Chapter 2

Alki reclined, leaning back into the feather-stuffed pillows, his usual slight smirk on his face. A woman approached, clothed in a light linen, and bearing the usual tray of ripe fruit, and Alki lifted his gaze to brazenly meet her own, a slight glint in his eyes.

“Thank you, it is quite appreciated.” He motioned for her to set the tray down nearby, and continued to watch her as she did so, his eyes narrowed and cat-like. The young woman glanced at him, her eyes sparkling slightly as well, and as she turned to leave, he caught her slight smile, and she caught his small nod. She was no stranger to him, and like many of the other serving women at his estate, she knew the ways in which Alki could be pleased.

The mage let his eyes drift from the doorway she’d exited through to the tray of fruit, and he idly selected a slice of pear from it. Savoring it slowly, he idly wondered when Kyrian would deem it necessary to show up, in an attempt to “teach”. Alki’s smirk turned to a slight frown. He thinks I cannot learn on my own… he thinks I know so very much less than him. Hah, he underestimates me. But still, there are things I would like to know from him, unanswered questions I still need to pry from the old man…

As if on cue, the “old man” could be heard approaching, light footsteps drawing nearer until he finally entered. To all appearances, the man looked to be barely into his twenties, in fact appearing a bit younger than Alki. His eyes passed over Alki’s relaxed, unmoving form, and he nodded slightly by way of greeting. He then wasted no time in beginning the lesson.

“Focus, center yourself, and move the melon across the room with your mind.” Kyrian pointed at an uncut melon on the tray of fruit, and for a minute, Alki stared insolently at his teacher. Kyrian stared back, as he lowered himself into a nearby chair, assuming a position only slightly less casual than Alki’s as he waited for his student to begin. When Alki still refrained from following the order, Kyrian rolled his eyes.

“Have we gotten too good to begin with the simple exercises, too arrogant to comply?” With a flick of Kyrian’s wrist, he levitated a nearby potted plant. It flew across the room, crashing into the wall with a loud sound. Dirt flew everywhere, breaking up the white of the walls and the marble floor. “Now do the same with the melon.”

Alki winced slightly, either at the crash of the pot or at the dirt now adorning his wall and floor, and sighed nearly inaudibly, concentrating on the melon. With a burst of magic energy, Alki flung it across the room and out of a window on the other side. A small crash could be heard outside, coupled with yells and cries of indignation, and Alki’s smirk returned.

“There. Now, can I learn something worth knowing?”

Kyrian’s face remained blank; it was rare for his expression to change much, even when he was angered. He was quite conditioned to witnessing Alki’s antics.

“Fine, something useful. Using your magic, fix the pot and clean up all the dirt.” Kyrian sat back, and once again waited for his student to follow the order. Alki sighed again, but focused his magic and carefully rebuilt the pot, sealing and strengthening the cracks. He sucked the dirt and the plant back into the plot, and levitated the entire thing, placing it on a table near where it had crashed. He knew Kyrian well enough to have realized that it was easier to just do the initial requests, in order to learn the more interesting abilities.

“Good,” Kyrian said. “But simply because you can fling fruit across a room and fix pots does not mean you are ready for any magic that is truly awe-inspiring. Magic, my student, is a very complex thing. You may think you can do much more than you really can do. Just because you have enough raw power to do something does not mean you will succeed if you attempt to do whatever it is. Sometimes, you must find alternatives. And often, such alternatives will take a certain ingenuity to come up with, which is why it is wise to know many different types of magic—the more you know, the more options you will have available.”

Alki frowned slightly. “So, you are saying that even the most powerful of mages cannot do everything? Certain things simply cannot be done by certain people, yet others can master them fully?” An indignant tone lent itself to the young man’s voice, and Kyrian smiled slightly.

“Yes, my friend, you will never have full control over all the magics of the world. You may never be able to cause things to burst into flame, while others will be able to ignite whatever they wish.”

Alki scowled back at Kyrian, quite apparently unhappy at hearing this news. “Why have you never told me before this? How did you know I’d even be able to do any of the things you’ve been teaching me?”

Kyrian shrugged. “You never needed to know. As for the second question, a bit of intuition, I guess. Most of what you’ve been learning are the lesser magics, I haven’t yet taught you any of the elder, more potent things.” He paused, but not long enough for Alki to comment. “However, that’s not to say that the so-called lesser magics aren’t nearly as useful as the elder magics. They are, in fact, more helpful in everyday life. How useful in daily life is changing your bodily form to that of an animal when compared to something like conjuring up a meal? Both are impressive, but the latter is more likely to be used.”

“Ah, but to know both would be ideal,” Alki replied. “And perhaps instead of all this talk you should move on to teaching me such things.”

“Very well,” Kyrian replied, a touch of exasperation in his voice, directed at the constant impatience of his student. “We will start with the more useful of the two, conjuring.”

Alki sighed inwardly, wondering if Kyrian meant to upset him by constantly focusing on the smaller magics. Yes, he thought to himself, conjuring food may be useful for someone who has none, but I do not believe I will ever have the problem of being left without nourishment. Ha, I am more likely to have too much food. Which reminds me, I really should organize another banquet. Hmm, perhaps for the other bachelors of the town; dancing girls and acrobats will suffice for the entertainment—

Alki winced as he was hit with an invisible force; Kyrian’s way of telling him to pay attention. Alki hadn’t even realized that his teacher had started talking, he’s been so focused on his own thoughts… with a sigh, Alki turned his attention to Kyrian.

“Conjuring is simple enough, if you keep in mind that you cannot conjure something that does not exist. As long as the item in question exists somewhere in the world, however, it is fair game. Those most skilled with conjuring can bring things to them at great distances; I’ve seen a mage on an island far out to see conjure a scroll on one of the far continents. What made the act all the more amazing was that the mage in question had never physically laid his eyes upon the scroll, and in order to conjure something, you must be able to clearly picture it. For the most part, you can have a more general idea of where it is, not a specific place in mind… if you are very skilled in the ability.”

“I see,” Alki replied simply, almost sounding a hint bored.

“Focus, and think of an item somewhere else within your estate. Visualize the item, from all sides and directions, and visualize the setting, wherever that happens to be. Then, focus only on the item, and let the setting fade away into your mind’s eye; focus only on the item, hold that item with your mind, and then yank. Pull the item to you, and if you succeed, it should simply fall into your lap.”

“Easy enough,” Alki replied casually. He thought for a second and focused, his eyes closing slightly. Kyrian sat, watching silently, and a minute later, a ceremonial dagger fell out of the air and onto the floor in from of Alki.

Kyrian regarded the dagger for a moment, before picking it up. “Very good,” he said, though without much praise. “And very clever of you, to choose an item that does not even belong to you.” Kyrian’s personal symbol glinted on the hint of the dagger. “Since you have proven your cleverness, and chosen to conjure an item from my personal chambers, use that cleverness to send it back where you got it from. Figure out how to do so on your own.”

Kyrian handed the dagger to Alki, who took it without hesitation, but frowned, obviously unused to having to attempt such new things without any instruction. He focused, though, staring at the dagger in his hand, and attempted to clearly picture Kyrian’s dresser, which the dagger had formerly been resting on. He tried to do the most logical thing, focused only on the dagger, and instead of pulling; he pushed it away with his mind, hoping that it would go where it needed to.

It didn’t. With a yelp, Alki jumped to his feet, dropping the glowing dagger and staring at his palm, which was now smoking and slightly charred. Kyrian, smiling slightly, picked up his dagger off of the floor, immediately extinguishing it’s glow. Alki turned his glare on the other mage just in time to see the dagger vanish from Kyrian’s hand, assumedly finding its place back on Kyrian’s dresser.

“Ah, the young one cannot do everything. I’m sure you went about it in the completely wrong way,” Kyrian said haughtily, as the younger man continued to scowl. “Perhaps it would be wise for you to at least give the semblance of respect to me, for you have much to learn, and no one else that could or would teach it to you. Though, you have set things up for another lesson in magic; shielding.”

Kyrian paused for a moment, closing his eyes in a manner that suggested he was working some subtle magic. He opened them again, and motioned for Alki to sit down.

“I want you to attempt to fetch me that dagger once more. Retrieve it off the dresser, and yes, it is in the same exact place as it was when you first retrieved it. I know you can do that much; what you’ve done once, you can surely repeat, can’t you?”

Kyrian’s slight smile told Alki that there was something unseen going on, and the young man knew that he would most likely fail in this second attempt at conjuring the dagger. Kyrian delighted in proving Alki wrong and attempting to humble him through humiliation. He enjoyed doing so as much as Alki enjoyed doing the opposite; outdoing his mentor with some overly impressive act or whatnot. Alki hated this sort of situation, but he focused all the same, locating the dagger and once again attempting to pull it to him.

An audible snap echoed through the room, and Alki refrained from once again jumping up as a flash of pain shot through his mind. Kyrian, satisfied with Alki’s failure, nodded slightly to himself.

“Ah, so you cannot repeat your most awe-inspiring trick for a second time? How disappointing.”

“No,” Alki replied, anger coloring his tone. “And you knew that I could not, for you prevented me from doing so.”

“Ah, it was not me that prevented it. Rather, it was the shield that I placed over my rooms and belongings. You can do such a thing as well, though it is very time consuming for a young and untrained mage such as yourself, and you probably won’t even have sufficient energy and power to shield all that much. All the same, it is a skill worth practicing, and I feel you will find it rather worthwhile to learn as well. You must admit, being able to shield things from others is helpful, isn’t it?”

Alki was silent, but his lack of response was as much of an agreement as he was willing to give Kyrian.

“In order to shield,” Kyrian explained, “you focus on the item, but not anything surrounding the item, as you did when you wanted to conjure. Find the raw power within you, and focus on giving that power a protective nature linked to yourself. In other words, put a bit of your own essence into the power, in order to keep that item linked to you, and only you, so that it cannot be touched by anyone else. Pour that bit of magic into the item, making sure it attaches itself to each and every particle of the thing you are trying to shield. For a first try, we will keep it simple; this will create only a mental shield blocking it from another mage, and it is best to attempt it first with a small object that you can see. Pick something in this room, something that isn’t too large; you haven’t the ability to shield anything much yet. No beginner can, keep that in mind; don’t bother with trying to show off.”

Alki, thankful he’d been listening enough to catch all of that, focused on a flower sitting on a nearby table. He went through the steps as Kyrian had said to, and the flower glowed faintly as he sent the magic into it. He turned to Kyrian, awaiting whatever the elder mage now had to say.

“Very good. If done correctly, the flower would be shielded from other mages of your level or below. Of course, a more powerful mage, such as myself, could easily break through your shield.”

“Of course,” Alki replied bitterly.

Kyrian, ignoring the disrespect, continued explaining shields. “Even if I could not manipulate the flower mentally, I could physically touch it, and so could anyone else, be them a mage of little power, or someone with no magical ability whatsoever. And if someone can physically touch it, then they can destroy it by physical means— burning it, ripping it up, whatever other physical means of destroying it. And if physically destroyed, your shield is fairly useless.”

“Obviously,” Alki said.

“To physically shield, you add not only your essence and that protectiveness to the raw power, but you must add a different quality as well. Shape the magic into a form that seems solid; give it more of a tangible characteristic. Cover the object with the magic, making more of a new layer over the object, instead of putting the magic into the object.”

Alki turned back to the flower, narrowing his eyes at it as he concentrated. Once again, he shaped the magic, and coated the small piece of flora with it. Sitting back, he glanced to Kyrian.

Kyrian stood and walked forward to the table on which the small flower sat. He reached his hand forward, and when his finger touched a petal, an audible snap echoed through the air, and a few sparks flew from the flower. Kyrian retracted his finger, and turned back to Alki.

“Quite satisfactory. Now, to remove the shield, simply focus on the item—same way you’ve been doing to shield it in the first place—and pull the magic back into yourself. Only very skilled mages can unshield something shielded by someone else, and only because they have enough power to simply rip the shield from the object. The reason you can easily take down your own shield is because of that little bit of your own essence you put into it. The magic is linked to you, and only you, though I have heard of situations in which multiple mages created one giant shield.” Kyrian paused, looking ponderous. “Of course, in some of those instances, when things went wrong, there were quite terrible repercussions for the mages. However,” he paused again, looking at Alki, “I doubt very much that you’d allow yourself to work in collaboration anyway, so I don’t think you will ever need to concern yourself with that.”

Alki didn’t necessary take that as either an insult or a compliment; he simply took it as a statement. It was a true assumption, as he was all too self-focused, and didn’t intend to ever put himself into a situation where he would be relying on others for anything important.

“Now then,” Kyrian said, “remove the shield from the flower.”

Kyrian did so easily, sucking the power back into himself. Kyrian once went to the flower, and this time, when he touched it, there was no barrier that kept him from it. He picked it up, twirling it between his fingers, and went back to his seat.

“Of course, there are other ways a shield can be removed. The shield will vanish if it takes enough hits from something, if you happen to be in an offensive situation. It’s much akin to the physically tangible shield that a warrior would carry; if it takes enough damage, it will be weakened enough so that the next blow dealt to it will cause the shield to splinter. If you are fast, you can put up another, but it is better to have made a strong shield from the start than to need to put up a series of weaker ones. Of course, some mages simply aren’t all that good at shielding; once again, and if it isn’t a strong point, it’s probably best to find some substitute that you are better at.”

“Of course,” Alki responded offhandedly. He seized upon the moment, hoping that he would, for once, be able to decide what he next learned. “So, you mentioned these elder magics, like becoming some sort of animal… what others are there? What are the rest of these elder magics?”

Kyrian thought for a moment. Of course, he always wants to know the most potent of powers; always looking for something that he can use to conquer the world. Kyrian smiled inwardly. Ah, I’m definitely wary of what I teach him. I could quite easily see him becoming very dangerous at some point.

“Well, there are many elder magics. They can be grouped into what elements they relate to, usually. You have your typical fireballs and lightning, your weather and earth magics, invisibility, the dark powers, tracking senses and the calling of familiars to do your bidding… pretty much, almost anything you think of can be done, and many of the more awe-inspiring of them are the elder magics. Elder magics are not for beginners, however, and so they should not be taken light—“

“Dark powers? What are the dark powers?” Alki’s interest had been piqued, and his tone lost it’s patronizing tone, and took on one more akin to curiosity.

“Dark powers are what they sound like. Blood and pain magics… the dark, evil side of things. Those magics are more dangerous to work with, as they are as likely to harm the mage using them, as they are to harm the mages target. Out of the magics, they are the most unpredictable.” Kyrian looked at Alki, completely seriously, and without his usual slightly condescending aura. “I do not suggest you meddle with these magics, they are not all that useful, and the potential damage they could do is immense.”

Kyrian left it at that, and Alki frowned, though not necessarily at his tutor. Interesting to know that not all magics are good and happy… hmm, I’ll definitely have to keep that in mind. Alki didn’t necessarily plan on turning to them, unless there would be some real benefit for him, but he felt it would be wise to keep in mind that there was always the chance of meeting some other mage who was involved with such magic. Alki hadn’t met more than three other mages, including Kyrian, but he knew there were quite a few out there; some hidden amongst the non-magic (as Alki was, to a certain degree) and others living lives apart from the rest of the world, intent upon surrounding themselves with magic only.

“And what of these elder magics are you willing to teach me?” Alki knew that no matter which he truly wanted to learn, Kyrian would not teach him anything that he didn’t want Alki to know. It was one of the things that bothered Alki the most about his teacher, but he was accustomed to it, and he knew it was no good to argue with Kyrian in any attempt to make him teach something he didn’t want his student to know.

Kyrian regarded Alki, a slight smile on his face. “We shall begin with shape-shifting. The easiest way to accomplish it is to let yourself simply become whatever feels most comfortable. Let the magic transform you, you’ll feel it doing so, and when it is complete, you will no longer be in a human form. Watch.”

Alki stared at his teacher as Kyrian closed his eyes. The older mage began to glow faintly, and then there was a bright flash. Alki cursed as he found himself temporarily blinded; Kyrian seemed amused whenever he got the chance to inconvenience Alki in such a manner. As the orbs of light dancing in his eyes faded, Alki turned to glare at Kyrian, but found himself glaring instead into the eyes of a rather large, black feline, sitting regally in the chair that had moments ago been occupied by Kyrian.

“Amazing,” Alki mumbled, more at the fact that it was possible to completely change forms than at the actual form Kyrian had become.

::You cannot choose the form you become until you are quite skilled.:: The voice startled Alki, having never been spoken to telepathically before. ::The forms, at first, will be quite limited. Try it. Just think of changing, and let it just flow.::

Alki closed his eyes, hoping his form would at least be something equal in magnificence as Kyrian’s. The slight worry crossed his mind, what if he became something pitiful, like a sparrow or an insect? He shook the concern from his mind, quite sure that someone like him wouldn’t be stuck with some unworthy form.

The glow radiated from his limbs, and Kyrian, still in feline form, watched as his student started to change. Alki could see no form outlined clearly in his mind, but he was quite sure that it didn’t matter; he had a large amount of raw power, and he was positive that the change would take place. I can feel it already, my limbs are feeling lighter and lighter, and something is definitely changing.

As the change progressed, however, Alki could feel it going somehow wrong. His limbs were no longer feeling quite so light, but instead the feeling in them was fading completely, as if they were no longer parts of his body. Something has got to be wrong, something is not as is should be. Alki tried to turn back the change, tried to stop it, but found that it was as though he would be sucked into the change, whether he wanted to or not. Panic started to work its way into Alki’s mind, as he tried to turn his mind away from the change, tried in vain again and again to push the magic away from himself…

As Alki glowed brighter, Kyrian’s amber-green eyes narrowed, but not in preparation for the blinding flash. He stared at one of Alki’s hands, the hand wasn’t changing, but it was become less solid. Something wasn’t quite going according to plan, whether it was a mistake of Alki’s or an incompatibility with the magic, Kyrian didn’t know. But if Alki kept going, it seemed he would liquefy, or drift away into the air, or something.

::Alki, stop!:: Kyrian reached out a giant, velvety paw, and smacked Alki off of his chair. Abruptly, Alki’s eyes flashed open and the glow faded from his body, as he stared up at Kyrian. Kyrian changed back quickly, the flash once again blinding the still-disoriented Alki, though the student was too stunned to once again curse.

Kyrian offered a hand to Alki, and once the younger mage could actually see the hand, he ignored it and got to his feet, a bit unsteadily, on his own.

“What, in the gods’ names, was happening?”

Kyrian’s eyes were unreadable, and held no answers. “Honestly, I don’t know. The change just wasn’t happening as it should have been… such problems occasionally happen.” He allowed a slight smile to creep onto his face. “There you have it, young one, an example of how magic does not always work for everyone.”

Alki was not amused, and nearly fell into his chair with a huff, his blue eyes dark. “Is it likely that as I gain more and more power and ability, I will be able to shape-shift?” It angered Alki that he could not succeed in doing so.

“Perhaps,” Kyrian replied with a shrug. “I cannot predict such a thing.” The elder mage shifted in his seat, readjusting his dark robe. “There are other things to be done today, however. It is of no use to dwell over your failures.”

Alki grumbled; he was not particularly eager to try something else that he could potentially fail at. This isn’t turning out to be a particularly good lesson, he thought to himself. Perhaps if I had a better teacher… Alki’s thoughts trailed off, though. He knew there was no other mage that would teach him, unless he traveled quite far to find the mage. And for all Kyrian’s irritating little behaviors, Alki knew he was quite powerful, and that the knowledge he had to impart was valuable.

“Hmm. For now, perhaps we should work with the more simple of magics, like the placement of illusions over objects, working up to the placement of illusions over living things. Living things are considerably more complicated to work with, and you might not get that far anytime soon.”

Alki nodded, and the new lesson began. He was soon glad that Kyrian was sticking to the more basic of things; his attempt and failure and changing his shape had taken a lot more physical, mental, and magical energy from him. Soon enough, even just doing the small bits of magic he was being taught was exhausting him, and finally, growing weary of Alki’s limitations and complaints, he ended the lesson and returned to his chambers, leaving Alki to rest.


A few hours later, Alki opened his eyes, yawning as he pushed himself up from his bed of pillows. Squinting as a shaft of sunlight hit his face, he wondered idly if it was even the same day or not, but concluded that he couldn’t have been asleep long enough for the date to change. Standing, he walked to the tray of fruit that remained where it had been, and he idly popped a few berries into his mouth. Turning in a circle, he realized just how disoriented he was, and sat in the chair he’d occupied earlier, trying to get a better grasp on himself.

A sudden shout got Alki’s attention, and, curious but not overly so, he rose slowly from the chair and ambled over to his balcony. Looking down, he found himself watching an odd affair. Two of his men, the guards he kept at the front entrance of the house, had stepped forward. A few feet away were three of the city guards, and between both groups was a man. The man wore ragged clothing, and his hair was long and messy. The only things were carried were a small pack on his back, and a staff, which he held in front of him in some small attempt to ward off the spears of the city guards and the swords of Alki’s men.

“I must speak to Master Kyrian!” The man sounded frantic, and turned continuously, unwilling to have his back to any of the men surrounding him. “I am no criminal, and I have heard he resides in this house! I must speak to him! Why do you treat me as if I am some fiend who has committing something atrocious?”

“We are acting on orders,” one of the city guards replied, his deep voice booming. “We have been told to arrest a man with your features, and we shall do this. It would be wise to comply.”

“I must speak to Master Kyrian,” the man repeated, and though it seemed like within the next moment he would either be dragged off or killed, he did not appear to be overly worried. “Fools, my matter of business is of much more importance than your orders! You!” The man pointed to one of Alki’s men. “Fetch me Master Kyrian, I know he is here! He will vouch for me!”

It seemed to be a stalemate of sorts; the guards were a bit unsettled, but not enough to let the man dash away and into the entrance to Alki’s estate. Everyone in the city knew that Alki and Kyrian were mages, and so people were rather unwilling to upset either of the two. However, the guards seemed undecided as to whether or not they could believe that the man was actually telling the truth, and that Kyrian would know him and approve of being disturbed for the stranger’s sake.

Alki cleared his throat. “All of you, remain where you stand,” he called down from where he stood. The guards merely glanced up for a few seconds, while the man met Alki’s gaze, not needing to shield his eyes, as the sun was already behind the house. Alki’s blue orbs narrowed, flecks of red shimmering in each eye for a split second before fading. Alki did not appreciate the seemingly insolent stare, and sent the man a scowl before turning and reentering his chamber.

Robes billowing behind him, Alki stalked out of the room and down the hallway, following the combination of hallways that led to Kyrian’s chambers. Once facing the door, Alki instructed one of the servants to knock. The door soon opened; it was one of Kyrian’s servants, and he bowed to Alki before beckoning the other mage to come in.

“No, fetch your man. He has some odd visitor at the front; bid him come quickly.”

Alki turned and stalked away, once again navigated the maze-like corridors. His estate within the city was smaller than his lands in the country, but it was still large enough for an outsider to get easily lost in, and while the rooms themselves were quite large and roomy, the corridors were narrow and twisting.

Alki’s men backed up slightly at the sound of his approach, and dutifully took their place on either side of him as he stepped forward. The young mage found himself in front of the older mage, and studied the stranger’s features.

Had Alki not been standing on the top step in front of his door, the man would have been a considerable bit taller than him. He had fine features, and though he was a bit on the thin side, he didn’t look starved. If his clothes and hair had not looked so ragged and unkempt, he would have looked quite regal, in fact. More interesting to Alki, however, was the faintly concealed aura of magic flowing around the strange man.

Kyrian chose that moment to interrupt Alki’s silent study of the visitor.

“Master Kyrian,” Alki spoke, letting only a slight touch of scorn color his words, “this man has come to our doorstep, requesting your presence. However, the city guards seem to be requesting his presence. Do you know the man well enough to say that he is worthy of entering my house?”

Alki’s question held some feigned sense of respect, in the end; it was his house, and he could quite easily send the man away, no matter what answer Kyrian replied with.

Alki, watching the man, saw that the stranger’s eyes had focused on Kyrian. Turning slightly, Alki found that Kyrian was staring back at the newcomer. For a few minutes, the silence and staring dragged on, and Alki could only guess that more telepathic speech was taking place.

Finally, Kyrian broke the stare and turned to Alki. “Indeed, I know this man well. It seems that misfortune and misunderstanding has come upon him. I request that you allow him to stay in your home for a period of time.”

Something about Kyrian’s tone of voice sparked a curiosity in Alki, and he was eager enough for some new event to reply favorable to the request. “So be it, he may stay in my estate, as you have vouched for him, Master Kyrian. But first,” Alki said, turning back to the stranger, “what do they call you?”

“To most,” the man replied, voice neutral, as if he was neither thankful nor wanting to be disrespectful, “I am known as Eriathanos.”

Alki nodded and turned, leading the way back into the, as the city guards dispersed, having lost their quarry. Alki made his way to one of the formal receiving rooms, Kyrian following, and the man trailing after him. Upon entering the room, Alki turned, his gaze once again resting on Eriathanos.

Kyrian set his face, fully expecting whatever scorn would now come from Alki’s mouth, certain that his student would have some biting comment to say about having to “rescue” Eriathanos and allow such a stranger into the house. Not for the first time, Kyrian pondered the irony of the situation. I could destroy him within less than a minute, and yet he takes it for granted that he is the absolute master and ruler of his house. His attitude could be quite dangerous…

“May I ask,” Alki began, “why you came to bleed upon my doorstep, with the city hounds at your heels, Sir Eriathanos? I do not appreciate disturbances surrounding my home.”

::Your student is young, brash, and arrogant,:: spoke a voice in Kyrian’s mind.

::That he is, and quite a handful. Many a moment have I wished to deal with him as they dealt with such insolent magelets in the past. Do not let his words anger you, my friend, he is easy enough to humiliate, and he will learn soon enough that his is an attitude that is best left elsewhere.::

Eriathanos made no mental reply, but instead spoke to Alki. “I have been searching long for Kyrian, as we have been long acquainted, and there is news that he must be aware of. As for any crime the city guards have accused me of, they have mistaken me for someone else, I fear. It is only on the rare occasion that I find myself within the walls of this place, and never have I stayed long enough to commit anything. My apologies for the disturbance I have caused to you, but it was a mere trifle of an event, and I am most certain it will cause you any further problems.” Eriathanos’ tone once again remained neutral.

“I certainly hope there will be no repeats of such an event. And I do hope that you will be a cooperative guest while in my house; I will not have a person staying here if I do not approve of them or their actions.”

“Of course,” Eriathanos replied, with a small bow. Kyrian held his outward emotion in check, but could feel Eriathanos’ mockery towards Alki. The young mage did not realize exactly whom he was patronizing, and if it had been anyone besides Eriathanos, it could have spelled trouble for the untrained one.

“Good,” Alki replied. “People who cause problems are not welcome for long in my house.”

Eriathanos nodded once to Alki. ::There is much that I need to discuss with you, freely. Is it possible to go somewhere that this insolent pup will not follow?::

::Of course,:: Kyrian replied.

“Master Alki,” Kyrian spoke, “Eriathanos has undergone much as of late, and I’m sure he is quite thoroughly exhausted. I have extra room in my chamber, and as his benefactor, he shall stay with me. There will be time to talk later, but for now, we shall retire to my chambers.” Kyrian bowed, and Eriathanos once again did likewise, and followed Kyrian out of the room before Alki could find anything else to say.

::Hmm, after more urgent matters are discussed, I feel we will need to talk about this wayward pupil of yours.:: With the statement came a slight sense of amusement, and Kyrian was quite sure that Eriathanos would be eager to find some way to bring Alki’s pride down a notch. Eriathanos had always had a penchant for curing swollen egos, and Kyrian had to admit, he was interested to see how exactly Eriathanos would decide to deal with the young mage.

However, there were much more pressing matters at hand. Reaching the end of a corridor, Kyrian waved aside the servant at his door, and ushered Eriathanos in. Before entering himself, he turned back to the servant.

“Let no one enter, we have matters to discuss in private.”

With that, Kyrian followed Eriathanos through the doorway, closing and locking the heavy portal behind him.


Alki, back in his own chambers, paced. There was something going on with Kyrian and the newcomer; they were obviously acquaintances from long ago, but Alki knew nothing of his tutor’s past. It was common courtesy not to ask a mage about their former endeavors, and not even Alki felt compelled to cross that line.

What is so important that they must rush away immediately to discuss the matter? What is so important and crucial that they cannot even talk of it in front of me, the very master of this house? Alki scowled, a common action for the young mage. What sort of mage is he anyway, I wonder? I could only glimpse a bit of his power, but he’s obviously got some. And if he knows Kyrian from long ago, before he started teaching me the ins and outs of magic, then he’s obviously quite old, and therefore must have some mastery with his magic. Alki didn’t want to admit it to himself, but in all probability, Eriathanos most likely was at least a small bit more powerful than himself. He couldn’t be sure for how long Kyrian had known Eriathanos, or how they had been acquainted, for that matter. For all I know, Eriathanos is a former student of Kyrian’s. But something about that thought didn’t seem right, and Alki dismissed it. No, the two men behave more like equals, not like a former student and teacher would.

Sighing, Alki knew that he would have to simply wait and see what progressed. He had the distinct feeling that neither Kyrian nor Eriathanos would tell him anything they did not want him to know, whether he demanded it of them or not.

And for the first time, Alki wondered if this new set of events would take his teacher from him, leaving him to either find another mage willing to teach him, or to learn anything else he wished to know on his own, by trial and error. It wasn’t impossible; half the time mages had to acquire skills in that manner anyway, as the magic was never the same from mage to mage.

Alki wasn’t sure how he felt about the prospect of losing Kyrian as his teacher; in his mind, the good and bad points seemed about equal.

With a sigh, Alki glanced back at the tray of fruit still sitting near his chair, and sinking into the chair, idly nibbled on another piece of pear, letting his eyes unfocus and his mind wander.

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