Aether. The power behind all magic. The mysterious substance that drives forth plenipotentiary and sorcerous powers (plenipotentiary, as in has full agency within both this world and the other realms of the aether) also strengthens the medium of the flesh. It does not give the user extra strength, but utilizes their full potential and partially removes some of the inhibitors in our minds.
-The Necromancer's Notes, Codex 4432a, page 2, Experimental Wing
Eight Years Ago
It was the ink that forced Po Shun to be so tired.
Not directly, of course, but indirectly, it was the reason. He was tired because he was walking a few miles down a mountain, carrying a lot of wooden scraps that the others didn't need for anything important. He was also carrying his lunch, and Laidu's lunch, which was about six times the size of his lunch. Fortunately for him, he wouldn't have to carry all the wood scraps back up the mountain.
He was travelling down the mountain because he also had to write. Dai Lan carried the scribing tools, but Po Shun would be using them. Apparently, he had the neatest handwriting of all of them. He could understand why Laidu's penmanship could be bad -having claws, Po Shun imagined, would make it quite hard to grip the brush or stylus properly- but he didn't understand why Dai Lan had terrible handwriting. He knew Dai Lan did, he had seen Laidu's father's attempts at writing.
He had to write, therefore, he needed ink. Normally, the scribes and monks could use the ink up above on their mountain homes, yet Po Shun couldn't. Why? Because Laidu needed to be outside. Of course he did. And the second Po Shun set his inkpot down, he saw little shining flecks, almost like chips of glass, floating on the surface of the black liquid. Ice. And since Po Shun didn't want to keep reheating the inkpot, he had to take it to where it wouldn't melt. Down.
So, following that train of logic, it was the ink's fault, because the ink froze. Because the ink froze, he had to go down to the base of the mountain. And because he had to do that, he was tired. So, in the end, it was the ink's fault that Po Shun was tired. He cursed the ink, cursed the freezing liquid. He didn't do it out loud. Laidu would look at him oddly, his father would cuff him on the head for the foul language (which both he and Laidu learned from the townspeople, when they weren't screaming at Laidu and running in terror), and Dai Lan would just shake his head.
"Why do you want me here?" Po Shun asked for the fifth time.
"Laidu asked for you," Dai Lan said, "and I can't write as neatly as you can." Laidu looked at him, and shrugged. "I said this five times already."
"Why is my father here?" Po Shun asked.
"Assisting me," Dai Lan said. "Timing assistance, mostly."
"Oh." Po Shun opened his cloak a bit, loosening the mantle, though the leather straps of his pack made it harder to adjust the furs. It was starting to get warmer as he walked down the mountain, which, to some extent, was nice. That warmth was different than the warmths living the mountains. The sources of warmth of his home, Po Shun remembered, were those from hearths and braziers. They warmed one side of the body, and left the other side cold. But this was warmth that surrounded him and heated him equally on all sides. "You know, it's warmer down here," he said to Laidu, "don't you say?"
The dragon-Changed shrugged. "I wouldn't know," he said. "I can't feel warmth. Or cold. I mean, I can feel cool, but not cold." Po Shun blinked. Really? His friend couldn't feel warm or cold? Laidu must have noticed the expression on his face. "I didn't tell you?"
YOU ARE READING
When Laidu, a half-human, half-dragon Ranger, rescues a mysterious girl from slavers, he doesn't know it but he's in for a world of trouble. Teaming up with an insane scholar, a chatty assassin, and two mercenaries, they go to take the girl -Kyra- h...