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A Tale of the Fragment Worlds

Copyright Marc Gilbert, 2000

Chapter 1- Destruction

The sky was bright red, and the comet was very close, too close. It would impact in about a minute. Dazrii watched the fireball's approach with the sickening dread that everyone would die in the next few moments, yet she was unable to look away. She was also unable to think beyond the question, "Will the protection dome save us? That fireball is so big... " Sure, the dome had been created in conjunction with every mage in the city except the apprentices, and was probably the greatest spell ever created on this planet, but… "That moving star is so big…" She hoped that all would be over soon. The waiting was too painful; it was as if time itself had slowed.

Maybe fifteen seconds before the impact, the earth began to shake. Around her, everyone was running, but where to? There was nowhere to run. The earth outside the dome was cracking, the trees were either falling or bursting into flame; it was a hellish vision. When the comet itself smashed into the land, Dazrii was pitched high into the air by the tremendous impact. She landed jarringly and her head hit the ground; everything turned black.

* * *

Dazrii gradually regained consciousness, but everything was still black. "Am I dead?" she asked herself. "My head hurts, I must still be alive; I must try to open my eyes." She opened her eyes slowly. It was dark, but not like nighttime darkness; it was as if something was blocking the sun, like an eclipse. There was a lot of dust in the air; Dazrii coughed. She got up slowly and painfully, her every muscle hurt but nothing seemed to be broken, thankfully. She then looked at the sky.

There was no big fireball anymore, but there was something else in its place. She dimly saw a huge mass of jagged rock floating in the dark sky, blocking the sun. That mass had to be many kilometers long and wide, and there were other masses just like it in the sky. "What could this be???" she spoke aloud.

Dazrii looked at the city for the first time since the impact. Some buildings were in bad shape, while others were completely destroyed. She then looked to her right to see if her house was still in good condition. There was no right! About five feet to her right the land stopped; it was as if she was standing on the edge of a canyon. She advanced slowly toward the precipice and looked down.

What she saw was odd: many kilometers down was the other half of the city, suspended in the darkness of the sky. She could see where the protection sphere must have ruptured after the devastating impact of the comet. The buildings along the split had disintegrated into rubble, ending only in a jagged, torn border of earth and rock. Beyond that... nothing. It looked like an island floating in the void. She looked back at the mass of rock up in the sky, realization gripping her throat and catching at her words, "The world has been broken! We are now floating in space with the other fragments of our world scattered in the sky around us… what will become of us?"

She was drawn from her awe-struck reverie by the sound of a crying child. Dazrii looked back at the town. For the first time she noticed that there was activity in the city. She had been so shaken and confused by this catastrophic event that she hadn't noticed that she wasn’t the only person still alive. In fact, most of them were still alive. Yes, there were many dead, unconscious and injured people, but most were alive, so the dome had partially protected the city.

Dazrii walked toward the crying child. He was kneeling in front of a woman who lay motionless. Dazrii crouched and touched the neck of the woman, probably the boy's mother. There was a pulse. "Your mother is alive, she’s just unconscious," she said, but the boy continued to cry. "Poor child, the world is destroyed and he thinks her mother is dead. I must try to help him."

She reviewed the spells that she had learned from her master. None of them could help, except maybe one: the sleep spell. "Perhaps if I inverse the spell, " she muttered, " I could use it to awaken the target instead of induce sleep." Master Zimha had said that some spells could be manipulated to create new effects, but that it was too dangerous for an apprentice… Well… "I’ve nearly completed the apprenticeship level, I will try…." She reviewed the gestures and the words that she needed to create the spell. It was easy to remember, since she had often used the spell on her parents when she was going out at night with her friends...just to make sure that they wouldn’t awake during that time and that they wouldn’t find her room empty. Now she had to do these gestures and words precisely in the inverse order, a little bit more difficult to figure. "I think I have it now," she said after a bit of practice.

Dazrii did the gestures, and spoke the magical language in the inverse order, feeling the magic flowing into and through her. The spell was cast. The woman opened her eyes slowly within a few seconds, and she dazedly sat up. The little boy stopped crying instantly and jumped into his mother’s arms. Dazrii explained to the woman that she had been unconscious, and that she had then been awakened by a spell. Dazrii gently suggested that she should return to her home, if it was still standing, and get some rest.

The woman hesitantly thanked her, still dazed from her ordeal. Dazrii watched her lead her child down the ruined street, and it suddenly occurred to her that she needed a plan.

She thought she should try to find her Master, but had to abandon the idea for the moment. As far as she knew, Master Zimha had been near his tower before the impact, and that tower was on the other half of the city, the part that was lying many kilometers down on another fragment of the planet. She realized that she was stuck here with no home, no master and no parents. Until somebody found a way to reach the other fragments, perhaps she never would have them again. She squared her shoulders and came to a decision: to begin, she would search for friends. After that, who knows?

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