Serialized Original Fiction: "Neverdie" Chapter One, by Jon Wood
Editor's Note: This is the first chapter of a weekly serialized story we kicked off last Sunday with the prologue.
Rowan Tallfelter shifted restlessly in the uncomfortable chair that had been given to her by her teacher. At the moment, she cursed the man for his lessons. There were plenty of chairs that would have been far more comfortable in the great tower, and many rooms more lavish to say the absolute least. Her mentor, however, had said, "Concentration will wane in the lap of luxury, while it shall thrive in destitution." The Green Mage always said things like that. Overly convoluted, cliché and unfortunately, usually right. The young elven woman cursed him for his wisdom and his hat. She hated that floppy green hat. She sighed.
Pausing to let her eyes wander around the room for at least the third time, she saw exactly what she had seen the first time that she looked. Nothing at all. The room itself was tiny, no bigger than some of the closets on the lower floor of Greengem Tower. The single, rounded wall was barren. Only a pair of torches, flickering and hissing against the cold stone, interrupted the un-inspiring color grey. As a matter of fact, the only furnishings in the entire room were her lamentable chair, a small oaken desk, and the stack of books and papers which she would need to complete her task. Human volumes of “Arsin's Chronicles”, the un-inspired name given to a set of ancient books that some on Terria would have paid any price to possess. To the young elf though, they were worthless.
"There is no magic here!" Rowan complained to herself, frustrated by the tediousness of the task. The sound of her voice bounced strangely off of the cylindrical walls. The echo only seemed to mock her, and served to depress the beautiful girl further. Rowan had long silvery hair which normally flowed freely down to the small of her back. A thin strip of white streaked through it on the left side, not as an indicator of old age as it would be in humans, but rather was nothing more than a striking birthmark. On most any other day, her hair would be left to flow around her face and to blow freely in the wind. Today though, it had been hurriedly fastened up so as not to become covered in the ink that was already smeared over her hands. Even the tips of her delicately pointed ears, a trait of her race, carried the black-smeared mark of a scribe. Not that her hair, in any state would have hidden her fey heritage. Her other singularly elven features gave her away without a moment’s hesitation. She had green, almond shaped eyes which were suddenly wet with the near tears of her frustration.
It was two years ago, nearly to the day, that Rowan had discovered her magical gift. She had travelled the entire distance from the Lands of Oberon, treasured homeland of her people, seeking the well reputed Green Mage of Mylund. Her adopted parents had begged her not to go.
"Those are Human lands child," her mother had said. "You will not be welcomed."
"Do you think that I don’t know this?" she had answered stubbornly, wishing with all of her heart that she could stop her mother's tears. "I just have to leave." That too, was the truth. Somehow, as young as she was, Rowan Tallfelter knew that she had to travel far from the Lands of Oberon, the ancestral lands of her people, and into the realm of a race that she had never before laid her eyes upon. To the lands of a race of people who were known for their fear of that which they do not, or can not understand. The choice had not been an easy one.
Her father had even gone so far as to promise her an apprenticeship under Illanias, Archmage of Oberon's Forest, a promise which Rowan knew would be impossible. Aside from her own family’s low class in society, Rowan also knew that the Lands of Oberon had known nothing but male magic users for thousands of years. A backward tradition in Rowan's eyes, but tradition was paramount in the hearts of the long-lived race and would not be changed so easily. There was only one place where she could harness her gift, and that was under a Human master. Szark Greengem, The Green Mage.
Striding down the hall, her feet cushioned by the soft green carpeting, Rowan slowed her pace. Why should she be anxious to retrieve another torch? Another torch meant an immediate return to the dreary words of a long-dead prophet.
Her pace slowed, Rowan began to examine the walls of the tower proper. The ornate decorations that lined the wall were uncharacteristic to the homes of humans. The first time that she had seen these banners, it had shocked her. According to her teachers, Human artwork was supposed to be clumsy, with a noticeable lack of detail. These wall hangings were precise. Her favourite hung above the doorway which led to her own chamber. It depicted a small child, staring in wonderment at a beautiful green forest. The greatest of attentions had been paid to each and every detail, from the blowing leaves on the trees, to the small, barely perceptible squirrel climbing an oak. In a way, it made her feel closer to home, where elven works of art were always displayed proudly. The pleasant banner and the reminder of home had distracted her longer than she had intended. Taking a deep breath, she continued through the hall, and then down the other two flights of stairs leading to the supply room. Arriving, she was surprised to see that the door, usually kept closed, had been left slightly ajar. She found this curious only because Szark was usually so very particular about neatness. Slowly, Rowan reached out and pushed the door. As she was about to walk into the room, she heard a loud crash, followed by the startled yelp of what could have been anything from the cry of a nervous rodent, to the war call of a Goblin.