It is a Time of Legends
It is a Time for Heroes
It is Time for Last Stands.
Some will live, some will die and some will last forever.
“Elor cleared his throat before he spoke. He hated addressing the open forum of the Mages Guild but he also had to admit that he had run out of ideas. He had tried to discuss it with the more academic adventurers before the Guild had all but disbanded for the summer, but he had found himself becoming increasingly frustrated by their argumentative feigned ignorance. Then, once the Guild summer sabbatical had begun he had had no one to discuss the matter with at all, apart from his bemused apprentices who had a tendency to agreed with him even when he was contradicting himself. It had all become too much and he had put the poor lambs on study leave. For more than a month now he had neglected his students and his own research in favour of this, predominantly because he couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
He steeped himself in Tartarian history. Of course, he knew the legends of Salamander, but he didn’t, until recently know the particulars of the ritual that had bound the General’s powers. He had been amazed to learn who had been responsible for the act that had saved the world from Salamander and how simply it had been conduct. He was also quite overcome by the implications of what he had seen and heard in recent months. He wondered, although he dare not articulate the wondering, whether this fear had been what paralysed his thinking.
After laying out the evidence he had collected, the spells he had seen, the attacks and all his research, Elor sat down and waited. There was a momentary silence as the best minds in the Mages Guild absorbed the details and processed it. He had to admit that he had never heard them stay quiet for so long, which in itself was both amusing and troubling. He tried to control his growing nervousness by squeezing his hands together, until he realised he had actually drawn blood with his nails. He was just licking the crimson beads from the back of his hand when a short, rotund man with an abundant black beard who was draped in a voluminous emerald green robe, stood up and let out a gruff groan that was presumably a prequel to speech. Elor knew him as Augustus Theopolutus Bobang, the self-styled adjunct professor of portalmancy and extra-planar transport or as a great big windbag, depending on how tolerant he was feeling at any one time. He could almost guarantee that whatever Professor Bobang was about to say was going to be a complicated rewording of what Elor had just said. Then he would say it all again from another angle and possible again for a third time. After that, he might finally make an original point but there was a significant chance that by that time no one would be listening.
One of Elor’s students had once told him that she had taken a course by Professor Bobang that comprised three times as many lectures as normal and that she had been disappointed to discover that it contained only the same amount of learning as an ordinary series. Elor had tried to appear unamused by this fact but had not quite succeeded.
When he finally tuned back in to what the pompous little man was saying he found himself to be surprised.
“… would seem that somehow, although by what exact mechanism I do not know, the ritual is slowly unbinding itself and if this continues unchecked Salamander will regain all his powers.”
At this point, a tight-lipped scrawny woman in scarlet velvet with her hair scrapped back in a bun, stood up and cut across him. She was a senior wizard in the circle of elemental magic. She glanced down her nose, over the steel rim of her pince-nez and in a voice like a rasp on a gate post, she said,
“Whilst I concur with what our learned colleague say about the unbinding I think perhaps his extrapolation that the binding will continue to unravel a little unfounded.”
“Madam, I beg to differ,” interrupted Bobang before the last words were out of her mouth. “The binding magic used in the eighth century was highly volatile in nature and based almost entirely on the earlier forms of Aeromancy and pattern manipulation and therefore..”
Elor tuned out, the rest was just so much hot air. He was unusual among the scholars in the Mages Guild because as far as he was concerned academic and important were not necessarily the same thing. He had in his possession a cold, hard and fairly chilling fact. These antediluvian know-it-alls could pontificate and hypothesize until they were blue in the face but it would not change that one solid fact.
At this precise moment, instead of contemplating the exact nature of the magical binding that had been used four centuries ago, Elor was kicking himself for not working it out on his own. When Bobang had said it, a loud clanking sound inside his head had heralded a feeling of extreme foolishness. Now he’d made a pillock of himself in front of the whole Open Questions Quorum. He was almost certain that once the academics had debated his and any other questions brought to the floor they would adjourn to the refectory and debate how he had ever achieved status of Magus Scholar in the first place. He felt like going up to the reference section of the library, getting down the illustrated leather-bound volume of ‘Universal Identification of the Pattern’ by R.M. Danderford, which was nearly two feet high and nine inches thick, opening it to page four hundred and seventeen, the first page of the chapter entitled ‘The Nature of Magical Interactions’ and shutting his head in it. He was still scolding himself when an impatient voice cut through his trance.
“Mister Nybass, mister Nybass.” The way the voice said mister some how conferred a strange polite derision on this title that was not of scholarly significance. “Elor, are you with us?” This was then followed by a horrid, dry, affected little laugh and Elor looked up from his thoughts into the red shiny face of the Master of Questions who was giving him a look of irked incredulity, his quill poised to mark the questioned answered.
“Yes,” said Elor firmly, determined not to appear as though he had been daydreaming. “Yes, that answer will do nicely I think. Now if you would excuse me.” Then, watched by the entire quorum he stood up and gathered himself neatly together. Turning to the Master, he said in his best Paravelian manner, “I must now depart for the reference section.” Then, with impeccable dignity and poise, he crossed the debating well and headed for the stairs to the gallery. He had every intention of finding page four hundred and seventeen in Universal Identification of Pattern, reading it thoroughly twice, taking extensive notes as he had done when a student and then carefully shutting his head in it.