Ryson Acumen finds that his time of service to the Land of Uton and its people is not yet complete. Together with Holli Brances and Lief Woodson, they must work together once more to end a growing threat and to meet their own undeniable destinies. It is not without loss or sacrifice as they struggle to battle grotesque forces of malevolence. Enemies once forgotten return to hold sway over each ensuing conflict.
Under the conniving guidance of the serp Sazar, legions of dark creatures rise out of Dark Spruce Forest. Allying himself with a sorceress of power in the Lacobian desert, Sazar finds the strength to rule and turns his lustful eyes eastward. Targeting the outposts and farmlands surrounding Connel, the serp forms a dark army to bring terror to the humans.
“I wonder what spell could possibly be cast that would allow an ordinary person to mimic your skills. Watching you is almost beyond belief.”
Ryson Acumen shook his head and replied with a laugh. “This said by a wizard that is right now flying over my head.”
Indeed, Enin was quite literally flying just above the tree tops, but the delver’s response was lost on the wizard. Swooping and gliding through the air, Enin continued to peer through the leafless branches as he studied the delver from nearly every angle.
Trying to categorize Ryson’s movements and match them to a potential spell, however, proved much more difficult than flying and even more elusive than the cold wind that blew through the clear blues skies of this day. Watching the delver closely, the wizard marveled at how Ryson could leap, run, twist and turn—basically dance without rest or pause through, over and under the myriad of obstacles the forest presented.
As he often did, Enin began to speak out loud, more to himself than anyone else, as he considered the purpose of his desire.
“So many different aspects, even animal tendencies, I see perfect qualities of nature within you. You move with the grace of so many different animals at once, it would be almost impossible for me to try and match your powers with any spell, or even series of spells, that might match the particular skills of a single animal. I mean really, you move like a cat but without the predatory aim. You dart about like a fish in the sea, but without the haphazard defensive response.”
“Sounds like a catfish,” Ryson offered playfully.
The wizard ignored him. “And it’s not just simulating the advantages of different animals, it goes well beyond that. There’s definitely an instinctive quality in the way you move, instinctive like a horse that gallops effortlessly just because it can. And it goes beyond animal instinct, you have the very essence of nature within you. You have a quality of the wind about you. Your movements flow steadily yet you can change directions with ease. The problem is you don’t swirl, that means a wind definition would be very difficult. No, wind movement wouldn’t work. Shame actually. The problem is compounded by the fact that you create very little heat which amazes me to this moment, so I wouldn’t even begin to know how to add an element of fire for lift. The power that allows you to move the way you do seems to be beyond the normal elements of nature.”
Enin willed himself forward at a greater pace. He was having a difficult time keeping up with the delver at these speeds even though his path was clear of all obstacles while Ryson faced a continuous barrage of trees and underbrush that filled this section of Dark Spruce Forest. Still, Enin remained focused on his spell considerations and his desire to match Ryson’s speed forced him forward at a faster pace.
“There are so many different facets to magical energies—wind, fire, water, air, shadow, illusion, light—I find it amazing to see so many close connections with your abilities, yet I still can’t define with accuracy even one component. I believe there is definitely an inherent connection to the land, but it’s even harder for me to pinpoint that one. Some science-loving egghead once told me about magnetism and how it might help explain the magical energies. Well, this man’s ramblings went on and on with no clear point but—.”
“Not like yours of course,” Ryson chuckled to himself.
Enin ignored the implication. “The point is he just didn’t want to admit that magic existed, which kind of threw his whole perspective out of balance. I mean really, how can you deny that magic exists when you are staring into the face of a mountain shag or a river rogue? While his overall theory was truly absurd, he did have some interesting points. I always have to keep in mind that the physical world does intertwine with the magical energies. It wouldn’t surprise me if somehow or other the idea of magnetism is somehow linked with your powers. The land has its own magical properties and they seem to be present in you as well.”
Ryson did not stop moving, but he did call out louder this time with the obvious intention of being heard. He found this consideration interesting and didn’t want the wizard to dismiss his question. “You’ve said that word before when you analyzed me, ‘powers’. Sounds to me as if you think I’m using magic like you do. Is that what you think?”
“Like me?” the wizard sounded almost baffled at first. “No, no, no—not like me at all.” With that said, the wizard floated down into the trees and closer to ground level so that he could carry on this new conversation more personally. He continued to fly as it was the best way he could keep up with the delver, but he felt the discussion at hand was now more sensitive and he felt the need to be closer to Ryson before he spoke. “One of the most amazing things about the magic is how different it affects each one of us as well as each race. You know what is most amazing about the delvers?”
“You don’t use the magic, you are the magic.”
Ryson raised an eyebrow at the wizard. “Come again? I am the magic. I have no idea what that means.” The delver continued moving, albeit at a much slower pace to accommodate the wizard that now had to navigate through the trees as well. Ryson didn’t want to move too far away from Enin mostly because he wanted to hear this explanation.
The wizard heaved a heavy breath as he tried to place his words in a context that Ryson could understand. He didn’t feel he had to speak down to the delver, but there was a lack of equal reference points. He understood magic in ways almost no one else in the land could. For him to speak of magic to another, it was almost like explaining music to someone totally tone deaf. He grabbed on the story of legend that ended up being so consequential to Ryson and the return of magic to Uton.
“When Ingar made that sphere of his,” Enin began, “it was supposed to remove all the magical energy in the land. It did, but only that energy that was free. It could not remove energy that was kept internally. That’s why magic casters were afraid to cast spells after the sphere was created. Once they let it out of their being, it was free to be absorbed by the sphere. Magic that is held to, or stored within, was safe from the sphere as long as it is not cast free. You follow this logic, yes?”
“Very good. Keeping with that thought, you should be able to follow that magic is absorbed in different ways by different creatures. Some can store great quantities, some are incapable of storing any at all. Some are very susceptible to spells, and others are very resistant. These qualities can vary greatly in degree. For whatever reason, I was given the gift to do more that just store and use magical energy. I have a very deep and personal connection to it. I can store vast amounts internally and I can draw energies from various sources from great distances.”