“So let me get this straight,” Kylii says, staring around the Great Hall at those gathered. “Magic is fading, disappearing? Then why can we still use it? Why haven’t we noticed it growing weaker?”
Seated at the table at the center of the Great Hall are Ime, Meah, Altan, Deven, Kylii, Daniil, Kiphy, Gaeren, Kordeaux Fellet, and Lyrrel. The other allied leaders have already left to return to their homelands, paying one last visit to Ime and Meah before leaving. Many of those who remained behind to live in Kellahn have begun building homes along the top of the canyon, saying they prefer the open sky to the canyon walls.
Ime and Altan have finished reporting what was discovered when they spoke to the Blood Magic.
“Kiphy has been studying magic for decades. He’s traveled the lands learning from high mages, studiers of long lost magic, and so on,” Altan says. “He can explain it, I’m sure in a much simpler way.”
All eyes move to Kiphy and he stands, clearing his throat. “It’s not easy to simplify what’s happening, but I will try. All magic is connected by the Source. The Source is where magic begins and ends. It is a constant in the turbulent, inconsistence of magic. It can be where magic can’t, but magic can’t be where it isn’t.”
“You’ve already lost me,” Daniil says. Kylii nods his head in agreement. Tanith barks at the two and they both raise their hands defensively, but fall silent.
“But studying magic,” Kiphy continues, “I’ve heard many stories of the legendary mages of old days, long before our fathers and their fathers were born. Times where magic could change the shapes of the land, where entire civilizations relied on magic to survive. These legends have become all but stories to us now, but the remnants of their existence still survive. Ruins of these great civilizations give little clues as to how they ended.
“But one consistency has continued to appear before my eyes. The more powerful the civilization the longer it took to fall. And when it fell, it was a gradual fall as though their power simply faded away. I didn’t think much of it until I met the high mage of Konquil, a city located on an island far to the east of Myldea. My first encounter with him and his city was as most encounters go. Questions were asked and hospitality given when they learned I meant no harm to their home.
“I returned to Konquil several years ago, twenty years had passed. When I met with the high mage he told me of a peculiar thing. His magic was no longer as strong as it had been when I first met him. Normally, one would assume this is due to aging and I’d come across many old mages who’s magic faded. But the High Mage of Konquil was a child of eleven when I met him twenty years prior. His magic was powerful even at that age. Now at thirty ages old, his magic was weaker than many mages in their eighties.”
“How does this prove magic is fading?” Gaeren asks. “I’ve known rare cases of magic users losing their magic once they enter a certain period of their life.”
Kordeaux stands. “I know what Kiphy speaks of. Far too many of my mages have been losing the strength of their magic far too quickly. Even taking into consideration the rare cases Gaeren speaks of.”
“Another consistency I continued to find regarding mages of legends and of times long ago were the numbers. There were far more magic users in the past than in present day. A prime example is Life Healers,” Kiphy says, pointing to Meah.
“But Life Healers were hunted, killed because of their power,” Meah says.
“In modern times yes, but records have shown that Life Healers were plentiful in many cities long ago.”
“I’m still not understanding what the cause of this fading of magic is,” Kordeaux asks.
“The Source is taking magic from mankind. Or at least something as powerful as the Source,” Ime says.
“Something as powerful as the Source of all magic? That sounds crazy,” Daniil says.
Ime takes Meah’s hand in his and they glance at each other, smiling weakly. “That’s why I’ve made a decision,” Ime says. The room grows silent waiting anxiously to hear what Ime has to say. “I’m going to locate the Source of magic to find out if it is really taking magic away. If not, I’m going to locate what is the cause and stop it.”
“Are you insane?” Kylii asks. “We don’t even have a clue as to where the Source is located.”
“Or if it even has a physical form,” Daniil adds.
“You were able to use the Seers to bring the Blood Magic into a form, can we not do the same for the Source?” Gaeren asks.
Lyrrel shakes his head. “The Source is too powerful for a human body to hold. And even attempting to connect with it leads to dementia or becoming comatose. It’s forbidden for those reasons. The only way it could work is if the Source wills it.”
“So you want to search the land for this Source. That sounds like a difficult task that would take most men multiple lifetimes to accomplish,” Deven says. “How do you intend to do it?”
“Though we make it sound as though there’s a rush, the time line for magic to run out is fairly long,” Kiphy begins. “Planning is the most crucial aspect of this endeavor.”
“As such,” Ime adds. “I don’t plan to begin the journey for several years. A course needs to be plotted and information gathered before I even set foot down the path.”
“But once preparations are made?” Gaeren asks.
Meah smiles at Ime and he takes a deep breath. “Then I will leave Kellahn with those who choose to journey with me. Most likely, to never return.”
* * *
“Are you angry?” Ime asks, brushing a piece of Meah’s head from her face as they lay on the bed.
Smiling, mischievously, Meah kisses Ime’s chin. “You ask me that after what we just did?”
“I need to know.”
The smile fades from Meah’s lips. “A little. But we both knew the cost. It seems easy for now. When the time draws nearer for you to leave, I’ll probably feel angrier.”
Ime wraps his arms around her and pulls her close. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Meah nuzzles against Ime’s chest. “Of course, I’ll hate you when you leave, but I won’t mean it.”
“Yes, you will,” Ime jokes.
“At least you won’t be leaving me behind alone,” Meah says. Her eyes widen and she quickly rolls onto her side, her back facing Ime.
Ime’s brow furrows, confused by her sudden movement. “What’s wrong?” Meah shakes her head quickly. Ime sits up, fear filling him. “Meah, what’s wrong?”
Pulling the sheets close to her, Meah peeks behind her at Ime. “I didn’t want to tell you until I was sure.”
“Sure of what?”
“But it’s hard not to notice when you’re a healer. I mean, I know my body better than most people ever will.”
Ime leans over Meah to see her face. “You’re freaking me out. What are you talking about?”
Sitting up, Meah brushes her hair from her face and blushes. “I’m fairly, ninety-nine percent certain that…I’m pregnant.”
Ime’s mouth drops open and his eyes bulge wide. “How…?”
“I’m a Life Healer. My magic tells me everything about my body and, recently, I’ve been feeling something else. Something tiny and…well, alive and when my magic mixes with it, I feel a…heartbeat.”
Ime pulls Meah into a hug and kisses her passionately. When he pulls away, tears are rolling down his cheeks and he can’t keep the smile from his face. “I love you.”
Meah smiles and kisses him.