William slammed his fist down on the small table in the library, causing the book he had been reading to jump up into the air. He snarled and slammed the tome shut, shoving it aside to rest with the other books that had provided no answers. He had been unsuccessful in trying to find information about the oath that had been made with the Dragons. He needed to know the contents of the oath, and how the binding magic worked. What was this barrier? What was it made of, how did it function? He needed to know all these things before he could even try to figure out a way to break it. And reading endless books about ancient magics was leading him no closer to the answers.
Much rested on his shoulders and figuring out how to break the barrier was highest on the list from nearly everyone’s perspective. Though personally, he ached to get in touch with his homelands – not just because he yearned to know of the well-being of his family, but because he needed to get word to Sinnerah’s leaders to see if they would stand with them against the Wolves. It was obvious that the Mice would stand against their most hated enemy, but the Bears had a long professional relationship with the Wolves. Much of their trade was dependent on that relationship with Mormant.
Leaning back in his chair in the dimly lit library, he scrubbed is large paws over his face. Beddigan and Ragnon had left only just that morning, and he already missed his friends terribly. Since their departure he had been kept under remarkably close watch. At first he had been surprised that the Felines seemed to think him such a threat, but then he remembered what Beddigan and Ragnon had said about his attitude. He knew he had come off suspicious, and probably threatening… because that is exactly how he felt. And being left to try and break a great, ancient magic had done little to improve his temperament.
“Awww, there, there my giant, snarly friend! Perhaps I could be of some assistance.” William dropped his paws from his face to see Serina perched on the far side of the little wooden table, her violet robes shimmering in the flickering lamplight. He met her eyes with his own and saw a flickering of laughter in their amber depths. He felt the snarl of anger bubbling up but squelched it.
“You find my struggle amusing? It amuses you that my land and my family may die if I cannot solve this riddle of the oath made with the Dragons?” Serina rolled her eyes and stood, walking around the table to look at the books he had shoved aside.
“Of course not. What I find amusing is that you think your answer could possibly lie in a book that has sat in our libraries for ages.” She idly lifted the cover of a book and then let it slam shut with a puff of dust. “Don’t you think we would have checked these books already?” William made a frustrated sound and stood, his chair squeaking loudly over the uneven stone floor.
“I didn’t know where else to begin, being that I cannot meet with the Arch Mage until tomorrow morning.” He said, moving past the Panther to leave the library. He heard her footsteps following him and let out an annoyed sigh. “Besides, no people are infallible. You lot could have missed something.” Serina’s giggle made his jaw clench as she hurried to match his stride.
“And did we?” she asked. “Miss anything relevant, I mean?” William didn’t dignify that with an response and strode out into the corridor beyond the libraries arching entryway, heading for the nearest courtyard. After hours indoors he needed some fresh air and sunlight.
He was momentarily surprised to realize there were no guards to escort him, as he stepped out onto the sun-bathed white flagstones, heading for a bench that looked out over the city below. But the tap-tap-tap of Serina’s claws against the stone reminded him that he was not alone, and that was probably by design of the Lord Regent.
“So, you have been assigned to be my keeper for the afternoon then?” he asked her mildly, taking a seat on the bench. “Seems a trifle mundane of a task for such a powerful Mage.” Serina stopped short and crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at him.
“I am not your keeper, you silly oaf! I am here to help you.” William arched an eyebrow at her.
“Help me with what exactly? You’ve already shown me how foolishly I wasted my morning.” She made a rude noise and came to settle next to him on the bench.
“Don’t be childish.” She snapped. He winced a bit at the tone, that reminded him so much of his mother, and the mother of his children. The harsh, scolding tone of an angry female. She blew out a sigh and turned to face him, her black as night fur tinged a rippling purple as the sunlight reached it. “I am here to try and help you contact your home; your family.” William’s spine stiffened.
“You can… do that?” he asked, hesitantly, afraid to get his hopes up too high. The Panther sighed again,
“Honestly, I don’t know. We have never been able to send messages through the barrier, at least that we know of. Mind you, we haven’t had a lot of cause to try. After something fails a few times, you just stop trying.” She explained, rubbing her paws together in a curious way that caught William’s eyes. He saw little blue sparks puff up from her paws as she noticed his stare and quickly dropped them to her sides. “Sorry,” she said hastily, “distracted magic can be very dangerous.” William nodded agreeably.
“So tell me then, you have a plan? Some idea for us to try?” Serina nodded slowly in response.
“I think so,” she said softly. “We have a way of sending messages here, mind to mind. Because so few in our land have the power of the Mage, most cities have a Mage dedicated for message relaying to those without Magical ability. Mostly they are concerning governance matters, and announcements from the Lord Regent. But if one has enough coin, they can pay the fee to have the Mage contact the Mage closest to the person they would like to connect with, and pass on the message.” William felt a pang of discomfort at the what seemed as though it could be a basic right was reduced to only the wealthiest, but then his mind turned to what that may look like as a free service with so few Mages available. It would be chaos, impossible to keep up with it. Don’t be so quick to judge, he scolded himself. Then he felt his heart sink a bit as he considered her words and how it would affect his ability to contact his wife, Elenya.
“My wife has no talent of magic.” He said softly. Serina frowned for a moment.
“But magic currents run so much stronger in your lands, she may have some deep down within her. It could be enough for it to work with her, despite her not manifesting any direct skill of sorcery. At least that’s my theory.” The Panther said. William felt his hopes rise up a again.
“Well it can’t hurt to try.” He said with the first genuine smile he had felt the urge for in much time. “And if it doesn’t work with her, Beddigan’s sister in a budding sorceress, and her teacher a master of the craft.” Serina clapped her paws together and beamed, jumping up from her seat on the bench.
“Wonderful!” she said with a dazzling smile. Then she grabbed his paw and wrenched him up from the bench. “Come along then, come, come! To my work room.” And William allowed himself to be drug away by the Mage and through the palace, eager to contact home.
To be continued…
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