The air was crisp in the early morning, even around the forlorn tower Velsyph had indicated. Lindin climbed staircase after staircase within its singular chamber, ascending the forlorn structure. It sat low in the sky, compared to the other towers. It probably had been used in early experiments in aerial construction, based on its structure; its base was uneven, its stones rough and dirty, compared to those towards the top. Why would Velsyph wish to meet here?
At last, Lindin reached the top of the tower, and found himself alone. It, too, showed its age and comparable lack of use. There was no chamber, no walls, nothing to show it was a work of arcane hands. The battlement appeared crumbled, almost as if it was old enough to have seen combat. Was this a part of the original wall?
Above, the sky stretched out in all directions, starts twinkling mildly as the sun’s light seeped into the day. Were it not for the cold, Lindin would have enjoyed standing here, watching the sun rise. Such opportunities had become distant memories since taking his position among the Watchers, more distant yet after Gellinns’ death.
Behind him, the sound of feet on stone drew his attention. Lindin spun, spell in mind, energy flowing into a bright light bursting from his hand.
“Lindin! By Argantin, put that out!” Velsyph’s voice sounded harsh as he spoke, more so than normal. In a moment, the light was gone, leaving Lindin blind as his eyes adjusted once again the to the darkness. “My boy, what has you so rattled?”
Lindin took a breath, trying to calm his racing heart. “I don’t know,” he admitted,” I’ve been nervous ever since Gellinns…”
Velsyph waved a withered hand. “Say no more, I understand.” The old wizard smiled faintly. “I know death affects us all differently.” He walked closer to Lindin, lowering his voice as he approached. “How has your work been? Have you noticed any other… oddities?”
Lindin shook his head. “No, master,” he answered. “The one I had found seems to have disappeared.”
Velsyph appeared relieved. “Good. Very good.”
“I’m sorry,” Lindin added, hesitant, “I don’t think it is. The flow of energy around the Senate is still chaotic, compared to how it should be. Almost as if something is draining a great amount of power from the spellweave. But now, whatever is draining that power can’t be seen.”
“Hmm…” Velsyph lowered his gaze. “And have you shown this to anyone else?”
“Not yet,” Lindin said. “I don’t want to cause any more deaths.”
Velsyph nodded. “And right you are to be careful.” He patted his former apprentice on the shoulder. “You were my best student,” he whispered, almost to himself.
Velsyph shook his head, waving away the moment. He walked to the edge of the tower, overlooking the city below. A few lights glittered across it, but for the most part it remained asleep. “The city of Arhals,” he said as Lindin approached. “the most powerful city in all the World. It’s special, you know.”
“What do you mean?” Lindin asked.
Velsyph opened his mouth, then stopped. He opened it again, but paused before speaking. “It is… unique. It was built with a purpose, long ago. Humans only came to live here much, much later.” He turned to face Lindin. “I need you to know something, but… I cannot tell you. Not now. Perhaps one day.”
Lindin was puzzled. “Then why are we here?”
Velsyph adjusted his robes, shielding himself against the wind. “Because… because I am a selfish old man. Please, Lindin, let me be selfish, one last time.”
“What are you talking about?” Lindin’s concern grew stronger at each word.
Velsyph looked out at the city again, his gaze almost wistful. “Promise me something, Lindin,” he said, strength returning to his voice.
“Promise me,” the old man repeated, “that you will remember me well, remember that I always sought what was best for our people.”
Warning overcame Lindin. “Is something wrong? Are you ill?”
Velsyph waved a hand, “No, no, nothing like that. Just… promise me that, Lindin. Please.” He turned to face the younger man, tears falling down his face gently. “Please,” he repeated.
“I promise,” Lindin said. “Of course I will remember you.”
“Good. Good.” Velsyph turned back to the city. “This is a very special city,” he said again. “It has been a privilege to serve it as archmage. I do hope its people can forgive my mistakes, my arrogance.”
Lindin said nothing, his thoughts churning. Before he could speak again, the archmage turned back to him. “Thank you for coming,” he said quietly. “We should probably move along. I’m certain you have pressing duties today.” He gripped Lindin’s shoulder, smiling sadly. Then, without a word, he descended the stairs, leaving Lindin alone with his thoughts atop the tower.