Our encounter with the pixie and the swarm of centipedes took most of the morning. A fact Tresa harped on when we finally came back to the caravan. She kept hissing the words, “duty” and “off task” as she organized and directed the caravan to follow Aimon. Gledrick took the rear guard again. I originally thought he wanted to keep watch for warg riders tracking us through the light snow. That may be true, but I now think he is even more motivated to be far from Tresa.
A long day’s journey through a slowly accumulating snow left us all tired. We broke a little before dusk, when Aimon found another excellent camp that protected us from weather and prying eyes. Morning came too soon and witnessed a camp that was very slow to stir. Tresa tried to move everyone more quickly, but we all felt the pangs of too much travel, loss and fear and too little food, rest and warmth.
During my morning study, I prepared a spell to scrye for any magical energies around Aimon’s newly found, old family bow. When I found him distracted, I cast my spell on the bow. I could hear Master Vontaze lecture in my ear while I looked at the aura. “There are three kinds of magical energy,” he would say. “‘Energy that gives’ glows with a living color, typically brighter than one finds in nature. ‘Energy that takes’ appears muted and shadowed, though it can have color. ‘Energy that is shared’ mostly shows up as a neutral or metalic color. But,” he would warn, “you still must use your mind to interpret the energy of the aura. It doesn’t give answers away like an old gypsy woman.”
I looked at Aimon’s bow under the effects of the spell. An aura, best described as a gold color, shone around the bow. In addition, a long strand of the gold aura extended out the front of the bow, narrowing down to a sharp point like a long funnel. The metallic color suggested the magical energies of the bow shared their powers with the wielder. The long aura out the front suggested an arrow… maybe a direction…or a pointer. Although this aura would be invisible to the user, it’s effects might act on the arrow in flight. I formed my first premise, that the magic of the bow helped guide the archer and the arrow to achieve better accuracy.
I thought about other possible meanings of the aura during another day’s long march. I considered the pointer aura working in the opposite way, attracting arrows toward the wielder. I thought about how it might guide someone carrying the bow toward other magical items or a certain place. I even considered whether a closer examination might show a trigger word to cause the bow to cast a light in the direction of the pointed aura. Eventually, I decided these other theories were a result of cold, wet, tired feet and I went back to my original idea.
By this time, Aimon had selected another camp and I fell, exhausted, into my bedroll. I didn’t even eat an evening meal before drifting off to sleep. It seemed like minutes later, Aimon and Alexey woke me. They excitedly, but incoherently, talked about some boats on The Lake of the Clouds, only a few hours away. Then, they left to find Gledrick who fell asleep under one of the small carts.
After they woke me again, I studied for a while, and then cast the scrying spell on the wand the pixie gave me. A light blue glow emanated from the wand. Within the aura itself, brighter lines formed the elven character for “Mell’on” one of their words for friend. As I followed Aimon and Alexey through the dark forest, I contemplated the aura. Clearly, “mell’on:” was the trigger word embedded within the aura itself. I’d never seen a wand before, but Master Vontaze told us how the trigger word would show itself. Of course, it’s still up to the wizard to decipher the meaning, assuming they can even read the word. For this case, I guessed the trigger would cause a charge of magical energy to fly to a target and perhaps make an enemy more friendly toward us. Or, less likely, it could summon some sort of friend to join us. No telling how long that might take.
“Wands and staves,” Master Vontaze cautioned, “are a dangerous business unless you make your own. Until you cast them, you can’t really know what they may do. Oh, the ones with simple spells can be fairly harmless, as long as you’re not too attached to your eyebrows.” He rarely laughed, but this joke always got him going for several minutes. “But, with more serious magic, you should only experiment in a secure place. There are profound powers in the world, some of them able to mask the true nature of an aura, some able to hide a trigger word, and some able to cause great pain and even death to an unskilled meddler.”
I had been warned.