Friday, December 05, 2008

Another excerpt

Here's another piece of Heartbreaker, from a little further into the story. Anyone recognize our second main character?


The text scrolled into place on the device's tiny screen, and Telfeyan smiled crookedly. “Paragraph. If you are... at all curious, contact me.” He stared at the glowing letters for a long moment. That was adequate. He set the handheld device next to him on the great rock on which he sat, and took up his stylus. With a brush of his rough finger, the sharped tip of the ancient wood lit with a green haze, bright white at its source. Leaning over in his cross-legged position, he set the point to the rock, drawing the final rune with a slow, steady, practiced hand. The stone furrowed, tiny pebbles rolling away from the point as Telfeyan drew it effortlessly through, leaving a shallow but definite score mark with every stroke.

He completed the formation and carefully reviewed each component before laying aside his stylus and pressing his hand to the cluster of runes. He had taken the extra time to add two redundant esphera runes for power and route them through three innite each. All that for the sake of quickness. Once again, it was time to test his runecraft.

The magic was already seeping into the formation through his palm. A good sign. Out of habit, he went through the motion of taking a deep breath and slowly opened the gate, allowing the magic to leak steadily through himself and prime the diagram. The green aura spread, filling out the subtle contours in the rock. Telfeyan watched its progress with unblinking eyes. And the moment the central rune began to show white, he dropped the gate and flooded the formation.

A blast of hot air whipped over Telfeyan's face as the portal opened. He looked out over the city of Edge, over a thousand miles north. Hundreds of feet below the magical aperture, mid-morning traffic was comprised of rapidly aging northern vehicles and, much more impressive, custom transports made from northern scraps. In the distance, a lone road stretched away to the north through the amber dunes. A minor sandstorm was gathering to the northeast, a dark swath in an otherwise blue sky.

He took only a second to enjoy the view, then grabbed the PDA and examined the indicator in the upper left of the screen. The antenna icon was, as he had been told to expect, blinking. His thumb scraped the Send button, and the device chirped a pleasant-sounding chime of denial. Telfeyan chuckled. This northern technology was polite even when it wasn't working.

Then, the antenna solidified, and was immediately replaced by five green bars. Telfeyan tapped the Send button again, and the message disappeared. Sent.

He immediately slammed shut the gate, and with it, the portal. The warm wind and blue desert sky disappeared with a hissing snap. As Telfeyan watched, the antenna icon reappeared on the PDA's screen, blinking three times before displaying instead a small red circle.

“Sorry,” he said to the device. “We are somewhat out of range, aren't we?” Laid the handheld computer in the center of the portal runes, then grabbed and re-energized his stylus. With broad strokes, he connected the main focus points, channeling them into the center. He cut off each of the outlets, and added three more oversized esphera. His left hand clenched into a fist, and he gathered a pool of energy there, a stopped gate. With his stylus, he traced a single connector a few feet long, ending in a simple spiral. A magical fuse. Over this he placed his left hand, and released. The spiral ignited bright white, and the green haze began to spread along the groove in the rock.

Telfeyan stood and brushed himself off. Walking a few paces away to the edge of the rock, he only looked back at the device once. If he had any way of using a PDA in the far south, he would be even more tempted to purchase one. That would raise some eyebrows at the royal court. Telfeyan snickered to himself and stepped off the edge of the mountain.

Cold mountain air rushed past his unblinking eyes. In the distance, he could see a large farm. They might hear the noise, but the flash would be lost in the late morning gloom.

As if in answer to his thoughts, the detonation sounded from the cliff above, as the magic essence reached the clogged, overpowered tangle of runes and exploded, tearing away the entire surface of rock on which it was etched and blowing the northern device to shreds.

Satisfied, Telfeyan took another deep breath. His form unwound, changing texture and warping, splitting. As he had a hundred times before, he burst apart, a hundred wings catching the rushing wind in a dive, then flapping into formation.

In the far distance, a farmer looked up at a rumbling echo, and saw only a flock of crows flying south toward Castle Stonewynd.

[more to come.]

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