Tag Archive: archmage


Writing Projects

Right. So. Been having a tiny bit of trouble with the writing lately, as I have mentioned. Flash fiction challenges are going some way to getting me back into the swing of things, however, flash fiction is not my novels, and I probably should be working on those.

In the continuing interests of picking back up writing in a proper fashion, I am going to list (read: ramble on a bit) about my current writing projects, which are all my novel projects. I do this in the hope that actually listing out what I could be working on will help my brain to transition back onto working on them. That, and given that I have quite a few projects on the go, this isn’t a terrible thing to do from an organising point of view either.

 

LightningArchmage

1st Draft – Completed.

Story has been split into 3 parts (It might turn out to be a trilogy, it is getting to that length)

2nd Draft – Part 1 Completed. Part 2 Started. Part 3 As yet untouched.

So, Archmage. It’s a beast of a thing at the moment, and I did a lot of work on it during the first couple of months of the year, but then I finished re-writing the first part, and sort of never got into the swing of re-writing the second. Well, there’s like 5,000 words in there. What I think I need is to find a suitable beta reader (or poke my beta reader into actually reading the first part) and then so some blocking out of what happens in scenes and then tweak them so rather than just editing each chapter as I come to it, I edit the higher level structures of the book. I’m pretty sure Part 1 is going to need another re-write, so that seems like the sensible idea. It’s just hard since I’m a pantser, not a planner, but the story will be better for it.

 

black wingsBlack Dawn

1st Draft – So terrible it was abandoned

1st Draft (Take 2) – Started

So Black Dawn was the novel I wrote for my first ever NaNoWriMo. I’ve learnt a lot since then, and I can safely say that what I wrote back in, 2011 (man, old feeling) is a pile of crap. But, the characters were there, and the setting had something, so it went into the drawer for a while, and now I’ve got a shiny new plot and setting tweaks and I think it can work now, I just need to write it. I’m, let’s see, a couple of chapters into starting this. It’s been a very on off sort of project.

 

magnificent_mazeEidetic

1st Draft – In Progress

This was last years (2015) NaNoWriMo project. And it was going well, I got to 75K words, it wasn’t too hard to write. Except, then November finished, and I haven’t even really looked at it since. Not entirely sure why, but, I think I started to see holes. I know what I want to happen in the second half/ending, but, there’s a few holes between where I got up to and that point, and I’m not sure if it’s a satisfying story, and I just seemed to lose the point of it a little. I’m certain that actually it’s not as bad as I think it is, and there is life in the novel, I probably just need to re-read it, and then think about the plot in a little more depth before I continue writing it.

 

MechanicaMechanica Awakening

1st Draft – Completed

1st Edit – In Progress

Another NaNoWriMo book. To be fair, I do a lot of writing in NaNo, it’s only this year that I have seriously started to concentrate on stuff outside of that month, from editing to new material. This one, I wrote the first draft and it’s the first one where I feel like the 1st draft isn’t going to be a million miles from the last draft. It felt complete, rounded, and sure it needs some editing, but the story is there. (Personally, I have a distinction: Re-writing is when there are still plot holes and major writing left to do; Editing is for when the story is there and only minor tweaks need to happen. Mostly at the moment I am re-writing rather than editing, but, that’s because I know most of my stories aren’t finished yet) I did start, was working on it last summer, but again, fallen on a back burner a little bit. I was also doing this editing by hand, which was probably a mistake. I think it’d be easy enough to pick up again.

 

fantasy-pharmacyQuiet Poison

1st Draft – In Progress

One of the few novels I have not written in NaNo. Actually, I only had the idea for this one at the start of the year, so it’s the newest idea that’s actually been written down. It’s going in scenes at the moment. So I find a bit of the book I want to write, write that particular scene, and then when I’ve got enough of them I’ll work out how to string them all together. It’s a very fun project, with intrigue, assassins, relationships, death, and an awesome setting I’ve been crafting with my sounding board. He’s great. This is the one I should be writing, or at least the one I feel I should be writing, because there’s a kickstarter I backed where you can have your words printed on a scarf and this is the project that might actually come in under the limit of 40K (I’m a fantasy writer, novels run long for me typically) but I do actually have to write it up to that much. It’s on about 25K at the moment.

 

Supernatural

Draft – ???

Bit of an odd project this one. It’s the first novel I ever wrote, when I was 14. It was, complete trash, as might be expected of a first ever novel attempt, let alone one written at a young age. But, the main character never went away. There’s, well, there’s ideas and scenes, but nothing that I would call a solid plot, so it’s hard to count this as anything resembling an active project, but she’s always there, in the back of my brain.

 

And that’s it for active projects. Or, you know, projects on the backburner. I have a lot of other ideas for novels (Court of Ice, Firebird, Shapechangers) and other projects that keep me writing but aren’t novels (mainly fanfiction type things, or me fluff writing about my characters in various games. Werewolf, princess, D&D). It’s been good to remind myself of them. Maybe now I can actually go and write something on one of them.

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So, now that I’ve finished with the 100 theme challenge, I find myself at a bit of a loss for go to posts when I notice I haven’t posted anything in a while. Bear with me for a little while whilst I work out what kind of things to post up on here and work out some sort of schedule for it all. And yes, I will be trying for more dragons on Thursdays.

What have I been up to with my time? Still trying to get through more books for reading. Slow but steady is how I would describe that, but getting there. Yellow book is now done and finished, so green is next on the list. And after those three, I’ve got several more on the list to read. Deciding what to read next is often as hard as finding the time to sit down and read them!

Mostly, I have been working on two things. 1 – My Master’s degree. This is not what this blog is about, but I am just going to say that I am loving my database module. 2 – Writing

JanFebMar

Yes, I have a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are awesome.

At the start of the year I signed up to a 365K club. This means that I have signed up to write 1,000 every day, or, as it more usually goes with these things, 365,000 words in the year because some days you write more, some less, but it all averages out. There are quite a few of us in the club, which is a sub-section of a bigger writing group and is internet based which is highly convenient, and we have chats, motivations, question times, it’s all a big support group for writers, and I have to say, it is excellent.

And signing up for this challenge, to really push myself and get that daily habit of writing, is probably one of my better decisions. If you look on my spreadsheets, you can see that so far I haven’t missed a day. Sure, one day I only wrote 27 words, but that’s still two more sentences than I had at the start of the day. Right now I am approximately a day behind, so less than 1,000 words behind my target. And that is counting today, which means that I still have the rest of this afternoon and this evening to catch up on that. And, overall, I’ve written ~72,000 words since Jan 1st. Some new stuff, some editing stuff, but the point is I am writing. Last year, I basically only wrote when it came around to NaNo, so this? This is a HUGE improvement, and I’m loving it.

What am I working on? I’m the kind of person who likes to have several projects on the go at once, so, currently I am working on:

  • Archmage – This is my epic (Maybe a trilogy? It’s certainly looking long enough for that) fantasy novel that I am currently editing. It’s developing along quite nicely, although part 2 is going to need a major overhaul, and part 3 definitely needs work. It’s probably more like re-working it than it is editing, since there’s tons of plot holes to fill, arcs to develop, characters to delete or add, all the high level stuff. It’s fun, but it is a lot of hard work. The blurb for the book(s?) is that in a world where magic is regulated and structured, an underage girl bursts onto the scene with magic, wild magic, unlike anything that’s ever been seen before. Can Rana prove that her magic is just as valid as the old ways, or will society always treat her as an outcast?
  • Quiet Poison – This is relatively new. I had the idea late Jan/early Feb, and it has been so insistent and prominent in my mind, that I’ve been writing it out. It’s a story about a new guild of assassins, trying to carve out their territory against the bigger, more established guild. Lots of politics, intrigue, assassinations (of course), and all sorts of seedy underground things. Magic is around in the setting, but very much in the background. It’s a break apart from my usual genre, but I am loving the characters and what they are getting up to, and it’s quite nice to write something down and dirty, as it were.

Typed-Writer

Those two are my active projects. But I certainly have others which may or may not come up:

  • Black Dawn – This is novel I wrote for the first year I ever participated in NaNoWriMo. It is, in a word, terrible. So, I’ve given it a shiny new plot, and it’s sitting there with it’s first chapter salvaged, looking at me, biding it’s time, just waiting until the time is right to spring back into my head and get written. It’s there, I’m not ignoring it, but at the moment other novels are in front of it. Basic premise: Angels and Demons have been warring since time immemorial, with Earth as the battle ground, seeded with their human descendants, the Cambions and the Nephilim. However, a threat is rising, one they wish to stop before it ever happens, and it might just be enough to make them forget about their own war. Unless the threat is already more than just a threat, and she’s been waiting to wage her own war on them.
  • Mechanica Awkaening – This really is a book that just needs editing. I really think it’s the cleanest first draft I’ve ever written, and I was working on it last summer. But, like most ideas, it’s hit a bit of a lull, and whilst it’s still there and I’m not ignoring it, other things are in front. But it really doesn’t need as much as any of my other projects. So maybe it’ll come round soon. this is the one about Rose, who can talk to machine spirits, and her family trying to prevent another civil war.
  • Eidetic – Still working on the first draft. Sad to say, I haven’t actually touched it since NaNo last year. I just, got a bit stuck. I think I can get unstuck, but I do need to sit down and have a think through and work out where it’s going. Still got, I would say, about a third of it to write? Labyrinths and ancient magic and trying to get away from a society that doesn’t let Sage be the person she is because she’s a women. Need to work on it.
  • Other Ideas – There’s a few of them hanging around. Old ones, new ones. ones that still need time to brew whilst they work themselves out. Willow is an old one, actually she’s the MC from the first ever novel I wrote (novel as opposed to short story, fan-fiction, etc) which, again, is terrible, but she’s not. She just needs the right plot and setting, and I’m getting closer to that. Very slowly. Firebird is a new one, lots of aztec/shaman magic crossed with vampire hunters. It’s a good idea, but it need ‘brewing time’ as it were. There’s a fan-fiction in my head as well, which I might write when I really want to indulge myself.

There is never just one project. But that’s how I work. And I do like flitting about, it’s just how my brain works. They’ll all get there in the end, as long as I am working on one of them, then that’s a step towards the goal of being an author.

The trees down below were bending over backwards, screaming winds ripping and tearing at them as leaves and branches were flung off, then battered by the lashing rain.

Rana’s clothes were already soaked through, had been the instant she stepped out of the Hall, now there were merely a sodden layer of second skin, too plastered to her skin to be stolen by the winds.

Lightning burst the sky open with light, and a mere second later, the sky crashed with thunder, bursting around in her eardrums, echoing between the towers and roofs of the building she was standing on top of.

She could see the whole city from the top of the Hall, standing where she and Caleb had had their first adventure, almost a decade ago now. The scar of the recent destruction could not be hidden by the sheet of rain, dark and jagged where most of the city was spotted with lights shining out of windows.

Rana swallowed, her stomach beginning to twist as she looked down at it. She wrenched her eyes away, scanning beyond the city for the disturbance that had brought her out, feeling through the rain and the wind as much as anything.

There. By the river. She could feel the water’s swelling and rising, a huge bulk just about visible from where she was.

The wind shrieked by as she ran the few steps to the edge and jumped off from the tower. It may have brought the storm, but she was the wild mage, and the elements worked for her.

The wind landed her on the wall surrounding the city, lending her speed as she ran along, rain and water doing nothing to impede her. The shape was growing though the gloom of the rain, serpentine body, claws, longs necks with heads forming. She could feel and see the jets of water that it was shooting out, reaching out towards the gap in the wall that had been created by the earthquake. Her earthquake.

This was her mess. And she would be thrice star dammed if she let any monster get into her city.

Her hand worked it’s way into her sodden pocket, fabric clinging to her skin, making it hard to her to wrench the coin out. She was still running, along the top of the wall, nearing the fighting, the tiny guards on the floor not coping with the storm, trying to hold this monster back.

Her fault. Her fight. She skidded to a halt just at the edge of the broken wall, feet spraying up water as she extended out her arm, lined it up, and fired.

The bolt hit the hydra squarely in its chest, burning away scales and flesh and rain, lighting up the air even more so than the lightning had done. It screamed and thrashed, heads going in all different directions. She drew her arm back, and the rain and wind rushed into the void left in the air. They hydra’s many head turned round, all of them fixating on her, as the rain hit the flesh, and it started to steam. She could see new scales underneath that smoke, the hole she had created started to heal over.

It might be a creature of the water, but she had all the elements on her side. Rana gritted her teeth, and pulled the wind to her, jumping off the wall and down to the earth. This storm would be hers to use.

94 – Last Hope

Rana reached out one arm, and with Caleb supporting her on one side managed to walk with him out of the tunnel and into the clean air again. Celia rushed forward and took her other arm, but she couldn’t support her weight anymore, and her knees buckled.

Caleb ducked down, and simply picked her up, his armour digging into her side as they walked back around behind the hastily erected barricade, shimmering with magic as well as the logs and dirt banks.

Her chest heaved and every breath was an effort as she was gently lowered to the floor. Her eyes were fluttering, it was hard to keep them open when breathing took this much energy. She could feel the vibrations through the floor and the magic starting to seep through the air.

“What’s happening?”

“Thomas. Broke the. Seal.”

“How?”

“Stole. My power. Add his. Big mess.” Her hands fluttered apart in a pathetic resemblance of an explosion, before collapsing back against Caleb, his hands coming up to try and support her, warm on her arms.

“You can steal power?”

“Really. Shouldn’t.”

Mortimer was standing above them, his shadow long against the grass, “How bad does this get if he does break this Seal?”

Rana opened her eyes and looked up at him, just letting the desperation and utter despair that she felt rise up to the surface. If magic descended onto this world, raw, unchecked, it would be just like last time, like “Ashfell.”

Mortimer’s face grew grave, and Rana felt the world slip away from her, she couldn’t tell how long for, but when she came back, mages were streaming out from behind the barricade, and it was just her, Caleb, and Celia, standing over them.

“Rana, is there anything you can think of we can do? Anything at all?”

She looked down at the ring on her finger, contemplating the weights against them. A crack came from the mound behind her, and even she could see the spray of earth that shot up into the sky, as a wash of magic told her that the Seal was broken.

With one last sigh, she slid the ring off her finger, “Last hope.”

“Rana? What are you doing?” There was concern, panic almost, in his voice, but she just gave a weak smile, she hoped he could see it.

And then she snapped the ring.

 

Every ward died with a whisper, the ground stopped shaking, and the earth slumped back into the gap that magic had thrown it from. The magic in the air died back into the afternoon sunlight as a ghastly silence froze everyone in place.

“Rana? Rana!” Caleb pressed his hand against the deathly pale face, limping lolling over his arm, chest barely moving.

87 – Food

Rana laughed as she slowed Duchess down, walking her as she looked around the place. “Over there, that looks like a good spot. You brought a picnic right?”

“Snuck out from the kitchens fresh this morning.”

Rana laughed as they walked the horses over and gave them a drink of water. They let the horses graze as they set up a blanket and Caleb spread out what he had stolen from the kitchen’s that morning.

“So, you’ll stay in touch right? I mean, there’s not a range on these amulets is there?”

“No. They should work over any distance. I’ll keep in touch, although I think it’s just going to be a lot of travelling. It’s going to be fairly boring without you there to keep me company.”

“Yeah. You know, I could just come with you.” He gave her a sly look.

Rana looked at him, and then pushed him away with one hand, sticking her tongue out at him. “Your parents would flip out. And you do have things to do here.”

He sighed. “I know, I know.” He raised his hand defensively. “It’s just I wished I could come with you. Even if it’s just fetching a book for Gaius, it’s still an adventure.”

“I’ll try to no have too much fun without you there.”

“You really think it’s not going to be fun?”

“Not really, but I’ll still try.”

“Liar.”

“I know. But what can we do? I mean, I want you to come with me, but I know that your duty has to come first.”

Caleb sighed. “Yeah, duty. I want to be a good prince, but I just don’t get a lot of time to do my own thing, you know? I’d love to come with you for a few weeks and just camp out under the stars every night. That sounds amazing, even if nothing else happens. Just to be out of the city for that long.” He sounded wistful as he talked.

Rana reached over and squeezed his hand. “Maybe some other time. And at least you’ll still be in range of a warm bed and good food. I’ve got travelling rations, which look dire at best.”

“Enjoy this picnic while it lasts then.” Caleb said as he handed her a dish full of fresh fruit.

They lingered over the food, talking to each other until eventually they had to part as the sun was moving through the sky. Caleb gathered up the remains of the picnic, and they both mounted up. Turning Duke back towards the city in the South, Caleb said his goodbye.

“See you when you get back. Try and be in time for the ball, okay?”

“Sure. Caleb?” She walked Duchess up to Duke and leaned over to kiss Caleb on the cheek as he turned to her. “Try not to get into too much trouble without me, okay?” She said as she turned to the North and clicked her tongue to get Duchess into a trot.

She forced herself to not look back at Caleb, who had raised a hand to his cheek, looking utterly confused at the parting gift.

77 – Test

“This is Professor Rimes. If it’s okay with you, we’ll send Rana with him to test her whilst I talk with you.”

“Test?” Rana didn’t like the sound of that.

“It won’t hurt.” Rimes said, and held the door open. “Come along.”

Rana looked at her parents, who said nothing, but Mortimer smiled at her so she proceeded out of the door and then followed the Professor as he led the way into a large Hall.

It was even bigger on the inside then the whole village hall was on the outside, Rana thought as she looked around the space.

Professor Rimes clicked his fingers to get her attention and then bade her to come and stand by a plinth.

Peaking at the top, there was a large metal ball sitting on top of the plinth.

“To start off with, I want you to touch this orb here.”

“Just touch it?”

“With both hands, flat palms. If you can reach.”

Rana stood on her tip toes and reached out for the orb as he had called it. “Ouch.” She snatched her hands back. “You said it wouldn’t hurt.”

“It doesn’t, put your hands back on it.”

Rana delicately touched it again with the same result. “It does too hurt. It’s boiling hot.”

Professor Rimes frowned and then placed his own hand on it. Surprised to see he didn’t yell out in pain she looked at him. “But it’s hot.”

“It isn’t. It might grow a little warm when you touch it, but not hot. Now try again.”

It was still boiling hot to touch when Rana put her hand against it for the third time, and after that she refused to touch it again. With a quivering moustache Professor Rimes eventually stopped trying to make her.

“Right, moving on. Stand there.” He indicated a spot on the floor and then stood opposite to her. He clapped his hands and Rana was fascinated as an orb of what looked like light sprang into existence as he drew his hands apart.

“What can you see?”

“A light.”

“Not in the room, anything between my hands?”

“I meant between your hands. There’s like a ball of light there, you created it after you clapped.”

His mustache quivered again as he clapped his hands again.

“And now?”

“Four balls.”

Again he clapped his hands and Rana gave a gasp of delight. “They’re all different colours now.”

“Point to the red one.”

She pointed to it, and then each other colour in turn when he barked out the colours. She could follow them round the room as well when he moved them.

The professor let the orbs fade and went over to a piece of wall which was black. He picked up a white stick and then drew on the board.

“What’s this?”

Rana shrugged.

“Come on, what rune is this?”

“What’s a rune?”

That set his mustache quivering again. He drew other strange symbols on the black wall, a blackboard he told her, and the white stick was chalk, but Rana didn’t recognise any of the strange squiggles.

Giving up on that he went to a nearby tap and took two glasses out from a small cabinet beside it and filled them both up with water, then handed one to Rana.

“What is this test for?”

“This isn’t a test, this is a break.”

“No, like everything.”

“We’re testing you for magical potential.”

“Like you do with mages?”

“Yes. Every mage is tested like this.”

“I could be a mage?” Mages were so awesome, so powerful but wise as well, even slightly mythical to her. It filled her heart with trembling excitement to think that she might be able to join them. Mages were in all of the stories that were told round the fire, all of them.

“Does this count?” Rana waved her fingers over her glass of water and it jumped and spouted at her touch. Looking up she saw that his moustache was quivering again and let the water drop back into the glass, and her gaze fell to the floor. She was going to get yelled at again.

“What patterning did you use to do that? Head up child.”

“Patterning?”

Professor Rimes didn’t like that answer.

She shows him other stuff that she could do, at his insistence. He started barking things out at her. Half of the stuff he asked her to do or show him she couldn’t, and when she tried to show him what she could do, with little winds, water, lightning, even reshaping the bench into something interesting, all he did was demand what patterning she has used. And she still had no idea what patterning even was.

It felt like hours later when he finally stopped barking at her.

“We’re done.” He strode towards the door and held it open for her.

“Did I pass?” Rana looked up at him with hopeful eyes.

Professor Rimes looked down at her, “No, you didn’t.”

640x457_19608_Spark_2d_fantasy_mage_lightning_spell_fight_picture_image_digital_artWalking up to the edge of the circle, Rana looked over at Thomas. His face was dirty with dust as he stood calmly in the middle of the circle. He had done away with the dark robe he had used to conceal himself before, now in clothes which resembled those worn by the mages of the hall, although as dusty as his face was.

Rana made a subtle gesture with the hand behind her back, and the mages and guards moved to surround the circle, several paces further back than where she stood at the edge.

“Attacking the gate was hardly a subtle move Thomas. The Thomas of old that I knew was beyond such overt gestures.”

He didn’t respond.

“Why are you here Thomas?”

Still he was quiet.

It wasn’t unexpected that he was quiet. Rana was using the time to think through all the possible moves that he could make. But it was puzzling her that the circle they were surrounding was defensive in nature. If they crossed it, there would be backlash, but there didn’t look like there was anything which would attack them directly if they just stood here outside of it. And that was odd, thomas had never been a defensive person before.

With the same hand she made a quick few gestures to Regis, who back away to spread the word for the mages to start slowly and carefully unwinding the ritual circle. It would take time, but they seemed to have it.

Rana’s eyes remained fixed upon Thomas as the mages began to very subtlety unweave the magic of the circle, the faint tendrils of magic coming from all around the enclosed circle..

Regis came up to her shoulder and whispered a confirmation in her ear. She barely heard the words as she looked at Thomas, and saw the barest twitch of his mouth, just the slightest hint of a smile was the only giveaway to her as an illusion faded and she saw the faintest outline of another circle, a larger circle that they were all standing in.

In a second Rana’s head snapped round and took in the meaning and purpose of the new circle. The circle that Thomas was standing so blatantly in wasn’t the trap, this was the trap, and most of the mages and guards were all in it.

Thomas spoke the first syllable of a phrase and Rana made a snap decision. In one sharp move she stomped her foot, arms snapping out. A twin earthquake and gale wind ripped out from her as she undermined her own forces shields and threw everyone away from her as Thomas spoke the second and third syllables. The trap sparked once before activating and the screaming force erupted upwards.

When the open day came, Rana made sure to dress in a clean uniform. As she sat in lessons with her classmates, she picked a loose yellow thread off her collar and watched people file into or past the classroom, who in turn watched them at work.

It was unusual, trying to have a lesson when there were so many other people in the Hall. The corridors were packed as the younger professors and graduates acted as guides for small groups of people, whereas other’s simply wondered around, drifting into rooms where they could watch lessons being taught or researchers could demonstrate what kinds of new magic were being developed. One project that was getting a lot of attention was alchemy based, where they were trying to change a sheep’s wool into something softer, to make a warmer, more comfortable blanket. Projects like that would help everyone, not just the mages, and that was an important part of the open day.

Despite the dampness of the autumn outside, the second years escaped the crowded dining hall in favour of the open sky and took lunch outside, cradling bowls of steaming soup in their hands.

“I’ll be catching up with you later, I’m spending the first afternoon lesson with Professor Carmen.” Rana said.

“Astronomy? Why? We’re timetabled for an Illusion lesson.” Celia said.

“Something he said a little while back didn’t sit right with me so I’m investigating it and showing him. This is the only time he’s free so we’re going to have a one to one lesson.”

“Is he teaching you, or are you teaching him?”

Rana smiled. “We’ll see. I’ll catch up with you later.”

An hour into the session, Rana pointed at the illusionary star chart she had created to demonstrate her point. “So you were right when you said these weren’t in a line, but I think they were, sixteen, nearly seventeen years ago. If you look at stars charts from before that,” She switched the illusion to the one she meant, “They aren’t in the same position. Close, but not exactly.”

1370996“Stars don’t move.”

“Most stars don’t move, but I think these ones do.”

Rana heard a familiar voice floating up to her from the door to the large classroom they were using. “And in here we have an astronomy lesson happening. Since we believe that magic is linked to the stars, you can see why we have a great interest in studying them.” Sophia explained to the group she was with.

“Why is that student on the ceiling?” Someone in the group asked.

Sophia turned and looked up at Rana, and then put her hands on her hips.

“Good question. Rana, why are you on the ceiling?”

“It’s easier to point out which stars I’m talking about from up here. Since quite a few of them are so close together, it helps to be specific.” Rana tilted her head up so that she could better look at Sophia, who pinched the bridge of her nose, and didn’t look impressed.

“Okay, next question. How are you on the ceiling?”

“I broke gravity.”

Sophia sighed, giving her a hopeless look.

“Hey, if the universe didn’t want me breaking all these rules of magic then it wouldn’t make it so easy for me.”

446b100e6863168295c513511ac6827bThe fire was still going by the time that the food had been eaten. Traveller was sitting on one of the bigger logs as he finished off a tankard and the put it to one side. He cleared the kids off of the log he was using and then stood up on it and cleared his throat.

“Well, now that we are all fed and watered, and comfortable, I feel that I should regal you all with a story.”

“Adventure to the West. Adventure to the West!” Evan called out to him.

“King of the Broken Spire!” Someone else called out from the other side of the fire.

“Sorry young uns, but I’ve got a tale in mind that I want to tell you all. And I hoping that it’ll be a really special performance, but I will need a helper.” He jumped off the log and half pranced, half jumped over the Rana and grabbed her hand and pulled her up.

“Wait, what? But you’re the story teller.”

“Yes, but you can make the story come to life!”

Rana gave him this confused look. “What?”

He bent down and whispered into her ear. “I want you to create illusions. I’ll tell the story, and you can create the story in images. You can do illusions, right?”

“I’m okay at them, I guess.”

He gave her a grin. And then they were back at the log and Traveller jumped on the log. “You all know Rana, we’re going to show you what she has been learning at that fancy school up in the city. See if we can’t bring a bit of life to the tale ‘Lights in the North’”

He threw out his hands to the audience, some of whom cheered, whereas others murmured, and the children frowned as they didn’t recognise the title. But all of the audience fell silent as the Traveller crouched and brought his fingers to his lips.

“Ages ago, even before our grandfathers, grandfathers, grandfathers time, this land was divided into the seven kingdoms. Six of those kingdoms are the kingdoms that we know today, although their fair lands have changed in that time.”

Rana sat standing just behind him on the log, and moved her hands. Garth said it was a failing that she preferred to do her illusions with her hands. She believed that it made controlling them easier. She created the images of time running backwards, over the fire so that everyone could see it.

People’s mouths opened. The children seemed delighted with the images playing out over the fire as it shifted from the sands of time into the map of the kingdoms that Rana remembered from one of the many books in Garth’s office. It only had six kingdoms on it, as the maps she had seen all ended at the mountain range in the north. However there were murmurs and side glances from the older people. She spotted her parents beaming at her and that made her glow inside a little.

Traveller continued in the low carrying voice that he had started in. “But the seventh kingdom, the seventh kingdom that is no more now, used to be filled with people. The lands were fair, as fair as those of our dear Cilion today. The days were long, and their harvest plentiful. They lived off the lands and worked with it in perfect harmony.”

Images of farmers and work and bountiful harvest came easily from Rana’s imagination. The better the imagination of the caster, the better the illusions which came out.

“The greatest treasure of this kingdom, was not the fruits that they produce, nor was it gold or gems which gleam and steal the eyes of the greedy. It was the lights which lit up the sky at night which the greatest sight that a man could see. The dark night sky would be torn asunder with the green of the new trees, the most royal of the purples, and azure of the balmy sea. It was not every night that this happened, but when it did, all the citizens would sit out the night under the stars, and fall asleep to the music of the universe.”

This was more difficult, but she realised that Traveller descriptions were very specific, and so she could make very good approximations. People were too enthralled by the story and the images presented to them to question how accurate they were.

“Life for them was like a dream. But like all dreams, they come to an end. This end came in the whispers, creeping along in the dark corners, bubbling in the streams. From the darkest edges of life came the end of life: A deadly plague.

“It started small, a few coughs, a few sniffles. Just another winter cold. But then everyone was coughing, everyone was hot with a fever. The medicine rooms were overstretched as village after village just fell ill, one after the other. Even the medicine men and women began to fall ill, dropping into the sick beds just like everyone else.”

Rana was beginning to enjoy creating all the illusions for the story. It wasn’t one that she had heard before either, but it was a very interesting tale.

“And it didn’t stop at the people. All the animals on the farms fell sick as well, and it wasn’t long before even the land itself got sick as the crops wilted and died, and it spread to the trees, the hedges, even the grass. Nothing escaped from the touch. It was the first, and only plague that our green earth has ever seen.”

“Nothing survived its touch, and it wasn’t long before the bodies started to pile up, and pile up high. Even the earth seemed to cry. It’s said, that all throughout the pandemic, even though it was winter, and winter was the best season for the lights, not once did they light up the night sky with their brilliance.”

“People tried to go up to help them, but the people of the nation were wise, and they knew that they could not let the plague spread to any other nation, so they built a great barrier of their wagons across the pass into the land, and put up signs to warn others of the devastation. Even so, people tried to cross the barrier, tried to go into the kingdom.”

“And the land itself rebelled against them. Earthquakes started to shake the land as the earth seem to split in two and the great mountains rose out of the earth to split the sickened kingdom off from the rest of the land.”

“People that lived in the North could do nothing except watch the sky, but the northern lights never showed again, and people mourned.”

“It took people a decade to find a path through the deep mountains, covered in snow and treacherous as they were. But eventually they came into the place which had once been the kingdom. Nothing remained there but a wasteland. Everything seemed to reek of death and all the colour had leaked out of the place. It was as if the entire place had been covered in grey snow, and so it was named Ashfall, and whatever name that the kingdom had before fell into dust and memories, and thus the dead kingdom came to be, and the lights of the North disappeared into memory as well.”

Rana let her last illusion fade into nothingness over the fire as silence descended over the village.

Rana held a hand over her mouth as she tried to stifle a giggle. She could hear the cooks talking, chatting away as they prepared the food that was going to be for dinner that night.

Of course that was why she was here, sitting on this shelf in the darkest corner, tucking her legs in and making sure that not one single piece of her could be seen. Caleb had found out that there were making berry pies for desert this evening. And evening was far too far away to wait for them. So she was on the shelf, and Caleb was in the cupboard.

Rana peeked down the side of the shelf, just to look at where the cooks were. They were right in front of the cupboard the Caleb had hidden himself in, and on the counter top, the cook put down the tray of pies, freshly cooked so that they could cool before dinner.

Twisting her wrist, Rana looked over to the hooks where all the pots and pans hung, and the air around them swirled, more than enough to move them into one another, creating a huge clanging and clattering noise.

The cooks clamped their hands over their and yelled at each other over the noise. “Shut the window!” One of them cried out as she went over to the pans, leaving the counter top completely unguarded.

‘Now Caleb!’ She sent to him.

Caleb popped open the cupboard door, grabbed the tray, pushed the door shut and started to scurry out of the kitchen with the tray hopping from one hand to the other. Just as the cooks shut the window with a bang.

The air flow stopped, and the pans settled. The cooks were about to turn back, and Caleb was right in the open. Rana looked at the fire and narrowed her eyes. It responded, whooshing up to the top of the chimney, throwing out an impressive blast of heat.

The cooks all turned to that, as Caleb made it to the entranceway, and Rana jumped down from her hiding place and speeded past the tables and cupboards to follow him.

At the top of the stairs they heard a cry. “Troublemakers! Just wait until I get my hands on your thieving little scoundrels!”

She turned and grinned at Caleb, then took a pie from the tray.

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