A Cryptic Warning

Published by Lindsay Wardell on 11/28/2017

Lindin had yet to regain his composure after his meeting with Harsen that morning. Images and shapes had remained blurry, jagged, or simply wrong throughout the morning. When the time came for the midday meal, Lindin sighed deeply, releasing a tension he hadn’t realized was present.

The lunch hall was a simple chamber, placed beneath the entrance to the tower. Round tables sat in ordered patterns throughout the room, with a series of long, curved serving tables ringing the edges. As with the other public areas, wide balconies extended beyond the eating area, with additional tables placed sporadically upon it. Silver automatons acted as waiters, ensuring that each table was cleaned as its occupants returned to their duties. Food was plentiful, always appearing as needed. Surely, such a hall would have been prized by any of the kings of old, Lindin thought.

He went around the serving tables, first finding a plate, then a steak, a fruit salad, and a glass of water. In another time, alcoholic beverages may have been available, but for a wizard, such a drink could only dull the senses. A few high mages claimed otherwise, performing a series of arcane tests while heavily intoxicated. While the resulting enchantments had been operable, and even functioned within the greater spellweave, they were so complicated that not even their creators could discern how they achieved anything.

Lindin found a seat towards the eastern side of the chamber. A few other wizards were present, each either sitting alone or in small groups. Voices didn’t carry much beyond their respective tables; the room had been enchanted to dampen sound, and allow for private conversation despite the public setting. Not even the normal sounds of silverware against dishes could be heard

As Lindin began to eat, finding fork and knife already placed at the table he chose, one of the automatons approached him, carrying a scroll. “Message for High Mage Lindin,” it said, its voice reverberating against its faceless casing. Its metal hand extended out, placing the scroll delicately on the table before him.

Puzzled, Lindin set down him fork and knife. “Who sent it?” he asked.

“The scroll is unsigned,” came the reply. “but it was sent with high urgency.”

Lindin nodded. “Thank you,” he said. On cue, the automaton turned away and vanished into the background of the room, leaving the wizard and his letter alone. Lindin quickly unraveled it, curious about its contents.

“Lindin, you need to speak with your mentor as soon as possible. There is something urgent he wishes to share with you. It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday. Be safe.”

He read the words again, then a third time, just to make sure he understood what was written. It had to be from Veladion, but why? And why could he not sign the letter himself, let alone reference Velsyph by name? Lindin puzzled over the note for the duration of his meal, then tucked it away in his robes as he returned to work.

Settling onto the floor, at last Lindin felt a sense of calm return to his body. He closed his eyes, and began his meditation anew: Breathe in, breathe out.

Images and sensations once more filled his thoughts, allowing him a view of the city below. His mind followed the routes of energy as it had for the past week, all thoughts of the morning banished for now. Again and again, the sights of the city passed by him, as he checked every spell and enchantment that kept the city running smoothly.

He began his circuit again, wheeling around the Grand Senate chambers, watching for signs of disturbances. He glanced at the building itself, admiring its architecture as well as the layers of enchantment placed upon it. It stood both as a monument to the power of humanity, as well as the return of Argantin to the World. Since that day, it had been preserved as a testament to the power of the arcane.

As he turned away, something caught Lindin’s attention, drawing him back to investigate. Deep beneath the web of enchantments, so thoroughly enmeshed into the spellweave as to appear almost invisible, sat a knot of enchantment. How did that get there? Such knots were not uncommon in the spellweave, but Lindin was certain that he should have noticed it before.

Based on its shape, it clearly wasn’t new. A newly-formed knot would appear no larger than a stone amidst the tides of energy, leaving traces as energy surged around it, but nothing harmful. Any Watcher could undo such a blockage with ease. But this was more akin to a boulder freshly hewn from the mountainside, preventing Lindin from even seeing anything beyond it. Energy crashed into its sides, but didn’t seem to leave any traces of its path as it would a normal knot.

As Lindin continued to investigate, he could feel his heart begin to pound faster, his body sweat. He went closer, trying to get exact information for a report. He almost didn’t notice when his vision began to swim, blackness forming around the center of the knot. Startled, he blinked, pulling back from the blockage and out of the spellweave.

Lindin fell backwards, landing hard on his right elbow. He breath was ragged, his forehead drenched in sweat. As he massaged his bruised limb, the blue light soothed his mind. Perhaps it was nothing, he told himself. Perhaps he had gotten lost, and made a mistake in his connection to the spellweave. He would take a break, rest his mind and stretch his body, then return to work. Nothing would be there when he returned to the Senate. It was all a mistake, nothing more.

Even as he thought it, Lindin knew it wasn’t true. Eventually, he would need to know what was really taking place beneath the Senate.