War and Despair

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Chapter 18

The red haired young woman that had once been known as Red Rage had found her way to a town. It was a big, bustling place full of shouting men and women and giggling children. The guards at the city gates had waved her in once they had decided that she was safe. Now she stepped carefully around the children that tumbled underfoot. The young woman looked around curiously.

“What are you looking for, love?” A woman selling fruit nearby asked.

“Answers.” The young woman called.

“Answers to what, love?” the fruit seller asked.

“I’m not really sure. I need to know about names.” The young woman said.

The fruit seller shook her head and muttered something about the young woman not being right in the head.

“If it’s names ye be wanting to know about, ye’ll be wanting to go to Brien. To see the magic folk up there about it.” A toothless rug merchant lisped. “I myself am going up there tomorrow to deliver some rugs, lass. Ye can hop in the back of the wagon and come with me if you like, lass.”

The young woman nodded gratefully. “I think that I shall take you up on your offer.”

“Meet me at the city gate at sunrise, lass.” The merchant said. The young woman nodded and walked away.

She spent the rest of the day wandering around the market and seeing the sights She spent a very uncomfortable night in a tree and met the merchant at the gate at dawn. She climbed into the back of his wagon and they were off.

The sun rose and lit up the dry, dusty landscape. The young woman watched the scenery go by and soon morning faded into noon, and noon faded into dusk. As night fell they arrived outside the gates of a large city.

The sleepy looking guards waved the two of them through the gate. The rug merchant headed towards the nearest inn, she stayed in the wagon and went to sleep on a pile of rugs. The next morning, she left the cart and ate a breakfast of plums stolen off a tree in someone’s garden.

Then she headed off to find “the magic folk”. She would have to be careful that they weren’t like the witch. She searched on her own for about an hour and didn’t find anything, so she decided to ask around.

The first person she asked simply laughed, the second ignored her, the third was a little more helpful.

“You’re not from here, are you?” asked the merchant, a dark-skinned young woman selling spices.

“No.” she answered.

“Around here we call them smoke mages, you can find them in that grey marble building over there. Good luck!” The spice merchant said.

She jogged over to the building the spice merchant had indicated. She threw open the door and went in. The grey robed men and women all turned to stare at her. One of them hissed like a cat.

“Hush, Devin.” An older smoke mage shushed.

“I’ll take care of this one.” A male smoke mage with pale blonde hair said, giving her a strange look.

“Go ahead, Yaris.” The older smoke mage said. Yaris led her into a small room off the main hall.

He sat down on the floor in front of a small table. The young woman sat across from him. He withdrew a bunch of some sort of dried plant from his robe. He tossed it into the basin in between them and set it on fire. The room filled with fragrant silver smoke.

Yaris took her hand and concentrated. Images and sounds filled the air around them. Screams, sobbing, speaking. Blood. Her family. Tears welled in her eyes as she relived the death of her family for the thousandth time that week.

“You lack a name.” Yaris said at last.

“That doesn’t matter. I lost my old family, I need to find a way to save my new family.”

“It does matter. You don’t know what you’ve done by giving up your name. You were already in over your head by being a half dragon. Now you aren’t anything.” Yaris murmured.

“What?” She asked, eyebrows raised.

“Without a name you are no one. You are nothing. Without a name you can disappear.” Yaris whispered.

Well that’s worrying.

“I hope to find a name on this journey.” She told him. He stared at her again with his pale amber eyes.

“I don’t think that we can help you with this.” He told her. They stood and walked out of the room.

“She needs to go to the Pyromancer.” Yaris said to the other smoke mages. The older mage from before bowed her head.

“I need three more mages.” The older woman said. A black haired young woman, a young man with mismatched blue and amber eyes, and a stooped old woman came forward. The young woman and Yaris grabbed her arms. The old woman and the man with the mismatched eyes linked arms with the people on the end. Then each of them lit a torch.

The smoke shot around them and then forward, pulling them all forward. The mages closest to the door yanked it open just in time and they shot off into open sky. The young woman squeezed her eyes shut and tried not to be sick.

An hour later her feet hit soil. She opened her eyes and looked around. They were standing on a barren mountain of black soil. Beside the boy with the mismatched eyes was the mouth of a chute.

“Where’s the Pyromancer?” She asked. Rumbling emanated from the chute.

Suddenly a man shot out of the chute, sitting cross-legged on a column of lava. The young woman screamed and stumbled backwards. “Right here!” the man giggled. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the raven-haired girl rolling her eyes.

“Aw, come on, Reysinya! Don’t be like that!” The Pyromancer whined. He turned to address the boy with the mismatched eyes. “Pond, tell her that she isn’t being nice!”

“Reysinya, you’re not being nice.” Pond said obligingly.

“Pond, tell him that he’s just being silly.” Reysinya ordered, smiling slightly.

“Reysinya says you’re just being silly.” Pond said, turning and grinning at the Pyromancer.

“Pond, shove her in.” The Pyromancer said, returning Pond’s grin with a wicked smile of his own.

“Don’t you dare, Pond!” Reysinya gasped. Pond threw his full weight on her, knocking her into the lava chute. Pond pulled himself back up. A scream wafted up from the depths of the tunnel. The woman’s jaw dropped.

“Relax, she’s faking.” Pond said. “She’ll come levitating out of there right about…now.” Reysinya came flying out of the tunnel on a spurt of lava. She flipped and landed on her feet next to Yaris and fixed Pond with a withering glare.

“Anyway, now that we’ve shoved someone into the lava chute, let’s get down to business. What brings you here?” The Pyromancer said.

“Our guest has no name.” Yaris said.

The Pyromancer’s face turned serious. “Come with me.” He ordered the half dragon girl.

She followed him into a cave, which on the inside, was quite nice. Thick rugs covered the floor, beautiful tapestries covered the wall. A large obsidian table and five obsidian chairs stood in the middle of the cave. They sat down across from each other.

“Tea?” He asked, holding up a kettle of water. She shook her head.

“Well, let’s get on with this.” The Pyromancer sighed. “What did you do to completely erase your name?”

“I erased it in the name of the element water.” She told him.

“Oh dear.” The Pyromancer said faintly, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “This is far worse than I thought.”

“Why?”

“You used water. To take a new name you need to use the element of water as the base. The Hydromancer is not as loose handed as the rest of us. If you plan on taking a new name, you will have to ask the Hydromancer’s permission. Unlike me and the other two guardians of the elements, the Hydromancer refuses to let anyone near her. No one’s seen her in ages.” The Pyromancer explained.

“Why is it so crucial that I have a name?” The girl asked.

“How to explain this? You are nameless, you can see things that you shouldn’t be able to see. It’s in our nature that when we see things we want to touch them. The things the state you’re in allows you to see should never be touched. Ever.”

“So, I can potentially destroy the world, or something.” The girl said.

“Or something. I doubt touching the things you will start seeing will destroy the world, just wound it. And it can’t take it, what with the war, and the Hydromancer refusing to stick her hands in, I doubt that it would be able to heal for a very long time. You probably wouldn’t destroy the world, just wipe out humankind and the dragon race. And possibly cause a few species of bears to go extinct.” The Pyromancer said.

“So, I definitely need to somehow get to the Hydromancer and somehow get her to give me a new name. But there’s another problem I need to solve.” The woman said, then went on to explain to the Pyromancer about the creature.

“Not the witches too!” He shouted when she had finished. “This is bad. The witches’ meddling will certainly have thrown the balance. We need to get to the Aeromancer. He’ll have the most control over the witches. With the way things are going, you won’t have to do a single thing to harm the world. And you say this creature is out to kill the Geomancer? She’s never taken an apprentice! There’s no one to take the position after her, and there certainly won’t be enough time to train anyone! We need the Hydromancer more than ever!”

“Is there anything I can do?” The girl asked softly.

“Get to the Hydromancer and slap some sense into the old hag! This will destroy the world! The earth is already a burned mess from the war, but a mystery creature killing the Geomancer, and all the witches’ meddling, and the Hydromancer refusing to help, we may as well build the world a coffin and dig it a grave. We need to stop this, or the world is done for!” The Pyromancer ranted. “Come along, we’ve got to get to the Aeromancer.”

She hurried along at the Pyromancer’s side. They paused for a moment to talk to the smoke mages. “Go back to Brien. Gather the rest of the mages and fly to the Forest of the Heart Tree. Meet with the Geomancer and see what she needs you to do.” He ordered.

“Sir-” Yaris started to say, but then thought better of it when he saw the look on the Pyromancer’s face.

The smoke mages lit their torches and flew away. The Pyromancer drew a door in the soil and set it on fire. A flaming doorway popped out of the soil. The Pyromancer strode through. The girl paused for a moment, then shut her eyes and stepped through after him.

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