Once again, as soon as Cordelia stepped into the magic realm, the sprites were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they were as apprehensive about portal travel as she was. Perhaps if she hid in the realm for ever, she’d be rid of them…
Except this was no place she could stay for good – even disregarding the fact she didn’t have a magical bone in her body, she could not imagine living here, a land of no sun. Besides, it’s not like the spellcasters would even let her stay here.
She eyed up the grand HQ building in front of her. She got herself so worked up the sprites return she marched into the portal straight from work. Now that she was here, and sprite-free, she was not so sure if coming here without Dandelion was such a good idea… But it was too late now. She headed inside.
To her surprise, the first person she saw as soon as she entered HQ was no other than her new employer, Darrel. Did everyone in Glimmerbrook casually dip in and out of the magical realm?
“Uh, Mr Charm, hi!” She greeted the man, making sure she was smiling. She already made a terrible first impression on him, and if she wanted to keep her job, she better try to get into his good graces.
“Oh, it’s you. I see you’ve become more familiar with Glimmerbrook then,” He looked bored of their conversation before it even started. “I trust everything went well at the store today?”
“Oh. Definitely!” Cordelia nodded eagerly. “Grace was really good at explaining everything.”
“Good.” He paused, perhaps considering other small talk options. He settled for none. “Well, as captivating as this conversation is, the reason my darling Emilia thought we should hire you was to save some time, not waste it… so I’ll be on my way. Good day.”
Before Cordelia could respond, she saw a flashing light behind him.
“Wait! What the-“
“What, never seen a magic duel before?” Darrel shrugged, disinterested.
She had most certainly not, standing there in awe, watching two men blast lightning at each other. Darrel used the opportunity to make a swift exit.
Cordelia couldn’t take her eyes off the duel, her eyes growing wider and wider as she saw the two spellcaster flinging each other into the air.
Eventually, one of them had the other one thrown almost towards the ceiling. She watched the spellcaster smash right into the stone floor. Cordelia flinched instinctively.
She recalled her conversation with Morgyn from her first visit of the realm. Rough landing? Something to get used to around here. No kidding.
To make matters worse, a loud clap accompanied with a high-pitched squeal echoed through the hall. The last person Cordelia wanted to speak to…
“Fabulous job, gentlemen!” L Faba complimented the duelists.
Yes, coming here without Dandelion was definitely a terrible idea, Cordelia decided. She jolted for the stairs before L Faba noticed her.
She just had to find Morgyn, see if anything else could be done about the sprites, and then be on her not-so-merry way.
For once, luck was on Cordelia’s side – she ran into the golden-haired sage browsing through the books almost straight away.
She stomped through the upper walkway.
“Well look who it is,” Morgyn looked up at her with a hint of intrigue. “You know, for a human you sure find your way to the magic realm often…”
“Your stupid mote spell didn’t work!” Cordelia spouted before she could stop herself. “It was useless!”
Morgyn let out a gasp so eccentric it almost sounded fake. “My stupid mote spell? Useless? Why, how deliciously rude!”
“I… well, the spell was useless… or at least, it did not keep the sprites away,” Cordelia stumbled over her words in an attempt to soften her statement. “They do seem a bit happier now, I suppose.”
“And your natural response was to burst into the magical HQ unannounced and yell at the sage of untamed magic?”
If Dandelion was here, he’d have to change his assessment on her always worrying. Why did she decide now was the time to be reckless?
“Um… well, no. My response was to try to see if the sage of untamed magic had any other ideas.” She tried to save the situation.
Morgyn’s eyes almost looked amused. “Well, there is something we could try, but you’re not going to like it.”
“Try me.” Cordelia said.
“One of the standard rituals to remove curses is the trial of elements. It’s not a very pleasant process, even for a spellcaster.” Morgyn explained. “I’m not entirely sure how a mere human body will cope with it.”
It sounded insane. But insane had become the soundtrack to her life, apparently. She’d made up her mind.
“Only one way to find out.” She looked directly into Morgyn’s eyes. They were surprised… or impressed? She couldn’t tell.
“Very well. We may want to go outside for this. It can get… messy.” The sage led her out to one of the balconies.
“Well, this will do. If you could go stand on the far end over there,” Morgyn instructed her, waving towards the edge of the terrace. She saw the magical gardens her and Dandelion had been to in their search of motes last time, floating in the distance.
Morgyn stood opposite her. “Now, since you said the mote spell was useless, would you prefer I extract the motes from you before we continue?”
“Um, no, that’s ok… I mean, the sprites have seemed happier since,” Cordelia had to admit.
The sage smirked. “I thought so. Wise choice, I think. Might make the ritual slightly more manageable. Are you ready to begin?”
She took a deep breath. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”
Morgyn tilted their magic wand from side to side, whispering some unassuming words. This was ridiculous.
Except that right then, a beam of light emitted from the wand, shooting straight towards her.
A jolt of electricity surged through her from her feet up, exiting her body through her head. She cried out in pain. It was over almost as quickly as it happened, but she felt incredibly dizzy.
Morgyn’s voice came to her as if from far away. “Are you sure want to go on?”
She massaged the temples of her head for a moment before nodding. “If we don’t continue, then there was no point in the first spell.” Cordelia decided. “Besides, how much worse can it get?”
“You wanna bet?”
That didn’t sound particularly reassuring. But before she knew it, Morgyn’s wand flew threw the air once more. And then…
“I’m on fire!” She cried out.
Morgyn seemed awfully calm. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
She couldn’t think straight. Nothing was worth this. And suddenly, the heat was gone. She wanted to sigh out in relief as a cool chill took over, but she realised she could not move, or breathe. She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t breathe…
She heard Morgyn’s voice yell, and then she broke out of the icy confinement, almost falling flat on the ground. She was livid. Sage or no sage, she didn’t care.
“You almost killed me!” The sound of her own voice echoed around them.
The sage seemed unaffected. “I assure you, if I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead. You agreed to go through the trial of elements.”
“If I’d known, I would never-“
“I understand, believe me. I was ready to rip my old mentor apart the first time I’d undergone the ritual. Here. Drink this. You’ll feel better.” Morgyn materialised a glass with blue bubbling liquid out of thin air. “Come find me when you’re feeling less cranky.”
As she sipped the strange drink, she contemplated what Morgyn just said. I was ready to rip my old mentor a part the first time I’d undergone the ritual. Was that what happened with the old master of untamed magic? It certainly seemed like Morgyn had the power to do something like that… and there she went, screaming her head off at them.
Why did she always have to make such terrible, fatal decisions? Following her mother out of the house and interfering whatever ritual she’d been a part of. Yelling at possibly the most powerful mage in the realm. Insulting the sprites. It was a wonder she’d survived this long.
When she finished the glass, she felt completely back to normal, at least physically. But her head was bursting with questions. And they didn’t even involve her curse.
“Are you ok there? Cordelia, was it?” A deep voice brought her back to reality, if one could call the magic realm that. She turned around. It was the sage of practical magic, Simeon.
“I’m fine.” She said weakly.
He didn’t buy it. “You look like you’d seen a ghost. Let me guess, is Morgyn behind this?”
“Does the term trial of elements mean anything to you?” Cordelia asked.
Simeon sighed. “Morgyn performed the trial elements on you? A non-spellcaster? Cocky idiot…”
“Morgyn said it could remove curses.” Was that a lie, she wondered?
“It can. Very specific types of curses.” He shook his head. It didn’t seem he felt like divulging anything else on the subject.
Cordelia had to know. “Did Morgyn kill the previous sage of untamed magic?” She blurted out.
“Is that what they told you?” Simeon asked, his expression hard to read.
“I’ve heard rumours.” Cordelia admitted.
“That’s what they are. Rumours. Ones that Morgyn loves to feed.” Simeon told her.
A wave of relief washed over her. She couldn’t quite pinpoint why, but she felt light again. Perhaps it was that potion working.
“Thanks, Simeon. I’ll be alright now.” She smiled brightly, making her way indoors. She could feel his eyes following her.
She found Morgyn. Playing the organ in one of the rooms. She hadn’t even realised there was an organ in the building, but the HQ was enormous. Also, playing was perhaps an overstatement. Morgyn may have been a master spellcaster, but a musician… not so much.
“There you are. Better?”
Cordelia nodded. She wasn’t sure what to say.
“What do you think of my music?” Morgyn asked, breaking off the silence.
“Your what?” There she went again. “I meant, uh… it’s… not very good.” She sighed, unable to come up with anything complimentary. Note to self, become a better liar, in particular when you find yourself near powerful mages, she thought.
To her relief, Morgyn just laughed. “You’re quite remarkable, you know that?”
She could feel her cheeks burning, though this time, there was no magic involved.
“I… what makes you say that?”
“You must be very brave to speak your mind so freely in the presence of a sage. Especially when those thoughts are not particularly favourable of them. It’s refreshing. Takes a great deal of courage… that, or a great deal of stupidity.” Morgyn smirked.
Stupidity. Definitely stupidity, Cordelia thought.
“I suppose in time we’ll tell if the trial took any effect. Now, if you excuse me…” Morgyn stood up and left.
Cordelia planted her hand on her face. What the hell are you doing, she whispered to herself.
“Simeon, I think I’m in love.” The golden-haired mage told their elder counterpart, pausing for dramatic effect.
The practical magic sage was unimpressed by the proclamation. So theatrical. So over the top. So… Morgyn. “Charming. Let me guess, the human girl.”
“To see you so happy for me, it’s overwhelming.” Morgyn’s voice was dripping with sarcasm.
“Forgive me for not keeping up with your love life.” The older spellcaster brushed it off.
Morgyn did not acknowledge the practical magic sage with a look, though Simeon could detect a mild irritation in Morgyn’s voice. “She is different.”
“Because she’s human? Morgyn, do you recall when you first came here, saying that all non-spellcasters were dreadfully boring?”
“That was before I realised that all spellcasters were dreadfully boring as well.” Morgyn retorted. “Yourself in the lead, may I add.”
“Spare me your pettiness. I just don’t want you to hurt the girl in your recklessness.” Simeon frowned at the younger mage. “You do realise that the trial of elements is only conventionally used for healing self-inflicted curses caused by malfunctioning spells, yes? Subjecting a human to it is utterly pointless.”
Morgyn’s smile waivered for a brief moment before making a return. “Now you’re just going out of your way to prove my earlier point. Conventionally. That’s your problem, Simeon. So by the book. I really should stop talking to you before your dullness rubs off on me.”
“Suit yourself.” The elder mage said, shaking his head.