Episode 3 – The High Mage

“So you went off on another one of your expeditions,” High Mage Bayat said with a frown. He closed the tome on his desk and rose to place it back on his shelf. He let his fingers glide over the spines of the many books he held in his private library.

“We discovered a set of worlds engraved on the walls of Salehir showing the ahura and their journey,” Ardeshir said. He pulled out his bundle of notes and slid it across the table for the High Mage to see for himself. On it he had the images and symbols traced that he found on Salehir. He felt foolish for not having taken the time to copy the many pieces he saw at the ahura outpost and wondered if he could safely return there in the near future. It wasn’t clear to him what the leviathan’s intent was. Did he wish to wipe out all life-forms on the planet or destroy it all together? “The outpost contains many more pieces of information I haven’t recognized in any of the previous lectures. We could learn a lot there, but I also discovered something none of the scholars have ever mentioned previously.”

“We should respect the ahura and not go meddling in their past. We owe them a great debt for the lessons in magic they taught us. Without them, we’d still be living in a dark age and wholeheartedly ignorant of the magic at our fingertips.” Bajat looked over the notes and grimaced. “You think you’ve made a discovery no one in the past hundred years has come across? If there really were such things, then we would have heard from it earlier. The ahura themselves would have warned the Archmage when they taught him the schools of magic, but alas there is nothing.”

Ardeshir held his hand out with the earring resting in his palm. “As it turns out, this belonged to one of the ahura princes. Apparently they could capture daeva and bind them to items rather than to an individual summoner. I’m not quite sure what type of daeva a Battle Maiden is, but she’s unlike the others I’ve encountered in the Shadow Realm. Once we arrived at Turat, it was her voice that guided me to the chamber and the relic. She warned me of a great danger and we only narrowly avoided confrontation.”

High Mage Bajat stroked his beard, eyeing the earring. “I don’t appreciate your foolishness. It would be for the best if you handed over everything you collected from the ahura.”

“Of course, but did you not hear what I just said? The leviathan, or Devourer of Worlds as she referred to it, has a power that intimidated me. I could feel its presence long before it arrived. We need to prepare and pool our resources to deal with the threat.”

Bajat remained silent for a moment and moved to the window overlooking the town. It was a small mining town built up over the last decade on the Frontier. They had enough dangers as it was so far away from civilization, and the Mage Guild protected the people working out there. “Turat is far from here and I felt nothing out of the ordinary. I’m not saying there is or isn’t any danger out there. There’s a lot we have yet to learn of the outer reaches of the universe and must be careful where we tread. This is why I didn’t grant you permission to go on an expedition, but no matter. We’re safe here and as long as there are magi, we will be able to keep it that way. Now, hand over your findings, so we may study them further. I’ll send out a team to inspect Turat and report back in. If we require any further information from you, we’ll be sure to let you know.”

Ardeshir nodded solemnly and handed over the earring. He didn’t have any right to refuse a wish of the High Mage. “You’ll bring it up with the Archmage? He might know more about the ahura than we do.”

“I’ll inform him when the time is right and there is ample evidence to back such a bold claim. It’s entirely up to him if he wants to get involved in the matter.” High Mage Bajat waved him off. “Be gone and report to Yazdan for work details. And one more thing, don’t disobey me again or it’ll be the last time you perform magic.”

“Yazdan, the summoner?”

“The champion, Yazdan?”

The two magi glanced at each other in disbelief. Ardeshir knew Yazdan for the past twelve years, ever since he helped get him off the streets and into the academy. “How do you know about him?”

“He’s the reigning champion in Summoner’s Arena. Are you sure we’re talking about the same guy?”

“Enough of this,” Bajat said, annoyance biting at the end of his words. “They are one and the same. Unlike you two, he is a man of honor with a respectable career within the Guild. I hope he’ll be able to… rub off on you and set you back on track.”

Ardeshir gave up arguing. It wouldn’t do him any good and only get him into further trouble. He needed to find another way. He rose and gave a curt bow before moving to the door and letting Ervin enter for his own round of punishment.

Ardeshir returned to his chamber and hung his cloak on the stand before letting himself fall into the armchair. He let out a sigh and reached into his breast pocket, pulling out the earring and setting it on the desk. The piece he gave Bajat was a normal piece of jewelry. He would have shown the real one to the High Mage had he shown interest in dealing with the matter, but Ardeshir was convinced he’d let the topic die. He put his finger on the glass and reached out to the spirit within.

Vida appeared beside him and studied her new surroundings. She tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear and moved to the window that gave her a view of the Guild grounds. “A lot has changed, but I’m still not accustomed to your architecture. There’s too much excess instead of concentrating on the necessities.”

“It’s what gives them a personal touch and makes them feel more comfortable to be around.” Ardeshir rubbed his temples, still feeling the sore from his day of travel and the revelations presented to him. “My meeting didn’t go so well. I will have to keep you a secret for the time being. What, uhm, size do you have? I think I might be able to get some apprentice robes for you to try on.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Vida said, holding her arms out to the side. She glowed brightly, her armor becoming transparent until Ardeshir could see her in the nude and a new form appeared to cover her. It was a traditional dress, but the design reminded him of someone else. “How do you like it? I recreated it from your fond memories.”

“So that’s where I recognize it,” Ardeshir said. He felt his cheeks grow warm as he noticed how beautiful Vida looked in the velvet dress and quickly averted his gaze. “It’s not polite to snoop other people’s mind. What other skills are you keeping a secret from me?”

“Depends on what you want to know. I’m knowledgeable in many fields, but most have been limited to combat.” Vida crossed her arms and turned around to face Ardeshir. “I’m immortal and while my physical body in this world can be destroyed, my spirit would return to the relic. There is also one more thing you should know; only the person possessing the relic can give me orders. No matter how long I serve you, no matter how well you think you know me, don’t lose the anchita.”

“I thought as much.” Ardeshir rubbed his thumb across the small jewel. It felt so small and insignificant, and yet it contained a powerful spirit within. “I noticed you carried a sword with you and take it you’re a swordswoman?”

“Correct, I’m a knight but my sword is never to be drawn,” she said as she sat down across from me and crossed her legs. She pulled the sheathed blade out of the air and laid it across her lap. “This blade is cursed and whoever order me to draw it will be taken by death.”

“Death? Like you can’t even fight without killing me in the process?”

Vida nodded and stroked the length of the sword. “I will fight for you but it will be without the edge of my claymore. You should seek out the six other anchiti and gain power of all the Battle Maidens.”

“I don’t mean to probe, but did the ahura create you? You don’t look like any of the other daeva.”

“No, they did not. We came into being at the same time, as part of the trinity. Light, Shadow and Darkness. It was the ahura who mastered control over us with the anchiti. The drawback of being bound to an item amplified our strengths. This is why I’m urging you to focus on the goal ahead of us.”

Ardeshir ruffled his hand through his hair and considered what she’d said. “What happens when I gather all seven anchiti? What exactly happens when someone become this padishah?”

“If a person were to combine all of our strengths into a single entity, he would become the most powerful mage in the universe. The padishah is the only one who can defeat the leviathan.”

~

Next time on Magefall …

Episode 4 – Den of Thieves

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