From the time he woke up, until he joined Solas for supper, Mystic worked on a strategy for getting at Tahlmus. He only needed him long enough to drain his power, but the young mage had already proved he’d be difficult to subdue.
He knew the metal that was supposed to suppress draconic magic wouldn’t work properly, but it would help. He just needed to find a way to lure him into the cell in his dungeon. The problem was that he didn’t know how. The best chance he’d had, had been when he was holding Kanes prisoner.
In the following days he searched through great great grandfather Ezio’s library. It was full of dust, as no-one had been there since Ezio passed, but Mystic pushed through the constant sneezing and watery eyes trying to find the book containing the formula for the special metal. He had also sent people to Tevinter in search of information. He needed to know as much about Tahlmus as he could possibly learn. He needed to find a weakness to exploit.
It wasn’t until a couple days before he was to set out with Solas to take him to the school in Tevinter, that one of his scouts came back. The only thing worthwhile in the report was that the scout had found out from a priestess, that Tahlmus had five wives. Four of them matched the description that Mystic had given them.
“Wives huh,” Mystic had said. “Go back,” he had ordered. “Find out which one he cares for most, then kidnap her and bring her back here. She will go to the cell that once held Kanes.” Mystic then smiled. “His wife will be my bait. I will torture her until either he comes, or she dies, whichever happens first,” he thought to himself after the scout had left the estate.
Mystic then spent the final two days before they had to leave with his son. They played all sorts of games, ate more ice cream than should have bene allowed, and stayed up later than they should have. The morning they were to leave, Mystic was helping his son to finish packing everything he thought his son would need while away. When Solas wasn’t looking, he slipped a picture of his wife holding Solas as a baby. It had been her favorite picture, and he hoped it would help Solas not feel homesick.
Once the trunk was closed they wheeled it down to the ferry that would take them to the shores of Tevinter. Mystic was already counting the minutes until he would see Tahlmus face to face again.
The first training session with Urytemil was brutal. Urytemil had Lillianna go back to her great great mother’s spell book to find the formula for metal that suppressed draconic magic. Lillianna had found it and per Urytemil’s request crafted two pairs of cuffs. When he had taken the boys back to his cavern for training, he cuffed their hands behind their backs, and pushed them into a pit. The pit was just deep enough that they wouldn’t be able to get out in their current state, but not so deep that they’d be hurt by the fall. Once satisfied that they were not hurt, Urytemil left.
Kanes had started yelling for help. It had taken Tahlmus the better part of half an hour to get him to stop. Once Kanes had stopped, Tahlmus explained that they had to learn to overcome the material that was suppressing their magic. Kanes had just shook his head, and started yelling again. Tahlmus however tried to focus on his magic. The cuffs were even stronger than the metal jail cell Mystic had, which meant he had been right in that it had been the voodoo priestess who had concocted the formula, not Ezio.
The burning pain had been subtle at first, before erupting in a pain worse than he’d felt before. It wasn’t until he kneeled there panting that he realized he only felt the burn on his left wrist. The right one felt nothing at all. It had been then that he remembered that his right hand wasn’t actually a real hand anymore. He managed to get Kanes calmed down enough to get his hand removed. Tahlmus had then put the hand back on and tried focusing his magic through only the right side of his body. His left wrist had just started to burn intensely again when the cuff had fallen off.
Tahlmus had then been able to feel all of his power, but still had a hard time reaching it with the metal still so close. He got the metal off Kanes’s wrists after healing his own, and then they climbed out of the pit, only to be met by Urytemil who somehow had the cuffs his hand.
That time he’d hooked Kanes and Tahlmus together at the wrists, and then despite Tahlmus’s strong resistance, he cuffed Tahlmus’s feet together, before pushing them back into the pit. They hadn’t gotten out that time. Every time Tahlmus had tried to use his magic, Kanes howled in pain from his wrist being burned, and begged him to stop.
The training with cuffs continued for two weeks. Tahlmus understood why, but he grew frustrated, not only with Kanes, but with Urytemil. He had, however felt his power and strength grow, and he noticed that if he used a short quick simple spell, that Kanes never noticed the burn.
So on the twelfth day of training, Tahlmus used that knowledge to his advantage. Sensing that Urytemil was watching, he cast a quick spell to disguise their movements. He then helped Kanes out of the pit before pulling himself out. Using a quick location spell, he found the key to the cuffs, which they went for and then unlocked the cuffs. Tahlmus had transported both of them back to the estate before Urytemil had realized they were out of the pit.
Impressed Urytemil had given them the next day off, which Tahlmus used to propose to, and marry Atargatis. He also spent quality time with Celestial, Coral, Fleur, and Laguna. It was late that night, when Laguna finally got the courage to talk with Tahlmus about conceiving a child. She had been afraid up to that point to be intimate with him, as she couldn’t shake the fear of the child be sacrificed. She knew Tahlmus would never do what her ex-husband had done, but the fear and pain of losing another child was still there. Tahlmus eased her fears, which led to a night of intimacy with Laguna, that until then, he had not thought was possible with her.
The next day, Urytemil took Kanes and Tahlmus to a small clearing deep within the forest. Tahlmus noticed that Kanes seemed a little skittish, though assumed it was because Kanes had spent his life always looking over his shoulder trying to avoid Mystic. Once in the clearing, Urytemil just turned and looked at the two young elves. His eyes seeming to look right through them. It was then that Tahlmus felt Urytemil’s magic; felt the spell he was weaving. Before their eyes Urytemil changed into dragon form. He was larger than other black dragons, but that wasn’t the only difference Tahlmus noticed. He also noticed that Urytemil’s scales were dark, yet had a shine to them, and depending on how he moved some seemed to have a green tint. It was like he was a mix of obsidian and metal.
“Now it’s your turn,” Urytemil said in draconic.
Tahlmus frowned as he stood there in thought. He knew the magic he had to use. He had sensed it as Urytemil changed, but he didn’t know how to use it for him and Kanes, as he remembered Andrevin saying it would take both of them.
“Well,” Urytemil started still speaking draconic. “I’m waiting.”
Tahlmus turned to Kanes who was staring at Urytemil. “I know I should understand him,” Kanes said, “but I don’t.”
“He wants us to turn into a dragon.” Kanes look at Tahlmus surprise evident on his face. “You… didn’t know.”
“Together, you and I can turn into a gold dragon. That’s how our powers work together to be more powerful.”
Kanes gaped at him, but nothing more was said. Still unsure what to do, but feeling Urytemil’s watchful and impatient gaze, Tahlmus placed a hand on Kanes’ shoulder, closed his eyes, and tried weaving the magic he’d sensed Urytemil weaving. He could feel changes happening but he also felt Kanes magic resisting his. After a few minutes he opened his eyes. Whatever changes he had started to feel were gone.
He heard Urytemil grunt. “Went better than I expected.”
“Kanes magic is resisting mine,” Tahlmus replied in draconic. He felt Kanes’s gaze on him, sensing the surprise and disbelief.
“Not surprising,” Urytemil said, as he changed back to human form. “You grew up apart, and Kanes was taught to resist any form of magic that tried to overtake him. He mastered it enough that while it won’t stop a powerful mage, it will hinder them, which is how he managed to avoid Mystic for so long.
Tahlmus scratched his chin as he stood there in thought. “Hmm… What if…” he trailed off as he put his hand back on Kanes’s shoulder and closed his eyes. This time as he weaved his magic, he mimicked Kanes’s magical signature. This time he didn’t encounter any resistance. He had sensed a little panic from Kanes, but as the spell finished he could feel that him and Kanes were now apart of each other.
Opening his eyes he saw, that he now had a dragon body with beautiful golden scales, and where the heart would be, he felt Kanes’ presence, though it was weak. It was unsure, and there was fear. After a couple of minutes the spell wore off, and Tahlmus found himself lying on the ground near Kanes.
“That attempt went better than expected,” Urytemil said.
“Kanes has to be stronger,” Tahlmus replied. “More confident in his abilities… in our abilities together.”
Now it was Urytemil’s turn to pause and think. “I believe you are correct. Work with him the rest of the week, and take care of your orientation. We will work on this again between orientation and your school starting.” Tahlmus nodded while Kanes just kept looking between them. “I will come by the day before orientation and help with the spell so Mystic will not be able to use his magic when he shows up.” Tahlmus nodded again, and then Urytemil was gone.
On the way back to the estate Tahlmus explained to Kanes what he and Urytemil had discussed. When he told Kanes that they were going to spend time working on his magic, Kanes was skeptical saying he’d have to talk to Lillianna first. Tahlmus was confused, but let Kanes go his own way when they returned to the estate.
Tahlmus wandered the estate checking in with the Sirens he met along the way. Everything was on schedule to be ready by orientation. He was both pleased and anxious. Him and Kanes definitely were not ready to face Mystic, and he had yet to figure out how to protect Celestial, Coral, Fleur and Laguna. He had seen strange men around town asking questions. No doubt they had been sent by Mystic.
Feeling overwhelmed he went to his office. Waiting for him there he found the niflers, the dancing milk cartons, and Andrevin. Tahlmus stared at Andrevin in surprise when he said that he had a plan to help protect Tahlmus’s wives. He had not been aware that Andrevin had been training the milk cartons, the niflers, and himself so that they would be capable to help against Mystic.
Andrevin explained that he had also seen the men around ask questions, and through the dancing milk cartons, and riflers, learned what they were looking for. The men had been sent by Mystic, and they had been asking questions about Tahlmus. One had talked to the priestess and found out about his wives. From one conversation that had been overheard, Mystic was already looking for four of them, as he had seen them, when he had allowed Kanes to look in on Lillianna.
So Andrevin had determined that he would protect Fleur, the niflers would stay by Coral, and the dancing milk cartons with Laguna. Lillianna had agreed to make herself scarce and keep Kanes and Celestial with her. Tahlmus could keep watch over Atargatis since Mystic was not looking for her.
Tahlmus scratched his chin in thought. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it, but it was the only plan outside of putting up the magic-suppressing barrier that had been thought of. He agreed to go with Andrevin’s plan unless a better one presented itself before the orientation. Satisfied with the answer, Andrevin, the niflers and the dancing milks left his office.
A knock came at the door just as he was getting started on some paperwork. “Come in,” he said still focused on the paperwork in front of him. He heard the door open and close, then felt two sets of eyes patiently watching him. “What can I do for you Lillianna?” He asked as he looked up to see her and Kanes standing a few feet from his desk.
“I’m here to tell you, that I agree with you. You need work on Kanes magic.”
“Wait, what? I thought you were on my side.” Lillianna closed her eyes and wouldn’t turn to look at Kanes. “I’m just a sea captain. I’m not a mage. I just screw things up when it comes to magic.” Tahlmus stood as Lillianna turned to face Kanes.
“Kanes, You and I have to be able to do this together. I have the power, but you have the heart.”
Kanes just looked at Tahlmus. He wasn’t sure what to say. He still stood by his statement that he was just a sea captain. When he looked at Lillianna he saw the planning in her eyes. If he didn’t try to work with Tahlmus, she would do something drastic to force his hand. “Well, I don’t know what you could teach me that our father couldn’t,” he finally stated.
“Then teach me,” Tahlmus said before Kanes could continue. “I never got to know our parents. Tell me about them and what you learned. Tell me what it was like to have parents.”
“You didn’t have parents?” Kanes asked.
Motioning for Kanes to sit down, Tahlmus started to explain his childhood, and how by age five he’d been sent to live with the Dhahran of a nearby village to learn how to control his magic. His parents had continued to visit until practicing magic started taking up a lot of his time, then they had slowly stopped coming to visit. The last time Tahlmus had seen or heard from the parents who raised him, had been one day before his twelfth birthday. Kanes felt for his brother. He couldn’t imagine not having his parents around at such a young age.
“Sooo…” Tahlmus started as he looked at Kanes. “What were our parents like?”
“They were pretty awesome when I was young,” Kanes started. He told several stories of his childhood, and the fun it had been before he started getting magic lessons. He then went on to explain all the lessons, their dad had tried to teach him, and the mystery and frustration of why his power wasn’t growing like it should have.
“Show me one of the spells,” Tahlmus said after Kanes had finished.
“I can’t… I…”
“Please,” Tahlmus stated as he motioned for Lillianna to switch him seats. “Show me one of the early simple spells.
Kanes nodded as Tahlmus sat down next to him, unsure as to why his brother insisted on being shown a simple spell he already knew. Focusing on an item on the desk, Kanes started to weave a spell to make it come to him. He hadn’t expected it to work, so when it did, he was surprised, catching the object in his chest. “Whoa,” he whispered. “That’s never worked before.”
“It’s because we are together,” Kanes looked over at his brother. “You’re magic feeds off my power.” Tahlmus said to the unasked question.
“How do I know you didn’t just do it?” Kanes asked skeptically.
“Did you feel my magic working?” Kanes sat back in thought for a minute before shaking his head. He hadn’t felt Tahlmus’ power at all. His had felt stronger. “Do you believe me now?”
Kanes shrugged. He wasn’t sure. Tahlmus had found a way to imitate his magic before. “He could be imitating now,” he thought.
“I’m not imitating your magic,” Kanes heard in his head. “Focus on what that felt like early, then how you felt just now.”
Kanes rolled his eyes, but did as his brother suggested. As he focused on how it felt when they turned into a dragon, he realized Tahlmus was right. He glanced up at Tahlmus. “Why… how…?” He asked. Tahlmus shrugged, he didn’t really understand, he just knew what Urytemil had said.
“Magic needs a source,” Lillianna started. “Usually a mage is born with that, but for some reason when you and Tahlmus were conceived, he received all of the source power, which is why your magic never completely worked. You could draw on your father’s source since you both had draconic magic, but your signatures weren’t the same so it didn’t provide what you needed.”
Tahlmus and Kanes both stared at Lillianna wondering how she knew so much. “My family may have started researching draconic magic after my great-great grandmother Macha deceived Ezio with the specially made metal.”
“So I was right,” Tahlmus whispered, not that he had doubted it, but it was nice to have the confirmation.
Lillianna nodded. “Grandmother Macha had been indebted to the King, so when he wanted her to help with the curse, she had no choice.” Kanes and Tahlmus looked at her intently. “But when Ezio approached her, telling her the King wanted something to suppress draconic magic so he could take the power for himself, Grandmother Macha suspected that Ezio just wanted it for himself. She didn’t give him all the right ingredients, hoping if Urytemil ever got close to it, he could still use enough of his powers to get away.”
Tahlmus sat back deep in thought, thinking about what Lillianna said. “You used all the right ingredients, but you didn’t mix it as strong as it should be,” he stated after few minutes of silence.
Lillianna nodded. “That, and it’s not being used properly.” Both Kanes and Tahlmus looked at Lillianna. Neither stated the question, but she could see it in their eyes. She pulled out a small doll that resembled them, and a small piece of wire.
“Demonstrate on me,” Tahlmus said before she asked. He had already pulled a few of his hairs out and handed them to her. Lillianna carefully attached the hairs to the doll, muttering some words as she did so. Tahlmus felt a strange feeling come over him, like he was no longer in full control of his body. He watched as Lillianna stood the doll up, and muttered a few more words.
Against his will Tahlmus stood up. He knew he could try to fight it, but he had asked for a demonstration. “Are you sure you want me to continue? Once I do this, you will be completely helpless and at my mercy.”
Tahlmus swallowed the fear that had cropped up in his throat, before nodding. “Do it quick before I change my mind,” he said.
Lillianna nodded. She picked up the small piece of wire, wrapped it around the dolls left wrist, before she started to wrap it around the doll. As Tahlmus watched Lillianna he could feel something around his wrist and then around his arms pinning them to his sides. As he felt the invisible wire get tighter, he could sense his magic disappearing. Closing his eyes, he reached for his magic trying to break the hold Lillianna had on him. The more he focused on his magic, the tighter the invisible wire got, until he could feel them cutting into his skin. As it cut into his skin he could feel it starting to burn. He wanted to cry out in pain, but he forced himself to keep focusing on his magic which seemed to continue to slip away as the wire continued to be wrapped around his body.
“Tahlmus…. Tahlmus…” Kanes voice finally broke through his thoughts and he opened his eyes. His brother was pale, staring and pointing at him. Looking down he could see that his robes were in tatters, and there were deep cuts on his skin. The burning feeling subsided as he wasn’t focusing on his magic. It was then he realized he couldn’t feel or sense his magic at all. He tried to find it, to pull from it, but there was nothing. It was as if he weren’t a mage at all.
He slowly turned and looked at Lillianna, trying to stay calm as he could feel his fear starting to take over. He was absolutely powerless. He also realized why it worked the way it did. “That is…” Tahlmus wasn’t even sure what to say. He watched Lillianna remove his hair from the doll while muttering under her breath. She finished her muttering and Tahlmus felt the tightness of the wire fading, and could sense his magic once more. When he felt like he was back to normal, Tahlmus healed the cuts and gashes, then repaired his robes. “Remind me, to never get on your bad side,” Tahlmus said as he sat back down.
“Don’t worry,” Lillianna said softly. “I wouldn’t have even done this had you not asked me to.” He watched her unwind the wire from the doll.
“Is there any way around it?” Tahlmus asked breaking the silence that had settled in.
Lillianna nodded. “For you there are two ways,” she replied. “It is rare for even a mage to feel this magic being used on them,” she continued holding up the doll, “but you could. I could feel your magic wanting to fight it. So fighting it off as soon as you felt it is the best way.”
Tahlmus nodded. “And the second?” He asked when Lillianna didn’t continue.
Lillianna’s eyes turned towards Kanes, and Tahlmus followed her gaze. “It’s also rare for siblings, even twins to have magic that works the way yours does. You wouldn’t be able to use your power, but Kanes would still be able to draw from it,” her voice trailed off and Tahlmus thought she looked nervous.
“Something happens to me though if he uses it, doesn’t it?”
Lillianna nodded. “Same thing as if you were trying to use it.”
“That’s how we will do it then.”
“Do what?” Kanes and Lillianna both asked.
“Work on Kanes magic. You will perform that spell and he will have to work out how to get me out of it.”
“What… no.. I can’t…” Kanes started.
“Listen, we are going to have to face Mystic sooner or later,” Tahlmus stated. “He’s going to focus on me because I’m more powerful, he knows that now. You’re going to have to be able to draw off my power as I’m being attacked, if we have any chance of defeating him.”
Kanes nodded, but he had turned pale again. Without trying, or meaning to, Tahlmus felt the reason for Kanes hesitation. “That’s how mom and dad died,” he whispered.
Kanes nodded. “They made me hide. Mystic kept attacking dad and no matter what mom did she couldn’t stop it. Mystic left them for dead, but dad’s magic kept them alive long enough for him to give me the journal.”
“That’s why we have to practice this way. So we don’t leave our kids without parents.”
Kanes opened his mouth to try to argue, then realized what Tahlmus had said. “Our… our kids?” He stuttered.
Tahlmus nodded. “You’re going to be a father too.”
Kanes looked over at Lillianna who blushed then back at his brother. “Ok,” Kanes stated. “When do we start?”
“After we get something to eat,” Tahlmus stated hearing his stomach grumble.
They spent the rest of the week working on Kanes magic. Tahlmus found it was more painful when Kanes drew on his magic, but had told Kanes no matter how much pain he was in to keep weaving his spells, and there was a lot of pain. The more confident Kanes became in weaving the spells, the more intense the pain.
By the time Urytemil showed up the day before orientation, Kanes could manipulate the magic controlling Tahlmus, so that he could end the spell being used on him. So when Urytemil requested they turn into the golden dragon, it went quickly and smoothly, and the spell didn’t fade. Urytemil was both impressed and in awe. The three then worked together to put the magic inhibiting spell in place. They were Abel to weave it so that Tahlmus, Kanes and the Sirens, could use their magic, as well as at the students, but none of the other adults would be able to.
Once that was done, Urytemil left, Kanes went back to Lillianna’s room, and Tahlmus wondered off to find his wives. Orientation day was going to be intense and nerve racking with Mystic being there on his turf. He wanted a relaxing day, and he cold think of no better way to do that, than spending a few hours with each wife.