Chapter 64: Black Tower
In the center of the Madlands.
The Black Tower. The Scrying School.
In the middle of the night, sounds of groaning echoed throughout the wide halls. Sprawled on the ground along with the broken glass shards were the students and teachers of the black tower's infamous scrying halls. A thick scent of blood wafted out as faint calls for help filled the once laugh-filled room.
Minutes passed and a bunch of blue-robed men, who had a thick scent of herbs, rushed in with stretchers and medical wares from the Healer School. The people of the Black Tower's official medical branch carefully trudged through the shard-littered halls. Wasting no time, they provided first-aid to the shocked student, while putting the badly wounded on the stretchers, dragging them towards the tower clinic.
Amidst everything, two old men scuffled back and forth. The blue-robed one busied himself with assisting the wounded students, casting spells left and right. With every wave of his giant stave, his entire body would glow golden, healing the wounded.
As for the black-robed man, he handled the broken shards.
"The rat massacre a few days ago. Then the grasslands suffering from a high-tier magic catastrophe and now this?" The black-robed man grumbled as he gathered the remains of the broken scrying orbs with an empty gaze. Tears built their way on the sides of his eyes as he picked the shards up one by one.
"What the hell is happening?" the elderly black-robed man said. The two chunks of manacles on his wrist shook as he sighed. "And why did all my scrying orbs self-destruct? T-these orbs cost me a damn fortune."
He turned and cautiously looked at the last surviving scrying orb in the entire tower, the Fate Orb. Far from its original black color, the giant orb had changed hues and now looked like a verdant ball mixed with inkblots of black and white. He wanted to touch it, but felt danger looming every time his shackles goes near.
"What else could happen, Gilman?" the blue-robed man, the tower master of the Healer School, turned and replied. "Some god has meddled with your little precious balls." He cast another healing spell on a groaning man before his feet. After assuring the man was fine and healed, he kicked him away. "Old man, I can sense traces of divinity here. I told you it would happen eventually if you try to peek at the forthcoming. No one peeks at the future and comes unscathed!"
"To hell Rustor! I won't even dare predict the future." Gilman, the black-robed tower master of Scrying School, paced back and forth, his thick eyebrows scrunching. The chains on his hands rattled with each of his steps. I just tried helping our archmagus friend search for her long-lost niece."
"Helping her by blasting your towers' students into bloody smithereens? That's one nasty joke. You better explain this disaster to the Tower Lord lest he whips your old ass scarlet." Rustor slammed the massive stave on his hand and frowned. "And you pay me for your students' treatment."
The Scrying Tower Master Gilman let out a sheepish smile. "No money."
Hearing the reply, Rustor's blue-beard glowed into a brilliant gold, and it slowly illuminated his entire body. He looked so untainted that no one dared to even stare at him. He raised his huge stave, eyeing Gilman, and said. "No money, my ass! Don't be stingy or else I might stick this into your thrifty ass."
"Drop that alright. Okay, I'll pay and will even add a bonus. But first, you must answer my question since you have the most sensitive spirit sense among us." Gilman grumbled. "Who among those transcendent played with my orbs?"
"Transcendents! I was sure there were two. One was Death. Fuck, I almost pissed my pants after it peeked. I almost thought my time was up." Rustor trembled, shutting his eyes as he tried to remember.
"But for the second one, I'm not that sure. It was unfamiliar. But it brought forth a deep desire for destruction. It was even the first one to move and probably the one who popped your orbs. So if you only searched for her niece, those monsters wouldn't even put us in their eyes."
"Eh, really?" Gilman rubbed his chin. His eyes flickered as a deep frown slid out of his face. "Death and Destruction? Are you sure? Wait, since when did Madlands have a god of destruction?"
"You got a point, but don't change the subject." The golden man strode forwards and tapped Gilman's shoulders. "And you dare tell me you didn't peep into the future? Or… don't tell me you went so low and dared to peep on some random goddesses' skirts and earned the transcendent's ire?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Gilman grabbed the finger and flipped it away. "Do I look like I have a death wish? That out of all the transcendent I would choose Death? Believe me, old friend, I still want to live long!"
"Make an oath then." Rustor pointed his stave at the scryer tower master's neck. "Or I'll have to bind you here and throw you in the dungeon until all the rest of tower masters return to judge your case. Believe me, I'm dead serious."
"Do I really look untrustworthy?" Gilman asked, shaking his head in disbelief.
"You want to hear the truth?" Rustor asked, his lips twitching.
"Okay fine, I lie from time to time." Gilman sighed, as he pushed away the stave poking his throat. "But this time, I have a clear conscience!"
"Then swear it off and don't waste my fucking time!"
"I, Gilman Magart, the grandmaster of the Black Tower's Fate Scryers swear upon the gods and the heavens, I didn't peek into the future nor tamper with the threads of fate nor peek on any goddesses' skirts aside from the goddess I serve."
"So it's not you." Rustor nodded at his old friend's oath, but soon froze after hearing the latter part. "Wait? What did you just say?"
"Hey, the goddess has already punished me long ago! See the chains." Gilman pushed the manacles in front as he cried in defense of his reputation. "It was an accident, and I was still young back then. Hot-blooded and easy to tempt! Who could have thought I was so talented that I'd accidentally poke a bloody hornet's nest."
Tired, Rustor waved his hands, softening his brows. "Then it's probably related to the archmagus' niece. Where is she anyway?"
"I sent her on the outskirts to do some errands in exchange for my help."
"I thought she was the Black Tower's friend?" Rustor asked. "You can just help her without asking for anything. I heard the tower lord even ask her if she wants to open her school in the Black Tower. Though I haven't witnessed her skills eyes, the Tower Lord spoke greatly of her alchemy and battle magic skills. Don't you want to get in her good graces?"
"I do, but she said she doesn't want to owe me anything and left."
"Tell me honestly." Rustor grimaced. "You did something stupid to her, right?"
"Hey, I just gave her a lookie and jokingly asked her if she's married." Gilman frowned. "I mean, if she's not, she can marry me and she won't even need to find a husband anymore. Aside from that, I looked at her hands and said she has the fate of a spinster. I felt great regret for her beauty so I somehow tattled."
"And you told her that?"
"What's wrong with asking?" Gilman shrugged. "She lost nothing."
"You old foggy." Rustor groaned as he facepalmed. "I really want to question the Tower Lord's decision of letting you in."
"I usually ask the Tower Lord the same question from time to time." Gilman tapped his friend's shoulder and grinned.
"Anyway, can you call the archmagus here? The Black Tower will probably need a good explanation for this accident."
"Alright, I'll call her now," Gilman said as his eyes flipped into whites, his lips uttering strange chants. After a few minutes, he stopped.
"She's already outside the walls and she just said she hates me." Gilman chuckled. "But heh, it's not like she's the only one who hates me."
Suddenly, screams echoed outside the scryer's halls. The tower masters looked at each other and immediately rushed out.
"Look up! Look up!"
"Dear gods, this is just too much for one night. Fuck! You just have to pour it out like this!"
"Call the Tower Masters! No call the Tower Lord! Quick!"
"The sky whales might be just passing by. Or not."
Beneath the three moons, a herd of giant sky whales flew freely. Their massive frames covered the stars, casting a giant shadow over the massive Black Tower. However, unlike the usual aggressive temperament of the sky whales, this herd was much more tamed.
The denizens of the Black Tower shouted and escaped everywhere, fearing for their lives. After all, sky whales were famous for the destruction they brought. These massive monsters loved sky-diving, plunging like falcons in search of food, mostly rocks and trees. They're also deemed as almost-indestructible beings because of their tremendously hard bodies.
Soon enough, the people a saw strange figure. It was a lady sitting on a broom. Her emerald-colored eyes shone under the night sky whilst her dark-hued hair flew along with the wind. After a few minutes, the black tower's citizens discovered that the sky whales seemed to follow her like she was their pack leader.
But in the eyes of the Tower Masters, the lady was someone quite familiar. It was the mysterious lady who came from afar in search of her missing niece. According to the information they got from the merchants, aside from being a powerful archmagus, the lady was also a powerful warrior and an archduchess of a rich but tiny kingdom.
Seeing the sight, Rustor's face fell. With a dark expression, he turned to the black sheep of the Black tower. "Old man, speak, what kind of shitty errand did you give our little friend? Don't tell me it's related to those moody whales?"
"Rustor, I'm also your friend, so don't look at me like that," Gilman said as he sat on the ground while drawing circles. "I only ask her to bring a sky whale to me in exchange for searching for her niece."
"Well, the sky whale's tears are one of the best ingredients for making high-grade scrying orbs," Gilman whispered, knitting his brows. "And… are you sure the archmagus is only good at alchemy and fighting… not taming?"
"Gilman." Rustor's lips twitched as he lifted his head towards the greenish skies. "That's not mere alchemy to me."