Chapter 5 Scene 1

by Richard Perkins
This entry is part 17 of 65 in the series Doormaker's Fall

Chapter 5: Under the Watchful Eye

“The Desert Tribes are a secretive and superstitious people. Each tribe maintains political autonomy, but they have been spiritually led by the Tribe of Prophets since the time of the Great Desert Conflict. They hold sacred many of the crystal formations common in the desert. It is unknown how these relate to their prophecies, since outsiders are never allowed inside.”

Modern Desert-Plains Relations

The strain of holding the storm was showing in Bernard. His face had taken on an ashen color. Sweat beaded his brow, and he could barely hold his hands at shoulder height to harness the elemental power Simon and Gunther were feeding him.

Yet his eyes remained sharply focused. Simon knew Bernard was leaning over a metaphysical precipice, and losing his concentration would be tantamount to throwing himself over the edge.

It would be all too easy for Bernard to take in more energy than his body could handle. Within moments of losing control, the heady rush would blind him to the pain as he was consumed. His mind would boil away in an incandescent surge of power, leaving his body behind in the physical plane, an empty, blasted shell, devoid of life.

Such was the danger of channeling another mage’s power. Losses like that were the reason collaboration had not been taught in the Doormaker Academy since the Great Desert Conflict, since the time of the Triads.

The Council had gone to great lengths to erase any mention of the technique from the historical records in an attempt to protect overzealous students from themselves. But knowledge, once unearthed, proves difficult to bury. There were a score of mages who carefully preserved the technique with the Council’s tacit approval, and less than half that number who were able to perform it.

Simon knew that if Bernard let his concentration lapse, those numbers would be diminished by one. He had seen a common mage destroyed this way when he was much younger. He did not intend to see it happen again.

The storm was nearly upon them now. This was the most critical time to retain control of their creation, and the most dangerous. With little sleep the previous night and after many hours at their task, they were all exhausted. Simon watched Bernard like a hound on a hare, alert for the smallest sign of a break. He was ready to cut the deadly flow of earth force at a moment’s notice.

He began siphoning some of the energy off, and sending it out toward the horizon in an arc to the northwest. With this fine web of power cast through the surrounding dunes, he would sense the footfalls of anyone approaching their position, even if they were out of sight. He would also be ready to marshal the earth beneath their feet if they appeared hostile.

As the sun passed its zenith, Simon’s vigilance paid off.

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