Published by Lindsay Wardell on 10/16/2017

Images. Thoughts. Word and emotions, cascading over each other again and again. It had only been one week, but Lindin was already certain that being a Watcher was going to drive him mad.

Each day, he left his personal room, transported to the Watchers’ tower, entered his office, sat down cross-legged, and delved deep into the lifeblood of Arhals. The spellweave, once a comfort and a strength, had become a daily reminder of how his life had changed. Across the city, over and over, his mind kept vigil over the arcane energies that fueled the Empire. Many portions of the city which had been unfamiliar at first were now as well-known as Velsyph’s properties. Lindin could only assume that by the end of this assignment, he would have memorized the entire city.

Although there were some parts of his job that fascinated him. Across the city, on every street, in every official building, in every tower, the silent, silver messengers of the wizards moved about in perfect order. As his mind moved through the labyrinth of the spellweave, these automatons remained a constant focus of its power.

Lindin had seen them often enough during his errands in the lower city. They generally stood shorter than a regular man’s height, with broad shoulders and upper torso. Each was a unique shape, with no two ever the same. Made of silver, they bore the general shape of a human, but their face remained completely blank. No eyes, no ears, nothing at all, except for a crest occasionally on all four sides of the head to signify ownership by one of the greater wizards. Generally, they wore armor upon their silver form, but Lindin had also seen them in white robes, or other formal attire.

While entranced by the spellweave, Lindin often followed the automatons through their slow, methodical movements in the city. Some worked as teams, pulling wagons through the streets to locations considered more reputable by wizards. Others moved alone, acting as sentinels or city guards. Dozens stood guard around the central buildings of the city, such as the Great Library or the Grand Senate of Arhals. Their systematic movements allowed Lindin a moment to rest, while continuing his duties.

It was at such a moment, as he followed a particularly short automaton into the central square, that a voice echoed in Lindin’s ear, “Back to work, Lindin.”

The wizard sighed. “Yes, master.” His mind let go of the messenger’s path, rising in his mind’s eye to float above the city once more. The constant chatter of wizards’ minds returned, echoing in his mind painfully.

Harsen’s voice continued, “You’ve shown progress, Lindin. I must admit, I did not expect you to do even half this well. But your reports are still lacking in detail.”

“What do you mean, master?” Lindin thought, his words traveling into the spellweave for the high arcanist to hear.

“A group of undermages were practicing on the balcony of Tower 4 West,” Harsen quoted from one of Lindin’s reports. “What spells were they practicing? How many were there? What impact did this have on the greater spellweave around them?”

“I didn’t think such information was important,” Lindin explained, his mind already moving through the city towards its next destination.

“And you would be correct,” Harsen noted. “However, until your training as a Watcher is complete, I require that you note everything that you can. Every detail, every scrap of possibly relevant information. I need to know that you are fully capable of making such observations.”

“Yes, master,” Lindin said. As the words left his mind, he felt the city vanishing away, his mind returning to his body. After a jarring moment of nausea, he was once more seated in his chamber, the High Arcanist standing above him, his arms crossed.

“That’s enough for today,” he announced, extending a hand towards Lindin. The younger wizard took it, standing slowly as his muscles relaxed from their fixed position. “We can’t have you working yourself to death.” He smiled.

Lindin returned the smile, “Thank you,” he responded. Harsen clapped him on the shoulder, then exited the chamber. Lindin stood in the center of the room, allowing himself a moment before returning to regular life.

One of the other Watchers, an older woman, had told him to appreciate the present as much as he could while serving as a Watcher. “Everything is different in here,” she had said. “Time doesn’t flow right. You stay here long enough, your mind starts to reject the real world around you. It’s like you’re two different people.”

After a minute of standing, Lindin made his way down the stairs into the main lobby. As he approached the transport crystal, an undermage called out, “High mage Lindin!”

Lindin turned, his hand nearly touching the crystal, to see who it was. He didn’t recognize the boy; he was far too young to have been in any of Lindin’s classes. He wore the simple gray robes of an undermage, but pinned to his right shoulder was the seal of archmage Velsyph. “Do I know you?” he asked, walking towards the undermage.

The boy shook his head vigorously. “No, sir,” he said, bowing gently. “I am archmage Velsyph’s new apprentice.” Lindin’s face must have turned sour, as the boy hastily continued, “The archmage talks of you quite often! He says you were the best he’s ever had!” He paused, unsure what to say. His hands fidgeted, as the sleeves on his robes descended over them.

“How can I help you?” Lindin asked, regaining some composure. He’s already replaced me?

“Oh, right,” the boy said, his voice cracking. “The archmage has invited you to join him at the Senate this afternoon.”

Lindin looked out towards the balcony. The cloudless sky seemed inviting enough. Harsen must have let him go after only a few hours of work. Perhaps he had been informed of this? “Tell the archmage that I will be there,” he said finally.

“Great,” the undermage said. He coughed, then corrected himself, “That is good to hear. I will let him know. Thank you,” He bowed, in the way only a teenage boy can, then dashed for the transport crystal. Lindin smiled. He wondered if he had ever been that way at that age. It seemed like so long ago. Sighing, he walked over to the crystal as well, the rune for the market in his mind. If he was going to the Senate this afternoon, he would need to find something to eat first.

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