I have a secret, friends. I love learning. And more than that, I love school. Oh, sure, back in the day I loved my summers of freedom (though for several summers in high school my friends and I had a "Shakespearean Acting Troupe" which always started off as a real attempt to put on a Shakespearean play--roles assigned, scripts purchased, rehearsals mounted--but invariably ended as an excuse to make our parents let us hang out three times a week all summer), but there was also always something enticing about heading back in, with new classes and new subjects.
College was a little different--more like the fun of learning had been drained out of it. When I look back at college, there were some classes that I remember, but more I remember what I did outside of class--crew, and more Shakespeare, and hijinks and camping trips and...
You are in a community hall. On the stage, a band is playing traditional folk music, led by a fiddler. In the hall, people are dancing until the wooden floor bounces -- the whole room moving in unison. You are dancing with a partner, but you are also dancing with a whole line of other people at the same time, alternating between twosomes and foursomes and everybody.
Onstage, a caller is shouting out the moves. But you've gone through the sequence several times and it's in your body now, you can flow smoothly from one move to the next, your momentum carrying you and buoying you up.
Once wild magic shattered human civilization. Mage-built cities collapsed, spell-sped galleons sank, airships fell from the skies. Magic-born chimerae turned on their creators, and then their neighbors. The peoples of Awrhee fell into barbarism.
But that was generations ago. Humanity has scraped together kingdoms again, and learned to live without magic. Those who practice spellcraft are eyed with suspicion, as are the old ways, and the old places.
Some, however, seek treasure in the ruins of what was. Knowledge, gold, power—it’s out there. Treasure untold for anyone clever enough to find it, bold enough to take it, fast enough to get away with it.
It’s out there, in the Spell-Wracked Lands.
Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate
A Serial Story by KD Sarge
Flame lay along a slender limb, high enough that the still-thick autumn foliage hid her from below. Not, she reflected, that any of the fools ever looked up. She stretched, and smirked as her movements made not a sound. Leather as soft as spring moss cost more than the cow who wore it first, but a treasure hunter in the forest got her money's worth.
Another group was coming. Flame could hear them blundering maybe thirty yards away. A fighter in chain mail led them—that, or someone jingling coins.
She should be so lucky.
Chain mail, she thought, tilting her head to focus an ear. Chain mail on a horse. Leading four others walking, humans by the sound. Three mules also, or maybe ponies. Probably mules. Pack animals, since they brought up the rear of the party. Heavily laden, by their slow walk.
Flame considered. Might be something useful on the pack animals. The last one would probably be a ways behind the rest of the party, and the fools probably looked back about as often as they looked up.
But no. It had been a rewarding day already, so much that without her pack to load Flame had all she could carry and stay silent. Whatever instinct had brought her into the woods this day had been a good one, but it was time to say enough.
Besides, if Lady Luck finally turned on her and she had to call for help, Tolor would be angry. That didn’t bother Flame, but he might be angry enough to send her away. That mattered. They quested for treasure, and Flame meant to have her share.
Not that the party stood a virgin’s chance in the abyss of finding any without her.
Still, Flame had tried the priest’s patience enough of late. She should save some for an emergency.
In that case, she should go before she risked discovery. Flame was in the next tree before she’d finished the thought. If Tolor only knew the concessions she’d made—