Gorim spent the day reading the rest of Jento’s work. He didn’t learn much of anything new except for the dangers of what he’d done. For a while, he’d even frightened himself. Jento could barely comprehend the attractors, and was in fact, responsible for labeling them. Most mages of the brotherhood couldn’t see them at all, instead had to hold on to an element to ‘feel’ which it was. Some mages could not comprehend individual elements at all. He wondered why this wasn’t part of the training. It seemed important to him. Perhaps it was to keep all of the novices and acolytes on equal footing.
Around mid-day he made his way to the dining hall. Yunse grabbed him as he stepped away from the counter with his food and escorted him to a private dining room in the back. “Gorim, my boy. I’m so happy to see you up and about. That was quite a trial! You had us all worried.
“I am sorry I worried you. All of our training led me to wait for instruction. I waited as long as I was able, and only when I felt my life was in danger did I take steps to get out.” Gorim put his bowl down and sat at the table with Yunse, Kirik, and Lenka, and two other brothers he’d never met.
“Lenka here says you’re interested in Jento’s work. Dangerous study for a brand new brother. Where exactly does your interest lie?” Yunse was never one to beat around the bush. Gorim was surprised to feel relief at the realization that he hadn’t changed. He was still reeling, processing all of the new information he’d gained over the last two days. Having something steady was comforting.
“I recall your lessons on Jento lake,” he said, spooning a mouthful of stew into his mouth to give himself time to think. “I was always interested in it’s geography, a perfect circle with an island in the exact center. The world doesn’t have many perfect circles. They appear in nature, a droplet of water, the iris of an eye, but seldom in geology. It always intrigued me, so when Brother Kirik mentioned that he killed himself, it sparked my interest.” Everyone at the table laughed, but Gorim was mildly embarrassed at his pun.
“Good, good,” Yunse said. “Did you learn anything form his writings? I’ve read that very same book.”
“I learned how dangerous what he was attempting was. I learned that with refinement, his techniques might be possible, and I learned that I do not wait there to be a Gorim Lake.” The small group laughed again and he judged their reactions. The laughter felt genuine but Kirik was staring into his stew.
One of the brothers Gorim didn’t know spoke next. “Please tell us how you managed to stay in the trial room for so long. There can’t have been enough water in the air.” His piercing blue eyes bored into Gorim. They were astounding. Gorim had never met anyone who wasn’t Shindow. Outsiders who had the ability were killed, rather than brought to the school.
“I’m sorry, we haven’t met. You have me at a disadvantage, you seem to know me, but I don’t know you. Would you please tell me your name?” It was a bold move for Gorim. Technically, they were equals, but Gorim wasn’t feeling it from this brother.
“I’m sorry, how rude of me. My name is Anders. I am currently assigned by the council to investigate how you were able to survive so long.” All of the color drained from Gorim’s face. He chewed slowly, searching for why he was so hesitant.
“I’m nothing special, why is the council so interested in me?” Gorim was genuine in his question.
“You created water, that was intriguing. But when you opened the ward to escape, you didn’t just create a minor rip. You destroyed it. You tore the fabric of the weave, and completely unraveled it. I’m certain you’re not aware, but what you did nearly destroyed the city. That weave is part of the core of the school, it’s connected to the magic that keeps the city in the air. If brother’s Yunse and Kirik hadn’t been watching… If they hadn’t been there, the magic of the school would have unraveled.” He was animated as he spoke. Gorim began to understand the feeling he was having. He was in grave trouble.
“Brother Anders,” Kirik interrupted, standing up from his seat. “Gorim is still weak and confused by his trial. This is only the second day. He has much recovering to do. Perhaps you could continue this questioning tonight, when everyone is feeling slightly more up to it.”
“I am feeling up to it now,” replied Anders, also standing. The tension in the room was thick. Kirik drew himself to his full height, and seemed to grow slightly.
“Gorim has been my pupil for over a decade. He has lived at this school his entire life, and he has done nothing wrong.” There was a force behind Kirik’s words. He was adding authority to his speech, as if he were talking to an unruly novice. “That will be all for now. I will check with Gorim again tomorrow and see if he is well enough to speak to the council’s representative. Until then, the typical post-trial convalescence is seven days. If he is not feeling up to talking to you, he is still my charge for that time.”
The newest brother at the table had no idea there could be any sort of dissension between mages. In his mind they were a cohesive force, all working together all the time. More that he had to learn. He was grateful for Kirik’s protection. Kirik escorted him out of the dining room and up to his suite. “We were not expecting you at lunch today. Please forgive Anders – he is a good man. He is zealous in his work. Sometimes perhaps too zealous.”
“I feel like I am in trouble. Am I?”
“I am afraid that I do not know the answer to that, my friend. I fail to see how you could be, you did nothing against any rule. But Anders wants to take you to The Council straight away.” Kirik walked into Gorim’s room with him. “Would you like something else from the library? Perhaps something slightly less controversial? I’ve heard there is a lovely study of the nutritional benefits of soaking toasted bread in goats milk.” Kirik was almost laughing.
“I think I’ll just meditate. I haven’t had much time for it in the last couple of days, and I miss it,” Gorim replied.
“Very well. Do not fear. You will be fine. Meditate and find peace, Brother Gorim.” Kirik walked out the door, leaving Gorim alone.
The new brother needed to get down to see Haros. He would know how to make sense of all of this. As the newest guard, Haros would probably get the overnight shift, the one that none of the other brothers wanted. That meant he’d be waking up now. Gorim felt like going out the front of the school would be problematic.
As soon as it was dark, he woke from his meditation. In one smooth motion, he yanked the sheet off of his bed and jumped through the open window. He plummeted past the outer wall of the school, holding a white sheet trailing behind him. The island that held the school was nearly a thousand feet in the air, out of range of any weapons of normal men.
Gorim flew downward, accelerating past the island, and then heading for the ground. Halfway between the island and the ground, he surrounded his sheet with spirit, sealing the tiny spaces between the threads. It filled with air, decelerating him so rapidly he lost his grip on it. The new mage tried to remain calm, sending tendrils of his spirit out, searching for anything that could help. Bodies sank in air faster than water because water was more dense, providing more resistance. If he could thicken the air… If he could increase it’s density, he could slow himself.
Millions of feelers shot out, capturing elements. He wasn’t picky. Water, oxygen, whatever, he grabbed them and shoved them under him. Faster and faster he worked, sending more and more tendrils, gathering more and more elements under him, thickening the air just as he passed through it. It was slowing him. He was getting nearer to his sheet. But it wasn’t fast enough. He was going to hit the ground before he reached the fluttering salvation a dozen feet above his head. Getting desperate, Gorim changed his plan. He started gathering helium and hydrogen and stuffing them into an envelope of directly below him.
Seconds from the ground, he surrounded himself in spirit, hardened the shield, and split a single hydrogen element in the envelope. The resulting explosion rocked the ground, blowing trees over, and sending earth and rocks flying hundreds of yards. Gorim slowed to a halt three feet from the ground before he dissolved the envelope. He would have to apologize to Kirik for breaking his promise. They would have felt the explosion up in the school.
Gorim walked quickly to Gentu, it was less than a mile. As he approached the village, he heard Haros. “Halt! Who approaches?”
“Brother Haros. It’s Gorim.” He’d never been so grateful to hear the voice of his friend. “I have much to talk about.”
“Gor? You’re alive? When I left you’d been in there for two weeks! I was sure you were dead!” Haros ran forward and hugged his life-long friend. “How did you survive?”
Gorim put his hand on Ha’s shoulder. “That’s what I’m here to talk about. Apparently I can do a few things that other people can’t. Give me your hands.” Haros held his hands out, and Gorim grabbed them, repeating the demonstration he’d done with Kirik. He’d already broken his word to his mentor, one more time wouldn’t make it any worse.
“How. What? I can’t see any of that when I do it. It doesn’t look anything like that to me. I just see the dots and wrap them up. Sometimes I have to play with them a little to figure out what they are. No wonder you were always so fast! Gor, that’s amazing! You’re… you’re… I don’t know what you are. You’re amazing.” Haros hugged his friend again. “I’m so happy to see you are safe.”
“You too, Ha. I was worried about you during my trial,” replied Gorim, returning the hug. “The problem is, I guess what I can do isn’t allowed, or I’m in some kind of trouble.”
“I heard a rumor from the morning guard that the Brotherhood sent an inquisitor up to the school. I had no idea it was for you! I figured some acolyte tried something he shouldn’t have. Gor, you have to go. Give me a few minutes, I’ll go grab a couple things and we’ll head out. We can find someplace to hide.” Haros turned to leave.
“Wait, Ha. I cannot just leave. You cannot either. You have orders from the Brotherhood. Anywhere we go they will find us.” Gorim was unsure which he was more afraid of, facing Anders, or trying to survive in exile while he was hunted.
“Gor, with your talents and my brain, we can make it. What if they execute you? Or worse, what if they cut you off?” Cauterization was an almost mythical punishment, where a group of linked brothers cut off a person’s spirit. They forcibly removed the ability to see the world as all mages do. “You’d go mad like Tolhal! Imagine life without spirit.”
“They’re not going to cauterize me. At worst, they’ll yell at me and give me some horrible assignment.” However, he wasn’t so sure. He wasn’t sure about anything, except that he wouldn’t let anyone cauterize him. “I have to go back. Kirik is there, and he’s protecting me from Anders You find out what you can about Anders for me, and I’ll be back tomorrow night. See you soon, Ha.”
“Be safe, Brother. Promise me. If you get in trouble, let me know. I’ll come help you any way I can. And when you come tomorrow, try not to flatten the whole jungle.”
“I’ll do what I can. You try jumping out of the top floor of the school and not leaving a mark on the ground.” Gorim started to walk away.
“Next time you’ll have to show me how you do that,” Ha called after him.
“Next time I’ll have a better plan.”
As he walked back to where he landed, he realized just how poorly he’d planned this entire excursion. He never considered how he was going to get back. It turned out to be easier than he thought, once he spent a few minutes figuring out how to fly. Finding his window proved much more difficult, and then actually steering himself inside was the most difficult task.
Until he landed safely on the floor of his room beside Anders and Kirik, waiting for him. “Hello Brothers,” Gorim said. “Such a beautiful night, I just had to explore my new-found freedom to come and go.”
“I’m glad to see you’re feeling better,” replied Anders. “Perhaps now we can have that conversation.”
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