Stew and Vengeance
When you cast a spell, you pull a small amount of energy out our your aura, initiate the spell, and then let it go. The spell then pulls the energy it needs. ALL of the energy it needs. If there isn't enough in your aura, it pulls it out of your blood. Blood that is robbed of magic dies. Having dead blood in your veins HURTS. If you have enough dead blood in your veins, you die too.
It had taken me about five hours to walk out to the place where Pretty Girl and her friends had ambushed me; it took more than three days to get back to the third rate sorcerer's school that housed my bed. The other senior apprentices had already gone to bed before I dragged myself in. I was hurt, exhausted, hungry, and filthy. I dealt with the filth, then collapsed into my bed.
I staggered into the school's dining room for the midday meal, and settled down with a bear-sized serving of beef stew. Someone sat down across the table from me, and I looked up to see Chelloc, one of the two friends I had at the school. He looked sad, and he was staring at the fresh burn scars on my left wrist. I swallowed my current mouthful and grinned.
"I cast a Blast on deficit; it turns out when you cast a deficit through a focus, you don't pass out, but the focus goes incandescent. The bracelet was wood, and disintegrated. If it had been bone or ivory, I might have lost the hand." I shrugged. "Grezhakh never told me about that." I took another mouthful of stew.
Chelloc stared into my eyes; he stilled looked sad. "Thalla's dead, Zhanh. The second night you were gone, Pelosh cornered her, and after a while she slapped him in the face, and he challenged her to a duel, and you weren't around to champion her. We didn't know where you were, or even if you would ever be back. So they fought, and he killed her."
I stared at Chelloc and kept eating my stew. Thalla was my other friend at the school; she and Chelloc had broken into First Circle and been promoted to Senior Apprentice at about the same time that I entered the school. I was already Second Circle, but needed the Journeyman credential, so I was officially a Senior Apprentice, too. This meant that we were all in the same duelling class, and the school heartily approved of student duels. I hated them, so I made it known that I was willing to champion anyone who was challenged unfairly. That pretty much ended Apprentic level duels, and might have saved a few lives, since duels were occasionally fatal.
Pelosh was the most senior of the apprentices, and an aspiring rake. Thalla was pretty and inexperienced. Pelosh tried to bully her into his bed, and she slapped him. He challenged, I stood as her champion, and he stood down. And now it had happened again, and I hadn't been there, and Thalla was dead. Duelling deaths were usually accidental, but I knew Pelosh; he had enough of an edge in skill over Thalla that her death could only have been deliberate.
Chelloc continued to stare at me. I finished my stew, wiped the bowl with a piece of bread, and looked back at Chelloc. "Let's go talk to Pelosh." I got up, he got up, and we went hunting. It wasn't hard; Pelosh was loud. I assumed that expected me to challenge him, and that he had some maneuver planned that would put me up against someone who could take me out. So I didn't challenge him.
Pelosh was a full time student from a rich family; I had spent most of the last dozen years on the deck of a ship, and had learned the art of insult from the sailors of many nations. I lit into him verbally. I insulted his intelligence, his virility, his parentage, and his hygiene. Once I got Pelosh's friends laughing at him, it was only a matter of time. I told him repeatedly all he needed to do to shut me up was to challenge me, and eventually he did. I smiled, thanked him, and said, "Accepted. No rules, right now." And then I blasted him to ash and went off to have another bowl of stew.
October 13, 2016