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Chapter 25

As Derrl woke up, he touched a hand to each temple and could sense that the runes were where they should be. He sat up, and noticed how unpleasant a hard wooden pallet could be for sitting on. His eyes roved the room for a moment, not setting down on anything in particular, and he stood up to stretch. He had slept a fair amount by the looks of the light filtering in through the windows, it was noon of the day after he had had Kevesk put on the rune. I was a good thing that Mensk hadn't told him to come in today. And he didn't have to be there until the mid-afternoon wagon needed offloading. As he stood in his shorts, the door opened, letting more of the sunlight in. The old mage walked into the room with his staff in one hand. He had a satchel thrown over one shoulder. It had two rather large lumps in it. He looked up to see Derrl standing there in his shorts. He grinned.

"Sleep well?" Derrl nodded "Hope so. Hope you're hungry, I brought some food, not much, but still." Derrl realized how hungry he was as his stomach growled, almost telling him that if he didn't fill it soon it would get mean. Kevesk reached into the brown leather satchel with one hand and fumbled momentarily until he came out with a pomegranate, which he tossed across the room to Derrl, who reached out and deftly snatched the fruit out of the air. He split it open, as the old mage fumbled for the other pomegranate in the satchel. He started plucking out the small edible bits and popping them into his mouth one after another. As he ate his, the wizard contented himself with his. They ate in silence for a while, not saying anything as they filled their stomachs with the juicy fruits. The rumbling in Derrl's stomach subsided after a little while, though he knew he would have to get some real food rather soon. Derrl was the first to speak.

"I don't suppose you could show me some runes right now, could you?" He sounded eager. Kevesk had nearly finished with his pomegranate and placed the remainder on the top of a crate that he was standing near. He sat down on his chair and leaned his staff against the nearby wall. His forehead creased momentarily, as if in thought, but it passed quickly.

"Don't see why not." He shrugged. "Pull up one of those small crates and have a seat. I'll see how much of my vast store of knowledge I can impart to you, young mageling." A look of annoyance crossed Derrl's face. At this, he grinned and broke into a laugh. His laughter was infectious, and Derrl quickly found him laughing along.

"Just try and see if you can get anything through my thick skull, you old doddering fool." They both laughed at this one.

"Let's get settled down and teach you something before anything else gets in our way. I've told you about how runes are invoked, right?" Derrl nodded affirmatively. "Good, in that case, judging by the ease in which you have drawn on the runes in the past, I think we only really need to build up your mental catalogue of the runes. Every mage ever born has tried to build the largest library of runes. There is a simple reason for this. The more runes you know, the more power you can draw on. To put it simply, the more runes you know, the more powerful you are. Although in some instances, it doesn't matter how much you know, but what you know." Derrl sat there with a contemplative frown on his face. There was an interval before he nodded his dubious understanding of the concept. It seemed simple, and yet it was filled with some contradictions. He would set that aside and puzzle it out later. Kevesk spent the next few hours tracing runes in the dirt floor and explaining their uses including which ones could be permanent active runes. One of the first runes that the old mage showed Derrl was a firelance. It resulted in a focus of blazing energy that could be directed in any direction and redirected as needed. When he showed Derrl the rune, he got up and put a small clay pot with a chipped lip in the center of the floor and told him to try to hit it. Derrl held his arms out, the heels of his hands together, palms outward and directed them towards the pot as Kevesk had shown him. He drew up the rune in his mind's eye. He felt an enormous pressure build up and release in a strong pulsating flow. There was a shattering boom. He was thrown against the wall behind him, and the rune cleared. His vision blurred, and when it cleared, the pot was still there, untouched. The floor beside it, however, had a crater three feet across. Kevesk appeared dazed, but he shook himself and walked over to help Derrl up from the floor. He shook his head again, though not to clear his vision.

"I've never seen anyone able to put that much force into a firelance before. It's usually not very powerful, useful for getting rid of litter and offal. You, however, lend an entirely new concept to the uses of a firelance. Let's try it again, only this time, turn it down a notch will you? And try to hit the pot please. I don't know how much more my poor floor can take."

Derrl nodded, and braced himself firmly with both feet spread wide apart. He thrust out his arms, palms outward, and slowly released energy as he drew the rune and concentrated on keeping it within limits. A small ray of intense light stretched out from his palms. He corrected his aim, and placed the shaft of light squarely on the pot. He let go of some of the restraint that he was placing on the power. Even more intense light pulsed down the beam, towards the pot and obliterated it. There were no flying shards, only a fine dust that seemed to fill the air. Somewhat belatedly, he cleared the rune from his mind. He was far more exhausted than he would have believed, and sat down heavily on the small crate that he had pulled up earlier. He was certain of one thing now. It was time for some food.

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