Miguela woke up in a strange bed. In most cases, she might have panicked, but she did not have enough energy to bother with panicking. The room was brick but was painted white. It did not take much for her to realize that she was in the infirmary. Miguela rolled on her and was surprised to see the Archmage asleep in a chair not far from her bed. He opened his eyes, yawning deeply.
"Thank the gods. I am happy to see you awake," he said, standing from his chair.
"How long was I unconscious?" she asked, her voice hoarse.
"Three days. You regained consciousness for a few mins during the second day, but you were incomprehensible, and then you fell unconscious again," Archmage Belvi answered.
Miguela felt drained. She felt the same way when Caecilia snapped her out of her spell with a water pitcher. Miguela tentatively reached for her ley pool and found almost nothing. That was strange and concerning because three days should have been enough time to refill her pool several times.
"I feel empty," Miguela said. She could not find any other word to explain how she felt.
The Archmage nodded as if he understood perfectly before speaking. "Injuries of magikal nature often have that effect on the body. While the body and spirit mend from whatever magikal ailment they were suffering from, a magikian will often suffer low ley recovery. It will pass with rest," Archmage Belvi explained, his words relaxing her a bit.
"Now that you are awake and seemingly lucid, I see no reason you could not return to your chambers and rest in comfort," The Archmage said, turning to leave. She assumed to make the arrangements for her release. Before, he stopped and looked over his shoulder.
"You achieved magikal greatness the other day. The Academy will add what you have done here to the required curriculum for first-year students in the future. I am proud of you, Miguela," he said, leaving the room.
Before she knew it, there was a whirlwind of attendees getting her prepared for departure. Surprisingly, Miguela felt a little lightheaded, but she had little trouble walking by her own power. She fended off the attempts to have an attendee walk her to her chambers, and she walked the halls by herself. Miguela had to stop once to rest but made it to her chambers with no problem. Once there, she changed into sleepwear and crawled into her bed, falling asleep almost immediately.
The next few days, Miguela felt her strength recovering. Caecilia came by a couple of times to check on her, and while she treasured the visit. Most of her daily routine was sleeping, eating, and going to the baths. Miguela was relieved to find her ley replenishing. Her pool was still not fully replenished, but at least she could cast some spells with the power available to her now. Miguela had time to think about what had happened over these last few months. Perhaps the Archmage was correct, and Miguela could very well be making magikal history with her work.
After two more days of the same routine, Miguela felt much more energetic despite her ley pool being only half full. She was grateful that she was feeling normal again because today her brother was coming to visit, and she did not need him to do anything rash, trying to protect her.
Miguela put on a dress that had a rainbow of colors in swirl patterns. It was one of her favorite dresses because it was so colorful and the designs were so beautiful. After getting dressed, she headed to the visiting room to meet Jori. Miguela let herself in the room and found Jori already there, lounging on some cushions.
"Miggy," Jori said, standing to hug her.
"Jori, how are you?" she asked, returning the hug. Miguela realized how much she needed basic human contact these days with the hug from her brother.
"I am doing well, and my studies are progressing nicely," Jori answered, releasing her from his embrace. They both settled into the cushions on the floor before continuing.
"Are you still thinking of joining the military?" Miguela asked.
"The thought is still on my mind. I am interested in windships, and the Sultan is looking for mages to help bolster the Xandran air corps," Jori answered. Miguela sighed. She was not trying to have a spat with her brother, nor was she trying to baby him.
"Well, the air corps is vital to this war, and it would be lucky to have you," Miguela said, her words causing Jori to break out in a wide smile.
"I have not made a decision yet, but thank you, Miguela," he said.
They continued to make small talk about their daily lives. Miguela made sure to omit the parts about getting trapped in an undead body that was leagues away and damaging herself somehow, affecting her ley pool. She wondered what he was leaving out when they talked.
"I did look into the bounty hunter named Koal as you asked, and he does seem to have a faint connection to your Archmage," Jori started, finally coming to the topic Miguela was afraid to bring up herself.
"Really? How so?" She asked.
"I was getting to that. It seems that the Vestigare called in Archmage Belvi to consult on a case involving the bounty hunter. Afterward, the bounty hunter attempted to attack the Archmage, which was the cause of him losing his license to bounty hunt," Jori answered.
"That's an odd coincidence. Maybe Koal blames him for losing his license," Miguela said, and her brother responded with a shrug.
"Koal had forged documents authorizing a hunt of an aristocratic mage because the mage was practicing necromancy. The interesting part was that the mage was practicing necromancy and was also in possession of some powerful artifacts, which was why the Vestigare called Archmage Belvi to consult. Do you know what those artifacts were?"
Miguela did not know but figured her brother was about to tell her, so she shook her head as a response.
"The artifacts were the runes in this compound. Miggy, I don't know how, but somehow the runes are tied to necromancy," Jori finished with a worried look.
Miguela should have made the connection earlier because now that her brother said it, that was the only thing that made sense.
"Miggy, did you know?" Jori asked. Miguela could hear the fear of his Xandran upbringing in his voice.
"Of course not. Do you think I would have come here if I knew?" Miguela snapped, locking eyes with her brother.
Jori couldn't hold her gaze, looking away after a moment. "I suppose you wouldn't have come," Jori mumbled. "What are you going to do?"
"There is nothing I can do right now. Besides, all that we have is conjecture at the moment, so I will need you to dig up some more information. But, for the love of the thousand and one gods, be discreet."
Jori looked as if he wanted to protest, but eventually, he nodded.
"One more thing, Jori. You need to remember this project is a sanctioned project of the Academy, and the Consul knows what is happening here, so don't do anything that could get you in trouble politically."
As the meaning of her words sunk in, she could tell that her brother understood the implications of what she was suggesting. They tried to return to idle small talk, but after their conversation, their small talk felt clumsy and forced. Finally, it was time for Jori to leave. They walked to the windship docks and said their farewells. Before Jori could board the windship, Miguela made him promise again that he would be careful and not do something rash or foolish. Satisfied with his promise, she hugged him again and watched him board the windship. The windship slowly ascended into the sky, and Miguela left the docks.
Miguela knew that going back to her chambers and going over the information she discovered today would be the most logical move. But Miguela found herself going directly to the Archmage's office. Miguela stood outside his office for a few minutes, thinking of thousands of reasons she should not be doing this. Miguela decided that until she went through with it, she would not be able to sleep soundly. The decision to act made, she reached out and knocked on the door.
"Enter," the familiar voice of the Archmage called from inside.
Miguela steeled her resolve before entering the office. Archmage Belvi looked up from his work on the desk, smiling.
"Scryer Miguela, what a pleasant surprise. You are looking very well," he said as Miguela crossed the room.
"Thank you, Archmage Belvi. However, I am not here for a social visit. I have a few things that need clearing up," Miguela said, not allowing herself to be distracted.
"Oh, sounds serious," he said, standing up. "By all means, please tell me what is wrong."
"I understand that we have used necromancy for a few experiments, but I have to ask, is the scrying spell a necromantic spell?"
The Archmage exhaled heavily, and there was an awkward moment of silence before he answered.
"Indeed. You are the first to put it together, but yes, we communicate directly with the deceased, making the spell necromantic."
Miguela stood there stunned. She did not know what she wanted to do. Did she want to cry? Shout? Slap him? Runaway? Instead, all she could do was stand there slack-jawed in silence. The Archmage did not rush her and waited for her to recover her wits.
"How could you?" She asked numbly.
"How could I what? I never once told a lie nor forced anyone to do anything they did not wish to do. We are working with a new, experimental magik. It only happens to be necromantic-based magik," he retorted. Miguela opened her mouth to protest, but the Archmage cut her off with a sharp gesture.
"Let me ask you. Did we hurt anyone with our magik? Did we do anything but good with it? Did we not help people who could not help themselves with it?"
Miguela wanted to tell him that it didn't matter but thought of the witch, who would have still been feeding off the hamlet's people had Miguela not used necromancy to stop her.
"Magik is not inherently good nor evil. Any form of magik can be used to harm, just as any discipline of magik can be used to benefit society," the Archmage added.
"Then why keep it a secret?" Miguela asked.
"Unfortunately and understandably, hundreds of years of propaganda makes it difficult for people to come to terms logically that magik is just a tool and can be neither good nor evil," he answered.
She stood there stunned, not because she discovered she had been using necromancy, but rather because the Archmage was making an awful lot of sense.
"I do not believe the world is ready to have necromancy practiced freely in the open. Of course, such power should be regulated and controlled for the betterment of society, but its utility should not be ignored," the Archmage said.
Miguela felt a bit more at ease hearing the Archmage's thought process because it was logically sound.
"Archmage Belvi, are you a practicing necromancer?" She asked, and to her surprise, he barked a laugh at her question before answering.
“No, no, Miguela. I am a visionary.”
"What about the others? Don't they deserve to know the truth?" Miguela asked.
"They do; however, telling them now would only destroy the project and put tens of thousands of our soldiers at risk. So I beg of you to carry the burden of my secret for just a little longer," the Archmage answered.
"I will keep your secret for the benefit of the Five Kingdoms, but from now on, I need you to be honest with me. So that I can see, your vision is genuine," Miguela said.
"Wonderful. It will be amazing to have someone to confide in and share these last months' load, which have weighed heavily on my shoulders," Archmage Belvi said with a relieved smile.
With their understanding in place, Miguela returned to her chambers. She crawled into bed and, before collapsing from exhaustion, wondered if she had made the correct decision this evening or if she had done something horribly wrong.
- Tokyo, Japan
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
Book 2: Dogma of the Five Kingdoms