Alorya is a world engulfed in chaos. The Adami, the humans on Alorya, have made it their mission to destroy the Jaadugar, the wizards who once wielded power over the planet. Now all that remains is a small band of this magical race, led by their Grandmaster, Samajhdaar. He takes them to the last remaining safe place on the planet with the Adami in hot pursuit.
Not only is Samajhdaar contending with the Adami, but he is also contending with a former student, Mercer, who seeks to surpass him. All of them seek out the power once wielded by a young Sorceror, Aiden, whose magical power threatens the very existence of Alorya.
Mercer covets the power, while Samajhdaar seeks to neutralize it. It is a race against time for all those involved and the quest is more dangerous than any of them could imagine.
The Castle Verandawhich Library lay in the center of the gated city and was a subterranean building with a large dome protruding from the clay ground. In the darkness, the glass dome allowed starlight and moonlight to provide some illumination, but it mostly served as a home for an astronomy lab and giant telescope. Candles adorned the catacomb walls as alcoves provided resting places for ancient magical books. The hallways spiraled downward and soon candles were the only source of light. Most libraries were lit up to allow their books to be read in quiet, comfortable areas scattered throughout the floors. Castle Verandawhich Library actually discouraged readers and provided no place for the casual reader. The books were magically locked into their respective corridors so they could not be taken very far. Farther down the spiraling hallway, where the air got colder and colder, voices raised in anger could be heard. The fate of an entire planet was being argued while a lone student, forbidden from traveling this far into the library, realized she had gotten herself into more trouble than she could manage.
In the distance, she could see the two men arguing. She snuck down the corridor quietly and kept herself towards the shadows so no one would see her, tiptoeing in her black sari and slippers. Standing in her way were two men, one of whom she knew to be the Grand Master of the magical race called the Jaadugar, and the school headmaster. The other, she did not recognize. He was a tall, thin man with dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. Wearing dark military fatigues with a yellow dragon emblem on his shoulder, she knew he was a part of the enemy’s military. Was he a spy or was the school headmaster discussing surrender? She quietly threw herself against the wall and pressed herself into the shadow, being as silent as possible. She cursed to herself for how loudly she was breathing. It was ironic; she thought that people were always loudest when they were trying to hide. The men paid her no attention though. They were arguing; the military man seemed to be on the verge of violence. Samajhdaar, the Grand Master, was a small, bald man who looked like he could use a few more meals. The war had been hard on him, and ten years had shown on his face like fifty years of stress. Both men were completely devoted to their own points of view, and it showed in the way they moved their hands and arms threateningly to express whatever point they were making at the time.
Suddenly, a purple mist began to cloud her vision. She thought one of the two men was conjuring a spell, but neither bore an enchanted item. She knew Samajhdaar carried a gnarled staff, so it must be the other man with some sort of enchanted item hidden from her sight. She pulled herself up against the wall holding her breath, so as not to be heard or seen, but she could hear the two men had stopped arguing. They were coming her way. She heard their feet stomp across the floor like a scorpanoid snapping its claws when it feels threatened. They were coming around the corner towards where she had hidden herself until a blinding flash of purple light stunned her. Darkness was soon replaced by white light. Silence ebbed and gave way to voices she easily recognized. She awoke to find herself at the entrance to her dormitory building. Confused students and faculty encircled her, looking both concerned and bewildered.
“Is she alright?”
“I don’t know, she just fell,” she heard somebody say.
Scarlett realized she’d had another vision.
It was her gift. Of course, as a witch she had the basic talents any other witch had, but every so often, five per year maybe, some would show signs of a special gift. Hers was the gift of foresight. As a little girl, she was sometimes able to tell her parents when company was arriving. Subtle visions she could not explain would soon become reality. At times like this, though, the visions would consume her, causing her to faint.
Scarlett was a strikingly beautiful girl who rebelled against her beauty by keeping her raven hair short, spiky, and streaked with purple. She sat up and blew a lock of her hair out of her eyes. She pulled herself up to her feet and dusted herself off as the crowd went back to their bustle. The moments right after major visions like she just had made it difficult for her to concentrate on anything beyond what she had experienced. Her vision was hazy; her hearing was distant and echoed.
Castle Verandawhich, the capital of Eldeese, was under siege, and the Jaadugar were gathering all their belongings and heading to the auditorium where the professors would use a teleportation spell to get the students and any other refugees to safety.
Over ten years ago, Samajhdaar and the Jaadugar declared war on the newly formed Alliance between the non-magical (Adami) countries. Through superior technology, the Adami won the war but as of yet had not asked for the Jaadugar’s surrender. The United Liberation Organization, another name for the Alliance, was trying to eliminate the threat of the Jaadugar permanently. The Adami had, until now, been the victims of brutal campaigns since history was recorded. The barbarian races of dwarves and giant men called Haun, from Bragar, started and lost two world wars, and the Adami and Jaadugar saw to it that their numbers were permanently dwindled. Four times, sorcerers led the Jaadugar in world conquest, and the Adami had to ally themselves with the maverick Jaadugar and the Haun to prevail. This war began with the death of a Jaadugar boy who would have become a powerful sorcerer. Adami soldiers killed the boy and his father in a training exercise. Samajhdaar declared war on the all the Adami countries in the ULO for this act of butchery. In the past, the Adami had no chance against the Jaadugar. This reality was the real reason the ULO was created. All of its resources were put towards creating an army able to resist the magical might of the Jaadugar. The training exercise was a mistake and the ULO sincerely regretted the incident, but the tragic incident showed how successful the program was since reports of the innovative chemical-based warfare had many Jaadugar on edge. The war was long and bloody, but the Adami were the clear victors. Though, rather than asking for surrender, the Adami were about to wipe the Jaadugar from the planet of Alorya.
If all went as planned, the refugee Jaadugar would hijack an Alliance ship and flee to the northernmost continent of Bragar. At the northeast corner of Bragar was the mouth of a river, near which a city called Ironbranderlings City would be their last hope for refuge. Ironbranderlings City was far enough north to be out of Alliance territory, but close enough to resources so the Jaadugar could survive and perhaps rebuild.
Scarlett had been on her way to her dorm when the vision had all but knocked her out. She was slowly heading up the stairs to her floor trying to remember what she saw. She remembered the purple light, and it occurred to her that she saw two men fighting. The rest was lost to her. She was still too young to control her power. Jaadugar, unlike Adami, did not reach adulthood until sometime in their thirties. Their bodies were fully developed along the same schedule as any of the other races, but the ability to control the magic did not come until their minds could handle the repercussions.
It dawned on her suddenly. They were in the library, those two men. They must have been talking about the escape and arguing about who knew what. Relieved, she continued to walk, slowly, to her room. Something was not right, though. We can’t fight each other, she thought to herself. She remembered the two men arguing were both Jaadugar and that irked her more than anything. Samajhdaar, the Grand Master, his word had to be final, right? She had no idea who the other Jaadugar was, but she felt he was near to striking Samajhdaar. She had to go stop them from fighting and get them to focus on the true enemy.
“Hey Scarlett, are you coming?” A male voice came from the top of the staircase. “Wake up Scarlett, you’re sleep walking again.”
Jayson was a short, stocky student from the eighth year. She was only a fifth year and like most of the other girls, the older students were so much more attractive than those in her own year.
Training begins when a Jaadugar reaches twenty and generally falls into two categories: witch and wizard. They both fall under the Jaadugar umbrella but are different in a few ways. A wizard has the ability to speak the language of the Creator of Alorya. The strength of a wizard comes when he or she has enchanted a magical item such as a staff, a ring, an amulet, a fine jewel or other such devices. The magic is a source of life for a wizard and casting spells drains that life. When casting a spell with a magical item, however, the magic is drained from the enchanted item instead of the wizard. Powers differ among wizards based on how long they are able to enchant their magical items. The enchantment can only be achieved by either a young wizard in his or her thirties with fresh magical energy or a very powerful wizard who took years to master the craft.
Witches are not naturally magical people. They cannot speak the language of the Creator, but that does not mean they do not pick up a few words over the course of time. Often, they understand the language of the Creator better than the wizards — its true meaning, anyway. With their ability to understand magic best, they’re able to improvise sheer magical force with wisdom. It is not uncommon to find witches, who have the ability to conjure demons, conquer minds, see the future, speak to animals and possess some abilities not yet discovered. Throughout the history of Alorya, wizards were the conquerors and the despots. A rare event, indeed, a Jaadugar would be born with the power to usurp the mantle of the Jaadugar and lead them on a conquest against the coveted Adami. Witches though, have been behind the scenes in powerful governments all over Alorya. The great countries of technology, Vialta and Fiera, as well as the ancient kingdom of the Haun, Bragar, had all been influenced or manipulated by witches at some point.
Castle Verandawhich was a huge sprawling castle, as big as some of Alorya’s largest cities. Scarlett was running, with Jayson in tow, towards the University Library. As they bounded up the stairs, he caught hold of her arm and turned her around to face him.
“Where are you going?” he asked, gasping for breath.
“I think I had a vision, Jayson,” she said with her other hand already on the door handle. “I think I’m discovering what my gift is and I just want to make sure. If what I saw is true, then the Grand Master of the Jaadugar is down here and when he finds out how I knew he was here, I just know I’ll make it to the next level of Wicca.”
“If you’re right—”
“Come on, even if I’m wrong, it won’t make any difference. They have to transport thousands, and it’s only after lunchtime.”
“If you’re right and he sees me, I’m toast.” He turned to head back to the dorms. “I’ll see you tonight at the auditorium.”
Samajhdaar was really starting to feel every bit over one hundred fifty years old. The braggart wizard in front of him was an Adami only a decade ago, and now he was already trying to usurp him. Mercer was the head of Mercer, Edge & Lynch Pharmaceuticals, and they designed cybernetic implants. He was the first successful cyborg since his company and the Alliance collaborated on the International Cyborg Project. Samajhdaar was against it from the very beginning but used its political impact to bring forth the Jaadugar “Fair Play Act” which basically absolved the Jaadugar from all debt of previous wars, tax on international trade goods transported via magic, and best of all, gave any member of the Jaadugar an open passport to all countries. Detractors were completely against the JFPA until Mercer came in and took over the planning and initiation of those laws. Adami saw him as one of their own and because he donated all monetary profits from the project to the military, he was asked to take charge of a high ranking military branch of the Alliance. The Adami tended to be at ease with whatever projects he endorsed. Sam knew that Mercer had always dreamed of being a Jaadugar, even though his heart will always be aligned with the Adami. Despite this, he humored Mercer and let him take over as spokesman for the Jaadugar and allowed himself to take more of a behind-the-scenes role in the world of Alorya.
When Samajhdaar first took Mercer to be his apprentice twelve years ago, he was surprised at how quickly he was able to pick up the language of the Creator. By then, Mercer was in his forties and had chosen to enchant a sword he claimed to have found in Bragar. Mercer shocked the Jaadugar community when news came that he was able to enchant at a constant rate for longer than anyone in the history of the Jaadugar. The longer an item is enchanted, the more power is stored in that item. Therefore, a Jaadugar will need less power to cast a spell. This is beneficial since it helps with a wizard’s willpower endurance. Mercer seemed to avoid all questions as to where the sword came from and became quite belligerent if he was asked repeatedly.
Before today, the last Samajhdaar had seen of Mercer was when he was in Bragar, deep within the mountain, Thelautlas. They had journeyed together on a mission to dispel rumors of a sorcerer living among them. Rumors of an old Witch of Bragar having the Sight had reached Sam years ago. This was not the first time Samajhdaar hunted down clues on the appearance of the next sorcerer. He brought along his apprentice for one single reason. Sam viewed Mercer as a bridge between the Adami and the Jaadugar. Sam needed this ambassador to the Adami world to understand that it was the sorcerer and not the Jaadugar that should be feared. Sam had taken every rumor of a prophecy that related to the sorcerer very seriously but had never seen evidence to support further investigation. The rumor turned out to be truer than he had expected. The old witch had a prophetic episode right in front of him, in which a purple mist shot from her eyes and displayed the prophecy. With Sam alone with the witch, Mercer snuck up on his master to try to view the prophecy as well, but only a more experienced Jaadugar would have known that a prophecy can only have one viewer. This was by far the most important prophecy Sam would ever see, but as it was only half a prophecy, it was not something he could wholly comprehend. The difference between the two men was that while Sam would not act on half a prophecy, Mercer would confidently fill in what the prophecy did not say with whatever he wanted to believe. Neither man truly trusted the other, so they never collaborated and never understood what the other had seen emanating from the witch that day. As they found themselves in Castle Verandawhich, under siege from the Adami army, Sam wondered if letting Mercer go that day to hunt the sorcerer on his own was worth all of this. Should he have gone with him, he wondered.
“Oh, c’mon Sam, you wanted him dead too,” Mercer said, clearly annoyed.
“You never told me it was you, though,” Sam said calmly. “I thought the Alliance military killed two Jaadugar. We declared war.”
Mercer was playing both sides of the war, and soon he would lead the Jaadugar. But for now, he needed to be on the same side as Sam. Lying came very easily to Mercer, and he used it on anyone and everyone to get what he wanted.
“Well, it was me, doing exactly what I said I was going to do,” Mercer said smoothly. “The sorcerer’s power was nearly at its peak, I barely escaped with my own life. I need to see those books now, Sam.”
“Ah, yes. The books concerning the Great Tree. You know those are restricted from anyone not in the senior level of the order. Tell me why you want to see them, and I’ll tell you what I know of the Great Tree.”
“I killed the sorcerer! I should be a senior member of the—”
Mercer pounded his fist against the wall in a dramatic show of rage, but everything was going as well as he hoped. Idealistic old fool, he thought to himself.
“When I killed the sorcerer, in his place grew a great flaming tree. I want to know what this means,” Mercer explained.
His half of the prophecy showed that he was intrinsic in its coming to be. It told him that it was only he who could kill the sorcerer and unlock its immense power. Should he say a certain spell that would call the Tree to do his bidding? Was it his new source of power? He didn’t feel any stronger. It feels weird to be a Jaadugar, he thought to himself. It was like his whole life had been seeing the world from the perspective of someone who believed, whereas now he was someone who knew.
“The Great Tree is an ominous sign, but it might not mean much at all,” Sam said, returning with a scroll as this as his arm. “Tell me exactly what happened.”
Mercer let out his ponytail, scratched his head violently, and let out a long sigh. His eyes were generally dark, but over the last ten years, age had crept into the lines on his face and gave him a hardened look. His wrinkles took on the shape of laugh lines around his mouth and worry lines around his eyes.
Sam listened intently as Mercer told the story of the wizard and the sorcerer, and how they nearly wiped out the Alliance’s most elite unit. Sam weighed the words of Mercer very carefully, as he may exaggerate details for the sake of his own agenda. The Jaun Dragons were the first anti-magic unit armed with devices to blind magic users to their presence. Their armor was resistant to some spells and could reflect magical attacks back on the attacker. They were no match for a real wizard and a sorcerer, though. What Mercer had left out, Sam knew, was that one of those two Jaadugar was a twelve-year-old boy. Whether he was the wizard or the sorcerer, neither one was telling.
“So the Tree wiped out the rest of the Jaun Dragons?” Sam asked.
“Mostly,” replied Mercer. “It doesn’t matter really. What now?”
Sam was silently perusing the scroll. Mercer just saw an empty page, but he knew magical barriers prevented anyone from reading it besides a member of the senior level of the order. Mercer also knew his view of the prophecy was only partial. Both he and Sam witnessed the prophecy, and each had only seen and heard half of the message. Together, they could solve the riddle, but neither Mercer nor Sam would ever share his half with the other. Neither trusted the other with the power of the sorcerer. Sam knew this and kept it to himself.
“It is basically saying that the sorcerer is not dead. There is something left he wants to do,” Sam read.
“What?” Mercer was exasperated. “Sam, give me access and let me read this. Maybe something it says will jog my memory.”
“I’ve more than earned it,” Mercer suggested. Silently, Mercer reached the peak of his frustration. He was a billionaire who had recently gained the ability to wield magic. Not used to rejection, Mercer struggled to keep his composure.
Suddenly, a brilliant flash of purple lit up the hall. Both of them were stunned and started walking towards its source. Mercer noticed that Sam somehow summoned his staff; or more like it, he conjured it.
It was a young girl. Mercer noticed how petite she was and so unlike any other witch he’d seen. She wasn’t just beautiful; she had a look of controlled mayhem. Her hair was short, and it made her eyes appear bigger than normal. She had a wild look in her eyes and was surrounded in a purple mist. The young girl crackled with energy.
Suddenly, Mercer saw a vision of himself. That vision was quickly followed by a hand plucking a flaming branch from a tree. A supernova of images exploded in his mind, and he noticed Samajhdaar looking at him curiously. Suddenly, the words “sorcerer’s power” crept into his mind. By this time, Sam was on the floor unconscious, and the girl was still standing there with her face contorted in horror. Soon Mercer passed out, the sound of his face smacking the black marble floor like a piece of meat. His last conscious vision was of the girl falling to her knees.
Copyright© Jon Teetsell. All rights reserved.