Chapter 12.3

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Echo led us to the centre of the town's 'grand' side. The streets twisted and turned, each one double the width of the streets in West Lowes. The closer to the centre we got, the bigger the buildings were. An enormous archway stood at the end of the street and a huge stone eagle sat upon it, its wings spread the width of the arch itself.

The arch gave way to a huge square with a fountain in the middle. Four arches in total marked the only entrances to the square. Each one bore a stone eagle, each one facing the square to watch over us all. The stalls here were markedly different to the ones on the other side of the town. Here, though the stalls were still wooden, they were covered in elaborate expensive-looking fabrics that provided shade from the sun. Merchants sold their wares, not shouting out to anyone but conversing with those who stopped to look at their goods. There was a bustling feel to the square but, unlike the other one, it was not desperate. No one here was relying on their next sale for their next meal.

I gravitated towards the fountain, the markings all over it fascinating me. The soft flow of water shimmered in the sun as it fell from the vase the stone maiden held into the wide basin below. Both her skin and the vase were covered in the marks. Stone cherubs played in the water, also covered by the markings.

"Runes." Echo noted my gaze.

"Really?" I said. They felt different to the others I had seen. The ones on the manacles and the ones on her rune stones had incited maliciousness upon sight. But these ones felt peaceful and kind.

"There are many different runes for many different things," she explained. "This one means serenity. This one means benevolence. This one means fortune. This one wisdom, this one health, this one purity." She pointed to each in succession. "They all have their own meaning. But they each possess many powers, each of which is unlocked by the intention of the one wielding them. These runes are designed to rouse tranquillity, but in the wrong hands can create the opposite."

Alaric appeared at my side. "That's the difference between Mages and Witches. Intention."

"Exactly. The magic within the runes is raw, not yet tempered. Intention brings forth that power and creates from that raw magic whatever the user wishes, good or bad."

"You said earlier that you only practice elemental magic. What is that exactly?" I asked.

"Exactly what it sounds like. The use of the elements through the practice of magic. The elements are Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Through rune stones, I can wield each one."

"That's amazing. So, that's how you set that guy alight?"

"Yes." She glanced around, as if to make sure no one had heard. "I'm not really supposed to do that sort of thing though."

"Oh. Sorry."

She waved me off. "You know what you should do? Drink from the fountain."

"What?"

"Is that safe?" Alaric peered down at the fountain. "I saw some birds in the water before."

"It's good luck to drink from the fountain," she insisted.

"Yeah, I think I'll take my chances with luck and not do that," I said.

"At least splash it on your face. It is good luck." Echo sat down on the edge of the fountain.

"It's a superstition," Alaric said.

"Oh, this is where you draw the line?" I raised an eyebrow at him.

"Don't start."

"No, no. Sun Gods? Yeah, you're fine with that. Witches? Yeah, that too. But good luck fountains? Oh, no, that can't possibly be real."

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