Chapter 1: Leaving Home

A young boy stood in front of a cottage looking up at his mother. He was rather short, with slightly pale skin that seemed to glow ever so faintly in the light of the setting sun. A wheel-less cart inscribed with many glowing symbols hovered at the end of a path which led from the cottage to a sort of road, an old man was sleeping inside at the control hub, mouth open; snoring.

“Kason,” his mother said, looking at him and smiling, “You know you can’t stay here all your life, you’ve got to go and experience the world”. The boy blinked at her, his brown eyes tearing up, and nodded his head.

“I’ll go, I know I should.” A gleam of excitement replaced the tears and his previously gloomy face began to brighten. “The college will take me, won’t they? I’ll be able to learn magic?”

“Of course,” his mother said, sighing with exasperation. “You’ve asked me this at least seven times already today and the answer is still the same. Yes, they will take you. They promised your father that they would.”

“Sorry,” the boy mumbled looking down at the ground. His mother smiled and patted his head, smoothing out his curls.

“Cheer up, make sure you come and visit your mother when you get time to. And make sure you behave yourself and don’t cause unnecessary trouble.” The boy nodded and smiled weakly at his mother, the excitement gone from his eyes.

“Goodbye.” He said, almost whispering.

“Goodbye.” His mother replied, her voice equally quiet. Kason looked at her for a moment longer and then turned and walked towards the floating cart. As he approached, the driver awoke and he looked down, smiling kindly.

“Ready now?” he said.

“Yes” Kason replied, his voice still quite weak. He then moved to get onto the cart but was interrupted by the driver.

“Are you sure?”

Kason looked round at him, face blank in puzzlement, only to see him point a bony finger towards a pile of bags on the floor next to his mother who was smiling again, trying to suppress laughter. Kason blushed and hurried to pick up his bags which he then slung over his back and clambered into the back of the cart.

The driver nodded. He tucked his long white beard, which was bound up with a small piece of string, into his belt and pressed his palm onto a hand-shaped imprint in front of him. The numerous inscriptions and lines around the cart then began to glow brighter and brighter. A low thrum began to reverberate in Kason’s ears and the cart bobbed higher into the air until it came to rest at approximately one meter up.

Kason, his gloom forgotten, began to look around excitedly, his eyes aglow with curiosity. He leaned over the side of the cart as it began to move and yelled out to his mother who had started walking, almost subconsciously, towards the gradually departing cart.

“Goodbye, mother.”

“Goodbye Kason.” His mother yelled back, her eyes slightly damp, “Be safe, have fun; make sure you study hard!”

“I will!”

He looked back at the cottage; at the familiar thatched roof and wooden walls growing ever more distant as the cart picked up speed. He was anxious and more than a little nervous. He was leaving his home of twelve years for the first time in his life and wouldn’t be back for four years at least, but in a way, this didn’t matter because he was going to learn magic!

The cart reached a phenomenal speed as it raced over shrubbery and other debris, ignoring all obstacles as it flew along. Trees had been cleared to form a pathway through the forest and as he watched the trees streak by, Kason marvelled at how he didn’t feel the slightest discomfort. The wind which, in theory, should’ve been howling in his ears and buffeting him in all directions, seemed to be non-existent to the world inside the cart.

Kason leaned forwards and, unable to curb his curiosity, asked the driver, “How come I don’t feel the wind when we’re going so fast?”

The driver laughed and replied, “There’s a magic web inscribed onto this cart that reduces the power of the wind, lad. We’ll be speeding up again in a bit so you should start to feel it then, it can only reduce it by so much.” Having said that, the driver placed the fingers of his free hand onto the back of the other.

“What’re you doing?” Kason said.

The old driver laughed again. “Didn’t I say we were gonna speed up? I’m applying more magic power, you’d better hold on tight.”

The cart gave a lurch and began to speed up again, Kason was flung backwards and landed next to his bags at the back of the cart. A minute later they were going so fast that the trees going by beside them had started to blur together into one brown and green mess. Kason looked forwards and felt his heart stop.

Up ahead the cleared area of trees came to an end and the forest blocked their way, towering tree trunks forming a menacing blockade of wood, that seemed set on stopping them from advancing any further.

“Umm…” Kason said, anxiety showing in his voice, “We’re not going to crash, are we?”

The driver simply chuckled and the cart began to speed up even more. Kason began to think of ways that he could escape from his seemingly imminent fate of becoming nutrients for the trees which were only a dozen or so seconds away.

As the cart continued speeding up, Kason looked, horror rising in his heart and his breath coming in short bursts, at the trees up ahead. They seemed to fill his vision and dominate his mind, making him incapable of thinking of anything but how he was going to become just another splattering of dirt on the trunk of one of those massive trunks.

When the cart was only seconds away, Kason shut his eyes and thought of his mother. ‘Sorry mother,’ he thought. ‘Your son is going to end his life as tree food in a couple of seconds.’ His eyes were screwed up and he was bracing himself for the impact when he suddenly felt a strange sensation as if his body was stretching out – as if he were being pressed as thin as possible in order to fit through a very thin slit.

And then he was back to normal again.

He kept his eyes shut for a couple of seconds longer before opening them cautiously and then opening them wide, gaping at the sight in front of him. The trees that they were about to smash into had vanished and had been replaced by lush rolling hills. Kason turned slowly on the spot and checked behind them, in the distance, he could see a slight darkening of the green, that might’ve been the forest that they had been in a couple of seconds before. A lake had also appeared, hugging the eaves of the forest as it wound its way between the hills, the water turned an orange colour by the light of the setting sun. He spun around again and leapt towards the driver.

“What was that!” he almost screamed, the terror of a few moments ago still fresh in his mind.

“Spatial folding,” the driver replied hoarsely, Kason noticed that he looked to be much more tired than he had before the ‘jump’. “It’s an invention that came out of the 21st college a couple of years ago, it folds space so that point A becomes superimposed over point B allowing almost instantaneous travel between the two points.” He sighed. “It takes up a hell of a lot of magic though.”

Kason nodded with glazed eyes and made a noise of vague acknowledgement, all the while thinking that he understood nothing the driver had just said. The driver seemed to notice and chuckled.

“You’ll understand how it works eventually, you may even improve it, especially if you go on to do Planar Studies. You are going to the 4th aren’t you?”

Kason nodded thinking that 4th must be a shorthand way of referring to Constantine’s 4th College for the Arcane Arts, the college he was heading to.

“Yeah,” the old driver said nodding gently “Great place that, went there myself when I was young. I did Planar Studies there so I know more than most about stuff like this. It’s their signature course you know, people come from all over just to be able to study it.”

While they had been talking, a town had appeared ahead of them, houses of some white stone with wooden frames colonised the small hill upon which they stood, their roofs sparkled slightly as light reflected off the gelatinous substance that covered the roofs instead of thatching.

“Why are the roofs like that?” asked Kason,

The driver, who had been starting to doze off, looked back at him “What? The roofs? Ah right your place won’t have got this stuff yet, it’s sap from Taernwood trees, some guy from the 7th college’s botany department wanted to find out how they can live for such a long time. Turns out that their sap absorbs water and has excellent replenishing and regeneration properties, even if there’s only a little bit of it left it can grow back to full size in a really short amount of time. I don’t really know the specifics though, botany isn’t my field of expertise.”

The cart came to rest in a town square of sorts, the ground was paved with the same white stones that made up the houses and small spaces were left between each one, presumably to lets water run through.

Since it was evening, there were only a few people about, and those were hurrying to their homes. In the centre of the square was a slightly raised platform upon which rested a silver door frame which held a door of wood, that was almost black in colour.

“Right,” the old driver said standing up from his seat. “I’ve got you as far as I can take you, there’s still a long way you need to go if you’re going to the 4th, it’s practically on the other side of the country. To go the rest of the way, you’ll be taking this wormhole.” He gestured toward the door.

“That’s a wormhole?” Kason said incredulously, even a country boy like him had heard of them, they allowed one to travel vast distances as easily as walking a couple of paces.

“Sure is,” the old driver said matter-of-factly. “Get your bags and come with me.”

Kason grabbed his bags and followed eagerly behind the old man as he walked towards the door.

“Did you get a token of any sort from your mother?” The old man asked looking back at Kason.

Kason rummaged around in one of his bags and produced a kite-shaped, jade token.

“Hold that as you walk towards the door,” the old man instructed. “There’ll be a shield surrounding it preventing anyone who doesn’t have the authority from using it.”

Kason nodded and looked up at the old man. “Thank you for bringing me here,” he said sincerely and bowed.

The old man smiled. “It was nothing lad, your mother paid me anyway. If you’re ever around here again come and look for me, my name’s Tristian Katr.”

“I will,” Kason said, inwardly feeling mortified that he hadn’t thought to ask Tristian his name before. He turned towards the silver-framed wooden door and walked towards it, about two meters away from the door he felt as if he had stepped through a veil of warm water, he supposed that this should be the feeling of passing through the shield. When he reached the door, he turned back to Tristian.

“Goodbye,” he said and waved.

“Goodbye, lad,” Tristian said and raised a hand, before turning and walking back towards his cart.

Kason turned around to face the door, he reached out a hand and pulled at the handle. Behind the dark wooden door was what looked like an abyss, utterly black without a hint of any other colour, it looked as if it was the maw of some gigantic beast which wanted to swallow him whole. He shivered at the thought but walked forward, nonetheless, into the gaping blackness.

Anyway, this is the first chapter of The Time Mage, I hope you enjoyed it. If you found any mistakes or have any queries or ideas, don’t hesitate to comment on them, and if you really enjoyed it, feel free to follow my site to keep track of updates.



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