Updated: Nov 26, 2018
By Jake Dardzinski
Caleb had gone three days without food and one day without rest or water. Those were manageable. He could steal some food, find a creek, maybe get a few blessed moments of rest without the cravings kicking in. The real issue, the piece gnawing at his very psyche, was that he had gone three days without magic.
He had been staring at the house for a day, just waiting in the leaves. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was waiting for, maybe a sign to stop him. He could only hope for so much. Something would have to happen soon or it would be too late, there was only so long he could withstrain himself. Even now the power called to him, like a lover whispering sweet nothings in his ear.
No one had come out of the house yet. If they had, maybe it would have incited Caleb to action. To call to them or ask if he could pretty please get just a taste of what lay below. If it wasn’t for the smoke in the chimney, he would have assumed it was abandoned.
He hated that smoke as much as he loved it. It was a symbol of the thing stopping him from giving in to his basest urges, and he loathed it for that, but he appreciated its help fighting his urges just as much.
The house was small. Small, but present. It didn’t matter so much to Caleb what it looked like or who had built it; what mattered was that it was there, directly above the Leyline. Someone had built it, someone was living in it, if the smoke rising from the chimney was any indication. That someone was in Caleb’s way.
He could have gone elsewhere, but this was the spot he had been led to. There wasn’t another he could sense, like the Leylines themselves wanted him here.
The Leylines themselves wanted him here. It was so simple. Why else would they have drawn him all this way? What could they want? He didn’t need that answer, he knew it. It was the same thing he wanted: freedom.
It made so much sense. All the power, trapped in the ground. Of course it wanted to be free. He could do that for it, and it would give him what he wanted in return. So simple. Just friends helping friends.
But the house. A home with people in it. Caleb checked, it was still there. Damn. His head was swimming. Probably the hunger, maybe the lack of sleep. Both. Hard to keep things straight. Still the house, a problem. He had to solve it, to let out the power underneath it.
He sat down, kneading his forehead with two calloused fingers. He would wait until they came out and he would explain what he had to do. They would understand. It was only reasonable--honorable even, to help let loose this beautiful power. Caleb could feel it clawing at him right now, as if asking what was taking him so long.
“It’s rude to burn people’s houses down with them in them,” Caleb said. He was talking to nothing now, maybe he did need to sleep. Maybe he could nab an hour or two, that would be all he would need…
...He woke with a start. It was dark now, when had that happened? It had been midday when he had slumbered, now it was night. A blessing? It certainly felt like his head was on clearer. Now, to deal with this house.
Caleb didn’t walk towards it as much as stumble, like a drunk, but hungrier. As he got closer, the Leyline yearned for him. Each step made the urge to grab at the power stronger. It was right under his feet now. He focused on the door of the house, and getting to that point. Breathe, step, foot touches the ground, the ground contains power, get the power, use the power, consume, free, unbind, uncage.
The sound of his fist knocking on the door was the loudest sound Caleb had ever heard. It startled him and he stumbled back and tripped.
His hand hit the ground and it was as if the Leyline contorted to be nearer to him. It was almost involuntary, the part of him that wanted it had taken control for just the briefest of moments, and it was too late.
The energy welled up and broke through the ground, red flares of power lashing out, uncontrolled. He held out his hand and the power followed the direction, cracking open the ground towards the house.
The building stood little chance, being placed where it had been. It wasn’t Caleb’s fault someone had decided to be on a Leyline, especially one as wild as this. It was taken apart, a storm of energy dismantling anything it could touch.
Caleb could have harnessed it, reigned it in, but it felt so good to just let it run wild. All the other aspects of himself were lost to the thrill of the excess. It’s not something anyone would be able to understand, not unless they held the power in their hands. If they did, they would understand.
He heard a sound. A scream. Not one of pain but of rage. It snapped him out of his fog and he saw a man with a sword, shirtless and bewildered. The man was coming at him.
The reaction was instant. With so much power around, he couldn’t stop it all. The one thought he had was to stop the man, and before he could weave that thought into existence it had already taken form. The crackling power of the Ley had turned to flame, screaming towards the man.
Flame met flesh, and Caleb watched. Enraptured.
Deep things stir within the Enchanted Woods. The Ley holds mysterious magic that the Academy cannot decipher. But the Sorcerers feel its call.