My Best Friend is a Prince from Another World



Pt. I, Ch. 13: The last day of the Wizards’ War, revisited


22rd day of the month of Kan, Imperial Year 2379
(Saturday, May 13, 1899 in the Terran common era)
6th year of the Wizards’ War
Hall of the Ancients, Isle of Mages

Archmage Irziben, 65th Guildmaster of the Isle of Mages and through it the head of the Wizards’ Guild worldwide, was a tired and worried woman. She knew she didn’t look her 117 years - at her level of skill and power keeping your physical body in a youthful state was a triviality - but it seemed to her that she now felt every one of those years every bit as much as someone with the trivial magic of common folk.

She sat alone with her thoughts, joined only by one of her apprentices, who remained silent; the ancients had always come and gone as they pleased except when they sat in council, and nearly all of them had abandoned the Island and the Guild. It was one reason she never wanted to take the Spell of Undying and join them - rejuvenation was an inconvenience, but the ancients all seemed to lack urgency or ambition. To her, that was something essential to humanity. Not that all of them had ever been human...

She has done so much to break the guild out of its pretense of neutrality, taking the role in the open as a leader among nations that the guild had always deserved. It had come so close! and yet she was likely the last leader of the Wizards’ Guild. Damned Feldaren and its economy and its machines; by the time the guild had realized the threat they posed, a little less than two centuries ago, they were already a continent-striding power. The Guild’s past techniques of suppressing innovation and co-opting the most intelligent could at most slow them down.

Irziben’s old master, Alrik, had seen that - and working through proxies, had set about to make sure that the two Slave Wars would lead to Feldaren’s defeat. Instead, by the end of the second they had seen the humiliation of all of the Guild’s allies and proxies. She had been a grown woman then, and beginning to be a powerful mage.

For almost thirty years she, Alrik, and a few others had labored to prepare the Guild to fight them without relying on others. To take its rightful place in the world. As the time approached, he seemed to lose his nerve. When he refused to start taking the steps they had prepared for, a group of younger mages asked him to step down and allow them to lead - with the implied threat of a battle, which they were sure he’d lose. She had been one leader among them, and as his former apprentice, she had been the one to let him know.

Looking back, she still thought he would have lost that battle. Instead of either openly stepping down in their favor or fighting, he had simply told her he was leaving and then walked off a moment later through a door in space-time that they, at the time, could not replicate.

His caution had seemed wrong at first - while the war was never as easy as some had expected, they had always had a path to victory in sight. Then the cruel Gods and crueler chance conspired to destroy everything she had worked for. These dashed newcomers, with even better machines, and knowledge of scientific arts far beyond even Feldaren's, had appeared where they could do the most harm.

Now bombs rained down on the Island night and day, aircraft had driven her dragon-riders from the sky, and while the supply of magical ore beneath the Island remained inexhaustible, it did them little good - it took slaves to mine it and wizards with the ability to attune it - and she had too few left of either.

Ironically, in the midst of the war, the incident through which the newcomers arrived was the key to figuring out what Alrik had done. Two young wizards had, separately, come up with the separate pieces of her final plan. One was very bright; she had figured out how to go one better on Alrik, and open a gate between worlds rather than just to plane-walk. It was small, opened briefly, and where it went was entirely unpredictable until it was opened…

The other was not especially bright, just very persistent, and very fond of old papers; his years in the archives had let him find an old report on how to explode unattuned magical ore. It was not the sort of thing that was useful under normal circumstances, and difficult enough that the guild had never taken steps to prevent it - but now it proved valuable in the process of retreating elsewhere and had stymied the armies of their enemies.

Opening the gate used a terrible amount of magic, but it was worth it - they had only to keep trying and she was certain it would open to someplace with enough magic, and a non-hostile environment. Then they would evacuate as much of the guild as could pass through the gate and then detonate the remaining seam of magical ore under the island.

With the ability to keep the gate stable for at most an hour or two, a huge number of younger wizards would be left to die, but the enemy fleet would go with them. It was unknown just how much ore was under the island; she worried a little it would be so much as to split the world in half. She’d prefer there to be a world to return to someday - for the guild to rule - but the important thing is that she and the senior leadership would survive somewhere in the universe.

“Guildmaster?” a voice said. Irziben was interrupted from her reminiscence, and realized that it was Kallen, the young wizard who had invented the gate. She was standing there with Roberto - the wizard who had rediscovered what could be done with unattuned ore. He was atypical, having kept the name his parents had given him after joining the guild; it spoke to his lack of imagination, although she could mostly forgive that given his diligence.

“Yes,” Irziben said, trying to keep the annoyance out of her voice. The two hadn’t been working together until recently, and she was curious what they could have come up with.

“Roberto and I had an idea,” Kallen said, “for how to save the guild.”

“I have a plan for that,” said Irziben.

“She means the entire guild,” said Roberto. “I found a report from one of the ancients, who had been plane-walking, from a world a bit like ours, you see, where…” and he’d have likely gone on if Kallen hadn’t interrupted him.

“We can make a bigger gate,” Kallen said. “We can use the gate to absorb the energy of exploding ore. It doesn’t even take that much of it to enlarge the gate; if I’m right about what you’ve been planning to do, we can easily just send the whole island through instead.”

“You’re sure?”

“We’re sure. We’ve already tried it at a small scale,” said Kallen.

“How quickly can we do this?”

“How quickly can you get …” Kallen took a moment to remove a scrap of paper from her robe and read it, “according to our calculations, we need about a little less than a ton and a half of unattuned ore, so however quickly you can get that moved next to the gate. We have enough for that, right?”

A ton and a half of ore sounded like a lot, but it was terribly heavy stuff, and that was only 150 ten kilo bars, which were each the size of a large brick. They’d been stockpiling it ever since Roberto had made his discovery, and they had several times that accumulated in the dungeons beneath them. It was simply a matter of moving it, and between apprentices and slaves, it would not be hard.

“Under an hour,” said Irziben. “I’ll order that much ore to be moved. What happens to the enemy fleet when we go?”

“That’s the best part,” said Kallen. “Roberto, you tell her.”

“We can’t be sure, but we’re expecting a big bang. The expanded gate is always a sphere, and our calculations were for a sphere that can hold the whole island, centered here. That’s about a 25km radius. That makes for long ways down.”

Roberto went on, “I can’t guarantee it, but there’s good reason to think that this seam of ore comes from volcanic activity under the island, and that the crust isn’t anywhere near that thick. I wish I could stick around and survive seeing it. That much water encountering that much magma is going to be glorious.”

“I see,” said Irziben, truly smiling for the first time in a long time. She sent her apprentice to get the remaining Archmages. They still had to wait for a reasonable world to appear on the far side of the gate, but when it did they would be leaving with the full resources and manpower of the Island behind them. For now, this was a one-way trip, but with her leadership and a new world friendly to their magic, they would rule the new world, and someday, they would be back to reclaim their place in this one.

End of Part I


About the author


  • California, USA

Bio: Amateur SF/fantasy writer. Professional computer geek. Something of a grouchy old man, but mostly harmless.

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