Serialized Original Fiction: "Neverdie" Chapter One, by Jon Wood (Page 3 of 4)
"How did he know that I needed the torch?" She finally asked herself as she took the time to light the one that he had given her. The she shrugged, understanding that there were some things about her mentor that she may never figure out.
Suddenly, the small room no longer seemed so dreary. With a sigh, she placed the tome carefully on the corner of the desk. "First things first Rowan," she said to herself. "You told him that you had this done," she said, regretfully returning to her copying of Arsin's Chronicles. To keep her mind from wandering, she began to recite the words as she copied them, letter for letter. "... And six shall be as one, under the path of the Gods above..." And so she went, copying page after page with the sound of her own voice once again echoing off of the stone walls that surrounded her.
Hours passed, and it wasn’t until she was copying her three hundredth page, her eyes began to wander toward the book. It was brown and bound in beautifully tanned leather, its intricate lettering a brilliant gold colour. In the corner of the tome, she saw the imprint of a large oak leaf, the simple, yet telling totem that was often used to represent her people. To her, the symbol represented all that was beautiful and right in the world. After a few moments of admiration, she came to a decision. Placing the quill and paper aside, she pulled the rather large book closer. Opening the lid, she began to read the text inside. It was a list of name after name, nothing more and nothing less. Listed neatly beside each name was a date of birth and a surprisingly complete list of immediate family. She turned through the pages urgently. Occasionally, she glanced at the names as she passed them by. How many elves had been born that year? Finally, her eyes came to rest on a single, glorious entry. This was it. Her palms were sweating with anticipation. She prayed with all of her heart to the patron elven God that this would tell her, once and for all. In her excitement, she began to read out loud, as was her habit. "Tallfelter, Rowan: Born, Ferrin 1." So far, so good. She paused in anticipation and for a silent prayer before continuing to the family column. She had waited her entire life to learn the identity of her parents. Finally, she allowed her eyes to roam across the page. "Parents," Her heart dropped into her stomach as she read the next word. "Unknown." Frustrated, she began to reason with herself. How could parents be unknown to the Record Keeper? If anyone had the answers that she needed, it should have been him, and they should have been in this book. Then, she noticed something that she had not been expecting, "Siblings," she read, "Rondar Tallfelter, Born, Wentil 32." A brother, she did have a brother. By his date of birth, he was only 35 years older than herself, an insignificant number to her long-lived race. Closing the book slowly and silently, Rowan Tallfelter, sister to Rondar Tallfelter wept quietly. Not for the end of the search, as she had been only a moment ago, but for the beginning of a new search. A search for who she was.
While Rowan Tallfelter was looking boldly into her own future, Szark Greengem stood, nearly bewildered, in the middle of his wrecked storage room. Once the Green Mage was satisfied that he had dusted as much flour from his robes as he possibly could, he set to work. He did not, however, bend to retrieve the fallen torches, neither did he fetch a broom to sweep up the spilled flour. Instead, he rolled up the sleeves of his robes, and closed his eyes, bringing to mind the words of magic. The words flowed from his lips like a river runs to the ocean, his arms waved in seemingly random patterns, emphasising each syllable of words that would have no meaning to people who did not understand. And then, as suddenly as he had started, the words and gestures came to an abrupt halt. The green mage, opening his eyes, saw almost exactly what he had expected to see. A clean room, each item in its proper place, not a trace of flour left on the floor. Even his beard was thankfully cleared of any trace of the powder. The only thing that was out of place was a small plush dragon which sat lonesome in the middle of the sparkling floor. A moment ago he had wondered why Rowan had been lingering down here. She had left her room in search of the torch with well enough time to have returned before he arrived. Now he understood. As he stooped to retrieve his son's favourite toy, a small wooden knight that he himself had crafted by hand, he smiled.
"At least I know that she has a kind heart." He said to himself. He had known before this, of course, but it was always reassuring to see proof of this in her daily activities. Too many had come to him, hungry only for the power that the magical arts could bring. To Szark, there were two requirements to the practice of magic which he considered to be sacred. The first was a kind heart. Szark was a firm believer that magic should be used always in the defence of the greater good and not for personal gain. He had spent most of his younger years defending that very same ideal. He sometimes missed those days, fighting alongside his friends, matching his magic with his warrior friend's sword. Those had been simpler times. Times when youth and ideals had outweighed the responsibilities that come inevitably with age and the prospect of adventure was always around the corner.
Once and a while, the pair had been joined by another, more mysterious companion. He fought as bravely as any knight, and yet weapons never graced his hands. He called himself a scholar and always wore a hood to cover his face, “not for my safety,” he would explain, “but for yours”. The other two never once questioned him, but both knew that he was much, much more. Szark had once put this to him, and his friend promptly steered the conversation in a different direction. All of this, however, was well in the past. Now, the warrior Rahal Diamondblayde ruled over Mylund as king, and Szark Greengem had agreed to become the city's High Wizard. The two remained friends to the day. The third in their party however, had seemingly disappeared. A fitting thing for their mysterious friend. Szark wondered a great many things about their companion, but was always certain that he would return.
The second of Szark’s requirements was far more substantial. An individual must show signs of "the gift". For most, this comes gradually, over time. Magic, is not the inanimate force that many would believe it to be. Rather, it is a living, almost breathing thing that seems to live inside of a person. The magic lives inside of everyone, contained and recognizable only as intuition or as luck. In a few though, the magic begins to seep out. Light will accidentally be conjured in the dark, or a campfire will flare up seemingly on its own on a cold night. Harmless, yet to many, inexplicable things like that. Sometimes, however magic is released in a violent burst, the results of which were generally quite harmful to those around the would be wizard. Uncontrolled magic is one of the most dangerous forces that even the vastly intelligent Szark Greengem could possibly imagine. Looking to the doorway that she had run through moments ago, so full of expectancy, Szark was reminded of the night that Rowan had come to the door of his tower.
It had been a miserable night, both in the sense of the weather and on a more personal level. His wife had taken their young son to visit Mylund castle. It was an invitation from the queen with whom Aileen had become close friends. The invitation had been extended to him as well, but he had seen that particular night as a good night to continue his own research. After spending nearly six hours attempting in vain to find a way to blend fire and lightning, which he could conjure separately, into a single spell, he had left his lab and began to wander throughout his tower. Szark was still embarrassed by the memory, because he could remember himself reminiscing about his old adventuring days, and, being so lost in his memories, he had fallen down a flight of stairs. It was as he sat in his parlour, nursing his wounds, that he had heard a light knock at the heavy wooden doors which separated his comfortable tower from the storm which had been raging outside seemingly ever since his wife had departed. Seeing as how there was nobody else to do it for him, Szark painfully got to his feet and limped to the entrance. Normally, he would have cast a spell allowing him to detect any possible hostility from behind the door, but the pain kept his concentration away. So, throwing caution to the wind, he swung the door open and looked into the greenest eyes that he had ever seen. The girl was dripping wet, and, being the kind hearted person that he was, Szark had invited her in. She hadn't said a word to him beyond a muttered thank you when he moved aside to allow her to pass into the tower. Even as he led her down the halls toward the Parlour, she had said nothing. "The poor thing must be exhausted," he could remember thinking to himself, seeing her pale face, and the dark circles under her eyes. When the finally arrived in the lavishly decorated parlour, she strode briskly for the fireplace which, in the cold and dampness which even a magical tower could not avoid, remained lit at all times.