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20.6 Ash

# 2358 12 - 16 mins. 9

We stood in the room staring at the center of the purple veins pulsing with magic. In the corner was a dead Human, rotted and decayed from the time since she had made this magical beacon.

I looked at Kesq. "So what do we do now? I guess Sillius should try using it, correct?"

"Yes, but we have to be careful," she said.

"We don't have to be too careful, do we?" I asked. "It's just illusion magic."

"Have you ever fought a Gnome?" asked Tigala. "I've known people that went mad from the illusions stuck inside of their heads after a fight with a powerful Gnome. If this thing can do the same, then we need to be extremely careful."

"Yeah, and since the nature magic veins animated an entire forest..." said Lolan.

"Right," I said.

Sillius looked up to Kesq. "Do you have any pointers?"

"Yes," she said. "Magic flows like a liquid. These veins will have much more 'liquid' than when you're doing magic on your own. It's more concentrated, so it's harder to control. I suggest you try moving with it."

"What does that mean?" asked Sillius.

"Have you ever found it easier to do a certain type of spell on a specific day? Or do certain types of illusion magic come easier to you than others?"

"Yeah," said Sillius. "So I can only use those types of illusion magic? But we need to specifically create copies of Kaia. I'll need to do a very specific thing with it."

"Right, you will. But instead of just trying to force the illusions the way you know how, try and follow the stream to the spells you need. Whatever you do, don't push directly against it."

"And what happens if I push against it?"

"I can't tell you for sure. Magic, especially this concentrated, will do what it wants to do. It could be catastrophic. It could result in the kind of things Tigala was talking about."

That kind of made sense based on my previous experiences with the veins. Did I push against it? Is that how I created the wandering forest? By forcing it in a direction it didn't want to move?

"...Okay," said Sillius. "So I just have to figure out what that all means as I go?"

"Unfortunately, yes," said Kesq. "The best way to improve at this is through practice. I can give you analogies, but none of it is going to be useful until you have experienced it yourself."

"Alright," said Sillius. "I guess we'll give this a try then. Glad there's no pressure or anything," he said, glaring at the ground in front of him. He looked up at me. "Are you ready?"

"Uh, yeah," I said, unsure of what the actual answer was to that question. "I guess I better be. We don't have a lot of time."

"Right," said Sillius. "Here we go then."

Sillius began focusing on the magic. The purple magic swirled in the room as he worked. The veins pulsed and Sillius's forehead creased. The magic sparked and crackled around us. One behind Klaus, another by Tigala. And the room filled with a dull noise like the wind was picking up, but there was no wind.

I looked back at Sillius. He looked like he was struggling. His brows were knit together with concentration. Would he be able to do this? Or was this going to turn into another wandering forest incident? I really hoped it wouldn't.

Next, there were whispers circling around the room. As if one person was running circles around us and taunting us, too fast to be seen.

Should I ask how it was going? Or would that throw off his concentration? I didn't want to push it.

I looked at the others. Everyone was fairly calm. Lolan and Tigala had been through worse than this, and Kesq was used to this kind of thing supposedly. Sparr looked like he had been through some pretty nasty fights. Klaus was the only one of us that looked a little more uneasy with the current situation. He held his book tightly to his chest.

A ghost appeared just past him. It shimmered with purple magic and then disappeared a moment later. Another appeared on the other side of the room. Then another.

"What are you doing?" asked Tigala.

"I'm trying to go with the flow," said Sillius through grit teeth.

"Good," said Kesq. "Now try and nudge the flow of the magic towards our illusion."

"Yeah," he said. "Working on it."

The images continued around the room. Then they stopped, or so I had thought. A moment later I saw a flash outside the window of the room. I strained my neck to see and saw a ghost about three or four times the size of a normal tallfolk. But this one was more defined than the previous ghosts. She wore a rough shirt and skirt, with a bag over her shoulder. Her hair was tied up in a messy ponytail and her face was mine. It was me.

I looked down at my arms as I moved them and then back at the image. It mimicked my motions, and then sparked out of existence, only to show up fifty feet away.

Each image that Sillius managed to create was bigger than the last. Finally, the storm stopped and out a window on the opposite side of the room, I could see a purple glowing illusion, but it was so big that I couldn't make out any details. I could only guess that I was looking at the bottom half of my leg. I moved to confirm, and the illusion moved as well.

"Alright, so should I start?" I said.

"I don't know," said Sillius, straining to maintain the image. "I can only make that one."

"Oh," I said. "Will anyone see it from here?"

Klaus chimed in, "No, unfortunately. I think not. The nearest town is Guardlew, across the ocean to the east. They may be able to see you on a clear day, but that would probably be it."

"I can't push it anywhere else," said Sillius. "My range isn't improved at all, or I'm doing it wrong maybe."

"You probably won't be able to push it any further either," said Kesq. "There's only so much we can do about that. Beacons will only boost magic in specific ways. Maybe we could extend it another way though..."

"How would do that? I don't like the sound of that," said Sillius.

Kesq looked at Klaus. "You are good with sight magic, correct?"

Klaus looked around, curious. "Yes. What do you have in mind."

"You can join your magic to his."

"Join my magic? Is that possible?"

"I don't know. It's possible when I use a beacon of a different kind of magic. I can mix illusion with water, so why wouldn't you be able to mix in sight magic?"

"And how would I go about doing this?" asked Klaus.

"I'm not sure. When you're using a beacon, it's fairly simple. You just send your magic through the magic that you're sensing. So maybe try and do that through what Sillius is already doing."

"Alright. It's worth a shot," said Klaus.

I looked at Tigala who I figured would be the most against tampering with magic. The look on her face showed that I was probably right.

"Just be ready for anything. Try to cancel it if things get out of hand," said Kesq.

"That's easier said than done," I said. "I know from experience. The rest of us should be ready too, just in case something goes wrong."

There were nods all around, even from Sillius as he strained to maintain the illusion of the giant purple version of me outside the window.

"Everyone ready?" asked Klaus.

"Just do it already," grumbled Sillius. "This isn't exactly easy."

"Right," said Klaus.

He focused on the veins of magic at the center of the room with his eyes turning white. The white glow came from him to join the general purple glow that sparkled about the room. Together, the two made a glittering swirl like a wind stirring leaves in a small tornado.

Klaus now joined Sillius in looking like he was concentrating on the task at hand.

"The same goes for you Klaus," said Kesq. "Don't push too hard against the veins. Try and ride with it. Follow it, and guide it. Don't subvert it entirely."

"I'm trying," Klaus said.

The magic was a lot harder for me to see. Sight magic was mainly only visible to the user, from what I heard. They saw things, past or present, near or far, and it was only in their own minds. I couldn't imagine what was going through Klaus's head, but for the moment at least, it didn't seem to affect the giant Kaia illusion outside.

We all waited there in silence for several moments, ready for anything, or nothing at all. Then all of a sudden, Klaus spoke. "I think I have something. I'm trying to combine it."

A moment later, "I see something," said Sillius. "A lot of things... places."

"Try and push the illusion to those places," said Klaus, struggling to maintain his concentration."

"I'm trying."

The purple energy surged throughout the room, colliding with Klaus's white magic. The giant illusion outside flickered and then reformed. White magic now swirled through the illusion, creating moving stripes that circled my limbs and body.

"I think we have something," yelled Sillius.

"Are we sure?" I said. "Should I begin?"

"I'm not sure. But this is as good as it's going to get. It's now or never."

"Right," I said. I looked down, trying to center myself. I had thought about what I was going to say, but at that moment, it had all left me. How was I supposed to convince the world to join our fight?

I didn't have to consider the different options. Who knows how long this is going to work? Now or never.

"Hello," I said, speaking to the room of swirling magic. "M-my name is Kaia. I'm a Treek."

Ugh, like they couldn't figure that out.

"And I know, you may not want to be seeing a message from a Treek. I know my people are hated. But that's why I am here. We are all the same, in a way.

"Just like you, I have lost my family and friends. I have lost people I cared about in the name of grudges—grudges that I personally gave no contribution to."

"I know, my people did a horrible thing. We all have though. We have all broken families apart. We have all hated each other for nothing other than the way we look and the traditions we were raised with.

"I came to Daegal to try and find my people, but through the time I spent here, I learned that it is possible to work together. It's possible to learn to care about people of a different race. I've learned to trust a Beastfolk with my life. I've learned to care about my friendship with an Elf. I've grieved the loss of Gnomes and Dwarves. And it's not because I am trying to take advantage of them, or them of me. If that were the goal, it would have ended a long time ago.

"I know this sounds weird. It is weird for me to even say it. A few months ago, I wouldn't have believed I would say things like this, but it's true. It's all true. We are capable of living in peace. We are capable of coexisting.

"But there is a threat to that future right now. If you haven't seen it yet or heard of it, there is a giant on the loose, the doom drake. It is the abomination created by Shayde Mortem in the book called The Dangers of Magic, and one of Shayde's descendants figured out how to wake it up. He plans to control it, but so far, the monster has resisted. It destroys one city after another, even as we speak. And if left alone, it will not stop until we are all destroyed as well.

"But there is another way. If we all work together, we might have a chance. We might be able to stop it once and for all, and keep it from being used as a weapon, or worse, continuing on its rampage. We need every able person to do their part to stop it. We can't beat it separately. We all need to attack it at once if we're going to have any kind of chance at stopping it.

"Count this as your first test, to see if what I'm saying is true. If I'm wrong and we can't actually learn to forgive each other—if we can't coexist, it won't matter anyway, because the doom drake will come for all of us sooner or later. But if I'm right, then the first step is to put aside your differences and work together to save ourselves."

I wasn't sure what else to say. Was that enough? Should I say more? Would people believe me? Probably not. But what was next? How would they join us? I hoped Amara saw the threat for what it was now and would be okay with me mentioning their ability to teleport.

"If you are able to help, we'll find a way for you to join our final battle against the colossus. The Gnomes have a way to move you in quickly, and we'll find a way to signal you in the next day or so. If you can help, please, be ready to join the fight. Say your goodbyes to your loved ones in case this doesn't work, and thank you for your help.

"I'm not going to pretend that the situation looks hopeful. It doesn't. We have already gone against the doom drake and were barely able to affect it. But if we don't try, there is no chance any of us survive. So please, ignore your differences, and help us save the ones we love."

A note from houston

Hi again. Something I forgot to mention at the end of the previous chapter was everything I need to do to completely finish Sprig. And although this might not be very relevant to those of you reading on the web, I still wanted to mention it in case it is.

Once I'm done releasing the story for online reading, I will have it professionally edited and I'll design book covers for books 2 and 3. Then, I'll publish the remaining books of the trilogy on all of the major online book retailer sites. So, if you like the story enough or just want to say thanks for the time I put into it, getting a physical copy is a great way to do that.

Once Sprig is completely published, both on the web and in physical form, it will be time to move on to a new story. I have several ideas for what comes next, and some of my excitement for those ideas held me back from finally releasing Sprig as well. But I need to finish this story before I start the next one. I'll give more details about upcoming stories once Sprig is over with and I have more time to develop them.

So again, thanks for reading. I hope you're as excited as I am to see the conclusion of Sprig!

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