The return trip to our town was quiet. I read a book of arcane magic while my mother alternated between sleeping and quietly weeping. She must have loved my father deeply despite their short relationship. I wondered what my grandsire saw in the young human warlord that reminded him of my father.
Back in the library, Ayin and I worked on more powerful magic. Soon I was able to master a sphere of fire, call upon the power of thunder to push things with force, make a floor slippery with ice, and create daggers of force. I was ready for a test, he said.
We were having a problem with missing cattle in our town. Some beasts were coming out of the woods by night and disappearing with them. Ayin and the other wizards of the town had found their magic effective against the creatures and he convinced my mother to let me come along one night to track and kill the beasts near their lair.
Ayin walked ahead, arguing magical theories with one of the older wizards. As I walked, I mentally rehearsed my spells, visualizing the power that would soon issue from my body. The rhythmic crunching of my feet against the leaves on the ground focused my thoughts, at least until I felt a presence next to me.
It was the young human warlord who had come to train with us. His hair was in need of a trim and he kept shaking his head like a puppy trying to get it out of his eyes. He extended his hand. “I’m Andric Al’Maera,” he said. I offered my hand half-heartedly. “Joelle,” I said. I wasn’t really interested in talking with anyone. “I’m busy,” I snapped. “We have a job to do and I need to prepare.”
I focused on the sound of my feet walking into the woods, focused my mind on the task at hand, focused at using the powers of the arcane to help my people.
I heard Ayin call out for us to fall into formation. The pack of beasts darted out of the woods at us, snarling and drooling. The soldiers circled around us to hold the beasts back as we volleyed spell after spell on them. It was a rush using my powers against a real enemy! The smaller beasts fell quickly, but the larger ones seemed unaffected by my spells.
Soon, we faced only the pack leader. I was exhausted and I could see even Ayin and the older wizards were losing their focus. There was only one thing we could do. We needed to channel all of our power into one collective spell. I had read about it, but had never done it before. Ayin hadn’t even mentioned it as a possibility – we had underestimated this beast! We created a circle and pushed all of our energy into a huge ball of force.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw next. The young warlord’s face twisted up with concentration and our ball of force flew into his sword, which swung over his head and through the great beast, cleaving it in two. The boy’s body crumpled to the ground.
A surge of emotion went through me. For a moment I felt I was my mother, watching my father die. I ran to Andric’s side and pressed my ear to his chest. His heart was beating weakly. Ayin and another wizard conjured up two floating disks and we carefully moved Andric on them to carry him back to town. I walked by his side, holding his hand.
My mother wanted to send me out while she examined him, but Ayin allowed me to stay. I stroked Andric’s hair as he slept. Ayin explained the end of the battle to my mother. He had never seen someone untrained in arcana channel so much power and was shocked that Andric had survived. First he killed Grorthuk and then he channeled the power of all our wizards through his blade?
“Such power in such a young boy,” Ayin muttered as my mother nodded.
When Andric awoke several days later, Ayin explained to him what had happened. We would be paired together so I could teach him what I knew of magic.
“You will learn best by teaching,” Ayin told me. “As he grows, so will your mastery strengthen.”
We spent every day together and I grew more and more fond of him. His crazy puppy hair, his sense of humor, his thirst for knowledge, his battle stories, his dark eyes, his muscular arms. I began to understand why my mother fell in love with a human – there was something about being wrapped in those arms that made me feel safe. He could be annoying at times, too boyish. But on the whole, I loved him. We married the next year and I was able to move from my mother’s house and into our own. I finally felt like an adult in a culture that insists I am a child.
Three years after Andric’s arrival in our town, we journeyed to his hometown of Jolzin to introduce me to his family. I was eager to meet his parents and his adopted brothers, but when we arrived, we discovered that pirates from the Punjar region had raided the area and his parents were presumed kidnapped. His brothers were among the soldiers sent to follow the pirates. It was certainly not the happy reunion we had imagined as we traveled.
Now we find ourselves on the road to Punjar, a place that I have only heard horrible tales about…
Coming soon… look for Part Two of Andric’s side of the story, as written by Hybban.