Hey there, all you casters and spell slingers. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is Sylvie Sirx, of The Drowned Tower. “Welcome to the show, Sylvie.”
“Glad to be here, Lisa.”
“My bio doesn’t actually say this, but a girl can read between the lines. You have a conundrum. Your friend Jack wants out of the Drowned Tower, and you have a pretty sweet deal there. I mean, apprentice to the head of the Tower and his heir apparent. So, give us the scoop; are you going to leave with Jack or stay put for the big payoff?”
“You… um, you jump straight to the good stuff, don’t you? Well, I don’t hate that. But to tell you the truth, I don’t plan on leaving. I’m perfectly content where I am. Now, that might sound disappointing to all you listeners out there—and really, it is to most. You won’t believe how much backtalk I hear about my decision to remain, but like you said, Columbus Cephas, my master, is head of the entire Tower, a position that will be handed down to me upon his passing. Many have died achieving less. I know more than a dozen master-less practitioners that would jump at the chance to stand where I do.
“Besides, what’s not to like about the Tower? Practitioners are free to stay and live out their lives in comfort, regardless of talent or skill, so long as they abide by the rules of the Institute. Not a bad deal, I’d say. Their rules can be a tad stifling, but they aren’t entirely unreasonable.
“Still, what I want can only get me so far. Master Cephas is pushing for me to participate in the upcoming Choosing. An offer of apprenticeship in the Diamond Alps doesn’t come every day after all. Really, he’d be better off endorsing Jack. He’s been the obvious choice from the start, and more importantly, he actually wants to go.”
“Is there anyone you can talk to about this? I mean, I’ve met Jack. He’s a little brash, but he has some worthy goals. Is he running from the oppression of the Tower, or pursuing those worthy goals?”
“I can tell you this, if I’m still in the running at the end, I’d find a way to back down. What are they going to do? Drag me kicking and screaming all the way to the Diamond Alps? That would just be a headache for everyone involved.
“And Jack, he… well, he wants to do a lot of things. His dreams are grander than most. Certainly grander than mine. His lineage isn’t anything to scoff at either. A prominent family name will serve him well in the future—and he knows it. But it’s hard to say for certain what exactly it is he’s doing. He spins you around with a lot of talk and opinion, then gets upset when you can’t follow. If anything, I’d say he’s pursuing his goals in order to escape the oppression of the Tower.
“Rather than simply deserting and being chased for the rest of his days, he wants to change his world from the inside. But people fear change. They also fail to realize when they might need it. I doubt his views will be well accepted, especially in the Alps. He’s a bit like the First Zenith in that regard. A group of four practitioners that reformed the entire Institute, abolishing slavery and crafting many of the councils and regulations that we have today. Though Jack goes against most of them, the fact that he’s looking to change things through the proper means is worthy of respect.
“And look, ages later, the First Zenith are regarded as apotheoses. Worshipped across Ferus Terria with statues built in their honor. Oddly enough, I can imagine a statue of Jack somewhere with people kneeling in devotion before him. But whenever I think of them singing songs of praise, all I hear is him spewing a mouthful of Íarre curses in response.”
“Sylvie, maybe you can both take an internship at the Diamond Alps. That allows you to keep your master happy, and still hang out with Jack. Do you both practice the same kind of magic? That way you aren’t competing with each other.”
“We don’t. I’m a Conjurer. We control one specific elements all our lives—fire, wind, you get the picture. Jack’s an Elementalist, and Elementalists are a different breed entirely. They’re able to draw upon all the primal forces in nature and use every element to their advantage. They’re powerful, to be sure, but are the master of none types. The Elementalists are special in that they’re a dying breed. They’ve dwindled over the years, and no one knows why. So, every Elementalist that’s born is carefully watched after. Conjurers, in comparison, are more common and are usually trained in other skills to be more rounded.
“There are other kinds of practitioners, too. Healers and Amorphs. My older brother belongs to the former, which is self-explanatory. Healers carry ungainly grimoires on their person at all times, and most are trained in some form of hand to hand combat. Amorphs, on the other hand, can take the form of animals, though their eyes always remain the same—black and abysmal. There is a certain group within the Alps that are specifically educated in identifying and tracking Amorphs.
“While those are how practitioners are officially classified, there are also sub-types for those gifted with magic in their veins, but don’t have the ability to properly draw it out, or for those that simply want to pick up other skills. Embrocologists, for example, create tonics and salves. Gavinists survey the land and Enchanters use charms.
“But I’m just going off on you, aren’t I? Regarding what you first said, I suppose we could both go to the Alps, but I’m mostly set on staying in the Tower. It would have to be a truly spectacular offer for me to even consider going.”
“About that. My bio says you like to hang out in someplace called Archive 19. What’s so appealing about that place? I mean is it a cool bar or coffee shop?”
“No, nothing like that…”
“So, if it’s more of a quiet place, maybe you could ask the chick inside the rock you found.”
“What! Jack told you about Her? Of all the—Silas’ holy pyre! When I get my hands on him, I swear… Well, since he’s already loosened his tongue, the rock is officially called a Heartstone. It’s an old, enchanted thing meant for storage. Use the proper spell, and you have your own tiny room for your luggage. Convenient, isn’t it? I thought so, too, but the one I found is… infinitely creepier. There’s a woman inside, no, surely she’s some kind of ancient, heinous being. She likes to whisper things. Riddles, mostly. The first time I heard her sing, my blood burned, as if she was calling out to me for— I… I think I’ll stop there.”
“I wish you luck in deciding which path you’re going to take. Any last thoughts for our listeners today?”
“I know Jack had a segment before me, and even though he’s prickly, he can be persuasive when he wants to be. Don’t let him corrupt your views of the Institute too much. He’s only expressing the opinion of one side after all.
“With that said, if any of you happen to come across him, send him to my archive, would you? I have more than just a bone to pick with him.”
“You can read all about Sylvie and Jack in The Drowned Tower, by Nicholas Rinth. I’ll post all the links on the website.
“Help me keep the lights on around here, by using those sharing buttons on the way out. It’s simple, it’s fun, you get to help someone. I know Sylvie and Nicholas would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”
“If the future was bared before you, would it still be yours?
If the past could chase you, would you run from it?
If the world crumbled tonight, would you carve your own?”
Freedom is out of the question for practitioners of the Institute, and any supporters otherwise are dealt with violently. A system Sylvie Sirx neither refutes, nor endorses—born from an enviable family, talented in her skills, and entirely too content with her position, her path has always been a straight one… until now.
Her qualifications backfire when an elder from the north descends upon her home for a Choosing. He calls upon the Drowned Tower’s most sought after practitioners for a simple job that ends in blood, and then Sylvie’s blissful world erupts. She finds herself in the company of the Elementalist, Jacques Dace, an insufferable but deadly enthusiast of personal reform. Together, they’re swept into a spiral of powerful magic and ancient grudges. Where truth bends, stones whisper secrets of the past, and their home lies at the heart of what could very well be Ferus Terria’s next recorded war.
And for once, she is forced to choose a side, learning for herself what it means to master fate.
Nicholas Rinth is the author of Sitting in Silence and the NA fantasy series, Heartstone. He currently lives lakeside in the southern graces of Savannah, Georgia, where he spends his time fantasizing about other worlds and working on his next novel.
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