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Skipping Stones part 4

Firie's picture

Continued from Part Three, begun at Part One

 

She was seventeen, and it was too much.

 

 

She knew from the first syllable that it was wrong. The risk was half the purpose though, so she continued forward, directing the magic to the glyphs and designs that would tell the magic what to do. There was more of it than she ever counted on, not a river but an entire ocean, and it couldn’t pour through the spell quickly enough. The rest she held, straining to keep so much magic from flowing into the spell that the patterns split and washed away.

 

Something impressive, something that shouldn’t be possible, no matter how messy or reckless, was what she had to do. She’d known coming in what she was doing, and that it would count on herself as much as her skill. She just had to limit the flow, hold the magic back, not let it overwhelm the spell until she was done.

 

It was a calculated risk. Archmage Jilazian was looking to make up for recent losses, bad face and poor performance. He would be willing to take a gamble on her as an apprentice, if he thought she could surprise the other archmages. A risky spell on her part would show both how much she could do, and how much better he would be able to make her.

 

He was her best bet.

 

There were eight archmages in the testing theater, each one with scribes and attendants, several senior students, a small host of junior students, even a few of the graduating apprentices. Jaina was not among them. Rumor had it that the Lady Proudmoore was away to the north with an assignment from Archmage Antonidas. She hoped it was true.

 

If Jaina was being sent out, then Antonidas thought she was done with his personal studies, and he’d be picking a new apprentice. Not all of the observing mages would choose students, and not all the chosen students would be from the displays today, but it was always a better bet. If Antonidas was choosing, the most prestigious apprenticeship in the city was open.

 

That, and being an apprentice would give her an opportunity to talk to Jaina. “Hi, I’m a new apprentice,” worked much better than “Hi, I’m a general student and I really hope I don’t mess up in front of you.”

 

The next phrase told the magic how to move, what path to follow as she directed it from one construct to the next. The first was letting too much through, was starting to break at the seams, she had to move quickly enough with the rest to keep up with it.

 

The plan was simple enough. Mother always told her to pay attention to what people wanted. That was how you understood them. She wanted to earn a direct apprenticeship, be taught personally by one of the great mages. The mages wanted….

 

Antonidas was the biggest name with the most prestige in Dalaran. He would want the best student, but he could not escape politics, and just choosing a well-connected family would smooth things over. If he was choosing, he would almost certainly pick Brendis, who would otherwise be able to claim any seat he wanted. That would make things much easier – he wouldn’t be competing with her for any of the spots she might win.

 

For a moment, she frowned. It didn’t seem right, not trying for the best. That apprenticeship had been Jaina’s after all, the most skilled woman in the city since Magna Aegwynn and the only reason girls were even considered for serious study. But Antonidas was strict and hard, and was looking for someone he could groom politically and administratively as well as magically. She wouldn’t win that spot even if she was the only student trying, he’d pick a tree stump first.

 

The third syllable, and the pattern she called with it, both came out strained and already warped under the pressure. Her voice didn’t crack though, and neither did the pattern, and she could feel the magic beginning to well up around her.

 

If Antonidas picked Brendis, then Tomko’s only choice was Selainu. He was too traditional to pick any but the most technically skilled. She might be able to impress Myron, he’d shown signs of approval for her improvisations before, but he was a researcher. He’d want an apprentice who could perform well in a lab and library, and that would be Chaban. Two of the other mages weren’t going to pick, and the third was rumored to already be leaning toward a distant relative. That left Jilazian, and four students to compete with.

 

They were better, but she could out-perform them. She knew she could.

 

None of them could maintain patterns like these.

 

There was too much magic, but there was nothing to do but hold on. She forced junctions and joints in her constructs back together time and time again as the magic rushing through them continued to tear them apart, and the magic was gaining ground. Stopping and letting it crash would be worse than pushing forward toward the end.

 

She didn’t scream.

 

She couldn’t.

 

The magic all came through in a deluge as she forced out the last phrase of the spell. It tore through her along with the words, carrying them as much as shaped by them, wild as a tempest… but still, somehow, channeled through the last of her constructs, still influenced by the patterns it had washed away. She fell to her knees, feeling the magic crackling across her skin, between her fingers.

 

Their expressions were all she could have hoped for. Shock, surprise, worry. Some of the students had even cast shielding spells. Nobody was going to be able to beat that. Brendis himself couldn’t have cast a spell like that.

 

She coughed, once, tasting blood in her mouth, and then passed out on the floor.

 

Comments

Rhianon's picture

((I really like these

((I really like these glimpses into Firie's past :-) shows -alot- about her that you can't really gather from casual IC meetings :3

Firie's picture

(( She's never really talked

(( She's never really talked about her past much. Too much adventuring still to do! ))