27

May

by thefourpartland

Canere, having exhausted even his masterful powers of focus, had left the archives around the time of the morning meal, and then collapsed into bed until the chimes sounded for the first bell after noon. He then spent the next hour in bed, reading the notes that he had created.

Which led to much muttering about the quality of his handwriting. It was, in a word, shocking.

“If only I could use magic for something so basic. But I just can’t…”

As the next bell reminded him. Sighing to himself, Canere made his way to the remaining headquarters of the arcanists of Yn Dref, a rather forlorn building that sagged around the edges. Once, it had no doubt looked majestic, but with the colour faded and the architecture in dire need of repairs, there was little of that former grandeur left.

A nod from the apprentice sitting in the entrance way let Canere in, and a few turns later, he was heading down into the depths of the skycity, towards the mystical centre, the artefact that kept everything afloat.

The chamber in which the artefact rested was vast, hewn from the rock of this former mountaintop by the energies of his long ago forefathers. The artefact itself manifested visually as a sphere of unblemished crystal, rotating at a slow pace. Somehow, it was supposedly tied to the movements of the heavens, but no Hanian of recent days had ever been able to explain how or why.

Around the edges of the sphere were smaller lumps of unformed crystal, each sitting atop a little plinth. It was to one of those plinths that the young mage was supposed to go, for they allowed arcanists to channel their energy into the artefact, burning their personal force in return for keeping the skycity afloat.

Surprisingly, the chamber wasn’t empty, as it usually was at this time of day. Instead, another mage was standing over one of the plinths, face drawn in concentration as sweat beaded on her brow. As Canere was all too well aware, dumping the vast majority of one’s daily energy at a single go was a taxing affair, and so some amongst the Hanian arcanists preferred to visit multiple times a day, and so spare themselves the effort.

Canere, on the other hand, preferred to deal with it in one go. And knowing the strain it took, waited quietly at the entrance to the chamber until his compatriot shuddered, rising on unsteady legs from where she had sat before the plinth.

“Morning, Canere. Or rather, afternoon. I heard you were off on one of your jaunts through the archives again last night.”

There was nothing Canere could do but laugh. Raiztae always knew what was going on in Yn Dref. Always. She was known amongst the other mages as the queen of all gossip, and was rumoured to spend some of her magical energy eavesdropping on every petty conversation. Although Canere, like most people, just assumed that wasn’t true.

“The font of all knowledge, as always. Who told you this time?”

“That young lad who runs messages from the archives to the guild and back. Blonde hair, scrawny.”

“Doesn’t that describe half the children around here?”

“Birthmark under his left eye.”

“Oh, that one. I hope you gave him a trinket for his efforts.”

“I was able to sneak him a little something. You know me, I help where I can.”

Which was true, and the other reason no one ever really disliked Raiztae – she always had a kind word and a small token for the least fortunate in the skycity.

Canere gestured to acknowledge the comment. “So what’s the juiciest titbit you’ve got today? Aside from animals harassing the pastures. Ira beat you to that one.”

A frown swept across Raiztae’s features momentarily. “Blast, that was what I had. Hmm. There’s supposedly an affair or two going on with the senior mages, but that’s been wandering around for months now. Other than that it’s the doom and gloom about the coming weather that you’ve no doubt heard yourself.”

“Oh yes, the big storm that will rain thunder and hail down upon Yn Dref. We get those every year. Why should this be any different?”

She shrugged. “Because it gives people something to talk about. Look forward to in a way. Not much else of that, around here. You know I’d love to be able to research, but I’m not allowed to.”

With all the energy of the arcanists being needed to keep the skycity in the air, they had precious little effort to expend in other areas. Some of which might have helped resolve the current situation.

“You’re suggesting that Yn Dref is an anchor on our people.” Canere had heard this mentioned before, but mostly obliquely.

He was met with a sigh. “We use all our talents keeping a rotting hulk flying. Why not move the rest of the people to the ground and let the skycity fall into an empty valley? That way, we could at least use our talents to help the rest of Hania more directly. Today, the best I can do is give away the spare bits and pieces I don’t need. Maybe then I could actually make a difference.”

Canere could understand the sentiment. “That’s why I spend so much time in the archives. There has to be something in there that can help, but I’ve not found it yet. Maybe I never will. But I think I’ve hit on a new idea.”

“You always do have one of those.” Raiztae chuckled. “But if you don’t mind, I need to rest after feeding the demon.”

The young mage swept a shallow bow to Raiztae as she departed, then went to do his part for keeping the skycity afloat.

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