Move continues, and is almost complete. In lieu of a proper post, here is the first major action sequence from ‘Shadows of Grey Tower’
[he was brought through the house to] a cleared area in the center where old walls had been removed to create a meeting hall. Footsteps and excited whispers echoed through the House’s wooden walls as Carrick was hauled into the Hall and dropped before the Head of House.
The Head was older than Carrick’s Head had been. Age had worn him down to a wiry thing not much taller than Carrick himself. The same time had worn any warmth from his worn face or blue eyes, which were cold as they focused on the boy.
“Edain!” the Head snapped.
Carrick twisted in the grip of his captors to see the boy from his house limp out of the rapidly gathering crowd. Edain was walking again, but from the way he moved he’d never quite recover from the broken bone Carrick had given him. The boy now wore a charcoal grey robe like many of the older boys Carrick could see.
“Is this boy ofs your House?” the Head asked Edain, who looked at Carrick with beadily eager eyes.
“That’s Carrick, Head,” Edain said sharply. “That’s the one as broughts the Mage and the guards downs on us.”
“I thoughts I recognized him froms your description,” the Head replied, a satisfied tone in his voice. “Kneels,” he snapped at Carrick.
When the thief did not instantly comply, the two men holding him forced him down.
“You caused the destruction of a House,” the Head told Carrick.
“It wasn’t my faults!” Carrick objected.
“Silence!” the Head barked, and one of the thief’s captors cuffed him across the side of his head.
“You caused the destructions of a House,” he repeated. “Four and two score thief brethren and sistren killed. House Tormals burnts to the ground, and its elders too scattered to rebuilds.
“Not bys choice or will,” the Head continued, “but the Houses can affords uselessness no more than lies. Strips him,” he ordered.
Before Carrick could say a word, his two captors grabbed his robes and tore them apart, leaving him shivering on the floor of the House in a loincloth. The purse in his robes clanked against the floor, and one of the guards tossed it to the Head.
The old thief opened the purse and grunted.
“If you thought to buy your way back into the House, you brought too little coin,” he told Carrick, his voice almost gentle. “The life price for evens a child thief is silver. For all you burnts, tens of gold woulds barely count.”
“Edain surviveds your failings,” he continued, gesturing once more to the grey clad boy, “and has beguns his trainings as an Enforcer. I thinks that to him should goes the honor.”
The Head drew a short sword from under his own robes and offered it, hilt first, to the boy who Carrick had shared a home with. Edain took the blade, and his eyes glinted as he stepped towards Carrick.
“Fors the deaths of four and twoscores thieves, and the burnings of House Tormals,” the Head told Carrick formally, “I claims blood price of you. You cannot pays with gold, so you will pays with blood.” He nodded to Edain. “Kills him.”
Fear gave Carrick strength and he broke free of his captors, diving to the side as the sword stabbed down where his neck had been. The crowd backed away slightly, and then joined arms, leaving Carrick in a circle of bodies with only Edain and the sword for company.
Edain slashed at him again, and Carrick jumped backwards. He was faster, but unarmed. Another slice came perilously close as the younger thief dived sideways.
The crowd was silent. No cheering, no cacophony as there would be for a normal fight. This wasn’t a fight. It was an execution.
One Carrick intended to survive. Edain drove at him again and Carrick stepped sideways and grabbed the other boy’s wrist. With a twist, he used the bigger boy’s momentum against him and Edain’s wrist snapped with an audible crack.
The sword hit the floor and Carrick dove for it. A boot intercepted him and he was tossed away as two dark robed Enforcers stepped into the circle of bodies. They bore similar short swords and stood far taller and faster than Edain.
Carrick dodged the first strike but the second Enforcer drove his blade into his shoulder. Pain flared through him as the blade slashed his flesh open. He stumbled backwards, feeling blood course over his skin as they two Enforcers closed on his, their grins evil.
He stood up, facing them. He would die on his feet. Then he felt it. His skin tingled, as it had before when he’d used magic, and he remembered.
He didn’t know enough runes to make a living, but he knew one to defend himself with. He grabbed that tingling, fed it his fear, his pain, and drew it up through him as he pointed his uninjured arm at the Enforcers and spoke a single syllable.
Magic blasted through him, uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Carrick was never sure afterwards what he’d meant to conjure, but it wasn’t what he got. Instead of a bolt or blast of flame, an inferno blasted out of the ground, a pillar of green tinged flame that incinerated the two Enforcers before they could so much as scream.
The crowd around did have time to scream, as Carrick watched fire blaze into existence all around him, the green tinged flames lighting the wood of the old structure aflame before finally winking out as the boy slumped in exhaustion.
The smell of burning flesh filled the air and Carrick gagged. Heat flicked his flesh and he looked around him to realize the House was aflame. People ran for the exits, shouting and screaming fighting with the crackle of the flame as the fire spread, far more rapidly than it should have.
Still mostly naked, Carrick tried to follow people out of the building, but smoke confused him. No House was a logical structure, and right now he cursed that. Fire rose up around him, though none of it touched him as he ran through the House, trying to find an exit as people screamed and the building burned around him.
Fire blazed around him, but while he felt the heat none of it came close enough to him to burn him. From the smell of smoke and burning flesh, others were not so lucky, and he knew he’d killed them.
Finally, finally, he spotted a shuttered window leading to the outside and ran towards it. As he passed through the door he heard the cracking of burnt timbers giving way. The collapse started behind him, and he heard it gaining on him as he ran for the window, and knew the building would fall before he made it.
Some power had guarded him from the touch of fire, but nothing protected him from the burning roof truss that crashed through the flimsy ceiling and smashed into his wounded shoulders.
Fire seared into his flesh as splinters and nails pierced it. All he knew was pain, and the smell of his own blood burning. He was going to die. What strength he could muster in his uninjured arm wasn’t enough to dislodge the timber searing into his muscles.
Then a voice spoke, cutting somehow through the chaos of the House with a power born of fear… and power. Mage power.
The timber was torn from his back, and chunks of his flesh went with it as it crashed into a wall, and strong arms picked him up as a runeforged shield of chilled air swept around him, the cold sending stabbing pain through him as it flowed across the gaping wounds on his back and shoulder.
“I’ve got you,” Master Seeker Eltar told him as his spells carried them safely from the burning building. “I’ve got you Carrick.”
Then pain carried Carrick into darkness.