Champion of the light, p.27
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       Champion of the Light, p.27

           David Castleton
 
Chapter Twenty Six

  The following morning, Andrew trained again with Teltibane.

  "Today, we will be taking a break from fighting to train in the art of magical levitation. If you can take your fight to the air, you will have a distinct advantage over your opponent. Allow me to demonstrate."

  Teltibane took a pinch of what looked like grey snuff, brought it to his nose, and inhaled. Then he uttered a spell word; "kangelis", and rose up off the ground, thirty feet into the air. His grey-blue robes billowed in the wind as his long white locks fanned out behind him. Slowly, he descended back down to the ground.

  "Most mortals would find this spell to be very difficult. But for one who has been touched by the Light, all gates are open before him."

  "So, how exactly do I do this?" Andrew asked.

  "There are essentially three things you must do. There is the special ground herb, Lysier." Greybeard held up the gold colored snuff box. "You must inhale it. It is rare and expensive. Then there is the spell word, Kangelis, that you must utter. And much more importantly then any of these, you will need willpower. Willpower to release your body and being from the laws of the universe that bind it. Not an easy task. Those are the basics. Now, why don't you try it."

  Andrew took a pinch of the herb. Then he muttered the word Kangelis. He focused his mind on lifting himself, on trying to fight gravity. Nothing happened.

  "Close your eyes! Concentrate!"

  He concentrated harder. Still nothing happened.

  "Keep on concentrating!"

  Ten minutes passed, and Andrew remained as grounded as a bird with no wings and an airplane with no engine.

  "Andrew, let's try a different approach. I will levitate you. Then I will release you, and you will attempt to stay airborne. Perhaps it will be easier than trying to levitate yourself directly from the ground."

  "Okay," said Andrew. "Just not too high please."

  Andrew took another pinch of the herb. Then Teltibane stretched out his open hand towards him. He lifted his hand, and Andrew rose. It was as though a tractor beam extended from the palm of Teltibane's hand to Andrew's torso.

  Then, when Andrew was about twenty five feet in the air, "I'm going to release you!"

  Teltibane closed his hand, severing the magical connection. Andrew hovered in the air, twenty five feet off the ground. His face broke out into a large smile.

  "Look! It's working!"

  But Andrew's joy was short lived. Only two seconds later he started to descend. Rapidly. He plunged towards the stone floor, and another injury...but Teltibane caught him, sparing him of yet another rough spill onto the hard stone courtyard.

  Andrew stood up.

  "Andrew, what were you doing?"

  "Levitation. Uh, I thought the spell word, and I concentrated."

  "Yes, you concentrated," said Teltibane. "But on what?"

  "It was different each time. The first time, I tried to use the power of my mind to break the laws of gravity. And the second time I willed myself to fly." Andrew didn't know where he had gone wrong.

  "Aha! Therein, lies the problem. You tried to break the laws of gravity. But gravity is an iron clad law of the universe. You cannot break it any more than you can will the entire world into non-existence. That is beyond the reach of beings like us. Neither can you fly. You are not a bird, and you do not have wings. No spell or magic in the world can allow you to fly without wings."

  "So how does it work then?" Andrew asked. "How can I levitate myself without changing the laws of gravity, and without growing wings?"

  "But, here is what you can do. You can separate your body from the influence of the world's gravity by changing the structure of the atoms that make up your mass. Within every atom, there are particles that give that atom mass, as you probably know from school. You can change those particles, and cause them to orbit in a way that they cease to provide you with mass. This is within your power to do, especially with the aid of the Light. The Light can help you change."

  "What is the advantage of this way? Why is it better than what I tried?" Andrew asked.

  "This way you are not butting heads with the laws of the universe, which cannot be broken by us mere Men. Rather, you are circumventing them."

  "Okay. So I can circumvent gravity by changing my molecular structure. But how do I move around in the air in a controlled manner, once airborne? Wouldn't I just float through the air without any control over my direction?"

  "Very astute. That's where step two comes into play, which is to change yourself from a being that moves in two dimensions to one that moves in three. This is another change made possible by magic, and enhanced in you by the Light."

  "That's a lot to concentrate on," said Andrew. "And I will need to be able to fight in the air as well. Is there another way?"

  "I am proficient in one other method. It is the method that I prefer to use myself, though it runs a bit deeper. But if you can master it, you will ultimately have a greater mastery and control over your levitation. To execute it, you must think and believe yourself to exist in your own sphere of influence. You must exist in your own, miniature universe, with its own set of laws. In your universe, where you make the rules, unaffected by the other, larger universe around you. This, coincidentally, is also the aim of Tai-gon-wo, a form of yoga that I am fond of. Its goal is to find the place in one's mind that is totally his, and his alone. Unaffected, uninfluenced, and unperturbed by anyone or anything. To find oneself wholly and completely."

  'That's also a lot to chew on,' thought Andrew.

  "That is the philosophical approach to magical levitation. So Andrew, you have both the scientific and the philosophical approaches before you. Utilize whichever suits you best. And I should also note that this is advanced magic. I wouldn't expect it of you to master it immediately. Take your time. Trying to rush things will likely only make it harder."

  "Okay. I will practice often until I get the hang of it."

  "I feel that this skill can be of great use in a fight," said Teltibane. "Another whole dimension open before you. Instead of ducking a blow, you can jump. Instead of jumping, soar. It would be dreadfully useful in combating King Blue and his minions."

  "Are there any boundaries or limits to magical levitation?" Andrew asked.

  "Yes, of course. There are limits as to how long one can remain airborne, and as to the distance one can travel through the air. This varies from person to person. It depends on several factors, including your state of mind at the time of levitation, and your level of experience. With time, you will get a feel of your own range, and know when you are approaching it."

  "What happens if I am in the air when I hit my limit. Do I just drop out of the sky?"

  "Sometimes you will, but other times you won't, rather you will go into a slow descent. The reasons for this are the matter of debate in theoretical magic. If you wish to delve deeper into it, I would recommend Levitation Dissected, by Madrique Kolosky, and The Airborne Arts, an analysis, by Lenna Figroy's daughter. Both can be found in our own castle library, and probably in the Library of the Seeker as well. But again, most will acquire a sense of their range and limits with a little time, so this is usually not an issue."

  Andrew nodded.

  "Now that you have an understanding of the underlying concepts behind levitation, let us try once more. Choose your method, inhale the Lysier, think the spell word, and attempt to rise into the air. Concentration and willpower are the key here," said Teltibane.

  Andrew felt that he didn't have so firm a grasp on the philosophical way, so he chose the scientific method and tried to magically remove the mass from his body.

  A couple of hours passed with Andrew getting no closer to levitating himself than the stone floor beneath him.

  "That's okay," said Teltibane. "It takes some time to grasp. Now Andrew, you have been training hard for some time now, learning to use your body to its fullest potential. As a test of your skills and capabilities t
omorrow you, Finor, and Greybeard will go into ulthar country. There you will take on a band of ulthars."

  'This shouldn't be too hard. I'll use my katana,' Andrew thought.

  As though he had read his mind, Teltibane said, "you will not be allowed a sword. You are a superb swordsman, a rare natural. With your sword in hand, the challenge will be greatly reduced. You may wield a staff. But, you will be expected to take on at least three of the enemy in empty-handed combat, to prove your skill there."

  Bummer! No sword.

  "Why isn't Kiara going?" Andrew asked.

  Teltibane smiled. "With the strength of Kiara at your side, the challenge will be greatly diminished, don't you think? She and I will watch from above. The ulthars will be better armed than you. Blades to your staff. I have instructed Finor to focus on disarming techniques this afternoon. I suggest that you look some up in Ososaka's book as well. And you should know that these ulthars will be harder to defeat than the ulthars of the Nenwé mines, who don't get to do much fighting in those long abandoned caves. Whereas the ulthars you will face tomorrow are always fighting in one battle or another and will be experienced warriors. Good luck, Andrew, and please pay attention to Finor today. It could save your life tomorrow."

 

  Andrew spent hours that day learning how to disarm an opponent both with a staff and empty-handed. He also read up on ulthar physiology in the castle library, to learn their weak spots. He discovered several useful things. The left side of an ulthars neck is usually much weaker than the right side. Ulthar's have two hearts, one is in the center, rather than on the left, and about six inches lower than a human heart. The other is in the midsection, about nine inches below the first.

  The group ate breakfast the following morning together. Teltibane instructed that they meet in one hour's time in a room on the second floor to prepare to embark. Andrew was full of anticipation along with some fear over the upcoming battle.

  When Andrew made it to the room on the second floor, Finor, Greybeard, and Kiara were already there. Finor was brooding in a corner, his thoughts in some dark recess of his mind. His dark eyes were like deep black pits, mirroring his train of thought.

  Greybeard and Kiara were arm wrestling. Every few seconds there was a loud "slam!" as Greybeard's hand was slammed into the table. It ended when Kiara slammed his hand into the table so hard that it cracked down the middle.

  "Oops," Kiara giggled. "Don't tell Teltibane that I cracked it. He can be psycho about his antique furniture."

  "He can?" said Andrew.

  Kiara imitated the deep voice of the old wizard. "That chair was present at the inauguration of Belfas the thirty third. It's priceless."

  At least she seems to be enjoying herself and loosening up a little, Andrew thought.

  Greybeard laughed. "Of course not. It must have been the humidity. The moisture in the air. Like they say, water can carve through stone, so surely it can cut through wood. Oh, even better! It just happened by itself. The old table just went and committed suicide. It was driven mad, by the constant pressure on it to always look nice and beautiful, so it went and kicked the bucket."

  "Right," Kiara shot back. "Just like your arm lost all those arm wrestles all by itself, hmm?"

  A smile danced on Finor's lips. "If you tease Kiara, she is liable to turn into her true form, the Great Wyvern, and swallow you whole."

  Everyone laughed. Gallows humor.

  "If all this teasing is making you guys feel better about Greybeard getting murdered by a girl in arm wrestling, its fine by me," said Kiara.

  Andrew grinned. "Wait till I tell my friends back home that in the Color Realms tables crack on their own accord, and hands have minds of their own. They'll never believe me."

  Teltibane arrived at last, carrying several items; a long, black staff, an old-fashioned looking-glass, and a primitive megaphone of sorts.

  He gave half a glance at the broken antique table, and began to speak. "Good news. We have reports of an ulthar raid in the town of Pelkut, which is about a one and a half hour's flight from here by Kilon bird, due south," as the wizard spoke, he pointed his left fist at the broken table, and opened it. Both halves exploded into a million tiny splinters, floating in a cloud in the air. He then clenched his fist, and the pieces zoomed back together to form an exquisite, miniature wooden peacock. "No, that's not right," Teltibane muttered half to himself. His tone suggested that he was slightly annoyed with himself for some reason. He opened his fist again, and this time the newly formed wooden peacock exploded into thousands of splinters. He closed his fist once more, and the splinters came together to form the table that it originally was.

  "Is that still the original table that was present—" Kiara asked.

  "At the signing of the Acag Namtra?" Teltibane finished for her. "Perhaps not. But it doesn't matter. For today it has been witness to a much greater event in history: the briefing of the Champion of the Light, Andrew Cilifax, on his first mission as Champion. Its historical value has only increased."

  "Oh."

  "So in brief, a pack of Wan-Mli ulthars have raided the village of Pelkut. They have made off with many horses, wagons, and other items. We can kill two warsuckles with one ragnut here. Test our Champion in battle, and return the stolen loot."

  "I shall use my axe then," Greybeard grunted. "The Wan-Mli have long learned to fear the dreaded battle axe of the mighty Gaastha."

  "And I shall make use of my knives, which have ever served me well," said Finor.

  And Andrew would be stuck with the blunt staff.

  "Very well," said Teltibane. "Everyone must stick to the plan, or the test will be a failure, and we will have wasted precious time and squandered a good opportunity."

  They all nodded.

  Teltibane handed Andrew the black staff. "This is made of brez wood. Very strong, and very light. In the unlikely event that it breaks, you are trained in the short staff as well, yes?"

  "Yes sir."

  "Are we ready then?" Teltibane asked.

  "Yes!" they all shouted as one.

  "Then what are we waiting for? Let's go hunt some ulthar meat!"

 
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