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“The Academy approves of this tactic?” Miguela asked.

 

Archmage Belvi chuckled. “I wouldn’t say the approval was unanimous, but they permitted me to conduct these trials after they heard my theories.”

 

Since the beginning of the Five Kingdoms, the practice of necromancy had been outlawed. Most of the citizens of the Five Kingdoms thought of the art as deviant and dangerous at best. But for Miguela’s people, the Xandrans, the idea of necromancy chilled them to the bone marrow because it reminded them of the darkest part of their history, the Mad Sultan Era.

 

“Yes, I can imagine that dealing with such magiks would be disturbing for one of your cultural backgrounds. But I reassure you that how the magik is used is strictly up to the individual’s character. Magik is incapable of being good or evil,” the Archmage explained, seemingly sensing her discomfort. She understood the logic, but the atrocities of the Mad Sultan Era still haunted Xandrans to this day.

 

“Along with the Academy’s permission, they provided two low-powered scrolls to perform the tasks, so we won’t need to learn any dark magik, nor seek out anyone who might know it. The hamlet of Arizi provided us with the two cadavers, making this an official experiment with the full backing of our benefactors,” Archmage Belvi added. Miguela nodded but could not shed a lifetime of learnings in moments.

 

“Why me? Surely, you have more experienced scryers available,” Miguela asked before she could stop herself.

 

“I do, and I would have asked them if any of them had given me the results that you had. You were the first to scry an encounter with the Scourge. However, the others reported such encounters not long after your session. The difference between you and them is that only you saw through the eyes of a corpse after it was raised,” the Archmage answered, showing no signs of being insulted by Miguela’s question or tone.

 

“Another scryer, Scryer Anderton, saw what he described as motionless flashes of his scried target after they perished. However, the experience rendered him so weak that he has to finish his recording in an infirmary bed and has still not recovered,” he added.

 

Miguela remembered Scryer Anderton. He was the only other Xandran Scryer she knew of at the compound.

 

“So, that leaves only me?” Miguela asked rhetorically and sighed loudly. Archmage Belvi nodded sympathetically in response.

 

“Then let’s begin,” Miguela said in a more determined voice than she felt.

 

The Archmage smiled and unrolled one of the two scrolls, focusing his attention on the scroll, his lips moving as he silently read the incantation. Then the scroll began to glow a luminous purple, and before Miguela knew it, the dead Xandran on the cart twitched with life. The undead cadaver stumbled forward. Its head flopping from side to side. After a moment of allowing the abomination to flounder around. The Archmage severed the spell, causing the body to crumple to the floor.

 

Miguela stood frozen. She felt beads of sweat forming on her brow and her mouth dried up like she was hungover.

 

“Scryer Miguela,” the Archmage said, snapping her back to reality.

 

“Sit and focus on me.”

 

She sat, and Archmage Belvi sat across from her. He cupped a silver pendant in his hands.

 

“Scry this.”

 

Miguela went through the motions of casting the spell and felt the runes latch onto her ley. She braced herself as the world lurched for the incoming surge of information that slammed into her mind. Miguela became Louis Blout a talented theif who pushed her luck too far in Xandelfi and had to move to a hamlet in Arzan because she stole from one of the major players in the Xandran underworld known as the trades. These days, she stole just enough to survive without arousing suspicion. It was not a glamorous life, but at least she lived.

 


 

Louis rooted through the jewelry box, looking for an item not made from cheap stained glass. He finally found a ring with a chip of a diamond in it. Louis wondered if it was time to move on from Arizi. The problem was he enjoyed the hamlet. It had enough traffic from the Academy building to attract unimportant people, but not enough an ambitious member of the trades, keeping his cover safe and allowing him to prey on the compound guards when they came to town.

 

However, when times were slow, Louis had to resort to robbing the locals. They were simple folk without access to many riches, and he had to be very selective with what he stole. If Louis stole some poor sap’s life savings stashed under their floorboards, local authorities looking out for the criminal, the Xandran who drifted into town a few months ago would be the first suspect. So Lous stole things that he thought people would not miss, or at least, think they misplaced and traded with some of the merchant guards when they came. A noise from outside snapped him back to reality. He cursed himself for allowing his mind to wander instead of getting in and out as quickly as possible.

 

“This is Constable Wilbe! Come downstairs, surrender peacefully, and I promise the judge will hear you reasoning for what you did with compassion,” a voice said, echoing through the empty home.

 

Louis was on the second floor in the master bedroom of a small house. The owner was a widowed waitress who worked at the mage tavern, the Cauldron, and now, the constable and most likely his men were on the ground floor, waiting to put him in irons.

 

Louis’s mind raced as he thought over his options. There was no way he could fight the constable and his men. The hamlet of Arizi was not a typical hamlet. Because it had an Academy building that helped bring in ducats. Arizi had resources available to them that many towns did not have. That included well-armed and trained law enforcement.

 

Louis looked towards the window and tried to remember the layout of the land. It would be a long leap, but it would beat going to jail. He quickly moved across the room, opened the window, and swung himself out. He pulled himself to the roof and spotted the tree that he remembered. He started to sprint when he heard a voice.

 

“Stop, you scoundrel!”

 

Louis glanced down to see thick-bodied Constable Wilbe pointing a short, polished stick at him. Louis figured he had no choice but to jump and hope that Wilbe would not be able to keep up with him. Louis reached the edge, jumping with all his might, and just as Louis took flight, he noticed a flash of light from Wilde’s direction. The stick must have been a wand was the last thought he had before his entire body was enveloped in a burning sensation, and he saw the world spinning as he pinwheeled to the ground, landing with a resounding crack.

 

Louis was barely conscious and could not feel his arms or his legs. He could, however, hear boots crunching towards him.

 

“I told you I got him good,” the now familiar voice of the constable said.

 

“That you did, boss,” another voice he had never heard before replied.

 

Louis felt somebody tug at the handkerchief he tied around his face.

 

“It was that sleazy Xandran. I knew he was bad news. Most of his kind are,” Constable Wilbe said before spitting a wad of mucus somewhere near Louis.

 

“Should we give him a healing potion?” The other voice asked.

 

“Nah, look at his neck, son. He wouldn’t survive the shock of healing,” Constable Wilbe answered.

 

“I guess you are right,” the younger voice replied. Louis realized that his twisted neck was causing him trouble breathing, and it did not take long for him to drift away into the blackness of death.

 

“AWAKE!” A voice boomed in his mind. Louis was unsure how long he had been unconscious, but judging from how disoriented he felt, he reckoned it was for a long time. To his surprise, his body moved on its own accord. As he stood, his head dangled from side to side akin to a children’s doll that had lost all of the stuffing in its neck. Despite his head flopping about, Louis noticed two people in the room. A pretty, young Xandran woman and a well-dressed Arzan. Was he in the compound? How wasn’t he dead? And who were these people? Louis thought as his body staggered forward. However, before he could think much more about the questions, his world went white, and he died again.

 


 

Miguela woke up with a start. She was confused as she attempted to figure out who she was.

 

“Miguela,” the familiar voice of Archmage Belvi said, bringing her sense back to her.

 

She sat upright in her chair and noticed that the Archmage using the cart, the cadaver was on, as a writing desk.

 

He did have a pitcher of water and poured a mug.

 

“Drink first,” he said, handing her the mug. Miguela drank the water greedily, occasionally rubbing her neck to ensure it was still intact.

 

“Sorry to rush you, but please tell me what you saw and leave out no details,” he said after she put the mug down.

 

As Miguela told Archmage Belvi what she saw, she remembered to take a mental note to avoid the constable because she did not need any more negativity in her life.

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A note from CKJ5

If you like what you are reading, you can find more epic adventures in the Five Kingdoms universe on Amazon:

Book 1: Scourge of the Five Kingdoms

link: https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B09VK3JZ8V

Book 2: Dogma of the Five Kingdoms

link: https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B09VKC3TRR


About the author

CKJ5

  • Tokyo, Japan

Bio: Charles K. Jordan was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He attended university in his home state, as well, where he studied Information Technology. After graduating, he decided to move abroad to experience more than what he had seen in the United States. He found his way to Japan in 2003, and since then, he has called Japan home.

Charles K. Jordan was always drawn to fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure. When he was a young child, the first novel he read was Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe, and from that point, he was hooked. Since then, he has found inspiration and heroes from various writers in all forms of media. Some of his heroes include Robert Jordan, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Quentin Tarantino, Terence Winter, Garth Ennis, and Glen Cook, just to name a few. Ever since that fateful day that led him to pick up Bunnicula, he knew his calling in life would be to create and hopefully contribute to someone’s growth and dreams.

Charles K. Jordan vowed to himself that no matter what happened in his life. He would never stop dreaming, writing, and creating.

The Five Kingdoms of Cordizal series available on Amazon:

Book 1: Scourge of the Five Kingdoms

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VK3JZ8V

Book 2: Dogma of the Five Kingdoms

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VKC3TRR

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