9.7 Interlude: Klaus
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Shayde Mortem had grown in power. Many years he devoted his life to magic. He trained in all of the various magical disciplines. It is unknown which he started with, but it was assumed to be one of the elemental magics, which came easier to him. By the time he was 50 years of age, Shayde was proficient in fire, water, earth, storm, and nature magic. Having all of these energies harnessed inside of him at once tore at him. He began to develop strange growths. His body had trouble regulating his own temperature. Many expected him to be torn apart by the conflicting energy, even if he stopped his pursuit of knowledge there. But his suffering only led him to seclude himself more.

Shayde committed himself fully to his work. Some say that he was after ultimate power. Others say he wanted immortality. Some think that he was just after the best weapon he could find to protect his people. Whatever it was, he continued without any fear of the dangers that lay ahead.

Shayde continued his studies. He collected books on all of the forms of magic. These books corrupted him more. Without the guidance of a teacher, the magic consumed him. He 1earned transformation magic next, and his very body began to shift continually. He learned illusion magic and his brain began to fail. He went mad with images of his failures and his lost loved ones. Finally, Shayde learned sight magic.

The magic was so strong within him that he could not contain it. At first, the changes only affected him. He hid in his lair, perfecting his abilities while ignoring the horrible mutations and voices in his head. While others assumed the magic had already consumed him, he pushed harder, devoting himself to all of the magics he had learned.

The energy shaped him and made him grow. He began to mutate, his body unable to contain all of the energy that it tried to tame. It wasn't until his body burst through the roof of his small hovel that people noticed he was still at it. His brain was all but gone, replaced by the whims of magic. Shayde went entirely mad and attacked Kilvale, the town closest to his workshop.

It was destroyed in a matter of minutes. The remains had massive columns of stone bisecting buildings. People were cut in half with slashes of ice, or burnt to a crisp. There were plants the size of hills and the town itself was unrecognizable from all of the ways it had been shaped and shifted.

Things only grew worse from there. 3ager to feed his power, the abomination that was Shayde—

Klaus closed the book. "It's the same thing every time," he said. "Numbers, I don't get it. Why would there be random numbers in these books."

He threw the book on his desk and stared at it. Then he reached for his quill but grabbed nothing. It was missing. Klaus reached around himself to pluck a feather from his tail. He didn't wince as he plucked it, but it did hurt. He grabbed two small sheets of paper and hung them on the wall behind his desk, next to 16 other numbers.

"Nine. Six. One. Three. It doesn't make any sense. What could someone possibly mean by all of these numbers?"

"I'm not sure, Moa," said a voice behind him. He looked even though he knew who it was. In the corner was a muscular Avian with dark wings and white chest feathers. Dark feathers formed lines from his yellow eyes to the back of his head.

"Oh, Sparr. I didn't realize you were still here," said Klaus.

"Yes, Moa. I was anticipating your findings," said Sparr. "I'm sorry that the book could not provide you with more information."

"No, it's not your fault," said Klaus. "You did everything I asked. You found all of them, the oldest copies of The Dangers of Magic. Now that I have the Human version, I should have all the information I need, but it doesn't make sense."

"These numbers don't help your theory that they are a timestamp?" asked Sparr.

"No." Klaus shook his head. "The only thing I thought it might point to was the Tremor of the Gods in the year 32, but I would need a 6 and an 8 for that to make sense. Even still, the numbers would have been close at best."

"Maybe it doesn't mean anything. Maybe they are just typos. Printing wasn't the same back then as it is now, and typos were more prevalent." Sparr tried to reason with Klaus.

"No, it has to mean something," said Klaus. He stood and started pacing, occasionally staring back at the assortment of numbers on his wall. "It can't be a coincidence that two numbers are added to that section of the book for every race. There has to be a reason.

"Our history books only go back for 483 years. Past that, all history stops. There aren't even rumors. It's as if someone scrubbed the general consciousness. Somehow, there is no recorded memory of anything before that. Before that mage got power-hungry and let magic turn him into a world-eating monster."

"Did you try looking back to see the author yet?" asked Sparr.

"No," said Klaus. "Good point." He sat down at the desk again and put his hands over the book. "I'm going to need you to be quiet." Klaus didn't wait for a response.

Klaus focused on the book and closed his eyes. His mind opened and he could see it. Wisps of Sparr carrying the book. Then it was in darkness for some time. A light appeared and more shadows accompanied the light. It was carried from another location in a museum or church. The church was ruined when it got there, but Klaus watched as the damage was undone. The rubble pulled off of the book and shadowy hands grabbed it once again. They carried it to a bookshelf where it sat for a longer time. Before that, the book was recovered from another house, a small home of poor Humans. They recovered it from a cave where the book sat many years before that even. Klaus watched with his magic, anticipating what he might find at the other end. But right when he could feel the clock winding back to a time where he might learn something new, the magic dissipated. An explosion of white energy faded in the room. Klaus threw his head back in his chair, nearly falling to the ground.

Sparr waited a few moments for Klaus to collect himself and said, "Anything?"

Klaus hung his head and shook it.

Sparr sighed. "I'm sorry, Moa."

"It's okay," said Klaus. "I shouldn't have expected any different."

Klaus sat there, slumped in his chair, in deep thought. There were no clues in the history he had just seen. Nothing strange. It was a Human book, and it stayed with Humans throughout the timeline. He even knew some of the places it was located.

Klaus stood up and began to pace again. His gray head feather bounced behind him as he thought, rubbing his chin.

"So what do I do now? How am I supposed to learn anything new or useful about magic when I've spent my whole life chasing dead ends?" He grumbled and buried his head in his hands.

"You might as well just return it," said Klaus, "before the Humans get upset that it's missing." He picked up the book and looked at Sparr. "Where did you find it anyway?"

Sparr gave a confused look. "It was in the town of Dalhurst. I found it in the crypts. It was locked in and it looked like no one had touched it in years."

"Yes, it looks like that is correct," said Klaus. "Do you mean Arbington, though? I thought it was supposed to be there?"

"No. It had been moved. It took some work to track this one down. It was moved around a lot." said Sparr.

"Yes, I know," said Klaus. "I've never heard of Dalhurst. That's strange."

Sparr gave Klaus a look and then walked over to a bookshelf. He pulled out a map and traced the longitude line down until his finger landed on an unmarked town.

"Wait. That's it!" said Klaus.

"What? The town?" Sparr asked.

"No, the map. Minutes!" said Klaus. He used his finger to trace the longitude line once again. "They aren't minutes of time. They're minutes of longitude and latitude. They're coordinates. The author was giving us coordinates!"

Klaus ran over to his wall where notes held the numbers that he had found in each book. He tore them off the wall letting them fall onto his desk. He was frantic, trying his best to not let his excitement mess him up.

"Let's see," he said to himself. "Which one is first?" He eyed the pieces of paper now arranged in lines at random. He grabbed at one, the numbers from the Saurians. They were eight and three. He put that on the left-most side. "No, it can't be that. That wouldn't fit."

He eyed the papers wondering how it could work. It had to be coordinates though. He had tried to compare them to ciphers, and he had tried to decode some kind of message. None of it made any sense. But coordinates did. In most of the other tests, the negative eight from the Treek book ruled them out. But coordinates made so much sense. Maybe there was knowledge to be found at the coordinates. Maybe the magical understanding he wanted was at that point on the map.

Klaus searched frantically through the text, unable to contain his excitement. He could feel it. He was on the verge of finding what he had been studying for so long. He just had to think—think and read.

Shayde was proficient in fire, water, earth, storm, and nature magic.

He 1earned transformation magic next,

He learned illusion magic and his brain began to fail.

Finally, Shayde learned sight magic.

It's a list. It's an order.

Klaus dug through the other original copies of The Dangers of Magic. Sure enough, despite the differences in style and some details, the order that Shayde learned the types of magic was the same. First fire, then water, then earth. He opened the Treek book. Same thing, again. He had his order.

First is Fire. He grabbed the newest scrap of paper on his desk. At the top, it read 'Human' with the numbers one and three scribbled below it. He placed that on the left-most side of his desk, replacing the Saurian paper that he had put there moments before.

After the Humans was water. Saurians. He looked at the paper.

Eight. Three.

Klaus placed the scrap next to the Human paper.

Next is earth. Dwarves.

Five. Five.

Then storm, the Elves.

Nine. Six.

Nature. Treeks.

Negative eight. Nine.

The Beastfolk.

Seven. Three.

Gnomes.

One. Zero.

And the Avians.

Nine. Two.

Klaus let out a chuckle. "Haha! I've done it!" He grabbed Sparr by the shoulders.

"You really think that's it?" said Sparr.

"That's it. I'm sure of it. There are too many deliberate mistakes. I'm more confident now than I've ever been. Quick, grab a map, I'll read you the coordinates."

Sparr grabbed a world map and laid it on a separate table. Klaus was already rattling off numbers as he laid it down and Sparr hurried to catch up. Sparr traced the lines on the map, trying his best to pinpoint the location, but it wasn't a challenge. As soon as his finger got close to the location that Klaus had told him, his finger stopped.

"Did you get that?" yelled Klaus.

Sparr didn't respond.

"Sparr. Did you get that?"

Sparr hesitated a moment and then finally spoke up. "Moa—"

"Spit it out, Sparr. Did you get it or not?" Klaus shouted.

"It's the new land. The coordinates point to Daegal."

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