“What a bitch! I get it, she saved us and all, but then we ran her to town and came in with a way to fix her up and she does nothing but bitch at me about it. I know I’m stubborn but I’m not an idiot.”

I didn’t want to deal with her shit, especially since we were supposed to be helping her and she was acting like that. Fuck, I couldn’t understand who shit in her wheeties to be such a bitch about getting help from her friends.

“Brenden, Brenden, I think we can let it go now.” There went Adam, the voice of reason when I didn’t have a reason to give a shit. “She literally shattered every bone in her arms. I don’t think anyone was expecting her to be in a good mood.”

“Well fuck, man, she could have at least said thanks for thinking about her like that and going to capture a fireblood- whatever the fuck that is- and rip its bones out so she can have functional arms. A little gratitude, maybe?”

“To be fair, we didn’t exactly thank her for saving my life and fixing you guys up. We didn’t even ask her how she was doing.”

Adam was always pulling this shit. God fucking damnit, I couldn’t deal with it. I just kept walking ahead. Those shitters weren’t helping at all.

I looked back to Tells, who was walking along all casual and slow. “A ravine on the side of the road in a patch of blue flowers. That’s what we’re looking for?” She nodded. “Is that all we have? You didn’t get the direction or ask for details or anything? Are we just gonna be walking around out here like dumbasses?”

“She said it’s a cabin with cages around it. It’s off the right side of the only road out of town. It’s in a field of blue flowers. I don’t know what you want from me.”

Of course she wouldn’t think to ask more questions about what could kill us on the way there or what kind of guy Geren was. She was too afraid to talk to complete the simplest things that required talking, that’s why we started calling her Teller, after that magic asshole that didn’t talk. I couldn’t believe we were walking into this without protective gear, without any training, without shit for information. We had just grabbed our shit and walked out of town, toward wherever the hell this Geren lived. I lost track of how long we walked and soon enough it was night. We found a flat area by the road and I started a fire with my hand.

“We doing watches or what?” Adam was tired and slurring his words.

“Sure, I’ll stay up first,” I said. “I don’t know how to tell time out here but I’ll wake one of you up at some point to take over.” I waited for them to lay down and fall asleep while I looked in my book at the spells. I had calmed down a lot from earlier, but everything that happened was still irritating to me. Rowan was always pretty quick to back down when it came to people helping him, so I’m not sure what was going on now. Did becoming Vetia change him? Was it still Rowan in there or was he losing sight of himself. It still felt like I was talking to the same person, but there had been something off since we got here that I didn’t like about Rowan’s, or Vetia’s, whole situation. I found myself looking over the words on the pages, but not reading.

I was able to use my fire spell, but I never got the chance to summon electricity like the book said I could. Magic, or energy as it was called in this world, was different from how I ever expected it to work. It’s almost like painting or doing some kind of art. Each shape was like a piece of the spell that makes sense after reading through it a couple times. The lightning spell was a good example. I used my index finger to draw the shape of two diagonal z’s in the air. The book said the z’s represented the lightning itself, in its chaotic and jagged nature. When I would think about using energy, I could feel a tingling sensation form by whatever part of me was using energy. My index finger felt tingly and little white sparks of electricity sputtered out into the air around it. For each z, I dragged my finger slowly, making sure it was perfect. Then the “shape” was complete. Each shape was a part of the sigil, as the book called the finished designs. The z’s hung in the air before me, lightly shifting like electricity in a plasma ball. I began waving my pinky in a circle above them, barely meeting their upper tips, until it looked like lightning striking out of a circular cloud. The circle represented the forces which attract and conduct lightning. The final step, the activation step, was to wave my hand across the z’s and pull them down, away from their controller cloud. The motion of taking the lightning was exactly what it represented, harnessing raw electricity in an unnatural way.

The book without a title, with pages full of sigils and directions, was some kind of introduction to using energy. It said energy existed throughout the entire world, and to harness the energy of the world we used sigils, calling upon the true shape of the universe for its power. Shapes were like gateways to controlling energy, and every person could activate sigils, but not every person was as compatible with energy. Incompatible people were not advised to practice in energy beyond second shapes, as the intricate shapes of the universe would interfere with their own. It was strange and convoluted. Maybe the people of this world were still trying to understand it, or the book was trying to keep me from teaching random people how to use energy?

The book said that each shape added a different layer of force to the sigil. Every sigil had a set number of shapes, and then an action that interacted with the shapes to activate them on the user. Single shape spells were not commonly used because they were chaotic manifestations of the elements they represented. Like activating a wild flame or lightning storm directly upon the wielder. Sigils with two shapes were the simplest way of harnessing energy, and often manifested as the energy within the hands. Sigils with three shapes added a layer of direction to the energy. They were used to enhance the abilities of the user, while allowing them to access a more powerful version of the two-shape sigil. The book said these ones were the easiest to lose control of, and took many trials to understand. Energy had a way of following the user’s will to a fault, sometimes enhancing movement so much that limbs could be violently torn from their body, and potentially drain the user’s energy to strengthen its chaotic rampage further. Then it went on about four-shape sigils, sigils that were independent of the wielder, but followed the wielder’s will. They could be used for any number of tasks, but drained the user’s own energy as a result of the mental connection. The book referred to each tier as a Cel. One-shape was Cel, then ducel, tricel, and tetracel.

After the crash course on energy, the book presented a bunch of sigils organized into the three shapes. Most of them were ducel sigils, then about a dozen tricel sigils, and there were three tetracel sigils at the end. The tricel sigils looked like they were fairly similar to the ducel ones, but with an added shape and maybe a more complex design to an earlier shape. I figured having anything at the ready would be a good idea, so I spent a while memorizing a tricel that looked good and feeling its effects. After I got sick of it, I woke up Adam and passed out hard on my mat.

* * * * *

“Brenden. You’re not sleeping in like yesterday. Rise with the sun like the rest of us.” I heard Adam’s voice pounding my ears and his boot kicking my thigh.

I opened my eyes and it was still hazy and dim, when the sun was just starting to break the horizon and the sky was a hue the color of rich blueberry ice cream. Fuck, ice cream sounded amazing right then. We had all been eating dried meat and bread that was in our bags from the first day, but it seemed like we were already pretty low on food. I sat up, flipped the flap over and looked into the pouch. There was half a loaf of bread and about three thick slices of dried meat left. I ate a piece of jerky and about a third of the bread so I would have some for the rest of the day. I didn’t know what we were going to do about getting more when we ran out.

“Hey Adam, you were carrying all the fruit in your bag, right?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“How much food do we all have left?” I held my bag forward and showed what I had.

Everyone else showed theirs and we came to the conclusion that each of us would only have enough for the day if we kept eating at such a quick pace.

Desmond seemed honed in for this conversation, as it pertained to survival. “If we can all lower how much we eat, maybe skip lunch this time, we can have enough for one, maybe two more days. Other than that, we’ll need to hunt. And as far as I know, the animals here are all different and weird, so we don’t know what will be edible or not. Have any of us tried eating the fruit yet?” We all looked around and shook our heads. “Do we wanna split one in place of lunch to see what they taste like?”

“Sounds good to me,” Adam said. Tells nodded in agreement.

We packed our things and began our second day of walking. We only walked about half the day yesterday, so we definitely still had some distance to kill. The sun rose, and the heat grew immense. Walking on this open dirt road was brutal. We were running out of water quickly and I couldn’t find a spell in my book to generate water. Around noon, we saw a shape appear in the distance, coming down the road toward us. It looked like a wagon being pulled by some… things. I couldn’t tell what they were, but they were pulling pretty quickly.


About the author

Ren Cory

Bio: I'm an amateur writer, but I've got a story in my head that I want to tell. What I write won't always be amazing, but I really think it will get better with experience. I love reading and watching anything fantasy, scifi and anything in that sort of wheelhouse. I've always been inspired by those genres to be creative and do my own thing, creating entirely new worlds, histories, creatures, plants and the whatnot. I like trying out new ideas in the genres I love.

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