I don’t know what I was thinking. After being immersed in magic for a few weeks, a person made of rock should not have scared me. But, I panicked. I saw a threat, and my mind worked on instinct. And, for a wizard in control of powerful and deadly forces, giving into instinct is dangerous.

Fire came to me immediately, and I set the statue ablaze. The statue took a step toward me and raised its arms, and I strengthened the spell. Flames burned with magical intensity, melting the stone face unrecognizable. Then I sent a blast of air, to suddenly snuff out the flames, and cool the stone, causing it to crack. Chunks of stone fell to the floor, and the whole stone body collapsed into a pile of rubble on the floor.

The reality of what had just happened slammed down on me. I stood there, stunned, while hands grabbed me from all sides and held me down. I realized later that there were others in the room, and they leapt into action when I attacked that person. They hauled me out of the chamber, into a dark corridor and into a room. I came back to my senses when Mhorik summoned a spark of light to chase away the darkness. My thoughts leapt back to him when his pale face loomed over me.

“Not your best plan,” he said, his breathing labored.

I made him lie down and created my own spark of light so that he did not have to maintain his. I cared for him the best I could. I looked around, but our packs were nowhere to be found.

How long were we down there? The passing of day and night aren’t measured under the ground. The rock people do not sleep, so there was never really any way to tell from the amount of activity outside the door. Simple meals made of fungus and other odd plants were brought at irregular intervals, so I couldn’t tell from that. The pained regret seared into my mind replayed the horrific melting of that stone face in my mind any time I closed my eyes. My worry for Mhorik deprived me of any remnants of my usual sleep cycle. It could have been a day or even a few weeks we were stuck in there.

My mind ran in circles in the emptiness of the room. I tried to think of ways to escape, but the stone walls and doors were beyond my ability. I tried to study the patterns of magic in the stone, but my mind just couldn’t grasp it. The runes scarred onto Mhorik gave me no hint at which one would manipulate the stone. My mind considered ways to move lightning fast, to escape out of the tunnels and back to the surface. But, a simple stone door, barred from the other side, stopped any plans I had.

It was obvious that Mhorik’s condition was not improving in the darkness of the room. He was not eating, and he looked painfully thin. Sweat coated his face most of the time, despite the cool environment underground.

“I’m sorry,” I sobbed one night. “I should have gotten help.”

His eyes fluttered open. “No,” he said simply.

“What?”

“Not… your fault,” he managed as he lifted his hand to my shoulder.

“I could have gotten help. We could have gone to the Lelra.”

Mhorik shook his head. “No. It’s a… not their spell. Nothing I… have seen before.”

“We could have done something, anything!”

Mhorik rested for a bit, then said, “This spell consumes me. No way to reverse it.”

Panic gripped me. “Did I…?”

“No!” Mhorik yelled, then fell into a fit of coughing. “Not your fault. Magic… not always easy to control.. Your first lesson.”

Tears welled up into my eyes as I remembered that painful night.

“I am a failure,” I said through my tears.

“No.” Mhorik’s voice was soft. “I am proud, Dorua.”

Tears blurred my vision, but I heard the soft snoring of him falling asleep. I dried my eyes and got some sleep myself.

I awoke some time later to see the door open. Sleep clouded my thoughts, so the plans I had hatched did not come to mind when the stone figure walked into the room. My thoughts flew to Mhorik.

I threw myself on the ground in front of the figure. “Please, please, I made a mistake. You must help my master.”

A voice that rumbled like stones rolling down a mountain replied, “What is wrong?”

I looked up, feeling a bit of hope in my heart. “My master, he is ill. He is afflicted by some spell, and I do not know what it is.”

“Does he have another body prepared?”

The question made no sense to me. “I do not understand.”

“Does the spell prevent him from taking a new body?”

“New body…?”

“They are not made as we are,” another voice rumbled from the doorway. “They only have their one body.”

I looked to the doorway and my mind reeled: I saw the figure I had burned, the face that had haunted me since we had been locked into the room.



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