Skirmishes and Schisms by FibroJedi | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Prelude

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An Intriguing Theory

The Crystal Tower
15 Jylta 545AFD, 22 Ur

Frehghan scratched his chin and scowled at the parchment on his desk, as though somehow the answer would jump directly to him from the symbols he himself had penned just moments ago.

"It's no use," he sighed, "why we have to bear the brunt of the King's so-called decision-making, I'll never know."

He had been working his way through documents relating to the status of prisoners and immigrants in Bezélan, the capital of Qal'ath. King Carnael, instead of providing for these people more now that it was Winter, seemed to be making life harder for them in order to grant more comfort to those with an already-high standing in the Realm, and to those who owned property in the city. The Crystal Circle helped as much as it could to bridge the gap, but mistrust of mages was on the rise, even though their skills were required.

"As usual, Carnael ignores the issues of the downtrodden at the moment they need him most," he tutted, "at least we're keeping the natural balance in check. If only we had the power to rectify systemic injustice."

He sat back and ran his now ink-stained hands through his long, pure-white hair, taking care to avoid the bright red streak on one side - a sign of his attachment to Fyrkai, or the Crystal of Flame. Keeping that Crystal safe was his responsibility in the current Crystal Circle. Each of the Six mages held a similar potent relic that represented one of the Six acknowledged Elements, earning them the title of "Guardian Mages".

"Just my luck that I happened to be chosen by Fyrkai, in a place where the nearest natural fire is at least two days' walk away." he grumbled.

He and the others in the Crystal Circle had to spend time in their natural element to replenish their capacity for magecraft. Frehghan's blessing was that his skills in that regard were rarely needed, which allowed him to focus on what he preferred - alchemy, history and research.

He stood and sighed, and countless clicks and cracks in his body reminded him of his age, as they did nearly any time he changed position. He shuffled to the study window, the westward direction provided views of the Forbidden Heights and the Fyrohii, the latter of these being where he ventured for rest and recuperation from time-to-time.

Though the fire presence there is very limited given the years since the Fyrousii last erupted. I will soon need to find a new location, he thought gravely.

He closed his eyes and breathed in the crisp, night time air, not flinching at the cold most people would find unbearable indoors.

"It's cold, and yet...something else stirs in the Elements."

He reached up to the circlet around his head and touched his Elemental Crystal with one finger, concentrating on the silent incantation that temporarily increased his connection to it.

"But," he continued to say, as quietly as he could while thinking out loud, "I don't think it's Fyr."

As he pondered this further, he sensed a comfortable, familiar presence in his study. Smiling, he opened his eyes once more and turned to face Farynna, his Kyadii servant, who stared guiltily at the floor between his feet.

"Farynna, you know there's no need to worry about disturbing me," he gently reminded her.

Farynna's ears twitched backwards against her head.

"I know, Master, it's just not...my place to interrupt," she responded, "and I have finished my work for today. My main concern was jolting you if you were linking to other Guardian Mages."

Frehghan shook his head.

"Just to my Crystal, so, as I said, do not worry."

Farynna looked up once more, flicked her tail gently and allowed her ears to return from their anxious position. Seeing she was not forthcoming about her purpose in his study, he motioned to a spare chair and sat back down on his own.

"Thank you, Master Frehghan."

"You're welcome. Now, how much of what I was saying did you hear?" he asked.

Before she could become flustered, as she often did with such questions, he sought to reassure her.

"...and if it was 'everything', please know that, on this occasion, that is fine."

Farynna, still nervous, cleared her throat.

"I padded in at the point you spoke of a shift in the Elements...and that you think it's not Fyr."

Frehghan nodded.

"And I guess you have input on that?"

The Kyadd was startled - not because he had 'hit the lizard on the head', but because he was asking for her opinion.

"No, well, yes. Sort of," she stammered, annoyed that she could not find the strength of her ancestors when others' focus was on her, "as you know, both Klor'asq and me have hearing above that of normal people, so we often hear things being discussed in the Tower. It's not for me to use that information, but it helps me understand," she explained.

"Of course, you do your own studying and research, but also soak in knowledge from those here too. That's part of the process."

"Right," Farynna agreed, slowly willing her shoulders to relax, "so I have overheard similar comments from Hera and Polarnis over the last couple of weeks. Only they did not seem to dispute their Elements being affected."

Hera'llyn and Polarnis were two other mages of the Crystal Circle and the Guardians of the Crystal of Air and Waters respectively. Frehghan furrowed his brow - for Aevyen and Ousii to be more active in Winter was normal, but they ought not to be imbalanced.

"So," he started slowly, "we have a growing discontent in the capital over the rich and poor. Much more than usual, I mean. And we have at least two imbalances in nature threatening our Realm. That's an unsettling combination."

"And could lead to more injustice, risking a downward spiral," Farynna pointed out.

"Indeed," Frehghan agreed, "now, that combination of injustice and imbalance reminds me of something, what was it?" he wondered, with a yawn, frustrated that he could not study late into the night as he used to only a few Ana ago.

After a moment's pause, Farynna remembered.

"When Elements Take Form, by Antìlàn Orfyvyénà!" she exclaimed.

Frehghan chuckled.

"I'm impressed, such names are not easy for even the Paràntii to say, much less Kyadii," he smiled, "and, to be honest, I expect others just pronounced it Orfyvéna."

Farynna felt heat rush to her face and was grateful her auburn fur hid the colour she would be had it not been there.

"But, you're correct," her master confirmed.

Farynna jumped up and reached for the ancient document, which she had placed between two bright blue books for safe keeping quite some time ago.

I really must get this to the Bezélian Archives, she thought, as she handed it to Frehghan, who carefully unfolded it.

"You sure know where everything is," Frehghan observed, "but then I'm sure you clean under every book and file and carafe every day."

"Not quite," the Kyadd replied with a slight smirk, "but I do it so often, and I've been around here for a while, too."

"Most of it by choice, I think," Freghan gently reminded her, "now, let's look at this parchment."

Farynna leaned against the wall and waited to hear what he thought.

"'A disturbing account... Elements intervening directly in the events of Savàni'," he read, "'through manifesting themselves in Parànti form'. A bit more over-flowery speech here," he said with a wry smile, making Farynna laugh, "and here it is! 'It would be during a destabilisation of a natural Element. But, if one looks at the societal and geopolitical landscape of the time, one would notice other cultural injustices being particularly evident.'"

"An intriguing theory not proven by researchers, I assume?" Farynna noted, wryly.

"Naturally," Frehghan agreed, "but then neither have half of our spellcraft incantations," he added with a shrug, "the important thing to note is, if injustice is rife, the Elements will intervene."

Farynna took a sharp intake of breath.

"And I guess...the words of a Guardian Mage wouldn't carry much weight?"

"You guessed correctly, but here," he said, passing the parchment to her, "unless you are the one instigating the injustice, it seems you will either be unaffected, or benefit from Their intervention."

She skim-read it then nodded.

"But the way these read, it would have to be a particular injustice, not simply a historical one getting worse. Unless I have misunderstood?" she asked.

Frehghan thought about that.

"Perhaps. Or an event that ignites an already tinder-dry woodpile."

"So, if the state of the poor, needy, immigrant and the perception of other nations by the leaders of the Realm is that woodpile, what could set it alight?", the Kyadd asked.

"If Water and Air are disrupted and all peoples and animals need both, how desperate do they get? How quickly do they begin to fight each other for precious resources? In short, what can cause their previously stable lives to destabilise?" Frehghan asked in response.

It was the Kyadd's turn to stare out of the window, and she felt concern for her people and those around her. As she considered his counter-question, she realised how fragile the balance was, and how easily it could change, for the better or the worse. She turned back to her Master who was waiting for her response.

"What causes a full pot to spill or overflow? What makes tinder-dry wood catch light? What could cause previously-peaceful folk to snap?" she sighed, "Just one event, one expectation not met, one friend betrayed, one arrow loosed in the wrong direction.

In short: Anything.

It could be anything at all."


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