shall ensure that the boy never gets a chance to open it. Do you understand me Seer Likel? " "Yes, my Lord". "I have no doubt that the Magicians Orden is invincible, and nothing will be able to defeat us. We have more men in The Orden than ever Likel. If the gate would be opened, which it will not, I will personally destroy the darkness forever." Overlord Murar stood up and walked over to the window overlooking the town of Ramah. Seer Likel watched his Lord in profile, as he stood like a statue, sculpted by power and magic.
I hope you're right, my Lord, for our lives are in your hands.
* * * *
The Magicians Orden has long been the center of power in The Living world. Magic can be found in many forms and shapes and is used in various fields by practitioners in all the classes of society. There is one thing in common to all who have magic and that is to be loyal to the Magicians Orden.
The Magicians Orden or as referred to by the common people the Orden, have said that the magic is present in the air around us and that only specially chosen people are worthy of magic. It is therefore an honor and a duty to serve the higher powers and the Magicians Orden. If a person receives magic, he is no longer his own, but the Magicians Orden. To refuse obedience counts as treason. Everyone must leave their old family and become a part of the Magicians Orden.
Many people live in fear that some day they will be chosen by the magic and be forced to leave their families and homes. Ordinary people see magic as a parasite in the air. It finds a human body that it likes, and becomes a part of that person. A new person with magic. No one who has magic has ever gotten rid of it. The earliest age to receive magic among people is sixteen. The Magicians say it has to do with the body and its development into an adult. The only exception to this theory is The Forbidden.
The number of people who has magic is very few and if the magic is strong enough, you will be tried and tested by a Representative of the Magicians Orden. Afterwards they get divided into different categories according to their magic. Those who have large and diverse magical abilities can be trained and formed to become Magicians, while others with a single and more specific magic of the elements becomes Elemetalists, Healers or Seers. If you have a unique magic which can not be placed in one of these categories, you get recruited as a Representative.
A Representatives work often involves a gathering of information as a spy or to bring the Magicians Orden's actions in the various things within the different parts of society across the country. At the bottom of the list of work you find prison guard and supervisor for The Forbidden. It is a task that is performed without the grace of kindness.
* * * *
After following the stream a long way, two large blocks of stone appeared some distance away. The blocks of stone were leaning against each other where one block was higher and longer, and worked as a stone roof. He left the stream and walked towards the blocks of stone. He was cold and frozen down to the bone.
The chill in the wet air gave him involuntary cramp attacks in the stomach when he breathed. He must get warm soon or otherwise he will get really sick. The cramp attacks had changed to a constant shivering once he reached the two large blocks of stone.
He stumbled inside through the opening and went down on his knees. He must try to focus and gather his energy and use as little magic influence as possible. He must be careful so the Magic Pillars would not detect the small amount of magic he now intended to use. After a brief moment the dampness in the grass under the two big rocks began to change form from water to steam. The steam rose higher and higher until it disappeared out of a little opening high above him.
When the ground and the grass were dry, he sat down, closed his eyelids and fell asleep from exhaustion.
* * * *
"Stop! We will stay here for the night." The voice was hard and sharp and man who had spoken sat down on the road and swept his dark red cloak around him. The cloak didn’t show a trace of dampness in the rainy night. The Fire-Elemental´s cloak suddenly lit up and Erax watched his men as he gave his orders.
"Karr, go and fetch water from the stream over there. Hamis! You can start preparing the food. I will not let the boy ruin my appetite," Erax the Fireelemetalist said.
He took out a small brown stone from his red cloak pocket and laid it on the ground in front of him. A transparent bubble spread out from the stone until it grew so big that the whole group would fit inside and use it as both rain and wind protection. He turned his gaze towards Erman and Massto. "Bring me some firewood now!" His voice cut through the night and for a moment the rains constant clattering was surpassed by the Elmentalist´s harsh voice.
Karr went with heavy and tired steps toward the stream.
Fetch the water, trade the horses for supplies. The boy is on foot and he’s not restricted to sticking to the road and we should have the same conditions he says. Hell, I had it good in the big city before lord Elemental came and made me join this stupid hunt for a mere child.
I am a Representative of the Orden. I have more important things to do than this, Karr thought to himself and he couldn’t hide his large wolf grin.
His eyes began to change color and a green glow started to spread out until it covered his eyes completely.
If I get a hold of the boy first, I'll twist his damn neck. Chase on foot, its crazy and stupid. If he wasn’t an Elemental he would be sorry. Should I have to fetch water as a common servant? Karr took out the leather bag and bent down towards the water.
But wait… what is this?
Karr let his magic flow freely and the stream was lit up by an emerald green glow which reflected the light from his eyes. His eyes lit up the darkness of the night and right before him he saw footprints in the water. Karr turned around smiling and went back to Erax.
"Karr, what are you doing? I told you to fetch me water you idiot!" Karr looked around nervously before he cleared his throat and started to talk. "Lord Erax, you may want to follow me to the stream and take a look? I believe that the boy took off from the road and waded in the stream towards the valley over there." Erax looked at Karr and nodded slowly. "Show me", he said. He followed Karr down to the stream and a short moment later the entire group waded along the stream towards a sleeping Andy.
"How do we know that the boy has gone this way?" Massto asked.
Massto is the oldest in the group and he is a political fox who is not ashamed to collect money in the name of the Magicians Orden for himself. It had been a long time since Massto had been contacted by the Magicians Orden for a hunt. He didn’t think he would enjoy it as much as he´d done in the past. He was wrong. The blood was pumping in his body, and he longed to see their prey lying down on his knees and begging for his life. Massto smiled to himself. He had never spared anyone and would not do it now, regardless of what lord Erax said. The prey was his.
This bloody weather destroys my sense of smell and the sulfurman Erax scent does not help my sense of smell to find the boy, Massto thought quietly for himself. He sniffed the air and maybe, just maybe there was something there.
Erax´s voice was low but still clearly heard by everyone in the group. A weak sulfur-like smell followed his voice and left a burning sensation in the nose, mouth and eyes. Massto held his breath. "Our friend Karr here… saw clear footprints on the stones in the water and the sandy bottom. Karr believes that the boy has been wading through the water towards the valley down there", Erax said. "And how can Karr have seen this in the dark lord Erax If I may ask?" Erman the youngest in the group asked.
Karr turned around as fast as a snake and lifted Erman up above the ground with an iron grip around his neck. "You calling me a liar" Karr said with a menacing voice. Erman made no attempt to escape. He seemed comfortable in the situation and just hung there while he looked at Karr. Erax stood silently and looked at his Representatives. He sighed loudly and started to speak.
"You have all been selected to search for the boy because of your different magical abilities. Karr, if you would care to demonstrate?" Karr looked up and let everyone in the group meet his eyes. Eyes that were as dark as the night itself began to glow more and more until it was such a bright green glow, that his eyes lit up his entire face.
They all seemed to be hypnotized by Karr´s magic. He knew that the others in their present state would do anything he asked for. There were no limits to what he could make others do. Karr instructed and his victim obeyed. He was still holding Erman by his neck when he turned his gaze gaze towards Erax, but all he could see was just a dark haze. The Elemental was there, but not really. Suddenly Karr had no air in his lungs and all he felt was a burning heat on his lips and in his throat. "Fool! Don’t you think I was prepared to face your magic? None of the spells that any of you have, can affect me, it was Overlord Murar himself who prepared me for this mission."
Karr finally got a breath of air down to his lungs and let go of Ermans neck as he fell down to his knees in pain from the heat in his mouth and throat. The others stared with open fear at Erax. Erax´s red cloak was burning like a living fire with flames that licked his arms and body without leaving any trace. The rain made a hissing sound when it hit the cloak and body. "Excuse me lord, but I get the feeling that there’s information about this hunt for the boy that we do not know. If we are specially chosen for this mission, I believe we shouldn’t have any secrets from each other, especially if we are supposed to be working together to capture the boy. If Overlord Murar himself gave the orders for this mission, I for one don’t think we have a normal kid on our hands. If you would be so kind to enlighten us lord Erax? Erax looked right into the eyes of Hamis who in turn met Erax gaze steadily. "Hamis, I was wondering when you would step up and let your self be known to the group and express your thoughts. Still as quick-witted, I see. Well then, we start with you Hamis." Erax turned towards the others and waited until he had everybody’s attention focused on himself.