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Fall of Mages

After a devastating civil war, an old powerful mage must decide what to do next.

By Christopher KellyPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
Fall of Mages
Photo by Keith Lazarus on Unsplash

High in the mountains, far above the battlefield, Ardgal sighed.

The air used to be thick with magical potential, it warmed him, cushioned him, comforted him. Now, without the other mages, the air felt thin, as if he ventured too high up the mountain on which he resided. It felt cold, empty, and it was hard to breathe.

Shaking his head, he turned away from view of the burning land before him and walked back into his tower from his small balcony.

There were five towers spread across the continent, each watched over by a Master. Ardgal was Master of this tower, and when the battle had started he had remained within. He knew the other Masters would do the same, but he was unaware if the others had escaped unscathed by the war.

His breath caught, and his vision blurred. His perimeter spell. Walking as fast as he could, he descended the steps, clutching his aged back, muttering and cursing it with each step.

Ardgal pushed open the old wooden door to the courtyard and looked out. There was once a time when this courtyard, along with the rest of his tower, was filled with students. They would sit together on benches pouring over texts, sit on the outer wall and look out at the land below, or be practising spells, individually or in groups. Now, it was empty. There was an odd book or two on the ground, dropped as the mages rushed down the mountain to join the fight. His staff, his prize for claiming the title of ‘Master’ stood in the centre. The tree that used to stand there had to be forcibly removed to make way for the staff, for Ardgal had cast a powerful enchantment and it was using his staff as a power source. It could not be moved if the enchantment was to remain in place.

As Ardgal admired his most prized possession, he was shocked to see a barn owl perched atop of it. He made forward to shoo the silly bird away, but as he approached, he looked into the creature's eyes, and recognition dawned.

“Ah,” Ardgal croaked, “Master Orna. You have survived,” he gave a slight bow. A slight bow is all his cursed back would allow. “Your wellbeing brings this old man some joy in this dark time,”

He rose from his bow to see the owl still looking at him.

“There is no need to retain an animal form, Orna, you have no enemies here.”

The owl hooted gently. Ardgal’s gut clenched.

“You… you didn’t…” he stammered.

The owl hooted again and flapped its wings.

“Oh Orna… I’m so sorry,”

Master Orna had been struck by a sinister spell. Very few mages could shapeshift, and Master Orna was the first in hundreds of years. This spell, this curse that was put upon her, locked the shapeshifter in their current form, meaning it was capable of taking out a Master. Very few knew of such a spell.

“So… a Master has fallen. I am sorry to say that I don’t know a spell that can reverse this curse,”

Orna just stared.

Ardgal walked to the edge of the courtyard and leant on the wall. The battlefield was in full view from here.

“Did you see much of the battle?” he asked Orna. Orna landed on the wall next to him and hooted. She sounded sad.

“As did I,” he sighed again, “such senseless death, and for a senseless reason. Dominion over non-mages. Have you ever heard something so ridiculous?”

Orna hoot softly. Ardgal shook his head again, his stomach clenching.

“Did we fail them?” he asked quietly, “Did we, Masters, fail them? We are meant to teach them what being a mage means. Our values are meant to come from us, the best of the mages. Where did we go wrong? What happened to acceptance of others? Common decency? Equality?”

He looked at Orna who silently looked back.

“I know I should be proud that most of us chose to defend the non-mages, but I feel nothing but shame that this civil war even happened. All it takes is one mage to think of it, confide in a friend, and then like a weed it grows and chokes us, robbing us of what makes us mages. And no it’s not magic, Orna, it’s… the will and need to do good. Magic is part of nature, and we want to nurture it, help it grow, use it to help others that need it. Not to rule. Mages shouldn’t rule. We aren’t better than non-mages exactly the same way non-mages aren’t better than us. We are exactly the same, just with different abilities,”

A burning smell filled the courtyard. The scent of the battle had finally reached them. The ground was scorched in an effort to force the attackers back. It was a poor effort, Ardgal thought. Fire was easy to manipulate and it was quickly turned back against the mages who cast it. It was a last ditch effort. One made in vain.

“Do you know who the final mage was who protected the non-mages?” Ardgal asked.

Orna hooted and tapped her feet against the stone. Ardgal huffed in amusement and smiled. He sensed pride from the Master.

“I suspected it was your apprentice. I also suspect you taught her that spell?”

Orna blinked and bent down in what Ardgal suspected was a nod.

“Smart. And powerful. She has potential to be a Master. But instead she used her great power to end the war. And I understand your logic, Master Orna. You can’t have a mage civil war if there aren’t mages to fight it. Or to win it. And if any did survive that, no doubt the non-mages will hunt them down. They have a strong will not to be enslaved,”

Orna took flight and landed on Ardgal’s staff and tapped her foot on it.

“Fear not, the Concealment enchantment is in effect. No one will find this tower even if they are a foot from its walls. I assume you and the other Masters did the same?”

Orna hooted proudly.

“Then our knowledge will endure,” Ardgal nodded, “Until it’s time for mages to exist again. They will have a hard task ahead of them. I can extend my own life only so long, what if they rise after we fall?” He asked the owl.

Orna hooted loudly and flapped her wings again. Ardgal squinted at her. His eyes widened as he remembered something.

“It’s not true, is it?” He walked to Orna, who hooted back and nodded again.

“Your animal form extends your life,” Ardgal confirmed, “Well beyond our natural life span. But how will they understand you?”

Orna tilted her head. Ardgal rolled his eyes.

“Yes I know I can, but I’m a Master, Orna! They won’t be, they will be a novice when they emerge,”

Orna hooted again, long and soft. Ardgal sighed.

“You are right. They will have to learn. Which is why we leave these towers as monuments,”

He lifted his gaze to his beloved tower. He had lived here for decades, and taught countless students within these walls. He couldn’t remember the last time he ventured away from his home.

His home.

His tomb.

He turned to Orna, who had clearly left her own tower.

“Is there anyone looking over your tower?” he asked. Orna nodded once more. Ardgal’s brow lifted.

“I am glad there was another who survived. Will you return there?”

Orna shook her head. Ardgal smiled.

“Staying here with this old fool, eh? I will be glad for the company,” he bowed once again, and Orna nodded one last time, and hooted joyfully.


About the Creator

Christopher Kelly

Engineer by day. Writer of mages, dragons, werewolves, vampires, and all things magical by night.

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