News. I've completely gone through Ion 417: Raiju. Ion 417: Raiu, Nearing completion on Ion 417: Katana, keep adding a few lines to Rising Rhine occasionally. Set Uiyah's Paw aside until I could rework a couple characters in it. Now I decided to take a writing class based around Dragon's Rite book 2, Stones of Magic. I shredded the earlier stuff and started over. An idea from another author prompted me to post the progress in that. This way we can follow stories through that might be hard to find in the big pile of homework.
Given the proper touch and the right runes, anything is possible with magic.
The stones were not so cold as to numb her feet. That would have been a kindness. Nae, the cold seeped into her feet to bring the jagged, tearing pain with each twitch of her muscles.
A quick glance up showed the orb had not budged from its place thirty feet above the center of the chamber floor. The glow from the orb lit the chamber as a moon would light a desert night, with the same cold light.
She knew that orb well, having gazed upon it so many times she could not count them all. This time, as always, it would neither help nor hinder, it was simply there; a silent observer. Her thoughts wandered down the path of how the orb had been created. She had learned its creation in her first half-year of study. What had taken weeks of hard study and dozens of attempts could now be done with a simple word.
Her toes cramped with the cold, tearing her thoughts from the orb. She muttered a curse so soft that even the breeze drifting over her cheek did not hear it. The curse would surely have scorched a few ears had they heard. It was concerning the need for her to be standing upon those stones with naught to shield the cold from her skin, not even the soft doeskin slippers she would wear on a mid-summer’s day. Not a trace of clothing, nor even the simplest ornaments of jewelry. Nothing extra could be brought to this task.
She had tied her waist length gossamer hair into a soft knot to try and keep it from her eyes. The task would take all her concentration to complete.
Some would call the orb her goal, for she had to reach it with her fingers, but she knew her goal was far more than that. Touching it was merely the task to reach the goal. Her goal was really the method she would have to create in order to reach the orb. She already knew two methods she could use to reach it, but both would fail for this task. She could almost see the strong currents flowing through the chamber over her head.
She took a deep breath and dropped her gaze to the only things she had brought with her into the chamber, the handful of small metallic shapes cupped in her left hand. Beautifully woven wire shapes that would have been impressive sitting amongst any jeweler's wares. They were the keys to unlocking her goal. All she had to do was figure out which of those nine shapes would work the way she wanted, nae, needed them to work.
Spreading the shapes across the palm of her left hand, she gently eased them to where a small space separated each of the shapes with her finger. Satisfied with the placement of each one she used her right hand to steady the left. She didn’t need her shaking legs to jiggle the shapes.
She closed her eyes and turned her attention inward, focusing on the rhythmic chant running through her head. This was the trick she used to keep her thoughts clear and shut out the distractions of the world. It was like closing her eyes to everything else and opening them into a world where only the shapes existed. Not even her body could be felt in that world
Slowly in her mind she built up the image of the chamber surrounding her. The image of her body in the middle of the chamber slowly formed. These images were mere sketches of the reality, holding little resemblance to what the eye would see. In a way that no artist could ever hope to portray in a painting, the myriad currents of the air took shape in this image. Any breezes strong enough to ruffle the down of a feather swept across the vision in brilliant slashes of color.
She let her thoughts spread and flow along the length of the drafts. She could almost feel them along the body of her thoughts in the way you’d feel the current of a river you swam in.
With her thoughts cleared of the cold, she channeled her spirit down the length of her arm and into the left palm. Once there she let it tickle the edges of the shapes arrayed on it. She knew better than to blindly grab at those shapes with her thoughts. The power they could channel needed a gentle touch to awaken without causing serious harm to herself or indeed the tower room she was in. The walls of this chamber had been rebuilt many times in its history, sometimes the student even survived such a mistake.
Waking the runes was like waking a barbarian. There are two ways to do it. If you dump a bucket of cold water on him you’d likely be dodging his sword before you could even drop the bucket. However if you held a loaf of fresh bread near his nose for the smell to awaken him, you’d be hearing his stories of conquests over breakfast. These runes could turn faster than any barbarian’s sword, and any mistake could be just as deadly.
Her spirit tickled the edges of the shapes, reveling in the feel. For most of them it was like she was caressing oiled lightning. For three of them it felt like running her hand along the edge of a broken crystal.
The crudeness of those three sent a shiver down her back that had nothing to do with the chill in the autumn air seeping through the cracks of the chamber. Their construction bordered on sheer and utter carelessness. Her thoughts shifted and swelled with a touch of anger. How dare they offer such worthless rubbish? There was absolutely no reason for them to waste her time with such as those. A first season apprentice would’ve been about the only one foolish enough to try using one of those. She pulled her thoughts back from the path of speculating on which of the nine had given her those runes.
She pulled her right hand from under her left. A quick flick of her finger sent the three runes tumbling from her palm. Strong as highly polished steel they looked, yet each of the three shattered into a fine powder where they struck the floor.
Crude as they were, each of those shapes had been worth a few months’ wages for most workmen. She had tossed them away, more to convey her ire at the insult those shapes represented than of their lack of value. It was like offering a flint axe to a well-known sculptor to carve with.
As angry as she was for the insult, she couldn’t bring herself to waste the precious shimmering blue metal. She quickly wove a simple air swirl to gather it, and then snapped a bubble around it. A wave of her hand sent it floating off in the direction of the single door in this chamber.
With her eyes still closed she cupped her right hand back under her left and took a deep breath to steady her wandering thoughts. This was no time to be letting her concentration wander recklessly. She had worked too hard to reach this spot and dare not let it be a waste. A failure here would cost a year; a price she was loathe to pay.
Chapter 1 continues.