Gregory Pettigrew (etherial) wrote,
Gregory Pettigrew
etherial

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Vestrivan's Heir

I was born in the village of Kael in the Land called Barsaive. To the North and East lay the Twilight Peaks, and to the South and West, the great city of Vivane. I used to dream about those airships and how they'd take me all over the World. I had always wanted to be an Elementalist, commanding the fire and plant and the sea and the earth and the air. My mother tattooed a pentacle on my left shoulder along with one on that of my best friend Odan.

Travellers to our village thought we were twins, we had bright red hair and sparkling green eyes, and were born within a week of each other. His father and my mother were very close friends and would spend many nights talking in the Inn. My father, however, did not like him and made Odan and I play outside.

I had always intended for the two to be half-siblings, but the GM who ran the game didn't catch on to the subtlety.

When I was seven, a man of stone Named Urgulan came to our village with a small group of children. He was looking for the best and the brightest children to attend a Mage School far away. My father gladly let me go, along with many of my brothers and sisters, telling me how I would make an excellent mage. Odan's father, however, would not let him go, so my father told me that Odan should leave his house late at night and follow our trail, catching up with us in a day or two. He told me that Urgulan surely would not recognize one more redheaded child, as all my brothers and sisters that he would let leave had red hair just like me.

Heh. Red-headed Stepchildren. I am teh clevar.

Our journey brought us up into the Twilight Peaks, barely away from the coast of Death's Sea, cold bitter wind blowing on our backs, hot sulfurous fumes burning in our eyes. Some of the children could not handle the harsh extremes and perished in the night or on the trail. Urgulan told us that they were weak and would not have survived long at the school. Their bodies were left where they fell as a reminder that the weak deserved no mercy. The Mage School was hidden deep inside a fissure on a guarded path, only visible from the route we took.

The children of our village were separated, but it was not hard for me to find Odan. He and I still had our red hair, even though mine had begun to darken. Life at the Mage School was hard, many of the children died in our training, but they were too weak to be mages, so it was better that they not be forced to live with their failure. He cried himself to sleep for weeks every time someone died in one of his classes.

Rumour by rumour, we realized that only half of the children who complete their training are allowed to graduate, but it was not for a few more years that we realized how. At the end of each year, those who were ready were each assigned an opponent for a duel. Only one student was allowed to survive. This was the most important lesson taught here. If you cannot kill to survive then sooner or later, someone will kill you to save [themselves].

Odan did not understand, but he also knew that he did not want to die, and so we broke into our teacher's Barracks and found one who had left their grimoire in an obvious spot. We quickly tore through the book and stole a spell powerful enough to cripple our opponent in one blast, yet not so high in circle to make it impossible to cast. Odan slipped the page inside his own grimoire and I tried to show him how foolish he was.

My grimoire was in the form of tattoo, a gift my mother had taught me that served me well. No one could steal my grimoire, no one could burn it, no one could cast my spells against me. What if his opponent were to sneak into his room and destroy his grimoire? There was not time to argue, however. The pairs had been posted and we went to see where our names lay. We were matched.

***

That night I had a dream that I will never forget, for every night it comes back to me. I was Queen of all the World and I sat on a throne of living wood, in constant flow and motion, fitting me perfectly no matter how I sat. Before me worshipped every kind of Namegiver from the smallest windling to the Mightiest Dragon, and at my feet slept Odan. He was naked with a crude collar on his neck, its chain resting in my hand. He awoke from his slumber and climbed on top of me, licking my face and yelping like a dog. I tugged on his chain and brought him to heel.

***

All my siblings that had come to this school had died, and it was all because I begged my father to let me go. The reason Odan was here was because I could not bear to be apart from him. And now, either I was to kill Odan or he was to kill me. All because I had let everyone see how close he was to me. All because I was weak.

Our fight came soon enough. Odan was wearing simple garb. I was wearing my best dress. Just as the fight began, he told me how much he didn't want to fight me...how there must be some way we could both survive. I crouched down and brought forth some torn scraps of paper and lit them. He opened his grimoire and turned to where his spells should have been - the pages had been ripped out. I pulled out the Fireball spell we had stolen from the teacher just the day before and started tying the threads. He just stared, dumbfounded.

I lifted my hand, holding a small burning orb. I tied the last thread and it flew towards Odan, exploding at his feet. The spell dropped out of my hand and I knelt next to him. His charred body struggled to move, his eyes staring wildly into mine. I closed my eyes and kissed him. I rose to my feet and crushed the life out of him with my heel, tears streaming down my face...

***

I left the school shortly thereafter, accompanied by two warriors, a scout, and a swordmaster to help protect me. We were off to do the same service as Urgulan, to find children to train to become elementalists and wizards, illusionists and nethermancers.

The scout took an immediate liking to me and refused to understand that I wanted to be left alone. One night, he came into my tent hoping to prove his love for me. I told him to leave, and to prove my point, I threw some dirt at him, lacerating his face. It had been a long time since I had slept without a pouch of dirt to fuel my Earth Darts spell.

He swore that I would regret disrupting his advances. The next night he came into my tent with the warriors, intending to overpower me. I made short work of him and the two that remained were reminded why they were here to protect me. After the two of them had fallen asleep, I took what little poison the school had supplied me with and slipped it into their waterskins. I grabbed my belongings and headed down the long road to Throal.
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