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The Trouble with Distance

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Merdit Ansell Several centuries


The Trouble with Distance is an excerpt from the book First Dreadlord of the Urahil Battalion. In this passage, the consequences of attempting to violate the Fifth Law of Magic are shown with the death of Giolano dall'Elbion.

The conclusion most mages get from this excerpt is that even with a superb grasp of the theory, instant travel across lands cannot feasibly be achieved without portal stones.

Codex Text

For hundreds of years mages have been searching for the means to freely and instantaneously travel across the world without the aid of portal stones. They are useful for long-distance trade and infrastructure, but too few are active to build a reliable network.

Still, all efforts in the past have ended with death or, worse, nothing to show for it. If you collected all the coin kings have thrown at this research over the centuries, you could build a whole new Vel Anir and still have some to spare for a villa on the Cortosi coast.

I was… surprised when Lord Urahil first arranged for one of those academics to come from the college in the north. A man called Giolano dall’Elbion. They're strange folk, these scholars. They know everything there is to know about theory, yet an apprentice could best them on the training grounds. And if I took one to the battlefield— well, I expect he’d be killed in minutes.

That, or he’d kill himself.

Lord Urahil tired of his babbling after six months. That’s five more than I thought it would take, but then Feydar has always been more patient than his father. I was instructed to test his words for truth when our battalion was sent to clean up what Luana had left of Serriman’s army.

I have seen the tragedy that comes from war. I have seen the tragedy that comes from magic, too. But I have never seen anything quite so catastrophic as the remains of Giolano dall’Elbion after he’d tried to transport himself across the field with his ill-applied theory.

Perhaps he’d grown fed up with the apprentices’ teasing. Perhaps the arrogance of studied men had gone to his head. Urahil knows what he was thinking. Considering how it all ended, I daresay it wasn’t much at all.

He recited some sort of incantation. It sounded nothing like our magic, and it wasn’t in Common tongue, either. Then he disappeared. No flash of light, no peal of thunder. Just— gone.

His leg, or what remained of it, crashed into the middle of the right wing. His torso wound up in the ashes of Serriman’s tent. And his head… the men didn’t find it until later, hunting down the stragglers. It had gotten caught in the branches of an oak tree a good mile away from the encampment, cut so clean that even the best executioner of Vel Anir would struggle to match it.

Lord Urahil, at least, got a good, long laugh out of the story. There’s little he likes better than gory detail, and Giolano provided in spades.

I expect he will send for another scholar soon.

— Merdit Ansell, in her collected journals titled First Dreadlord of the Urahil Battalion

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