Well, I was going to put something up here before someone else put up something snide. It was actually coming out okay, but like an idiot, I didn't save, and it got lost by my lovely craptop and its complete lack of battery life.
Such things are very encouraging. I have had a bad week already. I will rehash it later.
Good skills: Bluff, Concentration, K. Arcana, Spellcraft
Decent skills: Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate, Use Magic Device
Crappy/untrained skills: Appraise, Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Forgery, Gather Info, Heal, Hide, Jump, Listen, Move silently, Ride, Search, Sense motive, Spot, Survival, Swim, Use Rope
Feats: Combat Casting, Extend Spell, Silent Spell, Blind-fighting, Improved Familiar
Spell-like Abilities: Flare, Expeditious retreat, Message
Languages: Common, Draconic, Elven, Sylvan
|0||Ray of Frost|
The Pevishan race has a very close connection to magic. Pevishan are born marked with a color -- hair, eyes and tattoo-like birthmarks -- that corresponds to a school of magic. They exhibit innate abilities to detect and resist this type of magic, and have great facility with it when trained as arcane spellcasters.
I am Pevishan. Like my parents and grandparents, I was born with soft, downy dark green hair, and intricate green markings across my face, neck, chest, arms, hands and legs. My parents were quite proud of their firstborn son -- until I opened my deep crimson eyes.
My parents called me Lakash, but no great announcement was made of my birth. No one in the village had ever heard of, let alone seen, a mismatched child. I grew up mainly alone with my family, and did not often play with other children. When I did, they invariably teased me. Children can be so cruel. Always, always I wished for the same beautiful green eyes my parents had. As I grew up, I often overheard the hushed discussions about whether I would ever develop the magical talent that the other children often displayed, and what form it might take -- usually with a note of honest love and concern in my parents' voices, and the twang of a gossiper's tonuge in the words of others. My mother gave me lessons, when she had time between afternoon chores, about the basic magic she knew, but I never went to school. When I was old enough to pay attention to the interactions the village adults had with my parents, I started realizing that they were treated poorly because of me. I began to wish I could just fade out of their lives, but I knew how lonely my parents would be. One night, overhearing my parents' conversation in the next room, I learned that my mother was going to have another child. I listend quietly as my parents shared their hopes and fears.
"Much as I love our darling Lakash, I don't know if I can handle another child quite so terribly unique," my mother said wearily.
"I know, love. I'm sure the baby will be fine." My father's voice sounded tired as well.
"Midwife Alaine may not wish to come back. She hardly speaks to me."
"Maybe there is a way to start over. I know it won't be easy, with a baby on the way, but we could move. The village Odamra came from, that he speaks so highly of, is a good two months west of here. If we sold the house, we could get a wagon and supplies. We could start again. Think about it?"
"You may be right, sweetie. Maybe that's what we need."
There was a empty silence, and I could hear plainly what they didn't say. With a misfit child, going somewhere new wouldn't be enough. I waited until I was sure they were asleep, and then got up and dressed myself. I packed some food, took a knife and a waterskin, and with a shaky hand penned a simple note to my parents. I left the village and snuck across the fields to the nearby woods. I waited there until almost sunrise. When I closed my eyes, I could almost feel my mother's tears when she picked up the single piece of parchment with a childish scrawl that simply said "I love you." As the sun came up, I turned into the woods, and started walking.
I spent weeks walking through the forest, staying away from roads. Eventually, I came to an open field with a bustling town and a main road through it all. After a moment's thought, I found a stick I could use as a walking stick, ripped a strip off my shirt, and bound my eyes. I walked hesitantly to the edge of the main road, and headed through the village. I was able to beg a few coins, as a blind orphan, and buy more food. But the town was loud and busy, and I found I preferred the woods. So I left that town behind me, and continued through the woods.
One night, as I slept, I began to have strange dreams, and woke sweating and cold. Fitfully, I slept again, only to feel worse when I awoke. I stayed ensconced at the foot of an ancient oak tree, fevered and delirious, for two days. I woke again, parched, but knew I had drunk the last of my water the night before. At first I thought the voices I heard were dreams, or nightmares, and then a cold hand touched my cheek.
"Pick him up and bring him -- he needs a cleric, as soon as possible." It was a strong but quiet male voice. "The hunt can wait."
I could remember being picked up and carried, but not where or how far. I came back to my senses lying on a low, soft bed. A man was there, speaking softly, but it was not the same voice, and he did not seem to be speaking to me. The language he spoke was pleasant, but unfamiliar. I coughed weakly, and propped myself up a little, but hesitated to open my eyes.
"Where am I?" I asked.
"Finally awake, young man?" The gentle voice said. "Look around, and see for yourself. We have no real name for our village, and you already knew you were in the woods, so I can hardly tell you where you are."
I hesitated. I heard in my mind all the teasing of the kids back home, the quiet voice of my father saying, "Maybe there is a way to start over." I took a slow deep breath, as though I could change myself just by trying hard enough. It felt like an enormous weight, pressing in on my chest, and as I breathed out again it seem to slowly release. I opened my eyes, and stared. It was a small room, open on two sides, and looking out the open sides, I could see just treetops, the tallest and strongest of them with more of the same rooms nestled into the crooks of their branches. An elven man sat against the wall, just at the foot of the bed, looking at me, smiling.
"It is breathtaking, isn't it? It's been 200 years and it still surprises me every morning when I wake." He paused. "Do you have a name?"
"It will do, for a child's name. Mine is Tandrien. And where are your parents, Lakash?"
"I don't have parents any more."
"So, you will be staying, then?"
I looked quickly back at his face, startled. Tandrien's gentle smile had turned into an impish grin. "Think about it," he said, turning away. "There is a lot we could teach you here." He stepped onto the rope bridge leading to the next tree. "Those striking green eyes lend quite a lot of expression to your face, Lakash." Tandrien walked off across the bridge, chuckling. Looking around the room, stunned, I saw a washing basin and a small mirror. I crawled out of the bed and stumbled to the mirror. There I was, looking back at myself through deep green eyes. As I stared, they faded slowly back to the crimson color I was so accustomed to seeing. Confused, and still exhaused, I splashed some water on my face, drank from the waterskin next to the bed, and went back to sleep.
During the night, I woke briefly, just enough to hear Tandrien talking to a woman, near the bed.
"The sickness has been cured, and he just needs to rest now," she was saying. "I must confess I don't see the touch of magic in him that you do, but of course, you have a much finer sight for it than I."
"He cast a spell yesterday. I was only half paying attention, and almost missed it. Just as he woke up, before he sat up and looked around. I just saw a quick flash, and then the lingering transmutation effect on him."
"I wasn't doubting you. You have never been wrong about a matter of magic before, and I certainly don't expect that you are now."
I drifted off again. When I woke in the morning, Tandrien was there. He was meditating at the foot of the bed, and I didn't even notice him until after I had washed and turned back towards the bed. He opened his eyes to look at me, and immediately raised one eyebrow.
"Oh...perhaps now I see more clearly," he said. I felt so afraid, suddenly. I tried to look away, but he came over and took my chin, forcing me to look up at him. "So that's what you changed."
"What I changed?"
"Yesterday, you cast a magic spell, little Lakash, that made your eyes look green. You've studied magic?"
"My mom told me about it, before...when I still had parents. I didn't know it could do that." He withdrew his hand, and I went to sit on the bed. We talked for most of the morning, and Tandrien offered to teach me as much about magic as I could learn. He told me about the village, a group of elves and half-elves who choose a quieter life in the forest.
When it grew near my 15th birthday, Tandrien told me I would come of age that year.
"It will be time to let go of your childhood name, Lakash. Here we choose our own names, as we choose our hopes, desires and destinies. You will be called on to announce your name when you come of age at the next full moon. Some children change their names only a little. A few keep them, and a few choose entirely new ones. It is up to you to decide." As you might guess, he taught me a great deal about speech and expression as well. He was always collected and well-spoken. And yes, I chose the name Ellowyn for myself. It may seem like I've cast off my last tie to my family, but that is not quite the case. My father's name was Elkaret, and my mother's was Norowyn.
In total, I spent almost 12 years there, learning from Tandrien. Being his student was always both difficult and rewarding. Of all the arcanists I've met, he has had the best connection with pure magical power. He was a master Arcane Avatar, and when I left to seek out a Spell Siphon, he asked me to come back some day, when I was ready to bond more deeply with magic. My training as a Spell Siphon already has given me an incredible connection to magical power shaped into transumtation effects. Lately, I've begun to catch glimpses of that connection to other kinds of magic, and the beauty that all magical forms hold. I look forward to the day I can sit and meditate with Tandrien again. But I have more yet to do before that time comes.
When I left the elven village, I left as a poor, blind sorcerer. I brought what food and water I could carry, and bound my eyes with a plain cotton bandage. In the years I had spent there, I had changed so much...it was hard to believe anyone might recognize me. Still, I sought a different Pevishan village rather than return to my own. It was a long journey, but not unpleasant. Living with elves can teach you a great many things beyond just one specific skill, and that village taught me to enjoy being part of nature.
Anyway, I arrived at my destination after a month or two. It was a mixed group of Pevishan, elves, humans, gnomes, all sorts of other people. A blind spellcaster is not exactly a common sight to see, but there was enough variety in this town that no one really singled me out. There were actually two Spell Siphons here, though Klynne was definitely the master. I arrived late at night, and wasted no time in seeking her out the following morning. I presented myself to her plainly and humbly, asking only what would be required of me for her to accept me as a student.
"Why should I teach you?" she asked me.
"It is a good question. What do you wish in a student?" I replied. I could see the movement, through the thin cotton, as she started slightly, surprised at that question.
"No one has ever asked me that before. I like students who ask intelligent questions, and have little patience for any other kind. My students are expected to learn through practice as well as study, though I'll wager book learning is not your strong suit." She paused. Believing there was more, I waited. After a moment, she continued.
"Normally, I also have an aptitude test that any caster must pass before I will spend my time on them. And of course, there is a ritual of abstinence from your birth class's magic. I assume if you have come this far to learn the ways of a Spell Siphon, you knew that much."
I smiled, when she paused again, but continued to wait quietly.
"I expect no less than brilliance from any student who remains with me. Those who do not exhibit the level of talent I demand tend to leave of their own volition. I only teach one student at a time because I intend to devote myself to a strong relationship, and I expect to be rewarded as much as any of my students."
"I see. Then, you should teach me because I will learn twice as much from you in half the time of any other student you've had. And I can both hope and strive to provide you with as much of a chance to learn from me as I was able to provide my last teacher." I added a respectful nod.
She chuckled. "I will prepare my tests for you. Either you are right, or you'll be gone in less than a day. And if you're right, it will be well worth it. Meet me at the end of the stone wall, at sunrise. Get a good night's sleep. I'm so tired of stuffy, book-wielding wizards. I haven't tested a sorcerer in a good 15 years."
"Thank you, Mistress Klynne."
"I have doubts you'll ever say that again."
I just smiled before I left.
Can you already tell I'd just set myself up with another serious taskmaster? Needless to say, I passed her tests. I'd like to say I did it without breaking a sweat, but it's really the other side of that coin. I worked quite hard at her tests not because they were difficult to pass, but to see just how much I could excel at the tasks put before me. I took all of her training that way. How quickly I could progress, how far beyond her expectations I could reach, how completely I could reverse her views. It can be oddly satisfying to challenge your master, and she met every one of those challenges. She was a firecracker, and I was always composed. We had quite a rivalry, she and I. Some days, we almost fought. One day, we almost had an affair. And, I held true to my words -- I learned more than any of her other students, and I did it quickly and efficently.
Once I had enough of a start down my path, I left again to travel. Tandrien had an old friend I wished to visit, a peculier Old Man who seems to have set me down a peculiar path. And there begins a very different story.
First, Sil met her mom. Apart from the obvious jokes about Michael thinking she was a wall, and other such things, it was very interesting to see that reunion. They've been apart longer than my parents will live. It must be so different to have all the time in the world. There was the hatching of Seth and Mirenuth's little one, Jir returning home to rebuild his village, Michael's mother...and now Ezel's sister. It seems that everyone is finding some part of their family, and in ways, regaining some part of themselves.
I know I will never be a city boy, and can feel that I was meant for the wandering life of an adventurer, like so many of the new friends of mine. Looking now at my own past, I know I would have left my home. I needed real teachers, real experiences, real travels. I needed to be alone, with just the dirt road beneath my feet and whatever food I could find or catch. Nothing else prepares you. Even before I left home, I was restless. I think my heart already knew what my life would be. During my stay in Greywood, I wondered sometimes whether I would ever regret leaving home. I have not yet, and I believe now I understand that it's because I would have left soon anyway. My mother's little words and cantrips were a great help to her in keeping her house and raising her family, but she had little drive to learn more than that. However, I know she would have recognized the signs of a caster in me. Even without Tandrien coaching me, I know this part of me would have emerged. Maybe a year later. Maybe even less. They could never have afforded to pay teachers like the ones I found for myself. My mother would have known that, and she would have seen me struggling against myself.
I prefer to believe I will meet them again, some day before they die. They were so young when I was a child, yet our lives often are so brief. I am sure they are old grandparents by now. I would like my mother to know what things I have done, even if I am not proud of some places I have gone. I expect she would be quite surprised, and that it will take them some time to understand. I hope, when I do meet them, that they have enough time left to see that the life I have made for myself has brought me joy.
There are times, rare times, when I consider that my parents may be angry with me. It's so difficult to picture my mother that way. But I can see my father with an accusatory glare. I can see him telling me I took the easy way out -- little does he know. Or that I've hurt my mother. When I was younger, that thought made me angry. Now it makes me sad. Often, when I see a response like that from someone else, it is because they do not know how to express what they feel. Perhaps that's why the thought no longer angers me.
One of the many things I learned in Greywood is that thinking ahead to situations you cannot predict is a very touchy path to walk. I am careful that I consider, and evaluate, but I refuse to let myself be worried or afraid. However I come to meet them again, or not, will be another experience, and another story.
It's interesting to watch how money motivates people. Our new guide, Struquin, is quick and attentive and incredibly smooth when there might be a monetary gain to be had. Of course, Sil's dragon-horde tendencies are fairly obvious. Michael, of course, tithes almost everything to his temple -- and yet, that means the more money he earns, the more he may donate to that cause.
I have never spoken to her about it, but I suspect Querca's opinions and behavior would lie closer to my own. Now that I've found my share of gold, of course, I have quite a few nice things. Certainly, these items I have purchased to enhance my abilities have probably saved my life on occasion. But money has never really been something I've sought. It felt natural, when I had none. Now it feels natural, being able to buy whatever I need.
Obviously, when I was barely 10 and running away from home, I had no money. When I lived as a child with a village of elves, I had no need for money. Everyone in Greywood took barter or trade. You did those tasks at which you had ability, and traded your time and effort for what you needed. There were very few gold coins in that wood.
So of course, I had no money when I left. Why would I? When I arrived at Corrolith, it was a bit of a surprise. Well, obviously it wasn't really a surprise, but it was something I hadn't thought about. But there are enough people who need a helping hand, or will throw a blind man a few coins for a good story. Corrolith was so bustling and busy it overwhelmed me a little bit. But the light wood was nearby, and the general store gave me a very kind discount on a tent. Would you believe that I camped for over two years? Klynne was so surprised. I took great joy in shocking her. I had been her student for almost half a year before she had a need to come looking for me on a day we had no appointment. She swept into town, asking the usual gossips where I lived, and no one seemed to know. She even went to the hall of records at the library to look up records of purchase, to see if I owned any property, and asked at the two Inns that offered long-term rooms. Finally, one of the beggers I stopped to talk to occasionally in the town square, an old blind gnome who played the flute, told her to look for my tent at the edge of the woods.
As luck would have it, I was just returning from a food-gathering trip. I bought meat or other "luxuries" in town, now and then, when I had a few coins, but most of my food was gathered from the forest, and occasionally I could trap a rabbit. So, there was Klynne, standing confused in front of a small tent, looking at the low campfire and trying to reconcile this with her star pupil, when I walked up carrying two rabbits, and a pile of wild herbs and mushrooms. To this day, I can still recognize all the herbs that were native to that area by touch and scent alone. It was a very logical conversation that ensued, from my view, but just got stranger and stranger from hers. Why do I live out here? Because I do not have a house. Why do I not have a house? Because I have no money. Why do I have no money? Because I choose to train, and have little time for work. But what do I eat?
That was when I sat down to clean my rabbits, and revived the fire to begin boiling the water in my cooking pot. At my gentle invitation, she stayed for dinner. She had to leave the next day, to attend to some sort of business a week's travel away, so she had come to tell me there would be no lessons for a month or so. It was one of the few times we sat and talked, with no teaching or trials or butting of heads. She was almost a different person, as though she had been transported to another world. To me, this was life.
She only mentioned it once, the day I left. There was an impish smile on her face, and a teasing note in her tone, but I could feel that she was a little jealous of the freedom I had. She never once asked if I would ever settle down or change my ways. I think she understood that at the time, my supposed poverty was simply a reaction to the circumstances, and that I would adapt when the situation changed. Others who knew me in Corrolith would probably be shocked that I have become so outwardly refined, and have so many "things" now. I do not think Klynne would be.
We all think about our old friends -- and lovers, and enemies -- especially when we spend so much time wandering. I'm not so sure I have a home yet, but I certainly have a long list of people I have promised to see again. Sometimes I promise them I will come back. Sometimes I only promise myself. I'm not sure if it was Struquin's visit from his lady (as if he would have only one...) or the way Sil looks at Zahn, but my mind keeps wandering back to Klynne. For a long time, I thought it would always be Raine nagging at me, in the back of my head, but I was wrong about that. At some point, my memory of Raine faded to a misty childhood dream, glowing with naive clarity, but muffled like the sound of a snapping twig in the snow. My memory of Klynne is vivid, complex, hard-edged and brilliant like a stroke of lightning.
I would not recognize her by sight, but I believe that is the only way I could be deceived. I would know her voice in one word. I would feel her emotions in one sigh. I would recognize her power the moment she cast. That may be my clearest memory of her, because I spent so much time watching the magic swirl through her. She glows like flowing lantern oil lit on fire, streaming and swirling at her feet, chaotic and fierce but always in complete control. Each spell is a wild, entrancing dance that threatens to pull you in, drain your soul away and make it hers. There are ways a sorcerer can be beautiful that no one else can rival.
It has jarred me, to think it's even possible we could meet on opposite sides of a battle field. As with my parents, I am wary of thinking too far down that road. She is no longer my teacher. Somehow, I believe that has granted her even more control over me. When we meet again, and I will make sure we meet again, there will be no more master and student. There will be Ellowyn and Klynne, and I owe her one more kiss. Just one. I hope that is a debt she will allow me to settle.
Apparently, I have now also found a missing part of my family. Not my parents -- but something much more distant. Cybilenemarea is her name. The most surprising part is that she recognized me. Our generations are such a blink in the life of a dragon. But once she explained that her father had known one of my ancestors, it suddenly made sense. She was able to awaken a power I did not know laid dormant within me. I have a tiny slice of bronze dragon heritage. It explains a lot of things about me, not least being my connection to magic, but it opens questions too. Some day, I may have to find out more about my ancestor, and what favor he (or she -- Cy didn't say) did to gain such a close relationship with this family of bronze dragons.
I expect Tandrien will also be very curious when he hears of this. I'll have to ask him if I look any different, before I tell him the story. He's probably old enough to know someone who could tell me where to start looking. Or, as usual, maybe he just knew all along but needed me to "discover it for myself". That's absolutely the kind of thing he would do. I can already picture him with that oddly mischievous glimmer in his eye, just smiling and not saying a word. "You will have fun exploring this new part of yourself, little Lakash," I can hear him saying. Like an old grandfather, he never stopped calling me by my childhood name.
I am wary of being too quick to fully embrace my draconic heritage. Wary sounds very negative. Perhaps 'cautious' would be a more appropriate word. I will have to take my time finding out what this revelation brings.
The Bigger Picture
It has always gnawed at me, to know that my life would come and go in the blink of an eye. That in all likelihood, I would not have the time to leave any lasting mark on the world, to figured out why I am different from so many of my kind, to achieve the kind of existence I had the smallest glimpse of in Greywood. Yet, here I am standing at the end of a long and difficult path that has certainly changed the way things are. The past few months have held so much pressure, so much drive towards one goal, that I feel almost in shock now that it is over. The path behind me is very well-defined, and the space in front of me now is so open. Where do I go next?
I'm no longer the scared child who ran away from home, nor the determined student seeking his teacher across the world. I'm not the same man who left Corrolith, nor even the same person who began this journey. But that doesn't mean my hopes and desires have changed so much. I need to see Tandrien first, that much I know. I need to learn my new way in the solitude of home. In the instant that Bahamut bestowed his gift upon me, I felt so many things. A lifting of pressure in my mind that I didn't even know was there. A filling of myself with serenity, almost visceral, like it crept into every miniscule open space in my body, flooding my lungs with every breath. A relaxation of the tension caused by being constantly coiled up in anticipation of the next instant, needing to make each moment meaningful. When I smiled and nodded my thanks, even that smile felt completely different from any way I had smiled before. I have time. I will understand Tandrien, and Greywood, very differently when I return.
Another pressure on my heart has eased as well. Since I left Corrolith, I've always known I would go back. I've always known why I would go back. But, how would I tell her? How would I tell Klynne the truth? I promised myself that I would never hide from her again. Fellithysaar has given me an answer -- the history of my kind. Cybilenemarea has also given me hope, in the form of re-awakening my bronze dragon heritage. I am beginning to see better how it ties in with who I am. Armed with that information, I finally feel like I can justify, at least to Klynne, not being a freak. I have no desire to be a great, bold figurehead to change the ways of my race. But maybe there's a quiet way to do this, by having a family some day, by telling stories, by turning into a legend that others can tell their children. This kind of change takes time. But, as I said, I have time.
As the old man said, there is a war starting. It's going to be big and bloody, and I'm sure we will be involved. I don't know whether to hope I will see her before I go, or after. I can't see a road ahead, and sometimes chance prevails.