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The Vigil

Luce stood at the ancient observation arch, a vantage point enabling the observer to look far out across the valley which stretched on for miles below. The early morning cold bit cruelly on her face, and there was no breeze to drive away the lingering mist hanging heavy over the land. On mornings like these Luce felt more than grateful for her heavy, long sleeved dress keeping her body warm and protecting against the chill air. Not a soul could be seen as her morning vigil began, the rolling river below looked as gentle as ever making its way underneath her and through into the city behind. Her eyes scanned across the valley, the fields, the pathways, the river tributaries, the rocky outcrops, and in the murky distance, the magnificent Tower of Keck. Nothing in her view stirred, and apart from the occasional, homebound Kestral fly-past, there was no other sign of life. This was the expected thing to see during any vigil at any given time, and Luce, feeling as bored as ever, looked forward to the end of her sentinel duty in two hours time when she would be relieved by another sister of the watch.

In the morning silence Luce began daydreaming and thought back to her childhood when she was chosen and then groomed to be the powerful Mage she had now become. Years of teaching in the mystical arts, hours of tedious study, hours of meditative isolation to strengthen and hone the soul, countless tests and exams to prove that what she had been taught had actually sunk in to the degree of being potent and practical. There were times when she truly felt her life was not her own but the product of a paranoid society hellbent at whatever cost, to defend itself against perils from an otherwise long forgotten enemy. History schooling was one of her pet hates; she couldn’t imagine anything more monotonous than the history and times of Calenden. The realm of Calenden stretched from the southern sea of Mendirian to the northern lands of Gilgren where her city had proudly stood for centuries. Situated between her city and the sea stood the Tower of Keck, a majestic stronghold of an ancient enemy reportedly wiped out as a result of a great war two-hundred years ago – that at least, was the popular belief among many.

However, the Mage council had other ideas when it came to the defence of the city. The Keck had a habit of coming back when least expected so It was decided that, after the great war vanquished the Keck, a permanent vigil would be the best way to safeguard the interests of the city and its inhabitants, so the vigil was born and for two centuries not a day had passed where someone had not stood at the observation arch. As an extra safety measure, and by royal decree, no one was allowed to travel the land between the city and the tower. With this law in place the stretch of land separating both kingdoms became known as the Deadlands, 20 miles of verdant land, arable and fit for habitation but alas abandoned.

The faintest wisp of a breeze swept down the valley stroking Luce on her face – bringing her back to the present. Her gaze extended to the tower, looking upon it with disdain. The tower had ever been within sight from the city, a continuous brooding presence looking deceptively closer than what it actually is because of its height and size. Luce despised the fact that the tower had dominated every aspect of her life, a permanent shadow cast upon a life which should have been filled with light and joy, not darkness and dread. But Luce had to admit to herself that, everything she had learned from her tutors during her years as an apprentice, had made her stronger and wiser than she could have ever hoped to be as a normal young woman. Luce was strong and powerful and no one in their right mind would ever attempt to cross her in mind games or violence – she could look right through anyone with the merest glance of her eyes and make them cower in fear. No one messed with Luce.

Her two hour watch was almost up and nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Luce sighed as she swept her gaze across the valley for one more time before handing the vigil duty over to another sister. Soft footfalls sounded on the stone steps somewhere below her, and Luce looked forward to sitting in front of an open fire to welcome in the warmth and comfort of her home. The footsteps grew louder until they reached the archway where Luce waited.

Jassenda gave a nod to luce, their eyes met momentarily, and in that brief time Luce passed her report over to Jassenda who then took up her position at the observation arch. On her way down the steps Luce held her staff up sending a directed light beam back up to where Jassenda stood.

“Jass. When you’re done come over for tea, I’ll have a roaring fire going.”

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