Chapter III: Last Resort
Frustrated, Jezran exited his tower with a frenzied haste. Time was precious, but preparations for his spell in the Tower had already cost him greatly. Every second that now passed filled him with dread that he might not make it in time.
It did not take long for his breathing to become ragged. His lungs strained as he raced through the streets and around the iced walls of the Hollow.
His bag, filled with the acquired tools he would need, slowed him down and further increased his frustrations.
His brain, scrambled by panic and lack of air, could only repeat the following thought, I…am…an academic…not…good…at…the running….why? So…much…running?
Eventually, he reached his destination.
A staircase, heading down into the misted halls of the cistern.
In the hours of preparation, night had fallen. Mists filled the streets, but in the cistern, they were a suffocating wall of endless grey.
Precisely what he needed.
He plunged down the steps with reckless abandon, nearly slipping and falling halfway down.
There was a part of Jezran that was befuddled by his decision. Leaving his friends meant accepting he would not be able to avenge Merus’ death. It meant they would also be left on their own to face Lendrig and save Argent.
All in order to cast a spell Jezran could not predict. A spell that had not been uttered in an aeon.
Silencing his thoughts, he reached the bottom of the stairs and began searching through the mists for a good place to prepare.
Stumbling around until he found an open area, Jezran knelt and grabbed a piece of charcoal from his pouch. Quickly, he carved the runes into the ground.
The words of Master Kalreibeshiru filled Jezran’s mind as he worked, an old lecture from his time as an apprentice. Never forget, there are three matters when it comes to spellcasting one must always remember. First, the focus. Never forget it, my boy. Its natural connection to the Arcana is key to our abilities. It may appear rudimentary, but you would be surprised how many Acolytes forget this key element.
Jezran nodded in spite of himself. It was the first thing he had learned in the College and he never went anywhere without it. All the same, he stopped his carving to double check the focus was still in his robe’s pocket. He let out a sigh of relief when he felt its familiar presence and weight.
Next, the cost. This always involves some sacrifice in energy, your mana, but it often requires careful preparations dependent on location, resources, and personal knowledge. A spell will not work if you try it in a bad location, lack the resources, or do not understand a prerequisite, such as the need of a flame in order to manipulate one.
From what Jezran gathered, this spell required a few things to succeed. An arcane circle in mists, then a location and a destination in mind. Two parts were completed, now all that was left was the destination.
Grabbing the Orb of Ginare from the pack, he quickly channelled magic through it. His vision lit up as the arcane energies of the city around him flooded his senses.
“Now…if I’m correct,” Jezran whispered to himself, “Then the Hall of Heart has to be the current location of the largest arcane activity.”
Or…it soon will be. Jezran thought as an aside. It was only a theory based on the necessity of the Rebirth using the energies of the Igryss around it, plus whatever Lendrig had to do beforehand in the final touches.
At first, everything seemed so cacophonous that Jezran could not distinguish anything from the strange blue radiance that represented the magic in the city. Then he grew acclimated, and he began to see. Slowly, he scoured the city, looking for the flux point of arcane energy.
Jezran’s heart dropped at his findings. Was he too late? Or was he wrong? Should he have followed them below? Did he leave them to face the monster on their own?
As his fears compounded and grew, they were dissipated in a single flourish as a burst of energy appeared in the distance.
“There it is!!” Jezran exclaimed, his cheeks reddened as the cistern echoed with his outburst.
Focusing intently on the burst of magical energy, Jezran was able to get a good handle on its source.
These calculations will have to do, Jezran thought, finally relenting and returning the Orb to his pack. I wish I had more time to figure it out, but if it’s already starting, I don’t have a lot of time left.
Next came the final requisite to a spell…
…the intent, young Jez. You are far too young for spellcrafting, so stick to the ones created by others. Their intent will be what matters. Luckily, you need not know it, so long as you have the focus and the cost, you will be able to perform the spell!
Just make sure you say it correctly, or that intent may be lost. Or worse, mixed with your own. If the intent is lost, all you lose is the spell, but if you mix it…well, you won’t need to worry about that.
A bead of sweat fell down Jezran’s face. His master explained it in more detail later in his training.
It was unpredictable, and rarely ended well for the caster.
All he had was a broken piece of a spell buried in the Grand Library of Dunbarrow, an ancient well of knowledge found deep within the catacombs beneath the city, and another fragmented tablet that seemed to speak on the same spell he had discovered cataloguing artefacts in Syndramire.
It had been years since he studied either fragment in any great depth, but, if he was right, this spell would be just what they needed.
He also held onto the hope that both pieces would give enough framework for him to fill in the rest without any dire consequences.
After all, the only real difference between the two seemed to be that the one in Syndramire revealed a missing ingredient to the spell, the mists themselves.
This still led to his first problem, he would need to improvise the spell. If all proved successful, his intent would be masked by the original spell’s intent, but that was only if he got the words right enough.
And even then, that’s only a guess…
The other struggle in this circumstance was due to the fact it was written in a language unspoken over an aeon. Jezran was working off guesswork at how the spell might be completed based on a fragmentary understanding of the language.
I can only hope that I have learned enough of the spell that I might cause a reaction. Otherwise…
Jezran preferred not to think about the consequences. All he needed to remember was the spell was risky, but due to circumstances, it was a risk he had to take.
It was far too grizzly to imagine the horror to which his friends and this world would be subject should he fail.
Sitting cross legged in the middle of the circle, Jezran grabbed his focus and began casting.
The words were difficult and Jezran barely understood them. They were a garbled mess that he hoped he did not butcher in his pronunciations.
From what Jezran had deciphered, he knew it said: “Bind…me…Realm betwixt. Divert…so I…cross…beyond…I seek..”
The piece from the College ended there. Now came the hard part.
A pregnant pause and deep breath, before he added a piece to fit the two separate parts together. While some of the words were gibberish as far as he could tell, Jezran knew that part of this spell’s purpose was to fulfill a goal from the caster. For that reason, he chose to add, “Bring all I seek to chosen end.”
A little simple, but I’m hoping I’m not missing much…
He then spoke the final piece from the tablet in Syndramire, which he translated as best he could to say: “No cost…let…flow…to…Mists…betwixt.”
Odd phrasing, Jezran thought, Spells often make little sense when read aloud but the stuff with the mists betwixt never made sense. Hopefully I got this right…
Mana flowed through him, to the focus and to the circle around him. It glowed a soft blue for a moment.
Then the crystal focus shattered in his hand.
Jezran yelped as the shattered pieces bit and cut into his hand, but he held it tightly shut in the hopes the spell could still work.
The blue light faded from the circle. Nothing else happened.
His heart dropped. The spell failed.
The only positive was it had not ended catastrophically.
I just won’t be able to cast magic anymore, I guess.
He sighed, defeated. Hot blood touched his cold skin, reminding him of his cut. He began rummaging through his pack to find some gauze or cloth he could use to bind his hand. He figured he might as well spend the last few moments caring for the wound in his hand. It was better than bemoaning his failure before the whole city was upturned by a revived Igryss.
He stopped, however, when he spotted movement out of the corner of his eye.
The mists had begun to move.
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