not yet ready

He shifted his weight slightly, nearly imperceptible in the flickering candle light of his study, and created all the space he would need for his hands to work the magic.  The anger that had danced in his eyes moments before was replaced by his normal stoic gaze.  When he spoke, the fire he let simmer in his words was intentional rather than an uncontrolled outburst, though he did take pleasure in watching his pupil wince.

“I may be getting old, but don’t think for a second that means you are ready to replace me.”

Despite his student’s insolence, the elder wizard was impressed with the young man’s confidence.  It proved he had chosen wisely when selecting who to train.  Still, there were many lessons that needed to be taught and learned before the student would ready to take over the duties of the master.

“Nothing to say for yourself?”

When no answer was forthcoming, with a wave of his hand, he motioned for the young man to leave.

His student stared him down instead, and, hoping to catch his teacher off-guard, quickly unleashed the most powerful spell he knew.  Lightning raced from his outstretched fingers.

The room swirled with energy and the master smiled sadly.  Perhaps he hadn’t chosen wisely after all.   His warding charms easily deflected the magical energy bolts, sending them sizzling into the wall behind him.

The pupil’s face fell as his master rose unscathed and the energy in the room exploded.  He could feel the weight of his master’s wrath before the spell had even finished being cast.  It crushed him from all sides, squeezing the light from his eyes and stealing the strength from his legs.

The last words he heard before he lost consciousness were, “You still have a lot to learn.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Word Count: 298

This is a continuation of the story I started writing yesterday, and is still very much a work in progress as I want to expand it into a much larger piece.  Again, I could have, and wanted to, write more for this posting, but had to keep it under 300 words to meet the prompt criteria for this week’s Writing Challenge from The Daily Post:

The challenge

Not sure how to get going? Here are a few ideas to nudge your muse.

  • Write at least one piece of flash fiction. Each piece of flash fiction must be 300 words or less.
  • Write a six-word story. Need some inspiration? Check out some of the responses to the six-word story Daily Prompt.
  • Feeling extra sassy? Write at least one six-word story and one piece of flash fiction.
  • Not feeling into fiction? Write a flash fiction biography/autobiography.
  • Write a real-time flash fiction piece: the entire action takes place in the time it takes us to read it.

Do you like where I’m headed?  Do you think the student/teacher standoff is too overplayed in fantasy novels?

crush

The flags twisted in the wind.  They whipped around each other, tangling, flying free, twirling as one around the pole that held them to the earthly world, and then separating again with snaps that cracked loudly against the constant howl.  They caressed and cuddled.  They fought.  They drew apart.

Harolin watched the flags with interest.  He liked the way they danced together and against each other as the wind roared through the valley.  They reminded him of his own life at the moment, a beautiful tangled mess.  Some days everything clicked.  Some days everything was chaos.  But, either way, it seemed things were beyond his control.  He was just another flag being forced into action by the winds around him.

A wry smile touched his lips.  Except, of course, he thought as he looked away from the flags to return his gaze to the dirt road that ran through town, I have the means to fight back when I choose.  The will.  The tools.  I don’t have to accept my fate.

Tumble weeds and dust devils were the only things traveling down the road during the current storm.  But, Harolin knew she would come eventually.  She had promised, and above all else she was a woman of honor.  He’d always respected that about Deanna, even if it had driven him crazy at times.

Lightning cracked, and the thunder temporarily drowned out the wind.  As it rolled away the world was silent for a moment before the howl came rushing back in to fill the void.  And, in that instant, Deanna appeared in the middle of the road.

She was wearing her black robes, enchanted to protect her from the elements, and her hair had grown since he had seen her last.  The silver strands, untouched by the wind, cascaded down her shoulders.  Her hooded cowl kept her face mostly in shadows, but he could see her grey-green eyes clearly enough.  They had always been piercing.  They had always been striking.

If it had been anyone else, Harolin would have attacked immediately while they were still weak from their previous spell, but he owed her a few moments to regain her composure and strength.  He owed her at least that much.  Stepping from the shadows, feeling the tug of the wind against his white cloak, he joined Deanna in the street.  He’d never minded weather.  The feeling of the wind rushing passed him was exhilarating.

Harolin raised a hand to Deanna and she nodded in response.  They both had words that needed to be said, but there was no point given the current setting.  The wind would rip them from their mouths and scatter them with the dust.  However, the two magicians were able to convey enough of their thoughts and feelings with their eyes that no dialogue was needed anyway.

She still loves me.

He still loves me.

An ill-fated pair, but passionate, their relationship had been a brief experiment to see if their attraction could become more, to see if they could set aside their moral differences and work together.  And they were able to for awhile.  They combined, balanced each other out, and saw the worlds in matching shades of grey.  But, eventually their true natures shown through and they began to quarrel.

Nothing in the world was as dangerous as a lovers’ spat between sorcerers.  The verbal fights escalated to magical battles.  Curses were hurled.  Jinxes were cast.  The home they had shared came crashing down around them.

And then they had parted ways, as ordered by their respective magical councils, but they had vowed to meet again a year later and finish the fight.  It had gone too far not to see it through.  Their curiousity, their drive to be the best, was too strong.

“Are you ready?”  He mouthed, and she nodded yes in response.

Harolin closed his eyes and sighed.  In a normal battle that kind of mental lapse would have been a fatal error, but he knew she would give him the chance to make the first move.  She owed him that much.

When he opened his eyes, he unleashed a barrage of magical attacks that he knew she had never seen him use before.  He wanted to catch her off guard.  He hoped to end the fight quickly before his resolve broke.

The ground swelled under her feet as he ripped the earth apart.  Lightning raced from the clouds to scorch the spot she stood upon.  Fire spread from his out reached finger tips and morphed in the wind into a raging tornado, swirling its destructive inferno of flame and heat down the road.

The fire blocked his view, but when the clouds opened up and rain poured down in torrents, he knew she had survived.  Deep within him, a fleeting thought of happiness, Harolin rejoiced that Deanna was still alive.

As the rain squelched his magical flames, he saw he hovering over the broken ground.  She was smiling at him.  She had been impressed with his display of power and knowledge.  Her smile radiated with admiration.  He felt his resolve slipping and he moved into action just in time to counter her attacks.

The rain swelled into a giant wave, crashing down the street, splintering the buildings on either sides and sending boards flying outward and surging along with the crush.  Even as he leaned forward and worked the magic to divert the water around him he felt the ground under his feet give way, she was using his own spell against him, but it was a simple matter of twisting the spell in his head and he was hovering above the gaping hole before gravity could force him down.  The wall of water drove by him and sunk into the depths.

Harolin kept waiting for her third spell, and was pleasantly surprised when he sensed, more than saw, the shift in magic and he was able to counter before the water surrounding him had turned to stone intent upon tumbling over him and sending him below.

As the debris settled, their eyes caught again.  The love was still there.  And new respect, as they had finally shown the height of their abilities to each other.  They were nearly equals.  Deanna’s gaze faltered.  Harolin didn’t take the opportunity to strike again.

When her eyes rose to meet his again, she mouthed, “I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

Harolin studied her, then shrugged, and mouthed back, “I’ll worry about tomorrow when it gets here.”

Deanna smiled deeply, her love shining clearly through, and then winked as she disappeared.  Harolin laughed, the roaring wind drove the sound from his ears and kept him from enjoying the mirth in his voice, but he was too delighted to care.  Then he stepped into his magic and joined his wife at their rebuilt home.

It was going to be a good night.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Word Count: 1149

My apologies for The Princess Bride quote.  I hadn’t intended on using it, but it fit so well with the scene that I couldn’t help myself. And, I hadn’t meant to make it over 1,000 words, but the story kept going and I had to let it out.  Hopefully you didn’t mind the long read.  And, I swear I didn’t intend for this to feel like Kill Bill when I started it either.  And, I’m sorry for having so much to apologize about today.

Anyway, this bit of silliness, magic, and love was another Flash Fiction Challenge post.  Here are the current details:
Hey! It’s Valentine’s Day.
So, you’ve got 1500 words to write about:
Twisted Love.
Any genre will do.
Post at your online space.
Link back [to the Flash Fiction Challenge linked above].
Due by Friday the 21st at noon.

And you?  Do you have a tale of twisted love to share?

a morning walk

The haze, rolling in from the nearby ocean and hovering just above his head, blotted out the meager light that might otherwise have been offered by the stars.  The moon had already slipped beyond the horizon to make room in the sky for the coming of the sun, and darkness ruled supreme.

Graelen, untroubled by the lack of light, continued on his path into the valley.  He had grown accustomed to practicing his craft in dark years before, and, as time passed, he had begun to prefer the shadow world.  He wouldn’t have considered himself to be a dark wizard, but he knew he didn’t walk with the moral and righteous either.  In his mind, to truly appreciate all that sorcery had to offer a wizard was forced to be open to all paths at all times.

Sometimes those paths made more sense to be shrouded in darkness, unseen, unwitnessed.  His current task fell in that realm, so he did not mind his walk in the black of morning at all.

His feet traveled the well-worn path with little need for guidance or corrections from his senses.  They knew the way.  He was thankful for that as his mind was considerably occupied with running through the list of spells he had at his disposal.  He had spent a week preparing for his mission and committed quite a few spells to memory in that time, but he had learned through experience that it was never wrong to ensure he still knew the words, the inflections, the gestures.

His dedication to his craft, to studying and practice, were one of the reasons he had risen through the ranks of his peers as quickly as he had.  That was a point of pride with Graelen, and one that he never missed an opportunity to flaunt.  They, of course, took exception to his teasing and had on occasion lashed out against him, but his skill had always seen him safely through those encounters.

He was a master of magic.  It bent to his will.  It crackled with energy within him.  He was equal parts blood and sorcery, just as he was equal parts good and evil.

That didn’t stop Graelen from smiling devilishly as he anticipated the attack he was about to launch.

“They won’t know what hit them,” he whispered and his words disappeared quicker than the soft footfalls of his padded slippers.  The darkness hid away the sounds of his travel just as it would hide the fire and blood Graelen was going to unleash before the world had shifted enough for the sun to sparkle through the lingering haze.

sign me up, part 2

Part 1 – written in response to a Trifecta Writing Challenge got enough positive feedback asking for more that I couldn’t refuse.  I’m a sucker for peer pressure like that.

……….

The problem, of course, with having a secret club where the first thing you are taught is a curse you are supposed to use if outsiders find out about the club, is that attracting new members can be tricky.  Introducing them to other members and starting the initiation process is nearly impossible.

Sure there were spells that could be cast to locate potential new members, but with the very real threat of losing current members, friends, relatives or other acquaintances, no matter how well formed the spell was, few magicianas within the club were willing to take that risk.  The most likely source was random encounters when frequenting certain places around town: noticing someone checking out certain books in the library, people wandering into psychic shops to talk with the owner rather than to get their fortunes read, etc…  Those individuals would be monitored and, if it was deemed safe, they would be invited to attend a meeting.

If they were interested in joining the club as a full member after their first meeting they would be processed through initiation immediately.  If they weren’t interested, lots would be drawn by the members in attendance and the one drawing the short stick would have to cast the curse to wipe the person’s memory.  Usually, though, the invitee opted to join having been fully vetted before being invited in the first place.  It was rare someone would get that far and not be the type of person who would want to join.

The members were loathe to invite someone who may not want to join because they might end up being the one drawing the short stick.  They did their homework, their due diligence, very well beforehand.

However, despite their concerns and the selectiveness of their criteria, they were all always on the lookout for potential future members.  A new member meant a new way of looking at things.  A new way of looking at things meant the possibility of new spells to learn, new truths of the world to uncover, new power to behold.  They all lusted after that knowledge.

It was what had drawn them together in the first place.

Raistlin Majere

What follows is an interview I conducted early this morning with the world renowned mage, Raistlin Majere.  I woke to find him sitting at my table, drinking a very sour smelling tea.  The Staff of Magius was leaning against the chair next to him, and the hood of his black robes was thrown back to expose his silvery hair, sharp features, and piercing golden eyes.  I could see myself in those hourglasses and I shuddered at the image.  Despite the overwhelming urge to run away, I pulled up a chair next to him, asked him a few questions, most of which he answered in his biting sarcastic way, and then when he had finished his tea, just like that, he was gone.

I scrambled to my computer to try and write down as much of the encounter as I could remember and what follows is the best I could do:

Matticus: Good morning, Raistlin.  It is a honor to be in your presence, and I have to say more than a little scary considering what you could do to me with a few simple words and a flick of your staff.

Raistlin: You needn’t worry about me wasting a spell on you, silly Jester, as you know I have always had a soft spot in my heart for pathetic creatures.

Matticus: Well, er, um, good to know.  It’s kind of weird to have you sitting in my kitchen.  Why are you here?

Raistlin: Either you are dreaming, or someone is playing a cruel joke on me.

Matticus: Who would play a joke on you?  I wouldn’t think anyone would be that crazy.

Raistlin: Since being removed from his keep, Lord Sloth has grown bored and on more than a few occasions has engaged in some frivolity in the hopes it would provide some entertainment.  I believe he misses the old routine and isn’t quite sure what to do with himself anymore.  So, it could be him.  Also, Dalamar is still trying to figure out a way to bring me back.  He doesn’t want to have me teach him so much as he wants to know what I know.  I can’t really blame him for that.  I have the greatest knowledge of magic and the world of Krynn of any mortal to ever live.

Matticus: Are you, technically, still alive?

Raistlin: Yes.  And, no.  I am still flesh and blood, I will still have a death when my time is through, but it no longer effects me as it does those walking the land.  Since I entered the Abyss to fight the dark queen I have been removed from the normal flow of life.

Matticus: After sacrificing yourself to save the world, why didn’t you opt to return to the red robes you wore after completing the Test of High Sorcery?

Raistlin:  While I did save the world, the world was only in danger because of the actions I had taken up to that point.  It wasn’t a truly “soul cleansing” act.  Besides, the practice of white and red magic is still somewhat more limiting than what I want to be able to do.

Matticus: While it wasn’t “soul cleansing,” as you put it, it was enough of a sacrifice that Paladine kept you from eternal torture at the hands (talons) of Takhisis, right?

Raistlin:  That is correct.

Matticus:  Without access to the mortal realm, and without having fully passed on to the spirit world, what do you fill your days with?

Raistlin:  Living as I do between the worlds affords me ample time and resources to continue my research.  I can access all of the history of the world.  I can learn and practice and experiment without having to worry about injuring others.  While I dabbled in it before I went to claim the Abyss for my own, I have created several new spells by being able to study the language of magic and reshape it for my own purposes.  Would you care for a demonstration?

(At this point, the light in the room seemed to darken a bit, his mouth twisted in a sneer, and electricity sparked and circled around the orb clutched in the dragon’s claw atop his staff.)

Matticus: No, no that’s alright.  I wouldn’t want to wake the rest of the house.  Maybe some other time.  But, if your magic works here, does that mean that if I look hard enough I could find and learn magic too?  Is there magic in this world as well?

…..

But, he was already gone.  The chair hadn’t moved but he no longer sat in it, and the staff was no longer leaned against it.  His empty tea mug sat on the table, stained by the strange brew he had been drinking.

I must have scrubbed that mug for 30 minutes and I can’t get the stain out.

Raistlin, if you are reading this, you owe me a mug.

Or, magic.  I’d take that in exchange instead.