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   Chapter 15

The Woodlands By EJBowman Characters: 16865

Updated: 2017-12-22 12:02

Dacen the Apprentice read by candlelight in his quarters as he flipped through the pages of Viti et Morsisa Daeformita. Apparently there were numerous teleportation spells, but none of the ones he had discovered so far could take him as far as Magnoria. Mainly, they were for very elderly fauns who found it easier to teleport rather than walk.

As this was his copy of the book, he took a small break from his search and flipped to the very back of it, where he and his little nymph friend had once practiced writing their names. The thought of Neem made him feel warm inside. He doubted that the little being thought of a foreigner like him very frequently, but the nymph had quite an impact on him. After all, how could he forget the first being that ever saw past his horns?

Flipping back through the book, he stopped on the image of a vampire being blood-let while being burned alive.

He thought the pictures in this book were scary. I can only imagine what he’d think of my darker half, he thought with a solemn smile. He had managed to convince himself over time that he could never see Neem again now that he was slowly being consumed by dark magic.

* * *

Dacen finally narrowed down his search to two teleportation spells. Both appeared to be for the same purpose, yet the necessary words for each were different, as well as the potions he needed to ingest.

This will be much easier when I’m skilled enough to teleport without any incantations or potions, he thought.

The whole situation was reminiscent of his educational situation when he was still accepted by the nox elves. He did not share the same mind-set as the other nox elf children. The combination of mysticism, superstition, and science made little sense in his eyes. Why could some things be explained by reasoning, yet other things were left up to magic? They did not seem compatible. It was no surprise when his tutor gave up on him entirely. He soon came to realise that science and magic both played their part in the universe once his horns started to develop—and by that time it was too little, too late.

Based on his miserable failings in the past, when it came to studying, he decided asking Daefortis was probably the best choice. Yes, it was possible that his master would see asking for help as a sign of incompetence, but it was a risk he was willing to take. After all, the last thing he wanted to do was perform the wrong spell and have it end in disaster.

It was odd that Daefortis was absent from the study, library, hall, and the temple. The young hybrid wandered around like a lost child, keeping two fingers wedged in the book so he did not lose the teleportation spells.

I’m in the crypt, a foreign voice informed him.

The shock of having his mind invaded almost caused him to drop the book. He knew telepathy was common practice among fauns, but he felt as if the mind was meant to be a private place.

Placing the book under his arm, he continued on his way. There was no reason to question why his Master was in the morgue. The likely answer was that he was studying the previously resurrected vampiress and trying to unlock the secrets of necromancy—something he would not be able to do.

Had Daefortis read deeper into Dacen’s mind, he would have learned that his apprentice was having doubts about his own necromantic abilities. It was true that he could resurrect the dead, that had been proven, yet he felt he did not have the power to resurrect someone who could last very long. This was not something that could be trained; simply he was incapable of such power. The power… it was not all with him. It was elsewhere. Where? He had no idea.

Something felt terribly wrong as he neared the crypt. An unnerving aura filled the air beyond the stone door. Not necessarily magical… but unnatural.

“Master?” he asked while pulling open the large door. Instantly the whiff of rotting flesh made him nauseous.

“Ah, you’re here,” the old faun murmured in an enigmatic manner.

Dacen cocked an eyebrow. The vampiress’ corpse appeared to be untouched, but what really caught his attention was the presence of a new cadaver. His master stood in the way of the upper body, but judging by the tanned skin around the ankles it was a human.

Oh no… what has he done?

“I’ve concluded that I was being too kind before. I, clearly, was unable to entice the response I wanted and more excessive force is necessary.”

“I… I don’t understand,” Dacen admitted.

It was only when the old faun stepped to the side that he realise what this was all about. He recognised the face of his deceased mother instantly. Without thinking, the hybrid dropped the spell book and pushed Daefortis aside. Kneeling down next to the woman, it came as even more of a shock when a red flame burned his hand as he tried to touch her face. He remained there for a few seconds, trying to process the whole situation.

Daefortis had just readjusted himself when his apprentice grabbed him by the scruff of his tunic and slammed him against the wal

s manner. “We are only trying to understand what you are and why you exist.”

“I get that,” Dacen murmured while nodding his head slightly. “However, I don’t think I should affiliate myself with the Master Council and, by extent, other fauns. I need time to figure out my purpose.”

“Master Taonhi Chay can help you find that.”

“She can’t… She really can’t. Only I can figure that out.”

The young faun let out a small huff of annoyance.

“If you change your mind, then return to Daefortis’ lair and wait beside the crystal ball—we will collect you from there.

“It is unlikely that I shall be returning.”

“The offer remains open,” Gie Lehaun stated while shrugging her shoulders indifferently.

Before he could say another word, the female faun vanished from sight. Clearly, she was far more skilled at teleportation than he was—despite the fact they were similar in age.

The hybrid stuffed the spellbook into his satchel which he then proceeded to sling over his shoulder. Looking back down at the horse bust in his hand, he contemplated where he would go from there. He was not in the headspace to plan a long-term journey to anywhere. His main goal became to find a village where he could gather supplies.

Perhaps I’m not meant to settle down anywhere, and being a nomad is just my destiny.

Although he felt it that was the truth, he pushed the thought out of his mind before throwing the wooden piece on the ground and watching the dust expel from it.

“I have missed you,” he lied as the golem horse solidified.

At that point, he had no choice but to go forward. The mountains on each side ensured there was only one way out. When he reached the edge of the valley he would have to think harder about where he was going.

Continuing forward is not an option as that will take me straight to the Woodlands, but other routes may very well lead me right to the vampires. I need to stop somewhere to recollect myself and gather supplies… but I most certainly cannot stop in the domain of vampires.

That was a though: he had only survived his encounter with the vampires last time because the phantoms had come to his aid. If they came for him again, they would likely be more prepared and he would be in serious trouble.

Stop thinking about all of this! he internally warned himself. You’ve just killed your former master and exiled yourself from faunkind. Now is not the time to be thinking about the blasted vampires.

He kicked the lifeless horse in order to make it speed up. He wanted to stop thinking about vampires, but he also knew it was best to be swift in his venture through the valley. The confinements of it meant it would be rather difficult to get away from any enemies.

Dacen stroked the cold mane of the horse in order to distract himself. Again, he could feel his eyes becoming watery, but he was not ready to confront his emotions.

You have no reason to feel sad. Master Taonhi Chay offered you a place with her, and you declined. You had the option to belong, but you made the right decision. Belonging to the fauns would cost you your morality and, by extent, your soul.

He wiped away his tears before kicking the horse again. By this point they were moving fast enough that his cloak billowed in the wind.

I wish I could go back to the nox elves… or Neem. Life would be so much easier that way.

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