The Tower fell in the middle of the night. It was a coordinated attack from Cepheus’ Terrgat. Though few thought the king’s crusade would reach this far, magic wards protected both the inside and outside of the building. Somehow, the Terrgat shrugged them off. The screams of apprentices and the curses of mages filled the night until, one by one, they were silenced.
In his inner chamber, Ice gathered what few things he could carry. He heard a scream from the outer room as one of his physical traps caught a victim. He silently thanked the runes for directing him to install such devices when he moved in last year.
His relative youth also gave him a suite of rooms closer to the ground. Another reason to be thankful, as a series of secret panels led him outside. Fires were lit at intervals surrounding the Tower. Several Terrgat attended each one, looking for anyone who might flee. This evening had been well-planned.
Nearby, the sound of whimpering caught his ear. He moved carefully to investigate. One of the apprentices – a younger one – was huddled against a wall. Ice had yet to take an apprentice and couldn’t remember his name, but the boy recognized him.
“Shh! Quiet. You will attract attention.” Ice kept his own tone hushed. “Where is your master?”
“The soldiers… She…”
“Never mind. Get up. We need to leave. Now.”
The boy nodded and stood. He must have been an apprentice long enough to know to follow commands. Ice chose a direction where the woods came closest to the Tower. From where he stood, he could see three fires.
“Master Ice, magic does not work on them.”
“Yes. But it still works on fire.” Destroying heat – and the light it gave off – was one of the first things he learned. A brief flash from a rune on his arm and all three fires were extinguished. “Now. Quickly.”
They ran toward the right, between the two sets of guards in that direction. Confusion amongst the Terrgat allowed the mage to get past them to the tree line. There, Ice stopped to catch his breath.
“Now… We must…” He cut himself off. The boy was not with him. Looking back, he saw that he had stumbled close to the Terrgat. Before Ice could react, one of them struck him down with a sword. There was nothing he could do. And no time to mourn. He turned back to the trees and made his way deeper into the woods.
He wished he could remember the boy’s name.