The trip to Cyphorica was everything Durston thought it would be, filled with both mental and physical pain. There wasn’t much to discuss beyond that first afternoon’s briefing, as there just wasn’t a lot known about the unauthorized, magic-wielding rebels. Durston’s days on the road were mainly spent contemplating the revelation learned over the true power of being a psionic. If more clerics were aware of the potential danger and influence that psionics had, there would be true fear of ever training that area of magic.
It was told in strict confidence that Estel Ell’s earlier claim that psionic magic only played tricks on the mind wasn’t exactly accurate. Though she specialized in what was known as illusions and charms, those abilities were very real. When someone was given an illusion, the effects were real inside the mind. This made it so fire that burned skin, burned inside the mind to create the pain, and even death if the controller so wished it. School taught Durston that those susceptible to the influence of psionics believed what was happening to them was real but he never realized that the results could be permanent.
Traveling from the Capital to Cyphorica took seven days for them, only stopping in one other large town in-between. They were about a half-day from their destination when Kireerk called a break, informing everyone that now was the time to discuss and plan.
“When Lord Raneer made the initial report, he wasn’t able to give exact numbers of what we are facing. We do know some of these so-called casters are highly skilled, training the recruits in the arts. The Lord was able to learn of this group from someone that defected, turning on them in hopes of gaining access to the Cleric’s Temple. He kept them here to continue the part of informant, and so our first goal will be to contact them to learn any additional insight they have that will help us handle this situation swiftly and safely.”
Abstractor Kireek focused on each of them individually, as if measuring them against a list of tasks he was dividing amongst them. Timothy shifted warily as those eyes made their way to him, followed by a soft nod as if agreeing with some internal advice.
“Cleric Reevan and myself will visit the local authorities to set up a sort of headquarters. As Reevan has the ability of discerning intent, this will allow him the chance to learn if the heretics have infiltrated the the city’s security. Cleric Waters, I want you to seek the local governor, Lord Raneer wasn’t able to determine if he was aware of the underground movement his city was playing host to or not. As a cleric that specializes in hypnotist, I am sure you’ll be able to gain access both to him and his cooperation in the matter.”
The plan seemed simple enough to Timothy so far, though splitting up caused a feel of discomfort to settle over him. It wasn’t but a few weeks ago that he was in the field, having to protect the Circles of the Realm from similar situations. There was always someone trying to gain access to the realm, or its magic, and it was every cleric’s duty to guard against the invasion from across the boarders and within. Still, in the two years of field work Durston had little exposure to true danger, and never were they on their own.
“Cleric Durston, as you are the youngest in our troop, you will be the most fitting in meeting with the informant, and joining these rebels. Though Lord Raneer trusted the intel, there were other factors involved that gave support into believing there were unauthorized casters here. But know this spy is not of our choosing, nor our training, and so we would do best in having you amongst these heretics. Being youthful, they are more likely to welcome you, and find it harder to believe you are a high member of functioning society.”
Thoughts flittered through Durston, none settling long enough for him to grasp and express, having him instead stare in a slight daze at Abstractor Kireek. After a moment’s pause, the older man decided to continue.
“I can feel there are multiple strings of unsteady magic here, as did Lord Raneer once the problem was brought to his attention, but they are too jumbled to make out the specifics required. We must know not only how many of these casters there are, but preferably who they are. Each one will need to undergo the procedure in removing the pathway between their magic and ability to access it. You are not only the most likely to blend in with these renegade citizens, but I have come to understand you are the most gifted.”
Ego and pride warmed its way into comforting Timothy’s runaway apprehension. Where just moments ago fear coursed through Durston over the task of being an alone agent, now overwhelming satisfaction ran. Yes, he would meet this rebel turncoat. And yes, it would be he who would discover their headquarters and numbers. And yes, it would be he who learned the secrets of being an Abstractor. Through this mission Timothy would not only gain the political recognition and influence he envisioned since first being given the orders, but he would also achieve real, formidable power over everyone’s own magical abilities.
Timothy made sure to give a slight bow of his chin for both respect and acceptance. “Yes, Abstractor Kireek, I believe I can manage that. Just let me know what I need to do.”