Category: Caged Mages

Kylan looked up at the girl he’d met in school. She was older now. Strangely enough, he was younger. She had been the one person who’d ever seemed to care how he felt or what he thought. When all his other peers had taken to avoiding him because of his misanthropic ways, she had continued to reach out.

Somewhere along the way, they had become friends. He had thought numerous times of asking her out to one of the innumerable social events that the campus had. However, that would have meant that he would have had to be in a crowd of people. It was something he couldn’t handle.

Now, it was too late. The spell that had killed so many had made him little more than a child. She would never see him as anything more. He stepped up to her and tried to smile. She was here, as many mages were, to find a potential apprentice. The other children here were young enough to be molded to their future master’s ideas of what a mage should be.

“Hello, little one,” Emara said softly. “What’s your name?”

“K – Keiji,” he replied. “This… this is Lansky.” He gestured at the water sprite that was his familiar. Emara had never seen his familiar when they’d been in school together, but as a potential master, it was her prerogative to see him now.

“Would you like to learn potions crafting?” she asked, her voice gentle.

It occurred to Kylan that she was speaking to him as one might a skittish animal. Then he recalled that she had always spoken to him in this manner. He nodded once and took the hand she held out to him. Her touch was gentle. A part of him wished that he had allowed that touch when he was her peer. He shook the thought away and followed his new master and guardian out of the crèche.

Human Barcodes

Kylan smoothed his cloak and ducked into the hotel lobby. The room was full and bustling with activity; not surprising really since there was a magic conference ongoing. He sighed and tried to make his way to the front desk.

He darted in and out of the crowd, ducking under arms and around people who seemed intent to block anyone’s access to the sign-in book. “Kylan Graves,” he said when he finally reached the desk. “I have a reservation.”

“Take a number,” the harried clerk muttered.

Kylan sighed and took a number from off a roll that had been set up for that very purpose. “163,” he read aloud. Groaning, he stepped back and waited for his number to be called.

“I’m 53,” a voice above and to his left said. “Ironic that you made reservations and you have a later number.”

“I’d have come last night if I’d known people arriving on the day of the conference would be relegated to numbers,” Kylan murmured. The speaker was older than he was and more old fashioned. He wore flowing robes and glanced around him with thinly veiled disdain at the modern uniforms the mages assembled wore.

“As it is, you might not even get a room,” the elder said.

Kylan glared but didn’t rise to the man’s baiting. “Right,” he replied. He ducked through the crowd and away from the man to find a seat near the tinkling fountain. As he sat down a shockwave hit him, knocking him into the water.

He came up coughing and sputtering to a silent room. All around him, instead of people, were piles of clothes and dust. “Lansky,” he hissed, his voice sounding strangely high in pitch.

“I’m here, Ky,” the water sprite said from a place at his elbow. “It was a spell.”

“The… the mages at the conference?” Kylan asked, as he made his way to the edge of the fountain. It was then that he realized that his cloak was hanging loosely over his body. “What happened to me?”

“I think they’re dead, Ky,” Lansky said. “But you… ah, you’re little – not shrunk, little.”

Kylan moaned and the clambered out of the fountain. No one else was near enough to have been knocked in as he was. That didn’t mean that no one else had survived though. “Lansky, let’s go see if anyone else is still alive.”

He wandered up and down the corridors of the hotel, taking care to avoid stepping in any of the piles of dust. The place was like a ghost-town and Kylan was beginning to think he was the only survivor when he heard voices coming from the area of the pool. He peeked in to find a girl and a boy who looked about his own apparent age. Both were soaked and had apparently been in the pool at the time of the shockwave. Sighing in relief, Kylan darted forward.

Monica Ferris

an author with many hats

A Land of Curiosity

From the files of Shynian Intelligence

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