The aftermath of my assault on the magical prison didn’t go without repercussions. Lady Evanor turned me over to the Udirians, but they eventually concluded that I was only able to break into the prison because she knew how to remove several of the warding spells that surrounded it. As a result, she was stripped of her position within the Academy. She was spared a full expulsion because of her actions to turn me in and the fact that I was successfully detained.
In the course of one day, I had gone from seeking entrance into Udiria to being unable to leave it until my investigation had been resolved. I was given a hearing date and left to my own devices at the local tavern. Two guards kept careful watch over me, and I was unable to leave my room, but I didn’t really care at this point.
Surfal had died. Bevozzsh had escaped.
I had failed.
They let me sulk about in my room for two days before the trail began.
When I was marched into the Grand Court of Udiria, I had nearly healed from my confrontation against Ayla. I was dressed in my full Stonehaven Regalia, gifted to me by the magic users of Stonehaven after the third invasion. I wore it to show my stance. I was a magic user, but I was from Stonehaven, not Udiria.
At the end of the hall was a great room. Inside, Udiria’s ruler, Zoran, stood over a fairly large gathering that was here to watch my trial. The prisoners in the magical hold had been in riots ever since my actions, and the news had spread that the city may not be safe. Everyone was on edge because of me.
I was shown to the center of the room, surrounded by judging eyes, and Zoran looked down on me from the large stairwell with other high ranking magic users around him.
“So, what say you?” Zoran asked aloud. “Sionis Sepher. You’re record is spotless, you served alongside the survivors of Lederan in the third Yunai invasion. The prisoner you helped escape was, in fact, someone you captured years ago. I’m genuinely confused. Tell me, what is your story?”
I looked up, equally confused. “My story?”
“Explain to me what drove you to break into the Irridiri Hold.”
“Will it make a difference?” I asked.
Some in the crowd scoffed. Zoran just smiled. “Sionis, I’ve been around for a pretty long time. Someone like you doesn’t just break bad without a clear motive. Tell me, what was it you hoped to accomplish?”
I looked around the room, and my eyes landed on Evanor. She met my stare for a moment, then frowned and looked away. I had done more damage to her than good, and I doubted I could make it right. I sighed aloud and then spoke up. “To be frank, I was attempting to save a life. Not just one life, but two.”
“My horse was gravely wounded in a confrontation against Ayla, the fallen princess.”
“Surfal, my horse, was not a normal animal. He had been given the gift of Besherman magic. A piece of a soul, which had bonded to his own.”
“I have heard of this,” Zoran admitted. “Though, I have not seen it firsthand.”
“Surfal was dying,” I continued. “A Yunai blade would not let the animal’s wound heal. I feared I would lose them both forever, the horse and the soul shard.”
“A reasonable fear. How does Bevozzsh play into this?” Zoran asked.
“Bevozzsh had mastered the ability to retain his life, while shedding a physical form. He managed to tap into the twisting aether and used its power to convert himself into pure energy.”
“An eternal container for his soul,” Zoran said. “Yes, I remember.”
“I could not let my horse die, and the magic Bevozzsh used to tap that energy is forbidden by the magic users here in Udiria. He was the only one that could help.”
“So, you did this to save the soul shard of a Besherman?” Zoran asked.
“It was a debt to Marjan’s honor,” I answered.
“As noble as this might be,” Zoran added, “you also let a prisoner of Dalaran escape. That is a crime Sionis, for whatever reason you took part in it.”
“I understand your view,” I said with a nod.
“But you do not agree with it?” he pressed.
“It’s hard to agree with a judgement when it is aimed at you,” I replied.
I was surprised with how well Zoran was keeping his cool. After all, I knew the Archmage’s reputation pretty well. I knew that right now the ruler was furious with me. He wasn’t so upset with me for breaking into the magical prison, but for making a bad example of Udiria, especially when so many soldiers were pushing through the bustling streets right outside.
For Zoran, the end of conflict would come from the acceptance of rules, laws, and order. My rogue action had broken that very thought. Now, a prisoner was free in this realm. The only hope I had of not facing any real punishment was through some kind of unspoken loyalty to other magic users.
“Sionis,” Zoran said loudly, snapping me from my thoughts. “Do you know why we were keeping Bevozzsh locked up in that prison?”
“Because he used forbidden magic,” I said. “He broke the rules.”
“No. As you said, Bevozzsh not only had a great understanding of the twisting aether, but he also unlocked the key to what may be a form of true immortality. If the fallen princess were to gain access to Bevozzsh’s secrets, there could be no end to the Yunai. You used your limited knowledge to make a decision that, if followed to its worst case scenario, could doom us all.”
“I understand and accept your punishment, whatever it might be,” I said.
Zoran let out a long sigh. “Sionis Sepher. You are banished from Udiria. A magical tracer will be locked to you. If you so much as step one foot within my city, you will be forcibly detained and placed in the very cell that Bevozzsh once occupied. Do I make myself clear?”
I was floored. The punishment was actually quite minimal. “You are clear.”
“Good. You will be escorted to the surface, and I hope that you use this freedom to do some good for Stonehaven. They can use people like you out here. I will not starve them of that.”
With that, two magic users walked up and pulled on my restraints. I was led down the staircase and into the cobblestone streets. The Udirian populous moved out of my way as we went. I was escorted all the way the landing where a white griffin was waiting.
“It’ll take you to the ground,” one of the men said. “You get off, it flies back up. Don’t try anything funny. It’s trained. You make it uncomfortable… it throws you off.”
“Fair enough,” I replied, gripping the reins. “What about these cuffs?”
“We both know you can take those off whenever you want,” the magic user replied.
I smiled. “Okay then.”
“Now,” the one user added before he started to walk away. “If I were you, I’d head to the west. The latest rumors are that the final battle is nearly ready to go down. Ayla’s forces are mounting at her last stronghold. All our forces are pressing in. Be the hero we know you are, Sepher. Finish this fight.”
“Hero?” I asked. “You know I’m being banished, right?”
“Zoran is watching out for Udiria’s security. We’ve heard your stories. We know you fight for us.”
The griffin flapped its wings, growing impatient, and the magic user backed away. With that, I was lifted off the cobblestone and flung over the side of the city, floating high above the ground. We took a nosedive and plummeted to the surface before the creature made a hard flap of its wings, slowing us just in time to hit the ground with a slight thud.
With a screech that sounded very agitated, I heeded the animal’s warning and jumped off. I looked around the dark and gloomy forest that I had just been abandoned to before letting out a sigh of my own.
I was alone.
I was defeated.