Three: Year 589 AP

A usual magus contention.

Marz sighed over the long list of histories that lay in front of her. The pages were yellowed with age and the ink written on them only held sway from the magical auras cast on them. She could tell from the small sparkles that emitted now and then, distracting her. These long histories drained her of the fiery passion she possessed during the mage's training and sparring sessions. Perhaps that's why they beleaguered her here, so deep within the Guild's library. The lower levels of the Guild's libraries looked to be carved from stone and were lit with magically fueled blue torches. A green marble covered the ground infused with jagged veins of pale coloration. Tables were made of an old wood that carried a musty smell, as did the volumes upon volumes of literature.

With another hesitant breath she read on. Several hundred years ago there lived the greatest mage of history: Casirthane the Seraja of the lands beyond Lodus. The story retold the tale of the great clans wars that spread flames across the land and how the conflagrations threatened to send man to his extinction. The army's banners flew however and their fires choked sky and forest as they fueled the hatred that spilled blood onto the land. Only more bloodshed could stave off the desolation and Casirthane, along with Kagu of the Slavelands, bound together the King's men and the many diverse mage lords of the countries Guilds. Together they pulled taught the reigns of chaos into order. The people of the land loved Casirthane and a great jealously grew within the King of the land.

Twin oak doors, several men tall, creaked open to reveal Kar'mir in his white robes as his quiet steps brought him to Marz.

"Taer'phion sent me to fetch you." He said at great length. Marz looked from her book with another sigh.

"He could've sent me a summons rather than you." Kar nodded, his pale braid jostling with the effort, "Though sending an apprentice like myself gives him more station I believe." They exchanged knowing looks before Marz rose to her feet, jet and crimson robes flowing as she closed the massive tome in front of her.

Allroy was called the 'city of light' as it housed the Knights of Allroy, the defenders who had, on more than one occasion, held back enemy forces from this very city. Though some believed it was due to the massive tower erected in the Northern section of the city. The one who's white plateau reached nearly five miles across and whose inner recesses held the High Mages and their many students. Six towers rose from the dais of the tower to house the Masters and signify the six rays of the ancient crystal of the Gods. Taer'phion vied for the prestige of such a high position, apparently, by being a strict and viably cold teacher whose eccentric lessons confused many students.

"That's why water elementals can never defeat wind elements." He explained to a cadre of students who narrowed their brows in dismay. Kar'mir and Marz took seats on the hard ground with the rest of the dozen or so students as Taer'phion stood in his black Master's robe and continued his next lesson.

"Moving on. Magic is the force that flows through everything. Even peasants who cannot feel its touch are affected by the ebbs and flows of our swirling earth. This is the force we as mages manipulate for our effects over the world and its processes." He paced back and forth, the front and back of his robe swaying with his feet. He was a tall man with sharp features, dark eyes and graying hair that shot back nearly to a point. Taer'phion was once as another, it was said, though granted his new name from a King who awarded him greater power. Aging, his temper flared frequently as patience withered away. "Thus the stronger mage you battle, the more he may be susceptible to control if you are a cunning user of our Lady's forces. Allow me to elaborate, would anyone care to demonstrate this concept with me?" He asked in even and haughty intonations. This Master had been considered for High Mastery for many years and wielded a strong will in regards to magical forces, so many students were hesitant when the chance for an exhibition arose.

"Marz." He chose quickly and deliberately. The lady's dark eyes shot full of fire and she stood aside of the students. She was easy to anger and her heated nature allowed a simple chance for humiliation as had happened many times.

"Watch what happens when we spar this time. I will use our apprentice's magic against her as a subject of will." Master said to students. Kar'mir stood as well and with a quick pass and two, snapped his fingers. A sound like that of an ghostly echo of a water drop emitted from his fingertips and magic exploded from both combatants. Fiery orange and red hair flared behind her as her hands flew in arcane passes. Taer'phion waited for a moment and merely flicked his wrist. A sphere of lightning blinked into existence and with an ivory nucleus, flew to its target as she finished her spell. Marz pressed her fingertips together, forming a pyramid, and in jutting them forward created an angled shield of a glassy nature. It split the sphere in two dissipating its energies in a crackle of electricity. Unfinished with her work, she danced forward gripping the hilt of an imagined weapon and violently thrust it forward. The shield melted, became a sword and flew whirling toward their teacher.

Mouths fell agape at the display of spell construction, manipulating a spell towards two effects had only been recently covered in their studies. But Marz, an apprentice just like the collection of them, had seemed to have already mastered the concept. With a flick of his wrist, the volatile weapon shattered with the sound of destructed glass.

"A sad display of your talents Marz." The Master spoke as his robes suddenly glistened and his form seemed to flicker to a vaporous image for a quick second. Only Kar'mir noticed and gasped as he did so. Marz's auburn and brown eyes were suddenly injected with heightened color as magic flared through her arms, creating a buzzing sensation. There was no need for passes with this spell, the one she had cast on her village. Throwing her soft hand forward, the air wildly distorted in a cone in front of her. Several feet onward, brutal flames burst into existence. The heat was so intense that many of the students fled the scene as the very oxygen was torn from a great area around the woman. Kar'mir was the only one to stay as his minor barrier held back the heat.

Flames tore through Taer'phion's frame and the small stars of light faded with the illusory form. Her eyes widened as the Master's voice whispered something next to her. With a sound, like that of faraway ice cracking and suddenly moving closer, she was encased in a pearl colored sphere. Weightless, the Master held up the prize above his head.

"As you can see students, manipulating the fundamentals of magic against your opponent is vital to your success, and truly, your survival within the politics of magic." The students returned but many now cast their own protective charms as Kar'mir had. "The lesson is over for today!" he exclaimed, tossing the sphere away from himself and the students. It rolled over and over before blinking out, leaving a rolling Marz coming to an awkward, and sliding, halt.

As the students and Master dispersed, Kar'mir approached a trampled Marz. A hand on her forehead.

"Shut up." Kar'mir's steps faltered and he held a taken breath.

"What did you say?" Marz' reply was harsh,

"Whatever pearl of wisdom you have, I don't want to hear it." He gripped her forearm, hefting her up.

"The greatest pearls were only made after years of careful effort. We're students Marz; you shouldn't challenge the Masters so eagerly when they have knowledge of magic that we couldn't even understand yet." The lady nodded holding her sick stomach. The magic had taken its toll and the spinning had dizzied her greatly.

"I shouldn't have to deal with impatient Masters who flaunt their abilities like that flashy bird Taer'phion." Kar interlocked his hands behind his back.

"Perhaps it would be wise to appease the Masters first and be granted insight before leaving their protection. Though you may not like it, it's warmest under the dragon's wing Marz." Her hands balled into fists and Kar'mir could feel the magic bristling around her. Among all the students, she was by far the strongest and held the most potential. Kar'mir hoped that Taer'phion's treatment of her was in wisdom instead of selfish ambition.

That's when the bells tolled. Six metal constructs atop each High magus' tower rang in unison, interrupting the pair's conversation. Allroy was under attack.

Thanks for reading!