As he entered the woods he had felt the wave from, he began noticing Earth Magic remnants all around. Somebody had gone to a lot of trouble to hide this place, but a powerful Mage like Kol could track the remnants. He noticed cloaking spells all around, along with befuddlement charms. He stopped the charioteer before they ran into any of these, then destroyed the charm and carried on. Only once did he miss one. They were turning around when Kol realised what had happened and destroyed the charm. Finally, he reached an interesting charm he had to think about for a while before he could understand it.
It was a basic cloaking charm at its root, but it also had a befuddlement charm built-in. Unlike other cloaking charms, this one did not put up a false picture of a tree or a rock blocking their path. Instead, it used a simple receiver spell to take in the environment before it, then edited it using a deformity spell to cut out the viewer, and finally projected it out. The effect was that a suspected trespasser, like him, would stumble into it, but because it showed the same image as what was behind them when they turned around due to the befuddlement charm, they wouldn’t notice anything unusual. But such a complex charm had to have a base item. It couldn’t perform the complicated operations without a talisman. Even if it was simply hanging in the air, the charm would require a talisman to be nearby. Without the talisman, the spell would wear out. So, he would have to find the talisman first. He sent out an experimental magic bolt at the charm, only to find a hidden shield. It was pretty simple, just a shield with a magic absorber. It wasn’t the magic returning shield. This one Kol could burn through. It took some time, but he finally managed to breakthrough. The moment the shield dropped, Kol noticed the presence of a powerful magical object nearby – the talisman the shield had been hiding. Kol moved toward it. In normal sight, it looked like a piece of carved wood in a tree trunk. But then Kol burnt through the diffusing spell too, by counter-charming the talisman. As the final diffusive layers burnt away, the wood-like appearance of the talisman too burnt away, from the outside to the inside. In its place was a shining bronze amulet, hanging by a thread from a branch. Unsure of its protection, Kol tried to pull it using magic. However, his magic was unable to get close and hold it, as if it was intangible. He then realised that there was an anti-magic spell on the talisman, and he burned through it, too. As each layer was burnt away, the talisman looked shinier. He then used his magic to bring the amulet near him. It consisted of a number of bronze rings interwoven in a complicated design. The outer ring, however, had several glowing runes on it, of which 3 were no longer glowing. Kol realised it was the three spells he had broken. He tried to hold the amulet, but it felt, once again, intangible. He tried to see the protection spell, but could only see a weak pulse of magic. He studied the runes closely, and saw 2 separate groups of runes, with a lot of empty space at the top. There were 4 glowing runes together, but they were locked in; he could tell by their red glow. The second group also had 4 runes, out of which 3 were darkened. Like a flash it came upon him that the locked in set of 4 was the cloaking spell, the befuddlement charm, the input spell, and the deformity spell. The other 3 were the spells he had just destroyed, and the last remaining one must be a shield spell. He focussed his power on it, and sure enough, the rune started darkening. The shield began burning, and soon, it dissolved. And then a new wave of magic assaulted his Mage Sight. There were four new spells – the intangibility spell, an input spell, a detector, and a burning curse. First, Kol burned out the intangibility spell. Next, he tried to discern the purpose of the other three. Then, he realised that the input and detector spell were to detect intruders, and the burning curse to burn their hand. He burned through the burning curse and finally held on to the talisman. Then, he whispered the Word of Deactivation. As the magical mirror spell lifted, the trail opened up and Kol continued on his way. He was certain they were close now. Soon enough, he felt the residual traces of Earth magic shield-lines. He stopped the chariot and then felt around for the shield. He managed to find the tough, impenetrable shield which pressed back on his hand. He stepped back and tried to think of a way to get through. He knew from experience what would happen if he blasted the shield. He tried to think of something strong enough to resist the shield’s effect while firing back. And then it hit him. He took out the talisman from his pocket, filled it with energy, and began manipulating the input spell. He made it all-purpose, instead of only acting on humans. After a bit of tinkering, he managed to perfect it. It could now absorb the energy from the shield line and fire it back – just like the original shield line, only a bit weaker. This one was a one-way charm and was focussed on firing back the energy, not protecting whatever was behind it. He hung the talisman on the tree and cast its charm in front of it, facing the shield line. He then stepped behind the shield and fired a huge amount of Mage magic at the shield line. Then he quickly stepped out of the energy mirror’s area of coverage. The shield absorbed the bolt with a few ripples. Then it fired back. But his energy mirror absorbed, processed, and fired it back at the shield line. The shield fired back and so did his mirror. In a few moments, there was a solid beam of light between the two energy-mirroring charms. He could see the tree behind his mirror wilting from the heat. On the other side, he could see a bit of grass behind the shield line through the rippling shield. The shield line itself held the charm, and it was pulling all the energy hitting the barrier into itself and then reprocessed and shot it back out, to the same point. The shield line was clearly heating up from the huge amount of energy traveling through them. The grass behind the shield line had started to brown. On his side, the talisman too was heating up, but thanks to the cooling charm he put on it, it was cooling itself down. He poured more cooling magic into the tree and the talisman. The shield line on the other side started burning. It had grown red-hot, and now, its magical abilities began to fade away. The sparkles of its magic were burning. They tried to remain bonded to the basic non-magical line drawn out of salt, but the power flowing through was strong enough to magically rip the spell away from the line. On his side, the magic flowing through his talisman threatened to destroy it too, but his cooling magic kept it from burning up. Finally, the spell burned away from the shield line completely, and a huge bolt of his magic shot out toward the trees beyond – trees he could now see. The tree the bolt hit was uprooted and flew into the air. At the same time, it burned up from the immense amount of magic thrown at it. It never hit the ground. Only white dust could be seen falling on the forest floor.
Kol cautiously stepped over the shield line. Nothing happened. He walked forward. Idly, he thought that he was, perhaps, the first person to cross one of Hector’s shield lines. Now, for the question of finding the Earth Mage himself.
until next Sunday…