Fan fiction:The Mage Academy of Gea Kul/Chapter Ten
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Overworked, overstressed, constantly singled out for harassment, resented by the roommate who should have been her one true friend, pressed with unwanted affections by her fellow Fifths, and pressed into demanding Maester-level work long before her twentieth birthday, a collapse, or explosion, was inevitable. No one saw it coming, certainly not Zia, and no one could have dreamt how calamitous the event would be.
I fell out of bed on that fateful night, literally shaken from my dreams by a blast so powerful the chandelier was swinging overhead when I stumbled to my feet. I was awake at once, and when a second blast rocked the Academy, knocking books from my shelves, I assumed the school was under attack. By demons, or perhaps a rival clan; it mattered not. I had not been in the field for years, but old instincts awakened at once, and with the aid of some telekinesis I was dressed, armored, and armed in just seconds.
Charging out into the corridor, I found milling Maesters galore, most of them still in their night clothes. Only Shien, bless her, had emerged from her room ready to fight, and she was a scholar, not a battle mage. This was no time for shouting and confusion, so I created a thundering blast of my own, sending blue flames rushing along the ceiling of the corridor to be sure I had everyone's attention.
"The Academy is under attack! Arm yourselves and prepare to defend all that you hold dear!" When a third explosion swayed the hallway and sent a statue crashing to the floor, the Maesters moved with a purpose, flying back into their rooms, from which came the snapping sounds of telekinesis and other spells. I ran for the stairs, Shien beside me, her wand at the ready, a glowing orb in her off hand. We did not pause for the steps, but teleported straight down four levels to the main lobby, appearing amidst staggering, coughing, dust-covered students.
"What's happening?" cried Shien. A babble of voices provided a dozen useless answers, but the hands pointing down the long hallway to the east gave a clear answer. Shien and I were off at once, shouting that all the students were to assemble in the Great Hall.
A fourth explosion came seconds later, this one throwing Maester Shien sideways into me. I caught her, noticing on some distant level what a pleasant handful she was, but focusing my attention on the danger we were racing towards. We soon found it, when we rounded a corner into the wing that housed the student dormitories, and were halted by the appalling sight before us. Corpses were strewn across the floor, the bodies mangled unrecognizably. Arms and legs were twisted and torn, blood was splashed along the walls, and as I gazed in astonished horror, Shien made the deduction.
"These are fifth level students. Their dormitory is behind that wall." The wall to which Shien referred was now a heap of bricks from which dust was still billowing.
"Zia." I said, my voice full of worry for her safety. Shien heard me, but leapt to a different conclusion. "She has the power to destroy like this. I fear she was finally pushed her too far."
I had not given a thought to that possibility, but once Shien voiced it, I could think of nothing but. Zia, that wonderful, beautiful, delightful girl -- on a murderous rampage? Against her fellow students? It seemed unimaginable, but as Shien and I picked our way through the rubble and our count of victims reached ten, it seemed the only possible solution.
There was one survivor in the dormitory. Kara. She was unconscious and badly injured, her head and shoulders bruised and cut where a brick wall had fallen on her. I took hold of the girl, looked through the window, and teleported us both across the courtyard to a distant balcony. This took me out of the palace that the Academy occupied and into a neighboring noble's estate. Two guardsmen, summoned by the noise and commotion across the way, saw me appear, the bleeding girl in my arms. I entrusted Kara to them, asking them to wake the manor and summon their physician, then teleported down to the courtyard and around the long walkway to the front gate of my Academy. The doors were open, smashed open from within as if by a great battering ram, and as I inspected the damage Shien appeared, four other Maesters teleporting in on her heels.
"I can find no trace of her within the dormitory, or elsewhere in the school." said Shien, confirming my worst fears. I took a moment to gather my thoughts, then spoke. My audience had by then grown to more than a dozen, as three more Maesters and several eighth level students joined us in the shattered ruins of the Academy's main lobby.
"This is Zia's doing. She has slaughtered the entire class of Fifths, save for Kara." I heard gasps, and one of the Eights dropped his wand in shock. "You'll want not to drop that again this evening, Marcos." I said, trying to put some humor into my tone. With a bang of telekinesis the wand was at once back in his hand, and Marcos nodded to me, his face grim.
"We must find Zia. Find her and bring her back. We know nothing of her condition; she might have lost her mind, or been injured in the rampage. Bring her back alive! If you find her, send up a jet of flame. Two dozen of your fellows will be there within half a minute. I want answers. Too many have died tonight; we must know what caused this chaos."
I paused a moment, their faces still trained on mine. It hurt, but it had to be said.
"Value yourself. Guard your life. If you must fight, fight to win. Zia's raw power is unmatched, but she knows nothing of the subtleties of dueling. Attempt to disarm her, knock her out with an unseen stone from behind. If you have no other choice, kill her. Kill her before dying yourself."
With that I nodded, and sent them forth. They scattered all through the city, and searched long, for Gea Kul is a sprawling city, and the docks that stretch out into the harbor add much more territory to the city. I did not join them; my responsibility was to the Academy, and though I briefed and sent out dozens more searchers, I spent most of the night cleaning up the mess and counting the bodies. More were found in the rubble, but two of the male fifth levels had survived, thanks to their truancy. Both had been out of the dormitory, in empty classrooms in the company of young ladies. One lass was a fourth level student, the other a scullery maid, and I went easy on the punishments for all of them. It wasn't every day that breaking curfew saved your life.
None of the searchers found Zia. There were signs of her; several guardsmen dead outside one tavern, their bodies baked to a substance resembling charcoal. Two pick pockets were found dead half a mile to the northwest, their bodies driven into the walls of an alley so hard they appeared flattened. Zia left no other bodies, but two guards near the docks were sure they'd seen a woman matching her description pass by them that evening, just minutes after the huge explosions had shaken the entire city and sent most dockworkers moving curiously inland.
I sent searchers out along the Southern and Northern Roads, and others to canvas the docks, but none found Zia, and all returned alive. She might have left the city by either road, or gone overland to the East, but it was widely assumed she'd taken passage on a ship heading across the Inner Seas. None of the sailors would tell us anything, but that was no surprise, for they distrusted mages. They distrusted women as well, and many felt the fairer sex brought ill fortune on a ship at sea, but I could not imagine any sailor turning down Zia as she pled for safe passage aboard a departing vessel.
It was hard to believe, but after a week of investigation, I could reach no other conclusion. Zia had gone berserk, murdered fourteen of her fellow students, five more men in the streets, and vanished from the city in one night. Vanished without a trace.
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