Nahlia’s Journal

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Nahlia’s Journal 1

I can’t believe it’s finally done! I’m an official knight of the Order of the Lamp! From now on, I’ll serve the Mages Guild the way that best suits me, as a votary. Of course, father would have preferred me to stick with the adepts in their classrooms, but I’ve always found swords easier to understand than sorcery.

I’ve already received my first assignment. I’ll be accompanying a small group of adepts out to an Ayleid ruin tomorrow at dawn. It should be fairly uneventful. They’re just studying some carved runes near the entrance to the structure. How dangerous could it be?

* * *
I guess the guild doesn’t quite trust me to protect the adepts on my own just yet. There’s another votary on this journey, a Dark Elf named Llaren. He’s not much more experienced than I am, maybe one season ahead of my class. I suppose we’re both still just saplings in the grand scheme of things.

At least he’s easier to talk to than the mages in this group. Maybe it’s because I used to be one of them, but I can tell they think we’re unnecessary. That their magic is all they need. I know most of them could probably defend themselves if it came down to it, but magicka can be depleted. As long as I have the strength to swing my sword, I know I can depend on it.

I think we’re getting close. The adepts are starting to perk up, and my weary feet tell me we’ve been on the road a good while now. It will be nice to take a break while the mages examine their runes or whatever it is they’re up to.

Nahlia’s Journal 2

Thank Y’ffre for Llaren! I’m not sure I’d be alive right now if it wasn’t for him.

Oh, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. I should start from the beginning or this won’t make sense later. I never was one for documentation, but this is important.

After we arrived at the ruins, things were quiet for a bit. The site’s located in a picturesque part of Colovia, not generally considered dangerous. Votary Llaren and I took turns patrolling the perimeter, but it felt like overkill. The Adepts were near a set of ancient doors that led into the ruins, comparing the etched runes on the doors to their own notes and writing things down. I was about to suggest to Llaren that we take a break when one of the Adepts screamed.

I don’t know how or why, but they opened the doors. That wasn’t part of the plan, but even then, it wouldn’t have been a problem, except for the angry tribe of Goblins spilling out from inside the ruins. Y’ffre’s beard, I’ve never seen such a seething horde before. I guess I’d be angry too if a group of strangers suddenly barged into my home.

The adepts quickly began flinging spells to defend themselves, clutching their notes close to their chests as they retreated. Llaren was quicker than a wolf on the hunt, throwing himself between the adepts and the Goblins, his sword flashing as he moved. Before I realized it, I was next to him in the throng. Votary training must’ve really sunk in, since my body responded before my mind could catch up.

We fought like that for a while, Llaren and I seamlessly covering each other as we created a buffer zone between the Goblins and the adepts. Thankfully, there weren’t too many of them, and they seemed to be moving back into the ruins somewhat.

I turned to check that all the adepts were safely out of the fray. With my attention elsewhere, one enterprising Goblin took the opportunity to catch me by the ankles and knock me to the ground.

Rule number one of Votary training is to keep your feet on the battlefield. I was done for. Taken out on my first assignment, by a blighted Goblin, no less!

That was when I realized I’d been down long enough to have all these thoughts, and I hadn’t died yet. Then I saw Llaren, his face screwed up in concentration, as he held back the pack of Goblins single-handedly. His face was bruised and bloodied. He was letting them land blows on himself to protect me on the ground!

The sight was enough to jolt me to action. I jumped to my feet, sword at the ready. But as I rose, something felt different. There was a twinge in my gut, a tingling at my fingertips. I’d felt it before, though rarely, in the classrooms of the Mages Guild. It was magic, flowing through me and demanding to be released.

I didn’t resist it. My hands extended and I channeled the energy outward, into the one magical element I’d ever been good at. A portal.

The other adepts didn’t hesitate. The Goblins weren’t backing down, so it was clear their research was over for now. They plunged into the portal that I knew would take them home. Llaren was still fighting, his breath coming in gasps now.

I called out to him, and his eyebrows rose in surprise at the portal I’d summoned. But he understood. With a quick nod in my direction, he broke from the skirmish and threw himself headfirst into the portal. I followed right behind him, turning off that magical channel as I passed through. The last thing I heard was the infuriated cries of the Goblins as their quarry slipped beyond their reach.

* * *
I haven’t decided how to tell my parents about this first assignment. They’ll be proud that I served the guild well and protected the Adepts, but I know they wish I was the one being protected, not the protector. Still, it was incredible. Llaren thanked me for the quick exit, and even the mages seemed impressed by my skill with portals.

Nahlia’s Journal 3

I’ve got my newest assignment from the guild. I’ll be working with some higher-level adepts to explore an abandoned keep. It could get dangerous, so I was hand-picked for this mission. My portals have become invaluable to the guild over the years. It’s an honor, really.

Except I have to deal with Julian.

It’s not that I dislike her, necessarily. She’s talented and one of the sharpest adepts I’ve ever seen, but she never understood why I chose to become a votary instead of continuing my arcane studies. She has little respect for the art of swordplay.

Oh well, duty calls, I suppose.

* * *
The journey began typically enough. A handful of mages, with Llaren and I acting as guards. We found the keep and made our way inside. Legend says the former owner of this keep had a penchant for collecting rare tomes of magic, so the study was our final destination.

What the legends didn’t mention, however, was the owner’s paranoia that someone would try to steal his precious books. Which I guess is what we came to do, but Y’ffre knows the dead can’t read. As a result, the whole place was trapped from top to bottom.

At first, Julian was irritated that Llaren and I needed to clear the way for the rest of the group. She was impatient to get her hands on the books and exit that oppressive castle.

With a magical glow from her staff, she felt she had enough light to see any potential dangers ahead of her. I rolled my eyes, but let her take the lead since she wanted to so badly. We progressed through the halls for a bit, when an oddly shaped slab in the floor caught my attention.

Before I could warn her, Julian stepped on it, unaware of the trap she had just activated.

Julian turned to look at me, and I knew she wasn’t going to be able to dodge out of the way on her own. Without thinking, I tackled her to the floor just in time to avoid the enormous swinging blade that emerged from a hidden slot in the wall beside us.

Julian’s face transformed from indignity to shock as she saw how close she had come to meeting the edge of the blade.

Nahlia’s Journal 4

Julian looked me right in the face, lying atop her in that dusty hallway. “Good catch,” was all she said. But after that she let Llaren and I go first.

When we finally made it to the study (two spike pits, a bear trap, and three poison darts later) the whole group was ready to get the books and be done with it.

The study was musty, covered in cobwebs and freezing. It felt like a tomb. Bookshelves lined the walls, full of ancient and arcane volumes that even I wanted to take a peek at. The far side of the room contained a wooden desk, and behind it sat a skeleton in kingly garb. The skeleton’s outstretched hands rested atop an enormous leather bound tome, the jewel of this collection. No doubt the remains belonged to the former owner of the keep, still watching over his books even in death.

Llaren and I quickly checked the room for traps. Finding none, we gestured for the mages to enter and take what they needed. Still, something didn’t feel right. Why wouldn’t the owner of the keep have some last line of defense for his personal library?

I locked eyes with Julian, who was still cautiously investigating the bookshelves. We looked over to the desk, where one of the newer adepts was attempting to pry the tome out of the bony clutch of the skeleton.

“Put that down, you fool!” Julian shouted.

It was too late. The skeleton sprang to life, a sinister glow emanating from its ghastly eye sockets. The adept shrieked and tried to run, but the skeleton latched onto her wrist. Before Llaren or I could react, Julian fired off a blast of magicka, rattling the skeleton’s jaw and loosening its grip on the adept.

She left the book where it was and retreated to the other side of the room. “Votary, we could use a portal,” Julian said to me.

“But what about the books? We’ve come so far!” I said.

“They don’t matter. I want my adepts out of here, safely.” Julian’s eyes blazed as she sent another bolt of magic to the skeleton, who was beginning to summon a fireball in its bony fingers.

I had to respect that. The portal came easily to me. The adepts retreated, some of them clutching tomes they managed to grab on the way out. Finally, it was just Llaren, Julian, and I.

“Let’s go,” Llaren said. But Julian hesitated. I could tell she hated the idea of leaving empty-handed. I did, too.

“Wait,” Julian said. She looked at me.

“What are you doing?” Llaren shouted as he ducked an oncoming fireball.

“Just go!” I said to him. I saw that Llaren wanted to argue, but years of fighting together had built a trust between us that was hard to break. Despite his reservations, he did as I asked, leaping into the portal without a backward glance.

Julian was already summoning up a spell, her face a mask of concentration. “Are you ready?” she asked.
I nodded.

Without another word, Julian launched a massive blast of elemental energy at the skeleton, knocking it back off its feet. As she did so, I lunged forward and covered the last few feet to the desk, snatching the ancient tome before the skeleton could recover its balance. Julian was already disappearing through the portal as I turned back, and I hurled the book through first before leaping in myself and closing the portal.

I came back a little singed, but I can’t remember the last time such a grin cracked my face. It must’ve been contagious, because even Julian burst out laughing at the sight of me. Working with her might not be so bad, after all!

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