Majaos is a world of magic. Magic is Life. It flows all around, infusing almost every living thing. Not that everyone is a professional mage. The people of Majaos – the elves and dwarves, hobbits and gnomes, orcs and humans – are diverse in their aptitude for magic as for anything else.
On the continent of Mythallen, Techmagic devices bring light and warmth, comfort and security to homes and businesses everywhere. But now the world is threatened by powerful new magic. Old magic. Magic that should be impossible.
An Ancient threat has returned. Hiding in plain sight for years, she has learned everything she needs while the world has forgotten its history. At last she has made her move and war has begun.
Eilidh is a bright, resourceful student of magic who believes in solving problems with her intelligence and just wants a quiet life. She hates Prophecy and has no real power of her own, yet she is Chosen to save the world. How can she possibly succeed?
Maybe she can begin by saving a single life.
Also by Gary Stringer on obooko:
The streets of Merlyon, the capital city of Mythallen, named after the Great Merlyn of legend, were arranged in a wheel-type pattern, the main streets forming concentric circles and eight straight radial lines like spokes. The first of of these circles served as a boundary between Central Merlyon and the eight outer districts. Each of these districts was dedicated to one of the Nine Secrets of Magic. The Elemental Secrets - Earth, Fire, Air and Water - sat on the cardinal compass points, while the Ethereal Secrets - Shadow, Time, Spirit and Techmagic - occupied the ordinal points in between. Central Merlyon was mainly dedicated to the Ninth Secret, the Secret of Life, representing the way this Secret sat at the heart of all other magic.
A young woman, dressed in pristine white robes with red hood and cuffs, walked along one of the streets of Central Merlyon, reflecting on the day’s events. Today had been Graduation Day, and so the city was filled with more than the usual activity. It was evening – the time when daytime businesses closed and night-time businesses opened. A time of change. A time of ordered chaos. The young woman stopped at her favourite market stall to buy a warm blueberry pie and as she waited in line, she glanced once more at her Graduation Scroll. It had taken them two goes, but they had finally got her name right. “It’s pronounced Ay-Lee, like Hayley without the `H`,” she had told them, “but it’s spelt E.I.L.I.D.H.” Her mother’s name had been similarly unusual, she knew. She liked her name, even though it was sometimes a pain to explain to others. It was different, unique, individual.
She paid for her pie and thanked the stall holder, and after savouring her first bite, she continued walking alone. She was always alone. Eilidh had never known family, and she couldn’t honestly claim to have any friends to speak of. She knew she wasn't pretty or funny or any of the other things that made a person popular, and even before `the Incident` as she liked to call it, Eilidh had never quite `got` the social thing. She simply wasn't the social type, preferring a good book to idle gossip. As for small talk, the entire point of non-relevant conversation escaped her. When Eilidh had something interesting to say, she would say it, but it seemed to her that the only purpose served by small talk was to fill silence with noise. Eilidh liked silence. She liked a peaceful, quiet life.
Since early childhood, she had been cloistered at Merlyon's Church of Life, learning to use her Life Gift as one born to the Secret of Life - a Catalyst. A mage of sorts. A mage with no real power of her own, but with the ability by birth and by training to convert magic from its dangerous raw state into the safe, usable form known as Life. Without a Catalyst to Grant Life to them, the mages of the other eight Secrets were extremely limited.
All Eilidh’s other classmates who had graduated today, were out together as a group. No doubt they were revelling in the wondrous adventures they would enjoy as personal Catalysts to up-and-coming archmages. Every single one of them would be convinced that they were destined to be the magical support to the greatest wizards, warlocks and sorcerers of their generation. Idiots! What made them think they were so special? She had even heard one fellow student make the outlandish claim that he was sure to be the legendary Du y Kharia.
The mythical Well of Life was said in religious terms, to be the gift of Natus, the God of Magic, to the people of this world called Majaos. In physical terms, it was the source of all magic. Prophecy held that someday a Catalyst adventurer would discover it, led there somehow by Natus himself. In the language known as Pre-Ancient Elven, that Catalyst was termed `Du y Kharia`, translated into modern language as the Chosen One.
Still, let them have their dreams of adventure if they want them, Eilidh thought, as she made way for a noble elf lady who looked at her like she was something unpleasant she had almost stepped in. Just as long they leave me out of it.
The elf's reaction was nothing new to the young Catalyst. She got them all the time. It was, she supposed, the price of fame, if `fame` was the right word. It seemed not to matter how long ago the Incident occurred, it was still newsworthy and Eilidh’s graduation had been the perfect excuse to drag it all out again. All she had done was tell the truth – a truth people did not want to hear. From a certain point of view, the response had been proportional: an inconvenient truth revealed in exchange.