Gravity, Part 3 of 5

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When he’d felt strong enough, Richard had ventured out with his newfound magic, ready to change the world for the better.  He hadn’t expected opposition.  He hadn’t realized that his dabbling with gravity had been noticed.  He hadn’t understood that there were people who didn’t appreciate his efforts and were willing to steps out of their shadows to fight him.  And, because he had been caught off guard, he hadn’t had a way to defend himself. 

What gravity spell could he use to block a blood spell?  What could he move to protect himself, to heal himself?  What strings could he pull on to keep the various magics being worked against from taking hold and tearing him down?

That first night?  None.  There was nothing he could do, nothing he could think of to attempt.

He was assaulted by magic he recognized, spells he had cast himself when he’d dabbled in the darker arts.  He couldn’t see his assailants.  He couldn’t understand why he was under attack.  He took hit after hit until he pulled the strings that would send him flying, literally, to the safety of his home.  There he had used the last of his strength to put in place wards and other protective measures that he hoped would keep alive through the rest of the night before he lost consciousness.

The next morning Richard had woken with a start, ready to spill blood, his own, and cast dangerous spells at those who had attacked him.  Finding himself alone in his house, he calmed down but it took hours for his heart to stop pounding and his head to clear.  It took the full day to get himself off the floor, fed, and into his actual bed.  From there he strengthened the wards he’d placed the night before and then fell into a troubled sleep.  People he couldn’t see were chasing him and every time he tried to pull the strings so he could get away he found the strings had all been cut.  He was grounded and they were getting closer.

When Richard woke again the sun was shining and he felt strong enough to get up and get some more food.  Over breakfast he poured over what he could remember of the attack and tried to figure out the who and the why.  Who had attacked him and why?  It had definitely been blood magic.  He would need to figure out if he could use gravity magic to defend against that.  But, that didn’t help him solve the unanswered questions. 

His contemplation led to zero concrete answers, though.  He had ideas but nothing he could prove and certainly nothing he could act on without more information.  He would need to draw them out but he would need to be better prepared to fend them off when he did.  So, switching gears he bent his thoughts towards how he could counteract the spells he’d been hit with.  Then, he thought about what other spells he would have used if he were on the offensive and tried to figure out how to defend against those as well.  The people who had attacked obviously knew about him so they likely knew that he wouldn’t be venturing forth again until he felt confident he could stand up to the same sort of attacks.  Richard wanted to make sure he was prepared above and beyond that.

So, he went back to training and testing and failing and trying again and again until he felt like he knew which strings to pull on to keep himself save from all sorts of blood magic spells.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t about to cast those kinds of spells on himself so he had no way to know if they would work in practice as they did in theory.  He would rest and then he would venture back outside and see what happened.

where there’s smoke

The demon rose from her shadow and plucked the arrow from the air moments before it would have hit her outermost magical shields.  The shaft broke in two as the massive hand in the darkness crushed the missile in its grip.  Then feathers and stone sharpened head followed the split shaft into oblivion as the demon swallowed the weapon into its depths.  While the sorceress had sensed the projectile coming towards her, and had no doubts that her own spells would have protected her from harm, she was still fascinated to finally get to see her guardian in action.

Pulling her gaze away from the demon, she followed the flight of the arrow to see if she could locate her attacker.  The celebrations were still swinging wildly around her and when no immediate threat showed itself she began to suppose it could have been an accident, a celebratory firing into the sky that went errant.  She didn’t actually think that was the case, but it had already been a strange day and wouldn’t discount any theories until she was certain what had happened.  She also wanted to make certain it had been a deliberate attack before she alerted the dragon to it, but sensing its presence in her mind she turned back to see the beast staring at her.

Its snout rose in a sneer and its voice filled her head, “Go find out if it was deliberate.”

She nodded in deference to the dragon’s request and went to find where the arrow had been fired from.  The demon, pulling free from her shadow again, stalked in front of her, sniffing the air to pinpoint the projectile’s path.

The King, noticing the sudden reversal of the dragon’s mood, while shying away from the tremendous amount of heat pouring off the beast’s scales, stammered, “Is everything alright?”

“I doubt it,” the dragon growled, digging its claws into the stone floor and tearing boulder sized chunks free with ease.

A small tendril of smoke escaped the beast’s maw and rose to collect in the domed ceiling of the grand hall.  The dragon had fit through their modified opening after it used its magic to shrink to a quarter of its normal size, which it had done only after circling the King’s castle four times so he, and all his citizens, could see its true form.  And, much as the sorceress had predicted, the King had fumbled over his words of greeting and deference until the dragon had shrunk to a more manageable size for his tiny brain to comprehend.  Even after the festivities had kicked off without a hitch, the King had continued to tremble and cower next to the might beast.  It had pleased the dragon greatly.

The whole day, up until it had felt the arrow’s vibrations cutting through the air as the projectile approached the witch, had pleased the dragon.  It had enjoyed stretching its wings for the flight down from its cave.  It had enjoyed feeling the fear wash over the citizens of the kingdom as it roared overhead.  It had relished the scents of the various dishes that had been cooked and served just for it and the glint of the sunlight casting rainbows around the jeweled offerings.  But then someone had fired an arrow at the witch…

The beast had sensed the witches hope that it had been an accident, but it knew better.  There had been too much velocity, and too much accuracy in the shot for it to have been anything but a direct attack.  The dragon knew what she would find, knew the archer’s death would be quick, if not painless, and knew how much he would enjoy razing this kingdom to ash in his wrath.  The fire swirling within the beast began to ratchet up to an inferno.