Nathan awoke to the downpour of rain falling hard all around him, cascading in sheets from the top of the ledge under which he and his companions were camped. He sat up, groaning with the pain of his recent sword wound and catching the eye of the mage, Mykeal, who seemed already awake from the storm, as well.
“Are you okay?” Mykeal asked.
When Nathan had turned sixteen and become the wizard apprentice of Mage Marleen over a year earlier, he had expected a life of glorious adventure, amazing magical feats, and a general air of splendor. Instead, he lay on the hard ground suffering from from his second sword wound to his ribs in five weeks as runoff from the rain trickled down the rocky trail toward his blanket. Around him, several of his friends were also wounded, and Lansal, the man who had mysteriously arrived at Marleen’s tower a season earlier, was completely incapacitated, laying in a self-induced coma as he used special Dorsi training in a discipline called The Way to heal himself from a wound that would have killed nearly anyone else.