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Magi Nigri, Chapter 2 by Ross Camsell
SUMMARY: After the invasion of Aeronaea, Jakkor Highfield and his friends join the counterattack.
GATHERING THE REMAINS
Jakkor, Mak, Jeralis and Gnost were gathered at Istin Square in the centre of the city. Jakkor tapped his feet in anticipation on the cobbled floor. The square was about one hundred yards long and wide. The houses and shops that lined it were built tall on the east side, and low on the west; they were white, with black Godra beams. The north and south sides were mainly paved roads. In the centre of the square, there was an elaborate statue, depicting the Magus Air, standing proud – hands on hips, looking directly into the current position of the sun. Underneath the statue, on the raised platform upon which the statue perched, the Magus himself – except the real one wasn't as big as his stone counterpart. He stood in a similar pose.
The Magus had led them here after clearing the city of its attackers – for the Magus that was an easy task. Now, most of the population of Aeronaea had tried to enter the square – the lines of people extended far down the north and south roads. Jakkor and his friends were lucky they found each other early, so they could get a good view of the Magus, on the south side of the square. The guards had been spread out around the city, mostly on its borders and near the palace, to make sure of no further invasion – though nobody knew how the intruders had got in the first time.
The Magus spoke, startling everyone. "Good citizens of Aeronaea – I'm sure you know why we're all here." His voice was deep, and very loud. Just as Jakkor had imagined it. He'd never heard the Magus speak before. "After the disaster of this morning, there are many children orphaned, many mothers left childless, and many wives widowed." There was a quiet murmuring among the crowd here; Jakkor and Mak were among the orphans. "And this will be the main driving force behind our counterattack."
"Magus," spoke a brave soul near the front, "how can we attack them if we don't know who they are or where they came from? Or what magic they use?"
"A good question," answered the Magus. "Luckily, we managed to capture a few; they turned out to be cowards and dumb villains." His voice was full of malice. "Interrogation was very easy. Of course, they could have conjured a fantastic lie for us.
"They told us that they have come from a continent across the sea, far to the east, which lies undiscovered by the elemental empires. They told us that the magic they use involves them turning invisible, to be able to slip unseen into our cities and countries! And they told us that the magic they possess has been created by..." he paused, taking a deep breath. "A new Magus." Huge gasps by the crowd. Jakkor, Mak, Gnost and Jeralis exchanged worried looks. "The Magus Black," the Magus spat, "he calls himself."
"Where does he get his followers?" piped up the brave fellow again.
"Now, this may be the most shocking part," said the Magus. He raised his voice. "His followers consist of the very people we once cared for: those who did not pass the Test of Five Elements." This time, people didn't gasp; they just stared in silence.