#4 – Magik

“Magik!” exclaimed Tarik.  “My favorite subject!”

I knew he’d have that reaction.  For all his vaunted wisdom, Tarik was deceptively easy to manipulate.  I’d spent the last several hours regaling him with tales of the Greater Realm and my throat was parched from so much talking, despite consuming large quantities of brandy.  It was his turn to talk.  A simple suggestion was all it took.  “Tell me, Tarik.  Do you really believe the Towers the most significant difference between the magik of Hali’s’ time and the Elder Days?”

“Absolutely,” he snorted.  “The sorcerers of the Elder Days could tap the power of the Spires directly, without going through the Towers, but after the Reckoning, only the strongest adepts could.”

We’d had this debate more than once.  Tarik was his parent’s child and his prejudice made him blind.  To him, the loss of Spirit’s magik was inconsequential.  This time, I’d try a different tactic.  “Like Kandol?”

“Kandol and others.  He wasn’t unique.  Anyone born under the Full Radiance could bypass the Towers, and most of those born before the Reckoning could as well.  The weaker wizards of Mankind were a different story.  The Towers stood between them and the Spires.”

“Not all of them.  Take Varzin Albaster or Aurora, for example.”

“Some didn’t need the Towers,” Tarik admitted, “but precious few.  Only a small handful in all those centuries.  That’s why Harnor built them, because Mankind was so frail.  Direct exposure to the Spires could kill them.  The Long Night proved him right, you know.  When the Towers fell, most of those who practiced magik went mad.”

Nearly twenty years had passed between the fall of the Towers and the beginning of the Long Night and in that time, magik had indeed gone awry, but Tarik had left out an important detail.  “Of course they did, but not because the Towers fell.  They went mad because the Spires of Thought toppled.”

Tarik winked.  “Not everyone lost their power.”

I grated my teeth.  “I don’t suppose you’ll tell me how you escaped with yours intact?”

He winked again.  “Not likely.”

By the Flame, one day I’d pry it out of him, but now it was time to get the conversation back on track.  “Remind me, what purpose did the Towers serve, exactly.”

Tarik rolled his eyes.  “Really, Jerilyn.  I’d have thought you’d understand by now.  We’ve been over it so many times.”

“You’re a wizard, Tarik, the greatest who ever lived.  It might seem obvious to you, but I’m just a simple historian.”

“You’re anything but that, Jerilyn,” said Tarik, “But it must be hard for someone who’s never touched the Spires to understand.”

Hah!  He’d bought it.  Amazing what a little flattery could do.  Amazing, but not unexpected.  If the gods were not immune to stroked egos, then neither was Tarik.

“The Towers,” Tarik continued, “governed the flow of energy between the Spires and the wizards of Mankind in much the same way the Spires did for the sorcerers of the Elder Races.  As you know, the source of magik was the Flame of Creation. It came from the Void, through the Girdle and into the realm of the Primals.  From the earliest, Harnor knew that even the Elder Races would be unable to withstand the unfettered force of the Flame, and so he fashioned the Spires of Thought to safeguard them.  After the Reckoning, he built the Towers and they served a similar purpose.  As were the Spires to the Elder Races, so were the Towers to Mankind.”

“I see!”  I had him now!  “So, the sorcery of Hali’s time was like that of the Elder Days, but not as powerful due to the Towers?”

Sensing a trap, Tarik hesitated.  “Well, that’s one way of putting it, but it’s stretching things a bit.  They’re similar, but in the same way that an ant is similar to a man.  Their differences, I think, are far more startling than their similarities.”

“I suppose, but what about the Earth Magik?”

Tarik snorted again, unable to cover his contempt.  “What of it?”

“It was quite different than sorcery, wasn’t it?”

“Hah!  I wouldn’t even consider it magik.”  Tarik’s eyes blazed.  I’d hit on a touchy subject.  His grandfather, Harnor, the Lord of the Spires, had no use for Spirit’s Earth Magik.  He coined it cheap magik and passed on his disdain to his children, the Harnae, the only Firstborn deaf to the earth song.  They, in turn, passed it on to Tarik.

I lit my pipe and smiled in satisfaction that couldn’t be ruined by my poor attempt at smoke rings.  “Oh no, Tarik.  You’re not going to wiggle out of it that easily.  The earth song was real and you know it.  Just because you couldn’t hear it, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.  When the Priestesses channeled, was it magik?  What about the Earthmages?  Was it magik when Dar Highfather delved the Halls of Ruling?  When Elras forged the Sword?”

Tarik stared at a painting on the far wall and refused to meet my gaze.  “I suppose.”

I moved in for the kill.  “So we’re in agreement that the Earth Magik was real?”

Tarik nodded slowly.

I smiled.  “And didn’t you say only a moment ago that sorcery before and after the Reckoning was similar, differing only in intensity?”

“Yes,” said Tarik, starting to fume.  “But you’re taking things out of context.”

I stumbled to the cupboard to fetch another bottle of brandy.  “That seems a rather minor difference to me.  Come now, Tarik.  Are you ready to concede?”

I opened the cupboard and moved some bottles to reach the one I wanted.  “Tarik?”

I turned around, bottle in hand, but Tarik had vanished.  By the Flame, that’s what I got for arguing with a wizard who could far travel!  I spied a scrap of paper on the chair.  It read ‘See you next week.  T’

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