Episode 7 – Aetherneal Bond
It didn’t take them long to learn how to cast the trigger spell; it had a foreign shape yet it was simple to weave. Elaru knew what the trigger spell was supposed to look like and was able to reproduce it on her first try; she said she’d seen it before but had never performed it herself nor had it taught to her.
The oath of truth had expired and Elaru didn’t sign it again. However, Kiel didn’t think she was lying about it. He was pleased with her magic skill, it was only fitting for his partner to be a skilled mage.
Kiel was able to pick up the spell just as quickly. He didn’t want to be outperformed by her. Therefore, he concentrated extra hard. The trigger spell wasn’t hard to reproduce. However the difficulty was not in the trigger spell itself, it was in the timing. Elaru revealed that he needed to cast the trigger to start the magic reaction, but she had to confirm it with her own spell before the contract activated. Their spellcasting was required to be in sync for the trigger to work.
Kiel thought Elaru would tell him to follow her lead. Instead, she told him to start casting and she would copy him. That surprised him, she seemed headstrong, prideful and independent, someone who makes their own way instead of following ways of others; still, he didn’t complain about it. He didn’t like adapting to other people’s pace anyway. It was better this way.
Therefore, Kiel spent a while casting and recasting, under the watchful eye of Elaru, trying to get a feel for the spell so he could reproduce it with consistency. Elaru watched him with an unreadable expression, she seemed to be concentrating and dedicating all her attention on his spellcasting. Like she was trying to absorb its every twitch and movement to be able to predict the flow of his weaving.
Kiel took a few short breaks to drink and eat the bagel he stored in his pouch this morning. However Elaru never even once stopped to rest, drink or eat. He was even mean enough to eat and drink right in front of her. He ate tantalizingly slowly trying to tempt her. He even used augmentation magic to reheat the bagel so that the warm, sweet smell of cherries would spread around the clearing mixing with the earthy smell of the forest.
He expected her to glare at him and call him insensitive, or, at least, ask him to share (he would have enjoyed telling her no). However, she paid no attention to it. She continued staring at him as if he was a specimen she was studying. As though she was an apparatus running on mana who needed no nutrition from worldly substances.
The sun was high in the sky by the time they were ready to attempt it for real.
Kiel was eager to get it over with; his water had run out half an hour ago. If Elaru wasn’t such a freak, she might have noticed his thirst and transmuted him some water from the air with her transmutation magic. He thought about asking her, but his pride got in the way. Kiel didn’t like asking for help. He was just fine on his own.
Soon enough the fateful moment arrived. They were ready to attempt it for real.
They faced each other, holding each other’s gaze. Elaru nodded, Kiel nodded back. They needed no words to convey the meaning; at the same time, they started waiving the trigger spell around their right hands.
Kiel couldn’t see it, but he could feel the spells dancing around their arms coming closer and closer to one another. It was a delicate, beautiful dance.
The spells were in perfect sync.
Kiel was impressed and surprised that Elaru managed to copy him on her first try. Copying someone else’s spell so flawlessly took an enormous amount of skill. Her weaving was most likely as good as his own if not better.
The spell was brief and nothing spectacular. It reached its climax quickly. Right at the end, their palms touched briefly and the spells collided with one another.
When two spells collide, one of three things happens:
1) they interfere with one another potentially canceling each other out
2) they resonate with each other increasing effects of both
3) they do not affect each other at all
Naturally, two identical spells in perfect sync could only resonate with each other enhancing the effects of both.
Kiel had expected their resonance, yet it still took him by surprise when it happened.
As the two spells collided, Kiel’s time seemed to stop.
A wave of absolute power and energy exploded spreading from their arms through their entire body shaking and rippling through their cells like a hurricane.
The two spells abruptly changed shape on their own and merged into one.
Kiel could see it clearly, even though he couldn’t see magic, the spell created visible light phenomena. It twirled and twisted into an obscure glittering brand reaching out to Elaru. Wrapping around her and pulling with tiny strings of light.
As the spell touched her markings, they started flickering in all kinds of colors – same colors the brand was glowing with. The tiny tentacles of the brand latched themselves to her markings, merging with them and making them dance across her skin. They moved like they were alive. Twisting and twirling, slithering. Flickering and glittering in many bright colors.
Elaru’s skin started glowing subtly with hard to define radiance.
Her hair spread out and twirled like it was being blown by the wind. It danced along with the brand mimicking its movements. For a moment, he could swear he saw strands of her hair flash white. Her eyes burned brightly, the black iris widening slightly into a diamond shape uncharacteristic for elibu, before shrinking back and almost disappearing overwhelmed by golden lights.
Abruptly the brand grew larger and enveloped both of them. It stamped itself around them clenching their bodies like a snake. Everything the brand touched tingled, it was both burning and chilling, painful and pleasurable. It was an otherworldly feeling.
The world faded out in front of Kiel’s eyes, it ceased to exist in his mind.
There was just Elaru, him and magic between them.
Kiel felt the roots of the spell grow deep inside his core, branching and spreading until he could feel it from his heart all the way down to the tips of his toes.
The brand sang an eerie, ethereal melody, Kiel felt as if he had heard it before but at the same time as if he was hearing it for the first time. Kiel wasn’t even sure that the melody was indeed a sound originating from the bond, it could have been a sensation or a memory embedded deep inside him surfacing once again.
His heart beat erratically, reacting to the melody, pulsing with the rhythm of the brand. Was that even his heartbeat? He could swear he felt Elaru’s heart beating side by side with his own. Kiel felt her hot breath on his skin even though they weren’t close enough. He could hear and feel every contraction of her lungs. He felt the heat waves rolling off her body as if they were his own.
His nose picked up an odd barely noticeable scent. It tingled his senses making his nose twitch. It didn’t smell like anything he had smelled before, he had no words to describe it, the closest words he could come up with was power, or magic. Though, magic was not something that could be smelled.
Kiel felt his whole body react and reach to the brand, wanting to absorb it, to make it his, to make it a part of him. He didn’t feel like he was in control of his own actions anymore.
The skin on the right side of his body seared and burned. The sensation spreading from the tips of his right-hand fingers, climbing up to his shoulder. Then swirling around his neck onto his face. When it reached his eyes, he felt something deep inside him light up like a big campfire suddenly bursting forward from a small birthday candle. He felt the power and warmth spreading faster and faster, flickering up and down, growing and burning even brighter with each new flicker. It was as if never before opened floodgates had opened for the first time. The surging tide of water smashing into him and submerging his every cell into the cool fluid.
It was a feeling that he could never manage to describe with words.
A feeling which only grew more painful and pleasurable at the same time.
It was thrilling and horrifying, entrancing and enchanting. It was a feeling neither of them would ever forget.
The entire phenomena lasted only a few short seconds but to them it seemed to last forever, time seemed warped and twisted just like the brand.
As the spell stamped itself deep inside Kiel’s body, mind, and soul, the brand flashed pure white blinding them. They could feel ringing in their ears and their lungs contracted painfully, their heartbeat suddenly turned deafeningly silent.
Kiel could feel a sudden wave of melancholy wash over him briefly. Like he was staring face to face at death, like every second could be his last.
And then the brand exploded in the completely silent boom of power, showering them with tiny light particles which made their whole body shake.
Their vision flickered in and out, blurred in and out.
Something inside them undoubtedly changed forever. Kiel felt like all his senses were in overdrive. Like he was seeing – feeling the world clearly for the first time. Kiel could feel the life of the forest vibrating in every leaf and strand of grass. He could feel little wyrms digging through the earth and hear the humming of small tiki in flight.
Kiel felt a strange completeness shaking him. Like he had finally found a large part of him that was missing; the lock for his key.
He cloud feel its closeness, he felt he could grasp it, touch it. It was so close! Still, it was strangely out of his reach. He felt complete yet incomplete at the same time.
It was a maddening feeling.
Kiel no longer felt like Kiel. He no longer felt…halnean. He felt like he had become someone – something else.
The old Kiel died at that moment, under the hot sun, in fireworks of magic lights.
It was utterly terrifying.
And it was utterly beautiful.