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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

From Nescience - 3. Skylar: A Hero's Journey

“Congratulations, Skylar!!” My little brother lunged at me as I exited the great halls of the Citadel of Siegeveld. Terrun’s eyes shone with pride and a bit of envy as I jokingly placed my graduation helm on his head. It was pretty big, so it almost went all the way through. “Just watch me. I’ll beat your score in the Fleviin exams!”

“That’s going to be three more years for you!” I chuckled. My brother was a few inches shorter than me. A carbon copy. Almost like a twin. Except he had chestnut brown hair and green eyes. His nose was a bit thinner, too, and I think he would not grow any taller than I do. “Come on, let’s get out of this place.”

“The third Rune Mage in the family, huh? I was so sure you would fail the Zaha’een Trials” My other brother snorted. I shot him a death stare which almost made him break into laughter. “Just kidding. I’m sure mother and father would be proud.”

“Thanks, River.” I smiled warmly. My older brother was the spitting image of our father. While my younger brother and I look a lot more like our mother. But we had the same golden blonde hair and sea-blue eyes. He was also a couple of inches taller than I do. We lost him a couple of years back. And it was never been the same since. “Yeah. I miss them, too. I wish they saw all of us finish the Protykios Ritual.”

“I’m sure they’re watching.” River replied empathically and bumped my shoulder with his fist. Sadness was still in his voice. He was the strong older brother we needed despite being young. And I will always be thankful for him. “We’re still here to celebrate with you.”

I saw the stress that was taking a toll on him. He was mostly in Gyroseus, cooperating with some of the Knights of Imperia. A year ago, a battle broke out, and he was involved in it. It had something to do with the killer of our father. That’s why he was so invested in it. But I heard there has been no significant progress ever since.

“Since both of my brothers are already done, I hope you’re both going to give me tips on passing them all!” Terrun boomed excitedly. His eyes sparkled with mischief and mayhem. “I’m so gonna beat all my classmates!”

“You’re on your own, twerp.” River snickered. “Besides, only less than a third of the class pass the Fleviin exams and make it through graduation. Only the best can be given the right to be fully fledged Rune Mages.”

“Yeah!” I added quickly. “And I did it without River’s help.”

“Hey! I am not as smart as you guys!” Our little brother pouted. He looked like a spoiled brat at times. But that’s how it is when you’re the younger sibling. You’re constantly smothered by the older ones. Then you’re also bullied most of the time. “Especially you, Skylar! You’re the smartest in your class. It’s like you know everything! Even River is not that smart!”

“Hey! I’m right here!” Our oldest brother groaned.

“Not really.” I chuckled softly. But it was true. I just don’t want to sound so proud of my abilities. It was also a fact I got better grades than River in every kind of magic. Except for Abjuration. “I’m bad with Illusion and Transmutation. So my stay in Thenamelle and Harfjord was a pain in the ass.”

“Do you have any particular specialty you want to focus on?” River asked me. He was probably curious due to the rumors going all around.

“Enchantment and Evocation. Then if possible, I’d like to have a good grasp on Conjuration.” I replied thoughtfully. My professors were impressed with my great mastery of it. They even told me I could easily beat an Elemental Mage in their own game. “But I’m sure I cannot beat your Abjuration Skills. Your sealing and barrier spells are impenetrable!”

“It’s the only skill I could boast of, though!” My brother retorted.

“So what? You have the perfect defense.” Terrun boomed. Then he switched to deep thoughts. “I wanted to focus on Conjuration and Transmutation!”

“Enough of the academe talk!” I interrupted. “Come on, let’s visit mother.”

“Do the honors, little brother!” River suggested.

“Fine.” I switched my focus to a familiar place. It was the final resting place for the dead. Not necessarily the realm of Asphodel but a spot where we can remember the loved ones who passed on. Then I drew the necessary runes in the air: Vilna. Zaviesti. Zastaven. Both my brothers grabbed me by the shoulders so they would be dragged along with me. “Mundis Veiroxis.”

We were sucked into a small wormhole in a split second and landed on the ground. The feeling of spinning and twisting sent my breakfast to every part of my body. But thankfully, I got used to it. After all, that was roughly a few hundred miles of instant travel from the City of Grimsborne, where the Citadel of Siegeveld was located, to the town of Old Gallenhaal. That was my mother’s birthplace, and we decided to leave her Velcirum there.

We walked toward the ancient tree of Marayi that was in the south of the town. There were only a few people there since there were laws that prohibited others from loitering and doing unnecessary business in resting places. The tree was at least a hundred feet tall and with darkened colors as if they were made out of ash. It doesn’t grow leaves like how a typical tree would. Instead, its leaves covered the branches like moss.

As we looked up, we saw the hundreds, or maybe a thousand, of Velcirums that hung on the branches. A Velcirum is a pendant crystal necklace that can store the avroi of a deceased mage. The energy was preserved through the crystal, and holding it close would help you feel the presence of the departed as if they were there. But a Velcirum has a symbiotic relationship with the tree of Marayi because the crystal draws a bit of life force from the tree itself. If the crystal was brought far away from the tree, the avroi stored inside slowly dispersed, rendering the crystal useless.

There was even a time that particular mages would steal the Velcirums for profit, like a hostage scenario. Similar to grave robbers. That’s why the Ministry of Solus Magus made an effort to place powerful protective enchantments on the tree. A Rune Mage will be sent every once in a while to make sure the sealing spells are still functional. Since the Velcirum is not worth much economically, such people eventually lose interest in stealing them.

With a flick of a finger, River summoned my mother’s Velcirum from above. It hovered before me before grabbing it in mid-air. The familiar avroi enveloped us, almost bringing me to my tears. It felt like a warm embrace on a cold winter night.

“I made it, mother. I’m finally a Rune Mage. Just like father and River.” I whispered softly. Her avroi made me feel like I was on the beach, then the sea and the waves were kissing the tip of my toes. The sound of the water crashing. The warm breeze brushed my face. It was all there just from the presence of her avroi. Soothing and relaxing. I missed my mother dearly even more after that. “I wish you were here.”

“How many years has it been?” Terrun suddenly asked. Breaking the solemn silence of the place. It was not really part of the culture in Sevel to visit their deceased loved ones. Only Rune Mages had an affinity to do something like that.

“How old are you now?” I responded with another question.

“Ten.” Terrun replied sheepishly.

“Six years then.” River concluded.

Six years. Then we lost our father four years after. That was really all too quick. But we knew the business our father was in. He was a highly adorned Mage in various organizations in Altimeraea. There was a particular danger in his job. The man was a walking legend, after all. And all of my professors applaud me for walking in his footsteps. I want to have a different destiny from my father. But at the same time, it was also an honor that people see me in him and him in me. There was also comfort in that paradox.

Mother, on the other hand, was a very gentle spirit. Full of wisdom and insights. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t much of a talented mage like our father. But her hugs and care were like no other. She was the best example that skills and talent become worthless if you do not know how to love another person properly. And I saw how she loved our father dearly. And we felt how she cares for my brothers and me.

The sound of crunching leaves erupted from behind us, which caused all three of us to turn around. Because the three of us were deep in thought about our mother. Our guards were down. And sentimentality was thick within the corners of our minds. Thankfully, it wasn’t a foe but a familiar friend and mentor.

“Professor Brienus!” I exclaimed. He was a tall towering man with long gray hair and a thick gray mustache. Probably around in his mid-fifties. Might look a bit frail but don’t be fooled because he uses it primarily to his advantage. His outstanding expertise in Enchantments could strengthen most of his physical abilities to the point that he may throw a whole castle with his bare hands. “What are you doing here?”

“Hello there, Knightley’s.” The old mage greeted warmly. He was sort of my father figure during my time in Siegeveld. Since I had a natural affinity for Enchantment magic, I spent much time with him. Asking and bugging him for personal mentorship, he was happy to give most of his knowledge. He was an efficient mentor. The man focused more on how we can use it than mere theories behind the spells. “I assume you’re visiting Myria. Correct?”

“Yes, professor.” We responded in unison.

“In regards to my presence, please do pardon me for taking you away from your private time. I’m here for the Runeless Mage.” Professor Brienus said. His eyes were heavy on me with pride. The Runeless Mage was a nickname I earned during my stay in Thenamelle. My natural aptitude to do Spellweave while visualizing the runes in my mind’s eye helped me to cast spells consecutively faster than the other mages. “My child, don’t look to me as if it’s a curse. My gods, no. You are a prodigy sent once every generation. And it’s only fitting because the prodigy of the previous generation is your father. It only confirms that you are your father’s child.”

“Thank you.” I replied. Then I stood firmly with dignity. “But I want to be known for who I am as an individual. Not under the shadow of my father.”

I felt the pride well up within River when I said that. As my older brother, he never once compared me to my father, like what my professors do. He really showed that he understood me better.

“A fitting response.” The professor smiled warmly. “Very well, young Skylar Knightley. I can confidently say that you will be far better than your old man. I have never seen a young mage like you simultaneously cast runes and do spellweaving so perfectly. It’s like you barely use the foundational runes anymore.”

“You also do it, Professor Brienus. Don’t be absurd.” I retorted. Yet secretly, I loved the praise. I almost wanted to ask for more. “Rune Mages who had great mastery over particular spells due to great repetition can do that.”

“That is true.” The old mage agreed. Then he rubbed his chin curiously as his gaze switched among the three of us. “But that’s only achievable through years of practice. You are merely starting your teenage years. I do hope you have plans to start the Deftaristios Ritual soon.”

“Not now. But I have plans.” I replied. It was true. I personally thought that it would be better to explore Altimeraea for a year or two before I take the next step of my education in Solus Magus. “I think it’s only fitting to have my older brother finish it first.”

“Yet he is still entangled with the business in Zidania.” Professor Brienus interjected. River almost winced from it. He originally planned to finish his advanced courses before I finished my primary education. “But I am sure that it will happen in due time. All three of you are natural geniuses. It’s such a waste of potential if it’s not actualized.”

“Sorry. I don’t think I’m a genius.” Terrun commented. I just gave him a soft slap on his side. That caused the professor to chuckle softly. “Okay. Fine. Maybe I am.”

“Apologies for digressing! I am here with an offer letter from the Royal Palace of Sevel.” The old man suddenly erupted. He took out a small scroll with the Seal of Royal Palace engraved on it. I even sensed a strong enchantment to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. “You are being invited as an Honorary Kingsblade in service to the Prince.”

My brothers and I fell silent.

“I know I have sent out request letters for a potential source of income as I travel, but I don’t remember sending one to the Royal Palace.” I explained abruptly. “Professor, you know very well that I do not want to dabble in any form of politics.”

“Well, I’m afraid it is an urgent request from the Prince.” The man remarked. “In fact, he personally asked me to escort you to the city of Estrossa.”

“Huh?” I exclaimed. “That’s in the northern part of the Kingdom. What’s the Prince doing there?”

“I’m afraid I’m not really sure.” Professor Brienus replied. My two brothers just watched intently from the sidelines. Terrun was amazed at how his brother was sought after by the Royal Prince. But River was slightly skeptical of the sudden turn of events. “His instructions were for me to fetch and bring you to him.”

“What about my personal stuff?” I asked the professor.

“He mentioned he will bring you along in his travels, and there is no need for personal stuff.” The man expounded. That made me even wonder all the more. If the Prince needed me to travel with him, it would coincide with my short-term goals. “But if you insist, I suppose you can talk to the Prince about that.”

“That is most curious.” River observed. His eyes were serious. And my brother fell deep in thought. Calculating what could possibly be the reason behind it. “It’s quite rare for royal blood to go out of the capital this often.”

“We didn’t even get to celebrate properly.” Terrun spoke sadly. He even looked down in defeat, with had hurt me deep inside. But it was a duty I could not readily turn down. Then my little brother looked at Professor Brienus with the biggest puppy dog eyes he could muster. His green eyes glimmered and screamed. “Can we at least visit Skylar in the Royal Palace?”

“That would depend on the Prince, I’m afraid.” The old man replied.

“Okay.” Terrun responded dejectedly.

“I’m very sorry, young Knightley. I really do not mean to break your family gathering with my quest.” Professor Brienus apologized. Then he faced me with a bit of urgency on his face. From the look of it, he may have been forced to retrieve me so suddenly. “Come now. Let’s make haste. The Prince does not like to wait.”

“Just a sec.” I said and stepped back. Then I drew the runes I needed for my spell. Zacia. Vilna. Naruzi. My focus urged my avroi to envelop my body and visualized the clothes I had in mind within my closet at home. “Almatosi.”

The campus robes that I was wearing changed to something more comfortable. It was a mix of spatial and transmutation magic for clothing. We often use this at Solus Magus for a quick change of clothes between classes. This time, I wore my traveling clothes made of tunic and leather. Complete with a navy blue cloak over my shoulders and a golden brooch pin with the sigil of Solus Magus. Normally, mages would wear long pants, but I decided to wear something shorter above the knee for mobility. Yet I still wore low-cut boots for the travel needed.

Then there was also a stash of avroi crystals under my belt for emergencies. I learned how to transmute raw avroi into small stones instead of constantly absorbing it raw from nature. All of my principles in magic were built on the idea that the first one who casts a spell win. Rune Mages are very powerful, but the time used to cast the runes can be a deciding factor between life and death.

“Terrific.” Professor Brienus expressed.

But before he could speak, I turned to my brothers and jumped on them with a big hug. It caught them off guard as I pulled them closer. It was annoying. I couldn’t have more time with them. Although River is busy, Terrun immediately needs to return to the Citadel of M’Vokagola to focus on his Necromancy magic.

“See you later, I guess.” Terrun whimpered. It was pretty obvious he held back his tears. River was a bit more stoic but optimistic. “Please visit when you can.”

“We couldn’t even be together for an hour.” My older brother sighed. “My friends in Zidania are also friends with the royalty of Sevel. I can check if he can ask them to allow me to visit you. Then maybe bring Terrun along.”

“That’d be nice!” I smiled. I can’t believe I had to wait for who knows how long it would take. “Make it fast!”

“I presume you are all ready?” The professor asked warmly.

I nodded. From how I felt his avroi in the air, I imagined his spell was ready for quite some time. He reached out and grabbed me. And like the teleportation magic we often used, I got sucked into a vacuum of nothingness and landed in the center of a courtyard. Professor Brienus was nowhere to be found. I assume that he had only sent me alone.

When I looked around, I found myself in the courtyard of a reasonably sized Keep. I knew it was at least a hundred years old from the architectural style. Floating towers. Avroi-charged ballistas. The Keep was meant to withstand a siege of an entire army. The people around me just carried on with their business. All of them were on the walls, walking around and overseeing the maintenance of the weaponries.

At the very front door, a lone knight stood. From the golden-plated armor, it was indeed a Kingsblade. And a very young one at that. Brown hair. Boyish face. I did hear that the youngest Kingsblade was only a few years older than I was. But when I step forth to greet him, he charged at me. With one swing of his hand, an enormous golden scythe appeared out of nowhere. The knight attacked me with brute force.

My reflexes came into play, and I raised my arm. My right thumb and the tip of my ring finger touched before a magical ritual circle of golden light appeared between us, blocking the attack. But the kid did not falter. The scythe just glided through the magical barrier as he consecutively slashed it. Twirling his weapon around and taking advantage of the momentum. It was then I noticed that the attacks were getting faster and faster.

I cast my next quick spell that could disable him. My left thumb and the top of my pinky finger touch. With the rest of my other three fingers outstretched like a blade. Then thrust my left hand like a blade toward my opponent. The golden light that made up the hovering ritual circle turned into a purple hue. It activated my gravity magic the repelled him with an insane amount of force. The young knight was thrown back harshly toward the wall before he could even react.

Then I cast two spells at once. On my right hand, my right thumb and left pinky finger touched. It cast a gravity spell that could increase the pull to the ground a hundredfold in a split of a second. That was for my offense. My left thumb and ring fingernail touched on my left hand, summoning a dozen constructs of light shaped into various bladed weapons, ready to attack at my command.

A loud series of claps could be heard behind me.

“Not a rune was drawn. Not a spell was weaved. Not a word was spoken. But you disabled a Kingsblade within a few seconds.” A boyish voice announced. That was when I turned around to see a boy my little brother’s age walking towards me with a grin on his face. “You are indeed the Runeless Rune Mage. I do want to know your secret.”

“Please explain what’s the meaning of this.” I demanded roughly. He must have been impressed by the system I had devised during my studies in Solus Magus. My professors remarked on my skill as the makings of a proficient and competent battle mage.

“It was just a game. Relax.” The boy chucked. His brown and auburn shaggy hair danced as he walked towards me. “Sir Ysverin lost his bet. That was it. Now please, let’s go inside. We have things to discuss.”

As he walked towards me, I looked him eye to eye. Which was kind of awkward because he was a few inches shorter than me. It was bright blue with a hint of silver. But his inner pupils were a mix of gold hazel. He had a smooth and fair complexion and a long braid from the left side of his head. I assumed the Prince summoned me since he had a very authoritative aura. He seemed so confident and brave. It was almost annoying.

Then I looked at the other knight, who dusted himself off and walked away like nothing had happened. The onlookers from above were just in awe of the quick skirmish in the courtyard. I followed the young boy who called me into the Keep where another knight was tailing us from behind. She had blue eyes and was light-skinned. Then her blonde hair was tied neatly into a bun at the back of her head. The woman-knight’s face was stoic and her movements were very elegant. It was almost as if she was more royalty than the boy before me.

“Prince Zion! That was a very rude entrance! I have no words for such actions!” She suddenly scolded. Her stern face was full of shame on behalf of her master. She totally lost her stoic demeanor. “It is very unbefitting for the Royal Prince of this Kingdom!”

“I told you, I do not like the traditions of formality.” The Prince whined loudly. It was almost comical because he was being scolded by his bodyguards. “I want to see for myself why our ally recommended him to be the Honorary Kingsblade.”

“That can still be done after formal introductions.” The woman argued. Then she faced me and calmed herself down. “Skylar Knightley, I apologize on behalf of the young Prince’s behavior. His little brother would have done otherwise and would have welcomed you as our honored guest appropriately.”

“It’s okay.” I chirped and just soaked in the drama unfolding before me.

“Sir Raea, I applaud you for valuing the traditions that we have. But we do not have the luxury of time for such rituals.” Prince Zion replied. Then his following words were stated coldly. “Teios Kyr is on the move once again. And they will wait for no one.”

Teios Kyr. The cursed group that took away my father. And my older brother has been terribly busy tracking their movements. I was not too fond of politics, but if it would help me avenge my father, I would gladly do it. If I can help River from here, then it would all be worth it in the end.

Then we entered the room with a foul stench coming out of it. In the middle of it were a table and a carcass on top of it. The thing was grotesque. Its body was bloated, as if the signs of rot had started too soon. The wound had burst open from within, and the face was almost dismembered. But there was a strong presence of avroi from it.

“What do you see, Skylar?” He inquired with a childish tone.

“A dead body.” I retorted at his antics.

“I’m sure you’re smarter than that.” The Prince snorted. We would have spat by my feet if it wasn’t so informal. But decided to stop himself mid-way. “Look closer. I think that you’ll see something that we haven’t.”

“Fine.” I submitted. Then raised my hand to draw the necessary runes for my next spell. My right eye warmed up as I controlled my avroi to channel the runes into my vision. “K’heimasha Oculio.”

The moment my enchanted vision laid my eyes upon it, I had to double-check what I was seeing. Avroi was all over the body. But it was infested with a sinister force that no Altimeraean could typically produce. My eyes almost squinted as the avroi twisted and turned inside the body as if it was alive. Even Necromancers are not capable of making avroi alive. My mind raced as I returned to my readings during my stay in M’Vokagola.

“I can’t believe it.” I gasped. “This is Enokhlsi.”

“What’s that?” Prince Zion asked.

“It’s a kind of magic that is not of this world. This results when a creature feeds on the body and the soul. Our avroi, mixed with our soul and that foreign energy, creates this unstable form of energy that continuously erupts from within.” I concluded. I could no longer hide the seriousness on my face. “This is not the work of mages. This is the work of something from Tartaros!”

“I see. You confirmed my speculations. It seems our enemy is finally making a move.” The Prince replied conclusively. “We may need to ask help from my friend, Nikolai Vashchenko.”

Copyright © 2023 Solus Magus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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