Due to the length of Chapter 4, I've split it into two parts :)
Dreams are real; dreams exert influence
~ Anonymous Valarian sage
With the Medaillon around her neck, Averroes retreated.
She sat on her chair and looked at Rayne.
McSee became a particular shade of purple, close to exploding.
His magical studies were a well-guarded secret; the ostracism and humiliation within the society of his peers too great a burden to bear. Beyond that, there were those who actively sought out sorcery in any form and were ruthless to practitioners, even to the point of death. These extreme deeds were covertly overlooked by the government of the day. The Electan turned a blind eye, while professing tolerance from the speech podium.
The big man ran large, strong hands through unruly red hair, bringing them forward finally to cover his face. Breathing deeply for calm, he had pause to reflect on the unfairness of the situation.
Barring the simplest tricks - lighting a fire, closing a door - his knowledge was truthfully theoretical. He knew how to work spells for extraordinary feats, but he was not sure they even worked practically.
Risking his place in society, perhaps even his life, he nonetheless set out to study as far as he could advance in the art under present day restraints.
It was a dream he chose to realise after seeing an old man near death on the narrow streets of Linmoor snap his fingers to light a fire for warmth. As a member of a civilisation that hated anything unexplainable, he should have reported the old tramp; he was a boy entranced.
And here, here was a man outraged last night, and yet this man was a first rank.
McSee dropped his hands. He looked first to Averroes, his gaze sympathetic, understanding her confusion, or so he thought. She, like him, was not told the whole truth, and was therefore as shocked as he, which was true, but was not the whole of it.
She had drawn her legs up and rocked to and fro. Nothing McSee could say would help her, and he turned his gaze aside.
Next he looked to Aven seated in his armchair on the edge as if about to take flight. His few white hairs stood up; he had really rubbed his pate. McSee was briefly amused.
He moved to Rayne, who was as immobile as a statue, grey eyes vacant. The sight spooked him. What was the matter with the man? A glance at Aven again told him the old man was anxious, but not too surprised. He quickly shifted back to Rayne. A flash of insight, and McSee understood what happened a few minutes ago went entirely against Rayne’s will.
The Society taught one such as Rayne could command the Maghdim and cast the enchantment, a secret leaked generations back, a secret without teeth for the device was believed lost. Rayne was part of a sect that hid the Medaillon, and wrestled with the all-important Enchantment when he took over the Mantle’s reins; he was also a mortal man who grew up in this society that regarded what he was as wicked, worthy of death.
No wonder the man was ambivalent; he had been suppressing his gifts his entire life. With new pity in his heart, McSee made a move towards the frozen man.
Aven sprang up. “Wait, McSee. It is the Enchantment; it is like no other. This is when Rayne will be at his most vulnerable. In calling upon the power of the Medaillon for the first time, he loses his sight, will and soul for a time. This happened once before to another, and we nearly lost him because we interfered. Rayne is unwilling also, which makes this harder, and thus it will take him longer to return. Wait, please.” Aven shook his head, clearly angry with himself. “This is my stupidity. I was the one who taught him the lore and versed him in the Enchantment. I knew this would happen and still I sprang it on him like a theatre master. Aaru, it shouldn’t be handled in ire.”
“You versed him?” McSee questioned. “I thought the passing spell was learned only once.”
“You know a lot.”
“A leak long ago.”
“Yes, well. The passing is revealed when the device changes hands. How Averroes managed, I really do not know. The Maghdim Enchantment used here is different; this is when the sorcerer seeks to employ it, and that is where the danger lies … so, yes, I versed him.”
“How did you know?”
“Mantle archives. You talk too much.”
McSee shrugged. He thought, under the circumstances, he had a right to understand. “He never used it before?”
“There was no call to, and he hates it.”
“Yet he is the Mantle,” McSee pointed out.
“The perfect choice is a man who thinks twice, not so?”
“Does Averroes lose her control over it after this?”
“We know little. No one dared - wait, his eyes flicker …”
Rayne’s eyes indeed showed movement.
Silver candlelight was not near the silver vapour of a soul temporarily travelling beyond the body’s means of control. The silvery state was not vacant, however; there was the sense of presence, multiple, a sense of being watched, even aided, supported.
Perhaps magic employed left essence, the kind that aided newcomers.
Rayne’s core gathered it together, establishing a connection back to his flesh. It was unfamiliar, yet not, and it was not comforting and yet it was. The realms of magic always have two faces, and he would soon know that intrinsically.
He grasped the connection, as he dimly perceived he swerved without direction, and pulled himself hand over hand back to his body. It was hard work, but soon it was also easier, familiar.
And it felt good.