Disclaimer: All characters except Layissa belong to Tamora pierce and the Protector of the small series. I claim no possession over anything but the plot. Its base, world, etc. are all from the above and are not my own.

Author's Note from Erkith: Sorry this was so long in coming, but December should bring lots of updates! Though the new ban on reviews means there are no replies posted; I will continue to answer all reviews via the reply button with each new chappie, or sooner if you say something really intriguing…

I know I update really sporadically, so let me know if you want me to email you and let you know on those rare occasions that I do.

Enjoy!

Erkith

Ps. Look for a KN one-shot, a story on Jump, and a The Spy chapter later this month… (ie. holidays)


Different Kinds Of Magic

Chapter 10: Goddess, It's Begun

It was the heat that turned his head as it rushed by him. Roald frowned down a path newly cleared for his childhood friend, Keladry of Mindelan. Behind him charged Alanna, his father, Dom and Numair shouting at the crowd to stop her, but it cleared like water before a boat. His mouth dropped in shock as three spells shot out after her.

What were they doing! He prepared to launch one of his own, but wicked silver flamed off Kel and speared them out of the air. People screamed in terror. Several women fainted. The crowd nearly trampled their prince in an effort to become the walls. Roald couldn't blame them. What the hell is going on?

Roald fought past his people to look down the path she'd cleared just in time to see Sergeant Dom, Neal's cousin, disappear into the Chamber of Ordeal. The others crashed into the doors moments later and tried to yank them open. They remained shut.

"Mithros curse it!" Roald heard his father mutter as he threw a spell at the door. Numair and Alanna barely tackled the King in time as the Chamber spouted some vile spell back at him.

Roald ran to them.

Alanna spared him a frustrated glance. "They're on their own." She returned to glaring at the doors, willing them to open. Roald joined her. It was going to be a rough wait.

It was much later when the doors finally opened soundlessly on the strangest tableau the palace had seen in years.


Numair pounded his fist on the door once, uselessly. Arrrrg! His mind shouted angrily. This was so out of hand. There was nothing he, a black mage, could do! The inaction pounded away at his conscience. He should have known. Damn it! It was so obvious!

He pounded again and again as he listed in his mind everything he'd neglected to put together.

The wine! It was the main clue and I dismissed it. Damn. Kel knew we should account for it. Guilt was sharpening her claws on him. Those kids could die because of me. Go insane… He wondered secretly if she already had. The Chamber was not a sympathetic being. It would seize her weakness – exploit it. He remembered Joren who had never emerged from it; thought of the kid's friend who had emerged broken. Oh yes, the Chamber was vicious.

Real claws made him blink as he felt them paw lightly at his ankle. He lifted the little black cat to his shoulder at muttered softly into the delicate ear. Finished he set her down and she scurried away to find Daine. He turned back to the door, paced impatiently in front of it. Stopped.

"Daine. What are you doing here?" He heard Alanna ask.

"Do you know how to heal a mortal with elemental magic, Alanna? I thought Daine might be able to help."

That dealt with, Numair returned to his thoughts.

Why did it give the magic to you, Kel? After all these years… The idea caught him. Kel with magic. If she survived, the conservatives would be livid. They'd accuse her of cheating, of treachery, of lying to them, and who was to prove she hadn't? Shit on a bunch of magnolias! She was the one who had made it without magic. Numair could have sworn to the fact that she didn't have any before she'd ascended to knighthood. On the other hand, maybe that was it exactly. Numair thought, still punctuating each thought with his fist on the door, oblivious to bruising though it was already painfully red. Maybe that was it exactly.

He hit the doors one more time, and it was apparently one too many. Annoyed, the Chamber punched back. Numair skidded on his butt, cradling his broken hand. Alanna grabbed it, healing it painfully.

"Idiot."

He glared up at her mulishly. "How was I supposed to know the bloody thing punched back?"

The Lioness looked pointedly at Jon's singed hair.

Okay, so she had a point.


Duke Baird had to do something, anything other than think. Thinking was bad. Don't think. Don't think. He thought. The irony of it was lost on him. He busied himself with reviving unconscious courtiers and herding them away from the Chamber. No one knew what would be coming out, but what had gone in was sufficiently scary.

Silver flame piercing their spells, shredding them simultaneously – not deflecting, shredding. Mithros! It gave him the chills. He should not be thinking. Should not be thinking.

But Mithros! Kel and Dom are both inside that thing! Inside that monster that still haunts me from time to time. Images of his own Ordeal. The living nightmares that they were threatened. The Duke shook them off.

He turned his attention back to the courtiers. Some were stubbornly refusing to leave. Parasites, he thought angrily.

"Get out." Duke Baird said. The cool calm in his voice surprised him.

"No."

Petulant, overfed pigs. My nephew is in that hell! You'll get no entertainment out of this.

"Get out, or I will remove you myself."

The courtiers sat down in defiance.

The Duke's green eyes narrowed. By the time they realised their mistake, they had been thrown out bodily by sparkly green magic that would ensure they bruised in all sorts of interesting places.

The doors slammed shut and locked behind them.

A cough behind him made him turn.

Prince Roald was hunched over with laughter. The Duke sighed.


It was much later when the doors finally opened soundlessly on the strangest tableau the palace had seen in years.

Two bodies were hanging in the air. They could have been standing but for the fact that they hovered several feet off the ground. They floated forward until they reached the entrance before setting down on the floor, collapsing. The healers rushed forward immediately to tend them. Only Roald and Numair continued to look at the Chamber.

What happened? Roald thought in horror.

Numair looked at him. "Is it always like that?"

Roald could only shake his head.

The heart of the Chamber – beyond the chapel – was blackened. Like trees after a forest fire, strange v-shaped charcoal patterns were burnt onto the walls. The candles from the chapel had been thrown across the room. The seat given to older watchers of the Ordeal was dismembered. Its splinters scattered about like ashes.

The Chamber looked as ill as the humans it had expelled.

Numair touched the iron doors warily.

"Human." The voice was faint.

"Elemental."

"Samalin. They'll…live. Strong. Tell them." The pause made the words sound breathless.

"The Chamber says they'll live." Numair said.

Alanna, pale and glowing, cursed under her breathe. "They had better!"

"Irritating female. Close my doors now." It sounded tired, Numair realised. He struggled to obey, swinging the heavy doors shut. A last word floated out.

"Train…"


Kel woke again to the white ceilings of an infirmary. I have got to stop doing this, she thought irritably. She'd seen more than her share of those white ceilings lately. What had happened this time? Her head, hell, more like her whole body ached. She struggled with the filmy memory. She couldn't quite pin it.

It had to do with the Chamber, she knew that. That bloody Chamber hadn't stopped meddling with her yet! Be really mad at it later, she suggested to herself. Kel catalogued her pain: head…pounding, neck…sore, back…really sore, hand…hurt. With a great deal of will and pain, Kel raised her hand to squint at the source. Two punctures stood raw on the back of the hand.

Kel let her hand fall back down. She didn't remember that. Unless… The memories flooded back jumbled. The sting in the grass right before the magic had taken over – could that be it?

"Ahhh, so you're awake." Numair said lightly.

Kel turned her head to him painfully. "How long have I been out this time?"

The tall man gave an elegant shrug. "Not that long. Dom's still out."

"Dom?" Kel asked with confusion. Where did Dom fit in? He hadn't been in the chamber with her, had he? No… surely she'd been in the Chamber alone.

Numair interpreted her confusion correctly. "He was in the Chapel of the Ordeal when you entered the Chamber." He paused. "We're not sure what happened to you two. The Chamber's explanation was vague…"

Kel nearly choked. "You spoke to the Chamber."

"Well, I'm not sure it's speaking exactly…" Numair hedged with his objective professor tones. He suddenly looked very dreamy and distant. Kel could almost hear the air buzzing with his thoughts. He'd spoken with the chamber?

"It mind-speaks and filters in some images," Kel said. Numair nodded absently. "What did it want?"

"Mainly, it wants me to train you."

She blinked. "Why?"

"It didn't say." When she frowned, he expanded. "It was exhausted."

"Exhausted."

"It…" Numair struggled for the words to describe the strangest sight Tortall's court had seen in years. "You'll have to go see it yourself. It looks like a pack of mages made war in there. The place is scorched and torched up to its buttresses."

"You saw inside the Chamber?"

Well wasn't it just a day of miracles.


"Liar! Whore! Cheat! Necromancer!"

They might as well of screamed it.

"She magic'd her whole way through."

"She probably bewitched all the men to help her."

"I've heard she's slept with all the knights of her year."

"At the very least they're besotted with her."

"Must be magic."

"A love potion?"

"Can you imagine that thing being such a whore without it?"

"I know who would touch her?"

A twittering of laughs followed their prey down the hall.

Dear Goddess it's begun. Kel walked through them with her defenses up, and her posture and face tightly regal. Cool water, a calm lake, let their stillness make you strong. The Yamani in her struggled to obey the command. They were just words – cruel words – but nothing more. They don't change who I am. She gathered the cold around her as armor.

It radiated from her in almost tangible waves. No one approached her as she progressed through the halls. Kel held her mask. She ignored the looks; ignored the snubs; ignored the words.

But it still it hurt. She tasted their words: all bitterness, fear, and excitement. Humiliation and anger traced twin paths through her, followed closely by pain.

"Can you imagine that thing being such a whore without it?"

"I know who would touch her?"

She tried not to hate them for it. She tried not to hate them for their fear. It was not hate she should feel for them but pity. But she was closer to hate.

Kel stopped in front of the doors. Silence swallowed the court chatter. Kel closed her eyes, reining in her temper. Chamber, this better be good.

She stepped inside.


"So you return."

"As you knew I would." Kel returned coolly. The likelihood of Sir Keladry of Mindelan allowing the Chamber to escape her questioning was pretty slim.

She felt rather than heard the amusement in the breeze that blew past her. It whistled hollowly, as if it were being pulled down a long passageway.

Kel looked into the Chamber's domain, and was troubled. The lone tree was barren of leaves; its trunk blackened, charred. The lush grass that once blew now lay in only feeble wisps of its former self. The sexless face on the door's back was lined and exuded a weariness that surpassed her own.

"You're ill."

"Very observant, Mortal. That would be the result of your damned magic." The Chamber mimicked.

Remembering their earlier exchange, she smiled grimly. "Least I could do."

"Will Samalin train you?" It paused. "I wasn't certain it got through."

Kel frowned. The Chamber sounded unsure. How could an omniscient being be unsure? She nodded. "When he figures out how."

The Chamber sighed. "He'll figure it out eventually."

Kel lifted a brow. "Coming from you, eventually is not very reassuring." Eventually could very well mean this week, next month, two years from now, or moments after my death, she thought. Measuring time was not the Chamber's strong suit.

"I have no concept of time outside my walls, mortal. What do you wish of me?"

"An explanation."

It paused. "Explanation."

"You better have a damn good reason for messing with my life again."

"There are countless immortals in this world, mortal, but none as autonomous as elementals. We don't sit in committees or intrude on each other. We are each our own entity. We are our own rulers, and we work alone. I have never spoken to a mortal before you."

Kel crossed her arms. "A wonderful history lesson. How does this relate to me?"

"Patience." The Chamber scolded. "I've never needed to… before."

She waited.

"I need your help, Protector." The Chamber said, so softly she barely heard it.

"Point me in the right direction."

"You misunderstand." Pause. "I need your help." Kel's expression remained blank. The plain shuddered under its master's frustration. "My powers are diminishing. You should not have been able to wound me, Protector. And even then, I should be healed by now. I am blind to the whirling colours and shapes that are your world. I barely have the strength to call to you beyond these walls."

Comprehension seized her. That was why it had had to ask about Numair's lessons. That was why it hadn't known about her illness. It was no longer omniscient. It was desperate, she realised. To have included a human, it had to be desperate.

"Why?"

"I spoke to others before they were too weakened to hold the contact. It is not just I that am affected."

Kel sat down to think about that. Finally she looked up at that sexless face and asked, "What do you think is happening?"

"There's something gone rogue in our world. It is attacking us and draining us, until it does one of two things: enslaves or destroys us."

There was something that could kill the Chamber? Kel wondered. How did it expect her to beat something that powerful? "Why do you need me?"

"The same reason the Goddess needed Alanna."

"The Goddess didn't give Alanna magic when she took possession of her. Why curse me with the elemental magic I can't control."

"Can't you guess?"

Kel glared at it. "I'm far too tired to waste time guessing. Get to the point."

"The only thing that can hurt an elemental is elemental magic. And the only thing way to fight elemental magic is…" It broke off as the plains flickered and then faded back to rock.

Kel sighed. It was hard to be mad at something that was generally well-intentioned and currently suffering – even nasty elementals apparently, Kel thought wryly. I can't believe I feel sorry for the Chamber.

"Protector, you owe me for the hints about Blayce and saving your soldier friend. I don't have to save him next time."

"You could do with some lessons on manners." Kel noted. Ignoring the extortion.

It chose to ignore her comment. "But you'll help?"

Kel nodded.

"One more thing, Protector. Tell Samalin not to punch me again or he'll get worse than a broken hand."

Kel shook her head, reluctantly amused. Stupid Chamber.


Author's Note: The plot begins… sorry about the lack of fluff (don't worry it comes back into play next chappie :D ) Please review and let me know what you think! I read reviews for inspiration when I'm stuck.

THANKS TO MY REVIEWERS!