Alternate Universe "Seven Orders of Magic"
I do not own the Magnificent Seven nor do I make any money whatsoever from this story. All copyrights apply.
My thanks to Nancy and Joy for the wonderful site, my bets readers and the author Candice who discovered this wonderful world of magic.
To learn more about the orders of magic and which characters master which, read Candices three stories first: Instructions of Life, Book of Spells, Lord of the Past
In the land Damilia of there are seven orders of magic and each of these magics are represented by a gemstone, precious, much like a diamond or ruby, but you can put no price on these stones.
They are the colour of their order and of each there is only one piece left in the entire world, seven endangered and mysterious slices of strata.
Each of these pieces is kept under lock and key, separated by as much land and sea as is possible. For if these pieces where to fall into the wrong hands they could be fitted together to create a force to powerful to imagine and to formidable to vanquish.
The mages of Damilia of live in fear of that day when one being could hold so much corrupting power; he would become Gethren, the dark one.
+ + + + + + +
The seven men who had been chosen for a perilous task to begin the very next day knew nothing of it. As it was evening and there where no classes, they were enjoying a drink at Ti Saloon.
They had scarcely been there a turn when a messenger from the council came up to their table.
"Fancy seeing all of you together," he commented.
Chris recognized the messenger, a boy of scarcely 17 years, by the name of Gwayne.
"And why would that be, Gwayne," the black mage asked.
"Each one of you have been summoned by the master of your order, you are to meet them in their chambers at first light tomorrow," Gwayne told them.
Chris nodded, "Thank you, Gwayne," he said to the eager messenger.
Gwayne bowed low and left as swiftly as he had arrived.
There was a contemplative silence after the boy had left, which was broken by Vin, Mage of the Green Order, "Im getting one of those feelings," he announced.
This immediately got the others attention, "Meaning?" Chris wanted to know.
"Its going to be a long few days," Vin sighed.
"What do you think were needed for?" JD asked the other six mages.
"Clearly some sort of task has been appointed to us, I just hope it does not constitute leaving Four Towers," Ezra of the Red said.
Vin laughed, "You know how it is Ez, fate is against you and your feather bed. We always have to leave town."
"Thats what I was afraid of," Ezra muttered, "But well never guess what it is we are required for."
"Well just have to wait and see," JD said cheerfully.
And for some reason, his companions did not share his optimism.
+ + + + + + +
Black Mage Chris Larrabee stood before his master, Leslex.
Master Leslex had a grim expression on his old face and Chris stood before his desk in his chamber patiently waiting for him to start.
"You and your fellow chosen," the master started, "Are all being briefed at this very moment. Each of you has been chosen to represent your order in a extremely important task."
The old mage paused for effect, "As you well know, each order is represented by a stone of the colour of the order and of each of these minerals there is only one small piece left."
"What you dont know is where these stones are hidden, each as far away from the other as possible for if these stones were to be in one place at one time, someone may fit them together to form one stone of most terrifying power."
Chris looked surprised, "Then the rumours are true," he commented.
The Master of The Black looked just as surprised, "Rumours?" he wanted to know.
"That the stones have been stolen," Chris looked grave, "This is a dark day."
Leslex indulged in a small smile, "Well, rumours do tend to be exaggerated," he said, "Yes, six of the stones have been stolen, by a master thieve with a formidable army of orcs and draconians. All this thief needs is the final stone, the black stone. Which is as you know, the most powerful of them all."
"Blerin," Chris whispered, "I understand now, you want us to guard the black stone while you retrieve the lost ones."
Master Leslex did not look surprised this time, "I have learned long ago not to underestimate you, Chris Larrabee."
"But for us to guard it, you will need to tell us where it is," Chris grinned evilly, "Will we have to travel very far," he asked, thinking of Ezras expression when he found out he would have to leave his feather bed.
Leslex smirked, reading Chris thoughts, "No," he said, "The Black Stone is hidden in one of the highest security vaults, in one of the securest places imaginable. The Seventh Stone is in the north tower in the highest room, in a magical safe and has been there these past 2300 years."
Chris mouth fell open uncharacteristically, "Its been here this entire time?"
Master Leslex nodded.
"But is it safe here?" Chris wanted to know.
"Can you think of a safer place?" the old master asked, "If you can, let me know, but in the mean time, I suggest you start guarding the Seventh Stone."
Chris nodded, bowed respectfully and made to leave.
"Mage Larrabee, one more thing," Leslex called out.
"Be careful," the master warned, "Even without the final stone, this thief has incredible power with just six stones and the power he had to have in the first place to find and steal them. Not to mention his army."
Chris nodded contemplatively, and left swiftly to meet with his team.
+ + + + + + +
The seven chosen mages stood in silence around the magical safe, which held the stone, each waiting for the other to speak.
At last JD commented, "Its not very impressive," meaning the small dull little safe that was shoved to one side of the room, which occupied the entire top of the North Tower.
"Well, it wouldnt be would it, kid," Buck told him, "They can bring to much attention to it."
"So all we have to do is watch it," JD asked, "All day?"
Everyone looked pained at the thought.
Chris sighed, "It would be a pointless waste of magic to set up spells when the thief is still miles away. Master Leslex believes the thief knows the black stone is here and is just biding his time."
Ezra gave their leader a look, "So we do just sit here and watch it? All day?" he added.
Chris nodded glumly and a groan rose up from the gathered mages.
"I bet we all thought this was going to a honourable and heroic," Vin mumbled.
A few hours later, the seven mages where strewn around the room, most of them with their cloaks removed, some were even sitting on their on the floor. Buck and Ezra were involved in a game of chance.
Buck looked up from his cards, "Are you sure you aint cheating?"
"Mr Wilmington, you know as well as I that the use of magic on these particular cards has been forbidden by a certain charm imposed upon them by one Mr Larrabee, Ezra glared at Chris, who merely grinned.
"I didnt mean with magic, Ez," Buck pointed out.
At this Ezra of the Red merely smiled as well, clearly indicating he had no comment.
Vin was seen to be staring out the window, "Its getting dusky, shouldnt we set up night watches soon?" he asked Larrabee.
The black mage nodded, "Yes," he told them, "But we guard in pairs. This thief has incredible power according to the high mages and well take no chances."
"If this mage is so powerful, why does the council have only the seven of us to guard the stone?" Nathan asked.
"They must have every confidence in us, other wise they wouldnt feel safe going off and leaving us in charge."
There was a silence, "Were in charge?" JD all but squeaked.
Chris paused with a frown, "Yes, didnt you know?"
There were several shakings of heads and a few looks.
"The masters and the council have gone to retrieve the stones," Chris said, as if this made it okay, "Dont worry they will find the thief long before he ever comes near Four Towers, that is if he even knows blerin is here."
"And if he does and he gets past our mages," Ezra said, "Well have an entire army at our gates with only us to protect the town."
"You forget, these towers and the town are protected by many powerful spells," Chris said.
"And how long do you think those will hold up to a mage with six of the seven stones," Josiah asked quietly.
Chris was silent as he contemplated this, "Would our high mages be so foolish?" he asked in wonder. "What you say is true," he told his men, "But the council seldom makes mistakes."
"This may be one of those times," Vin said quietly, "I think we can expect a war."
"The towns folk will fight," JD pointed out, "They will not let Four Towers fall."
"But the towns folk arent mages, not even warriors," Nathan said, "They would be slain within minutes."
"Our fellow mages could take care of the powerful thief at our command and the townsfolk could dispense with the orcs and draconians," Vin said reasonably.
"Thats true," mused Chris, "The people of Four Towers are no strangers to the dangers of our world. And they will fight."
"With the combined power of the mages of my order we could create the illusion of a grand army," Ezra said, "Their army would believe us more powerful and back down. Possibly," he added.
"Or at least buy a few precious hours," Josiah said, "The council must be recalled."
"We can send a messenger easily enough," JD said, "Or even a mage if we can spare."
"A mage would be better," said Chris, "He would have to be able to defend himself."
Nathan stood then, "Arent we getting a little ahead of ourselves," he asked, "It helps to be prepared, but that is still all we can do for now."
The rest of the mages nodded in agreement.
"We must tell our fellow mages of our plight, and prepare them for possible battle," Buck said, "Then we watch and wait."
+ + + + + + +
It was much later that night, after all the mages and people of Four Towers had been informed of the danger to their town, that two mages sat in each tower watching the inky blackness of the night for possible signs of approaching armies.
In the North Tower, the one which housed the Black Stone, Bucklin of the
Blue and Ezra of the Red stood watch. Each stood at a window over looking the dark mountains to the north of Four Towers.
They had been standing watch for close on five hours now and were starting to tire; in the towers the mages on watch were no doubt feeling the same way.
"Tedious is this night!" Ezra exclaimed suddenly and sat down on the floor.
Buck grinned, "Dont worry, soon you will have an entire army to fight," he consoled.
Ezra gave him a look, "Wonderful," he replied sarcastically and heaved himself up again to look out the window once more. He sighed, "Come then, you devils," he muttered, "And let us be done with this night."
"Missing your feather bed, Ez?" Buck asked in mock seriousness.
Ezra glared at him, then sighed again and nodded, "Admit it, you want to sleep as well."
Buck turned back to the night, "I am weary, yes."
Ezra looked out his window as well, "You think theyll come tonight?"
"I think so," Buck replied.
Ezra made a face and wondered about their chances, without the council. Then he frowned as a thought occurred to him, The council seldom makes mistakes, Chris had said earlier that day.
"Mr Wilmington," he said, "I dont think were alone on this one after all."
Bucklin of the Blue looked over, "What do you mean, Ez?" he asked, "Do you see something?"
He walked toward the Red Mage, but Ezra put up his hand, "It is nothing I have seen with my eyes, but instead with my mind."
Buck gave him a questioning look and Ezra continued, "I think the council has deliberately led us and our enemy to believe that they have gone and left only the seven of us in charge. The thief will believe the stone under protected and will come to steal it, and the council will know exactly where the thief is," Ezra looked up sharply, "Its a trap."
Already Buck was shaking his head, but Ezra exclaimed, "No, Mr Wilmington, think first. The council has made mistakes before yes, but never with anything so dire. And if we could figure out their error, then whats to stop them seeing it? Do we think that highly of ourselves that we are more intelligent than the high mages?" Ezra looked aghast, "Oh, our insolence."
Buck was silent, "We should tell Chris," he said at last.
"Only one of us, I could still be wrong and we should not leave the stone unguarded."
Buck nodded, "Wholl go?" he asked.
"You shall," Ezra said, "No offence, but you cannot use your power over water to protect the stone if there is no water around."
"No, youre right, Ill go," he started for the door, "Careful, Ez," he warned, "This is far from over."
Ezra of the Red nodded and Buck hurried down the stairs, slamming the door behind him. Standish slid the bolt home.
+ + + + + + +
Chris looked up from the map he was studying with the rest of the seven before Buck even had a chance to open his mouth.
"Whats wrong?" he demanded.
Buck took a deep breath and told him Ezras theory; it didnt take long.
There was a contemplative silence following it as the men before the blue mage thought about it, and found themselves nodding in agreement.
"That actually makes some sense," JD said, "But if the council is still here, where are they exactly?"
"Somewhere well never find them no doubt," Vin commented, "I wonder if they know that we know."
"What should we do?" Nathan wanted to know from where he was sharpening his knives.
"Nothing," Chris told them immediately, "Its a good plan, it might just work and we dont want to jeopardise that now."
"What about the other mages," a slightly out of breath Buck asked.
"We dont tell them either," Chris said, "The council had a good idea in not telling us their plan, made it seem more realistic. We should do the same with our fellow mages."
"They sure wont appreciate it when they find out," JD pointed out.
"Tough," Vin said, "Theyll know it was for the good of the stone."
JD frowned, "So we just go ahead as planned? Wait for the council to make their appearance?"
The five other men nodded.
Chris let out a breath, "Buck you should go back to the north tower so long. Vin? I want you and JD to take over the watch in the south tower, Josiah and Nathan? The same in the east."
"What about you?" Nathan wanted to know with a suspicious look on his face.
"Ill take over the west tower," the leader announced.
"Not on your own!" five voices chorused.
Chris gave his men a glare but they didnt back down, this was new. Instead he gave in, "Alright, Ill keep Kesel with me."
Kesel was another powerful black mage with almost the same ability as Chris. The others nodded in approval and Chris resisted the urge to use magic on them as a warning.
+ + + + + + +
After bolting the door behind Buck, Ezra quickly checked out both North-facing windows for signs of attack. Finding none he went and stood before the safe and regarded it critically. He wondered what the stone looked like and then if the stone was even in the safe, given the latest developments.
Ezra knew very well he would never get into the safe without help, but a mage with six of the seven stones would have no problem. A barest flicker of disturbed air beyond the window prompted him to turn and face the thin hole in the stonewall of the tower. There was nothing there but Ezra knew he had heard something. He was well aware of the tricks of concealment and could sense when someone was using magic to hide themselves. He could feel the presence of magic now, outside the window.
The Red mage hesitated unsure of what to do. For all he knew it could be the infamous thief and that was one enemy he could not go up against alone.
Coming to a decision he stood before the small safe and wove the air before him to make himself and the safe appear invisible, a trick he had learnt a while ago.
Seconds after concealing himself, a figure swathed in black dropped through the window. Ezra held his breath, knowing even the slightest movement by him would disrupted the fibres of the air and make him and the safe visible.
The figure in the middle of the room look around, appearing confused. He walked hesitantly around, poking behind bookcases and chairs. The black clad figure had expected the safe and had found nothing, he stopped in the centre of the room and pushed his hood back revealing a young face, covered in mud for camouflage.
The young man made to look around some more, heading straight to what would have appeared to him as an odd empty space by the wall, but was in fact Ezra and the safe.
But before the red mage could panic and the figure could find him, a loud bang on the door sounded, "Ezra, its Buck. Open up."
The figure spun around and scowled at the disruption. Buck whacked the door with his fist again, "Ezra, unbolt the door!"
Ezras heart sank as the intruders eyes went to the bolted door. The bolted from the inside door.
The young man spun around studying the room with a careful eye, his face showing frustration. As the intruder turned away from the concealed mage, Ezra leapt forward, breaking the spell and smashed the mans head into the wall to render him unconscious.
At exactly the same moment the mans head connected with the stone a loud blast came from the town gates. Ezra leapt back and looked around guiltily, then frowned at the body on the floor as if something was bothering him but was distracted from it by the angry blue mage outside the door. Buck was ramming the door by now and probably would succeeded in forcing it open had Ezra not opened it.
Buck looked around wildly, "What the hell is going on?" he demanded.
Ezra gave a smirk despite the situation, "Weve had an intruder but he has been dealt with. Other than that there was a blast from the main gates which I can only assume is a certain army coming down on us."
Buck nodded, "Makes sense, we should go and see," he turned for the stairs.
"Buck," Ezra said patiently, "What about the stone and our guest?"
Buck appeared to think about it, "Well tie him up and lock him in. The stone we can take with us."
Ezra nodded in agreement and the two of them set about tying up the unconscious intruder and manhandled the safe down the stairs, locking the door of the tower room behind them.
+ + + + + + +
Chris head shot up at the loud boom from the gates. Kesel met his eyes and both of he knew he was thinking the same thing, "Here they come."
"How did we not see them coming?" Kesel wondered out loud as they made their way down from the west tower.
"Must have been cloaked somehow," Chris replied, "I hope the stones safe."
The two black mages sped across the courtyard to the main conservatory building and Chris chambers. They could see Vin and JD emerge from the South Tower and Nathan and Josiah come out of the east. They all headed toward the office, occasionally glancing toward the gates through the darkness but none could see any sign of intruders or damage.
The six men arrived at Chris chambers at the same time, all with questions.
"Why didnt we see them?"
"Where are they now?"
"Wheres the stone?"
The answer to the last question came from the doorway, "Right here, safe and sound."
There stood Ezra and Buck holding the small safe between them, they stepped forward and deposited it on the table. Chris opened his mouth to demand an explanation but Ezra held up a hand, "If you will allow me to explain, Mr Larrabee?"
The red mage went on to tell about the intruder and what they had done with him as well as their reason for bringing the stone out of the North Tower.
"By the way," he asked at the end of his speech, "What happened to the army?"
Everyone exchanged glances, "Army?" Chris asked.
"Well, Im assuming by the ruckus at the gate that the foreseen army has come down upon us, but I failed to see them on my way across the courtyard. Where did they go?"
There were shrugs all round and Vin said, "We dont even know what the explosion was."
Ezra looked thoughtful, "No army, no explosion," he mused, "Only an easily dispatched thief in the North Tower."
Chris looked up sharply, "Anyone else wondering what kind of mage this thief is?" he said.
Buck gave a laugh, "Oh, I think we all know," he said.
"An Illusionist," Josiah said, "How blind of us."
JD shook his head in confusion, "So the army is an illusion," he started slowly, "So was the explosion. But, so what? The stone is safe and the thief is locked up."
Eight pairs of eyes turned toward the safe on the table.
"Nah, he wouldnt have had the time," Nathan said reasonably, "Right?"
"No," Kesel said, "Nathan is right, the spells have not been disturbed." There was a silence as the gathered mages sensed the spells for cracks and found none.
Chris shook his head sharply, "This is getting a little complicated," he said, "No army, no danger to the stone," he looked up, "No thief?"
"Another illusion?" Ezra asked.
"You tell us," Vin said quietly.
Ezra thought about it, "Could be," he said reluctantly, "But if there is no thief, what the hell is going on?"
"The high mages might know," Josiah suggested, "We could find them "
"No stone," JD whispered.
All the other mages looked at him, "Excuse us," Ezra asked politely.
"The stone cant be here," JD said, "Because the stones arent real."
Chris scowled, "Explain."
"The stones only represent the magics," JD said, "Doesnt mean there is actually any such thing."
"Thats true," Nathan said, "Theres no rule a representative has to be a material thing. One of the first things they teach you."
"Gods," Vin exclaimed uncharacteristically, "This whole thing was set up by the high mages."
"A lesson in humility?" Ezra suggested.
"Well done," came a voice from the doorway.
They turned and faced the Mage Orrin, who wore a smirk upon his face. There was as silence.
"Oh, ha ha," Chris said peevishly.
"No, no," Orrin held up his hands, "Im impressed. I didnt think you would be able to figure it out. Congratulations, are in order." The high mages half bowed but the smile never left his face.
"I dont believe it," Vin said, a disbelieving look on his face. The others nodded in agreement, Kesel included.
Orrin straightened up and sat down in the chair behind Chris desk, adjusting his robes around him.
"The high mages, myself included, couldnt help noticing that a certain seven friends who just happen to be very much-admired in Four Corners, were, how should I put it, getting a collective "big head"?"
The high mage chuckled, "Getting arrogant is easily done, but one thing a mage is certainly not allowed to do. We thought we would teach a small lesson."
"Small?" Chris muttered.
Orrin looked stern, "If I may be allowed to ask a question," he started, "How dare you think so highly of yourself to just accept that we would leave the entire town in your care?"
The seven mages shuffled their feet, looking suddenly uncomfortable.
"We did wonder about that actually," Nathan put forward.
"Except Mr. Larrabee," Ezra couldnt help himself.
Chris glared and Orrin smiled at the red mage.
The high mage said, "So are we to presume that the Black Mage Chris Larrabee has the biggest ego of all," there was a hint of playfulness in his voice.
"What?" Chris demanded outraged as his fellow mages fell around laughing.
Orrin held up a hand for silence, "Let this be a lesson to all of you," he said as he stood, "No mage is above another and no mage is supreme. We all have our weaknesses."
The high mage turned to go but paused, "Oh, Mr Dunne was correct. There were once the stones, but now there is only the memory of them. Which doesnt make them any less powerful, of course. Goodnight to you all." He swept out the door closing it behind him.
Kesel cleared his throat after a short silence, "Ill just go and inform the other mages theres no more danger shall I?" he asked then dashed out the door leaving the seven mages alone.
Vin was the first to speak, "I have to agree with Mage Orrin though," he said.
"Care to elaborate?"
"Chris does have the biggest ego," the green mage finished with a grin and then ran to the other side of the table as Larrabee gave chase and the five other mages burst out laughing.
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