The Stones of Arcory Chapter Twenty Three
The Victims of Wild Magic
“What are you waiting for?!” Goldenstar shouted, pulling his own long sword from its scabbard. He was one of a new breed of wizard who was as comfortable with blade as he was with spell, having no troubles exchanging staff for blade. I personally found the new college where he was trained suspect, but I had to admit he held his own well, as we fought the towering giants. His magicks coupled with the skill of his soldiers admirably matched the great beings, their empowered blades and armor sustaining them against the battering from their batter, and seemed at the time to actually discourage our foes. For myself, I offered additional second pattern protections while they engaged in battle. Even with my enchantments, their shields rang loudly out across the pass as the great stone axes fell upon them.
As I noted, my part was to stay back at the fore of the train, offer enchantments as well as blasts of light and lightning to distract the giants as the men ahead of us blocked thundering blows, avoided swings which smashed boulder and stone from the mountain walls and seemed powerful enough to crush a man with one blow. It did seem the most prudent, if not so heroic of stations, but Goldenstar had insisted once he noticed my condition, and my increasing agony forced me to agree.
True, I was almost taken out of the battle myself when a swing of an axe blow propelled a swordsman a good fifty yards in my direction. To my astonishment he survived, although not without crashing heavily into the lead wagon. I considered myself lucky I didn’t share in his and his sword mate’s misfortune.
“But you felt alive, didn’t you?” a battered Goldenstar offered after the opening battle was done; the giants dispatched, then dragged off the road.
I had to admit my heart had been beating quickly. But at my age, I wondered if that was a good thing. I still do.
And then we saw the full extent of the trap. There were not only the three lead giants, but nine more, cleverly concealed amongst the mountain rock, they had outmaneuvered us, surrounding us, leaving the caravan only guarded by the men-at-arms who, in the face of such an opponent could either bravely fight and die, or abandon their charge and hope they could avoid the great axe blows as they fled.
The men women and children in the wagons, however, had nowhere to go, nowhere to run.
It was then I knew we were lost If I did not call upon spells I had not prepared, the like I hadn’t used since the mire wyrm. But my memories of war were invoked and the desperation I had felt in those dark days invoked powers of the third pattern. All the giants needed to be slain in moments, as they were already pulverizing the rear wagons with mighty swings if their great stone axes.
These spells were the kind I once regularly wielded against the greatest of Infernal dragons, powerful bolts of arcane energy which once had saved armies, but as with the sure grip I had had on my staff since I was an apprentice, the control of those powers were suddenly beyond me. The power flowed through me the same, but my fingers and knuckles erupted in agony, I lost my grip on my staff and the energy, spewing forth the spell of shattering wildly in all directions – at the giants, at the great cliff alls above us and across the chasm, and even at the wagons and unlucky Valesmen at the fore of the caravan. And at fellow Goldenstar.
It took all the power I had, knocking me down to my knees, and left shattered ruin all around. My fellow only survived because I had a small store of restorative magick in the amethyst crystal I carried, the one Gwynhafer had gifted me with on the Plains of the Voros before we faced the Red Rain. Yes, I made the choice to preserve him over the Valesmen I had also inadvertently shattered. The amethyst, like myself I will know admit, is a shadow of what it had once been.
With its remaining essence, I made that choice between him and them, bringing my fellow back from certain death. Whoever reads this after I have passed, think of me and my actions as you may, and understand you are not likely to make any judgments I have already made on myself. True, without my act, they would have all likely been slain by the giants. I will not argue that point. But I will also argue those men, women and children who were slain by my wild magic, did not deserve to be victims of their protector.