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This week is a day of typical training in the Dragon's Lair Mercenary company.
Eric didn't think he could train all of them; a battle mage, a healer, and a swordgirl, but Basilard was a master of all three arts; just like everyone else in Squad Five. The Senior told them to wait at the Training Hall while he made a stop at the Squad Two Lounge.
The Training Hall was the lowest level of the Guild and the only accessible by a twisting flight of stairs. Eric suspected the designer to be a sadist. Wooden training dummies and weights stacked by degree lay at the borders. Archery targets and big sacks of sand hung from the ceiling. Runes were carved wherever one looked. The Training Hall gave mages and warriors a safe place to practice new abilities. If something went wrong, no one else would get hurt.
Basilard returned with a wooden box. On the front were latches with runes carved into them. He put it on the ground and said, “Nolien, inside this cooler is a dead bird. Your task is to find out why he died and propose a spell that could have saved him. When you're done, we'll practice minor healing.”
Nolien nodded and picked up the box. However, he showed his reluctance in the way he dragged his feet and heaved it to a corner. Eric knew he wanted to work on living subjects-do real healing-but Basilard insisted he practice on dead things. Nolien chaffed at the restraints.
Next, their mentor pointed to a training dummy. It was similar in shape and material to the others, but specialized with runes. They made three circles surrounding Tiza's name.
“Tiza, this training dummy is a special order just for you; you and your limitless energy. The longer you fight it, the harder and faster it's going to hit. If you feel it's too much, just step back and it'll shut down.” Tiza's eyes brightened and Eric sighed. Tiza the Adrenaline Junkie, as he and Nolien called her, would love to fight a dummy that could fight back. “When you're done warming up, we'll spar.” Tiza nodded eagerly. Basilard turned to Eric and waved him toward the targets at the back of the room.
“All right, Eric, today you will learn elemental magecraft.”
“We've been busy, haven't we, Daylra?”
“Yeah, jousts are good for business.”
Eric read all about them at the library. They used to be solely for the nobility's sport and training, but over time, the rules were changed so anyone could participate. More joined and thus more were training. They were so focused on the prize that they didn't notice others making money off their efforts. While a jouster could win such grand prizes as fair lady's hand, tracts of land, or cold hard cash, a jouster's assistant was guaranteed payment regardless if their jouster won or lost.
It was also a good opportunity for horses to show off, or for blacksmiths and artists to show their wares. All these people worked on their craft and didn't have time for things like their laundry. The more Eric read, the more it reminded him of competitions back on Threa; businesses sponsored athletes in exchange for endorsements.
Basilard glanced over at Tiza, who was already having a blast fighting the training dummy. Her stance was firm and she struck with precision. “Jousts are also the biggest gathering of eligible bachelors all year,” he said over the sound of steel hitting wood. “A great opportunity for girls to get a husband.”
Tiza's stance changed and she started hacking. It responded in kind and hit faster, making her speed up and it responded until Tiza had to jump away to catch her breath.
“Anyway.” Basilard fidgeted once. “Let's start your lesson.”
A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at
Brian Wilkerson is a freelance book reviewer, writing advice blogger and independent novelist. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).