First, we got our hands-on the news. Remember the World Beyond The Window project we posted about earlier? Turned out that I could attend the Pasar Komik Bandung event personally, and managed to take a look on 'World Beyond The Window' comic strip: (don't mind this picture below though, it's fetched directly from Facebook and haven't gotten its fault-on-title fixed yet)
More or less everything is still mysterious at this moment, as the promotional book (booklet?) itself only consists of three rapid chapters : Smile, Brake, and Ruin. Aside from [SPOILER] three different characters centering at one single girl albeit their motive differences [/SPOILER], more or less nothing much is safe to conclude at the moment.
On the other side, we would also like to fulfill our vim to entertain dear you - our beloved readers - with a short story which has been sitting at a dark corner on my hard disk for days, waiting for itself to be posted. Without further ado, here's the technical details to the story itself:
- Title : Mage Story
- Event : Genshiken Story Meet-Up #6
- Author : Ferry
...frankly speaking, in fact this is an untitled story - we unanimously referred to this story as the 'Mage Story' as it was submitted under the file name 'Mage Story.docx' back then. In short, it's a story about young archmages trying to reign supreme - with some stating it has some relevancy with the 'current political situation'. Whether it's true or not, it's up to you to decide how this enthralling fairytale went!
At this moment we'd also like to announce that there is still one more day left on the Pasar Komik Bandung event, and we'll also be standing by there tomorrow. We greatly expect your presence there, but for now - indulge yourself with this story! I'm signing out (:
The corridor toward the Great Hall is lit up by two rows of lanterns, each containing a sphere of light, brought to life by magic. The corridor itself isn’t very spacious, only wide enough for about 5 people standing shoulder to shoulder and as tall as a two adult men. Beyond the corridor lies the hall where the Mage’s Association held their yearly meetings and rituals, as is the case now.
It is the time where a soon-to-be archmage to present themselves to the assembly, obtaining their blessing and approval as one of the few people standing at the highest point in the world of magic. Such coronation happens every twenty-odd years, and compared to the association’s thousand-years-worth history, this is nothing new.
And even then, the archmage coronation this year is still considered special. The reason of this ‘special’ label lies within the archmage candidate himself.
He was only twenty-three years old.
“I still think it’s too early for me, Master Aethnes.” The young man says as his steps slowly lost its pace.
“And why is that, my pupil? You certainly have proven yourself back there at Nophantes.” An old, sage-like man named Aethnes Firres, who is walking beside the young man, asks. Without delay, Aethnes take the young man’s upper right arm and signals him to keep walking down the corridor.
“Ah, that was… that was not much. I mean, I’m sure you can disperse the rain in less time and you certainly won’t have any trouble with the tornado. Meanwhile I still let the storm to wreck six buildings and causes 32 casualties…” the young man stammered.
“And yet it was your quick response that doesn’t let the storm to cause further damage,” The master cuts his pupil short. “Stop selling yourself short. To succeed controlling the weather and averting disaster from a whole village, at the age of mere twenty-three? I believe that’s an accomplishment fit for a great archmage-would-be.” Aethnes proudly smiles at his pupil. The young man can’t help but to smile back at that.
“Not to mention, you also saved several people and wizards to were trapped by the tornado. Those wizards are the ones who vouched for you to become an archmage, and the association has no reason to deny such request after they hear it was you. You did make a name for yourself during our travels,” Aethnes continued. “Isn’t that so, Young Hero Ardes Embert?”
Ardes smirked at that nickname. A nickname given by the mage community for him, a prodigal mage who helps people around the land in need. Ardes still feel that the nickname is rather insulting toward his master’s role, as it make it seems like he was the only one who travels and help those in need. While actually, it was Aethnes who did most of the work of helping people. The so-called ‘Young Hero’ only did the dirty work of defeating and capturing the rouge mages who were abusing their magic to torment and tyrannize people. Yep, only that, and nothing more…
“I believe the one and only time I deserve to be called that is when I finally manage to drive the Nophantes Storm away. The rest were your work, Master.” The young man answers.
“Hahahahaha…” The old man’s laugh bellows throughout the corridor. “I’m still amazed at how a mage of your caliber – at such a young age, even – can be this humble. We magicians are an arrogant bunch, you know.”
“’There’s an exception for everything.’”
“Now, don’t you try to turn back my own quote to me…”Aethnes chuckles. Ardes soon followed.
As the laugh subsides, Aethnes once again start the conversation.
“Well, whatever you say, you can’t back down now. The Association doesn’t accept any ‘no’s, even from archmages. Or archmage-soon-to-be, in your case. So,shall we review what you’re going to do in the hall?”
“I’ve memorized it down to every step.”
“No harm in doing another review, right?”
Ardes knows his master well enough to know that he won’t stop bugging till his concerns are gone, so with a fake sigh he reaches into his robe, and pulled out a rolled-up parchment, made from a curious mix of papyrus and leather. He opened the parchment, and at the center of it was an ornate circle made from blue ink. The circle is multi-ringed, with letter and magic symbols filling each ring layer.
“Using the summoning runes on this parchment, I am going to invoke a catastrophe-ring spell: summoning a hurricane within the hall. I will summon it, control its movement, size, and ferocity, and then disperse it back to calm air. That’s the gist of it.” Ardes recounts.
“…Well, I guess that’s complete enough for a review.” Aethnes replies. “Just remember, you are going to prove yourself to be worthy, Ardes. Don’t hold back in fear of hurting the audience. Show them that you CAN control the hurricane completely.”
“When you say that, once again I wonder why the coronation must be done through a dangerous method like summoning a natural disaster indoors.” Ardes asks sarcastically.
“I guess we magicians like to live dangerously,” The old man jokingly replied.
The two men stop in front of an oak wood gate, ornamented with dragon carvings and golden handle. Beyond the gate, they can here the murmurs of the crowd.
“Well, here we are. I’ll be watching from the archmages’ seat with the other four,” Aethnes says as he pats Ardes on his right shoulder. “Show them that you are worthy, my pupil. I look forward for the time that we’ll work together… as equals, archmage to archmage.”
It was a stormy night. Even though the Nophantes Storm was quelled, somehow heavy rain still pours down upon the land. The rain was heavy enough that some people fears that the capital was going to be flooded – a baseless assumption, according to the magicians. Even if the city was really flooded, a coordinated magic from about 2 mages would be able to roll the flood into a colossal ball of water, which then will be flung far from the capital.
Fortunately, no such flood happened. However, the rain was enough to force people stay indoors for the whole night. Yet, within the dark alleys of Ferrema District, a hooded person was walking in a rushed pace, a small spark from his wand lighting the path he walks through. His face was obscured by the rain and the shade of his hood, allowing no feature of his face to be seen even when you’re directly staring at him.
The hooded man walked and walked, turning left and right in a bizarre pattern until he stopped in the middle of a small, one-man wide alley sandwiched between a stone tower and a wall. He turned upon a wooden door, reinforced with black iron bars and locked with a keyhole-less lock. A simple incantation and a sound -*click*- came from the lock, and with the cue the hooded man pushed open the door and walked in.
Ten steps, and 2 candles lit up at his left and right. The candles continue to light up, forming a path within the impenetrable darkness. At the end of the path is a round, wooden table, where four other hooded men sat.
“You’re late.” A grovelly voice scolded the hooded man as he reaches the table.
“Blame the rain,” he replied.
“So much for saving Nophantes, eh? The storm still hits us in the capital,” Another voice spoke up. “What do you say for your pupil’s doing, Aethnes?”
The mysterious hooded man opens up his hood, and revealed the face underneath: an old man with white hair reaching to his back. His beard, neatly trimmed, hung to the base of his neck. “I say… he did a good job of saving that little village.” Aethnes answered.
“HAH! Good job, you say!?!?” The first, grovelly voice raised his voice. “You say he did a good job by saving a village which is to be punished for missing the harvest schedule? How much loss do you think the kingdom suffered because those lazy farmers decided to use that newfangled ‘technologic’ tools instead of old-fashioned hand farming, and because of their malfunction the harvest was late by a month?!? How many gold did we have to pay to those neighboring countries because we can’t fulfill the selling contract, huh?!”
“I say he did a great job at SAVING the village. It being punished by us, the Council of Archmages, has no relation to it.” Aethnes answered with a flat tone.
“Why…. You… “ The first voice expressed his anger.
“Enough of that. There shall be no fighting between us.”A fourth voice, which sound so eerie and ancient, suddenly spoke. Hearing the voice, Aethnes and the first voice quickly went silent.
“Valvoga.Aethnes.” The fourth voice continues.
“Yes, Grandmaster.”Valvoga Sieglus, the man whom the grovelly voice belongs to, answered together with Aethnes.
“You should know, that we gather here… not to discuss the village Nophantes. No, we gather here to discuss the one… the Young Hero… Ardes Embert.”
Silently, Aethnes swallowed when he heard his pupil’s name.
“As you all aware, the Nophantes wizards who were saved by this… Hero… recommends to the high council for making this…upstart young mage to become an archmage. A glance to his many, various deeds for this land in the past 10 years has swayed the high council to his favor, and hastily they agreed to make him an archmage.”
“Those simple minded fools!”Valvoga shouted, as if he’s letting something off his chest.
“Of course, from the four of us in the Council of Archmages, none agreed for his coronation. Pray tell, how do you think that a mere twenty-three year old is equal to us? Such is insulting to the magic we studied for all these years.”
“But, Grandmaster,” Aethnes cut the ancient voice. “His grasp of magic, potential, and thirst for knowledge is equal to-“
“THERE IS NOTHING EQUAL!” Valvoga slammed the table. “ARE YOU SAYING THAT A TEENAGER CAN KEEP UP WITH ME, THE MASTER OF FIRE FOR 30 YEARS AND COUNTING? ARE YOU SAYING THAT’S THE EXTENT OF MY MAGIC PROWESS?!?”
“That striked a nerve, eh?” The third voice, who was silent for sometime, spoke up. Valvoga turns and glares toward the third voice. However, he ignored it. “But, true. It’s very insulting to say such things, Aethnes. Is this pupil of yours so great that you have to sing him praises?”
“…That was never my intention, Eneas.”
The third voice, Eneas Arphim chuckles. “Then I guess we all agree that this ‘Young Hero’ are not fit to be one of us archmages.”
“That’s also not-!”
“Silence.” The ancient voice spoke again.
“Aethnes.” The speaker of the ancient voice, the Grandmaster, turns to face the old master. “You should know that this pupil of yours, were he to become an archmage, is a threat to this secret council. His idealism and curiosity will, without a doubt, clash with our goal to preserve the rule of magic within the land by any means necessary.”
“How can you be so sure-“
“I hear he took interest to those ‘tec-no-nogy’ tools when he encounters them in Nophantes.” Eneas smirks. “Even though such heretic things go against the rule of magic… Maybe he thought he can combine the two into something greater. Ha! He hasn’t realized that magic is the supreme force in this world.”
Aethnes went silent. He can’t find any rebuttal to Eneas’ slander.
“And such was the evidence, Aethnes.” The Grandmaster continued. “This pupil of yours are too naïve, too curious. He won’t accept our reason for the superiority of magic. He won’t accept our way of governing this land from the shadows. He is not yet ready to speak in the same mind as us, not yet fit to be an archmage.”
“But he’s good enough to be a hunting wizard, I guess.” Eneas said. “Cleaning up after those mages we let to go rouge needs some skills, after all. And that way, he’ll still see us as good and the rouge mages as evil; with hardly any chance to realize that we played the rouges as a measure to control people. He’ll be the best hound in our history!” he ends his opinion with a malicious grin.
“…” Aethnes was still silent.
“The decision is final. Ardes Embert is NOT to be an archmage.” The Grandmaster concludes. “And we, four members of the Council have decided that Aethnes Firres is to carry out the Council decision within a week, by any means necessary. Thus is the meeting of the Council today. Dismissed.”
And with that word, all the lit candles were suddenly blown by a strong wind. Aethnes was alone in the darkness.
“Oh, Aethnes?”Suddenly, Eneas’ voice rung through the darkness. “I have one more fact to motivate you.”
“…what are you saying?”
“I believe the Association assigns archmages to a province within the land. There are 5 provinces and 5 archmages… and yet here comes the sixth archmage. Heh… I just hope you don’t get retired, seeing your popularity is eclipsed by your pupil…”
“….!!!” Aethnes’ eyes widened.
Along the way, Ardes was silent as a stone. It came as no surprise, as he botched the hurricane summoning. It almost went out of control and would destroy the Grand Hall with everything inside it, if not for Aethnes’ quick action to subdue the wild wind. The Association senior members were furious, but an appeal from his master manages to soothe them and spare Ardes’ life. In return, he is to serve as a mage hunter for life with no chance to improve his standings.
“I’m… sorry it turns out like this, Ardes.” Aethnes speaks to the young man. “I’m the one who pushed you to become an archmage, yet it ends in a public humiliation… really, I’d never thought it’ll end up like this.”
“…Don’t worry, Master.” As they reached Aethnes’ tower, Ardes finally replies.
“I believe life as a mage hunter isn’t that bad. Now excuse me, I’ll… get some sleep. It was a tiring day.” With that, Ardes climb the stairs toward his room.
Aethnes’ eyes follows his pupil until he disappears from his sight. Words can’t express how regretful he is right now to destroy his own pupil’s life with his own hands. After all, it was he who sabotaged Ardes’ summoning. Using ink with the same color as the parchment, he drew some additional symbols upon it to allow him to influence the hurricane, and drove it out of Ardes’ control.Then, using the same method, he’ll bring the hurricane under control, and save the whole assembly. Fulfill the Council of Archmages’ orders while saving his own popularity…
Remembering his malicious plan, Aethnes throw himself into his work chair. Such deed left him drained, both physically and mentally. Tomorrow he’ll have to help Ardes to adjust to the life as a mage hunter… butnow, he doesn’t want to think about anything.
Especially not the possibility that someone will know his ‘crime’, this malicious deed toward Ardes.
Nobody will know, right?
“But, Grandmaster,” Aethnes cut the ancient voice. “There’s nothing wrong with a new perspective, isn’t there?”
“Heeheehee. Nothing wrong, you say,” the third voice, who was silent for some time, suddenly spoke. “Of course, there’s nothing wrong with idealism. But really, Aethnes, remember the reason why this Council were made in the first place.”
“…To lead this land to prosperity, and to preserve the ways of magic…”
“…by all means. Do not forget the last part, Aethnes.” The third voice chuckled. “And THAT explicitly say that we do… unsavory things to accomplish that goal. Such disobedience toward the magicians’ guidance, and that so-called ‘progress’, like the Nophantes ‘ tek-no-gy’ case, isn’t needed, and must be disciplined.”
“And what does have to do with Ardes?”
“Heh, don’t play the fool Aethnes. That pupil of yours still thinks that it’s a mage’s duty to help people. He won’t be able to take in the fact that we, magicians, are superior, and those ‘helps’ we give are our way to guide the lesser beings.