29

May

by thefourpartland

It was late the following day, after dealing with the various reports, minor injuries, and other detritus of being a “commander”, that Ira was able to track down Yaden and Canere. Who were engaged, as often, in an argument.

“Look, I need you to come help me with the research. You’re the only other person who’s been willing to help.”

Yaden snorted. “That’s because everyone else has seen you do this kind of crazy thing for years and has figured out that helping you is a waste of their time. So no, I think you need to get one of the archivists to give you a hand. Or to work on it yourself. Me, I have better things to do than be stuck in a library.”

Quirking an eyebrow, Canere gazed at Yaden. “And what, pray tell, are those? Chasing women you can’t catch? Drinking yourself under the table on cheap whiskey? Gambling away what little money you can make for even smaller trinkets? Do tell me, I’ve always wondered what the famous roustabout of Yn Dref actually did in his free time.”

Met with a truly thunderous glare, Canere let his needling die off. There was always the chance of pushing Yaden too far, although his temper had been mostly in abeyance since childhood.

“Does it matter? It’s something I enjoy. If nothing else, I should at least be allowed to live my life so that it’s worth living, not always at the beck and call of everyone else in this damn skycity.”

It was at this point that Ira decided enough was enough. “Are you two arguing about Canere’s plan from yesterday? Why?”

After shooting daggers at one another, Canere and Yaden both stepped forward to explain. Which led to the two of them stumbling over one another’s words, and more angry looks.

Finally, after they had settled down for a moment, Yaden continued. “Canere thinks he’s found a reference that might prove to be helpful. But he needs to spend more time digging through the archives in order to expand on it. And he wants me to go along with him. I’ve already wasted one whole night and day on this fruitless quest, and we’ve chased vapours on the wind the whole time.”

At which, Canere began spluttering. “It was not vapours! It was a rigorous process of narrowing down the list of items that could conceivably have something of use. There has to be a reason why the arcanists of today aren’t as strong as those of yesteryear, and I am determined to find some source for it. Now I think I have. There’s a series of references to both a particular training manual, entitled Keleborn’s Arcanum, as well as an item, perhaps an artefact, that was used to initiate children into the ranks of the arcanists. I’ve never heard of either of those things before this research, and so there has to be something there. Clearly, we’ve lost part of what our ancestor Hanians did to train mages!”

Ira held up her hand, causing the rant to run out of steam. “Okay, fine. You appear to have found something. But according to Yaden, it’s not here. So… now what?”

A certain look came into Canere’s eyes, and he turned so he faced out from the skycity, looking off the edge and towards the rippling mountain peaks to the north. The breezes of the flying world ruffled his hair for a moment before he looked back to Ira and opened his mouth to speak.

“Oh no. No no no. I can see exactly where you’re going with this, and I’m not following you.”

Yaden appeared blank for a moment. “Wait… Canere, you want us to go out there? You think we need to go treasure hunting in another skycity. A fallen skycity. Why?”

“Because Keleborn’s Arcanum makes reference to a skycity called Adweyed. Repeatedly. It’s even mentioned that that’s where Keleborn, whoever he was, lived. It stands to reason that not only would Adweyed have copies of his works, but also the initiation artefacts that were once used.”

Pausing him there, Ira spoke. “You say that… but why don’t we have them here in Yn Dref?”

“I don’t know, and I can’t know until I finish my research in the archives, but wherever they are, they’re not used anymore. A quick study of the entrance records of the arcanist school here shows no such item being mentioned, at least for the last hundred years or so.” Canere turned to Yaden. “What I’m offering you is the chance to go on a grand adventure, one that could save Hania. After all your gazing over the edge of the world, are you really going to turn that down?”

“The thing about gazing over the edge of the world is that gazing is all it is. You’re asking me to leap off the edge of the world. And to read another host of dusty old tomes before I get to the exciting parts.”

“Well, yes. Even so, it would be a remarkable find. And would help you turn from someone who does magic at a brief sleight of hand to a true user of the gift.”

“Given all the work you have to do once that’s true? I might pass. But it’s intriguing. Let me think on it.”

Both of them then looked to Ira, who had been watching the interplay between Canere and Yaden with some amusement. “Let me guess, you want someone who knows which end of a weapon goes into the other man.”

“Excuse me, Ira, but I’m just as good with a blade as you are!” Yaden had drawn himself up to his entirely average height. Which still wasn’t enough to look down his nose at her. On the other hand, he was right. Yaden was almost certainly the only talented swordsman not in the Yn Dref guard.

“Okay, I’ll give you that. But you still need me, all the more so because I can requisition supplies and the like. Because I bet neither of you have any idea how to spend a night roughing it, let alone in that wasteland.”

The looks she got in response were rather sheepish. It was quite probable that neither of them had ever slept anywhere aside from Yn Dref, or perhaps a night or two down in one of the farm villages below.

“Right, so you need my expertise and supplies just as much as we’d need Canere’s intelligence to get through this. Given I know you two idiots are going to try and set off with or without me, mostly because Canere has a giant bee up his bonnet, I’ll come along. But only, and I do mean only, after we spend a great deal of time planning on how to make the journey as safe as it can be. Because otherwise, all three of us are going to end up as a morning snack to some great beast.”

The expressions of thanks that followed were effusive and heartfelt. Although they dried up quickly when she suggested that Yaden could best spend his time helping Canere in the archives. But with ill grace he acquiesced, and each went to contribute what they could to the final stages of planning and research.

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