The sounds of pursuit did not follow, but we did not stop. We ran and ran some more, dodging around the trees until we found a large clearing, lit by the light of the moon above us. Mhorik finally stopped and we both leaned over to catch our breaths. “I guess,” he said between gasping breaths, “they don’t like outside wizards.”

Mhorik and I waited for a bit, and when we didn’t hear any pursuers we set up a light camp in the clearing. Without a word, Mhorik threw down his sleeping furs and slumped down on the ground. The fatigue had caught up with him, and he pretty much just passed out. I was still too shaken, my body still too tense from the frenzied run in the dark, to sleep. I decided to keep watch. I created a small fire and concentrated on it, keeping it fed with my magic instead of trying to find wood. The remaining few hours of night passed quickly, my fire keeping any potential threat at bay.

We continued on into the rough territory. It would have been slow going even if I hadn’t been worn out from the previous night. Trees usually surrounded us, but occasionally we came across a clearing where we saw a mountain loom ever closer each time.

“We’re going to that mountain?” I asked one morning as we ate a small breakfast. I had found a few eggs in a nest and we set them to cook in some water.

“We are going over it. Just past it is the convocation. If I haven’t gotten us too lost, there should be a pass we can take. Be ready for a long, hard hike.”

Mhorik was right. We went over some gentle hills and at the foot of the mountain, the going got much harder. There was still an obviously marked path, but the way was rough and treacherous.

We came to a place where another path met up with ours. Glancing down the path, I saw a few figures moving towards us.

“I see two others.”

Mhorik turned and looked. “Yes. Let us wait for them.”

We ate a quick bite from the Lelra supplies while waiting. I saw a woman in a light but highly decorated robe lead a young man in ragged clothes up the path to us.

“Well met,” Mhorik said when they were close. “I am the wizard Starwise, and this is my apprentice.”

“Hail, wizard.” The woman gave an insincere smile. “A fellow traveler. I am also a wizard called Seamist, and I am followed by my own apprentice.”

“The way is treacherous, let us head to the convocation together?”

The woman’s insincere smile didn’t fade from her face. “Yes, that would be prudent,” she said without enthusiasm.

Mhorik and Seamist went on ahead while I followed behind. I looked at the apprentice and smiled.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

He looked at me like I had slapped him. “I won’t tell you,” he said narrowing his eyes with suspicion.

I held my breath a moment as I realized my mistake. My face burned as I fell silent. Mhorik was talking to Seamist, discussing issues of magic and news from afar. They seemed to mostly ignore us.

We trudged on for a while before stopping for the night. Mhorik had me create the fire, which seemed to have impressed Seamist. We shared some of the Lelra supplies with the others, much to Seamist’s delight. She seemed to warm up a bit to Mhorik, but I could sense some hesitation behind her actions.

As the two elder wizards settled into discussions, I took the opportunity to try to strike up a conversation with the apprentice again.

“Can you control fire?”

“No,” he responded quietly.

“What forces have you learned?”

“Just movement.”

I pulled up my sleeve and showed him my rune scars. “I’ve learned these.”

He looked and frowned. Pulling up his own sleeve, I only saw one scar, and it was rather poor and misshapen for a “movement” rune.

“I don’t like studying magic,” he said quietly, letting his sleeve drop back in place and staring at the fire.

“Is it not a great honor?”

He shrugged. “I’m the only person to show any ability in our village. Seamist curses that she could not find a ‘proper’ apprentice, how she had to settle for me.”

I felt my face flush with anger. It wasn’t right! I saw how Mhorik must have felt when he was younger, why he hated magic. I looked my own scars when a thought struck me.

I glanced quickly at Mhorik and Seamist, sitting far away absorbed in their discussion. I concentrated on my own movement rune, kicking up a bit of dust, to fix it into my mind. Then I focused on the healing rune I used to set my own scars. Reaching over, I took the other apprentices arm and whispered, “Keep quiet.”

I focused my magic into his arm and reshaped the rune to be more accurate. He sat, amazed, as I poured my effort into the work. When I was done, I looked up; the two elder wizards hadn’t noticed at all.

“There, that should help.”

He looked down, then at me. Closing his eyes, I could feel the magic draw toward him, and then he extended it to hurl a stone from near his feet down the side of the mountain. He opened his eyes and smiled, dropping his sleeve in place.

“What’s going on here?” the feminine voice said from over us. Terror filled my heart.


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