This is another narrative piece set in my world, Elonth. Mar deals with some of the aftermath of his training session with Irikshan.
Featured image by ElektronX.
Water. It is both powerful and strong, or it can be calm and gentle. It gives life but also takes that away. Going wherever gravity takes it in one form, then rising into the sky – defying gravity – in another. Whoever consumes it dies, but without it, you would meet a much swifter end.
Mar mused about these thoughts, as he idly tried to distract his troubled mind. Yet, as was the way of these things, his mind kept returning to dwell on his troubles. As he bathed in the energy abundant in the thunderous waterfall, drained both physically and mentally from his ‘visit’ to Irikshan’s office, Mar once again pondered his situation.
He was in the main Mage College building, curving in a graceful arc around the immense waterfall. It was anchored in the cliffsides and supported by pillars driven deep into the shores and riverbed below. This feat of architecture would not have been possible with the mundane construction techniques that the humans used – this took the research, skills and abilities of many craftsdragons.
The room he was in was one of the “feeding halls”. Lacking in two walls, the room was exposed to a torrent of energy, supplied by the great falls. Dragons came here to absorb energy, and also human mages to some extent. However, their bodies were far less suited to chemically storing absorbed energy, nor did they naturally hold shiridite crystals in their chests.
Irikshan had told him to continue tomorrow with normal classes until he was contacted again, but that he had excused Mar from his tutor sessions and lectures for today. While that was nice, Mar was now uncertain of what to do with himself.
He wished he were a master mage – that he could control his power and that he could achieve something with it. He wasn’t sure whether it made him feel better or worse for the fact that Irikshan didn’t seem to know what exactly Mar’s power was either.
Trying to distract himself again, he mentally reached out to the cascading water, consuming some of its ample energy. He imagined himself joining the water, flowing down the river free from life’s worries and burdens.
There was a slight brush against his mind, the customary polite way to interrupt another dragon’s feeding. He returned to reality to find a mid-aged dragoness awaiting his attention.
“I’m Tir Hernsha. My department works with nullifications and countermagics.”
“Ah, I saw your head of department at a meeting with Irikshan earlier. She said that I’d be starting regular lessons with one of her tutors.”
“Yes. Rentik assigned you to me. I just wanted to check if you needed help with anything before our lesson tomorrow. Your… condition concerned me. If you wish, I could provide you with a block so that you can sleep soundly tonight.” She reached into a sachet around her shoulder and startled Mar by simply vanishing. He could still see her, but Mar could no longer feel the presence of her mind. She brought a pendant out of the sachel. “Rentik has already placed a blocking enchantment on this and loaded the shiridite crystal with energy to sustain it. The enchantment will provide a full block.” She placed it on the thick railing at the open edge of the room. As soon as contact between her claws and the chain was lost, her mind reappeared.
Mar pondered the offer for a while. Having a block would mean that he wouldn’t have to worry about ending up in some illusory world tonight – unless it was somehow powerful enough to drain the block’s energy. However, his magic being blocked would strip him of even his ability to sense others around him. It would be akin to putting on a blindfold…
For some reason he also didn’t feel comfortable that more and more people were learning about his ability. Nor that it was now being called a condition.
“Pardon the intrusion, but I can tell it’s making you uncomfortable. I shall spend time with you in our session tomorrow to endeavour to create a more… custom-tailored block.” She put the pendant away. “And, like it or not, it’s impossible to keep rumours of new magical discoveries from floating around in an institute of mages. I called it a condition because you don’t yet have control of it, forgive the terminology.”
“Wha- I th-”
“No, you’re not protecting your mind properly right now. You are strained and tired. I’ve trained my mind to be particularly sensitive. Thus, even though I’m not trying to, I can hear your top-level thoughts. Others might not be so courteous. I recommend you head straight home and get some sleep.”
“I understand. I’ll take the block, please. Thank you, ma’am.”
He reached out and grabbed the pendant from the balustrade. He blinked and looked around as the whole world suddenly became muffled. He wondered if this was what it felt like to be a normal human, well at least to have the blinkered mind of a human.
“Go and rest up, Sterkvleuel.”
“Yes, ma’am. Good afternoon.”
Josh clung onto the serving dish sized container on his lap as the tram made another stop to pick up people for the evening commute.
He was worried about Mar, the exhaustion written all over his face when he left that meeting earlier. He felt bad that he could not spend time with his friend, but Irikshan and the council had wanted to speak with him right after Mar left. They asked countless questions which they surely knew the answers to, yet they still asked. It would have been rude to do anything but answer, and it is not wise to disrespect dragons who’ve lived since before your great-grandparents were born. At least Mistress Rentik was kind enough to tell him after the meeting that Mar was safely home.
“Next stop, Watervalwacht Aeries,” announced an automated voice three times. Josh stood up and pressed a button on one of the poles in the centre of the carriage to indicate he’d like to disembark. This earned him a couple stares.
A few minutes later the tram began to slow, almost throwing Josh and the container off balance. Josh was the only one to disembark here, but that was not surprising. This was an apartment complex for young dragons.
Josh headed to Mar’s apartment, thankful that the architects were thoughtful enough to put a couple stairwells to access the different floors. Reaching the keypad and door handle on Mar’s door also proved to be doable.
Once inside, Josh stretched his mind out into the apartment to locate Mar but surprisingly did not find him.
“Mar?” Josh called softly, the emptiness suddenly feeling particularly eerie. He took off his shoes and left the dish by the door before creeping around the house. He didn’t find a soul until he reached the bedroom, where he heard heavy breathing. Mentally probing the room on the other side of the drawn curtain, he felt nothing. He cautiously lifted the corner of the curtain to find Mar spreadeagled on a dragon-sized pillow.
He briefly relaxed, before panicking. He could not sense Mar’s mind. “Mar! Oh no, has it happened again?!”
A gruff snort of a dragon who’s on the verge of waking and the tinkling of a chain – its weighted charge falling into view – were enough for Josh to put two and two together. He tiptoed closer to Mar and gingerly inspected the crystal’s enchantments and found a powerful blocking spell. Somewhat worryingly, he also managed to find a well-hidden tracking spell. He decided it was best not to tinker with it. He’d only barely spotted it, he doubted his training would be sufficient to dismantle it without at least alerting the owner.
Josh snuck out the room, fetching the food container he had brought and closing the front door. He put it in the under-furnished kitchen, then headed to the general purpose living area and quietly rummaged about till he found Mar’s stationary. Placing an oversized exam pad on the floor and grasping a large pen with his whole hand, he wrote a quick note.
I brought a bit of food for you. I know you lot would live only on energy if you could, but that can’t beat the taste of good food. Especially Carina’s cooking.
He stopped to ponder whether telling Mar about the tracking enchantment was worth the additional stress it would cause him. He trusted Irikshan and the council but did not know if this was Mistress Rentik’s initiative, or the council’s. He decided he would trust them. In his lifetime, he would never be able to comprehend all the workings of those ancient minds. One day he’d be gone, and Mar would still be here. Amongst dragons, Mar would even then still be considered to be in early bachelor age. Even Mar’s parents, Lyntarr and Ilres were highly likely to outlive Josh – just as they’d outlived several of his ancestors.
Send me a message when you’re free. I’d like to spend some time with you.