From Chapter 3
Jenario’s head was spinning. Separate? We don’t even know where we’re going! He wanted to shout in protest but decided against it. Yet the moment they were out of ear-shot, the young man was yanked up against a tree and pinned there by Shafari.
“What are you doing?!” Jenario demanded, but Shafari just held a finger to his lips for silence. When no sound came from their companion’s direction, he released his friend’s shirt.
“I needed to be sure, that’s all.”
Jenario brushed his backside from flecks of broken bark stuck to his clothing. “Of what? That he wouldn’t catch you using magic? You nearly gave me heart failure!”
Shafari sighed loudly. “I’m sorry, Jen, but we’re not in Mayla anymore. I didn’t agree to come just so I could hold back what I am. Neither should you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t you see the potential in this place? We don’t need supervision from another to tell us how or when to use our talents.” At this, he spread his fingers to unleash a dance of crimson fire that caught the excitement in his eyes. “The council cheated us – you especially. They should have enhanced your alchemy. Without that, we don’t have ways to define medicines or even formulas for what few magic-users are actually in our group. As it stands, I believe I’m the only one who still practices.” He stepped away, and when he did his hand clenched to extinguish the flames.
Jenario studied him, letting his words find meaning as he replayed the scene in his mind. One thought led to another, and before he realized what he was saying, the question of Tia’s brother popped up.
“Did the council have anything to do with his death?” He let his gaze trail along the ground while he waited for an answer. He had yet to see one ingredient on his list while vegetation grew denser the deeper into the woods they went.
“Yes and no,” was the reply. “Did the council plan his demise? No. But it was because of him that they decided magic was too dangerous to keep inside the city, even going as far as…well, you already know.”
“What really happened to him?” An image of Tia and her brother clouded his thoughts. “He always seemed so strong-willed.”
“Ha!” Shafari balked. “You think Tia gives you a hard time now? You should have seen her when her brother decided he was going to invent a new type of spell.”
“Is that possible?” Jenario cocked his head in curiosity.
“Is discovering raw materials to work with possible? Of course! But you have to test it over and over. Isn’t that how alchemy works?”
Jenario nodded. “I can remember working long hours into the night.”
“And that takes practice,” Shafari said. “Tia’s brother wanted results right away.”
“So what did he do? Try to pronounce two spells at once?”
“He’d have been better off had he done so. But what he wanted was a completely new spell, one that wasn’t in any books. I advised him against it because he had no experience in formula development. Yet, he insisted he knew what he doing. I left shortly before he blew himself up.”
Jenario cringed at the memory. “I remember going to his house afterwards. The blast literally ripped it apart. Just think what would have happened had you stayed….”
Shafari chuckled. “I probably would have knocked him unconscious first.”
They stopped wading through a thick underbrush. Briars clung to their pant legs. When they peered overhead, the canopy seemed to engulf them in the shadows of close-knit trees. Strange calls carried on from animals they could not see. Jenario could not even place a single one. Was it bird, or beast?
“I think now’s a good time for some help,” Shafari said. “What say you?” He lifted a hand to call forth his orb. The light of its bobbing form was comforting, as they could see into the deep shadows around them now.