It was mid morning, just about the time I’d be starting breakfast after my twilight studies. The breeze was just cool enough to make me shiver, but not so much that I needed to cover up. Spring, I guessed. The aroma on the air told me I was inside cooking.
Eggs over easy with fresh diced tomatoes and cucumbers, and glass of apple cider. I wish I didn’t know this was a dream so I could be in there eating right now.
Trying to ignore the scent of breakfast, I glanced back to the forest trying to figure it out. There was something even more different about it that last time. Was it getting closer or further away? Is that light or shadow surrounding it. Why can’t I figure out these simple questions? I can’t even tell if I’m getting a good or a bad vibe from it.
My hands automatically grabbed my head, they ran through my hair roughly. The sound of the cab pulling up snapped me back from my thoughts and made me realize what memory this was.
“Well, look what Ifrit shat out!” myself said as he walked out the front door of the house.
He was twenty years old. I had started my studies two years earlier at the local academy, so I was able to live at home. Unlike my brother. He decided to go all the way to Brinwall, the Capitol.
We both had the same goal, but I was in no rush to move up the ranks. Joining the Clarent had been our dream since our first bedtime story.
The Clarent were the ones in many of the old adventure stories. Powerful mages sent out on harrowing missions. The only ones that could go up against the scariest creatures. But they were more than a mere folk tale.
Above the Auditors, they are adept mages able to use many of the different forms of magic. Though each of them specializes in their own particular area, they are still more powerful than most in many of the fields.
Most of the time it could take many years to become even close to being as adept at a single art. Sometimes people were born with the naturally ability. Then there were the select few who would devote all their waking time to nothing but their studies and make the cut in a matter of five years or so. But doing so was a very daunting task and had been the cause of many a students deaths.
“Wow, you really do look like Ifrit shat you out.” To say I was worried would have been an understatement.
His face twisted into a feeble smile with what I imagined was all the energy his body wasn’t using to stand up with. “It’s been a rough week. The head alchemist forced me to take a few days off. Said he didn’t want me dying on his floor.”
Hearing this didn’t make me worry any less at the time. I watched as we hugged, and wrapped my arm around him to help him into the house. After they were gone I turned my attention back to the forest, finally deciding to a closer look at it.
I took one step in its direction when a gust of searing hot air rushed at me out of nowhere. It was quickly followed by the quiet whispers of....something. Should I be frightened? I’m not. It was actually kind of nice and familiar, but why?
I started walking down the hill. Then it hit me, I don’t remember having ever walked down this hill my entire life. There was not a single familiar feeling as I reached the bottom. Had I lived in that house my entire life without venturing around outside to see what was beyond it?
The sparse trees at the bottom of the hill that decorated the landscape from here to the forest were simply alien to me. They didn’t look like a single tree I recalled from my studies. The closer I got the more I realized that, yes, they didn’t look like a single tree I recalled. They looked like an amalgamation of all the trees I could remember.
Huge round trees, with bark like a pine, but white and peeling in some places. The branches adorned like a Willow. The different characteristics went on and on, but I couldn’t look at them for long. They were abominations. As if they were broken fragments trying to fit together.
I tried to hurry past them while looking mostly at the ground. It was much more tame. A lush green wild grass. The occasional bunch of small yellow flowers bunched up.
Then I realized it wasn’t an occasional bunch, it was the same exact bunch over and over. I chanced a look up at the trees and noticed that I hadn’t moved from the bottom of the hill. I thought I’d been walking for the better part of an hour. Even the sun agreed with me, but I was still standing there looking from the exact spot I had come off the hill earlier.
I turned to go back up the hill. “What the damned!” The forest was right there. I didn’t realize how much it surprised me until I noticed I had conjured a shield around myself.
I stood there wide-eyed for a moment. A shield? I conjured a shield? And without chanting?
The memory slapped me in the back of the head like an invisible hand. It was late Autumn, well after dusk. I stared at my handwritten notes trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I was summoning half shields and quarter shields, some not even big enough to protect my hand. I wasn’t exhausted, not even tired. All the energy from the magic had me wired, but it kept falling short. Something was missing. I stood again and chanted, forming a shield around my body. That was simple, so what was keeping me from doing so with thought alone?
I skimmed over the notes again. “Yes, yes, I know silent conjuring is more than just thinking the spell!” I flipped through the pages so hard I was almost tearing them out. “Aligning energies, twelve points...” Mentally slapping myself, I wipe away the parchments on top of the Adept Studies in Evocation.
Having been opened to the same page for the last few days, I skimmed my finger across the page until I came across the sentence I was looking for “Unlike the twelve points of energy the verbal conjuration of Xathsoq’s Wall, there are only eleven point of concentration needed for the silent conjuration. Whereas this may seem like a much simpler task, one needs to pour double the energy thereby making the Wall stronger.”
“By Ifrit’s ballsack, I’m such an idiot!” I steadied myself, picturing the eleven points. Three above my head connecting to the four at the center of my body, and the four at the ground around my feet. Concentrating, I mentally called forth the barrier with an almost static zip.
I looked back at the forest quizzically, as if I had been gone for hours. “How did I forget that? Have I forgotten anything else? How willl I know if I have unless I remember it?” I sat down for a moment too worried to think about the forest in front of me. I needed to meditate, I had to find answers.
Slowly, my eyes began meeting the forest again. What if the answers are in there? Then again, what if I need the answers before I go in there.
Before I could make up my mind the sound of bells ringing an ominous tone began drowning everything out.
I looked up to see Auditor Kulver staring down at me. She looked like she was in a pleasant mood. That probably means something bad for me, so I guessed “Time for the trial?” Her smile got bigger.
She turned her head away from me. “SiO2-83 please take the prisoner to the holding area. Auditor 7487 will give you further instructions when you arrive. Please follow her orders.”
Before the creature picked me up I tried conjuring a shield. I didn’t know what I was being put on trial for, but it can’t be good. I concentrated on the eleven points and then...nothing, I couldn’t pull any magic. Not a single drop.
The look on my face must have been readable, Kulver formed that familiar smirk “You didn’t think we would take chances with Ex-Clarent did you? I silenced you before you awoke after the trainwreck. And you will be silenced until you die for everything you’ve done.” Her anger rose as she spoke. She turned and left without another word, probably so she wouldn’t do something stupid.
The large green and red creature picked my immovable body up and carried me out of the plain gray four walled cell. This had been the first time I’d seen the room, and most likely the last if Kulver had her way.
All I could do was hope that whomever was putting me on trial would listen to me and know that I didn’t do anything that I’ve been accused of doing. Then again, I did forget I....was a Clarent? Auditor Kulver’s words sunk in. If I couldn’t remember that then I probably did do everything she said. I muttered to myself “I hope the trial at least helps me remember something...”
I didn’t realize the girl from the night of the train wreck was standing in front of me. Now that I could see her better, she looked as if she should still be doing her studies. She was a light brunette with almost silver eyes. A little pixie of a nose that didn’t fit her face right. Even at her young age I could tell she laughed a lot, but she didn’t seem like she wanted to now.
I hoped she could answer a few questions for me. “Auditor 7487 I’m guessing? Could you....” I was cut off abruptly by her apparent lack of wanting to talk to me.
There was no spite or sneer or really any facial expression. She just raised her thumb to my forehead and there I was, staring back up at the forest once again.