Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Three Apprentices, Chapter One

“Oh no, I’m late!” Sable cried out, rushing through the second floor of the small cottage she lived in. Hastily removing her dressing gown, she picked up a small flat disc, engraved with a faintly glowing rune.

“Cleanse!” She said, waving the disk overhead, sighing slightly as she felt the sweat and grime from the night before vanish from her body. Setting the disk back onto her dresser, she flung open her closet doors, reaching in to grab a pair of breeches to pull up her long legs, and a simple brown linen shirt for her to pull over her ample chest. Pulling her long blonde and green locks from the back of her clothing, she reached in and ran her hand over a selection of disks, each with a different rune glowing a slightly different color.
“A-ha!” She declared triumphantly, finding the disc she was looking for. Pulling it up she held it by her head and forced a bit of magic into it.
“Braid!” She commanded the half-dozen unseen hands she’d conjured, the simple task well within their purview of abilities. Her green locks quickly twisted and braided together, forming a long plait for her blonde hair to be framed by. Setting the disc down and moving as the hands continued their work, she pulled out her bandolier of talismans, each one a small silver bar perhaps three centimeters thick and twelve centimeters long. Engraved along each one was an immaculate carving into the pure metal, each allowing a skilled enough Mage to shape their raw magical abilities into something, namely spells.
  Slinging her bandolier over her shoulder, she clicked it closed and ran her fingers over each of her fifteen talismans, checking to make sure she had each one. Smiling as the braiding spell finished off her long hair with a solid plait running down to the small of her back, twin braids of green hair running along the outer edges, she smiled and placed her fingers on one of the bars, closing her eyes for a moment.
“Focus!” She muttered, forcing the magic through the bar and into her eyes, correcting the fuzzy images that she saw and making them clear and visible.
Looking into her mirror, she smiled at her reflection, posing for it for a moment before rushing downstairs into the living room. Slipping on her moccasins and grabbing her coin purse, she opened the door to her cozy cottage and left the home, closing the door behind her with a slam. Jogging through the streets, she ducked and juked under, around and in one case over the villagers as she passed them by, apologizing along the way.
Leaping to the side as two young men carried a pane of glass, she slipped by them, stammering apologies before bumping into the baker’s stand, knocking a crispy meat pie to the ground. Earning a reproachful stare, she dipped into her small purse to fish out half-silver for the meat pie.
“At least, I’ll have breakfast,” she mumbled as she handed over the coin and ducked down to pick up the undamaged, if not a little dusty, baked good.
“And a fine breakfast it’ll be!” The baker said, a smile gracing his face. “Now be careful Sable, we wouldn’t want you causing more damage than your stipend can afford.”
“Yes sir,” she bowed her head, looking away from the older man.
“It’s alright to be excited, but you have to be careful! It’s a big world, with lots of things to see and explore. Being careful is key to staying safe. Do you understand child?”
“As well as I understood yesterday when I knocked over the apple tarts,” Sable grumbled.
The baker laughed. “You keep slipping up like you have been and you’ll get a belly nearly as big as mine! Now run along, you must be late!”
Her eyes widened before she looked up at the clock tower in the middle of the village, cursing as she saw that it was nearly noon.
“I am so late!” She cried out, running down the path through the crowded streets of Grapevine Gulch, the lush village built into a ravine. The summer had been kind with enough rain to keep the terraced crops from going bad, and allowing the river running through the village to stay strong and cool. The multitude of bridges and buildings on stilts made the city half appear as if it were built by Gobbers, the nasty little blighters. But no, with the wise council of the local Mage, they’d been able to expand upon the village over the last twenty-five years, allowing for growth that was almost unrivaled in the Kingdom of St. Basil. The constant feel of a warm summer glow over the valley allowed for continual crop growth and export, making the narrow canyon village prosperous to any willing to do a little hard work.
Sprinting around the corner of a clockmakers shop, Sable pushed herself between a young couple, calling out her apology as she did so. Flipping her fingers over her talismans, she tried to think of a way she could speed up her travel but just grew frustrated. Such talismans were worth small fortunes, and she only had the hand me downs from her Master, who, while generous, tended not to burden her with more than he thought she could handle.
It was sometimes quite irritating.
The old man held Gnome ancestry in his veins, making him shorter than most. Add his advanced age to his physical prowess and you had a crooked little man that leaned on a staff that barely came up to Sable’s shoulder. She referred to him as Master, but everyone else knew him as Anaxim Nixelplex, the leading Mage in the schools of Runes and Arcane Theory. He was an experimental wizard, who loved to take existing spells and alter them to be more flexible. This was how Sable had discs of crystal and stones that bore spells that did mundane tasks, all based on one type of spell: force.
Racing over a bridge, she stopped when she nearly ran over her Master, who was walking with his hog, Pebbles. The surly boar was Gobber-trained and bred for battle, but Anaxim had taken it when it was young and charmed it, attaching a collar around the creature’s neck that eased its temper. This just left it aggressive to nearly everyone but the old man, who would often be seen riding the boar through town.
“Master!” Sable gasped, resting her hands on her knees as she caught her breath, “I’m sorry I’m late! I overslept, and then ran into the baker and…”
“And it’s fine. I have no lessons for you today, just a task that I wish for you to complete.”
“A task?” Sable repeated, looking at the old man. His clothes were brilliant purple, light and airy, allowing him to move rapidly when he chose to do so. His shoes were mere slippers of dyed fox fur, along with shin guards and forearm guards made from tin that he could charge to be as strong as iron at a moment’s notice. She knew from experience that her master had earned the nickname “Silkshield” for a reason, and often begged him to teach her how to do his trademarked technique of pumping magic into specially prepared cloth to make it as sturdy as iron.
“I’ve given you the tools to figure it out,” he would always say with a laugh. “Once you do, I’ll release you from your apprenticeship and ask the Spire to make an honest Mage out of you!”
The Spire. Now that brought a smile to Sable’s face. The single most powerful organization on Terra, a tower of solid white platinum, enchanted to be unbreakable, resting on a chain of floating islands in the middle of the Samp Ocean, dirigibles flying between continents for trade. The Mage’s College itself held a tight grip over the inter-continental trade which was used to fuel their never-ending demand for rare materials to create discs out of.
Sable looked down at her mentor after he snapped his noticeably stubby fingers in her face, sending sparks in the air. “Sable! Pay attention girl, I am trying to tell you what I would like you to do!”
“Oh, I’m sorry…”
“And Pebbles hasn’t had his breakfast, so feed him that meat pie you have there,” Maxim said, pointing his staff at the pastry in her hands. “The baker makes the best meat pies in all of the town.”
“But… but…” Sable said, nearly ready to cry.
“No, but’s about it, feed Pebbles and walk with me. I have errands to run and could use some help getting what I need.” Anaxim made his way over the bridge past Sable, leaving behind the quill-backed boar, long tusks jutting out from its face giving it a perpetual grin.
Sable just sighed and tossed the meat pie in the air, to which Pebbles jumped onto his hind hooves in order to snatch the meal mid-air. Chomping and chewing noisily, the overgrown pig made its way past her in the wake of its owner, smacking her with its stumpy tail once as if saying “get moving!”
“Stupid pig…” Sable muttered at Pebbles, who merely continued chewing the meat pie, savoring in the delicious beef and pork pastry as it clopped over the bridge to an awaiting Anaxim, standing there with both wrinkled hands atop the banister, gazing down at the rest of town.
“Now, are you ready to hear what I want you to do or not?”
“What is it? Does it involve me working with the village granary again, because I have made at least a thousand of those runic rat traps. They’re starting to make fun of me, calling me Sable ‘The Cat’ Simmers!”
Anaxim chuckled as Pebbles walked up alongside him, snorting as he finished swallowing the remnants of the meat pie. “No, no… something far grander for you I would think! You see the Spire will be holding their Summer Solstice Gala, and I’ve been invited.”
Sable looked confused. “So you want me to, what, write up your refusal in a polite way or something?”

“No, I’m not refusing. I’m sending you instead.”
Author Note: This is a bit of traditional fantasy I'm trying out here. If you prefer Horror, no worries! The site will predominantly remain Horror. But I just want to have a story that is light to turn to, and this one will prove to be just that. Still being written and in rough draft right now, so comment if you want to add something!

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