The First Chapter of The Guardian of Magic
“In order to correct all people from their awful greed of magic, a strict order of instructions give I unto you.”
The words of the Guardian, penned by Polan the scribe, year 3000
Silas gawked at the glowing wand in his hand. It pulsated with energy, flashing a bright white every other second as if it had a heartbeat. And every beat had a deep hum, vibrating his fingers.
“Have you ever seen it do this?” Silas asked in his deep voice, raising his eyes toward the silver-haired men and women surrounding him, all wearing green robes. Seven of them were Justices and one of them was the Grand Arboler—surely, at least one of them had to know what this meant.
But they were all gaping at the wand, too.
Silas looked at the massive tree in front of him. Although they stood in the middle of a forest with thousands of tall trees, none of the trees even feigned to approach the extreme size of this one. He’d come to know the divine tree well, Treespeaking with her often, but what he saw caused a chill to crawl down his spine.
A large, intricate carving appeared on its trunk, and a white light from within the tree seeped through the cracks in its bark, pulsating in time with the wand in his hand.
That carving… it was a sign. A symbol. A message.
“It’s time,” the Grand Arboler muttered.
The forest was silent, save for the humming wand and tree, as if the entire world held its breath in anticipation for this very moment.
Silas knew what the Grand Arboler was talking about. They all did but were probably too stunned or skeptical to voice it out loud.
It meant that after one thousand years, it was finally time for the legendary Guardian of Magic to return. And it was Silas’ job to go fetch him.
“The Second Appearance is upon us,” the Grand Arboler said as he used his cane to limp closer, getting a better look at the glowing wand. After a moment, he looked up at Silas, who towered over the old man. “Silas… you’re the prophesied general we’ve been waiting for. You must travel to the Ascensions immediately.”
A few of the Justices let out loud gasps. “Are you certain, Parley?” one of them asked.
The Grand Arboler turned on the Justices. “Of course, I’m certain, you idiots! It’s as obvious as the nose on my face! Can’t you see the nose on my face? It’s right here, in case your decrepit eyes can’t see that far!” He pointed at his nose, and then he pointed at Silas. “He is the general who will bring us the Guardian of Magic!”
With a heavy feeling in his stomach, Silas stared down at the glowing wand. This was not how he anticipated his morning to go. This was a special morning, true—unlike most mornings where he trained and led an army. Once a year, they performed the Appearance Ceremony, a tradition where the Head General presented the Guardian’s Wand to the Tree of Life. He’d done it before. Several times, in fact. Nothing extraordinary had happened then.
It must be because of Lennox, he thought. He must be a greater threat than we thought.
The Grand Arboler reached into a pocket in his green robe and pulled out a small piece of paper. He placed it into Silas’ hand, saying, “You’re going to need this, General. It’s the key phrase to ensure you find the right man. Follow its instructions precisely.”
Silas nodded, stuffing the paper in his pocket, turning toward the tree, feeling as if he were in a dream. This was really happening.
The wand pulsed in his hand in synchrony with light seeping through the carvings on the tree. After observing the carvings carefully, he took a deep breath and twirled the wand around his fingers.
At the end of a complex routine, a tiny ball of light appeared at the tip of the white wand. The light moved, placing itself between Silas and the Tree, quickly becoming oval and expanding to the size of a person. Purple and white lightning strands bordered the oval, and with a flash, the oval’s center revealed an image of a different world on the other side.
A world that was night instead of morning. A world that looked cold and asleep. The ground appeared to be white. Was that snow?
“Flames and ashes,” a Justice muttered.
“Where does it lead?” one of the female Justices asked.
The Grand Arboler huffed. “To the Ascensions, of course. Home to the Guardian of Magic. You would know that if you studied a thing or two of the Holy Instructions, you bark brains!”
The wand in Silas’ hand began pulsating faster like it was anxious for him to enter the portal. He looked back at the men and women. Most of them were transfixed. No one had ever seen something like this magic for over a thousand years.
“Go,” the Grand Arboler said. “Fulfill your mission, General.”
“Yes, sir,” Silas said, staring back at the portal. He took a deep breath and steeled his nerves. He’d done plenty of terrifying things before. He’d led men into battle and faced multiple Mages at once.
But this… this was something beyond historic. This would be written about and told in campfire stories for centuries to come.
This was the beginning of legend.
He forced his feet to move, and he stepped through the portal.
Immediately, his entire body burned under his skin. He fell to his knees, cringing, shocked by the sudden pain. It was short-lived, however, as the burning sensation was swiftly replaced with cold touching his skin’s surface.
Opening his eyes, he realized he knelt in the snow. He slowly stood, taking in his surroundings.
It was clearly night time, but for some reason the stars weren’t visible. Both moons were there, two slivers in the sky. He was surrounded by leafless trees, dormant for the winter, except for one: the enormous evergreen tree in front of him. The Tree of Life, apparently, was in the Ascensions, too. It looked just as it did in his world, the Mortal World.
But he wasn’t in a forest, just a small grove of trees. Beyond the grove, looming in the distance, he saw something inexplicable. Something he’d never seen before.
They were buildings—but they couldn’t be—because they were the size of mountains! They surrounded the entire grove. Some were taller than others, and some were made of stone or bricks, but the biggest ones were somehow made of glass. Many of them had random lights shining out the glass as if they were attempting to recreate the starry night that was missing from the sky above. When Silas looked close at one of those lights, he swore he saw a room with a man sitting at a desk. Were there other immortals in the Guardian’s realm?
“Are you okay, General?” That was the Grand Arboler’s nasal voice.
Silas turned around. The portal was still open, purple lightning crackling around it. Through it, the elderly men and women stared at him in wonder. The world on the other side looked warm, sunny, and green. He wanted to step back… back to his home.
But he had a mission to complete.
“I’m fine,” Silas said. “This place is… mystical. But I am well enough off.”
The wand in his hand began flashing very fast, faster than he could blink.
The Grand Arboler eyed the wand and spoke quickly. “Silas, don’t forget to—”
With a whoosh, the portal disappeared, fizzling into thin air, and the white wand stopped pulsating with energy, just as dull as any stick on the ground.
Cursing and stuffing the wand into his Mage robes, Silas stared at where the portal used to be and shivered. He could see his breath in the cold, floating upward a few feet and then vanishing. Strange sounds echoed off the buildings, and he swore he heard some sort of growling from the sky.
As sacred as the Ascensions was supposed to be, this place made Silas uneasy. It was a world not meant for mortal men.
He tightened his robes, trying to stay warm, and chuckled to himself. The beginning of legend.