READ FROM THE BEGINNING: The First Page
This was the way it started. A story, a beginning. First a discovery. Then…it all began.
Branch stepped from Magehelm, into the stairwell, the hard stone echoed the soft dull thuds of his foosteps. His breath was quick, he hadn’t realized it, but he had been in and out of holding it the whole time. Branch didn’t get nervous often, he liked to think so. But that room, the stark darkness and emptiness that filled it. It was really only the raised desks of the Seasoned Mages and two shaped stone benches. It could be overbearing, and Branch was sure that was the point.
He got it.
Well, he wasn’t done, the city wasn’t done with Branch, and frankly, he wasn’t done with Clarity. Two weeks of travel had brought him here, long days spent walking, thinking, working with Growth and the understandings of it. He had barely scratched the surface. Here in the walls of Mageform were stacks and volumes of the life work of countless lives. Somewhere, there were accounts of other Growth mages. The library was a massive mess, a shaping, moving, shifting, ever shuffling trove of books. Over thousands of years the shelves had moved beyond organization. It was an adventure just to go in.
He was going to have to bring Estelle there. He was sure she would love it, especially if she hadn’t been there. Not everyone came into Mageform, it was a daunting place. With many floors closed from the public, a shroud of mystery hung around it. And with the ways of some, they urged on the darker rumors, as jokes or just plain fun. The way of rumors though, is that some take root and grow, intermingling into fact and then believed.
Branch flew down the stairs, his steps quick and light. He was free for the day to roam the streets of Clarity, sure he was tired, the trail-weathered weariness was there. But he felt alive, and Estelle was out there, somewhere in the city. He passed by floors where he had studied the ways of moving and shaping and breaking, learned their histories. Classes and halls and rooms, all full of memories, some full of people too. Branch could hear new mages afoot. They clamored and filled the corridors of the lower floors with noise and the energy of fresh and curious minds.
He had noticed since he had left the grove, the magic sprouting one, he could feel more of the world. It was beyond description. Or maybe had hadn’t come to understand it yet. Either way, it was there, a feel, like a closer attachment to the energy of magic, of the world.
On the way down he had run into a couple of mages he knew from earlier years in his life, they said their greetings, but his mind and thoughts were on getting into Clarity and finding Estelle. And a delicious drink, maybe something to eat, there was a spot that had the best, most savory food he’d ever had, it was deliriously slow though. In fact, it was quite known for it.
When he found his hand on the last doorway, the one that led into the open floors of the library and museums it hadn’t been long. He walked through the library, wondering if Torant had felt like he did now. After he had first gone to the Seasoned Mages, before the world found out about his ability, even walking through the library and museum.
He stopped short, he had forgotten to ask about where he could find Torant while he was up there. He nearly turned around right then and walked the dizzying stairwell again. He decided against it, Estelle had come all this way, he wondered. No one does anything for no reason. Unless of course they do.
Branch veritably snuck out of Mageform, he had a suspicion that soon he wouldn’t be able to pass through the tower without notice. He stood in the great courtyard, looking out over Clarity, the sun shone bright, the wind was sturdy, but not bothersome, stark-white billowing clouds dotted the sky here and there.