The door opened and Mabryl entered shaking his cloak out as he did so. ‘It’s cold out there and it’s turning to snow if I’m not much mistaken. Unusual this far south.’
He hung his cloak on a stand by the door before turning to his three apprentices. ‘Have you finished the tasks I set you?’
Carthinal walked to the fire and added a fresh log to the flames. ‘Come and get warm, and, no I’ve not finished. I can’t settle down to anything until I hear about whether I can take the tests soon. Emmienne has finished though. I can’t say about Tomac.’
‘Nearly,’ Tomac jumped from his chair and carried his workbook to his master. ‘I was a little stuck on the moon phases though. It’s complicated trying to work out both moons at the same time.’
‘Stick to it, youngster,’ Emmienne said from the window seat. She smiled at the younger boy, the smile lighting up her otherwise plain face. ‘I had problems too, but it comes eventually.’
Tomac groaned and went back to his seat.
Mabryl strode to the fire and held his hands out to the blaze. ‘I’ve made what I think might be a big discovery. Perhaps the most important one for many years. Look.’ He strode over to his cloak and pulled something from a pocket.
It was a book. He carefully paced it on the table.. ‘It could be a spell book from before the Forbidding.’
Emmienne gasped. ‘That is old, and if it is, we’ll be able to find lost spells. You’ll be famous, Sir.’
‘Calm down, Emm. It might not be the spell-book of a magister, or even an arch-mage.’ Carthinal smiled at her. ‘It might have the spells we already know and not any of the lost ones.’
Carthinal picked up the book Mabryl had bought and began to leaf through it. He could not understand what was written there. It was in an archaic script and language and he was, as yet, only an apprentice. He had not the knowledge to understand more than a limited number of spells.
Frowning, he tried to read the words on the page. He lifted the book from the table to take it nearer to the light when a loose page fell to the floor. He stooped to pick it up and realised he could read it, and it was not a page fallen out, but a note that had been inserted. He took it to the window seat and sat down next to Emmienne.
‘What’s that?’ She strained to read it upside down.
‘I’m not sure.’ Carthinal wrinkled his brow. ‘It fell out of the book Mabryl bought but it’s not the same writing, nor is it in the same archaic script. It’s a note of some kind.’ He paused to read it.
Mabryl noticed the paper Carthinal held. ‘What have you got there?’
‘It fell out of the book you bought. It doesn’t seem to be by the author of the book. It’s in a more modern script that I can read. It doesn’t make much sense though.’ He handed it to his Master, who read it, then read it again, this time out loud.
‘“When Kalhera descends from the mountains, and orcs once more roam the land,
When impossible beasts occur and the Never-Dying man is once more at hand,
Then the Sword that was lost must once more be found; only it can destroy the threat
And kill the immortal mortal to balance out his debt.”
Mabryl frowned. ‘How can Kalhera descend from the mountains? She’s a god and the gods don’t come to Vimar.’
He turned the page in his hand and saw some more writing on the back. ‘This says it’s a quotation from something the writer heard. The author says he visited the Oracle on Holy Island and was told that the Oracle had said this earlier, but to no one in particular. Only the attendants were present.’ He replaced the paper in the book on the table.
Emmienne picked the paper up and examined it. ‘Not only the stuff about Kalhera, but none of it makes sense, Sir. Orcs haven’t been seen in Grosmer for hundreds of years. And what are impossible beasts?’’
‘What is the Sword that was lost, and how can a man never die?’ Tomac took the paper from Emmienne.
Mabryl answered his question. ‘I can tell you about the Sword. I think that refers to Sauvern’s Sword. King Sauvern lived centuries ago and united the six warring kingdoms of Grosmer. He was supposed to have a magical sword, but the whereabouts of both sword and Sauvern’s tomb have been lost to history.’
‘I must take the book to a colleague of mine in the Mage Tower. She’s working on finding the old spells and this might be of use to her. The loose note might be a prophecy if it came from the Oracle, but who knows when it was made? It could be it was centuries ago—or yesterday. And it could refer to a time well in the future or even in the past. We should ignore it for now. Lillora says our lunch is ready, so I suggest we go to the table before she gets mad.’
Tomac muttered to Carthinal. ‘It still doesn’t make sense. Immortal mortal? That’s a contradiction. And if he’s immortal, how can he be killed?’
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