Monday, August 29, 2005

City of Mages: Chapter I

It is often said that the sun never sets on the city of Erilliance. In fact, the sun sets on Erilliance as often as it sets anywhere else; this is merely not always apparent from inside the city, due to the light emitted by the star gem. This is why 200 years ago the decision was made to build the Tower of Doom over the star gem, in the hopes of allowing the people of Erilliance to sometimes get a little sleep. Still, the city of Erilliance, especially the central square and the tower of doom, are pretty well lit all the time.
Tonight at the top of the tower, the four most powerful magic users in the world were about to meet, as they did whenever half a moon was in the sky, to discuss matters important to the governing of the city, such as their were any. Tonight there were two matters on the table: the second was the Archmage's frequently heard petition to rename the Tower of Doom "Something a little more cheerful". The other was a matter of grave importance, the specifics of which were known only to Lady Cecilia, who had put it on the table in the first place. The other three members of the council were eager to hear what it was.
Lady Cecilia had arrived first; she always arrived first. She was a small, elderly woman who looked like she could be your Grandmother, the kind of Grandmother who always made you milk and cookies and played cards with you when you were little. She wore a conservative looking black dress, and had a marroon shawl wrapped around her. She was sitting in her customary armchair, sipping a steaming beverage and looking very relaxed when the Archmage came in.
The Archmage of Erilliance was by far the youngest member of the Council of Four; he was a portly dwarf with a full dwarfish beard and a typical dwarfish fondness for alchohol. He was dressed, as always, in shimmering golden robes with purple trim and a tall Wizard's hat in matching gold and purple. He came in, looked around, and sat down in the dwarf-sized chair next to Lady Cecilia.
"Gooday, Madam!" he intoned cheerfully, "Now what's this grave news we've been hearing about? Some kind of War? A Plague perhaps? It can't be another hurricane, Thurigen would have known already!"
"Nothing so dramatic," said the old woman calmly, "But perhaps something more important, in the long run. You'll hear about it when everyone else does,"
"Where are they, anyway?" asked the Dwarf, "They're late,"
suddenly a strong gust of wind came in through the window nearly blowing off the archmage's hat. Lady Cecilia wrapped her shawl even more tightly around herself.
"We Druids don't take nearly as regimented approach to time as you do," said a voice which seemed to come from the wind itself, "We tend to think of it in broader terms. Our final companion, I belive, is having a bit of trouble with one of his pupils,"
The wind had now formed itself into a small whirlwind, which quickly settled itself in the chair across from the archmage. Thurigen had not attended a meeting in person in almost two hundred years - in fact, only a handful of people had ever actually seen him during that time. There was some doubt as to whether he actually possessed a corporeal body - most of the time these days he was nothing but a gust of wind and a disembodied voice. But he was not dead, and therefor could not legally step down from the council without an undue amount of paperwork, so he continued to attend the monthly meetings in whatever way he could.
There was now only one chair empty. It was human sized, wooden, and somewhat plainer than the other chairs, but still comfortable-looking. For several minutes, the three in the room stared poignantly at it. Suddenly, Xindor the Incredible appeared, standing in front of it.
Age had not mellowed his heroic features - indeed, though his hair and his little goatee were now white instead of a shiny black, that was the only sign that he was pushing four hundred and fifty - in human years, this could be translated to about ninety. He was wearing a a tunic and cape that were currently dark purple, but appeared to be changing colors, rotating through the spectrum rather rapidly. He sat down as he addressed the rest of the council.
"Sorry I'm late," he said, "I had to deal with one of my students - rather severely. YOu remember the fire in the alchemy building last week? Well, it turns out it wasn't just a stray Pheodgin exploding. All dealt with though - on to business!"
"Yes," said Lady Cecilia slowly, "Business. As I told you all in my messages, I have grave news to report. News which, for the time being at least, cannot leave this chamber. I'm sure you all understand?"
"Of course," said the voice from the whirlwind, "Now get on with it,"
"I have been divining again," continued the witch. "An unreliable practice I know, you don't have to tell me that, but I've gotten rather good at it, and, for the most part, my predictions tend to be correct,"
She paused.
"Yes.." said Xindor, a bit impatiently.
"I had a vision," she said, "Of this council meeting sometime in the near future. I don't know exactly when, but I'm fairly certain it was around next winter,"
She paused again. Xindor and the Archmage gave her looks as if to say "Get on with it!". She stared back at them as if to say "I'm getting to it." Finally she continued.
"There were only three members," she said. She turned and stared straight at Xindor. "Your time, my dear," she said gravely, "Is nearly up,"
"Now lets not jump to conclusions," said Xindor. "There are plenty of reasons I might have opted not to attend a meeting. Besides, if I had been dead, a new leader of the SOrcerors guild would have come to power almost immediately - you know what we're like! I've had three assasination attempts this month - though none, I must say were very wel executed," he looked down and shook his head sadly, "They just don't seem to have the vigor the used to,"
"They like you," said the Archmage, "They have to keep trying to kill you for traditions sake, but none of them actually want to depose you,"
"That," said Lady Cecilia, "Is precisely what I wanted to address. You will be dead, I am nearly certain, in three years time. At the moment there is no other sorceror in the city capable of taking your place as leader of the guild. They lack the neccesary drive and the magical skill to succeed,"
"I fail to see the problem," said Thurigen. "If Xindor dies, another sorceror will step up to take his place. Maybe he - or she - will be up to the task, maybe not. But this is a matter for the sorcerors guild to deal with in their own way. We should not concern ourselves with it,"
"Besides which," said Xindor, "I'm not going to die! I'm a pictures of health. In fact, Lady Cecilia, I'm gonna write in my will that if I die in the next three years, I'll leave you money to take yourself out to lunch,"
"Then I shall take you to lunch in three years, if you are still alive," said the matron with just a hint of a smile.
"Now that that's over with," said the Archmage, "What does everyone think of 'Tower of Benevolence'? I was also thinking about 'Tower of Elation', but that is, I think, a bit too cheerful. Still..."
And he droned on, as he did everey couple meetings. The meeting was adjourned; nothing was decided. And Lady Cecilia sighed as she walked down the stairs toward her chambers. She knew what was coming in the next few years, had known for a long time, and the Sorcerors guild would need strong leadership if there was to be any hope. But as always, the old fools didn't listen. Aw well, she thought, nothing for it but to take matters into my own hands. And she set about concocting a plan.


Nathaniel Cornstalk said...

And so it begins. I'm rather proud of this chapter. This is going to be a great ride. I'm not abandoning the Dragon story, in fact with any luck I'll update it sometime next week. But now when I'm stuck on one, I'll be able to work on another.

wings said...

Good, I love the dragon story.
This one sounds good, but I need more to read before I can have a full opinion. I love the Xindor guy already, and am quite intrigued...

Jonah said...

I'm a fan of the archmage. Good writing, though you have some funky sentence structure towards the beginning. Still I really like your opening - very Discworldy.

Erin said...

It is rather Discworldy, what with the guilds and the assassinations-- but just original enough to be quite interesting. And I'm really looking forward to seeing where it goes. Lots of potential here! Keep up the good work!