Elhest of Drynmur Fen (3)

There are many kinds of magic in the world. Many of them you know now, some of them you have all but forgotten, and some only old age can show you. I won’t bore you with a list here; suffice to say that for Elhest of Drynmur Fen, it was the magic of knowledge that was pulling him onward.

He had little else to do so. Some fourteen years ago, when just four years old, he was plucked from his home by the sorceror Nequmus Iniqus. Of course, Nequmus had politely asked the family if he could use their youngest son for an apprentice, but who refuses a sorceror? Certainly no one who goes on to brag about the tale.

He passed the better part of his life secluded in a tower with the brooding, distant mage. Elhest was mostly given menial jobs as his age enabled him, eventually taking on nearly all the roles involved in the material upkeep of the small estate of a few acres of forest where the tower nestled. Slowly his master taught him magic, but only slowly; and Elhest never wondered at this, as the only thing he knew of the outside world was a dim collection of fuzzy memories and the little he could gain from the rare visitors Nequmus got. Some stayed in his mind more than others; probably the most was a visit that formed for Elhest the sort of person his master was. A local merchant had sent his son to learn magic from the reknowned master, who though he already had an apprentice consented to at least review the pupil for future consideration. The young man knew some trivial spells, and the went out into a small field so the master could see his prospective student in action. The two attacked each other, in harmless sparring, firing bolts from their wands and summoning spectral dogs to fight for them. Of course, Nequmus’ dog countered everything the pupil’s did exactly, rendering it useless. The same with any spells, they simply whithered away from the sorceror. The pupil, however, was eager to prove himself and somewhat beligerent, and had decided apparently to attempt in earnest to wound Nequmus, who at first though it was great sport. Soon, though, he grew tired of the game, and using a special glove he wore caused the young man to lay down flat on the ground against his will, utterly helpless. He kept him there for a good five minutes then turned and walked away, dismissing the youth, who never returned.

Elhest watched in fear, knowing the sorceror could have done much more in retaliation for the recklessness of the young mage; but still, something about Nequmus’ coldness, his utter disdain for his fellow human, struck him, and from then on he noticed more and more how cold and removed the older man was. They went on in this manner for some time, till one day, Nequmus Iniqus was simply gone. He hadn’t announced a voyage, or given any indication of a struggle, or whereabouts, or anything. He was simply gone.

Elhest waited days, then weeks. Since he already took care of the material affairs of the estate, it was easy for him to survive, and there was plenty of money in the coffers and food in the larder. Slowly though, day by day, the door seemed to call him. Freedom beckoned.

Nearly a year later he sat camped under a crimson tent at the opening of a pass into a dreary and forbidding mountain range. He had no knowledge of where his family might live, but knew that he was an elf, and so he had come to their lands to seek his relations. Instead he found them torn apart. He didn’t know much about politics and history, but he could see enough to realize that the greatest city of the elves that lived in the woods was all but abandoned, and inhabited now only by diminutive winged folk closely related to faeries. He spent some time with them, helped them as he could, and learned what he could from them, but they knew nothing of his kind except that they were gone. They did know that there was another elven city, even greater, in the lands beyond these mountains, but some said that it had turned to ruins years ago, perhaps decades ago, and no one knew the way.

It was hard to leave; he had almost come to call it home, and had even secured himself a semi-permanent room at the inn there. The city was built as a series of rope bridges and platforms high in the trees, his tiny, two room home was built halfway up with a delightful window overlooking the woods, where softly glowing whisps floated gently; but the faery folk didn’t really like anyone of any race but their own. It wasn’t home. In the year since his departure from the tower he had become quite the wizard in his own right; to his credit, his rented space now held a tamed cockatrice, a carnivorous plant, a whimsical flying machine of gnomish make, several paintings of the local wilderness, a stately bonsai tree, and, most wizardly, an enchanted orb on an ornate pedestal. This was a strange object he’d found on his travels; when he looked into it, once per day, it showed him a vision, usually something he couldn’t identify. He hadn’t learned to use it properly, and didn’t know if the visions were for him or at random, but they intrigued him all the same. On his person he bore an assortment of magical items; two echanted earrings, one a simple gold ring set with a green stone, the other an ornate circle of greened metal leaves- one was enchanted to make him smarter, the other to aid in protection from elemental attacks and poison. Around his neck he wore a very ornate necklace made by the faery folk; it made him wiser and also lent protection against elemental attacks. On his fingers he bore a bezel-cut citrine ring and a simple hoop, also bearing magical protections. On his wrists were bracelets to protect against poison. One of his favorite items was a tempered wand that lent focus to his spells and could be used as a decent club in a pinch; Elhest was physically quite strong and could hold his own in a fist-fight. In his backpack and satchel he bore a variety of enchanted trinkets, bottles, waterskins, dried meats, bread, scrolls, jewels, chopped pecans, fabric patches, a spare cloak and gloves. The greatest evidence of his growth as a mage, of course, was his power, one form of his knowledge. Perhaps most spectacurarly, he had learned to turn himself invisible, a spell he could cast even while running. He could call down bolts of lightning or pillars of flame from the sky or shoot fire or ice from his fingertips; he could bind with magical chains an opponent’s feet to the ground for a time; he could surround himself with static electricity such that any that attacked him physically were shocked; he could incinerate foes or steal their magical power for his own. He could even heal magical wounds or create a shield to protect himself or others from spells.

He would have made his master proud, if he were around. Or were capable of such an emotion. Elhest was never sure if Nequmus was even human, or had a heart. This could have been an oversimplification, a child’s perspective of a cruel and distant master, but for all history has told us so far, it may not be far from the truth. Perhaps the sorceror will turn up someday with a story to tell of his own, but until then, Elhest would continue to search for the particular knowledge he needed, the particular magic he craved; the magic of knowing just what, in this vast world, was the place he could call home. As he sat and gazed at the mountains before him, night set in with a burning purple horizon just visible above the darkening peaks. He settled down for sleep one last night before setting forth, to discover a lost city in a sprawling landscape with no map or clue whatsoever; travel in such unknown reaches in the darkness would be absurd. Besides, he would be invisible in the daytime, and then the advantage of sight would be in his favor against the denizens of the great wilderness beyond.

One Response

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