CHAPTER 14

Estelle locked the front door with magic.

A faint glow lit their faces before Fayte heard the click of metal behind the wooden door. They turned and leave with lumastone posts lighting the street. He had spent the entire day reading the books his mother gave him. Each one of them were filled with notes and scribblings. Added facts and information obtained from other books. She even pointed out errors such as conflicting accounts of the same events.

Reading her notes felt like hearing her speak again.

Fayte was not one to cry and sob but throughout the day his eyes never became dry. With Zywedior put to the sword and his house razed to the ground, this letter had easily become one of his most prized possessions now. There were other items of course given to him by his mother. A leather bag, a waterskin, some whetstones which he kept and did not use, a set of writing instruments, and of course books. Basically everything that he had on him the day he left Zywedior with the knights to travel to Rondiar. But this letter was different. This letter held words written by his mother.

"You shouldn't hurry to finish them," Estelle said, looking at the book he was reading.

In truth Fayte was a fast reader but yes, on this occasion he was in a hurry to finish all of them. To read the notes that his mother had made when she read these very same books herself. He had not felt so close to her ever since he left Zywedior that day.

The streets were quiet and cast in blue by the light of the lumastones. It was past midnight and most were in their beds resting for the morrow. It would be the same in Rondiar though there would be night patrols making their rounds. Fayte wondered if they might run into one of such patrols here. He was curious to see those elementals up close and speak with the mages.

"Strange," Estelle said, her steps slowing. "It is very quiet."

Fayte looked up while he turned a page. "Not unusual at this hour I would say."

The lumastones around them began to dim.

"Do the stones go out at a certain time?"

Estelle nodded. She summoned an earth glyph in both her hands, dispelling the darkness with auburn light.

"At dawn."

Three streaming firebolts came at them. Fayte hugged the book and spun around to protect it. He felt the rumble of earth and heard a wall erupting behind him. The firebolts clashed against the wall of dirt before Estelle allowed it to crumble.

"Start screaming," Estelle said.

"What-"

"HELP! SOMEONE HELP US! HELP!"

A fire glyph appeared beneath their feet. They dove aside, Fayte unslinging his backpack, before a column of fire erupted from the ground. He tossed his bag and the book onto the upper balcony of a building before he drew his--

--an explosion knocked him away.

Scalding rocks seared through his tunic and into his skin. He screamed as he scratched at his face, tearing away the bits of burning dirt from his cheek and temple.

"KEEP MOVING!" Estelle yelled. "SOMEONE HELP!"

Fayte picked up his sword and unslung his shield while Estelle threw up another wall of dirt. The same trick did not work twice. This time a glyph appeared over their heads and showered firebolts on her. Thankfully she was quick, bending the wall of dirt over to shield herself. He could hear her scream as the embers of the firebolt burned her legs but Estelle was fine. He tried to look ahead but the lumastones had gone out and he couldn't see anyone.

"How many are there?" he said, running over to her where they kept their backs to each other. "Where are they attacking from?"

"Just one but I can't tell from where! SOMEBODY-"

"If someone was going to come then they would have heard you already." Fayte was scanning their surroundings, buildings on both sides with the street extending both ways in darkness.

Ambush. Patrols, diverted. Inside job. Enemy, single fire mage.

The ground lit up with a fire glyph again.

Fayte began to recall what his father had taught him.

"To cast a spell a mage must have visibility of the target or location," his father told him many years ago over lunch one day.

"Get out of here!" he said.

They dove away but the glyph did not activate. Instead a firebolt came straight at him. Estelle intercepted it with another wall of dirt but this time the firebolt took apart the wall. Burning rocks came spilling onto him. Fayte was prepared this time around with his shield held up while he yelled at Estelle.

"RUN!"

The burning dirt lighted her face and through her eyes Fayte knew that she understood him. He was telling her to run not so to protect her and play the hero. He told her to run for he had a plan. Estelle took off up the street.

This mage is after me. He was quite sure since the last firebolt came straight for him. This mage is going to give me some answers.

Two glyphs appeared in the distance as he raced down the street in the other direction. Fire glyphs, small and directed at him right before two firebolts appeared. He rolled and shielded himself allowing the explosion to knock him in the direction he wanted - towards the mage. Fayte scrambled to his feet quickly and resumed his charge.

There you are!

A man with his face concealed by his hood. The robe he wore was dark and blended him with the night but his fire glyphs gave him away and Sera was glaring at him with moonlight. Fayte loosened the straps on his shield as he closed in on the mage.

"You see the problem with fighting mages," his father said, setting down his fork and knife as he got deeper into the subject, "is that they are very powerful from a distance. But when you get close to them, by the light, they become even more powerful!"

The mage wore victory on his lips as he held up a hand and summoned a fire glyph. Fayte was only a few yards away and at this range he could not miss. The mage launched his firebolt.

And Fayte tossed his shield at it.

"Our shields are useless against mages and their elemental bolts, especially firebolts," said his father, stabbing the yolk of the egg with his knife. "Without the Light of the Spirits reinforcing our shields, a collision with a firebolt will result in a blast of smoke and burning metal shards."

The ensuing blast lighted up the street but threw a cloud of dark smoke in the air. His skin reddened from the heated air but Fayte was otherwise unharmed. He scurried along the side of the street and emerged beside the mage, catching the spellcaster off guard who was pelted with shards of metal. Fayte was too fast. He spun and slashed the mage across the back of his knee before he knocked the man out with the flat of his sword.

The lumastones began to light up again as the flames died down. He breathed hard to catch his breath, looking at what remained of his shield scattered across the street. Shards of steel had pierced into the wooden walls of the buildings around them.

"I hate magic- argh!" He winced hard when he tried to move his left arm.

It felt like he was being lashed with a rope across his back. Slowly he turned his neck and saw a large piece of metal embedded into his shoulder blade. Blood was flowing freely.

"Are you hurt?" Estelle called.

"A small wound," he said, turning to look at Estelle.

She was pulling two men over by their arms. Both of them unconscious.

"Another fire mage and a mercenary with a sword." She dropped them both, sweat dripping off her forehead. "Not bad. You managed to defeat a mage."

An ice elemental was the first to arrive. The falcon perched itself on top of a roof and shortly after a wizard came running down the street with a sorceress and her flaming lion. Soon the street was alive with members from the Order of the Elements as well as curious folks who heard the commotion. Fayte and Estelle sat on the side of the street close to the bodies. A priestess tended to Fayte's wound while he held on to his mother’s books.

"That man is the High Wizard of Iredis Watch," she said, pointing out a wizard in an elaborate robe of smoky grey, with inscriptions glowing on his robes. "Master Skion of the noble Lendex family."

A Captain of the City Watch in other words. Though Fayte had a feeling that this High Wizard was much stronger than Captain Teynier or even Captain Resfield.

The sound of a knight's armour clinking prompted the High Wizard to wave his hand behind him dismissively.

"The Order of the Elements will take charge from here-" Master Skion glanced behind him and met eyes with the Whiteguard. "Sir Percson. Excuse me, I was expecting a knight from The Flaming Sword."

"A knight would have been stopped by your mages keeping the citizens at bay," he said, smiling as always. "The Grace of Hylan is concerned and has sent me to offer assistance on behalf of the royal family."

"Her Grace is most kind, Sir Percson, but as you can see we have everything under control here."

"Two of your Order has made an attempt on the life of the Lord-Knight's son," Sir Percson smiled as he spoke though his words spoke differently of his mood. "I understand the politics of your city, High Wizard, but believe me when I say that now is not the time. How can I be of assistance to you?"

Master Skion was not pleased but only at first. His expression softened and he stepped aside to show Sir Percson the prisoners. Fayte squinted thinking his vision was blurred but Estelle's outburst confirmed what he say.

"We took them alive!" she said.

Sir Percson looked at her and glanced at Fayte. All three men were bleeding from their eyes and noses.

"If you would like to assist us, Sir Percson," said Master Skion, "we could use some help contacting the Underlord."