Episode 11: Losses
Three days ago we had our conversation with grandmaster Zephius. He told us that an unknown light mage learned of a number of things happening within the Cyrithian Church. First of all, their forces were being led by a general named Catalina. She, another man named Bryce and Cyran himself were the main leaders of the Lightbringers. If we could find those people and capture them the conflict could end. Ilyana, Miriam, Kaiden and I now had this arduous task. Not only did we need to locate them, but also avoid too much conflict against the Lightbringers that would reveal our plan to them. By now we had almost arrived at Lilyfield. In the days past I was able to help Kaiden with his dark magic studies. I was impressed by how easily he could manipulate the Ether. As for Miriam she learned some spells as well, but she has spent most of her time shapeshifting and soaring the skies. I suspect she enjoys the freedom greatly. Ilyana approached me with some concerns about Miriam and Kaiden, “You know, those two are fairly young to be going out on this journey with us. Don’t you think it’s dangerous?”. I of course shared her concern, but this was something that had to happen this way, “I am aware of their youth, but this was inevitable. I would rather them face the Lightbringers with us. The alternative was them facing such odds on their own. Besides, I needed to take in an apprentice and Kaiden is very talented”. “What about Miriam? How do you see her faring?”, Ilyana was curious since I had not mentioned Miriam as a student of mine. “Oh she will learn her own spells. The truth is there is little I can teach her. Among the schools of magic, Flux magic is particularly dense. There are many areas that a person can focus in. Shapeshifting is her specialty and I am sure her instincts will guide her”, I have a lot of confidence in her strength.
As we neared Lilyfield the iconic flowers of the area began to dot the plains. Our slow approach allowed us to survey the region. Ilyana quickly caught some very disturbing details. Some areas of the plains were either burnt or trampled. The village was clear on the horizon, smoke rose from various places, and one building was clearly still on fire. We urged the caravan to hurry. When we arrived the destruction was more evident. Corpses littered the road, many still had a clear, lingering light energy from the powerful spells used. It was a horrible sight. Miriam flew high to search for survivors or signs of the Lightbringers, who clearly had been the perpetrators. “The coast is full of wood planks and broken sails. Even small boats have been torn apart. This is far more aggression than what they did at Clearwater”, Miriam relayed her findings through her mind. “It appears the Lightbringers wanted to send some sort of message”, I mentioned to Ilyana. She was disgusted at all the carnage. Surely there was no need for so much death. No one survived this massacre.
We asked the caravan to return to Etheria with haste and the news of this attack. I would enchant the carriages so that they would be masked from any Lightbringers they might encounter. This enchantment was fairly simple, but would only last them a short time so they left immediately. Ilyana suggested that we take care of the bodies by giving them a proper burial. It would be a difficult day for us. I began by dispersing the light energy that still lingered. The flow of Ether had been disturbed so greatly that some areas had a sort of draining effect. Kaiden noticed this as he walked near some of the houses. He felt his energy being sapped. We sat down in the middle of the village, near a broken statue with our backs to each other. In my mind I led him to use his magic to manipulate the flow of Ether. It was a slow process but we managed to fix the flow so that the voids no longer posed a threat. In that moment while we meditated I felt a powerful tug on the flow of Ether heading in the direction of the sea. It was a fleeting sensation, but it was very disturbing. Someone or something was drawing Ether to who knows where.
“So many graves…”, Miriam stood watch in the night as we made our camp near the coast. There was not a cloud in the sky. The stars shined brightly. “This is what war looks like, senseless death and destruction, and all for what?”, Kaiden mentioned as he stared at the sky. “We have to protect the other villages from this. Do you have any ideas Balthazar?”, Ilyana asked. She was right, the next village to the north of here is Seastride. If the intention of the Lightbringers was to bar people from the sea that would be their next target. “We should head north to Seastride. No doubt we will find more conflict on the way there. The Lightbringers must be stopped. If they attacked here then it is likely that village is their next target”, I said with confidence. The flow of Ether had given me some insight into the Lightbringers’ movement. Their influence was clear. A battalion of theirs was sure to move north. “Rest up then, it will be a long trip there”, Ilyana said, “We take the horses from the stable in the village and set out to Seastride”.
The high tide made the waves sound closer to us. The moon now adorned the sky as dawn fast approached. I was wide awake with a multitude of thoughts running through my mind. Kaiden and Miriam were asleep and Ilyana was now standing guard. I stood up, Ilyana waved at me, I waved back. Walking up to her I told her, “Keep watch of them, I have something to do in the village”. She nodded in agreement and I made my way to the village center once again. I stood in front of the broken statue and faced it. The shadows climbed the statue. My sight was blinded. My hands raised to the sky, a dark energy pouring from them like a cloud enveloping me. As I did this the shadows began to rebuild the statue. I lowered my hands and shortly after, the energy created a rune circle beneath me. The real statue was still broken, but the shadows were showing me what had transpired. Using this spell I would be able to see events that had already passed. I hoped to get a glimpse of what we might face. When the statue was back in what seemed to be its original state I would see dark clouds in the shape of people. It was as if the village was back to life in a way. A normal day unfolded. People went about their business. Some prepared nets for fishing. Children ran around the marketplace stalls. Some fishermen had a good haul that day. Guardsmen arrived running and urging the people to their homes. It was too late. In this shadow vision of the past I saw how the Lightbringers annihilated everything in their sight. They trampled people, slew the guards and used a powerful spell that encompassed almost the entirety of the village. I could feel my anger, my heart pounding, I would avenge these people. Then, I saw her. She was their leader. Although the vision would not give me any sounds I could see her talking to her soldiers. I was beginning to tremble. The spell had been going on for too long and I was running out of energy. The shadows faded, my sight returned to see the broken statue in front of me. That lady destroyed it most likely. The village’s founder. A lady who was named after the flower that grows in these fields. By now Kaiden and Miriam had awoken. Kaiden saw some of what I was doing from a distance. He would surely be curious. Although from his perspective all he saw were the runes and magical energy flowing around me.
“The spell shows you past events by manipulating your sight and the shadows that form in the darkness. It can be dangerous because recovering your sight often takes some time. Only masters of the spell can regain their sight almost instantly”, I explained to Kaiden who still looked at me with curiosity. By now we had mounted our horses and left Lilyfield behind. Miriam chose to fly instead of riding. She would be our eyes since her vantage point would give us ample warning. “Also, when we eventually face the Lightbringers, do not worry too much about blindness. The light may be overwhelming, but there are ways to circumvent such a grievance. Dark mages are renowned for the way we can avoid the worst effects of such ailments”, I continued the lesson.
After two days on the road we were fairly close to Seastride. Far in the distance Miriam spotted what looked like a battle. A large battalion of Lightbringers was clashing with the Etherian Guard. The time for battle had come.