Was this death? It couldn't be, there was too much light everywhere. So much so that it was blinding. In his head he heard a voice he recognized from before that was as smooth and sweet and honey,
"Congratulations Hanson, you have passed. You are the best candidate for the position of High Wizard. I'm glad you proved me right.", Hanalea continued,
"I sense you are also of the gray wolf line and therefore part of my family. So I hope that you will protect the line as you should, you are the best chance this country has to being restored to greatness and being saved from destruction. Please take this as a token and good luck with your final task." Before Han could ask any questions the white light dimmed and he found himself up in the air in the middle of the stage. Hanaleas voice rang out above all of the voices in the stadium.
"Congratulations to your top contestant, Hanson Alister. He leaves with the blessings of all of the Queens of the Fells before Raisa ana'Mariana. May the Maker bless you." With that her voices echoed into silence and Han floated back down to the ground. He looked down at his left hand and was surprised to see a ring on it. It had a circle of wolves running around the band of gold. It must have been Hanaleas's token, even if he wasn't sure exactly what it was. He also noticed his torn clothes and skin had been repaired leaving white scars where the wounds had been. He then examined his amulet, all the power he had stored up from before had been almost sucked dry by the last spell he had preformed, leaving him with a fraction of what he had when he had started the tournament. Sighing he started to walk back to his box. The stadium was still dead quiet and before Han could even take more than three steps a voice rang out,
"I challenge Hanson Alister for the position of High Wizard as his last task.", said the High Wizard. It wasn't that it was a surprise, because Han could have guessed what the last challenge was, but right now? Right after he had literally just killed himself? His mind began to race, trying to figure out what to do, because right now what he really needed was time. Not a lot, but at least enough to go talk to Dancer stratigize and maybe barrow some of his power before this all went down. So he tried just asking for a little more time,
"I accept your challenge, if you could please allow me one hour then I will be ready for the duel."
"No, I challenge you right now, this minute, weather you are ready or not." , Lord Bayer stated firmly.
"You would challenge me after all you did was sit and watch us fight each other while I have been slaving away down here? That seems a bit more than unfair Lord Bayer. I am not asking for much time. The least you could do would be to wait one more hour."
"No one said anything about this challenge being fair. If you can't beat me now then one hour wont help you." , he smiled and started walking down to the stadium.
Han looked around trying to find a face that was sympathetic with him, but everyone seemed to agree with the High Wizard. That if Han couldn't win this duel now then what would one more hour do? Well bones thought Han, this is a mess. Grabbing his amulet he searched for what power was left. He had very little compared to the man he was about to face. He was going into a fight on someone elses' terms, a rule of his he tried never to break. The high wizard had picked the time when Han was weakest. He had picked a place in front of everyone so that no one could dispute his victory, and he had chosen how they were to fight. Han knew he was rather good, and more than a little advanced for his age in magic, but he couldn't hold a candle to what Lord Bayer must know. Han reviewed the mans weaknesses as he walked down to the stage to the center to meet the High Wizard in the middle. The man wasn't stupid, but he did have more pride than anyone else Han had ever seen, not to mention his confidence in the outcome of this match was absolute. He knew he'd win before he issued the challenge, maybe that was the key. As Lord Bayer made his way to the stage the judges came around to make the arena.
"Stop! This challenge will be to the death. The time for Alister to pay his debt to me is now." , Lord Bayer said to the judges.
"Funny, I was thinking the same thing about you Lord Bayer." Han shot back thinking of his family.
"But my Lord the rules clearly state...", a judge started to say.
"The rules speak that I may choose the challenge. This is my challenge, therefore it is my rules that apply.", Lord Bayer said back with a calm even voice when he was finally in front of Han.
Han looked over at the man in front of him. He was impeccably dressed with jewels on every finger. The high wizards crest hanging from his neck above his amulet. His amulet, was in the shape of two falcons facing away from each other with rubies in their eyes. His clothes gleamed with gold and silver threads. The man looked deadly in his opinion and Han vowed to himself never to underestimate him during this duel. He wanted Han dead and he didn't care how he did it. Han lifted his eyes to the crowd. Some of them were on his side, but the more powerful wizards were almost all against him. So any one who could help him was most likely not a his friend.
The same judge that had spoken out before cleared his throat said,
"Well if no one has any objections," , he said glancing from Han to the High Wizard he gulped,
"then please, begin"
Neither Han nor the high wizard moved. The high wizard seemed to want Han to make the first move because he was still talking to a judge like Han wasn't even there. Shrugged his shoulders thinking and took a deep breath. It was now or never. So he began to run straight at the high wizard from the opposite side of the arena. As he ran forward he began to mouth a spell. Yet before the words even got out of his mouth a jet of fire flew towards him. Han dug his heels into the ground and jumped out of the way skidding on the floor as he jerked to the side and slide under the flames. He hadn't even seen the high wizard go to his amulet let alone speak a charm. Though he had been preoccupied with trying to cast his own spell...before Han had another chance to think another blast came at him as he rolled up onto his feet. This one was high so Han hit the deck again. As he pressed himself into the cedar boards he took his chance. He quickly mumbled out a spell while his face was away from the high wizard. Then another spell flew from his lips just as quickly while he was getting back to his feet. The first was to make a square of air that Han could hide behind. Han could see through it, but when the high wizard looked at it he wouldn't see Han but only the bleachers and stadium behind him. The second was to create a doppelganger of Han. As Han finished the spells with a wave of his hands, he sent his own flames back at the high wizard. Han figured that would be enough to set up his plan. He ran a few more feet and gestured at the ground with his hand and a shimmering wall rose out of the ground. Han stepped behind the wall and with another flick of his hands he brought a likeness of himself to life. The high wizard was laughing when Han looked back to him. Han gestured to his double like a puppet master. He made his double circle the high wizard so the mans back was to Han.
"Is that the best you have? That barely even tickled! Are you now ready to see some real magic?", said Lord Bayer.
With that he shot wave after wave of flames at Hans double. Han thanked the Maker he'd thought of this plan, because he wouldn't have had he strength to keep this up for very long if it really had been him getting attacked. He instead just made his double weave and dodge through the flames like they were nothing. Finally after fifteen minutes of constant attacks that had gotten him no where Gaven Bayer stopped and just stood and looked at Han. He cocked his head to the side and look at Hans double. In those fifteen minutes Han had been playing puppet master he'd been looking for a way to find a real escape and thankfully he had found one. Since the high wizard had been so anxious to get their duel underway the servants hadn't had time to repair the stadium flooring that Han had torn up in his last challenge. Slowly Han had made is way over to the hole behind his mirror and ducked inside of it. He'd found a spot where the wood beams had allowed him to be mostly hidden, but he could still see the battle above. Just then Lord Bayer started to recite a charm and Han guessed it was his turn to be on the offensive. If there was one thing Crow had taught him it was how to throw a good glamor. So Han made his double start sending flashes of fire right back at Lord Bayer. Han made sure that his flames only barely missed the high wizard so that he wouldn't ever take a direct hit and realise that the flames weren't real. Han could start to hear the crowd jeering, he didn't know who at, but he knew they could see what was really going on. They could see how foolish Lord Bayer really looked, trying to kill a shadow. Or how cowardly Han looked hiding in a hole. Whatever, Han could care less about what he looked like. This was a match for all the marbles and he wasn't going to slip up now. As Han attacked he tried to back Lord Bayer towards his hiding spot. As the High wizard got closer he kept wondering what he was going to do. Lord Bayer may look foolish now, but Han knew that he'd never just step into the hole and fall to his death willingly. It was then that an image popped into his head. It was of wizards or an age long past. They were each locked in a death grip and dripping with flame. Neither of them had amulet on. Han sent a silent thank you to the Kings. This was the blessing he had needed. Yet it was his momentary laps that allowed Lord Bayer to figure out his ruse. As Han had been viewing the memory Lord Bayer had sent a volley of flame straight through Hans double. He'd looked smug and then bewildered when Hans double had just stood there standing back at him grinning. He had roared out his angry and sent out a ring of fire from him. Han was almost roasted there and then had he not quickly ducked. The ring of flame expanded and shattered Hans mirror that he had been hiding behind.
Well here goes nothing he though.
As the high wizard yelled out,
"Where are you! Quit hiding Alister!" Han jumped out of his hiding spot. Since the Lord Bayers back was to Han he had the element of surprise Han pumped his legs as hard as he could. He'd gotten the high wizard close to his hiding spot, but he still had a good twenty feet to cover before he reached him. Han was about ten feet away when the high wizard started to turn, he must have heard Hans thundering steps coming towards him. Han watched his eyes widen and his mouth start to move as he went to clutch his amulet. Han ran two more steps and launched himself at the wizard. Flame was just starting to spiral out of the high wizards hands when Han coiled and jumped over him. As he somersaulted over the man he cast a spell that would ensnare the high wizard in thick ropey vines. He heard the high wizard yelp in surprise and start to scream out the counter spell when he was sharply cut off. The vines had covered his mouth just as Han had asked. Landing and spinning around Han looked at his opponent. He was trussed up like a turkey before a feast and looking madder than ever. Han quickly moved forward and yanked the mans amulet from his neck and sat back on his haunches and let out a breath. The judges were about to come up on stage so Han held out a hand to stop them.
This wasn't over by a long shot. He could kill this man now, but he has other plans. The judges stopped and Han went over his plan again and again until he was satisfied. Han took off the fancy clothes that he was wearing and laid them in a neat pile beside himself. They would only hinder what he planned. Breathing in and out he felt the power inside of himself trickle into his middle building up into an inferno. He took off his own amulet and waited quietly with his legs cross trying to once again make his mind blank as possible. Finally after what he guess was twenty minutes he heard the rustle of fabric and his eyes flew open, it was time.
"I have spared you, what do you have to say to this?"
"Spared me! You never even..."
Han cut him off and raised his voice so the entire stadium could hear.
"You have been trussed for twenty minutes." As the high wizard started to protest Han once again held up is finger and waved it at the high wizard like a naughty child.
"You said this was a duel to the death did you not? You never said by what rules, actually I'm pretty sure your excellency disregarded any of the set rules for a wizards duel." Han said with a smile.
"You were at my mercy, do you agree or not."
The high wizard looked madder than a cat dipped in the Dyrnewater as he spit out,
"That's what I thought you would say, so I propose another option to you. Since it is obvious you have more power stored away than I do I propose that we fight without any. No amulets at all. I can't beat you in a fair fight right now because you have too much energy stored up and I have to little to spare to constantly attack you.", and that was the crux of the matter. The man was just too strong, Han could have flamed him all day as he was trussed up but he'd never have been able to actually kill him. He couldn't kill him with his amulet off because that wouldn't go over well with the wizarding community. He might have won the duel, but they'd be furious with him beyond reason and he knew it. So he had a different plan in store.
Han knew he had the attention once again of the entire arena. They were all listening and waiting for what he planned to do next.
"What would you say to Sol Bokez?" He heard the intake of breathes from the judges below and a few in the stands. It was what the Kings had purposed to him. Before amulets were invented for wizards to control their power. They would test their strength in a challenge that was called a Sol Bokez or soul breaker. From what Han had gathered from the Kings memories it was a battle of magic based only on natural ability. Who ever had the most power won. Han wasn't sure how gifted the high wizard was but he knew this was his only chance as having a semi peaceful life if the man at least feared him a little bit.
There was a scream in the audience as someone was shocked within an inch of their lives and then a huge boom. Han guessed that someone had tried to get the ball of energy floating above his seat again. He smirked, he could always count on Crows spells to work if nothing else.
"So what do you say? This is your only option other than submitting right here and now. I'm giving you a much fairer deal than you ever gave me."
The high wizard eyed him, trying to figure him out. As if once again seeing him for the first time. Like a bit of trash had gotten a back bone and was giving him too much trouble.
"If you say so boy, bring on the challenge."
A judges voice rang out for those who had not heard,
"The victor of the last challenge Hanson Alister has issued another challenge of Sol Bokez. They will battle without amulets until one of them submits.
"Now don't make any sudden movements or I will kill you, wizards council or no.", Han said.
Using the High Wizards amulet he made sure now of the power he'd gathered in those twenty minutes went into the amulet as he released the wizard from the man from the vines. He then sent both amulet up into the air to join the ball of energy above his seat.
"If I win, I get your amulet, if you win you get mine. Sound fair? If I loose and die those spells protecting the amulets will extinguish and they will be yours. Agreed?"
The man smirked and rolled his shoulders,
"Now your talking, lets get this started!"
He looked towards Han and nodded. Han held out his arm like he was about to shake hands with Lord Bayer.
"You are familiar with this are you not my Lord?"
"Of course" , Lord Bayer growled at him.
They both locked wrists with their right hands and looked at the judge who had come over to them he said,
"Hezrall Stigh Frovl."
Han hadn't really known what to expect. He'd just figured this was the best idea since the kings had given it to give. Once the words were said over him he saw both their wrists intertwine with a red glowing chord. Han tried to let go, but knew before he even tried that it was no good. All he succeed in down was moving both their arms up and down. Then he felt all of the power that had been building up in him start to leak out of him. It was a slow gradual seeping. So that first he began to glow, then small fires flickered on his skin. Then like someone had thrown oil onto a fire both of them blazed up like torches. Lord Bayers fire was emerald green and Hans own fire was black as obsidian. Something like recognition flickered in the pits of Lord Bayers eyes, but it was soon gone as the flames that now covered him made his face hard to read. Where there hands met both of their fires sizzled up against each up against each other, but never touching. It was a small middle ground inbetween both of their wrists. Han was just about to try out a theory on how to start attacking Lord Bayer when the high wizard pushed his fire towards Han. Green flame licked up Hans arm devouring his black flame as it went up his arm. Han cried out in agony. It was like he was getting torn apart all over again. Except this time with the burns came the barbs of the high wizards mind trying to control his own. Han hadn't been expecting this twist. With a roar he threw himself back at Lord Bayer. His black flame ran into and pushed them back to the middle of their wrists. Han once again threw himself at the high wizard pouring his power at the man. Yet his flames just went up against a wall of green flames. The spectral must have gone twenty feet up in the air. The flames in the air formed into wolves fighting a falcon. The flaming animals only caught Hans attention for a moment and then he was torn into a battle of the mind with the high wizard. He was ramming at Hans consciousness with his thoughts. It was like fighting two battles at once. Not only did he have to keep pouring power at Lord Bayer, but he had to fend off his thoughts. It was like trying to keep the pillar going and having someone try to open his mind. He decided that the only thing to focus on was the one thing he refused to loose. Raisa. He just thought of her eyes and how every time he looked at her he got lost in them. So that every time Lord Bayer rammed against his thoughts he bounced back. After one particulary hard blow Han decided to try attacking himself. He formed up his thoughts into one single thought, give in and sent it ramming into the high wizards thoughts. The first thing Han felt was surprise as his spear drove through the high wizards wall around his thoughts. Then he heard the man scream as Hans flames dove onto the high wizard as his concentration was broken. He pushed harder and harder as his flames ran around the high wizards neck and across his robes. Han could smell burning cloth and skin making his nose pinch in disgust. Yet as he started to grasp the mans thoughts he was pushed back out of his mind. As Lord Bayer drove his own spike into Hans mind. Han had been totally unprepared for anything like that when he himself had been in the mans mind. He'd thought Lord Bayer would try to defend himself rather than attack. So Han was helpless when the High Wizard grasped his thoughts. The High Wizard didn't mess around, as his thoughts drove into Hans mind they scrambled around his head for just one thing. It felt like someone with clumsy fingers was trying to pick out a single piece of paper from the giant mountain of paper that was Hans head. Flashes of images went through Hans head and he reeled back at he tried to fight the wizard off. He reeled back fleeing into his own head. He tried to concentrate on just what mattered most, winning. He could feel the high wizard in his head and he could feel him ramming himself against Hans last defenses. It was all Han could do to keep him out as it was. As he gradually set more and more of his focus to defending his mind against the high wizard his defenses against the high wizards green flames faltered and they began to spread across Hans body. The pain was more excruciating than almost anything Han had felt before. The burns that had been closed before now reopened as the flames settled on his arms. He was being charred alive and there was nothing he could do about. In the next five minutes the green flames spread over more and more of Hans body until there was only a large black circle of flames around Hans heart that refused to be smothered. Han had almost passed out several times in those five minutes. Being charred alive was not the most comfortable of feelings and as the fire had burned more and more of him he had retreated farther and farther into himself until all he knew were bare essentials of his body. His heart was beating, energy was still flowing out of him and he hadn't lost yet. Though even that was fading, it wasn't that the high wizard was breaking into Hans mind because he couldn't seem to break into his mind any farther, but Hans body could only take so much punishment and it was far beyond its breaking point. As Han began to fall into unconsciousness he opened his eyes to watch as the last of the green flames consumed his last black flames over his heart. The circle shrunk until it was just a small pin prick and then it was gone.
Han was surprised as anyone when he was still alive when that happened. In fact what was even more surprising was that the presences of the high wizards mind was also gone from his head, as was the burning sensation from the flames covering his body. Han lifted his free hand and examined it. From what he could see under the shifting myriad of emerald green flames covering his body his skin was badly burned, but the green flames were no longer causing any more damage. As he watched the burns healed themselves as if they had never been burned. This happened in a matter of seconds faster than Han had ever seen a wound heal. He looked over as the High wizard who for the first time seemed flustered. He seemed to be trying to pull back his energy but his green flames just kept pouring over their arms onto Hans body. Han grinned, was this what was supposed to happen all along? The more powerful wizard won no matter what right? They might endure unbearable pain, but in the end who ever was stronger would consume the others energy no matter how skilled they were in mind magic. He threw back he head and laughed. He knew he must look like a demon wreathed in flames and laughing, but he didn't care. He finally had this man right where he wanted him. Right at his mercy. With gigantic push his own black flames sprewed out of himself once again adding to the green flames so that they intermixed. Making Han look like a green and black star. By contrast the high wizard who's flames were gradually dimming and growing less and less brilliant like a fire that had run out of fuel. After a few minutes one last flame green flame traveled over their connection and into Hans body.
He looked over at the high wizard, he looked utterly defeated and exhausted.
"Do you concede? Will you at last say that I have defeated you?" Han roared out so they rest of the arena could hear.
The Lord Bayer shot him a look with such hatred that Han was sure it could have killed,
"Never" , he whispered.
"I was hoping you'd say that." , Han grinned and grabbed the mans other hand so that he held both of them. With a woosh that he pushed every scrape of energy out of his body and across his skin. The flames grew into an inferno that surrounded Han licking his skin. They scorched the ground twenty feet away from where Han stood, yet the high wizard remained untouched. Both of them were in a ball of flames that completely surrounded them both, but the high wizard was in a small pocket of space that was free of flames.
"Last chance, will you proclaim me as the new high wizard?" , Han said.
"Nothing in the world could make me say those words", spat Lord Bayer.
Well he'd tried diplomacy, now it was time for force. It was like water breaking through dam. The green and black flame streamed over Hans arm and onto Lord Bayers. The wolves within Han green and black flames pounced upon the high wizard biting and snapping with their flaming teeth. Within seconds his body was consumed by the flames. With one short broken roar the high wizard yelled his defiance and collapsed breaking the connection. As their wrists unlocked and the glowing red chord broke there was a whoosh and the flames were sucked back into Hans body. Lord Bayer lay unmoving on the ground at Hans feet. The arena was once again was dead silent until a judge spoke,
"Your new high wizard, Hanson Alister. The official High Wizard of Queen Raisa ana'Marianna. Congratulations, you have won."
So this is all I have written so far. I have been editing and posting this story i wrote this summer thus far. That's why the updates have been to often. I don't know how much time I will have for creating more of the story, but I'll try to continue. No promises though, college doesn't give you that much free time. Best wishes to you all thank you for reading for now!