The Rune Mage
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Chapter 3: The Rune Mage
Mage Kemryn Tassel, 8th Year Runes and Wards
Steirtorim remained after Kotaphira left, having woken up his Knights of Seven to move the injured ones to the barracks or the infirmary. Kemryn sighed in relief when she saw they would be fine, eventually. Shaken up, sure- so would she. So was she. Hands still shaking, she watched them move out one by one when a grumbled voice came from the prisoner. It was unintelligible, but she found herself by Steirotorim’s side in an instant.
“Mage Kemryn?” He asked her.
She nodded, eyes unwavering from the beast before them.
“Take me to my quarters, slave! You heard the old wretch, I’m her brother! Which means I’m royalty!” Laughter followed, but it was as dead as his heart. Thankfully he did not move from his spot on the ground.
Steirtorim spoke gently, giving her instruction to stay as far away from Rinlear as she could while still using her magics on him.
“You slime-skin couldn’t even catch me without your handlers!” More laughter, and the demon tried to writhe.
Steirtorim let out a true trocoblin yell as he retorted back, “You’ll remember it was I who tracked you, and I who brought you to your knees! I’ll do it again and again until you are in pieces under the ground or burnt on a pire! Kemryn, silence him!”
“Of course, captain!” She tried to sound as hopeful as she could. The problem was, the ‘beast’ that bowed in the clearing was so frightfully intimidating. She could hardly understand how Lady Kotaphira could deal with him with such ease. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the surge of energy at her core, allowing the stores of magic to flow through her, up from her glowing catalyst nails, through her fingers and wrists, then to her arms.
“Kemryn…” the lich before her mused, “Kemryn, Kemryn, Kemryn… A fitting name, for such a pretty little witch.”
Trails of pink and red pulled from her fingertips and into the air. Please stop talking… she whimpered softly. Trailing round and round, the lights made intricate patterns in the shapes of ancient runes and binding symbols as they floated toward the mask on the prisoner, illuminating metal and sinking into the engravings, moving across them like water before finding his skin where they absorbed within.
“Those soft, adorable hands… ah, they’ll reek of blood for this-!”
After a few more moments of trailing magic in the air between them, Rinlear letting out groans and whines, cackles and gargling, Kemryn felt her energy quite drained and she stopped to take a much needed breath as he finally quieted down. Tingles of itchiness covered her arms as she realized she was struggling hard to keep up with what would have been an easy task before he had tried to absorb everyone’s magic. Gasping to herself, she tried to catch her breath as fear of what he might do- could do- seeped into her mind. Despite that, the magic symbols still rotated on the man’s skin around his mouth and throat, lulling in movement and almost relaxing to watch. “That should quiet him for now,” she kept close to the captain, tugging hard on her sleeves to try and cover her hands, “it shouldn’t wear off for a week, at least.” Even though that leaves me with barely any magic until then.
“We can’t deal in what ifs and should haves, Mage. It has to be absolute.”
She flinched at his words. Normally, she was completely confident in her abilities, but with losing her magic, and having it stuffed back in haphazardly, she struggled with that confidence. “It won’t wear off.” She feigned confidence, which seemed to placate the captain for now.
“Well done. His cell will also need warding,” Captain Steirtorim looked over the prisoner, seemingly infatuated with the demon as he contemplated moving him.
“I need to recharge, Captain. Whatever he did to us, has messed with my magic abilities.”
“A week, at least.”
“We can’t wait that long, Kemryn! It needs to be done now, before he wakes up!”
Her hands gripped at her sides, the crystal catalyst nails digging deep into her palms, “I’ll try.”
Two guards had stayed behind, the ones who were least affected. “Craldo, Tannim, escort Kemryn to the holding cell ahead of me. I’ll stay behind and stand guard over this… carcass.” Captain Steirtorim motioned to them and set his sword point down in the dirt, leaning against it as he watched Rinlear like a hawk, “darkness has entered Maerise.”
Kemryn followed behind the two knights, keeping her head down as Rinlear’s words echoed in her mind, “those adorable hands will reek of blood for this!” she shuddered, rubbing at her arms. The echoes of the guards speaking lowly filled the area as they walked within, their torchlight reflecting off the wet walls of the catacombs towards the Old Caverns. Kemryn pulled her cloak close, images of the one-eyed beast still staring into her soul repeating his evil words in her mind. She pulled herself out of those thoughts as she concentrated on listening to the men ahead.
“I wonder why she wants that… thing here.” This knight was of Derhanish descent like Kemryn, but mixed with something else. The brown and green mix in his skin reflected murky in the torchlight, low set ears pointing at a backward angle giving evidence to his Trocoblin blood, while the sharp cut of his nose proved his Arc’hildean ancestry. He was a mutt, like her.
“We’re really not supposed to question orders.” Derhanish blood with a clean shaven bald head, this thickly built middle aged man took his job seriously.
“I’m not! I’m just curious,” the troc mutt pulled at a dreadlock hanging from his head.
“Curiosity killed the bearine, Craldo. Don’t go getting too excited trying to figure this all out,” Tannim let out an irritated sigh, “it’s not our place to do so.”
“Myeh myeh myeh.” Craldo’s mocking voice carried louder than he’d intended, and he received a heavy thump to the back of his head from his fellow knight.
“Shh!” Kemryn rushed forward between them to get them to stop while she strained to hear what was ahead. Footsteps splashed in the waters before stopping. Unfortunately, she had no way of telling which way they were coming from. “There’s someone here,” she whispered.
“The Order of the Boar!” Hissed Craldo, spinning around on his heel and staring hard into the direction they’d come from, “sneaky thieves..”
“I doubt the thieves’ guild would be this far into the catacombs.” Tannim retorted, keeping to a doubtful stance.
“Don’t be so sure,” Kemryn spoke, voice still shaking, “the Boar’s Head is said to have made the catacombs her home. For all we know, where we’re going is their home base.”
“Then why are they planning to house the prisoner here?!” Hissed Craldo. “The Order of the Boar would unleash him onto the city!”
“Don’t assume,” the older guard spoke calmly, forcibly guiding them further in, “in my years of dealing with the councilate’s orders, I’ve learned to trust their judgements, especially if it comes from Lady Kotaphira.”
Craldo’s head turned to stare at him incredulously, “I don’t trust her the most!”
“Then why are you a part of this mission?” Tannim shook his head, frown harsh in the torchlight.
That shut him up and they continued walking, keeping their footsteps as quiet as possible as they ventured further.
“If this is where the Order of the Boar’s hideout is, we need to make sure we don’t run into any of them, and respect anything of theirs. Which means not taking anything!” Kemryn whispered as they turned a corner, facing a large room in front of them, the dank smell of sewer and mold stinging their noses, the heavy weight of moisture clinging to their clothes, “that pathway there,” she pointed, “should lead us directly to the chamber.”
“How do you know that!” Craldo hissed.
Her head shook, “Don’t worry about it,” they carried forward, and the feeling of someone watching came from every direction. Into the Old Caverns they went, naturally formed pathways making it difficult to navigate. Old and faded markings on the walls were all around them, the sounds of dripping water constant. Ahead they found themselves in a large room with makeshift tables, sets of crates, and a bar across a far wall with many candles, though only one was lit. Shadows danced across a blackened demon’s skull on the wall over the candle, and all three felt they were intruders in an unknown, evil shrine.
“We need to leave,” Craldo whispered.
“No,” Kemryn gripped her hands tightly and scanned the many passageways that led off from this main chamber, “this way,” she took off quickly, not wanting to be in that evil place any longer than she had to be. She’d had enough skulls for one day.
“How do you know!?” Craldo and Tannim said in unison as they trotted behind.
When they arrived at the cell, the first thing she did was inspect it thoroughly. The hand-carved room had recently been patched for cracks and holes, as someone before had prepared for what was to come. She kept this bit of information to herself. Craldo was too curious for his own good, and she feared he would compromise their mission further. Another round of double checking, and she knelt into each corner one at a time, drawing circles and symbols in the dirt before releasing what little was left of her magic like syrup from her fingers. One hand to follow the designs, the other hand moving in different ways against the hand that dripped magic. Afterward she linked the corner symbols to one larger circle in the center, slowly letting her magic pool from her fingers in the process in a constant stream. All the while she concentrated, sweat dripping off her person. She moved her hands in tandem with each other until the spell was complete. Exhausted, she looked over her work, watching the floating, glowing runes bounce up and down slowly as glowing chains bubbled up from each linked rune and lifted before everything fading into darkness. She hoped, prayed, that it was enough.
“There,” tired, she leaned against the opening of the chamber, “once he’s in place, the runes will bind him to the room. Whatever noise he makes will be confined within, and he won’t be able to see past the opening. With the help of a few other mages from the College, we should be able to link to my runes in the corners from the outside of this chamber and move the entire thing if need be,” she looked up at Craldo and the older guard, “let us hope that’s not needed, hm?” She wasn’t sure they understood what she meant, but having to constantly stream that much magic to transport something of that size and weight meant needing nothing short of the mana well at the College, “let’s get back before we’re reported to the Boar’s Head. I’m sure they’re aware of our presence by now,” hopefully the Captain would have the prisoner chained and ready by now, maybe even on his way in. Everything was ready, all he had to do was roll him in and her spells would take care of the rest, suspending Rinlear in air with her magical chains.