An hour was certainly not enough time. Not because thawing a body took that long but because there was simply no body to thaw. Dean Prime Marthis had made a great show of getting everything ready. He had begun by staging the elaborate room, getting a side refreshments table, and pushing up his sleeves. He was all set and performing his summoning admirably to call forth the frozen block that should have been his necessary corpse. Instead however all he summoned back was a lack-luster surprise.
It was simply the frozen enchanted cuffs the Mages used as a retrieval target. They were still sealed and frozen with ice but no body returned with them. Not even a scrap of flesh or shred of clothing came back. Now without even the cuffs attached to this particular corpse there was nothing for the Mage to lock in on.
“I don’t understand! How could just the cuffs come back? That doesn’t make any sense!” Marthis snarled. “This has never happened before!”
“I often misplace things, are you sure where you put her? I mean if you had accidentally popped her over to the coastline or something, maybe the body was eaten and the cuffs left behind? I once tried to move a chest of mine into my room and it ended up on top of the roof!” the old Jen’Rar tried to lighten the mood.
“No! I know where I put her! The bloody cuffs are frozen solid do they look like they’ve been at the beach!” he snapped back at the old antique of a woman. “Not all of us are as hopeless at transportation as you!”
“No need to be harsh. I’m only suggesting maybe you missed, is all. It happens to everyone.”
“Why would someone steal a corpse?” He ignored the old woman’s suggestion as he paced back and forth in the upper conjuration room. The empty cuffs, still locked with binding runes lay in the middle of the floor mocking him. The ice had already started to melt around them and it was leaving a large puddle. “This has never happened to me before!”
“Have you ever tried to retrieve a corpse from storage, Dean?” Jen’Rar crooned sarcastically. “I know that it’s always meant as a possibility yet I’ve never personally seen it done before. Even in the archives I have only ever run into a few accounts of the practice even being done! In fact I don’t even know why we still do it. I’ve been saying for years that it’s too barbaric.”
The old bitty was daft at a lot of things, but she had a keen knowledge of the general workings at the college. She knew all the day to day business with running the school classes, the finances, and the paperwork. She was the only school historian, book-keeper, organizer and key-keeper left on staff. It was one of the reasons why Marthis had never been able to solidify a reason to sack her like he had already done away with most of the higher staff.
She knew rather too much. Still she was also highly useful to have around as she was far more skilled in certain areas then he was. It made her annoyances at least somewhat bearable. Usefulness had it’s perks.
On this account however the old Jen’Rar was right. He had never had a reason to recall a body that was sent to storage. It was almost a running joke that they had so many things on ice it would take a lifetime to go through them all. And that was only the ones they stored in the frozen Pale.
However he also knew that this was not an ordinary circumstance and that this prisoner had likely had a very important piece of jewellery on her person. It was especially clear after checking with a few of their secret records that the Oracle was deemed a ‘EDR’. An Extremely Dangerous Relic.
If news got out about a thief being able to steal it right out from under their noses and then him sending the corpse of said thief out with the relic still on her – it would be the end of his social status. If he didn’t find it and cover up this nonsense he would look like an incompetent fool. Vesper would likely have him publicly shamed and it may even cost him his lead position on council. He would be sneered at and mocked everywhere he went!
It made the large man shudder in rage. The shame of it all would be worse then death.
Time was running short. He had to get that body back immediately if he were to save face and make himself out to be the hero in this situation. Thinking quick was not quite his speciality however so he seized hold of the first idea that popped into his skull.
“Put the cuffs on! I’ll send you there quick so you can look around and then I’ll pop you back.” He pointed at the old woman who sputtered and snarled at him as if he had lost his mind. “The cuffs probably just moved without her is all, an unfortunate mistake by the person who made this set of cuffs! All you need to do is tag the body for me as quickly as you can and we can still salvage this mess! You are the best one for the job, you’ve had to use lots of locator tags on all your missing stuff! I knew I was smart enough to ask you to be here!”
“It will only take you a few moments I’m sure!” He walked to the middle circle and scooped up the cold soaked cuffs and held them out to her. It seemed like an ingenious idea. So much so that he was about ready to pat himself on the back for it. “Maybe a handful of moments at the most! Certainly enough time I’m sure, he’s usually late anyway!”
The old woman however was not nearly as excited. She backed up a few extra steps in response to his ridiculous suggestion. “You are insane if you think that is a good idea!”
“I am the Prime Dean!” he snapped back, angry she didn’t see the brilliance in his plan. “You will do as I say!”
“Why don’t I send you instead, it’s your corpse!”
“Because I’d never -get- there!” His voice was a booming snarl and instead of arguing anymore he threw the heavy cuffs at the old woman’s head.
Jen’Rar was somewhere in her eighties and although she maintained a decent health she was relatively clumsy and knew her body didn’t heal as well as it used to. Mage cuffs weighed a good five pounds and certainly would threaten to break her old bones if it struck her with force. Instinctively to protect those fragile bones she reached out and caught the metal cuffs as they soared towards her head.
In that moment he took the opportunity and unleashed a quick and dirty movement spell that enveloped the charged cuffs and the old woman who was holding them in a cold shudder of green light. In a messy flash she crackled out of the room cuffs and all.
For a brief moment there was silence.
It took a few moments in the now quiet room for the reality of what he had just done to sink in. He was an impulsive man and sometimes those impulses weren’t exactly well thought out. His inability to think quickly meant sometimes he didn’t think at all.
In the few seconds of hindsight he admitted to himself that he probably shouldn’t have completely lost his temper and thrown something so heavy at the old woman’s face. He also thought he should have let her put on some sort of heavy cloak. And perhaps he should have found a way to communicate with her so he knew when to call her back.
Still those were minor details for such an experienced Mage right? He simply hoped once she found the body and he had summoned her back maybe they’d all have a nice laugh about it and everything would be forgiven. That was if she could manage to find the body on the Tundra and had the foresight to tag it for him.
“Huh. I hope she didn’t drop the cuffs on the way…” the results would be quite messy if she had.
His head throbbed somewhat. Mostly stress but also due to cost of the spell. Every spell cast had it’s toll. The stronger the Mage and the more in-tuned they were to certain branches of magick determined the cost and the side-effects.
Sometimes it was very minor like the slight throbbing in the Deans right temple and a hankering for a nice stiff drink. To others the side-effects of trying to use some spells could simply be deadly. It all depending on whatever complicated unknown reasons that made certain people able to use magick, and some people unable to.
There were librarians and historians who spent multiple lifetimes trying to sort out all the hows and whys of it. Dean Marthis couldn’t rightly care.
He wasn’t a jack of all trades when it came to the various branches of magick. He was more like the somewhat adequate run of the mill type. He knew enough basics to get by and he talked a good game but most of his skills were marginal at best. In fact it was highly possible he wouldn’t have even graduated a single magickal course if it had not been for his high political aspirations.
Many underhanded deals and rich dead relatives gave him more then enough political pull and deep pockets to buy a high position in the College without putting in a lot of actual work.
He moved to the small round refreshments table and pulled the chair out. He crammed a small piece of white cheese into his mouth and flopped heavily into the chair while opening an expensive bottle of Nebula Mead that was of course covered by the coffers of the College itself. A medical expense to refuel and restore the health of hardworking magick users. Or at least that’s what the report always said.
The deep burn and pleasant tingle helped to ease his mind. Deep down Dean Prime Marthis knew he didn’t have the skills to fix this mess on his own. It was the old bitty of a woman that could possibly save his head from the political chopping block.
Jen’Rar was not run of the mill. The old woman was excellent at certain branches of Magick and seemed to be naturally attuned to taking care of the difficult paperwork and mundane nonsense no one else wished to look after.
Her speciality was in Resonance Magicks. Namely identification and searching spells. Which was incredibly useful considering how many times she misplaced objects. A locator tag? Child’s play for her.
Before he had taken over as the Dean Prime and required her to run most of the office work, Jen’Rar lived mostly in the huge antiquities section of the College. She ran the archives and even worked at identifying many of the relics in the holdings. Her skill set allowed her to merely pick up an object and be able to decipher what enchantments were on it and how it could be used. In close quarters she could do a quick location spell and find whatever object was needed for various Mages instead of looking through endless inventory lists. Extremely and tediously boring of course, but at least it had it’s uses.
That was before Dean Prime Marthis decided to have the College focus on far more interesting and lucrative branches of study. He fired most of the living relics and locked away some of the non. The College would become a far more youthful and economical establishment. Money after all was it’s own type of magick.
He had only invited her to make sure to identify the right damned relic so he could swoop in and take proper credit for the find. He had no idea she would be so unwillingly useful for actually finding the corpse as well.
To the impulsive Marthis, it seemed like it would be an easy job for her to simply locate the missing body while she was close enough to use her keen set of skills.
What he didn’t remember was that although the old woman was a necessary asset in the archives and as an essential secretary for running the day to day business of the school, she couldn’t for the life of her manage simple defensive or protection spells.
As he was into his second glass of Nebula Mead and trying to sort out when he should call the old bat back from the frozen brink with hopefully his prize in tow there was a loud slam at the door to the Conjuring room.
“Having a drink are we?”
Vesper had found him. His hour was up.
“Vesper… you are early are you not?” He took another long sip of mead.
“Perhaps a few moments early. I was curious what our thief looked like. It seems I was early enough to watch you bring her back?” His smooth voice echoed in the large ornate room. It seemed louder here, but then everything was louder in the Conjuring room.
He walked around the outer edge of the gold painted circle on the floor. The pattern was designed with various runes and marks of focus. In the centre of the circle it was obvious there was a puddle remaining as well as drying footprints trekking around it and to the small table.
“Er, yes. Well I was just about to call it into the room.”
“Oh, please do not let me stop you. I would love to watch.”
Marthis swallowed another low sip of mead and carefully got up from his chair. He stood a good handful of inches taller then the elf, but he still felt somehow imposingly small. Still he was a Dean after all, and that meant he could put on a show.
He flourished his sleeves and swept towards the curved dip in the runic circle. He straightened the hem of his collar and brushed his short hair back.
All the while Vesper waited and watched in silence. His copper eyes never seeming to blink.
“Yes well, this may take a moment. I need to concentrate. Please do not try speaking to me for the moment!”
Vesper said nothing. Marthis waited hoping there would be some sort of distraction but there was none. His heart seemed to echo in the room. He wondered if he could pull off the proper hand-movements with a slight shake to his fingers – but he shrugged and thought he best carry through with things now.
He closed his eyes and whispered the enchantment carefully. Once, then twice before the glimmer of the cuffs solidified in his mind like a tiny distant glow in the vast expanse of black behind his eyelids. He begged silently for the right sign and then it came. He saw not just one faint outline of bodies, but two. Once he had it as clear as he could hope for; he released the retrieval spell.
It felt like a disorienting wrenching deep pain within his chest and the runic circle flared up with a green flourish of energy that blinded them a moment. He wasn’t used to moving something as large as two bodies at once and his head throbbed worse then before and his vision blurred.
“Aha! See? I have done it.”
He was hopeful as he tried to still the pounding in his skull and adjust his eyes. Jen’Rar stood frozen still with her right arm ripped clean off. The half starved frost drake that came with her wasn’t nearly as lucky and it seems half of it had been sheered clean in the move. It gurgled in it’s dying throws.
The cuffs still glowed somewhere inside it’s swelled belly along with the frozen hand of Jen’Rar unfortunately still clasping it.
“Yes, it seems you have.” Vesper said dryly.