A Web of Light

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Tidings of war, and a search for power. A fire crackled beside a small iron pot, the contents gave off an aroma of venison. Strings of gut were spread out, a dappled hide lay tanning on a rock, and a man clad in furs and harsh cloth stood staring out to sea. He'd come upon a wounded doe and had been away from the cliff only two hours, it was good it hadn't been longer. Just over the horizon sails were peeking above the water. At such a distance it was impossible to discern any details about the ships themselves, but such information was not needed. The flags above the sails were each a different color. One a brilliant crimson, another a regal lavender, and the third almost white must be the pale yellow. Enemies in the neighboring continent had sent ships, the first they had been to this port in years. He turned sharply and scattered the remains of the fire with a boot. He hastily packed the gut into his satchel, the hide he folded then stowed, and the pot he abandoned. With twine he bound all the loose articles to himself then set his jaw and took off down the back side of the cliff into the forest. There were five miles between him and the next runner, there was no need to save his strength. The message wouldn't take more than a day to travel. Whatever business the free cities had, benign or no, this was clear confirmation. The Druids would want to know as soon as possible.

Fantasy / Adventure
Age Rating:

In the Mountains

As is usually the case when you want to get somewhere, there just had to be some disaster. This was a doozy. The rain was coming down in sheets, and the muddy soil of the mountain was beginning to slip away. He needed to not die here, failed delivery of the tax would bring all sorts of hardship for the folk back home. As he was just some traveler the villagers had not really paid any mind to the strange young man's warning that there was a mighty storm brewing on the other side of the mountain. When with a sick sound a massive pile of mud and rubble slid down the mountain toward them the whole town scrambled to grab what few belongings they could hold in their hands a flee from the foot of the mountain. The only thing that saved them was a small circle of elders who stood on top of the meeting house singing in wavering and frighteningly pained voices. The force exerted by these sorcerers held the landslide suspended as slick dark wave above the town. Slowly one by one they fell to their knees knocked out or dead from the strain. Each time the wave lurched forward having lost none of its momentum.

The village streets were small and not suited to a mass evacuation of panicked people. Mothers frantically corralled their children, pulling them off the road before some thoughtless neighbor trampled them. One young boy cried out unable to see or hear their family through the torrential rain. Brennan quickly picked up the boy and asked

"What is your name?"

"Keto, where's Mommy what is going on?"

Not bothering to answer Brennan began shouting the boys name and holding him above the crowd. Before long a young girl not much older than the little boy appeared in front of Brennan.

"Keto there you are what are you doing are you stupid?"

She reached up and Brennan handed Keto to her.

"You had better run right now. They wont hold it for much longer."

The girl looked up at the wave suspended above their heads and shivered then sprinted down the mountain road. Brennan was right behind, he didn't look back.

Animals were let loose, those that did not flee were whipped until they screamed and ran down, or up, the mountain. Brennan stood in awe of the horrible mess. The valiance of the old men and women of the village was impressive, but he saw more than one person jeering at them apparently too small minded and superstitious to forgive a sorcerer's existence despite the obvious self sacrifice.

Taking his time to flee without getting caught up in a stampede Brennan looked back as a single old woman with rippling muscles and intricate tattoos that shone through rainy gloom gave one last push and blinked out, crashing to the roof with her fellows and the wave fell on the town and any that had not made it out. There was a rumbling as the town was completely washed up and carried down the mountain, catching up with some of the slower crowd and those who had stopped and looked back in disbelief. Those that had made it to the river at the base of the mountain began to ford it losing many of their possessions to the now roaring waters. Working together the people got most of their party across to safety and they watched as the mountain continued to spill down erasing all evidence of the town.

"What are we going to do now?"

There was a murmur and grunts of resignation from elsewhere in the ramshackle group. They had simply sat in a large huddle not far from the river they forded. Apparently a lot of people hadn't made it down the mountain. They didn't really have any supplies. Many of the people had saved urns from their homes which Brennan expected contained the ashes of some recently dead ancestor. He heard many people lamenting that there could be no proper burning of those who were lost, buried as they were beneath the mountain. Some were saying that they should try to rebuild here on this side of the river, and venture over to try and recover what they could once they had gotten back on their feet.
A bitter looking young man stood up and addressed the crowd angrily. "What's the point, what would we build with? We have no tools. We have no food." He pointed at Brennan "How far and in what direction is the nearest town? I'm done with this cursed place."
Brennan looked around awkwardly seeing that now the whole group was staring at him.
"Uh.. well I would not want to walk up the mountain so I think your best bet is to head north. There's a town about half as big as yours... was."
"And how many days walking would that be?"
"About ten, you would definitely be slower though because you'll need to spread out and gather food. I ran out quickly."
"Great. If only we had rooted out those sorcerers, we wouldn't be in this mess. My Pop always said the bastards bring disaster."
Brennan frowned and turned away leaving the people to muddle through their options. He couldn't help but marvel at the irony of that statement, and it was hard not to laugh at the morbid truth that if they were dead they wouldn't have to worry about surviving. Not to mention the irony that he had finally found some real sorcery, and immediately the sorcerers were dead.
Brennan was growing tired of the unpleasant people that he had found himself stuck with. He intended to try and slip away and continue on his journey but they kept thinking about the sorcerers. Maybe there were more in the village. They certainly would be keeping their magic a secret given the blatant discrimination, but many of the accounts he had read about the origins of sorcery implied that there was often an inheritance involved. He wasn't sure if it was a bloodline trait, or if it was just something that was taught passed down from parent to child. He glanced over the faces huddled together, hoping to see some resemblance to any of the elders from the roof but he didn't know them well enough.
Brennan fought down the rising wish to find someone to teach him magic. It had started as a childhood fascination with the stories that were told in his hometown of Aaronsford far to the west. Stories of the great heroes that first crossed the violent sea that separated this land from their ancestral land on the other side of the world. The stories spoke of people who could calm the waves with a song, heal wounds, and fend off great armies with incredible elemental manifestations. It was said that all people at that time had some magic, although even then many of the most powerful sorcerers kept the details of their magic a secret. Now it was incredibly hard to find anyone who even believed in sorcery and if they did it was more likely they were like these villagers, scared of something they didn't understand.
When it was clear that this rag tag group of villagers were at least going to try to make it Brennan wished them well and took his leave up the road toward Eltryst. The weight of the Lord's strong box was significantly lighter than the weight of the loss behind him.
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