by Ben Crawford
Kenton Gladstone arrives in the city of Sayrune to take up the post of Kinetomancy Master.
|"Damn it to hell!" Kenton Yelled as the carriage lurched, and his quill murdered yet another page. He crumpled the letter into a ball and tossed it on the floor with the others. "How am I going to get any work done if the carriage hits every single hole in the road?"
He grabbed another piece of paper from his dwindling supply and placed it on his hardback. A pile of finished letters lay beside Kenton, and for every letter, at least three were crumpled up on the carriage floor.
This letter needed to be finished, he knew that once he arrived in Sayrune he would be too busy to write it. The other letters felt like warm-ups compared to this one, and the world seemed to be conspiring to keep him from writing it.
I know my departure was on such short notice, and I did not have a chance to give you the full account of where I was going and why. You are the only family I have left, and I would never shut you out of my life. Great things are happening for me sis, and I am very excited about these new opportunities. I have worked hard to keep the school going after Kengy passed away and having the Sayrune School finally recognize Kinetomancy is all he ever wanted.
I got the letter from the Magi council two days before I had to leave. Can you believe they chose your brother to be the Master of our very own headship school?
I had two days to pack, arrange for a boat off the island and find a carriage that would take me all the way to Sayrune. Three weeks in a little wooden box is not what I would call a...
The carriage lurched again and Kenton's quill skidded across the page leaving a long line. "This is absolutely impossible."
Kenton waded through the small sea of crumpled paper and opened a shutter. He saw the driver and bodyguard sitting in the driver's box. He knew the trip had been even rougher on them than it was for him. But all those bumps made it hard to work.
"Can you please try and avoid the pot holes? I am trying to write back here."
"Sorry sir, I will try," replied the driver.
"I know it's not your fault, but I am running out of paper," said Kenton.
Just before Kenton turned from the shutter the carriage came around a corner and the dense trees opened to reveal his first view of the capital city. The bumpy ride faded as the roads changed from a cobble stone to a smooth seamless stone road.
Kenton thought the streets of the capital city were quite amazing; the flawless stone running through each street spoke of the city's power and wealth. The unnaturally perfect roads also whisper a different story, but only to those who truly listened, it says this city is ripe with magic.
The gates of the city loomed in the distance. Kenton could not believe his eyes, he had never seen anything so large and grand. He did not see a single bolt, rivet or metal band holding the gates together. No tree in existence was large enough to supply the solid wood for these gates. Large hinges sprouted from the sides of the doors and attached to the walls of the city. Such a door would be unbreachable by any means. These gates could not have been made by anything other than the grandest of magics.
"Don't just sit there, gawking like a simpleton. You are a master now pull yourself together."
"How long do we have before we reach the Archium?" asked Kenton.
"I would say it should take us at least fifteen minutes to reach the gates, and depending on how crowded it is, we should be there in an hour," said the driver.
"Why so long?"
"It's a crowded city, sir."
Kenton looked down at his wrist and consulted a shiny golden device comprised of smaller and smaller rings, each with symbols and numbers on them. He frowned "I should have arrived yesterday, so much valuable time lost and so much to do"
"My first council meeting begins in a little over an hour. I don't have time to drop off my belongings where I have taken up rooms, so let's head to the Archium. I will get dressed back here," said Kenton as he closed the shutter.
Looking around at the mess Kenton grimaced. He quickly picked up all the wasted papers and put them in one of his trunks. Keeping the windows covered, Kenton pulled a little lever, and a few holes in the roof opened up letting light in. His clothes felt soaked in sweat, and they smelled like it too. He never traveled in his best clothing, since they didn't come out on the other end in any kind of wearable condition.
The carriage was large enough inside for at least eight full grown adults to travel comfortably. Kenton used some of the extra space to keep a few of his more important trunks at hand. Fortunately, the size of this carriage also afforded him the ability to change his clothing and wash up.
He stood and stretched for a bit, then made a few fluid movements, a small and graceful display of his art. The movements helped to free up his tight muscles. He opened a large trunk that sat on one of the seats. He pulled out his best clothes and a large stoppered bottle of water. He disrobed and placed his sweat soaked clothing in a different case from his clean ones.
Placing the bottle on the floor of the carriage. Kenton then traced his arms gracefully through the air, and as he did, they gained a blue glow that stood out in contrast with his nut-colored skin. After a few more movements, he raised his hand, and the stopper popped out of the bottle. The water started to glow, and rise from the bottle covering his body, first his legs, then chest, then arms and finally, as he took a deep breath, his head and waist-length brown hair.
The water swirled around Kenton's body, following the motion of his hands, and reinforced by his iron hard will. This was his art, Kinetomancy, the conversion of kinetic motion into magical energy. When he could no longer hold his breath, he lowered his hands, and the water returned to the bottle.
Once he'd corked the bottle of filthy water, he let go of the remaining energy collected by the motion of his arms; it rose off him like mist rising from a lake.
The sullied water went into a trunk, and then Kenton dressed. The clothing he brought was in the Laraelian style, natural colors and patterns made of thin breezy fabric. He picked out a deep blue shirt, pants in an earthy brown color, and an overcoat of deep black. He tied his hair in a simple ponytail using a gold clip that was rounded with an ornate pattern engraved on it. His best shoes were polished and as black as his coat.
After tidying everything away; Kenton moved the curtains aside to see where they were now. He saw houses, upscale inns, and a few high class shops. They had clearly entered the upper quarters of the city. There were glass blowers making fine works of art and elegant glasses and plates. There were perfume shops that you could smell from three stores down. Kenton saw Bookbinders, apothecary's, sweet shops and many more stores that he could not even guess what was sold there.
As he was admiring the buildings, a runner boy darted out of a side street and ran up to the side of the carriage.
"Are you Master Kenton Gladstone?" the question was delivered between short gasps for breath.
Kenton was stunned for a moment, who knew he was here?
"Yes, how can I help you?" asked Kenton eventually.
"I have a letter for you, Sir."
"May I ask how you found me?"
"I was just told to come to this street and deliver a letter"
"Come up onto the running board, what do I owe you?"
"I was told a soft quarter bit, but I would not say no to a hard quarter bit," said the young boy.
"What exactly is a bit?"
"Beg your pardon, sir, a bit is a Copper Penny, and a soft quarter bit is two iron pennies and five shims while a hard quarter bit is two iron pennies and six shims"
"Tell me who sent the letter and I will give you a full bit."
"I wish I could tell you, sir, but I was just given the letter by my Lord and told where to deliver it to". The boy looked up hopefully "can I still have the full bit?"
"Sure," Kenton said pulling out a small pouch and then sorted out coins until he found a round copper one.
"Here is your bit. Is this term widely used?"
"In the marketplace mostly, but we runner boys use it too."
"You speak very well for someone your age"
"We are taught to speak like gentlemen so we don't offend the people we deliver to, Sir"
"Thank you very much," said Kenton taking the letter. The boy got down and ran off.
Kenton sat down and looked over the letter. Written on heavy parchment, it was folded over on its self. A wax seal held the parchment closed, on the seal was the image of a stack of books surrounded by six stars.
"This must be the new seal of the Magi council; the old seal had five stars for the five headship schools, but now my school makes six."
He made sure that it held no danger in any way. He reached out with his supernatural senses and felt a magical lacing over the wax seal. It would alert the sender when the seal was opened. He himself used the same lacing when sending important letters. He broke the seal, and the magic went out to find its master.
Dear Master Gladstone,
I am writing to you to prepare you for the environment you will shortly walk into. I hope you realize how rare it is that we recognize new Headship School branches. The last new school established was Literamancy and that decision had turned out to be a major problems for the masters.
It would be wise to not trust a word I say because you do not know me.
You may think you know the people you are about to meet, but you have no idea of what they are truly like.
I am aware that you personally know Halbert Swale, the Physicamancy Master. I would watch my step around him if I were you, because he is not quite the man you used to know. As you are aware, for the longest time Kinetomancy was considered a part of Physicamancy. When the council reviewed all the applications for new schools, they realized that motion and force are not quite the same, and the applications of the two types of magic were different enough to separate into different schools. As you can imagine, he is worried he will be robbed of students. Just try to stay on his good side until he calms down a bit.
Blythe Gartside, the Luxamancy master, is a very kind and generous man. If you don't do anything extremely and immeasurably stupid, you will find a friend in him. I find him to be fairly neutral and a keeper of the peace.
Mandassa Lisadar, the Audiomancy master, is someone to watch your step around. She is very manipulative, and she will use her skills at seduction and social warfare to get her way. Don't believe everything you hear about her but also don't be fooled to think she is a lamb.
Eleanor Atterton, the Vitalamancy master, has a mind like a steel trap, and if you are not careful, you might get caught in it. She believes in logical answers, so if you approach her using logic, you will find that your words will get through much easier.
Last is the king high bastard of the lot, Torin Tarsis, the Literamancy master. He is the only master who does not teach because he refuses to accept any students. A teacher without students is like a lake without water. He has been resting safe inside a loophole of our laws for years. He cannot be replaced because there is no one to replace him, and his school cannot be renounced because that requires a unanimous vote. If you have ever seen the man, you would realize there is something very unnatural about him. He has a young face, but stark white hair. No one knows how old he really is, but many say he is well over 70 at the least.
I am telling you all this to prepare you for the world you are about to enter. I know that each and every master has done their research on you, so it is only fair you knew something about them.
Step carefully, learn quickly, and be heard.
The letter was not signed.
Kenton read the letter a second time so he could commit it to memory. He'd been nervous before, but at that moment he was in an outright panic. The letter must have come from someone either on the magi council or someone well connected in Sayrune.
He thought he could cope and that they picked him for a good reason, but once again that little voice of self doubt crept in, and he felt like a little boy. Was he really the best choice for this mission?
He tried to ignore those feelings, he was here and that meant something. He had to work harder than anyone to deserve his post. He might have been a sheltered island dweller, but he had something to prove. His master had not devoted his life to getting Kentmancy recognized for Kenton to piss all over it just because he was scared of failure.
He tucked the letter safely away in his trunk and then double checked all his belongings to make sure they were in order and safely secured. Looking into the trunk he saw the pile of ruined letters and knew it might be a while before he could finish the task.
The carriage gradually came to a stop, and Kenton felt it sway slightly as someone dismounted. The door opened, and the driver stared back at him.
"We have arrived, Sir."
"Thank you," said Kenton as he exited the carriage.
The building before them looked vast and more than a little intimidating. The walls curved away from Kenton suggesting that the whole structure was in fact round. The walls were made of gray stone and the pieces fit together tightly without any form of mortar. Every window had a stained glass border and every doorway was edged in white marble. The looming gray walls of the Archium were unadorned and only the doorways, windows and main entrance broke up its slow and graceful arc. The courtyard entrance was gorgeous, the flower beds held the most wonderful array of colors and scents.
Statues that exhibited many of the magical styles of the School or notable historical figures lined the courtyard. The front entrance was a covered staircase made of white seamless and unblemished stone. A dark skinned man stood at the top of the stairs. He was not tanned, or merely dark; his skin was pitch black. Kenton had never seen anyone like him before; his eyes seemed to almost glow in comparison to his jet black visage. Standing next to the man was a young boy whose skin was a few shades lighter but still very dark. The man and the young boy descended the steps towards Kenton. The man's long blue coat fluttered in the wind and revealed a gray shirt and gray pants underneath.
"Greetings to you, you must be the awaited Master Gladstone."
"I am indeed," said Kenton as he held out his hand "May I ask your name?"
"I am Blythe Gartside, master of the Luxamancy School," He took Kenton's hand firmly.
"This might sound rude, but are you Orthy?" asked Kenton.
He smiled widely at Kenton "I am indeed, one of the few pure blooded Orthy left"
"Then it is a double honor to meet you, sir."
"Have you settled in yet?"
"I only just arrived. I meant to arrive yesterday, but the weather chose to disagree with us."
"Do you have an attendant traveling with you?"
"No, it's just me."
"Well then," said the Luxamancer "where have you taken up residence?"
"I arranged for rooms at the Red Crown."
"My son will accompany the driver and make sure your belongings are well looked after," said Blythe glancing at the young boy.
"That would be most welcome," replied Kenton.
The driver climbed up onto the carriage followed by the young boy. As the carriage pulled away, Kenton turned back to Blythe.
"He looks like a nice young lad."
"He is indeed," Blythe said "He takes after his mother too, and that is good."
"I am glad I ran into you Blyth"
"As am I, but it was a near thing; I just arrived myself for the meeting; shall we walk together?"
"Lead the way."
The interior of the school proved as magnificent as the courtyard. Paintings and sculptures lined the walls. They entered the main foyer and turned right. As they walked, Kenton saw the walls continued to curve again reinforcing the impression that the building was round.
"If we had more time, I'd give you a full tour," said Blythe.
"I totally understand" Kenton replied.
They turned from the main hallway and headed down a different path. These hallways looked straight and held less ornamentation. Blythe was rather silent as they walked, but he answered all of Kenton's questions. They took another turn and decended a long spiral staircase. At the bottom was a large set of doors.
Kenton could feel an intense magical pressure coming from the doors. This was a powerful lacing. He had never encountered wards like these.
"Go ahead and enter; the door has been made to know you already, so you don't need to worry about the wards," said Blythe with a smile, almost reading Kenton's mind.
Kenton reached for the door and he could feel it reach out to him as well before swinging open.
"That door is quite special" said Blythe "It can be taught to recognize someone by their magical impression; around here we call it a person's Clout."
"We call it the same thing up north" replied Kenton with a bit of a worried look "it is also a measure of someone's power."
"So it is, but you would not be a master if we doubted your skill, "Blythe replied with a smile.
Kenton entered a large circular room. Bookshelves lining the rounded walls. Multiple lamps lits the room, but he could not smell even the faintest scent of oil. In the middle of the large room Kenton saw a round ring table with room in the center for people to stand. On the floor inside the ring was the same emblem that was on the letter Kenton received. The stone work was amazing and it must have been put in very recently to have the six stars.
Across far side of the room a man and a woman were talked. The woman looked to be in her fifties; she had light brown short hair and her eyes were a bright. Her high-necked red dress flowed long to the floor, and showed off her slender figure. The Shenala style, Kenton thought. Modest but with a bit of flair.
The man she conversed with Kenton knew very well. Halbert Swale was short with tanned skin and a shaved head. He wore tight clothing to accentuate his taut musculature. Kenton needed to watch his step around him until he could get on his good side providing he had one.
The pair noticed Kenton at the same time, and abandoned their conversation. Kenton approached them and did his best to look confident and sure of himself.
"It's nice of you to join us Kenton," Said Halbert "I had no idea you arrived already."
"Bad weather delayed us by a day, and I arrived the same time as Blyth."
"Well, we are pleased to have you with us," said the woman, offering her hand.
"The pleasure is all mine, lady," replied Kenton as he took her hand.
"Have we met before?" asked the woman.
"No, I have not had the honor until now, but I know there are two women on the council, so I made an educated guess that you are Eleanor Atterton"
"Not a hard deduction," said Halbert.
"It is also nice to see you again Halbert," replied Kenton.
"It has been a while," he replied. "How's your sister?"
"Same as always, breaking the hearts of half the men and breaking the arms of the other half," Kenton replied with a smile.
"I am sorry I was not able to make it to Kengy's memorial," said Halbert breaking eye contact.
"I understand, the life of a master is not an easy one, as I am sure to learn first hand."
"Old Kengy would have been proud of you; he was a good man, and he picked the right man to follow in his footsteps," replied Halbert.
The door opened, and Kenton turned around to see a woman standing there, wearing a scandalous blue dress that left very little to the imagination. Based on how she was dressed he knew this must be Mandassa Lisadar.
"Oh Kenton you are here!" She squealed like a young girl.
"Lady Lisadar?" Kenton said, slightly off balance.
"Oh, you remembered me," she squealed running toward him with outstretched arms.
Kenton held up a hand. He remained calm as he stared into her eyes.
Once she came to a stop in front of Kenton he took a step back and addressed her plainly, "It's a great honor to meet you Lady Lisadar."
"Oh, I like this one," she said with a smirk. "He knows how to play the game."
"Did you really have to wear a dress like that for Kenton's first meeting?" growled Halbert.
"Why not? I like putting my best foot forward," she replied, placing her right foot forward accentuating the slit in the dress that went all the way up her side to her waist.
"He is just a boy, don't tempt him."
Kenton straightened "does that make me a 30 year old boy?"
"Son, to some people you are still a pup," said Eleanor with a smirk.
"Well, now that we got that out of the way, I think we can get started," said Halbert.
"What about Master Tarsis? Is he not joining us?" asked Kenton.
He saw a mix of exasperation and amusement on the faces of the masters. So, not everyone hated Torin.
"Torin does not attend every meeting," said Eleanor. "He only shows up to meetings where we decide very important issues. The agenda this time is of marginal issues."
"His appearances at this table are few and far between, the lazy bastard," chuckled Halbert.
A voice came from the far side of the room "Quite right, but I could not miss the first meeting with our new friend".
Leaning back in a chair with his feet up on the table was a young man with brilliant white hair, glasses, and a grin on his face so wide it looked almost indecent. His amber eyes looked clear and bright. His black robes looked more formal than the situation required. Kenton worried that he could not feel even a hint of Clout from the man. All the masters had it, but this man was either no mage at all or something else entirely.
"When did you come in?" asked Kenton amazed.
Torin pulled an apple from his robe, and shrugged. "Somewhere between the whore throwing herself at you and the short one insulting me."
"Master Tarsis, if you are finished, we would like to begin," said Blythe.
"By all means Blythe," the newcomer said with a tone that showed a hint of respect.
Everyone started to take their seats. Kenton stood for a little while until only one open chair remained for him to take. The door to the hall opened, and a young man came in with paper and ink; he stood behind a small table off to the side. Obviously, the scribe who wrote the official record of all meetings.
"This meeting will be short and sweet since we only have two items," Blyth said. "Firstly, we must officially induct Master Gladstone as the first Kinetomancy Master," at these words Torin stood and clapped wildly, then sat back down.
"All in favor of this appointment?" said Blythe with a note of amusement in his voice.
Five hands went up, but Torin's hand went up first and stayed up the longest.
"Then let it be recorded this day that Kenton Gladstone is hereby given all the rights and privileges of a master of the magi council," said Blythe.
The sound of quill on paper committing the Council's words to ink made Kentons spine tingle.
"Our last order of business is that we need to assign someone for first class duty," Blythe said with a smile as his eyes flicked for a second towards Torin.
"First class duty?" asked Kenton.
"Oh, right, you wouldn't know," Blythe replied. "In the Sayrune School the first lesson in the introduction to magic class is traditionally taught by a master."
"We normally vote on who is assigned this job." Again, his eyes flicked to Torin.
"I move that we assign this task to Torin," said Mandassa.
"I second that," said Halbert.
"Then let us vote." as Blythe said this, all hands, but Torin's and Kenton's went up.
Torin's brows rose "Kid, you do know that you can vote now, right?"
"I don't know enough about the issue, and even if I voted against it, the motion would pass regardless," he replied.
"Reason speaks in the places we may not expect," replied Torin with a smile.
"The motion passes four against two," Blyth said with a smile.
"Bloody brilliant, that's why I don't come to these blasted things," replied Torin.
Blyth rose "Meeting adjourned."
Kenton stood, and walked over to Blythe before he could leave the room "I feel like I am missing some kind of private joke," said Kenton.
"In a way you are," Blyth said with a smirk. "Torin has no students, and he does very little compared to the other masters, so when a tedious job comes up that is tedious, it tends to be assigned to him."
"So he does nothing at all?"
"Well, he is the head archivist for the school library, and he is rather good at that, but other than his work there we are not sure what he spends his time doing."
The masters filed out of the hall, and surprisingly Torin stopped Kenton before he left the room.
"I hope you are enjoying your first time in Sayrune, Kenton," he said with a genuine smile.
"Well I quite literally went from the carriage to this meeting, so I am still trying to get my feet up under me."
"Well, don't listen to these people when they tell you how bad I am, because I assure you that I am a whole lot worse, " Torin said with that devilish smile of his. Then he walked out.