Great. Just great. Arvid shakes his head: For some reason he never looked twice at his own clothes, being too carried away by the dream, looking everywhere else. And all the time he has been wearing this strange outfit. Sort of like wearing a black belt to his first training. Except the belt is not black, but woven from a list of different colors, plus black and white. And now it turns out that this thing is reserved for serious kick-posterior sorcerers. Great. Just great.

And the more disturbing thing is, this did not mean a thing to him before she told him what those belts were for. So it must be something not of his making, but part of the summoning. That would mean that he has been shaped by their expectations, not the other way around. Does that mean that they are real, and that he is after all the dream? No, that is not possible. He is here. Cogito, ergo sum. And besides, he is the one who has a life - such as it is - even when not dreaming. No, it must be like this: His clothes are shaped by their expectations, but their expectations, and they themselves, are shaped by his subconcious. That way it all works out and he is still real.

"Uhm, people, perhaps I should rather have a clean white belt instead of this, since I don't know any magic yet." Avdyra blinks. "But a white belt means white magic, not no magic. And even so, you are devoted to learning all kinds of magic, right?" "Yeah, well, perhaps not black magic." "Oh but you absolutely needs must learn black magic! It is of the utmost importance! The elder serpents will cast powerful spells, and you needs must protect yourself and those less gifted." Arvid shakes his head: "This may be a dream, and I may not be a Brother exactly, but that doesn't mean I'll use any evil, Satanistic spells!"

Now the both of them stare at him as if he was mad. "I do not know that word, stanlisticks, but there is nothing evil in any magic in itself. It all depends on the way you use it. Our Lore is for using the Power for good, but any tool can be wielded as a weapon." "So are you saying black magic does not mean evil magic? What do the colors mean, then?"

This time there is no mistaking the smile that spreads across her face. They are clearly on the right track again! Her eyes are virtually shining. And then the words spill out, like dried peas out of a bag. Obviously she has learned this by rote long ago...

"Red stones are heatstones, firestones. Yellow stones are lightstones, shinestones. Green stones are growthstones, foodstones. Blue stones are healthstones, lifestones. Clear stones are worldstones, travelstones. Black stones are calmstones, shieldstones. White stones are spellstones, bonestones."

"Wowie." Arvid tries to sort it in his mind. He is, after all, The Genius. Remembering seven types of stones should not be all that difficult. "The clearstone is the type that took me here, so that's fairly obvious. The yellow is like the ones that lit up the hall, and the study." She nods, and he continues. "Green and blue were the stones that your mother wore around her neck... Huh? Not?"

"Vanyra is not her mother, Genius. Vanyra is my younger sister." "My mother is dead. Killed by the serpents." "Oh! I'm so sorry!" "So am I, Arovid. So am I. But we needs must press on, that such sorrow not befall even more families." "Yeah. I mean, sure. I mean, of course." Genius indeed.

Then suddenly his eyes fall on the staff. "Wait a moment! Red is fire, right, and yellow is light? How come that you people used red staffs for light last night at the party?" "Last night? There was no party last night." "With the whole village. In the big hall. Old guy spoke about serpents and cried." "That was six days ago. We had another attack by a lone serpent and decided not to summon you until the danger was over." "Oh. Sorry again. But still, what's up with the red and the yellow? Can they be used instead of each other?" "No, Arovid. Those were made from wood. The Woodlore is not like the Stonelore. My father knows the Woodlore, while I have more of a gift for stones."

"She speaks the truth, Genius. The woodlore is not like the Stonelore. It is rare for one man or woman to master them both, except for a true genius such as yourself. The stone is more remote but also more constant. The wood is more like life, subtle and vibrant. Therefore there are different lores and different invocations. As for the colors of the Trees of Power, it goes like this:

"The black tree is called Wishwood, for it grants wishes; but its magic is weak. It is used for good luck, and it shapes itself to the heart's desire. There is said to be an entire forest of black trees, and it is told that those who enter the Black Forest never emerge again, for they all find their heart's desire there, whatever it is.

"The red tree, or Bloodwood, is the tree of song. It radiates an aura of magic that can be used in many ways, if you know the songs. It is strong enough to be used as a tool or even a weapon in times of need, yet it lends itself to anyone who knows the songs. Bloodwood is perhaps the most common tool of magic in our lands. The trees are rare, but there are enough that most any who knows the Lore can have his own staff and torches, and perhaps some other implements as well.

"The white tree is called Bonewood, for its wood is white as bleached bones. These trees are rare, and must be raised and reared with songs of power, or they will not thrive. Like bone only whitens after death, so the Bonewood gets its power after being cut. The true Loremasters imbue it with spells. The white magic is similar for wood, bone and stone. I am not a master of that magic, for it is rare and quite powerful. The white magic is released with words of power. It is said that these words must be spoken exactly right, or terrible things will happen. A quick death is the best to hope for if the magic fails."

"So, let's see if I get this right. With stones the different colors mean different functions, but in wood the colors mean different strength ... or different concentration? That's the basic of Gwalan magic?" "Only the two main Lores. There are other forms of magic, water magic and magic plants and animals..." "Great. Just great."


Table of contents