Battlemage Taika – Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

“That’s it?” Taika looked at the six old men and shook her head, “There’s supposed to be hundreds of you.”

“Tales for children and peasants. There hasn’t been a new battlemage in… What is it now, Frank?” Julien asked.

“Twenty-three years,” the oldest said.

“What happens if we hear from the towers?” Taika had grown up with stories of the battlemages protecting their world from the demons that came from the portals inside the wall.

“We tell the nice indigenous children not to play with the towers have a nice lunch with the village elders and come home.” Julien smiled and looked at her like he pitied her. “There hasn’t been an incursion in over a hundred years. Since we’ve declared peace with our neighbours, we’ve been glorified illusionists for parades.”

* * *

“There are only six of them!” she bellowed at Adrix not caring that his wife and small council were in the room. He smirked and she yelled, “You knew?”

Giving her a laugh that was too much like her father’s for it to be natural, he said, “Yes. Over the past three decades, father has cut their budget and prevented recruitment.”

“Why do the official papers say eight hundred?”

Rachel, Queen consort, replied almost bashfully, “That’s my fault. I didn’t want the other kingdoms realizing how under prepared we are to deal with magical attacks.”

It made sense and that made Taika all the more angry. “So I have six battlemages and no money to recruit more? You realize the youngest is seventy?”

“Sister. The wall accords have been broken. We can ignore our oath and let the rest of the world burn or we can ensure it stays safe. I refuse to be the king that forsakes our world. You’ll have your budget.”

Recruitment was harder than she expected. Everyone wanted to be a battlemage but most didn’t have the magical ability or the discipline. Instead of battle plans and training regiments, she and the other battlemages spent their days sifting through the recruits. By the end of the six months they had accepted three hundred, none of which were even close to the old standards of the battlemages. A fact that Julien reminded her of daily.

After a bad day of training, just under a year since she’d been appointed Knight Commander, she sat in a meeting with the six senior, in every sense, battlemages.

“How are they doing?” Each of them had been given a specialty to train. Each battle specialty needed a particular style and the six of them covered the five main specialties; Attack, Defence, Physical Enhancement, Healing, and Counter-Magic.

“They rely too much on the ambient energy of the ancestor crystals. When we’re out in the wilds there won’t be as much and they’ll find themselves unable to cast.” Julien followed his statement with a tisking sound.

“Then teach them.” She lifted her hand to stop his witty retort. They were insubordinate, rude, and questioned everything she said, but they only did it in private. They were exactly what she’d want as commanders. “I want each of you to pick the best ten of your classes and start giving them extra training. I want a fighting force by the end of the month. I want two groups of Defence mages. Until we can train a full battalion, we’ll be working with the fourth knight’s legion.”

“Those ninnies wouldn’t know a demon from a Panos.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you outrank them, then, and that they can follow orders.” Their faces fell as she said it. battlemages were taken from every class while knights were always nobles. To have the battlemages outrank knights was unheard of. “You six are now honorary lords and commanders. You’ll each have five hundred men under your command while in the field. You’ll also have a knight commander to advise you.”

After a month of preparations, the fourth legion and their battlemage commanders were ready for battle, or so they thought.

The Panos towers lit up and the legion prepared. They were slow to teleport and when they transported to the towers they were already surrounded by an enemy in strange armour, who was much better prepared for battle.

Read Next (November 21st)


If you liked this, why not read more stories set in The Tree of Worlds:

Battlemage Taika – Part 2

Part 1

Taika was knighted and everyone in the Maneean military was relieved to see her go. Despite being a capable knight she was too smart and stubborn for her own good. If she’d been a regular recruit they would have given her a frontier outpost to command.

The battlemages paraded in all the major parades and occasionally did demonstrations of combat for foreign dignitaries. They hadn’t seen combat since her grandfather’s time. There were fewer and fewer mages capable of casting anything beyond basic spells away from the power of the ancestors.

Before meeting the mages, she’d been given all the official papers about the battlemages. The papers said there was a full regiment of eight hundred. That was less than one percent of what they’d had in the last great war. Before they’d built the wall to keep out the demons.

She’d been given command a month before the coronation and her brother had asked that she appoint an honour guard of ten battlemages to protect him. She was thinking about that while she traveled to the official battlemage barracks. It was the only building in the capital that was against the wall.

Unfortunately, like the wall, it was old and crumbling. The wall was still a priority but the barracks were not and it showed. Walking into the crumbling building, she was challenged by a young soldier, maybe sixteen, “Stop. Who goes there?”

“Taika of Maneea, Knight Commander of the battlemages.”

To the boy’s credit, he didn’t flinch, simply replying, “You may pass.”

“What’s your name Private?”

“Alex, Sir.”

“Continue the good work Alex.” The boy’s chest puffed out and he seemed to be paying better attention. Her words and their reaction gave her the reassurance that she could do this.

Walking into the command office she found it empty. They must have been running drills, she thought. She checked the practice yards and found them not only empty but barren.

She found the banquet hall in the same state and most of the first two floors. She was going to give up and use a locater spell when she heard voices coming from the officer’s mess.

“You should have seen her Frank. They don’t make women like that anymore,” an old man was telling his tale to a group of five other old men. Each had a full glass of beer in front of them and several empty ones.

She stood at the door shocked and what she was seeing. None of them were in uniform, they were drunk and it wasn’t even eight in the morning. She let the old man finish his story and then said, “Is this what a battlemage does in the morning?”

The old man who was telling the story, swung around and threw a line of pure force at her. It was weak but well crafted; she deflected it easily, converting he energy to harmless wind.

“Hmm that normally works. Okay boys, let’s teach this pup some respect.” The six of them stood up and she could feel magical energy coalescing around them.

Raising her shields, she said, “Gentlemen, this is not the welcome I expected as your new knight commander.”

The entire group burst into laughter. The man who’d been telling the lewd story, between guffaws, said, “New is right. What are you, twelve? And what moron appointed a knight commander to us. We haven’t needed one of those in sixty years.”

“I’m twenty-two, and the moron who appointed me was the king. May his soul find rest.”

“A dying man’s wish for his what? Niece? Mistress?”

“Daughter.”

They all nodded sagely. The oldest of them squinted at her and said, “You’re the youngest one aren’t you. The troublemaker.”

One of the others said, “That’s why she’s been assigned to us.”

Since they seemed to have released their offensive magic, she dropped her shields and nodded, “Yes. That’s me. Now that we’ve decided not to try and kill each other I’d like to address the entire group.”

“Go ahead. We’re all here,” the storyteller said. “My name is Julien and here are your mighty troops. Impressive shield by the way.”

These six old men were all that was left of the mighty battlemages.

Read Next


If you liked this, why not read more stories set in The Tree of Worlds:

Battlemage Taika – Part 1

“No Adrix, you’re wrong!” Taika turned her head away to not let her older brother see her cry.

“I’m sorry Tai, he’s dying.” Adrix had the height and rust coloured beard of their father, but had yet to gain the girth of the king.

Running towards the royal chambers, still in her practice armour, she fought back the tears that would have most of the other knights in training laughing at her. Sir Vastra was fond of telling her that knights don’t cry. As if the older woman could ever dredge up tears from her cold crystalized heart.

The castle guard didn’t stop her running through the halls. Her amber hair, bright pink eyes, matched with her improbable height, marked her as one of the thirteen Maneean royal heirs.

The royal surgeon stopped her at the door of her father’s rooms. “He only has a few minutes left. He’s asked to see you.”

A wave of indecision rolled over her. She wanted to remember him as the vibrant happy man he’d always been and part of her thought if she didn’t go in he couldn’t die. After a breath she decided she was being silly and walked into his rooms.

The large bed that he’d always looked so comfortable in now made him look small and frail. He gestured for her to come closer and she kneeled at his bedside. “Father, I… she trailed off, unsure what she wanted to say other than “Don’t Die”.

“Little Dagger.” His voice was raspy and distant. “I’ve always had a special place in my heart for you.” He was once again the lithe frame of his youth, but it was due to illness not training. “You’ve always been my favourite.”

Smiling despite her tears, she laughed, “You tell us all that.”

“Perhaps, but it doesn’t make it any less true.”

“Don’t go, Father.” She knew it was an unfair request but she didn’t care.

Taking her hand, he looked at her and said, “You have always been most like me and I’m sorry for that. The traits that served me well as king are not well suited to a life as the fourth daughter and thirteenth heir.”

“It’s okay, Father. I’ll make a good knight.”

“You hate taking orders.”

“If they weren’t so stupid, I’d follow them.” He patted her hand.

“Adrix will be a good King but he will need someone with your sharp tongue and mind to keep him grounded. I want you to finish your knight training and then take over command of the battlemages.”

She assumed he was starting to slip and just smiled and nodded.

Giving her the cutting glare that had him nicknamed Dagger he said, “I have not lost my mind. They might be few but they’re powerful and they’re necessary. You are the most powerful, magically, of the heirs and I fear they’ll be needed now that the other kingdoms have pulled out of the Wall Accords.”

“Are you expecting war?”

Nodding he replied, “I’m expecting far worse my daughter, far worse.” He took a deep breath and released it slowly. He closed his eyes and his entire body started to glow. She called for the surgeon who called in her siblings, all but Adrianna who had been married to the prince of the kingdom on the opposite side of the circular wall.

The twelve of them stood around his bed and chanted the death song as his body converted itself to crystal. When it had finished, most of them were crying.

Taking the crystal, Addison who was the Keeper of the Crystals and first born, said, “And so in his death our father gives his power to his people and will rest in the hall of crystals.” The magical power of all Maneean’s came from their ancestors. It made the capital one of the most powerful places on the planet.

When a king dies, the kingdom goes into mourning for a year. In that year nothing happens but essential events and festivals. On the one year anniversary of the King’s death, the heir is coronated. It’s the most dangerous time for an heir, historically those below them in succession would try to assassinate them. This year was different; Adrix was the only heir that had ever cared about ruling, and both Adeena and Addison had abdicated in favour of service to the Temple of Ancestors.

The year passed with no assassinations, no scandals; nothing but sombre events.

Read Next


If you liked this, why not read more stories set in The Tree of Worlds:

Your Stories and Characters don’t Belong to you. Get over it!

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I have seen countless actors, writers, and creators complain about fan fiction, shipping, and head-canon. Especially when it comes to character’s sexuality or gender.

For a long time LGBT+ characters and stories were banned from all forms of media and other minorities weren’t included for many terrible reasons. That meant that people had to read into the subtext of characters and stories to try and see themselves. Now it’s less illegal but still greatly lacking.

Fiction is incredibly powerful, it can change the way you think and can even the way you act.

The emotional bond we feel towards fictional characters is incredibly strong. Not the least because we project ourselves onto them and their surroundings. Between that and emotionally intense fictional events can cause a weird disconnect between reality and fiction. I’ve always described that like a fog combined with awe.

“As long as nobody’s making money from it that should be an author or creator’s, I don’t mind it. And I think it does a lot of good. It doesn’t bother me” – Neil Gaiman

As a writer, I’ve come to realize that once I release my characters into the world I no longer have control of what people think or do with them. Isn’t that amazing? To have created something that is absorbed into the daily life or identity of others. That’s fantastic. To have people love what you’ve created so much that they want to build on it and continue the story is just beautiful.

Now you may think that anything that doesn’t come from the creator’s mind is worthless and devalues the characters. I disagree completely. If your stories can bring joy to others, then you’ve helped make someone happy. If that means they want to ship two characters that you think shouldn’t be together, then don’t read it. You are not obligated to read or create fanfiction, slash, ships, head-canon, fanon, or anything else.

You do not have to right to judge, insult, or humiliate others for loving something you created so much that they want to see themselves in it or play with the world.

“I am delighted to hear that you liked the Narnian books. There is a map at the end of some of them in some editions. But why not do one yourself! And why not write stories for yourself to fill up the gaps in Narnian history? I’ve left you plenty of hints … I feel I have done all I can!” – C. S. Lewis

I look forward to finding out what people love, what people see, and what people do with my creations. To me that is a completely new form of success.

 

Later Days,

Éric

Disclaimer: I am speaking of non-commercial use and emotional bonds. I do not support or condone the infringement of someone’s intellectual property. Plagiarism is bad… Duh!

Dear Dragon – Nightmare

Dear Dragon,

I had my first nightmare with you in it and it surprised me. I don’t remember most of my dreams; those that I do don’t last long and unlike your mom’s they’re not complex.

Your Gramma told me that in her nightmares I was always a small child. Even when I was in university, her dream version of me was no older than five. I always assumed that you’d be a newborn in my dreams. I was wrong.

In my dream you were trying to get to me and making that pterodactyl screech you make when you’re annoyed. You were toddling towards me, screeching, and darkness swallowed you. Your screeching turned into your panicked scream and I couldn’t get to you.

You were hurting and terrified and try as hard as I could I couldn’t get to you. (There are tears in my eyes just remembering the dream.)

When I woke up from the dream, I thought you really were screaming but after a few seconds of panic, I could tell you were just snoring. You were getting over a cold and your nose was doing this weird whistling noise.

Most likely the dream was caused by stress and feeling like I’m not spending enough time with you. I wish I could work from home every day. You change so much and so quickly that I don’t want to miss anything.

My greatest fear is that I won’t be there for you when you need me. I can’t promise that I will, but I’ll try as hard as possible.

I love you Dragon,

Your Papa

NaNoWriMo (AKA Éric wants to torture himself)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again. If you haven’t come across the term it stands for National Novel Writing Month. In short, during November a whole lot of writers and aspiring writers try to write 50,000 words in a brand new novel.

This will be my fifth attempt. A Study in Aether and The Sign of Faust were both started with NaNoWriMo. It’s a wonderful (if stressful) way to jump start a book.

What Am I Writing

I was listening to a particularly sad song by Ed Sheeran called Supermarket Flowers.

The song reminded me of an old book idea I had about taking a roadtrip with my Mom in an alternate universe where there were dinosaurs roaming around.

The original idea was an apocalypse story, but listening to this song I realized how much I miss talking with my Mom. It’s been 9 years since her death and this book will give me the chance, in an odd way, to spend one last roadtrip with her.

It will be one long conversation between me and my mom. A memoir, love letter, with dinosaurs.

When I wake up in the hospital where I was born, I find my Mother waiting for me. Instead of going home, she decides that we should go on a roadtrip. “Let’s get lost,” she says with a mischievous look.

Over the trip we’ll reminisce, laugh, and tell each other things we never had the chance.

But why are we on this trip? Why was I in the hospital? And why are we being followed by dinosaurs?

I can already tell that this will be the hardest book I’ve ever written, but I think I’m at the point in my life that I can write it properly.

I apologize in advance if I’m not overly active online or if I’m a little sad over the month of November.

Follow my progress on my NaNoWriMo page. Add me as a buddy if you’re also diving into the pool of imagination.

Later Days,

Éric

Recommendation Tuesday – truLOCAL

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

After having some terrible luck with a certain company, we decided to look for other options.

If you’re in Ontario you might have seen the ads on facebook and other social media for truLOCAL. Unlike other companies where you have to buy a year’s worth of meat at once, truLOCAL is a subscription box that comes to your home on your schedule.

You can do every 2, 3, 4, or 6 weeks and they have 2 different sizes of box.

You decide what you want. Each box has a certain number of points and you select meat that has a number assigned. A package of two chicken breast is 2 points and so is a single fillet minion steak. Before every delivery you can go online and change what you want and try new things.

The meat is fantastic and the service is amazing. We commented that we had less chicken in one box and they made sure we had extra in the next delivery. They answer almost all questions asked on social media and are always friendly and polite.

I highly recommend this service!

Later Days,

Éric

Database of the Ageless Kings (Serial Story) Part 10

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 3.5 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

Part 10: An Emu Knows that Bombs are SO Five Chapters Ago

In the hall behind her, Hagrid, the Emu, was snoring. The sound was enough to cover anything Prince Phil or Fake Dove were saying. He was still blocking the doorway while fighting off the doppelganger of his ex-girlfriend with an electrified sword.

Meanwhile, the only word Sophia had heard was, “bomb.” This was the third bomb she’d been close to in as many days. It lost its novelty but not its terror. She was holding a gun that could stun, kill, or disintegrate and she knew what she needed to do. If only Phil would get out of her way.

She tapped the gun to stun and waited for her chance. He parried and moved back against a brutal assault from his opponent and was almost all the way out of the door. She grabbed his shirt and yanked him out of the way.

A quick look to aim and she fired the gun. It hit Fake Dove, the Crimbils, and she was pushed back. It took four more shots before the woman fell down to one knee and turned into a small grey alien with a big head. “A grey alien? I guess Mulder was right.” Sophia shot her two more times and the Crimbils fell to the ground.

“I was supposed to save you for once,” said Phil dejectedly.

“You’re adorable, but how does this gun work?”

“I’ve told you everything I know.”

A quick glance at the bomb told her it was like the first one that had been on the hull of the ship. A small bomb that had a little antimatter inside it, making it extremely dangerous. She’d studied the design and physics behind that bomb as much as she could in her free time.

The computer told her that the gun worked by disrupting the molecular bonds of its target. Doing so would destroy the bomb but release the antimatter and the ensuing explosion would kill them.

“Damn, if we move it; it explodes. If we shoot it; it explodes. If I try to disarm it; it explodes.” Sophia sighed in frustration.

“What if you shoot it at the same time it releases the antimatter? Couldn’t you contain it in the energy of the gun?” he asked.

Sophia was going to dismiss the idea but thought about it. If she could make sure nothing touched the antimatter except the energy from the gun she might be able to guide it out an airlock. Thankfully there was an airlock on the bridge.

“Once it’s out the airlock I can throw it and the gun right as we jump to hyperspace. Ok, get ready to hit the hyperspace button.”

The plan was crazy, but she had no other choice and didn’t have any more time. She quickly set the gun to disintegrate and waited. The bomb had a convenient countdown timer and she was able to time her shot perfectly.

With the antimatter in tow she headed for the airlock. Stepping inside she held on to the gun with one hand and closed the inside door. With the inside door closed she wrapped her arm around the security bar and kicked the outer door open. The air rushed out and she threw the gun, hoping Phil’s timing was good.

The second she threw the gun she kicked the door close button and felt the now familiar pull of hyperspace. It was followed by the ship rocking back and forth.

Opening the inner door wasn’t easy. All the air had been drained from her lungs, and combined with the stress of the past few hours, made her feel weak. She barely managed to pull herself up into a sitting position and closing the door.

“You’re bleeding,” Phil ran over to her and helped her to the captain’s chair. “I’ll go get the med kit.”

The objection died as the blood dripped over her left eye. All she could think of was the work that she still needed to do. They needed to reach the Database of Ageless Kings before one of these bombs succeeded.

She must have fallen unconscious, because one moment she was on the brightly lit bridge in a lot of pain and the next thing she knew she was in her bed with a bandage on her head. Phil was holding her hand and he sat in an awkward crumpled position next to the bed.

“Phil,” she whispered and pulled on his hand.

“Yes?”

“Why are you on the floor?”

“I didn’t want to leave you and I didn’t want…” She couldn’t see him clearly but she could hear the blush in his voice.

“Am I dying?”

“No. Absolutely not.” He paused before adding softly, “Please.”

Tugging on his arm she shuffled to the far end of the bunk. He took the hint and joined her on the bed. He curled up and she snuggled into him hugging him. He smelled of sweat, deodorant, and emu. He must have moved Hagrid.

She hugged him and they fell asleep cuddling.

The lights flickering woke her up. The flickering lasted a few moments before they died completely along with the hum of the hyperdrive. Sophia was all for ignoring it when the alarms started going crazy.


If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?

Can-Con 2017

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This weekend was Can-Con. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that we’re big fans.

It’s a fantastic convention for two reasons. The first being how attentive and open the organizers are and the second because of everyone who participates.

I spent more time chatting in the dealer’s room than attending panels this year. There are a few panels I wish I had been able to attend, but was either too burnt out or doing something else.

Highlights from Can-Con 2017

Waiting to sign books. Picture from Lesley Donaldson‏

  • The Ottawa Writers community being awesome as usual
  • Listening to Steven Erikson being interview by Black Gate
  • My first signing session (didn’t sign anything but I was sitting next to S. M. Carrière, Steven Erikson, and Robert Sawyer, so I was in fantastic company.)
  • Watching S. M. Carrière geek out about Steven Erikson
  • The Renaissance reading that had a whole lot of people in it.
  • Getting to Pitch Everdome to Kim-Mei Kirtland
  • Having Kim-Mei Kirtland like my pitch for Everdome
  • The Asexuality panel which was so full I had to tuck myself into a corner. It was really interesting and illuminating.
  • The look of pure joy on an audience member when they learnt that Keladry (the Protector of the Small, not the Baby Dragon) was confirmed by Tamora Pierce to be Asexual.
  • Watching Keladry walking around smiling at everyone
  • Learning that Tanya Huff really likes our coffee
  • Meeting people that I’ve only ever interacted with online

Conclusion

Can-Con, for me, is about basking in the love this community has for genre writing and stories. I’m still a fledgling author and I never feel like anyone is judging. They are supportive, loving, and so kind.

 

Thank you to everyone who was there!

Éric