Posted on October 8, 2010 by Flames
On the very first day of school at the world-famous Aldwyns Academy for Wizardry, fledgling wizard Dorian Ravensmith finds himself immersed in a mystery. White wolves have been attacking incoming students. Ghosts are haunting the Snapping Dragon Gardens. And the professors lurk in the halls, whispering about a shadowy wizard who seems to be behind it all.
That night, Dorian spies a figure creeping into the Snapping Dragon Gardens and and he follows, certain that with the help of a few magic items and simple potions, he can catch the culprit by daybreak and return a hero. But as hobgoblins, banshees, and a terrifying dragon try to stop him at every turn, Dorian discovers that he’s stepped into an (un)deadly trap that could not only destroy his future as a wizard but also the beloved wizardry school.
“Preparation separates good wizards from great wizards.”
—A Practical Guide to Wizardry
Chapter One of Aldwyn’s Academy by Nathan Meyer
Dorian did not want to go to school.
He stared out the frosted window of the carriage sleigh. Outside, shadows clung like hooded jailers to massive trees and cast gloom over the winter snowpack.
Four great white stallions drew the carriage as it raced along the winding road leading up from the coast to the mountain plateau of Aldwyns Academy, the realm’s premier school of wizardry.
Dorian pushed his head back into a fur-covered headrest.
His heart felt cold as the many icicles he saw hanging from the branches of the trees. For months his mother had seen to his education, providing him with a wand and drilling him relentlessly on the simpler potions and spells to prepare him for his time at the wizardry school.
She was a powerful mistress of divination, or information magic, and she had ways of knowing beyond the ken of mortal man. She assumed he would also follow 4 her down the path of information magic in his time at the academy, and this assumption was a source of many of their arguments.
He could barely settle himself long enough to read a book on most days. How would he ever learn the calm mental state required to research wisdom from the realms ethereal?
If only his father hadn’t been gone, fighting insurgents in the borderlands. Then Dorian might have been able to attend the military college at the Citadel. His father would have insisted on it.
But no, his mother wanted him at Aldwyns, and with no one to stand up for him, Dorian had no choice but to go.
“The winter certainly comes early to the mountains,” his mother said. “The leaves have barely turned colors at the court and already snow is thick here on the plateau.”
She stoked the little brazier glowing red in the floor.
“Don’t forget to wear your cloak when you go outside. It’s chillier than you’re used to, and I don’t want you catching a cold on the first week of school.”
Dorian shrugged. “I don’t care.”
“You better care, young man.” His mother, Serissa, adjusted the robes in her lap. “You’ll be tested on all sorts of elementary spells and potions from A Practical Guide to Wizardry. And the results of those tests will determine your placement in your classes. You must do well. Now, let’s review a few of them right now. What are the magic words for the Shield spell?”
Dorian knew the answer but he did not bother to reply. He refused to give her the satisfaction. Instead, he kept his gaze fixed out the window. He suddenly caught his first sight of his new home looming above the trees. Soaring towers rose from walls of heavy stones. The academy’s sloping roofs and buttresses lay heavy with snow. Here and there, a chimney leaked smoke into the pale sky. How can this be a home? Dorian thought. A streak of gray flashed against the snow-covered trees. Dorian blinked and sat up.
“Honestly, Dor, you’re as stubborn as your father,” his mother said.
“He says I’m as stubborn as you,” Dorian muttered. He could see nothing else through the window. The snow and wind must have played tricks on his eyes.
“Yes, well mind your tongue around Professor Fife. She doesn’t appreciate a sassy pupil.”
“Well I don’t appreciate her!” Dorian shouted. He knew the driver and footman could hear everything he shouted, but he didn’t care. “I don’t want to go to this school! I want to be a warrior like Father!”
His mother rocked back. Bright points of color appeared on her cheeks. “Well your father hasn’t been around much, has—” The howling cut her off. Just beyond the trees, a massive wolf appeared out of the gloom. The creature seemed to stare directly at Dorian. The beast’s lips curled back, revealing fangs like yellow knives.
Dorian heard his mother muttering in that strange, arcane language he was coming to the academy to learn.
The short hairs on the back of his arms and neck rose in response to the summoned energy. A blue light emanated in an aura from her hands. Her fingers wove patterns of power in the frigid air. The wolf’s howl was answered by three more on all sides of the racing sleigh, and Dorian heard the horses shriek in terror.
His mother snapped her hands together and emerged from her trance.
“There is magic and evil in this,” she said. “Those are no hungry winter wolves driven mad by the smell of horse flesh. Those beasts are dire wolves.”
Suddenly the hooves of the terrified horses left the hard-packed snow of the road and struck the thick wooden planks of a bridge. Dorian looked out of the carriage as the woods gave way to a steep chasm plunging down to a rushing river swirling around jutting rocks. The dire wolves jumped the gulf in unison and charged for the sleigh.
“Mom!” he cried.
Those wolves weren’t natural. They were monsters. The carriage crossed the bridge onto the road. Looking back across the mountain crevice, he saw something other than a dire wolf make that impossible jump.
The shape was little more than a shadow, but Dorian glimpsed a humanlike figure with horns on its head. Just as he caught a brief glance of the form, his vision was blocked by a wall of tree trunks.
“Dorian, get down!” his mother shouted as one of the massive wolves leaped from the tree line directly at the carriage. The pane of glass in front of him shattered. His mother’s hand snatched him up by his cloak and yanked him away from the shattered window. Her arm shot out as the twisted face of the beast appeared in the window.
Blue lightning sparked in jagged bolts from her fingers and lanced into the beast. The wolf yelped in pain and fell away. Two more of the pack struck the other side of the carriage, and he felt his center of gravity shift. He heard the coachmen screaming, heard the horses screaming, heard himself screaming as everything spun.
Dorian felt his mother’s arms envelop him. She whispered words of power as the carriage rolled.
Everything he saw was tinged with gold, but when they abruptly landed, he realized he wasn’t hurt.
* * *
This preview for was provided by and published with express permission from Mirrorstone.
Aldwyn’s Academy is available for now at Amazon.com.