|The Price of Magic (standard:fantasy, 3428 words)|
|Author: M.||Added: Feb 03 2001||Views/Reads: 2133/1154||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A young mage wishes to take the Test. What price is he willing to pay?|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story magic alone, and at least on combat against an opponent who is higher in rank than the initiate. Do you have any questions?” I felt scared yet somehow confident at the same time. Offensive spells were my favorite and my specialty. But dependent as I was on magic, I feared the tests which could not be solved by magic alone. I whispered a silent prayer to the three gods of magic as the Red Robe continued his speech. “Then, I ask that Lunitari walk with you.” He sat back down. The head of the Order of Black Robes rose to her feet. “I ask that Nuitari walk with you.” Unfurling a scroll, she began to read off names. “Wynded Mythkos” I stepped forward and found myself being accompanied by a Red Robe. He led me promptly to a door in the far end of the hall so I could begin my Test. * * * The road I walked was familiar. Why shouldn't it be? This was the road home, or better said, what remained of my home. In the distance I spotted the smoke which undoubtedly came from flames rapidly consuming the remains of what was once the village of Fythanias. Summoning the magic rushing through my veins, I empowered myself with the speed to fly toward the inferno devouring Fythanias. The wind in my face indicated, with its heat and scent, the rapidly shrinking distance between the village and me. I felt the heat, heard the cries, and saw the agony that was spreading faster than the cursed flames: Mothers clutching their babies to their breasts stumbling out of their homes; Fathers and sons attempting vainly to quench the fire to save the remaining houses from the raging fire; and daughters at the edge of the village crying for their loved ones consumed by the spreading destruction. I stood at the edge of the village, helpless for I knew no spell which could have saved this village from this reckless force of nature. For once in my life I felt weak knowing that the magic I strived to learn throughout the years was incapable of saving the lives of those I knew and loved. As I stood there in my moment of weakness, a moment that would haunt me for the rest of my days, I noticed an image coming toward me from the flames. Consumed by despair, it took me quite some time to realize that the image was coming from within the flames yet radiating with such power that the fire seemed to part allowing the image to move unharmed. Like a curtain parting for a bard's performance, the wall of fire parted to reveal . . . Lady Kythe! Magic and its mysteries demand a great price even from those born with the gift to wield it with power. Some pay the price with their lives, others with their souls, and still others with their hearts. I belong to those who paid with their hearts. For once I loved the Lady Kythe, and she loved me: my love for her rivaled only by my love for magic; the fire of her love overtaken only by the mysteries and promises hidden in the chambers of magic. I loved her dearly, more than she loved me, but my attraction toward the power and brilliance of magic far outshone my love for her. I would have desired that we both delved into the depths of magic's mysteries. But she was weak, incapable of harnessing the power needed to conjure the most basic of basic spells. She was impatient, lacking the discipline necessary to devote the time and energy needed to study the depths of magic. And she was cursed, ambitiously chasing dreams she was incapable of attaining. But here she was today standing before me in robes of deepest black: the robes of the Dark Magic Users. I do not know whether it was my five years of absence or the power of nature which made this woman more beautiful than I last saw her. The wind stroked her raven-black hair making it flow like a river preparing to demolish its banks. The raging fire gave her skin an expression of both a flowing elegance and a rising death. And the power, intense within her soul, reflected in her brown eyes with such radiance and terror that I was both attracted and at the same time horrified. “At long last,” she began in her tantalizing voice, “the great Wynded has decided to turn his attention upon his beloved village.” At the sound of her voice, the raging fires suddenly began to calm down, gradually retreating into the center of the village where it slowly began fading away. The only traces of its past presence were the houses blackened and crumbling with the corpses of its owners charred beyond recognition. Lady Kythe, apparently satisfied with this display of power, began to walk, nay glide, toward my direction. Her brown eyes capturing me, robbing my being of the power to move much less speak. “Was it worth it?” she asked. Still petrified by her eyes, I couldn’t even manage to comprehend the question. “Is the magic in your veins worth all that you’ve given up for it?” This time, I managed to slightly nod my head. If it were in affirmation, I wouldn’t know. I felt as though I had lost all control over my body as if I were some puppet dangling upon strings controlled by an unknown puppet master. She began to whisper several words. Words which I instinctively knew were magic but words which I surprisingly could not comprehend. Without warning I felt the unseen strings release my body with such swiftness that I slumped to the ground. I never felt the ground as darkness embraced my consciousness with gentle arms. * * * Darkness slowly released my slumbering consciousness from her tender embrace. The world around me was cold as marble and not even my robes slowed the chill stabbing at my bones. Everything was a haze, blurred by an unknown force which was rapidly leaving my body. I found myself in a hall where the pillars suspended the starry sky with the three moons of Krynn: the white globe Solinari, the red sphere Lunitari, and the black orb Nuitari. It took me only seconds to realize that the ceiling was merely an illusion and that this hall was THE hall of Lady Kythe’s castle. Memories rushed into my brain like an uncontrolled flood. This was the hall where we first met, the hall where we first danced, the hall of all the tender memories Kythe and I shared. “I’m glad you remember,” said a voice I only knew too well, “I was afraid that even the memories of this place served as tokens you paid to grow in your magic.” “Kythe,” I began with a voice that I didn’t recognize as my own, “how . . . why . . . when?” “How is as important as when. But what matters most is why. I have long waited for a chance to meet and eventually capture you. What surprises me is that you fell for the illusion of a burning village. Haven’t you noticed, you absolutely have no memory on why or how you traveled back home? All that you know is that you are traveling back without any knowledge or memory of where you came from or what you plan to do.” The words stabbed me like a dagger burying itself deep into my mind. “But as I have said, what matters most is why. Do you wish to know or should I leave it up to your superior mind to figure that out?” The dagger once again stabbed into my mind drawing forth a bubbling stream of memories. Before I left Fythanias to embark on a more serious study of magic, Kythe and I had a fight with such heated words that one may think that we had forgotten the meaning of sanity and decency. I wanted her to come and join me in my studies. Even though I knew that she found it hard to seriously devote time and effort to the discipline, I insisted that she come along. Using up every possible argument, charm, and patience within myself, I lost control of myself and cursed her and her feeble mind. I hated her for being so week in the magic, and I hated myself for falling in love with someone who (to my mind) had no talent whatsoever. I left her in a state of shock and tears, all the time screaming about my powerful and superior mind undeserving of her pathetic ignorance and loathsome presence. “I guess your superior mind fails to find itself capable of finding the simple answer,” she said after some time of awkward silence, “The answer is actually pretty simple, I want to give you a second chance. With all the magic that I have acquired through the years of your absence and the love I still bear for you, I decided to ask you to come back.” I slowly stood up to face her. Never in my life had I been so humiliated, the woman I once loved having the magic to control everything around me. The least I could do to gain my self-respect was to meet her face to face as she was unveiling her proposition. “What makes you think that I would like to go back?” I replied when I finally got to look into her soft brown eyes, “Do you think I could go on loving someone as inferior as you after all those years? Did you think that I regretted the things I did and said when we parted?” Her eyes never flinched, never wavered as I spoke those words. I admit that I felt quite surprised for I thought that I could shatter her with what I said. Not wishing to admit defeat I continued, “How dare you think that you can play games with me like this? You never were and never will be my equal. Depart with your petty illusions before I lose whatever patience I have left.” “Do you not understand, Wynded? Have you no faith that I have poured my heart and soul into this out of love for you?” Her eyes, shamelessly reflecting her pleas, began to slowly water with pain. A spark of unknown emotion began to ignite a fire within my soul. How could Kythe in so short a time have gained power outclassing my own? A petty mind and impatient soul such as hers would have been incapable of such magic. Unless . . . “Kythe, when was the first time that we kissed?” “Under the stars during the autumn when you asked me for what I wished for the most. I asked you to hold my hand and as it grew colder I asked you to hold me close to you. And before you could do or say anything else, I kissed you with the knowledge that I’d hold and kiss no being other than you.” I was sincerely hoping that she would either give me an answer so simple that I’d detect the illusion that I suspected existed. But this could be no illusion for the details mentioned were the ones we held close to our hearts. But the love that was beginning to grow in my heart quickly crumbled with one sickening thought: her magic. If she is indeed Lady Kythe, how could she have grown in the magic so quickly? The illusion that she claimed she cast was one that would have required the power and knowledge of the great Par-Salian. “Kythe, where and how did you gain this power?” “As I have told you earlier, the when and the how do not matter as much as the why. What’s important is that you know that I do love you and that I do want you back. Look deep inside you; you sold your heart to grow in the magic. I am giving your heart back and at the same time am willing to share with you this knowledge and power I wield. All I want is for you to be happy, for you to love and be loved. You can love the magic yet magic will never love you.” I am not sure if she still said anything after that. The sweeping tide of anger, frustration and disappointment enveloped me without much warning. How could I love one who once was inferior to myself and now wielded power beyond my understanding? How could I be with one whose love for me outclassed even my love for magic? Who would I be then without the pride and strength towering over this creature I once loved and admired? Like the tide swelling up inside me, the magic began to stir. With a fury and resentment I have never before felt, I unleashed all the magic I possessed into a destructive force meant to obliterate Lady Kythe. I remember her raven black hair being caressed by the magic around her, her skin reflecting the power that surrounded her, and her eyes filled with pity and sadness as all the spells I cast began to turn upon their caster. I felt the lightning bolt strike my breast with such force that I thought I lost my heart. I crashed limp onto the ground never knowing whether the other spells were successful in harming their caster. * * * Death is a pleasant experience. The sweet breeze caressed my skin with a tenderness that could be outdone only by a mother’s gentle touch. A soft light stroked my closed eyes inviting me to look at the new world around me. With much effort, I slowly opened my eyes to establish that the afterlife looked like a terrace overlooking the . . . Forest of Wayreth? A familiar voice suddenly spoke. “Congratulations, Wynded. Not only have you proven your control over the magic but the power you could generate as well.” I turned around to see Par-Salian with two other mages solemnly looking at me. I felt no elation, no joy, only an emptiness I could not fathom. “We were amazed at the strength of you spell. Even though the first lightning bolt bounced back, the rest shattered the barrier protecting the dark mage making you quite successful in passing your Test.” I tried vainly to feel jubilant about the news. Yet the emptiness, the void, continued nagging my soul. “Unfortunately, we have also seen your obsession with the magic. Magic is a gift from the gods. It is a tool, an instrument meant to serve us and not to control us. We have seen your determination to sacrifice anything and everything that stands between you and the magic regardless of its value.” Par-Salian sighed deeply and then continued. “Throughout the years we have seen wizards pay for the magic with their lives, with their souls, and with their hearts. You have paid for the magic with your very being enslaving yourself to the power allowing nothing, not even yourself, to deter you from your quest.” “The Lady Kythe was our hope that you could still become a master to the magic. We hoped that you would relearn to love those who mattered more than the power. We wished that you would use the magic as your companion rather than as your master.” I understood the speech yet felt nothing except the emptiness which seemed to grow within each passing moment. “The Test took its toll on your body. No longer will you be able to love or to hate another. Respect and fear will be as alien to you as joy and sadness. The spell that turned upon its caster shattered the heart which gave rise to an outburst of uncontrolled power.” Par-Salian began to cast a spell upon me, a spell which would forever change my life. “For your own safety, I cast on you the spell of Melansomia to replace your shattered heart. Every spell you cast will increase the emptiness you feel, every artifact you use to protect you will intensify the void in your soul. As such, you will be reminded that magic is a good servant, but a bad master.” And suddenly, I found myself alone and empty clothed in robes of deepest black. [Author’s Note: The opening part of this story was taken from Margaret Weis’ “The Soulforge”. I had to copy the initial procedures for the Test so that readers unfamiliar with the Dragonlance world may understand the remainder of the story. I hope that no legal complications will arise from my decision.] Tweet
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