Becoming an Abstractor – Part Seven

Waking-up with a massive migraine and a thick layer of hazy confusion was a situation Durston wasn’t use to experiencing. Even with the most promiscuous activities, his upbringing would never have allowed him to indulge to the point of complete disorientation. Wanting to stabilize his mental and physical equilibrium, Timothy kept his eyes directed at the unfamiliar ceiling.

“It’s advised for you to remain still Cleric.” A distinct foreign voice and creak of wood redistributing weight had Timothy strain to respond. Fear made way through his body, settling heavy everywhere it touched as Durston struggled to move but failed.

“Ah, tisk tisk my young Cleric. That’s why I insisted that you to stay as you were.” The stranger appeared over Durston, peering down and making eye-contact with a slight frown. But it was a look of disappointment flashing across her gaze that made Timothy realize he wasn’t the only one displeased with the circumstance.

“As you’re aware by now, magical and material means are keeping you restrained here. Unfortunately for you, the informant the Realm believed to have is in truth still very much loyal to our cause. That makes you purposefully lead to us, and placed in our care.” A hand fluttered half-haphazardly across Durston’s shoulder as the unfamiliar brunette made her way around him.

“The Capital was bound to discover our society eventually. Because of Cypris we were able to control the information on both what the government learned and the avenues taken in delving further into our business.” Durston refused to give the unknown woman the attention of his eyes, the one thing he had control of.

“We want to thank you for joining us here in Cyphorica. As an outer city we rarely are graced with the presence of those from the Temple or Capital. It’s our hope we can have your full support.” A subtle smile brushed over the captor’s face.

“I know you can’t even imagine helping us, but you will. I have faith you’ll willingly cooperate, but if not…” Turning her back to Durston, giving a dismissal shrug, the rebel made way to an open door. “Cypris will be in shortly to help get you situated. I give this warning, there’s a choker around your neck that is designed to redirect all magic you attempt to incapacitate you.”

Being left alone, Timothy tried an experimental flex of his arm.

Nothing.

Coming from a powerful and successful family, failure wasn’t something Timothy was use to, and so refused to readily accept. Experience from a politically driven father taught Durston that there were ways to turn unforeseeable events into something favorable. But until he knew what his opponents needed him for, nothing could be gained by his escape; making it back to Abstractor Kireek would earn no recognition without intel.

A soft knock interrupted Durston’s contemplation, drawing his attention to the room’s new occupant. Coarse curls caught and reflected what light there was, dancing before the eyes giving Cypris the youthful, innocent look that him and the Realm fell for.

“I’m aware you are most likely angry at me for your current dilemma, but being a young, opportunistic person, it’s our hope you’ll understand our position and validate our standing with the Realm.” Other then when she first entered, Cypris refused to meet Timothy’s eyes. He wasn’t sure what kept the confident girl’s gaze diverted, as it could be a number of reasons ranging from her guilt to his callous scrutiny.

“Priestess Knight wants me to get you comfortable, so I’m going to remove your bindings now. I’m told she gave you a warning already on what will happen if you try anything, I suggest you trust in her threats.” Cypris leaned over Timothy, studying his eyes for a moment for letting out a soft sigh.

“You’re young and come from a privileged standing. You don’t understand what it’s like out here beyond those Temple and gilded walls.” Making way around his prone figure he felt her feather light touch remove the spells placed around him.

“I envy you Timothy, as I’m sure many people do. You know what the difference is between you and I?” Taking a moment to pass him a wistful look, she continued as if not expecting an answer. “Status. That’s all. My magic can do the same thing as any Clerics. I find it difficult to believe that the Great Circle would gift those outside of the Temple if it wasn’t meant for us too.”

Finally feeling the weight lifted, Durston made himself as pleasant as could be expected when given no choice. Trained to always look at placing himself in a position of power he was quick to vacate his bindings and made to escort Cypris to a set of plain chairs. With practiced skill Timothy cunningly moved her seat, removing the sight of his recent captivity from view.

Needing a moment to steady himself and noticing a carafe nearby, Durston thought it best to serve them both a drink. “So Ms. Bloom, why did you have me brought here?”

“Don’t flatter yourself too much. The Coven just needs a fully administered Cleric of the Temple and they sent you to meet me.” Giving a sly smirk, Cypris gave her drink a courtesy sip for dramatic effect. “Priestess Knight is impressed with you. It’s her belief the future can only progress with the open minds of the youth, and she sees you being able to help with that.”

“Progress is laid on the foundation of the wise, lead by experience, and taught by those that have already learned from it. The Witches’ Coven has never approached the Temple on any concerns, hopes of progress or change, but instead have established themselves as adversaries.”

Cypris sprang out of her chair in an irritated flurry. “The whole country is controlled by the Temple and Clerics. No one outside of the Temple’s circle has any say or power, whether it be political, agricultural, structural, or even magical. If anyone dares to speak about discontent of living under ecclesiastical authority, it’s seen as an attack which the Temple is quick to silent.”

Durston mentally slapped himself for speaking his mind, his father’s teachings always emphasized to listen first, and not to say anything that will cause others to be on the defense; unless, of course, he had the upper had. Giving a small cough to break the tension, Timothy nodded Cypris to the abandoned chair. “So what is it that this Priestess thinks to gain by having me here? Is the Coven wanting a Cleric to use as leverage to be heard by the Temple?”

“She hopes that you’re young enough to listen to her and the Coven with understanding, but that’s only secondary to what she needs a Cleric for. No one ever thought of recruiting a Cleric of the Temple, and though it would be beneficial with furthering our knowledge it’s not required. The Priestess wants you to feel free to explore our compound and get to know our followers before discussing your main purpose here.” Cypris calmly stood up and gave Durston a contemplative look before continuing.

“You may walk among us but everyone know what you are. Know that besides that collar around your throat, our members are loyal and will keep watch over you.” Making her way to the exit, she turned once more to Durston. “We surprised the Realm. They never expected a group with our capabilities, thinking they were able to Abstract those with magic before ever gaining power. We are not as insignificant as you want to pretend.”

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Becoming an Abstractor – Part Six

Timothy wrongly assumed a night meeting under the cover of darkness would be ideal, as secrecy surely was easier to keep with shadows being your identity.  But the truth was moonlight rendezvous drew more prying eyes than the crowded streets Cyphorica hosting during business hours. Clutching his well-made but travel worn cloak, Durston side-stepped and made slow progress through the packed people; trying not to be noticed, yet feeling exposed under the morning sky.

As with every city and town, the center hosted a church to guide all citizens in government, religion, and education. Timothy made his way to the towering structure that acted like a compass for those unsure of their surroundings. Meeting on Cleric grounds in broad daylight was risky but Timothy understood the idea of secrets in plain view.

Though perhaps not ran down, Cyphorica’s church was built with none of the pride and grandeur typically found with the Cleric’s infrastructure. It was a simple two story wood framed and bricked wall hall, the windows holding no glass but thin stone, letting only light in. Being an outer city, so it lacked the heavy hand the Clerics wielded, as well as their money, power, and influence. The city’s more independent nature was probably the cause for the Realm’s current predicament and poor status of the Cleric’s Church. Timothy never had a reason to travel so far north, or even to many of the outer cities, and the state of the buildings promised be would never have the desire to do so again.

Cypris Bloom, their inside operative, was younger than Durston had expected. At the age of fifteen, Cypris already discovered the art of politics. Wanting more than a few magic tricks and a warrant for treason, she sold her rebel companions with the expectation of a favor. As far as first impressions went, she held true to his image of a naive, ratty child seeking acceptance from her betters. Grasping a translucent cape in the hopes of concealing her mismatched and thread-worn rags, filth covering her knotted hair and hollow cheeks, she bowed in greeting.

“Master Cleric, I wish to give thanks for the Great Circle that guides and protects our lives.”

Timothy gave a slight cringe at the small grace, never before associating the Great Circle as something that encompassed the destitute. “Ah, yes, and you are Cypris Bloom?”

Not waiting for the brisk node of confirmation, Durston made his way to a private booth for them to talk. Already a sour perfume of filth, sweat and the unknown permeated the stale air. Not that his prayers seemed to be effective, but Timothy sent out a silent one that the heretics be cleaner or his nose give out.

Dropping to her knees, as if in worship, Cypris proceeded to inform Durston of all she knew. The ingenious idea of using an open and public place to meet, even if the grounds themselves were currently empty, followed by the way she hid her face and words in devotion finally dawned on Durston. This was all an act. Cypris Bloom in fact was clever and excelled in deception.

*~*~*~*~*

Tim, as Durston now was known since those from the lower classes lacked the formality, patience, and teeth for long names, tailed after Cypris weaving her way through the city and crowds. Being briefed on the background the impoverished girl made up induced mental pain for the highly accomplished and acclaimed Cleric, almost making him dismiss the idea of stealth, the desire to just level the whole city seeming like a simpler solution.

Cast into the role of playing Cypris’s cousin who ran away to join the cause sounded easy at first, until Durston realized exactly what kind of acting he would have to perform: Being mild mannered, submissive to those inferior, forgetting his education, and pulling off street-smarts. The sprint through Cyphorica was enough time for Durston to realize this undercover mission would need to be short, there was just no way he would be able to immerse himself to make it believable.

Before making it to the next location, Cypris ducked into an alley, removing her tattered rags and revealing a clean, plain outfit. Wielding a brush, she made quick work of her transformation from peddler to young woman.

“The building across the road is the business of a small apothecary. It’s through his cellar we will go to meet the Witches’ Coven.”

“Witches’ Coven? Is that what these terrorists call themselves?” Durston gave a pause over the name. In his years of study and being the son of a high ranking lord, he felt sure he’d heard of them.

“Well obviously they aren’t Clerics, and they don’t ever want to be. A Witches’ Coven holds similar beliefs in the power of the circle, but they use herbs, elements, and nature to feed the magic. As a Coven they act similar to the Clerics, drawing upon the magic of many to perform more powerful spells.”

“Spells?” Everything was starting to sounds as if these rebels, these heretics, and uprisers were organized, even trained. To compare the Cleric’s training with this Witches’ Coven was treason, and yet the words sounded familiar. Though not mentioned often in their history, there had been a few encounters with other such groups that referred to themselves as a Witches’ Coven. Their magic was wild often involving noisy rituals, chanting, and even performances. Durston wasn’t sure how much was true, but from what Cyrpis described, they seemed similar.

“Do you know how long ago they were created? Lord Raneer made it seem that this was all new. That only recently you had come to him and joined this Coven in order to serve the Realm. And yet, from the way you speak of them, they sound well established, already having a number of followers. Your own apothecary is in league with these criminals, and it leads me to believe other upstanding citizens may also be corrupted by this plague.”

Cypris dusted her hands, giving him a titled look, dimples forming from a sly and knowing smile. “The Witches’ Coven is older than the Realm, Lord Durston. This…problem…as the Clerics would call it, is one people will always turn to when those in the Capital ignore those below their field-of-view from a castle’s window.”

Shock coursed through Timothy’s body, causing him to straighten his posture in dignity. He was finding it difficult to determine just who’s side this Cypris Bloom was on, and who she truly was. But before he could inquire her words of condemnation of her betters, Durston discovered they were no longer alone. A presence was felt from behind as an arm reached around Timothy, holding his head into a dirty rag, quickly causing him to slip into unconsciousness.

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Becoming an Abstractor – Part Five

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.”

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Becoming an Abstractor – Part Four

Dressed in his dusty traveling cloak, Durston made his way towards the front gates of the Cleric’s Temple; the sky beginning to blush from Solvaris’s morning kiss of first light. Dawn had quickly approached since orders were given the day before, permitting Timothy little time to ensure everything required for the journey. It was only due to him recently being relieved of his duties traveling the realm that he still had his personal gear and garments, which would make the trip a bit more comfortable. A brief shiver of empathy for his fellow recruits passed through him at the thought of having standard issue equipment; items so generic to fit just anyone, that the reality ended up having the opposite affect.

Being raised amongst the elite, his father being one of the high ranking lords in the realm, Timothy made it a point to arrive several minutes after the start of dawn. It was important to let Abstractor Kireek know exactly who Timothy Durston was, and that was someone who chose to attend this expedition, and not someone he actually was able to order to do so. And if Abstrator Kireek thought otherwise, well Durston was prepared.

The horses were gathered nearby, and Timothy was pleased to see his sturdy fox-trotter, a gelding he named Trax, saddled and tacked. Giving a glance at his new companions, Durston disappointingly noted Estel Ell and Kireek too occupied arguing to witness his purposeful defiance.

Putting on an air of disinterest, Timothy made his way to Trax, giving the gelding a gentle and comforting pat. Catching Claire’s eye, he nodding toward the commotion. “So what’s the deal with the hold-up?”

“Disagreement on what constitutes as necessities.” With an impartial shrug Claire turned back to her own horse, continuing her task of arrange the contents of her saddle-bags.

“Seems you weren’t the only one that decided that they needed to prove themselves as someone in a position of authority.” The scholar, Reevan, passed a sly look over the younger man. “Cleric Ell has thought to push the need of her parasol and cosmetics.”

Heat crept its way across Durston, both with anger and embarrassment, at the implied demonstration of being from a position of privilege. “A few minutes late is hardly what I’d call being insolence, and unlikely to show someone of Abstractor Kireek that I am anyone of importance. No, I will prove myself in the deeds done while on this mission and dealing with the heretics and not by showing disobedience over my duty to the realm.”

A knowing smirk lifted one corner of Reevan’s lips. “How quickly the lord’s son changes tact. I do applaud your guile.”

Timothy was saved from having to defend himself further, as Kireek dismissed Cleric Ell’s indignation and acknowledged them. “Good, you’re all finally here. I suppose the education received no longer includes the basics of telling time, or the manners in which should be exercised when dealing with those of authority. But enough dawdling, mount up.”

Estel Ell made as if to pick-up her discarded items recently being disputed over when Kireek decided to reminded everyone who was truly in charge. “And if I see, madam, any one of those items I just deemed unfitting, you may consider them your replacement gear. That means instead of a bedroll, you will have that flimsy contraption, and your warmth at night shall be the make-up you insist on having cover you up. Though I personally would recommend pulling the hood of your cloak over your head, for it shall serve every purpose of those items. Hiding your face from the light as well as the wrinkles beneath from being seen.”

An awkward silence settled upon the party as they twisted their way through the capital and into the surrounding countryside; Estel staring venomously at their commander’s back. It wasn’t until lunch time that Abstractor Kireek cleared his throat, breaking the discomforting quiet atmosphere.

“I realize you all may feel slighted by my dismissal of the briefing arranged yesterday with the High Council, and therefore feel the need to acquired a certain ascendancy over me. However, let me inform you now, that the time allocated to prepare for the journey would not have changed. Because of me you were able to manage your personal affairs for your unforeseen absence, and assemble that of which you need. The insight you were neglected to be told by the council is no different than that which I will share with you now. So in postponing that which you do so rightful deserve to know, nothing was lost but much was gained; time, and secrecy from those who may have spied the knowledge shared.

Timothy kept his face hidden behind his mid-day fare, glancing at Kireek and his companions from his peripheral vision. The Abstractor had his complete attention, but his father always cautioned direct eye contact when dealing with the unknown. Cleric Ell waved an impatient hand, encouraging Kireek to continue, as if bored.

“I know none of you have military backgrounds, or even contemplated a career path as an Abstractor, and though not all are psionics, they are the best and most desirable. Hence why you three were chosen. The situation in Cyphorica is one unique to our modern times. Distance from the capital has allowed them to organize and hide a secret gang of magic casters for an extended period of time, granting them the ability to grow in numbers and skill.”

Estel Ell folded her arms defensively, interrupting with a humph of annoyance. “I am a caster of charms and illusions. There is no way my smoke and mirrors will subdue your rebels. Especially if they are trained casters.”

Nodding in agreeance, Claire faced Kireerk. “My specialties lay in hypnosis, and though I can understand how both Cleric Ell’s and my craft may seem worthy in taking control of a rogue group of casters, I fear our skills are limited to only potentially affecting a few at any given time.”

“Yes, I understand the confusion. Though psionics don’t delve in the physical magic, such as those of a pyromancer or electromancer, our talent is especially powerful because it effects the direct source of all casters. The mind. Abstractors are trained casters with the ability to follow the residual streams of casted magic to its origin. All clerics can be trained in this, though as with any ability, some are more sensitive than others and therefore better suited. However, only psionics can excavate the taint within those unfit to control such a gift.”

Timothy felt a jolt of power pulse across his nerves; the knowledge of what an Abstractor could do terrifying and pleasant. Only giving a brief peek at Kireek, not wanting to show how much the thought excited him, Durston pressed the most obvious question they all had.”So, anyone that’s a psionic could potentially disarm someone from using magic?”

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Becoming an Abstractor – Part Three

Timothy Durston found himself pacing anxiously in a stereotypical study often found with the elite. The room was filled with the used smell of fine paper, treasured leather, expensive cigars, and spiced spirits. Before him sat an older version of himself, though it was with high hopes Duston’s own age would be graced with more laugh-lines and less of a stern gaze.

“I already accepted this assignment father, there is no reason for you to interfere.”

“You told me yourself that Abstractor Kireek held off giving any information about this mission. As a lord I can tell you this, the situation is extreme and requires military action. How the High Council was convinced untrained Clerics could handle a small stealth operation is beyond comprehension.”

Frustration caused the young man to rake his fingers through his hair, disturbing the carefully placed locks. “Listen, father, I know you mean well but this is a golden opportunity to -”

“To see my youngest son killed because of some fool’s negligence in understanding the current situation and wanting to advance their career. And yes, son, I know you hope to have it do the same for you.”

Timothy flexed his hands in a burst of irritation. For his father, no age, no experience, no accomplishment was going to make him an adult. But still, Durston forced his position, desire to be heard, understood, and supported coating each word. “I didn’t come here to argue this father.”

Raising a single brow in skepticism, his father leaned forward with clasped palms. “Then why are you here, son, if it isn’t for the usual help and advice?”

“It is for help, just not the kind you currently have offered.” Timothy gave a heavy sigh, letting it release the tension in his shoulders as the conversation headed in his intended direction. “I need my casting circles renewed. I was hoping you could get Alchemist Truvile to do it before I leave.”

“Let me see your hands, son.” Timothy turned towards his father for the first time, meeting his eyes. Hesitatingly, he made the short trip to the front the man’s desk and held out his hands to be inspected.

Cursive writing and odd symbols marked the tip of Durston’s index finger, across his purlicue, and reached the end of the thumb. Tapping the tattoo, his father caused a light blue flash to cross from end-to-end. “Hmm…what is it you are wanting Truvile for, son?”

“You know what I need him for father. The marking is only half charged.” Timothy withdrew a few steps, feeling the small distance hid his vulnerability. “I want the brand to be fully charged for this. As you said yourself, this is an extreme situation. It would be best if I were able to perform to the best of my ability.”

Several moments passed between the two with ticking of a clock the only sound. A slow, authoritative tone lined his father’s voice. “You are asking for me to obtain Truvile’s assistance to renew your Cleric’s Circle instead of going through the temple’s services?”

“Yes, as I said, I would like to have my mark at full charge before we leave in the morning. The temple always has a delay and they don’t give full charges to Clerics of my rank.”

“So you’re wanting your father to use his connections to go over the temple’s rules and arrange a full charge?”

An amused smirk crossed Timothy’s face. “Oh, come now father, rules? Besides, there is nothing that denies me from having a fully laden brand, it’s just not something the temple does. You gave an invitation of help when I first arrived.”

“As with any offer, Timothy, what’s in it for me?”

Anger flashed in Durston’s eyes as his back went rigged over his father turning the conversation into a business exchange. “Either you are able and wanting to help your son, or you’re not. The benefit would be knowing you prepared me for this dangerous mission and realizing that if successful, you will have a son in higher standing with the council and our family would gain additional political pull.”

Soft knocking reached their ears just as the door opened to the study. A man gave an easy bow and apologized for the interruption. “Alchemist Truvile is here as requested my lord.”

“It is good to see you my good friend.” An older man with a thinning crown of gray hair, maroon robes, and standing a few inches under Timothy made way into the study before the servant closed the door once more.

Standing to greet the older man, Timothy’s father made his way around the large desk and gave a two-hand embrace. “Thank you for coming on short notice. It has been too long since we have last seen each other and I feared you may not find the time for my invitation. My son has foolishly accepted to go with Abstractor Kireek and his mad brain of a plan in dealing with those unsanctioned casters. It wont do for him to have any disadvantage that we can help avoid.”

“Um…Hello Alchemist Truvile. It’s a real honor to have you here.” Timothy overcame his moment of surprise and confusion, giving a formal bow to the older man. “I should have known my father would have the foresight petitioning for you.”

The three gentlemen set up the equipment Truvile brought with him, and began the work of renewing Durston’s tattoos he used to cast quickly through. All Clerics from the realm carried similar markings, so that when the index finger touched the thumb, they could immediately activate a caster’s circle to perform their work. Though the small markings allowed the Clerics to cast in a moment’s notice, they weren’t ideal since they required an alchemist to charge them. Charging the tattoos negated the staleness a permanent casting circle, and lack of energy usually gathered into such a small area.

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Becoming an Abstractor – Part Two

It was shortly after the large gathering that Durston found himself approached with a message as he and his companions lingered. The order was simple, he was to stay in the temple and join the High Council for the more in-depth discussion on the situation in Cyphorica.

“A personal meeting with the High Council, Cleric Durston. It seems that they will be requiring your special talent for the situation up north.”

Durston made a slow turn around the crowd still standing near the tower, discussing the news that was shared with them all. There were two others besides himself with the mauve vestment also approached by the temple’s servants, he shouldn’t have found it surprising as few Clerics had the psionic abilities. “So it would seem.”

Timothy Durston wasn’t sure exactly how the temple handled unsanctioned casters within their borders, but he knew that it fell onto a very prestigious class of Clerics known as Abstractors that sought them out. They were specially trained to the sensitivity of magic, able to track any user down, and then enter their minds disengaging them from the power they wrongfully wielded.

“Now I know why it felt like Lady Au’Lira was talking to me. Not sure what help I’ll be though, I know next to nothing about Abstractors.”

“There, there Durston.” The man placed a comforting hand on Timothy’s shoulder while giving a soft chuckle. “Looks like the good life was short lived my friend. After today you may just find yourself out on the field again.”

“Oh, by the Great Circle, I hope not!” Durston blanched at his companion. Life wouldn’t be so cruel as to remove him just shortly after arriving back, would it? No, of course not. He was just being asked to help since the current situation required a larger than normal operation.

Where once he desired admittance into the tower now faced, Durston instead let out a heavy sigh. It was with a quick prayer that he returned to the interior of the building earlier packed to capacity; one in which he asked that his newly established residences wasn’t already being changed.

Raised, and centerfold sat a crescent table with seven unoccupied fauteuil in the forefront of Durston’s cushioned bench. The young man kept himself slightly to the side of any possible direct notice from those who summoned his presence. A continued prayer whispered from his lips as he watched only a handful of others complete the assembly.

An imposing, six-foot-tall figure roughly dressed in worn traveling clothes made way to the small group. Two servants struggled slightly behind him, each carrying an awkward load of packs and gear. Noticing that the commotion had everyone’s attention, the man indicated to have the items piled before them.

“These packs are to contain one additional set of clothing. If you don’t own anything deemed comfortable and sturdy for hard travel, speak to Priya Hachen with lodging and assignments.” The man’s eyes pierced through the confusion of his sudden appearance. “I told the council they didn’t need to waste time with another meeting. We will have several days of travel where we can discuss the situation and the plan of action.

“The stables will be preparing your horse and additional gear. If your horse isn’t made for distance, you will be assigned another. Pack only what can fit in these bags. Anything additional or unpractical will be left behind or tossed away when I discover it.”

Silence followed the man’s abrupt arrival and address. Durston himself wasn’t sure what to make of the situation, as the orderliness of the temple was completely ignored.  A middle-age Cleric sitting closer to the stranger snapped out of her daze in irritation. “Now, you see here Abstractor Kireek, I wont be trampling out along the wilderness. I have obligations. More importantly, I did my field work, fourteen years worth. The position I carry now has assured me that the most I would travel is a day.”

Annoyance masked the man’s face as he eyeballed each of them in turn. “Note I do not care about the obligations you carry here within the temples as none are special enough that they require any one of you personally to attend them. Know this is not a request for volunteers, this is an order. I dismissed the High Council and they listened. If they are willing to follow my word, then so shall you.”

With a nod of his head, the man turned on his heel and proceeded to the exit. As an afterthought, he turned once more to them. “We will gather at the temple’s gate. You will be dressed properly and packed, ready to go and travel ready by dawn.”

Not waiting for any further arguments, Abstractor Kireek left his audience. Durston could feel the tension in the air as tempers pushed their way past the shock. Along with Timothy, and the middle-aged Cleric Estel Ell, three others shifted uneasily in the room.

“That man. To have such audacity. I can’t believe he told the High Council the meeting would be a waste of time.” The speaker was a pepper-gray hair man Timothy knew as a scholar who signed his work simply as Reevan.

“Do you think he means to give us the day to prepare? Or do you suppose we should get back to our normal schedule for the day?” Cleric Claire Waters looked to the other, unprotrude by the day’s events.

Durston stood then, drawing attention from his colleagues. “Well I for one am taking the remainder of the day off. If we are to do field work, even for a short time, then I want to be comfortable. And that means not having random gear assigned to me.”

Making his way out of the Tower of Clerics, Durston saw no evidence remained of the crowd-of-bodies from earlier. As he made his way further from the tower and into the main areas of the temple, acquaintances passed curious greetings, each wondering what the High Council would want from someone so young. Keeping his head high, and walking briskly as if a man on a mission, Durston brushed them off with an air of importance.

This was a game, one of social standing and political influence, and he knew how to play it well. Though his prayers went unanswered, Durston knew how to turn the situation into his favor. If he were to be sent out on field work, then he would make it more than that. After all, it was the High Council themselves who directly requested his personal assistance. He would turn this into a promotion, further advancing his career.

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The Dark Earth Series

Delaying a blog post is something I highly regret but at the same time it has given me the opportunity of finishing a fantastic book which I recently discovered. For the most part I am a person with a high interest in light fantasy; magic which is dominantly the stereotypical Lord of the Rings style and not that of Twilight. This book is one of them.

The first book in the Dark Earth series gives you a free introduction of five chapters, and those sample pieces sucked me in. I ended up even signing up for the $9.98 a month membership to unlock the rest of the book as well as the other which follows it. Yes, it was that good. And that is considering I am one that looks down on books not printed due to the high pleasure of the physical copy in hand.

Over the past two days I have forgone sleep, depriving myself and surviving on just 3 hours due to this new adventure that has entered my life. Sadly, this work has also left me putting my own on hold while devouring it.

The main character is a youth of the age of 17 that finds himself in the backwoods of a small town that his family newly moved to. Aiden, the main hero of the story, with his flaming red hair and cream colored skin is automatically seen as someone non-human by the locals who have put it upon themselves to eradicate the Sidhe; magical, elven humanoids that also live nearby.

Asher and Severe are two of the Sidhe that find themselves drawn to aiding Aiden and claiming him. Together they save him multiple times from the dangers the town posses, teach him of his birthright and introduce him to the forbidden art of magic, which he possesses a natural talent of.

A warning though about this wonderful art of fiction, and that is it is filled with every sort of love that one can comprehend. There is heterosexual, homosexual, platonic, and incest.

For those interested in discovering the world of the Under Dark, the realm within our world that holds magic and all its creatures, I suggest looking into the first five chapters which are free. The following is the author’s descriptions of a few of her characters. Also, I wanted to mention that there is no editing and so there sometimes are areas with poor grammar or names reversed. For those that like graphic novels, they have created one following the story exactly, however I personally did not enjoy the art style, and I felt there was more understanding of the character’s thoughts and feelings in the actual books, but they can be found on amazon.

Adian Walsh

thedarkearth1Aidan’s adoptive mother, Anna, discovered him as a baby alone in the woods in Devil’s Ridge.  He knows nothing of his birth family and doesn’t care to, because they abandoned him. But circumstances force them to move in with Anna’s father, Grandfather Patrick, on the Ridge.  There Aidan meets Asher Vane, a leader among a mysterious people known as the Sidhe.  Asher claims Aidan is a Sidhe and is determined to take Aidan back to his people.  Will he go?

Asher Vane

thedarkearth2Asher is a Dark Prince of the Sidhe, an elven race that makes the Dark Earth their home.  He recognizes Aidan as one of his people and is intent on bringing the youngling home.  Though he tries to resist, Asher finds himself in love with Aidan and doing things that he should not to please the boy.  One of those things in interfering in human activities to save Aidan’s adoptive family from the depredations of the cult known only as the Clan.  These actions could lead to a terrible war.

Grandfather Patrick

thedarkearth3Grandfather Patrick is Anna’s father and the leader of the cult known only as the Clan who worships a dread goddess known as Cybella.  He hates the Sidhe with an unquenchable passion.  He recognizes Aidan as one of them and, despite his unnatural attraction to the boy, is determined to use Aidan to start a war between the Sidhe and the Clan.  But then Asher Vane comes onto his land, intent on taking Aidan and the war he wants may be within reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon’s Tongue – Laura J. Underwood

Dragon’s Tongue is the typical magic wielding, overly powerful and charismatic book that I enjoy when it comes to fantasy. I am someone that likes my main character to be “special.” This is usually almost always the case, as one of the reasons most authors have their main character the focus of their story is due to them having that special quality. But more than just being special, I like my main characters to be secretly powerful, and their weakness being them not realizing it. This is the case in Dragon’s Tongue.

Laura J. Underwood centers her book on a young minstrel, or bard, that has joined an academy where he can learn magic, but of course, his knowledge of is very limited and he starts as being a somewhat weak caster. Alaric, the protagonist, is better known for his music and playing. He is considered one of the best bards of his time, and this draws the attention of those around him. Through his music and storytelling, Alaric gains an ally from a very magically powerful and political influential schoolmate who offers to be Alaric’s friend, and uses those musical talents to add to his own personal charm. Along with gaining the attention of Fenelon, his new-found friend, he managed to catch the interest of a demon, Vagner.

Dragon’s Tongue takes you on the forbidden adventure of a bond between a young bard, and a high-level demon. Together thye learn the secrets hidden deep behind the vile of magic in Alaric, and how to stop Vagner’s master in obtaining it. The story contains betrayal, secrets, dark magic, music, humor, and of course, a lot of adventure. Though Laura created a powerful main character, she left him ignorant of most of it, which I like, and created Fenelon as the main wielder.

This book is a treasure you wont find in the bookstore. Though the writing is topnotch, the details unique on their own (as using summoning magic is more of a rarity), this is published from a very small company. I personally have contacted Laura J. Underwood when it became difficult to obtain her second book, Wandering Lark, and she was quick with a reply and very nice. I do dislike “ebooks” and am lucky enough to have the actual physical copies of all of the works Laura has produced for this series. I enjoy authors that take the time for their fans and appreciate all her work. Hopefully she will produce more.

Along with the 2 main books for this story, Laura J. Underwood created another 2 short stories, which she gave an autograph copy of one to me when I ordered the second book in the series. I do feel that these two thick volumes aren’t enough though, and believe more should be in store for Alaric. Of course, I tend to have that feeling with most books I read where I develop a deep fondness for the character.

Becoming an Abstractor – Part One

Two years had passed since Timothy Durston graduated as an official Cleric of the Realm. And while most would argue two years working the field was hardly enough experience, family connections and politics saw to his steadfast career advancement. Even if the promotion was premature, true talent and ability left their mark on the young man, so it was with great excitement Durston made his way to the Cleric’s Temple.

In all the realm there was no more fantastically found place as the temple. Along with structures carved with the creamiest marble, empowered by the strongest seals, decorated with the detail of true artistry, and surrounded by spectacular gardens; the Cleric’s Temple collected and housed all of the realm’s magic within its walls. It was here their great nation marked as its center, and in all aspects it truly was; geographically, spiritually, financially, governing, magically, and militarily.

The grounds themselves occupied a hill, lifted above the main city overlooking The Capital. Intricate pathways, mazes, and gardens filled the spaces in-between six buildings circling the central Tower of the Clerics. At its focal point the tower was capable of harnessing the abundant energy within the realm’s borders in extreme emergencies, or draining rituals. Purposely formed as a fair size summoning circle, the Cleric’s Temple set the example of the meticulous layout of every major city within the Circles of the Realm.

Durston kept his eyes leveled as he made his way among the flowerbeds, doing his best not to look the part of an impressed sightseer. Even though he knew his final destination would be connected with the institutional part of the temple, Durston was still forced to inform his superiors of his arrival at one of the sub-buildings that dealt with assignments and housing. There of course was also the Alchemist Lab, Healer’s Ward, Caster’s Keep, Fighter’s Barracks, Tamer’s Kennels and Tower of Clerics; all of which made up the temple.

A smile found its way on the young man’s face, eliciting an aura of charm, as the thrill of finally being back in this domain of comfort settled into reality. Reaching his destination, Durston let himself into the small two-story enclosure. Before him sat a mature woman behind a heavily oiled desk.

“Oh, if it isn’t the notorious Lord Durston’s youngest son. I heard you were making an early return to the Capital.” Standing upon his entrance, the woman bowed in respect.

Giving a light chuckle, Timothy changed his smile to a full face grin. “Aunt Priya, it is good to see you. And how dare you bow as if welcoming a stranger.”

“Yes, well, my nephew may as well be a stranger. Imagine, failing to informing the family of his most recent promotion. Do you realize we had to find out from the temple, and only because they were asking if you were going to stay in the dorms or with the Lord. Honestly, it made planning a party a bit rushed.”

A slow feeling of unease made its way to the creases of Durston’s eyes. “What did my father say about the housing arrangements?”

“Your father was a youth once you know. He instructed the temple that as an independent adult you were in need of privacy as befitting your station.” She placed a motherly hand on his arm. “Your father isn’t a tyrant Timothy.”

True to his aunt’s words and his father’s decision not to further interfere, at least on this matter, Timothy Durston was given a small but single residential room. The Cleric’s themselves didn’t monitor the running of the dorms in which they used to house those stationed within the Capital, instead choosing to contract a third party in the city. By only placing high ranking officials within the temple’s walls, the grounds were kept from the cluttering of additional architecture. Further separation from home and work also added to a more respected and professional atmosphere in the day-to-day running.

A week’s time passed since Durston’s arrival to the Capital, his dorm life shared with the residents of 28 other Clerics. Though being assigned to the temple, Durston was still considered green with a low rank position, hence over an hour of his day was spent traveling between the two. Ambitious faces hidden behind smiles greeted him regularly, consequences of a powerful and respected father. These social ambushes were something Timothy grew up with and trained to tolerate.

Today was no different from the day prior as Durston made his way through the throng of people going about their tasks; his newly appointed mauve vestment giving no standing of awe amongst the locals desensitized to the common occurrence of Clerics amidst them. But once he passed the temple’s gates, leaving the hustle behind, Durston noticed a different and tense atmosphere.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Timothy asked a passing acquaintance.

The man stopped, a bit dazed from Durston suddenly blocking his way. “Not sure myself. It started just after twilight. The High Council is calling an emergency meeting.”

“The High Council? It’s that serious then. Any idea what it could be about. Have we been attacked?”

“From the gossip I hear, we may have been. All Clerics in attendance within the Capital are being summoned. I suggest we head to the tower now.”

The two began making their way towards the gathering crowd, speculating what the cause could be. “I heard Lord Raneer arrived sometime during the night and that he called the meeting. You haven’t heard anything from you father?”

Timothy Durston gave his companion a quick look before facing away. “I’m not staying with my family but in the dorms down in Conyer’s Court.”

Giving a small word of surprise, silence enveloped the pair as they reached their destination. The Tower of Clerics was ardently designed to command admiration from those lucky enough to lay eyes upon it. However, today no one stopped to show their respect or regard for the history and mastery, but instead anxiously made their way inside to the auditorium.

A silent hush fell over the room as a middle-age woman with golden-tresses cascading down her back made way to the center of the group. Pausing long enough for the weight of her gaze to make its way around the room, she addressed her audience.

“Under normal circumstances and formality the majority of you wouldn’t have the honor of being here, or within my presence. But recent events have made us forgo the usual procedures and call upon you today. For those unaware, I am Lady Au’Lira, a Grand Wyvern and currently in charge of this situation.”

Noisy whispers filled the room, friends and comrades turning to one another in excitement and worry. “It has come to our attention from Lord Raneer, an unsanctioned party has risen in the shadows of an outer city, Cyphorica. The patterns of history are not new to me, and so typically this group would go unmentioned to many of you, being dispatched quickly and soon forgotten.

“However, the limited intelligence that has been obtained shows us this beast has teeth, a wide stretch and already trained users in the art of magic.” Gasps rendered Au’Lira momentarily quiet. “Yes. That fear unites us all here now. Further details and announcements will be made through section leaders, but for now I asked you all to attend because I must request your assistance.”

Durston produced an audible gulp as those wyvern eyes landed on him.

Next >>

Raksura Series – Fantasy

jpraksura

I am personally a huge fan of fantasy books that involve characters with the ability to morph; the magic from going normal to special. An example of this can be seen in the fact last week’s review was based on a Manhwa that created magicians with the power to change into their alternate selves. But most stories and authors that use this form of magic usually go from human to an animal based one. This can be seen as transforming usually into Dragons in the majority.

The Raksura series not only focuses on a uniquely designed species strictly the creation of Martha Wells, but also takes place in a very interesting world with a highly different social structure. The main story is based on a young Raksura that was lost and abandon from his kind, not knowing who or what he is, and simply trying to survive. Martha Wells for the most part seems content with her 3 books following Moon, the protagonist, while currently teasing readers with 2 books of short stories still being released.

In the primary 3 books, you discover a vast and very wild world. Hundreds of different species roam this world separated by simple geography, with few being widespread. There are those of every skin color under the sun, as well as those very primitive, and those industrial. The Raksura are a species of “groundlings” that can transform into a lizard creature. Half of the species become stout and hardy, focusing on hunting, gathering, teaching, childcare, art, building, and the basic needs of the colony. The other half of Raskura transform into tall winged creatures that mainly sleep and eat, while concentrating on the defense of their territory.

Queens run these colonies in a very matriarch, bee-hive, sort of way. Fertile males of the species are seen as pampered, protected, innocent, and sheltered sperm donors. It was a bit of a surprise reading a book that changed the stereotypical sex roles. Along with that, Martha Wells also opens up the door to polyamory and bisexual relationships, where there doesn’t seem to be love so much in the story, but a desire of friendship. It just so happens that friendship with Raksura involves the sharing of pleasure. The only acception to these open relationships is the fertile males, “consorts,” who can be with as many partners as they want, but only with one Queen.

The first book follows Moon as he struggles fitting in with other species while hiding his abilities, as they tend to mimic that of another species called Fell, whom are much like the Borg of Star Trek and highly feared. After learning who and what he really is, Moon then is forced to learn the ways of a society and role he never had to experience, and just can’t completely accept. Having been raised alone, for a consort, Moon has become very independent and adventurist; nothing like how he is suppose to behave. However, the small colony he finds himself with learn to embrace his unusual behavior while they strive simply to survive and relocate their home.

All three books of the Raksura series describe a world that reminds me a lot of what is seen in the Avatar movie; huge trees, tribal species, fight or die mentality. It gives off the vibe of a young planet where a dominate race hasn’t been decided upon; where the world is young and still creating small pockets of vastly different life, and anything and everything can kill you. It’s filled with super huge plants, floating islands, ancient magic, rough technology, minimal government and lots of eating. And though I was enthralled with all three of her books, highly anticipating each one, forfeiting sleep to complete them, her Stories of the Raksura leave the series lacking.

Not being much into short stories, I felt a little ripped off since not only is this book significantly thinner than her other work, or even that it was released ten months late, but because 1 of the 3 stories was free to read on her webpage and written several years prior. On top of that, half of the book was a short story about how the colony was started and so lacked any of the characters of the main trilogy. The first short story in this current release was interesting, but didn’t add anything to the actual story of Moon and showed no progress in him adjusting to the colony, or his station. I can only hope her next short story release isn’t as disappointing, as many readers including myself, felt she left the main books hanging and would really like to see Moon finally having the family he had been trying since book 1.

If you find yourself interested in exploring this new world of interesting creatures, Martha Wells has written and posted many short stories based on her series that can perhaps give you a feel of the books themselves. Forest Boy is published in her most recent print release of the Stories of the Raksura, and takes place as a prequel to the series. Adaptation also is before the main books, but may be seen as a spoiler as it is about a secondary character’s problem that plagues the colony from the very beginning and all throughout. Martha Wells has stopped publishing additional shorts on her webpage, which I find disappointing as she did promised more, but I will support her in the hopes someday she will continue them.