Heliopath’s World: Ildieu: Ginevra: Taking Over

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the Heliopath's World collection

Ginevra stared out of the window. The world was changing around her and there was nothing she could do to stop it. No one else could have taken on the leadership of the Black Hollow because they weren’t of the original bloodline, but that didn’t mean they wanted a woman in control, especially a woman who was only at orange level. She sighed. One of the mages who’d left was busy setting up his own house, knowing that it had been done once before when the Hollow itself was created, although it would never be the same. Many mages had followed him. Too many. Of course they didn’t know, couldn’t know, how much of an effect she’d had on the Hollow since she’d stepped into the position of second in command. They knew one of the reasons she’d been chosen, and hadn’t believed her cousin would have picked her as second even if they hadn’t been related. In the end it was their choice to make whether they could live with her as their leader.

There was a knock on the door and Ginevra knew it was probably more bad news. That didn’t stop her from calling, “Come in.”

“Good morning, Ginevra,” Argon said as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. “We lost another three mages in the night.” He sighed. “Two blues and a brown.”

“It could be worse,” she replied, even though she knew that made it 167 of the 300 magicians who had left the Hollow. “Do you think any more are planning on leaving?”

“They don’t talk around me any longer, because they don’t trust me, but I have heard rumours that another twelve or thirteen wish to move on.”

Shaking her head, Ginevra moved over to the desk. “What do I do, Argon?”

“There isn’t anything you can do to stop the mages leaving. We both know that. It’s not as though you can pass on the leadership of the Hollow to someone else, because the spell can’t be broken. Enough mages have tried for us to know that for sure.” Argon ran a hand through his hair. “Unfortunately you have to stay at orange otherwise you won’t ever be able to pass on the leadership, and we have no idea what would happen to the Hollow in that situation.” He sat down opposite her. “However I do think we need to start recruiting.”

Ginevra raised an eyebrow. “That’s not a good idea.”

“Why? There are people out in the villages around this town that have the same ability to use magic that we have.”

“We’ve grown up knowing that magic is dangerous. If we recruit from outside then it’s going to be…” She shook her head, knowing that the argument didn’t make sense, considering how the Hollow had been created. “We won’t just need to teach them how to use magic, but the entire history of Ildieu, or at least what we know of it, and I don’t know that we have enough mages to be able to do that.”

“You’re not going to like this, but I’ve heard from several people that at least three of the mages who’ve left here have taken on people from the villages to train. Others are selling spells to people without magic in order to make money to build somewhere to live.”

“Selling spells is illegal.”

“Under the laws of the Ilideu, yes, but not anywhere else. Out there things are different, and you know that, Ginevra. You’re one of the few mages who has actually been out there.” Argon ran a hand through his hair again, the way he always did when he was thinking or worried. “I’ve also heard that five magicians have gone travelling. Now, I have no idea what they’re going to be doing while they’re travelling, but I can’t help worrying.”

“There’s nothing we can do to stop them, Argon, and if I’m honest I’m not really all that worried about the magicians who leave us.” Ginevra shook her head. “I am worried about them leaving, but in the end it’s their choice. We need to focus on the Hollow, rather than on the outside world right now, because we’ve lost more mages than I though we would, although I knew some would leave, and the last thing I expected was them to create their own house. Going to the Gardens makes more sense.” She looked out of the window again, thinking about the villages outside the walls of Ilideu, of where her family had come from and why they had taken in the duty of running the Black Hollow in the first place. “Do you really think recruiting will help?”

“I hope it will, but I’m not sure. When I suggested it to a couple of the mages I know well they said they’d be happy to take on an apprentice or two, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will feel the same way.” He shrugged. “We might end up losing a few mages who really oppose the idea of recruiting from anywhere other than the town, but that doesn’t mean we won’t gain some from the Gardens who want to have the chance to take on an apprentice.”

Sighing, Ginevra stepped away from the window and walked over to the desk, where she picked up her quill. “Who do we have left?”

“There are 133 mages left here. We have no blacks; sixteen greys; seven whites; fifteen browns; four blues, including me; forty-three purples; twelve reds; twenty-six oranges, including you; ten yellows; and no greens.”

“We both know that only people at blue level can train someone without any prior knowledge of magic. That gives us thirty-two mages who have the ability.”

“One of the greys is against having anyone from the villages here, so we can count him out, and I’m sure one of the browns is planning on leaving.”

“Thirty mages then, as long as no one else leaves.” Ginevra shook her head. “That’s not enough to build our numbers back up, even if each mages takes on two apprentices, because they have other duties.”

Argon looked down at the floor for a moment and then back at Ginevra. “We need to work something out.” He sighed. “This isn’t all bad. At least this way we’ve got rid of the infighting.”

“Maybe, but I have a horrible feeling it’s going to turn into something worse.” She shook her head. “Until I took over, as the first female in charge of the Hollow in our known history, things were balanced. They weren’t perfect, but it wasn’t having a detrimental effect on anyone outside Ilideu. Now I don’t know what’s going to happen and it’s all my fault.”

“Don’t be an idiot. None of this is your fault. You weren’t the one who went and got himself killed, were you?”

Maybe it was time to tell Argon the truth. He was her second in command and Ginevra hated lying to him, but it, sadly, had become the one thing her family was really good at. No one knew that her cousin had been told it was time for him to move on, to leave Ildieu, which had meant leaving a fake body behind, making everyone think he had been killed by someone, even though he hadn’t. She didn’t understand why she should be in the position of leader of the Hollow when it was obviously destroying everything that their family had created, and there wasn’t anyone she could ask who’d give her an answer.

“Argon, how much do you know about the Black Hollow and my family?” she asked, trying to keep the worry out of her voice, because she didn’t know if she was making the right choic,e but she was feeling the strain of keeping things to herself.

“Not as much as you do,” Argon replied, looking at her. “Your cousin only trusted you and when I tried to talk to him about the little I guessed he told me to wait, that the time would come when I could ask someone for the truth, and they would give it to me. Has the time come, Ginevra?”

“I don’t know.” Ginevra ran a hand through her hair as she tried to work things out in her head. “I was never told not to tell you, but then I wasn’t left with much, and this wasn’t a position I ever thought I’d be in.” She sighed. “When my cousin became the leader of the Hollow I had this idea that he’d have children and pass the job onto them, instead of it being me who took over from him, because this isn’t what I wanted and now… well, I feel like I’m making a mess of things without even trying. No one wants me, even though I’m the only person who can take over, and I hate it, Argon. I hate being stuck here.”

<<< Heliopath’s World: Ildieu: Lucan: Ixia’s Choice***Heliopath’s World: Dale: Taking Control >>>
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