Leon, the Mighty Gale Chapter 8

An Unknown Switch

By Samara Secor

Just as Vair had thought, the seniors refused to leave. However, they did clear a space to one side and lined up to watch. One of the seniors, a tall beastwoman with brown hair and grey eyes, quirked a small smile and said, “I hope this doesn’t take too long. It’s not often that we get unscheduled breaks like this.”

“Playtime’s going to be over soon anyway, Serena,” Vair said. “Raven escaped her captors and has returned safely to us. Tomorrow, it will be back to our usual routine.”

Vair’s pronouncement was answered with a mixture of cheers for Raven’s safety and groans from those who were behind in their studies. Ember’s voice cut across the noise, “Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m kind of in a hurry to get back home. Could you get on with the testing? I can’t leave until Chris decides what to do, because the High Priestess will blame me if anything happens to him.”

By the time that Ember was through speaking, Chris felt uncomfortably warm, and Pyra was trying to sink down further into his arms. Chris gently disentangled himself from her and set her on the ground, wondering why Ember felt so responsible for him. “I’m sorry if I have caused you any inconvenience, but I am more than capable of making it back to the temple by myself. I made it here alone without incident, and I trust that the return trip will be likewise. You could leave right now if you want.”

At this suggestion, Ember frowned slightly and crossed his arms, “Thanks, but I’ll stay just the same.”

“Fine. Suit yourself,” Chris shrugged and turned to Vair. “I’m ready.”

As if there had been no interruption, Vair smiled easily and said, “All right, as most of us know, magic is divided into four main groups: earth, fire, wind, and water. We’ll start with earth first.”

Vair picked up a small stick and began to draw a series of runes in the dirt while he talked, “I don’t know how your healing magic works, but we do our spells through a combination of rune memorization and attuning them to keywords that describe their effects. This spell and the other three that follow were designed specifically to respond at varying levels of intensity depending on the caster’s affinity with a particular element. I don’t have outstanding abilities with any one element, but I have a reasonable amount of talent with all of them. That makes me the prime candidate for testing others when a full mage is unavailable. Take a few minutes to memorize the spell... you too, Leon... Then, when you’re ready, I’ll cast the spell, and both of you cast yours right after so we can compare the results. Oh, I almost forgot. The keywords for this one are, ‘Sand Castle’.”

‘Sand Castle?’ Leon thought. ‘That sounds almost as dumb as the garlic spell. Then again, I suppose we can’t do anything too dangerous...’

Leon set his mind to memorizing the runes, and after a moment, he locked eyes with Chris, who nodded. “We’re both ready. Let’s do it,” Leon said.


“Hey, Mom... Dad! I’m home!” Raven called out as she entered the room.

The intense discussion in progress around the table broke up, and the man at the table’s head leaped to his feet, sweeping Raven into a hearty embrace, “Raven, my little bright star, your mother and I have missed you so.”

“She’s hardly little anymore, and will you let go of her, Lark? Your crushing the life out of her,” Raven’s mother said.

With a laugh, Lark released Raven and looked her over with an appraising eye, “It doesn’t look like you’ve been hurt, but where did you get those clothes? Is this some kind of unorthodox way of saying that you don’t like the dress code anymore?”

“Oh, Dad,” Raven sighed and told an abbreviated version of the events that had happened since her kidnapping.

“Emberallien Dallime’yre... It’s been a while since we last met. Is he still hanging around, Raven? I’ve got a few things I’d like to ask him and notes to compare,” Lark explained.

“Is he one of those disreputable ‘friends’ of yours that you were running around with before you met me and decided to live up to your responsibilities as a guildmaster?” Raven’s mother asked.

“They weren’t disreputable, Tia,” Lark said, raising both hands in a defensive gesture. “I’d explain if I could, but all of us swore a vow of secrecy. We didn’t do anything that Althena would disapprove of, if that’s what your worried about.”


Chris’ earth talent was slightly better than Vair’s while Leon’s talent was barely enough to cause any effect. Some of the seniors snickered, but Leon ignored them, knowing that he did have talent of some kind.

The Test of Earth was followed by that of fire, at which Chris was unable to call forth even a single spark. When Leon showed a talent comparable with Chris’ earth, Serena nodded thoughtfully and said, “100 silver says that Leon’s got complete affinity with wind and Chris with water.”

“And 100 more says Vair’s just wasting our precious moments of freedom for nothing,” another apprentice returned.

“”Are you prepared to back that up?” Serena challenged.

“You’d better believe it!”

“Good,” Serena settled back with an air of supreme confidence and said, “Don’t disappoint me, you guys. I’m counting on you.”

‘How did I ever get into this? They say curiosity killed the cat. I hope it doesn’t do the same for priest trainees, too,’ Chris thought.

For the wind test, the object was to use wind currents to hold a dead tree branch aloft for as long as they could. Chris’ and Vair’s branches dropped after only a few minutes, but Leon’s continued to remain suspended with no sign of wavering at all. A few more minutes passed before the apprentice who made the bet yawned, “I’ll concede this one, Serena. If he’s not one hundred percent, he’s close enough. Somebody cut off that spell so they can move on to water before I die of boredom.”


Ember awoke to the tune of a pounding headache. The last thing that he could remember was getting a little ticked off at Pyra and hurrying up the stairs into Vane. He tried to put a hand to his forehand in an attempt to massage the pain away and fumed silently, ‘Of all the idiotic... I’ve managed to get myself conked over the head and hog-tied! I can’t tell for sure how long I’ve been out, but it has to have been a while, because my arms are totally useless. I wonder why no one’s come looking for me yet.’

Ember’s eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light, and he was able to make out the faint outlines of a cell. ‘Looks like I made it to the guild hall’s dungeon. Can’t anybody afford some decent lighting around here?’

With some difficulty, for his feet were bound as well as his hands, Ember made it to a standing position and hopped over to the cell door. “Hey, is anybody out there? You guys are really making a big mistake locking me up like this. I’m a friend of Lark. You know, the one you guys call guildmaster?” Ember’s voice echoed off the walls, but no answer came.

“Well, I guess I’m down here all by myself. No guards, no other prisoners...” Ember grinned. “No witnesses! I hope Lark hold it against me if I bust up his cells a bit. They could use a little remodeling anyway.”


The previously clear sky darkened and let loose a torrent of rain. Within seconds, everyone was drenched, and Vair frantically signed a counterspell to break up the impromptu storm. “Now, that is not what that spell was supposed to do,” Vair’s eyes shifted between confusion and amazement before saying, “I’ve never seen anything like it, Chris. Either you mixed the runes up and created a new spell, or you broke whatever magical limit this was supposed to test.”

Vair impatiently brushed his sopping wet hair out of his eyes and asked, “Are you sure that you’re not looking for a career change?”

“But...” Chris started uncertainly before saying more firmly, “No matter how much talent I have, I belong to Althena’s priesthood. Until I complete my training, I won’t have the freedom to make that kind of choice.”

“I’m sure that the High Priestess and I can work something out if you truly wish to learn,” a voice said from the main building’s doorway.

All the wizard apprentices, Vair included, snapped immediately to attention at the sound of Guildmaster Lark’s voice. Lark shook his head as he came out into the open with Raven behind him. In mock sadness, he said, “Whenever I enter a room, everyone acts like I’ve caught them in the act of stealing cookies out the cookie jar. Maybe I should give up all this guildmaster stuff and go back to the good old days of no money and no respect. What do you think, Ember?”

“I think,” Ember said softly, “that you wouldn’t last a day out in the wild. You’ve grown old, fat, and lazy.”

There was a loud gasp of surprise from the apprentices and they watched Lark carefully to see how he would react. “Okay, I admit that I am a bit lazy, but I am NOT fat! And your a fine one to talk about age, Mr. Forever... Huh?” Lark frowned as he turned to face Ember. “Why’d you have to go and dye your hair that weird reddish purple? That’s not like you at all, Ember. Is something wrong?”


Ember stumbled a bit coming up the stairs and had to cling to a wall as the room spun crazily. ‘I must have been hit pretty hard. Whoever did this is going to be really sorry by the time I get a hold of ‘em. Ah... I wish the walls would stop spinning! I can’t afford to be disabled like this right now. Not with Aerie sick and Granite gone missing. I don’t dare contact Marius, since he’s still ticked off with me for boiling all the water off of his lake. Althena, send us a Dragonmaster soon, because I can’t take much more of this,’ Ember prayed silently.

With a groan, he pushed away from the wall and resumed climbing the stairs.


“How would you know what is or isn’t like me, old man?” Ember glared at Lark insolently. “We’ve never met before. I think you’ve got me confused with my own old man. From the brief glimpse I got of him while I was tying him up, I can tell that we share more than just the name.”

“You what?” Immediately, the glow of magic surrounded Lark’s body like a halo.

Ember II wagged a finger at Lark and said, “Now, now... I didn’t kill him, so you’ve got nothing to be upset about. You cool down a bit so that this won’t be settled with any more violence than necessary.”

The halo dimmed almost to invisibility and Lark replied, “You will have to be satisfied with this. With all due respect, I don’t trust you farther than I can throw you.”

“I couldn’t care less what you think of me. The only thing I want right now is him,” Ember II said, pointing at Chris.


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