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Chapter 6: Duality in Magic

A single beam of sunlight crept between the boards of the window shutters and fell as liquid gold across my pillow. When it edged up to dance across my face, I woke from my uneasy slumber. I was again, alone in my room; Uriel returned after his hunt, but left again in the small hours before dawn. I pushed open the shutters and found myself greeted by crisp morning air and crystal clear azure sky. After days of unrelenting gloom and rain, fair skies and sunshine were a most welcome sight. I continued to watch the world beyond my window and took notice of the sea gulls fishing along the rocky shore; plunging themselves beneath the icy blue-green swells, then returning to the blue sky with fish in their bills. It was only when I heard Balthazar calling from kitchen that I turned from the window.

“Coming Master,” I replied before hurriedly washing up and throwing on a clean frock.

When I arrived at our rustic dining table, I found fresh bread, cold ham, and hot mint tea waiting for me. I settled myself in a chair, but to my dismay Balthazar didn’t join me at the table. Instead, my Master put on his traveling cloak and took up his staff. When I hastily rose from my seat to join him he shook his head and pointed at the chair I’d just vacated.

“Please, take your breakfast,” he insisted. “I’ve already eaten.”

“If you’ll give me but a moment Master, I’ll fold a slice of ham between some bread and …”

“That isn’t necessary Kerri. I know that you are willing to come with me, but … well … please don’t take this the wrong way, but I need some time to myself.” He fastened his cloak and slung his collection sack across his shoulder before continuing. “I’m just going out on the moor to collect medicinal plants for my infusions … I’ll be home by dark.” When I continued to look dejected he added, “Why not use the time to read one of those books I gave you … or go to your work room and finish the scrying disk you were crafting before the gathering. The day is yours to do with as you like.”

“Yes Master,” I sighed as I slumped back into my chair. I supposed that my overtly loud thoughts and keeping him up chattering with Uriel last night had finally worn on his last nerve; he deserved a break.

“We all need space sometimes Kerri,” he whispered before planting an affectionate kiss on the top of my head. “It has nothing to do with your thought or the conversations that you have with your Dragon. Enjoy your day child, and I shall see you in the evening.”

I watched him leave, the door closing softly behind him. It was several moments before I managed to pour myself a mug of tea. I didn’t eat until Uriel prompted me take a slice of ham; this was more to do with his desire to have some meat than anything else. Once we stated ourselves I left the tower with Uriel trotting at my heels.

“Where do we go, Companion,” he asked enthusiastically.

“To my work room,” I replied.

“Is your work room not in the tower,” Uriel paused to watch a dragon fly before continuing to follow me.

“No, it’s separate from the tower,” I told him as we reached the doors of the root cellar turned magical work room. “Balthazar says that until I can master Light Magic with reliable results, I must practice out here.”

“Why,” puzzlement vibrated in his mind voice.

“Because the last time I attempted a working of Light magic in the tower, I nearly blew the place apart.” I heard Uriel’s laughter, but I didn’t find the memory at all amusing. “This is my work space and Balthazar gives me my lessons down here as well. It’s not so bad …I guess.”

I opened the doors to the cellar and left them open to allow fresh air and light into the dark underground space. Uriel followed me down the short flight of stone steps leading to my work room. The cat dragon soon found a comfortable basket and settled down to groom while I took up my latest project … my fifth attempt at crafting a scrying disk. This disk was formed from a piece of flawless clear quartz. It was very beautiful, but I had my doubts about whether it would function as intended. In the past I crafted disks from gold, silver, glass, and even a kind of rare magical ice that Balthazar paid quit handsomely to acquire, but nothing seemed to work. With a sigh I began the thirty third and final polishing of the crystal’s surface.

“Why don’t you try using the amulet,” Uriel supplied in a helpful tone. “It’s imbued with Dragon magic and it should have absorbed enough of your own essence over the years … the combination will help to focus your energy as you scry.”

I took the amulet from around my neck and gazed at it briefly. “I don’t want to ruin my token … if I polish it I’ll grind the runes off.”

“There’s nothing special about the inscription,” Uriel dismissed as he washed his face with a damp paw, “but if you wish to preserve them use the underside of the scale.”

“I’ve always wondered what the runes mean.” I turned the scale over in my hand and examined the back of it as I spoke. The back of the dragon’s scale shimmered in iridescent hues of pink and green. It reminded me of the inside of an abalone shell. “Could you tell me what it says?”

“The runes are a set of instructions written in the Dragon tongue: Give this token to a child of the light, born under a Dragon Moon, in the House of the Dragon.” Uriel switched paws to wash the other side of his face, “My sire was, of course, referring to you.”

“I didn’t exist when your sire wrote that,” I reminded him as I took up the polishing stone and began working on the back of the scale. “How could he have meant me? Besides, there must be hundreds of children that shared my same birthday … Asgeir could have meant any one of them.”

“If that is what you wish to believe Companion, then so be it,” the dragon grumped before changing the subject, “You won’t need to polish the scale thirty three times, just bring it to a glassy shine and that should suffice.”

I glanced up from my work to stare at the resting dragon trapped in feline form, I wanted to say something cross, but restrained myself. It took very little effort to polish the underside of the scale to a mirror smooth state. I was surprised at how easy the scale was to work; I assumed it would be much harder as a dragon’s scaly hid was, according to legend, impervious to all but the mot powerfully enchanted weapons. My polishing stone had no such enchantment on it. Even so, in a relatively short amount of time I produced a fine surface that projected my reflection back at me in crisp detail.

“Do you know the words to scry,” Uriel asked without opening his eyes.

“Of course, Balthazar taught them to me.”

“Then give them a try,” he encouraged with a purr. “If you fail, you can always go back to polishing your hunk of quartz.”

I closed my eyes, cupped the polished scale lovingly in my palms, and cleared my mind of everything save the Unanimity. When my mind was fully purged and unified, I opened my eyes once more and spoke the words for scrying.

“Lig syn,” the words for light and vision fell from my lips with more authority than ever before.

To my amazement a glowing fog of light formed over the smooth surface of the polished scale. The fog writhed in time to the beating of my heart for the span of several breaths before dissipating to revile an image on the surface of the scale. I was viewing the interior of a lavishly appointed room occupied by three men. I instantly recognized two of them; the Duke of High Glen and Roland, his sergeant-at-arms. The identity third man was a mystery to me. The men seemed to be having a rather vigorous conversation, but I couldn’t make out what was being said.

“Lytte.” The word for listen tumbled effortlessly from my mouth. Where had I learned that word from … I couldn’t remember Balthazar teaching it to me. In spite of my surprise at speaking a previously unknown magical word, the command worked. I could now hear what was being said.

“Any word from our informant,” the Duke asked as he poured himself a glass of wine.

“No my Liege,” the sergeant-at-arms replied, “He disappeared into the night along with the rest of the Seven Masters. Crog hasn’t managed to sniff out any of them thus far … except for Balthazar of course.”

“Blasted Light Mage,” The Duke cursed, pounding his angry fist into the fireplace mantel as he spoke. “I know he deliberately baited that trail for Crog to follow so the others could escape. What of the Dragons, has Crog managed to get a sense of them?”

“Fleeting tendrils my Lord, but nothing concrete enough to follow,” the sergeant answered plainly.

“Tell Crog to concentrate his efforts on finding Kyros,” the Duke ordered, “the Magus of Fire was never fond of our informant, I’m sure he’ll be more than willing to divulge certain information … for a price of course.”

“Hold Your Grace,” the third man spoke, his voice horse with age, “I sense a presence, our conversation is no longer privet … someone watches.”

“Who dares spy on the Duke of High Glen … is it you Balthazar?”

“No Your Grace,” the ancient one answered, “this is a mage that I’ve never felt before … a mage imbued with great power, perhaps even greater than the Seven … imbued with …”

“Slutt,” Uriel whispered the command for end against my mind.

“Slutt,” I spoke the word and the vision cast in my new scrying disk faded to nothing. I continued to stare into the vacant disk for a time, reveling in the wonder of what I just done. “Did you see that Uriel, it worked,” I looked up at the cat dragon as I gushed, “a successful working of light magic … I never thought that I would ever succeed, but thanks to you …”

“The ability has always been within you, Companion,” he interrupted me calmly, “I simply helped you to harmonize your duality.”

Wonderment still suffused me as I returned the amulet to its place around my neck. My success at scrying bolstered my faltering sense of worth as an apprentice mage, but at the same time it left me with questions I couldn’t answer. How had my vision taken me to the Duke’s palace? Had the old court mage discerned my identity? Where were the other dragons? If dissention existed among the Seven Masters, how would we ever manage to complete the working that would keep the Dragons forever safe?

“I think we should find Balthazar,” Uriel insisted from his perch atop my bookcase, “Try the disk again, but this time, after you center yourself within the Unanimity, allow Master Balthazar to be the singular thought that focuses your vision.”

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