Lawgiver’s Blade: Chapter One Part Two

March 20th, 2019  |  Published in Lawgiver's Blade

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By the time she came to it was full dark, she was lying on the shrine keepers bed and the pain had gone. Her mother and Lilit were both kneeling by the bed looking worried.

“I sent word to Keralyn of Andric’s crime,” Lilit said. “High Mage Kadriya sent a healer to attend you, and a combat team to hunt him down.”

“Hunt?” Alidra asked. She stared down at her dark olive skin unmarred by cuts or any sign of the scalds.

“He escaped,” her mother said. “He fled before Lilit or I could react.”

“He knew he’d transgressed a boundary he shouldn’t have,” Lilit said. “And he has learned some kind of speed magic since we last met. He’s not magically strong so hopefully he can’t use it for long or he could be halfway to Laglin by now. If he crosses the border we’ve lost him.”

“I have faith in the combat mages the High Mage Kadriya sent,” Tamasa said. “They seemed quite competent. I just wish the Healer Mage had stayed after treating Alidra. We would gladly have shared our meal with him.”

“He had other duties to attend to,” Lilit said. “Healers are always overworked. They are the rarest of mages and the most needed.”

“And we made more work for him.” Tamasa sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“House Kasid’s foolishness isn’t your fault,” Lilit said drily. “Andric is the one who made the work for him.”

“Thank you,” Tamasa said. “But really no one had complained about Mage Andric before? This can’t be the first place he’s behaved appallingly.”

“Possibly not,” Lilit said. “I don’t think he’s ever done a circuit before and too many peasants and even a lot of my fellow shrine keepers still believe that mages cannot commit crimes and that criticising a mage is heresy. Too many mages agree.”

“Like him apparently.” Tamasa shook her head. “I know only a little of the Lawgiver’s theology but I’m fairly sure that is the heresy.”

“It is,” Lilit said. “But even the fact that Rindalam consistently chooses High Mages who hold the contrary position will not shift the Mage Council from insisting on its orthodoxy. Early in the Mage War he even manifested and tried to tell a few of them directly. They put it down to an illusion of Dark Amara’s and ignored him.”

“So stubborn!” Tamasa chuckled. “Why am I not surprised? And High Mage Kadriya doesn’t dare push the matter for fear of reigniting the Mage War because they only accepted her and conceded to a truce at all because of how terrifying she was when she drove back the Harsini.”

“That’s it exactly and they are beginning to forget that fear because an octade has allowed the shock to fade,” Lilit said. “She should have pushed harder in the first couple of years but she was recovering. But at least Andric’s actions have sealed his fate – he’ll either flee and live his life far from the power he craves or he’ll be caught and forfeit his magic and possibly his life. House Kasid will threaten and complain of course but given what happened they won’t be able to carry the more moderate houses with them. So their threats will be hollow.”

“I hope you’re right,” Tamasa said. “The Mage War nearly destroyed Benar. How many peasants died?” She scowled. “And how weakened was the archipelago when the invasion happened because Benar had wasted so many of her best combat mages on a damned stalemate?”

“Indeed,” Lilit said. “And how many of Amara’s Witches slipped across the straits under cover of the chaos and into hiding to whisper the seduction of the Fount of Magic into the ears of the fearful?”

Tamasa gave a strange half smile. “If Benar was flooded with Amara’s chosen there wouldn’t be an issue with overly obedient peasants.”

“Possibly so,” Lilit said. “But you must have heard the strange tales of twisted chaos creatures such as Witches summon haunting the roads between here and Tehan.”

“Superstitious nonsense,” Tamasa muttered. “Merchants are afraid of their own shadows.”

“Probably,” Lilit said. “But it would be a terrible pity if some interloping witch found Andric before the hunters do.”

Tamasa’s eyebrow’s shot up. “Now that I know is heresy, Lilit lei Ralin.” She sounded amused more than shocked.

“It’s heresy to hope a mage will avoid the clutches of the Goddess of Chaos in spite of his crimes?” Lilit’s artfully earnest tone was belied by her smirk.
“In that tone of voice, yes,” Tamasa said drily.

Lilit laughed. “Well as you say it’s superstitious nonsense, so it was just an idle thought. You should take Alidra home soon. A storm is coming. You don’t want to get wet.”

Their family was already asleep when Tamasa carried Alidra back to their house and tucked her into her bed in the sleeping loft. She didn’t join them, however. Instead she went to sit by the hearth, staring into the dulled embers. Alidra watched her for a while before she dozed off.

A few hours later a crack of thunder loud enough to shake the house woke Alidra. She wasn’t afraid of storms but the noise had startled her enough that her pounding heart stopped her returning to sleep and she lay there wondering why no one else seemed to have heard it.

Which is why she was awake to hear the door creak open. She opened her eyes to pitch darkness but she could hear someone moving around below the sleeping loft. She opened her mouth to raise the alarm but before she could speak her mother was at her side.

Somehow, even in the dark, Alidra could see her clearly. She was soaked to the skin and her boots were muddy. She pressed a damp finger to Alidra’s lips.”Hush, dear heart. Go back to sleep.” Tamasa kissed her forehead and sleep took her immediately.

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