Hey, this is entry number 100! :>
Thanks to the shield I didn't feel much when I hit the ground and slid accross the grassy turf. My icy armour dug through the moss and dirt, but I stayed dry and clean. My brother, though, had certainly bruised his shoulder for this.
Yet he didn't take his time to recover. Immediately he continued to abuse my cold guard. He swung his knives against it over and over again. Each time chipping away bits of ice and pushing me deeper into the ground. I could feel the magic fade a little at a time, but all I could do was hide behind my magical gloves, eyes closed, biting my lip in anticipation of feeling these daggers on my flesh. My certainty about Ralzel's intentions had vanished minuted ago.
I was so scared.
I had to do something. The power imbued into the scarf would soon surrender. "What can I do?" I thought, peering through the space between my fingers. Ralzel was invisible to me. The ice was ever-present protecting me. Was it solid for me as well, now?
What would the Master do?
He had hardly used magic in defense in front of me. Fire against dire rats. That was it. Otherwise… hitting with his staff. He once just grabbed Nondrean to pull him away from me. And he liked stabbing, too. What kind of wizard was is he even?
More thoughts dashed through my head. The door from last night. The explusion. Failed binding. Forbidden knowledge. Blood rituals.
Would he do that to protect himself in this kind of situation?
How does it work? Do I just need to…?
I lifted my dagger. Eyes wide open I stared at it and the white, bare fingers of my left hand. A constant ringing occupied my ears, shutting out the grinding and crunching.
Suddenly the world disappeared and all was black.
When it returned, it felt like only a moment had passed. My back felt drenched and cold. My brother was staring down at me, paralysed. My right hand held his left by the Lamsa, encased in ice. My other hand was pointing the wand at his throat, only a millimeter away. His other hand was without weapon and lifted in surrender.
Puzzled I looked around. The Master was approaching.
With a single motion of his, the ice disappeared. "That's enough." He declared. Ralzel immediately, but slowly, backed away. The fight was over.
Shaking I pulled myself to my feet. Undoubtedly I felt the scarf shifting underneath my robe. It had been shredded.
"Did I win?" I asked, sneezing right after. A shiver traveled to my toes.
"Of course not!" Ralzel spit, then sneezed as well. "That wasn't you, I'm not as dumb." He looked past me, searching for his second Lamsa dagger.
I shot a look at Zargeth. "Did you…?"
"I had to intervene. Your brother's experience is several levels above yours." Then, in the hushed voice of a thought, he told me: "I regret I had to take over your mind for a moment there. He certainly would have hurt you otherwise. I couldn't let that happen. It didn't fool him. Told you it's too obvious."
"You should take a hot bath, Kyriel. You already look feverish from the cold." He motioned me to follow him inside.
I sneezed.+ −
There! I think this is how he looks like, Kyriel's brother. They look a lot alike. The stern look only happened because it's somehow a standard for me. My hand just wouldn't do anything else when thinking up a new face. I should really try to fix that.
I have a drawing of Ralzel, which I'll upload seperately as soon as I get the new scanner working!
My brother was busy show-fighting his followers as we returned outside. His movements were smooth and rythmic like a dance. Twirling around and striking the others' swords with his Lamsa daggers as he flew accross the grass. Lamsa are a type of hunting knife that have a rather tight curve at the tip of the blade and it's quite long for a dagger. When hunting, which is almost treated as a traditional act within a Squall of Winds, one can easily reach out to the fleeing deer and jab the Lamsa into its hip, grabbing it at the bone, and pull it down. In the case of a man-on-man the shoulder is also quite a 'good' spot to reach for. It was only natural that Ralzel, as the heir to the Squall, had trained to be a master at dual-wielding those daggers.
"There you are, Kyriel! Almost thought I'd have to come and drag you out. Are you scared?" In another supple zip, he'd left his battleground and stood only a few meters before me.
Yes, I was scared. Ralzel normaly trained every morning and evening. I didn't even fight. All I did was practice drawing in the air with a wand and some handy signs for everyday use. Simply putting my index finger and thumb together would put my hair up in a pony tail, but that was no use in battle.
"Should we begin?" My voice was only a little shaky. I wore the gloves with cut-off fingertips, since they were too long for my little hands and I had the scarf wrapped around my chest underneath the robe. There had been no time to actually practice with these enchanted items, I had to learn on the field, against my brother.
"Sure." He flicked a strand of hair out of his face and returned to the open spot behind him. Ralzel hadn't even broken into sweat after jumping around.
Looking back at Master Zargeth, I think he noticed my nervous uncertainty, but he only shrugged.
Stepping slowly I positioned myself opposite of Ralzel. His eyes told me he was taking this seriously, so I did the same.
But then he seemed to wonder, loosening his shoulders. "Are you fighting with a stick in one hand?"
I rolled my eyes. I had a normal dagger in my right hand and my wand in the other. It was even a really nice wand with carvings and silver inlays. "It's a WAND!" I rectified and whirled it a bit, drawing silvery light, to proof my point. "What did you think I was doing at wizard's tower? Cleaning?"
"Yeah!" We slowly roamed aroud each other, not changing the distance, but ready to defend the first strike. His few followers had gathered around us, forming a barrier for the arena. I didn't even get angry at his ignorance - didn't even know if he was just taunting me or not - since I was trying my best to feel the power around my chest, activating the abilities it provided.
Mumbling things I don't even remember I copied his steps.
Then suddenly he yelled: "May Lor keep your heart save, sister!" and leaped forward.
Hardly being in a state of mind to lift my knifearm, I merely flinched as his daggers flew towards me.
For a second I thought I must have lost at least an ear if not my whole arm with that strike, but then I saw that wonderful surprised look on Ralzel's face. The Lamsa was stuck in thin threads of ice and fine shimmer of glistening blue surrounded me. Damn, it worked! I couldn't resist a proud grin.
Ralzel jumped back, squinting at the magical shield around me. "You tricksy thing, you." he shook his head with a brotherly smirk, before he went for another hit, carried on a gust.
This time I wasn't glued stuck, since an enchantment didn't need any concentration after activating. Quickly I jabbed my own dagger forwards, which also activated the glove's power.
From my fingers and along the blade, a spike of ice grew within the blink of eye, staggering Ralzel mid-action. Skilfully he rolled to the side, catching himself.
I hadn't fought in months, but I still managed a charge. Streching my right towards Ralzel, which shot an icicle at him, I held my wand ready to block.
But I didn't even get close. All he needed to do was skip to the side, past my dagger. Bringing up a squall towards me, he stopped my action completely and zipped right past me. Damn hunting manoeuvres! I was never taught those! Was he even ever fighting me honestly? That speed was crazy!
Quickly I turned and at the same time drew a line. I wasn't even thinking straight and that line would never actually do anything. This was my first time trying to fight with magic.
Already Ralzel was hitting ice, giving me a good push. Apparently the ice barrier didn't absorb all impulse. I saw him smirk. He already had me, I felt that in my bones. Like a trapped animal in front of the predator. Actually fearing for my life I glanced over to my Master. Just for a split second.
Ralzel didn't hesitate long, before he charged me with all he had. There was no playful smile anymore, just plain seriousness.+ −
Sorry for the delay, I was busy with a new mystery short story all June. Now, it's done and just needs a proof-read. It'll be all german again, though.
But if you can't read german, don't worry, I'll update M&A a couple more time before next thursday, k?
"I can't read minds." Master Zargeth clarified.
"Oh. Damn. I'd hoped you could." We had just gone back inside for some preparation. Since I don't run about with my weapons glued to me, I had to at least get those, so my brother didn't have a choice and wait if he wanted a fair fight.
"Did you try to tell me something?"
"Well… kinda… but… argh, it's embarrassing to repeat it out loud." I ruffled my hair, hiding my face. "I want you to help me win. That's pretty much it." I turned around, looking him in the eyes. This was important. "If the only way to get rid of people trying to take me back to that place is to win against my brother, I don't care about how it's done!"
My Master raised an eyebrow. "Are you going to kill your own brother?"
"Hell, no! We fought all the time when we were smaller. It was over when one of us touched the ground with one shoulder. So I believe this will be similar."
"Did you win often?"
NO, DIDN'T! My head wanted to scream. My brother nearly always won. Luck helped me two or three times in all those years, but I was always the meek little sister. That's why I wasn't going to be a huntress or anything, but the wife to some blacksmith apprentice. "No." I wispered. "I'm not bad with daggers, but he's on a completly different level. Got real training and all. I… was hoping you could…" I fidgeted. "you know… assist me a little?"
He was thinking hard, I could tell, but he didn't answer my question. "I was thinking, that maybe you could somehow make it that your spells look like I was casting them."
"No." I flinched, that's how quickly that response came. "That's not how it works. Using magic is probably fine, but that would be easy to see through. What you need is something else. Maybe enchanted gear." He tapped his finger on the tip of his nose, thinking. Then he looked around.
Suddenly the walls began to crumble. But not in a destructive way. This was the Tower's metamorphosis. Bits of stone crumbled away, to reveal new walls or openings, while the rubble was again consumed by very floor it fell on. I'd never seen it from up close like this before.
When the rumbling stopped, the Tower had created a door right next to us. Immediately Zargeth opened it and clapped his hands in approval. "This room is exactly what I was looking for." he exclaimed.
Before us had unfolded a rather small and about square room. It was a small storeroom or broom cupboard with a dusty box in one corner and a mouldy wardrobe by the right wall. All nicely covered in old abandoned spider webs. "Webby." I commented. "What's it for?"
"This is where I keep some rather useless things I couldn't just throw out."
"Useless? Is that what I need?"
"Oh, no, for you it might have some. Use, I mean." He moved forward, tore a web from the knobs and pulled open a random drawer. A massive cloud of grey and white emerged and he started to cough. I jumped back as I saw the dilemma. Ignoring the dust completely, he rummaged inside and pulled out something made of leather, I think. It had an oily shimmer to it, but was absolutely dry. He threw it to the floor. "I just have to find the right pieces." he said. "Try the box, Kyriel."
It opened with a hurtful scream and revealed an unsightly collection of old, rusty weapons. Doubtfull I turned back to my Master. "Are you sure, some of this is not absolute dog poo, Master? We'd have to clean and sharpen these, before they could even cut bread instead of smashing it."
He'd already opened the next drawer and was rifling through it as you do when you really know what you're looking for. "Just pick whatever strikes your interest. Touch a few. Grab them like you would your daggers. You'll know what will work."
"Aha…" I looked back into the box, still unsure if he'd gone mad or not. But I tried to trust him regardless. The apprentice follows the master. The master knows better, most of the time.
"Aha!" My head snapped back as he exclaimed. "I found it."
"What is it?" I was back on my feet in an instant and jumped beside him to have a look.
"Here, wear these." What he gave me were a pair of gloves made from black leather and a scarf. Both were far from being well preserved. The scarf was partly falling apart thanks to a family of moths and the left glove was missing two fingers. The right one had dried mouse droppings on the rim.
Carefully I put everything on. It felt… interesting. "Are my hands floating? They feel like they are floating."
"It's pure power you're feeling." He smiled proudly.+ −
Skyrim. I got back into Skyrim. I played for a million hours before and I am adding to it now. After watching a bit of a let's play (by Sips) I restarted completely, though, with pretty much the same character as my very first. But I play a bit different, now, and that makes it so much fun again even after going through the thieves guild questline for the fourth time or so. It's amazing.
R.I.P. Pitch, Thistle and Moonsugar, my beloved horses. I will have a hard time finding a name for the next.
The next morning I woke up with a weird thought in my head. "Come outside immediately. --Zargeth" He could have left a note another way. Though I was quite puzzled as to why he had to use such measures.
Only as I stepped outside did I notice the bright sunny wheather. After so many days of grey clouds and storms I was speachless to find the sky so clear. Maybe it was just this?
But my surroundings weren't as pretty. Broken branches and torn leaves were scattered like litter in the streets, in some places rocks and loose dirt got simply washed away with the rain. It looked awfull. I immediately wanted to work on rebuilding the garden. But where was the Master?
"Master?" I called for him and walked around the Tower a bit. He had changed its appearance again: black and white marble bricks, each smaller side-tower was embattled, just the huge centric one had a long, pointed roof out of black slate. Astonished I wondered whom he wanted to impress, since he really looked marvelous! Hm. I also still don't know why the Tower is a 'he' specificaly and not a 'she'. It was the Master that called him that. Oh, right. Where is he? "Master?"
There he was, at the backdoor. "Master!" I ran over, since I guessed whatever it was he needed me for was urgent. But then I stopped, or rather: froze.
In front of a lightning-struck tree sat a little caravan. Five people at most, with little wings for ears and bare feet, gathered around a streamlined wagon that had no wheels with an abstract deer between wafts of mist on its canvas. My own wings collapsed and I felt me knees go numb and squishy. Slowly I moved towards my Master as if sneaking could still remove me from their sight.
"Kyriel!" THAT VOICE! I NEARLY DIED ON THE SPOT! "Long time no see. Nice to see you again." NONONONONONONO! "Sister." Shocked I half hid behind Master Zargeth staring at that pale man with ice-blue eyes approach. Ralzel, my brother, had not changed one bit, since I'd left around a year ago. I could tell right away by the traditional garb he was wearing: the banner on his cape, the heavily embroidered tunic. He'd even dipped his feathers in the distinctive light blue dye, as members of the leading family of the Squall traditionally do.
Suddenly the Master began to speak: "For your own sake, I hope you arrive here with exceptional reason. Since otherwise I would have to demand compensation for quite an astonishing amount of trouble." Oh Lor, he was so pissed. His face said so clearly, that he thought little less than nothing of him or anyone part of that caravan. I think he really liked that tree. But strangely, I'd immediately calmed down when I saw him like that. Right, I had him behind me - or rather, in front of me - and he surely wouldn't let them take me back!
"I regret I am only here to see my little sister."
With new-found courage I stepped forward: "And what do you want, Ralzel? There's no way I'd go back, so that can't be your cause." Though my hands did shake a little, when I crossed my arms in front of me. Damn. He's my brother, we grew up together, we stuck together like bark on tree. At least in the past it was so. Now he's all Squall and no fun. When I rejected the marriage proposal he'd been… scary… I don't know how he'd turned that way.
Ralzel sighed: "I knew it wouldn't be easy to convince you, so let me make a suggestion, sister."
"What would that be?" I snapped.
"Do you remember the time we were kids? When we would fight over everything just to have another sparring?"
"How could I forget the time you weren't an ass?" Suddenly I felt my Master weave something magic. Directly on me. I could feel enchantments on my fingertips.
"I propose we hold a little fight. If I win, you will listen to what I have to say and willingly come back to the Squall to give our people another chance." He smiled an oh so sweet smile it hurt my teeth.
"And if I win? Will you leave?"
"If you win, dear sister, you won't have to listen to anything I say. I will still try to drag you home, though, I will refrain from burning that tower to the ground to do so." With these words I felt a curse welling up next to me, ready to tear the flesh from Ralzel's bones. I actually feared for my brother for a moment.
"Fine! Have your fight!" I yelled. "But remember who I am!" I am a thief and a liar and a cheat! I tried to think as loud as possible.+ −
I thought a lot about this one, followed through several scenarios, but I think this is the one nobody expected.
He slowly raised his free hand and little flames started to burn on the many candles' wicks around the library. I saw the disappointment in his eyes and immedately I felt… guilty. When did I last feel this way? I don't remember? When I took the books from the Guild, I felt fine. And after that I've been snitching this and that from the stores. An apple here, a hairpin there. Noone ever noticed. It was fine and I didn't feel bad about those.
I'd do it again.
But seeing him, my Master, actually hurt? It hurts me too! By Lor! What am I doing?! I could have asked him, trusted him to one day show me himself what he was hiding in this protected room. He of all people would have! He trusted me enough to tell me his secrets.
We… we are friends and yet I always do these stupid things…
Master Zargeth sighed. "Oh, Kyriel…" He removed his staff (or rather halberd?) from the door.
"I'm sorry!" I screamed. "I'm sorry!" I dropped to the floor and sobbed, repeating my apology over and over.
It felt like an eternity had passed before I regained enough selfawareness to stop my own wailing. I'd nearly forgotten what I'd been sad about or where I was. Confused I peeked past my fingers. My eyes burning and swollen.
Some of the candles had burned down already. Probably those which had only been little stumps in first place. The room was silent, but there, leaning against a bookshelf next to me, sat my Master. Sleeping. Waiting for me to get better? I nearly started crying all over again.
How do you wake your sleeping elder? He looked so comfortable. I wonder, would he have… let… let me cry on his shoulder had I asked?
Carefully and silently I crawled over and closed my eyes. Then softly put my forehead against his shoulder. It was warm and comforting. So this was what a shoulder-to-cry-on felt like…
Suddenly a single, but incredibly loud, snore made my heart jump to the ceiling, pulling me along. I didn't quite reach the ceiling and just sprung to my feet, though. The Master yawned and looked around. Had he said something this moment, I would not have heared it, that's how loud my heart was beating. That was close!
Master Zargeth looked at me, rubbing the back of his nose. "I guess I don't need to tell you anymore." With creaking bones and a silent curse he pulled himself back to his feet. "Let's just go to bed now, alright?"
"You said already."
"Yes, but… I wanted to help you, I wanted to find out more and help you turn back to your real self… and… and… I shouldn't have tried to get in there. I'm sorry."
"Thanks." I felt a spell being lifted from me. Not a real spell, but the guilt I'd drawn to myself. "I don't want to stay like this forever, just so you know. You are talented and maybe you really can help me, but you're still just a novice and it's 4 in the morning. Have patience."
Patience. My nemesis. I cringed.
Obediently I followed him to the stairs and wished him a good remaining night, before we parted ways. He went upstairs, I downstairs.
That's when I first remembered the rain and storm outside. It was calming in its own way. The distance to reality grew smaller and I felt more… grounded? How peculiar.
In that very moment a lightning flashed and thunder growled so loudly my ears rang. Frightened to death I jumped down the remaining steps and decided to sleep in the lab tonight.+ −
Funnily when I wrote about grinding tree bark today, I actually was grinding tree bark. Couple of days ago I noticed that the bark on that tree outside the house had a nice dark red powder between its layers and picked up a chunk. Today I scratched the powder from the hard bits and mixed it with flaxseed oil to make paint. It didn't turn out very nice, kinda dark brown, but let's see what happens after it's dried a bit.
After that day a lot of things suddenly changed.
Like the Weather.
Today was the third day of constant cruel storms. Only the first day way accompanied by heavy rain, but the Master assured me, that those were not common for the region. Hopefully they will stop some time soon. I can't really go outside in such kind of weather. Master Zargeth already went through old boxes and chests to find heavy boots that might fit me, though even if he'd found any, I am not used to wearing shoes of any weight. I do wear socks, but in shoes I'd feel like I'm nailed to the ground!
Err… where was I…? Oh, yeah.
Since my Master had decided that I have to become a witch - because he can't - we've revived the lab that's attached to my room; or that my room is attached to. We stripped the sheets from the shelves and tables. Most apparati were still as new, hardly used, just needed a bit of cleaning. Witchery is closely related to Alchemy, so I had to at least learn the basics quickly. We even fought our way through the ridiculously strong wind (Master opened a portal) to collect quicksilver drops from bare cinnabar.
Most of the time, though, I ground tree barks, bug shells and antlers into powders. With a mortar and pestle. I think my arm strength has increased immensely.
However, as fascinating as Alchemy and Witchery might be, my mind was occupied by other matters.
Did the object Master Zargeth bound his disguise to, still exist? Can it be destroyed? Would it be enough to have bits of it back to reverse the spell? Where whould the Magisters keep it, if they didn't destoy the object? How could I acquire it? Would the Master help me or oppose to it?
It was just past midnight, when I decided to slip out of bed again to do a little bit of research. I didn't dare illuminate the stairs lest he might see it, but I'd already memorised the way up and around the library. Only after I'd gotten past the first shelves did I whisper the word. "Solume." A tiny light began to shine from my palm and I bent my fingers over it to keep it dim. Carefully I pointed it at the backs of the books. One after the other.
What was I even looking for? A transmutation? An alteration? A seal or sign? There're even cover-up spells in a book about shadow magic which let you 'cover' the sound of your footsteps with some other sounds, like chirping or even music (it's on my todo list, it's fairly advanced).
I pulled them all from their shelves, put them on a stack and decided to go through them later. For now, I wanted to look around more. There was one place in the library that I still wanted to check.
In the back, at the end of the winding path past countless bookshelves, was a door. Actually, a normal door. Made of wooden planks with a little window with iron bars at the height of someone's head, that was at least 20cm taller than me. But even from down here, I could see still more books in the room behind it. I grabbed the bars left and right and pulled myself up (I am light!). What lay on the other side of the door was exceptionally curious.
Despite noone being there, light flickered to life. Several candles lit themselves, as if they'd noticed my presence and wanted to help me see. Well, this was a wizard's Tower. This Tower changed its appearance at will, at its OWN will, and even hid and revealed rooms sometimes. We once found an old food storage that was chock-full of crates with dried plums in them. Next to them lay a skeleton (we buried it that day behind the tower). We guessed that this person must have tried to hide from something or someone, but forgot to bring a crowbar (I'd procured one and placed it next to the body before we closed the grave).
The room behind the door was narrow and not exceptionally long, so even from just a few candles it was brightly lit as if it were wholly on fire. It almost felt fierce and daunting. My heart wanted to back away, but my curiosity grew only stronger.
Something was at the back, concealed behind high stacks of books, but I needed to see what it was. I let the bars go, dropped to the floor and had a quick look at the lock casting a bit of my own light on it. Of course this door was locked, I'd tried the handle.
Hah! Easy peasy! Though, just in case, I wanted to check if he'd put safety mechanism on it. I'd do that if I had something to hide from a snoopy apprentice. How did that go again?
I put my left hand over the keyhole and slowly drew a circle on the back of it. Already I felt my reach extend into the metal and wood around it. I could hear my own heart beat in excitement. Then a vertical line all the way to my wrist.
Just in that instant a glinting blade shot past my face and stabbed into the door with a THAB.
Unmoving except for my neck, I turned, my eyes following the blade to it's origin. It was mounted on a stick and… Master Zargeth was holding it. No matter how dark it was, those glaring red eyes, that often make dark elves appear evil and cruel, I could see them, piercing my vigour.+ −
Game recommendation: Rimworld. There's just so much happening all the time, it's not getting boring. I lost my first colony after hardly a year, after fighting malaria, installing several peg legs, fighting rampaging animals, killing mad prisoners and taming a bear.
"So… How was it like? School, I mean." I asked, pouring the reheated Fumee back into the cups it had cooled off in.
"What do you think? Normal. Like any school."
"I've never gone to school."
He looked up from his porridge with amazement. "You- Was it all books? For everything?"
I didn't think before bringing up this topic, but now it was making me a little bit sad, melancholic, to recall. "Hm. Something like that, yes. My mother taught me how to read and write. After that lectures were all visits to the library. There were no real teachers or even many children in my clan, so there was no other way. At the same time I learned the same things my older brother learned and he's two years older." I didn't notice when I'd unconciously started to mush my rockeggs. All my family was still back home. Goosebumbs spread all over my skin thinking of that place. I just had to leave.
"Impressive. That's why you went straight for the books." The Master noted. "And that's the first time you mentioned your family. Bad blood?"
"Is this about me now? Not fair." Now I had to pay for all I took, ey? I guess it also wasn't fair to make him answer all of my questions while not answering any of his. But my family… They're not embarrassing or anything I just… don't like thinking about them. Especially my brother… I pulled my legs up onto the chair with layed back wings. "I wouldn't call it 'bad blood'. It's more like we live in different universes entirely." Was that enough? He looked at me. Or through me? Anyways, he wasn't moving a muscle, like he was thinking about something again. That always made me nervous. "W-well… I didn't want to become the wife of the son of my father's assistant." Zumul Feathersteel, what a twat. By Lor, he's thirty years older than me and is dumb as a rock. How could father even accept the proposal. No offence, rocks.
Master Zargeth still didn't move. He just sat there, curling his moustache between two fingers, apparently thinking. Or just listening? "What's your surname, Kyriel?" he then asked out of the blue.
"And your Squall?"
"Miststa-… Miststalker, also." Damn, it was a trap.
"Kyriel Miststalker of the Miststalker Squall. I see. I get you."
"Then what's your whole name, Master?" Actually, why did we wait for months before telling each other our names?
"Don't you know already?" Did I? "Zargeth Elvaai." OH, riiiight, I read that.
"Elvaai… That sounds nice…" It sounds less aggressive than 'Miststalker'. "What does it mean? Does it have meaning?"
"I'm not entirely familiar with the old language, but I remember it meaning something like 'hunter in moonlight' or 'searcher in the night', 'Starscout'." He laughed. "Maybe even 'walking in the dark'."
We sat there silently unsure what to do. Already a while ago we'd finished eating and normally we'd practice spell casting outside after breakfast (Well, it was already noon after all that had happened.) though the storm continued to whip its tails against the shutters. It reminded me of home. My Squall was not practicing magic, but they loved to summon storms like this, with or without rain, to send out hunting parties. Winds are naturally light (hollow bones and all), we move faster when carried by the wind.
Master Zargeth got up. "Let's practice in the study."
"Yes, Master!"+ −
Beware, it's a long one! ;)
The sudden sound of thunder did not shake him the least. He only stared motionless at the closed shutters, that might have been as old as my Master looked. From rain and sun and frost the wood had bent and produced gaps, allowing an occasional gust of wind to tickle the candle flames.
Master Zargeth sighed. "There's no use in keeping this secret from you any longer. Since you're already curious, it would only cause more trouble later. I'd advise you to just sit back and listen, so don't ask anything unpleasant, alright?"
I simply nodded in anticipation and made myself comfortable, ready to absorb any story he'd throw at me.
"I hope you don't expect any grand narrative, because my reasons were quite simple. This disguise's only purpose was to let me live in peace." He shifted in his chair, frowning over his thoughts.
"So you did it yourself?" I asked. Whoops.
"What? Ah, yes, I put this spell onto myself. But it wasn't irreversable at first. Actually, let me start at the beginning instead of the end. Let's go back ten or twelve years. I can't even remember how many it was anymore, but it doesn't really matter. At that time I had just left my home town to join the Guild and enter their school. Just like you told me you had done.
"But it wasn't so easy for them to send me away, since I grew up in a mostly elven community. Everybody there knew a little bit of magic and taught it to their children, so of course I had already been a fairly able novice. And I wanted to learn more. By law they had to admit me, but they didn't like it."
"But why!?" I blurted. This was something I desperately needed to know. It never felt like they had a true reason not to take me in.
He continued with a grim face "Because they are not us. They're scared of us. The Guild is a human invention, their leaders are humans, most of the teachers are humans and they like to keep to their own. They don't want long-living leaders that think in centuries instead of decades. Imagine how it must be to know your lifespan is only a fleeting moment to another. If a human were to have an elven friend from childhood on, they will have grown children by the time that friend celebrates their coming of age."
"That is true, but there are plenty of human settlements already lead by elvish clan leaders or other long-living people, aren't there? And they seem to have accustomed to the quicker pace of humans. Why is the Guild so particular about it? I mean, most of them are temporary anyways, with senates and all behind them."
"That's the part that's different but also very stupid about the Guild. First: they are not a place that needs a governor, they are a guild. Second: they are afraid of power. As long as they are in their own little, controllable world, they can do whatever they like. For generations the leading positions have been given to the most able mages. Teachers or researchers, those people with greatest power and knowledge in their field of expertise. Do know what that means?"
"Picking the most talented from all mages in the Guild, would include mostly those of elven origin. Old elves have much more experience and even a young one can soon surpass a seasoned human mage, if he's talented. Because we have a natural affinity to magic, it's already in us when we're born. It's part of our life."
Oh, I got it. "What. They just don't let elves in for this matter? Keep them out and they won't disturb us?"
"I am not sure actually. Being part of the Guild gives you the legal right to research, teach and councel, maybe it's not just old men being racist. I don't know."
"Wait, so you are still IN the Guild?"
"No, I was expelled."
"Me teaching you is illegal, yes."
Oh. "So I never had a chance to be admitted?"
"Well, I was admitted. They had to, because I was already practicing. Of course they found a way to expell me before I graduated. You probably know why already, when you stole those books from the library."
Forbidden research, If I remember correctly. Blood rituals, dangerous experimentation, spell research, tainting and extracurricular spelling. I nodded, though I wanted to ask what exactly it was. "I don't know what the reasons really mean, though." I decided to mention.
"Hopefully you'll never." He said in an incantatory voice. I shivered. "Anyway, back to why I am disguising my appearance."
Oh, right, that was what this was about.
"They expelled me and tried to ban me from ever practicing again. Of course these things are done by sealing and signing. Of course I had no choice. Going against them would have caused a lot trouble. I'd be a wanted criminal, maybe even declared a danger to all life, hunted until killed."
I gasped at the thought.
"It was a humiliating ceremony. My punishment was enforced in front of an audience of at least one hundred Magisters and Senators. I was bound with spell suppressing shackles, guards watched my every move, ready to pin my feet to the ground should I try to spell with them, and I had to wear a magicaly woven mask to restrain my face muscles. At least I was allowed clothing." He chuckled ironically. "The sealing itself felt similar to how it should have felt, when I put one on you, but it was done by several Magisters to amplify the power of the bind enough to make the sign unbreakable."
"But… You still CAN use magic, Master."
"Are you that powerful?"
"Apparently, I am."
"How?? Did the sealing just fail? Did they do something wrong?"
"No, I don't think so. It felt right. Definitely. And seals and signs don't have an expiration date. But when I stepped out of the courthouse, still wearing that stupid ceremonial robe with nothing to do but go somewhere and start over, I was already casting magic again with no trouble at all. I even felt a bit stronger"
I was speachless.
"I ended up coming here to hide away, moving into this old tower. The original owner had died long before I got here, I had even found his skeleton unburried in the living quarters. Of course I had to diguise myself to mime the new owner and to keep word of a young, powerful darkelven wizard practicing in these woods from traveling back to the Guild."
"Ah, so that's why!"
"Hush, I'm not done, yet. Disguises can be done temporaryly or more firmly, you see. To keep up a good impression of an old man, I had to use an illusion that couldn't be seen through by close inspection. For that method you bind the disguise to an object and switch between looks by touching said object. That is how I did it."
"That means you still can change back? Anytime?"
"No. Not anymore. The Guild is more clever than you might think. They found me regardless, found out what had happened. Maybe they were following me. tracking me down to keep an eye on me. I could tell, that they didn't trust me. Well, I really did do all those things I wasn't supposed to." He grinned. He didn't want me to know what his deeds really were, but now he grinned. "And then, with no other option left, they decided to just take away the bound object to fix their failure. This way I'd forever be the old man in the Tower, that dabbles in magic but never graduated from magic school." He smiled at me. A cold, tired smile. Like an old man talking of precious days of the past. "Well, now you know. Back to your studies."
Actually, I didn't really want to read anymore right now.
"No, actually" The chair creaked as the Master stood up. "Let's continue breakfast."+ −
I was sick until yesterday and not perfectly healthy today, but I didn't really want to be late. Have fun! \o/
It's exciting right now so the next part will probably be a bit early :P
Time had passed and I heared footsteps nearing. Then they paused. Absorbed in taking notes I only imagined what Master Zargeth must have looked like as he reached this floor and had a first look around. My table was small so sheets of paper and rolls of parchment easily flew off. I never bothered to pick them back up until I was done for the day, so there was already plenty covering the floor. Even with the library set up like a maze it was obvious what had happened here from the entrance. In my mind I saw him raising an eyebrow in surprise. Then I heared the sound of paper being picked up closing in.
"Interesting choice of literature." He commented eyes on the sheets in his hand as he stopped next to the small desk. "You know what this is?"
I took a breath and streched my neck. "Nope!" I must have sat there for over an hour already, taking notes without knowing the use of any of it. I leaned back to look him in the face. "I don't understand many things in this weird book, but it sounded like something I wanted to try. But there are many old glyphs I don't understand and all…" hoping to find one quickly I leafed through the book. "It doesn't even have a title."
"Actual Witchery, that's what it is. If you master what's in there you'd be the only real witch this side of the globe and the only one on the continent."
"Skip to the back, I think I had a key for the glyphs."
I did as I was told and found a newer sheet of parchment written in his hand. "That's useful!" Quickly I looked it over for this and that symbol I'd already seen and it all made a little more sense. It seemed to me to mainly be about alchemical reactions and mixing medicine. "Thanks!" I exclaimed, but put the book down again. "So how did it go?" I asked a bit nervously.
He was looking over my notes and had didn't notice what I'd said for another minute. "Hm?"
"What did they say? Delar and Maeve?"
"Nothing important, just a few more details about howw I should come to the hospital once a week to teach about the herbal medicines I make, how to properly use them. Things like that. It's a neat idea but they really just tried to impress each other I think."
"What?" I couldn't believe my ears.
"Exactly. They didn't really look at me but glanced at each other when they spoke, it was absurd. Still I accepted their offer. That silly game didn't change the fact that they wanted to pay me money."
"Heh… and here I was worried Maeve was being jeallous of me and was going to really mess with me." I mumbled, a bit relieved. "So they are actually going to pay you?"
"Of course. I don't need this acceptance bullshit they tried to get away with. They are going to have a hard time finding a donor…" He was already drifting off again. My notes on witchery were that interesting?
Then he suddenly clicked his fingers. "That's it!" triumphantly he threw the sheets he was holding over his shoulder "Now I remember."
"What… do you… remember?" I asked, being very puzzled.
"I remembered why I can't do witchery." he explained now very calmly. "It's a girl thing."
"Something about body parts or hormones or something. Some crucial parts can only be done if you have the right body. I was wondering why I didn't look into this more. But I'm sure I can help you figure things out so let's go deep with this." The Master pulled up a chair and started catching up with me by reading my notes by page number.
I didn't know what to say.
Also. Wait. There was something else I wanted.
"Wait. You wanted to explain to me why you look like this. I want to hear about that first!" I demanded.
He sighed. "Damn."+ −