Mages of Aven, #1-#5
[Note from Cass: A recent blog post had me looking over the list of Aven's mages that I drew up during the editorial process. I realized that, while I had thus far refrained from naming all 300+ of them... Well, that was never going to last, was it? Of course I was going to give them stories sooner or later. And what better place for it than here on Patreon? And since I do so love a 100-word drabble, that seemed a natural format. These first five, I offer as a teaser -- the rest will be available at the $3 and up pledge level on a weekly-or-so basis.

[None of these are characters who appear in From Unseen Fire. They are not characters in the main drama -- though some of them may interact with those who are. These are the people of Aven, high and low, whom the gods have blessed with some degree of magical talent. Some may have quite a lot of power. Some may have very little. Some may use their talents well, and some may not. Some are allowed to live peaceful, productive lives; some are ensnared by power and politics.

[I want to give you a moment with them all.

[You haven't met this world yet, not really, even if you've followed me here for a while. But as release day approaches, I want to open the doors and invite you in. So here, I hope, to offer a taste of the magic of Aven.]

--

I. 

They said she spoke the language of the bees.

That was ridiculous, of course. Bees didn’t have a language. What need had they for one? They understood each other perfectly well. And Anca understood them.

As she walked behind the clay apiary, checking the cubbyholes for honeycombs, she reached out with her magic, feeling the patterns that her flying friends wove in the air. A few darted out towards her, nuzzling at the edges of the kerchief keeping her sable hair neatly bound. She hummed as she walked, never minding their curiosity.

Anca had, of course, never once been stung.


II.

It was one year since his manumission.

Not that Nikandros expected anyone else to remember, but he did: one year since the day the stars had spoken to him, one year since divine Asteria made her mark on him known. Within hours, he had been freed and apprenticed to one of the city’s finest astrologers, another mage of Light.

The night air was cooler on top of the roof, and Nikandros hardly heard the carts and wagons in the streets below. The stars sang to him, telling tales of destiny, if he could learn the wisdom to decipher their songs.


III.

“How could you?” her sister hissed. “Gaia, how could you?”

“Keep your voice down.”

“He chased our cousin from the city--”

“Because she’s a proud fool who wouldn’t yield.” Gaia stayed on her knees in front of the statue of Ceres, though her sister paced angrily behind her. “I don’t have enough power to protect us. I have Earth magic enough to do the goddess grace, no more! So, yes, Min, I said the words the Dictator wanted. I assured the Assembly his ascension heralded bounty and prosperity. I said it to keep us safe. You should be thanking me.”


IV. 

They would love him.

Well, they would hardly have a choice. Dimo the Thessalan was not the strongest gladiator walking into the arena, nor the tallest, nor even the best with trident and net. But he had something the others lacked: a divine touch on him, the talent of Spirit, to dazzle the eyes and make the crowds cheer his name. He had style, he had flourish, things no ludus could teach! 

As soon as he turned on the charm and the shouting started, his opponent rolled his eyes. “Just once,” he grumbled, “you might let them like me better.”


V

“It’s simple, really, daughter of Shadows.”

Concordia shivered, terrified of this man. She’d never so much as spoken to a Senator before, and now one had followed her home from her market stall.

“Your Dictator requires his dreams interpreted. You will serve.”

“I--” Concordia squeaked, hardly able to find her voice. “I will do the best I--”

“You will do better than that. You will interpret his dreams to his advantage, or I will haul you, your mother, and your little brothers into the treason court, where you will all be convicted and executed.”

Tears dewing her cheeks, Concordia nodded.