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A Tale of Two Realities: Theurgy Calls, Part 2
As Mother and Father’s quest for lost treasure stretched into months, I knew that something was wrong. It wasn’t like them to be away this long. Were they captured by pirates, or crashed on an island somewhere in the Spiral?
About five weeks into their voyage, I discovered something that would make them proud: as many peope had suspected, I, too, possessed magic. I was trying to help my hosts by planting some moonflowers imported from another realm, and most likely wouldn’t have succeeded without it. I took one look at the wilting flowers and thought, They’re so pretty. Wouldn’t it be sad if they died?
Then, something quite literally magical happened: they shivered and began to recover before my eyes! The stems straightened, stretching the pale white petals to the sky. The leaves stretched outwards to catch the sun, and turned a vibrant green. I could only stare in fascination as they returned to life. I heard a hiss behind me, and turned. Hetch Al’Dim, one of my hosts, had apparently come up behind me, perhaps to see how I was doing.
“Ah, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised,” the orange lizard confessed, “but I have never seen Wild Magic before! What is it called again?” he asked shyly.
“Life Magic,” I said softly, still looking at the flowers. I slowly smiled. It had been more likely that I would be a Diviner, a Storm Wizard like my mother, but I had never truly cared for any school, or even to become a student of Wizardry at all. Now, though, I knew my destiny: to become a Theurgist.
Then, the Kroks awoke. I caught my first glimpse of a Krok from a window in the inn. I noticed something like a crocodile walking on two legs come out of the pyramid dominating the landscape, followed by another, and another, all holding curved blades. Wails began to rise from the Oasis. Manders scattered, running for shelter. I ventured outside to see what was happening, just in time to learn all I wished to know of them.
“We are the Kroks!” the first one to come out shouted. “We are the rulers of Krokotopia, and all who oppose us will meet with death! Come out, anyone who wishes to die here!” I never knew whether someone stepped forward, as someone whisked me back inside. It was there I remained for several days following the retaking of Krokotopia by the Kroks, until the last one retreated underground, and the Oasis was safe for non-natives to walk in. It was a miracle that I was undiscovered, as the Kroks searched every building for a threat to their newly established rule. It was a great relief to sleep on a mattress, as the floor in the closet was made of sandstone.
The circumstances in which I escaped were also nigh miraculous. I was working as a waitress when a wizard walked in. It would be impossible to mistake him otherwise. He was dressed in long green robes which nearly reached the floor. His boots were slightly obscured, though I could see that they were a sturdy kind, the kind that would not wear easily. He had pale skin and blue eyes that drooped slightly, causing him to look slightly tired. His brown hair fell to his shoulders, and his beard to his chest. He held a staff in one hand, and wore a tall, pointed hat with a wide brim, perhaps to protect his eyes. An amulet glinted around his neck.
“Do you happen to have a room?” he inquired. The purple Mander nodded eagerly. “Yes, yes!” he said excitedly. “There is one on the third floor, at the end of the hall.”
“Thank you,” the wizard said, and walked toward the stairs. I focused on my work as he walked past, knowing that to stare would be impolite. I could feel his eyes upon my back. Could he tell I had magic, somehow? I felt a small amount of fear as he walked upstairs. I repressed the feeling, as I knew it was irrational and uncalled for. All sense said otherwise. It was only a coincidence that I had been there at that moment.
I was wrong and right in my thoughts. As I walked to my room after work, I saw the wizard standing in the hall.
“I am Allan Hornblade. I saw you in the hall when I asked for a room,” he mentioned. “I knew there was something strange about you. Something . . . magical. Why else would moonflowers be flourishing outside of my window? Am I correct?” Although his words were confrontational, his face did not show any negative emotions. Only mild interest, and a little curiosity. I knew that if he were able to tell I had a gift, he could be able to read my mind as well. I had heard of new magic being found on distant worlds. Perhaps there were spells that allowed wizards to see into one’s soul! Common sense immediately dismissed the very idea, but I knew little of magic outside the School of Storm at the time. When these thoughts faded, only one remained: I had to tell him the truth.
“Yes,” I replied nervously.
“What can you do?” Again, no trace of anything save curiosity.
“I – I can make things grow,” I said. Why was I scared?
“I had a feeling. When one is powerful enough, one can eventually sense the presence of magic nearby. I suspected you were the source. The innkeeper has told me of you. I am a Diviner myself, so I searched for your parents. I could not see them. I am sorry to say so,” he told me gently. Tears blurred my vision. We will be back before you know it, Father had said. How wrong he had been!
“Magic cannot go unattended for long, Miss Innsbrooke. If you wish, I can bring you to Wizard City. The Headmaster is a kind man; I doubt he will not accept you without knowing your parents. I only came to see the situation at hand here, when I leave you may come with me. I won’t force you.
“I leave in three days,” he finished, and walked away. I watched him walk away. My eyes widened. He had offered me a chance to become a Wizard! A storm of emotions overtook me. I was torn between loyalty to the Manders and a wish to see Wizard City. The Manders would not keep me if I chose to leave . . .
Three days, I told myself silently. You have three days to decide.
On the second day, I approached Alim Aha’b, the innkeeper. “I would like to leave with the wizard,” I said. Silence. Then, a smile broke across his face. “I was hoping you would do so,” he told me. “You were never destined to stay here at Krokotopia, I always knew it. Good luck, Emmaline.” I felt as if a weight had lifted from my shoulders. I wanted to thank them as much as I could, but it would only lead to an awkward situation. As such, I only said my goodbyes and embraced my friends before walking onto Allan Hornblade’s ship. At once I felt somehow at home, and I realized how much I had missed the vastness of the Spiral. I smiled despite myself. Until then, I had not noticed the pall that hung over me. I was free of something, something which I did not figure out for years: I feared for my hosts, even though the Kroks didn’t return to the surface while I was there. If I had been discovered, who knew what would have happened? Now, everyone I cared for was safer.
After a day of traveling, I found myself in Wizard City. Unlike Krokotopia, green abounded. Grass grew everywhere, even through the cracks in the stone streets. Bartleby the Grandfather Tree grew at the highest point of the realm, in the center of Ravenwood. In Ravenwood were the Schools of Magic – Storm, my mother’s school, Ice, Fire, Death, Life, and Myth. There was only a gaping chasm where the Death School had been; the former teacher of Death Magic, Malistaire, had ripped it from Ravenwood, and it’s fate was unknown. As my guardian predicted, the wizened Headmaster Merle Ambrose did not refuse me. I learned later that he personally taught new wizards about magic, and how it worked. I was given apprentice’s robes and disposed of my last name, taking a wizard name instead. Now, I would be called Emmaline Starsong by those I met.
I gained firsthand experience before I even reached orientation. I was told to meet Merle Ambrose and his owl, Gamma, in Golem Court, adjacent to the Commons. I walked through the Commons listening to the chirping of birds, awash in sunlight, but not the heavy, burning light of Krokotopia, but a softer kind that lifted my spirits. I even smiled a little as I walked throught the tunnel that lead to Golem Court. As he had said, the Headmaster was there, in front of the tower that dominated the court.
“Well, if it isn’t our newest student!” he exclaimed. He wore a blue robe with stars and moons on it, and his hat matched. His staff had a gold curl on the end, inside which was a blue ball of magical energy. The white owl Gamma had a purple hat on and a collar that matched that of Ambrose’s robes and hat, but his hat was a flat square on top, and a tassel hung from the middle. Amusingly, it wore glasses.
“My owl, Gamma, would like to talk to you. Talk to him and follow his instructions,” the Headmaster told me. I walked up to the stand which the owl was perched on.
“Hellooo! My name is Gamma the Owl, and I am quite pleased to meat yooou!” he hooted. Then, Gamma began the lecture. “Wizards test their skills by summoning fantastic creatures and dueling! To become a Master Wizard, you must learn every spell in your class! Wizards love to duel! The more spells you learn, the better a duelist you will become.”
Suddenly, the ground shook, and thunderclouds darkened the sky. Lightning flashed and thunder followed. What was going on? At the top of Golem Tower, a tall shadow glided past the window.
“Whoooo?!?” Gamma wondered. Although his face was feathered, his yellow eyes told of the owl’s surprise.
“How odd!” Headmaster Ambrose remarked. “Come along, young Wizard. Lets investigate the matter! Meet me in the tower!” he instructed, and walked inside.
“Yooou’d best follow the headmaster. Yooou’re safe with him!” Gamma advised. “To the tower!” I did as I was told, as I had no experience in dueling.
Inside, a pale-faced man stood in the center of the room. He had beady black eyes, and his dark hair hung flat behind him. He looked slightly gaunt, and held a frown that seemed permanent. I could feel the darkness radiating from him. Beyond the strange wizard I saw two dragon-like creatures, which I later learned were Draconians.
“Who’s there . . .?” Headmaster Ambrose began, then seemed to recognize the wizard. “Malistaire!” Malistaire just sneered at the head of Ravenwood.
“You are no longer welcome here! Why have you returned?” Headmaster Ambrose demanded.
“I’m here to resolve our unfinished business!” the former teacher of Necromancy replied. “Is this your latest student? My henchmen will see to your little friend!”
“Hurry along, young wizard! Take this deck of spell cards and deal with those creatures while I tend to Malistaire himself!” the Headmaster told me, and gave me a small deck. My eyes widened. All trepidation was washed away in a wave of excitement. I would fight my first duel before I was fully enrolled!
“Don’t be so sure of yourself, old man!” Malistaire replied, and motioned them forward, stepping to the side as he did.
“Run up and confront them! Be brave! I will guide you!” the Headmaster assured me. I ran up to them, and the dueling circle appeared. I ran to the first circle and readied myself.
I looked at the first two cards I had drawn. One would summon a Fire Cat, the other a Troll. I chose the Fire Cat, but to my frustration, the two Draconians were given the first turns. One cast an Ice Beetle, and the second called a scorpion out of the air above us. It hurt, but not much. Then, it was my turn. The magical symbol for Fire Magic formed in the air in front of me. As had the scorpion, the Fire Cat dropped from the sky. It shot a stream of fire out of it’s mouth at the first Draconian. It did not deliver much damage, but the Draconian still staggered back, giving me some satisfaction.
The second round commenced. This time, the first Draconian summoned a scorpion, and the second a skeletal pirate. I could not understand what the pirate said at all. As I still had the Troll card, I cast it, this time at the second Draconian. The troll appeared as gold light, solidifying into an ugly green monster wielding a wooden club. With a roar, it threw it’s club at the Draconian, causing greater damage, but not defeating it.
Malistair seemed to think I was faltering due to my inexperience. “Aha!” he laughed. “You doddering fool! Your student is no match for my forces!” he taunted.
“Oh no! You’re in trouble! Quickly, you the Unicorn spell and cast it on yourself. It will heal you,” the Headmaster instructed. After this, the first draconian called up a Storm Shark, but the other did not cast a spell at all, which was a relief for me, as I was not defeated and was able to heal myself. At this, Malistaire was angry.
“Foolish creatures!” he shouted at his minions. “You’ve let the young whelp heal! Defeat the whelp or you’ll suffer for it! Use your spells to weaken the young wizard’s spells!” I was offended at his words, for great reason. I was determined to defeat this evil man’s minions, if only for the satisfaction of victory. What would he think then, if I stopped him?
“Quickly, now! Pick another spell and cast it at one of them!” Ambrose called to me. As I only had one spell in my deck, I cast it. This time, the first draconian passed, but the second cast a spell that would weaken my own. I paid it little notice at the time, and cast my spell. A living tree, a Treant, appeared, and lifted up a boulder to toss at one. The draconian whom it hit was nearly defeated, but stood again. My eyes narrowed. I would defeat these creatures, no matter what! Malistaire did not see it as I did, however.
“At last, you fools earn your keep!” he sighed. “Now finish the child!”
This time, I drew a Balanceblade, which would do the opposite of the ward cast upon me in the previous round. Instead, it would strengthen my next spell. To combat my efforts, the draconians summoned a Phoenix and a Centaur. However, I managed to cast the Balanceblade on myself.
This time, it was the Headmaster who gave me a card. “I’ve got it!” he exclaimed. “Use this Meteor Strike spell! It will strike both of the henchmen!” I understood him. As it would strike both draconians, I would not have to defeat them one at a time. Despite their efforts to defeat me, I still smiled as I cast the spell. Immediately, balls of fire appeared above us, screaming down to explode at their feet. Then, two particularily well-aimed meteors hit both Draconians, defeating both as they did. They fell to their knees and coughed, before falling to the ground and, strangely enough, disappearing into thin air.
“Excellent work, young wizard!” Headmaster Ambrose applauded me. “Now, let me see to Malistaire . . . I’ll show him . . . threatening a new student before orientation, no less!” He was furious, I could see, his face creased behind his long, bushy white beard.
“Another time, old man. I have what I came for,” Malistaire said cryptically. “And now, I’ll take my leave of this wretched place.” The tone of his voice revealed that he truly thought Wizard City so. In a flash of silver light and a cloud of tiny skulls, he disappeared, where to I didn’t know.
Headmaster Ambrose sounded relieved. “He’s gone, and none too soon! What sinister goal brought him here? Hmm . . .” He trailed off, lost in thought for a moment. I stood there for a moment, feeling slightly tired after the duel.
“On the bright side, congradulations! Defeating Malistaire’s henchmen has earned you some experience,” he said, returning from his thoughts. “Now, do you have any questions, young wizard?” he asked.
“No,” I replied. I had learned more than I had expected, and I did not have any questions that could be answered on my own.
“You’ll also need a Spellbook and a Wand. Here you go,” he told me, giving me my own spellbook and a wand that looked very much like a branch with green leaves on it.
“I should say, young wizard, that I was quite impressed with your courage,” Headmaster Ambrose continued. “There is little doubt but that a great destiny awaits you. Who knows? Maybe you will fill my shoes and become headmaster someday. But now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a mountain of duties to attend to right now, including readying your enrollment. So if you don’t mind waiting for a moment or two, I’ll go back to my office and straighten up. I’ll summon you when things are presentable. So many books and papers to tidy up . . . where did I put those forms . . . See you soon!” In a flash of multicolored lights, the Headmaster disappeared, presumably to his office. Secretly, I doubted that I would become a Headmistress, but, as he had said, who knew?
As I grew more powerful, I began to travel to other realms, not just to Krokotopia or my native Marleybone, but to realms filled with stranger creatures and more exotic surroundings. I chose Thaumaturgy, Ice magic, as my secondary school, and later learned the Astral Magics, Moon, Sun and Star, and became a student of Shadow Magic as well, a magic that dealt with the underlying threads of reality. I freed the Manders from the rule of Krokopatra in return for the hospitality they showed to me. To some, it may seem too great a gift in return, but to me it was not. In the firey realm of Dragonspyre, I encountered Malistaire, and finally rid the Spiral of his evil schemes. Though he somehow avoided death and came back as Malistaire the Undying, I instead paid more attention to another evil Wizard, a woman from Avalon named Morganthe. She was a Master of Shadow, though in the end it destroyed her as she attempted to erase me from living memory for all time. I became, to many, a heroine to be spoken of in legends. I have heard some of them. Most have the truth mixed in with some embellishment, but hopefully, as one reads my own, you will find only the truth.
I never intended to become famous, but perhaps, because of my exploits, it was as unavoidable as fate.