The Festival of Magic is ending. Celebrations are quieting and celebrators are heading home. Though most groups’ aim was home, one group walks through the city with oddly energized strides.
The Great Hall is a large white building sitting high in the western wall of the canyon. There’s only one large room in the building. The ceiling, made up of a mosaic of the canyon and city, towers above a huge mosaic of a Hok. Large windows allow the Great Hall to peer over the entire city.
The doors of the Great Hall stand closed. Ruler of Kellahn, Altan Hogan escaped to the empty quietness after finishing his duties for the festival. He needed a place to relax and wait for his mind to clear before heading home.
When the doors to the Great Hall burst open, Altan’s screams echoed loudly and he fell from his chair.
“What do you want?” his voice cracked from fear.
Altan’s chair sits on a raised platform looking down on those who meet with the ruler. The chair is marble and reflects light. Now Altan peers from behind the seat with wide eyes.
“My Lord,” Deven calls as he rushes to his ruler and helps him to his feet. “I apologize for the intrusion, but our guests demanded to speak with you.”
Altan’s eyes bulge more. “Now? But the Festival is finished and it’s very late.”
“I’m sorry, but I think we’ve waited long enough to speak with you,” Meah says, walking forward.
“And you can wait a little longer until morning.”
“Technically, it is morning,” Kylii says. Daniil elbows his brother in the side.
“Lord Hogan,” Jaxon begins.
“Altan. Just Altan,” Altan says.
“Altan, we’ve traveled a long distance, suffered losses, and have a lot of work to do before Ime returns.”
“Ime? You mean the Elements Mage.”
“Yes. He’s currently training with a Magic Master named Kiphy. He’ll be returning in about three months.”
“Three months? When did he leave?”
“Thirty minutes ago.”
“And you can’t wait until the sun rises to speak with me?”
“You’re already up and unless you sleep here, which I don’t see a bed, you still have to walk home. Since you’re awake, a little preemptive talk about the upcoming war doesn’t seem to be too much to ask,” Daniil says. The group faces him, staring at him in surprise. “What? I’m tired and I want to get this over with.”
“The reason I’m in here is because all night I moved from one celebration to another giving uplifting speeches and drinking with my citizens. I’ve had almost two barrels worth of beer and I don’t like people seeing their leader stumbling down the alleys,” Altan speaks quickly, slurring only a few words.
Kylii whistles and elbows his brother. “Wish I could talk like that after two barrels of beer.”
“You never talk that clearly,” Daniil probes.
Kylii glares at his brother, but doesn’t respond when he sees Meah giving him a look.
“While Ime’s gone, we need to start discussing our plans and sending messages to allies,” Meah says, facing Altan. “The three months he’s gone isn’t for us to relax. If we relax while Klaeon continues gathering forces we’ll lose before we even reach the battlefield.”
Altan carefully moves forward, taking in Meah curiously. “And you are?”
“The Life Healer. I’ve heard a lot about you.” His eyes scan the rest of the group. “I’ve heard a lot about all of you.”
“My Lord,” Deven begins, but Altan holds his hand up.
Placing his hands behind his back, Altan’s expression changes from the frightened, drunken man the group walked in on to a confident ruler. “Very well. Let’s discuss war preparations. But first, I’ll need to know the names of the rest of you.”
Meah grabs Jaxon and pulls him forward. “Jaxon Parth, leader of the Black Caravan.”
“Former leader of the Black Caravan. I’d prefer to be known as the Blue Fire Mage,” Jaxon says, bowing his head to Altan.
“The Lakeen brothers, Daniil and Kylii,” Meah continues.
Daniil and Kylii step forward.
“Ice Mage,” Kylii says.
“Fire Mage,” Daniil says. “And this is Tanith.” Tanith steps forward and sits next to Daniil.
“And you said Ime Gurek is training. What kind of training?” Altan asks.
“Blood King Klaeon stole his fire magic from him. He’s training to get it back,” Jaxon says.
“Stole his magic? I didn’t know such a thing was possible.”
“It’s a rare, forbidden magic that allows the Blood King to steal another’s magic.”
“Altan, I know we may seem overly excited about gathering forces, but I promised Ime we’d take care of everything while he’s gone. Now, how many allies does Kellahn have to call on and what are the projected numbers of soldiers from each?” Meah asks.