Episode 17: Home Sweet Home?

      The weeks following the incident in Grandview were rather difficult for me. I was met with a lot of mixed emotions. After all, Berkain Boch had just wanted payment for his work. I imagine that many of the Stonemasters simply wanted credit for their efforts, but their desire for recognition was leading them down a dark path. If I had spoken out now, it would look as though I supported the man who had simply kidnapped my uncle. If Berkain had released Maron of his own will, things would have been different.

      Likewise, my thoughts on Kaellax were equally mixed.

      Having returned to Stonehaven I pointed out her great efforts to help, but the Udirian magic users didn’t like hearing about her skills in battle. By the time the story of the assault had circled back around to me, her role had been reduced to nothing more than a mention of attendance. It was disheartening.

      I made my way to Kaellax’s bar one afternoon to tell her that I would continue to share the story with the true details, but with that same wicked smile she simply told me not to worry about it. The people would reduce her role because it was too painful to admit that something as sinister as a Yunai could be used for good. I encouraged her not to give up and told her I’d do my best to prevent that, but within a few days I realized she was right.

      Shadowspeakers were allowed in Stonehaven, but they weren’t accepted.

      A Shadowspeaker saved my uncle. When most people saw Kaellax, they saw pure evil. I wasn’t so sure.

      I visited with Berkain in the stockades too. I made sure he was getting his share of food and water, but he didn’t have anything to say to me. I guess I can’t blame him for that.

      So life got back on track and my lessons at the Academy continued. They taught me the finer points of magic, and I listened for their sake, but after the attack against our convoy my mind was settling on a certainty that I had to better than a magic user. I had to be a Flamecaller. Lady Sonea rejected the idea whenever I dared approach it, but all of that changed when I decided to make one more stop to see Kaellax.

      The door to the bar was open, the door had been pushed so hard one of the metal hinges had bent. I walked up and saw it like that, and my heart started to race. I charged inside and found a man confronting Kaellax at the bar, his hands balled up in fists and his face red with anger.

     “You have my money, woman, now give me what I’m owed!”

      His voice was gruff and dirty. He looked like he hadn’t bathed in weeks.

      “Just because you put a bag of gold on my bar doesn’t mean I owe you anything,” Kaellax replied. “Now get out of my bar.”

      “I’m not leaving until I get what I want.”

      I was just about to say something when I saw the man reach over the bar and grab Kaellax. She looked concerned, which I thought strange since she should have been able to overpower him with her magical abilities. Instead, the man pulled her up onto the bar, and she screamed in panic. Something was wrong.

      “Hey,” I shouted. “Hands off the innkeeper!”

      The older man looked toward me for a second and then chuckled. “Get on to your own tavern, kid,” he growled as he turned his attention back to Kaellax. “I’ve got business here.”

      “If you don’t release her, you’re going to regret it.” I blurted, stepping toward them.

      The man laughed and reached to undo Kaellax’s bodice.

      Rage filled my body. I reached up to smash this man’s face in with a block of ice, but I was shocked when nothing happened. I tried again, but no magic flowed through me. I panicked. What had happened to me? Had it happened to Kaellax too? I was dumbfounded.

      “Get on out of here,” the man said, looking at me again. “I don’t want you watching.”

      Fresh rage. Magic wasn’t an option, that was fine. I reached for the nearest chair and raised it over my head in a sweeping motion. Kaellax’s attacker was so caught up in his filthy actions that he didn’t even see it coming.

      I had intended to break it over his back, but my aim was off. Instead, I caught the side of his head with one of the chair legs and that sent him reeling off the counter with an awful growl of surprise and pain. Kaellax was up in a flash, standing next to me and looking as ferocious as an untamed dragonhawk.

      “He’s got a nullification stone,” she muttered to me. “No magic.”

      “So how do we deal with this one?”

      “Old fashioned way,” she said, pulling a dagger from a hidden holder above her ankle.

      We waited for for the man to emerge from behind the counter, but after a few seconds it became obvious that he wasn’t getting up from the blow I’d delivered. I was rather thankful for that, as I was fairly certain Kaellax would have stabbed his eyes out if he’d dared stand up.

      “So what do we do with him?” I asked, looking over the unconscious criminal.

      “Can you teleport him into the ocean?” she asked. “I guess I could throw him off the docks tied to a heavy rock.”

      “I’m not going to kill him,” I replied. “Should we call a guard?”

      Kaellax looked shocked. “Call a guard? You really don’t get it, do you?”


      “Nothing,” she said calmly. “Yes, a guard is what we need.”

      I nodded, thankful that she had agreed and quickly stepped outside, though not out of her line of sight, and shouted for the nearest guard.

      After telling the story of the assault, I was introduced to the shock that Kaellax had displayed earlier. The soldier looked her up and down, looked to the man on the ground, and then back to me.

      “I don’t mean to call you a liar, young Sepher, but are you sure that’s what happened here?” the guard asked. “After all, that man could be a victim. Kaellax, if that’s here real name, is a Shadowspeaker. Do we know her monstrous Yunai didn’t do this?”

      “I was here,” I said angrily. “I’m the one that knocked him out!”

      “There’s some spilled gold here behind the counter,” the guard added. “Are you sure this wasn’t a, uh, special transaction that you just walked in on?”

      Rage. I felt an unspeakable rage. I reached for the nullification stone that Kaellax had fished off the man, and I chucked it outside of the inn. Magic returned. With a snap of my fingers, the unconcious man vanished.

      “There,” I said, turning back to the guard. “I made him—”

      The guard was gone too.

      “Oh no,” I said, panic bubbling up to replace the rage. “Oh noooooo.”

      Kaellax laughed. “What did you just do, Sepher?”

      “I just teleported them into the harbor,” I replied.

      Kaellax suppressed her laughter and turned to the door. “Well I guess we should go get them out so they don’t drown.”

      “No, I’ll go,” I replied. “You stay here. The last thing we need is you getting in trouble out in the open.”

      Before she could respond, I focused my energy and transported myself to the dock with a quick pop of magical energy.

      The unconscious assailant was on the dock, right where I had intended for him to be, but if I had taken the guard too, he would have been about ten feet to the left… in the water. I couldn’t see him, so my only assumption was that the guard was currently sinking in the harbor. I reached out into the water’s magical energy and located the guard’s energy. He was weak, but alive. I wrapped a spell around him and teleported him back to the dock. He collapsed on the wooden structure gasping and coughing. I was pretty proud of my work, until I saw the guard standing, looking at me with his own inner rage.

      Then he attacked.

      I dodged his first strike

, his heavy armor made him slow and clumsy, and the water soaked wool wasn’t helping either.

      “You’ll hang for this!” he said to me with a balled fist waving in the air. “You’re under arrest!”

      A nearby crowd of individuals had gathered in the commotion I’d caused, and a few other guards joined the ranks. As soon as the soaked guard met their eyes they snapped to his aid and marched toward me. I thought about resisting. It would be easy enough. A quick teleport and I could be back home with Maron.

      But people had witnessed my actions. They would know who I was.

      So, against all my survival instincts I simply raised my arms out for the guards to lock me in chains. They did so with pleasure.

      An hour later I was in the Stockades, and for a bonus they put me in the cell right next to Berkain. He didn’t seem to care, but did acknowledge me with a deep nod when I first arrived.

      My time as a prisoner was short-lived. Word spreads fast among the nobles, especially when someone of high stature is taken in by the guards. Uncle Maron was at the stockades before the day’s end and he did not look happy.

      “What’s the meaning of this?” he shouted as he waved a hand toward my cell. “Why was I not contacted when he was arrested?”

      The jailer looked surprised by this sudden confrontation. “I wasn’t told to contact anyone,” he replied. “The young magic user is being held on charges of attempted murder.”

      “Attempted murder?” Maron asked, turning to me.

      “No,” I replied. “I didn’t murder or try to murder anyone.”

      “A guard says the mage teleported him into the harbor with intent to kill.”

      Maron frowned. “Who rescued him from the water?”

      The guard looked at a loss for words, but added. “It was the mage.”

      “So, he intended to kill him by rescuing him?”

      “Perhaps he had second thoughts,” the guard replied. “Regardless, he did teleport him into the water. He endangered the man’s life.”

      “Fine. Now, release him.”

      The guard’s jaw dropped for a moment, but he snapped it shut and scowled. “I don’t take orders from you, Maron Sepher.”

      “No?” Maron replied. “Fair enough. I suppose you won’t be taking food from me either.”

      “Is that a threat?”

      “It’s a promise, soldier. I didn’t help rebuild Stonehaven to watch the guards take advantage of young people. He’s a mage. Clearly this teleportation was an accident. Otherwise, grand jailer, why would the boy remain in that cell when he could simply snap himself to the tower?”

      The jailer mulled this over for a moment, but seemed defeated. “I suppose we could release him, if you promise us that you’ll bring him to the Keep for his trial?”

      “Oh, that I can do,” Maron said firmly. “Now, if you don’t mind?”

      The jailer hesitated for just a moment longer, and then nodded. “Yes, of course, no point in jailing him just yet.”

      We walked home in silence. I wasn’t sure if Maron didn’t want to talk about it, or he was too mad to risk talking, but the second we got inside the manor I got my answer.

      “What did you do?” he snapped. “I want the full story. Every detail!”

      “Of course,” I said honestly. “I’ll tell you everything.”

      And I did.


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