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Chapter 3… Healer

Abraham let out a long, slow breath. The tapping of rain against the windowsill was almost hypnotizing, having adjusted to the routine of unabating thunderstorms.

Only a few weeks had passed since his arrival in the Realm of Sapphire. His one desire to learn magic from a father he had not seen since childhood had turned into a hunt to understand what the man had become – a dupe, in Abraham’s opinion. He never knew when the dark horn’s devious nature would take control of his father, though it was clear when it was changing over. The young man cringed at the memory. A crimson flame lit his father’s dark eyes whenever the horn was present. Red – the mark of deceit. It was discernible upon his father’s breast, a crimson stone always warn on a gold chain around his neck. Abraham had come to loathe it.

Long into the night did he study the many books written by his father. Each page revealed a new experience because of the horn, because he had created it, manipulated it, and ultimately…destroyed it.

Abraham rubbed his curling goatee in thought. He glanced to the window. The rain was to the point of stopping, and marked a change to the time of day. Yet whether day or night, from his bedroom window’s perspective everything looked the same. Black clouds extended as far as he could see. A tip of spiked roofing hinted a tower room below his own. He remembered seeing several upon first arriving. The building itself was set in a style that resembled a great cathedral. He recalled the moment his eyes laid upon the massive, circular stained-glass window and triangular shaped designs just above the entrance. The look seemed to produce a frown, and matched his own at the moment as a streak of lightning cut through the clouds.

Too dangerous to go out, even if I wanted to. He put the book he had been reading on a nearby table. If it was not the storm that kept him in, it was the belief that Black Wings, amongst other things, wandered the darkness in search of prey. I doubt illusion would do any good against an attack.

Illusion. It was the reason he came. Although his father also claimed title as Master Illusionist, illusion itself never lasted, while the affects of magic could last a lifetime.

And you cheated just to get that. Abraham rose from his seat and stretched. The thought of Black Wings reminded him of the one Jenario kept under a sleep charm, hidden away in one of the tower rooms. By chance, Abraham had discovered a secret paneling that led to the harpy’s chamber from the hallway. Convenient, yet at the same time he never knew when his father might appear…or the horn, for that matter.

Abraham slipped out into the hallway. He donned the traditional robe that marked most magic-users, even if he was not one himself. The look had put him above the commoners that frequented Lexington, though he still held out hope for the day that he too could weld magic like his father.

He started down the dimly lit interior. Several unused torches sat with cobwebs fanning out  under their holders. At an attempt to remove one, the rusty holder gave a groan until its waxy cylinder slid out. Holding the candle against another, he tried to pass the lit one’s flame to the tip of wick vaguely protruding from his candle’s top. Flames flickered low, threatening to give out until he finally abandoned the task. The old candle just refused to cooperate. After stuffing it back in its holder, Abraham lifted a hand and concentrated. An illusionary orb of light shuttered into view above his palm. The form wavered as he centered all attention on strengthening the glow until it finally spread a yellowish tint over the stone walls.

Least illusion’s good for something around here! He let his fingers trail over the side paneling until he felt a dip. The flawed surface marked the secret entrance to one of the tower rooms – the location of the sleeping Black Wing. I’ll check on him again soon. 

Abraham scoped out the remaining length of hallway by sending the orb ahead of him. It darted to the left, then right, as he searched for signs of Jenario’s portals. The thought of accidentally stepping through one still tingled his skin. The portals clung to his clothing like a heavy morning dew and smothered what breath he could not hold. Although they had their conveniences, seeing one only suggested the likely appearance of his father.

At the end of the hall, he descended several flights of stairs to reach one of the levels where Jenario kept a library. Here, enough torches had been left in use to douse his created light source.    Quickly, he headed for the library’s entrance.

The door was slightly opened as he reached for it. His hand had barely touched the knob when he paused and sniffed at the stench wafting from the room. It was unmistakable, and indicated the only other being besides his father who lived at the castle.

Abraham’s hand was still on the knob when the door opened inward. Stunned, the young man remained in the doorway as a figure stepped to the opening.

“Nathaniel,” Abraham greeted in a dry, monotone. Accustomed to seeing the assassin laden with multiple pouches, strap-on daggers and other items, the lack of these set a confused look. It was not until the man took a step back that Abraham realized why.

Not comprehending the need to move his back leg to keep balance, the man came crashing down. An obtrusive beer-belly stuck well above the rest of his body once it stopped jiggling after the fall. The bulge of belly pulled a sweat-stained shirt from his pants to reveal a slicked growth of black hair centered from belly to groin.

“You don’t even know where your things are, do you?” Too repulsed to help him up, Abraham just stared down at the drunken man. A yellow film seemed to cover the whites of the man’s eyes, the result of consecutive alcohol consumption. Abraham doubted the assassin could even comprehend his words, and walked around the stinking body to a bookshelf.

Jenario’s collection of notebooks, reference materials, and maps scattered the many shelves in between other collected items. A small harpy statue acted as bookend to multiple guides of No’va’s Foundation, of which Abraham had read many times. He bypassed the creature section, skimmed over the landmark guides, and then stopped when his eye caught the word Forumlas written on a spine.

The dusty brown book had seen better days as it lay on its side toward the end of a row. Carefully, he picked it up and thumbed through a few dog-eared pages.

“I don’t recall seeing this before,” he spoke over the groans coming from behind. While his eyes trailed over his father’s handwriting, he came to a hint of results at attempted spell casting dated long before the introduction to the horn’s power. The turn of a page brought about a wide variety of formulaic spells, their general properties, required materials to complete the spell, and pronunciation.

The young man laughed when he came across one to turn a drunk man sober, and noted the multiple trials on the page using Nathaniel as target practice, with no success.

“I suppose the horn could just turn you sober if it needed something.” He glanced between assassin and spell. “I’m wondering…”

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