The fire roars, pouring warmth into the crowded Tavern. Verinfall has become the center of the Academic world after the discovery of the ruins and the fall of Colstean and not many would miss the chance to hear the tales of a Master Bard recently returned from journeying. A tall woman with dark hair stepped up onto the small raised platform near the fire and set herself in a large comfortable armchair. She began to speak a soft voice that somehow filled the room, the ruckus of the tavern fell to the silence of a library so not a word would be missed.
“The first thing I need to tell you about Peter Feylic is that to all outward appearances he was an average boy. Perhaps even less than average. He grew up under the wheels of his family’s wagon train in southern Larana and he wasn’t very good with livestock, he was abysmal in the saddle and he was barely passable with a sword. To most Larana families Peter was what they might call a runt. However, he was a vote and a vote might be the best thing a family can have as it is often joked… I might add rightfully so…. That the Larana raise three things crops, cattle and children” the common joke still brought a bit of laughter to the room and everyone was hooked.
“However Peter was lucky that his Mother was no ordinary mother, I might say that Peter’s Mother may be one of the most important people ever to be born for if not for her unending love and support for all her many children, including Peter, without that the events that I’m about to tell you might have never taken place. I’m sure the bards will one day write long epics about Peter’s mother and how each decision she made affected the outcome of this War. Peter’s mother realized early that his path was not that of the other children and she strived effortlessly to find him a place. It was by luck, fortune or fate perhaps a bit of all three that when the children started to practice their reading, a skill all Larana Children must learn in order to be able to vote, that Peter’s talents with the reading, writing and the academic arts all became so clear. He was placed in the ledgers wagon where he practiced those skills each day. On the day magic awoke Peter was but 13 and he was very sad that he was not one of the many whisked away to magical worlds unknown. Those stories of the Awakening had always been his favorite. He talked to every person he met who discovered magic on the day magic awakened, When he learned that Archmage Cinna had opened a school in Larana he didn’t even think to ask to attend. Why would he? Since he was not one of the many gifted with magic there was no reason for him to attend, or so he surmised. Every night after finishing his ledgers Peter would take one of the few volumes of stories his family had and travel down to the children by the fire and read them a story. It wasn’t required of him, it was just something he loved to do. When asked he would always tell everyone that he loved the stories as much as the children so why wouldn’t he take the time to tell them tales. It went on like this for over a year that Peter would go to tell the stories. When his mother came to him with a bag in hand. You see she had started to notice a change in the children Peter would read stories to. All wounds would heal, they go to sleep especially brave. One child even produced a glow that drove away their fears of sleeping in the dark wagons. Each event had happened after hearing one of Peter’s tales. His mother was convinced that Peter had the gifts of a sage and as they were now nearing Lashorin the location where the Larana academy had been set up Peter would travel with the tradesman the next day to be tested while his family did business in the city. I don’t have to tell you but as you could expect he didn’t sleep a single minute that evening. He packed and repacked his bag at least 5 times. When the morning knock was to come on his wagon he opened it at the sound of approaching feet before a hand could even reach the door. It was a cool spring morning with dew and fog for as far as the eye could see. Peter was loaded in the wagon with the trade goods and he watched breathlessly as his family wagon, his mother and his old life faded into the fog.”
As the master bard paused for a second to take her breath and a sip of whatever the tavern keep had filled her mug with it became obvious to those in the crowd for a mere moment that something was odd about this storytelling for as clear as day one and all felt like they were not merely hearing this story but watching it play out. In front of them. She picked back up with the story and her voice and the vision continued.
“As the wagon left the dirt road to the flagstone of Lasharin Peter awoke, he had finally fallen asleep to the sounds of the dirt trails beneath him against one of the bags of trade goods. His uncle stopped the wagon and pointed him towards a large tower on the Northside of Lasharin and handed him a letter from his mother and father. He was instructed to give the letter to the person inside the tower and follow their instructions. If for some reason he was not accepted to the school he was to return to the north gate before sunset otherwise they would assume he had passed.
The large stone building looked more like a guard tower than any kind of school but to all reports old buildings of Lasharin and been repurposed for the magical school so that made sense. The heavy wooden door swung open with a firm pull. There was not a large crowd in the main hall but Peter could see people moving about. The school was a marvel and one of only three places in the world one could go to receive magical training because magical abilities were still quite rare. Less than 1 in 20 people in the world had any kind of magical abilities and even among them, some were quite weak. He approached an old man sitting at the front desk who was busy reading over an old book. It struck Peter at the last second that this older gentleman was probably also a student here at the Academy. Peter had the letter to the gentleman who simply glanced at it and motioned for him to take a seat along the wall that was filled with other would-be applicants.
The wait between his turn to be interviewed and when he sat down was no more than an hour but to young Peter that hour felt like it lasted his entire life. He watched as one by one each applicant entered the room and left, a few in tears. He noticed that every now and again someone didn’t exist by his guess only three people had not returned from entering the office. Every family among the wagon trains, Peters included, had sent children and adults alike to be tested since the school had opened. Having Great mages would clearly be a political advantage in the coming years and no family wanted to be left behind as a new seat of power formed in the lands of Altera.
When it became Peter’s turn he was led into a room with a young lady who couldn’t have been any older than Peter herself. There were nine items laid out on a table. The lady began to speak “ I’m Professor Priscilla, Head Relic Warden and I’ll be examining you today simply pick up each item spend as much time as you want with them and then put them back down”
Peter’s mind you must understand is the kind that attempts to find the puzzle and solutions before a problem has been presented to him. This is perhaps his greatest strength and his greatest weakness for here he found himself searching for a more complex test, a more intricate exam where there was not.
He wondered how long was too long to hold an item, and when he should move on and more importantly, how would he know if he is doing anything right. The first item he picked up was a small black doll. He wasn’t sure what it was but he held it only for a mere moment or two as something about it felt “wrong” to him Perhaps he should have held that one a bit longer or at least shown that he was putting more thought into it but he moved on. Next was a set of scales with colored tiles. He assumed there must be some complex puzzle here that he was supposed to solve so he spent at least 10 minutes with the scales and tiles until he could balance all of the tiles present evenly between the two sides.. He looked at the professor but she showed no sign of if what he had done was correct in or of itself. Next, he took up a staff and carving knife, he felt like he might be able to do something with these and he carved a few interesting looking “runes” into the staff and then set it down. He moved on to a pile of jewelry most looked very overly ornate so he picked out and separated the pieces he thought had real value versus the over-done workmanship. Next, he was very confident as he picked up a leather-bound tome thinking it must be a sage spellbook. However, as he started to read what he thought would be sage spells the words clearly did nothing and he placed it back down. Following that he picked up a large plaque with only three lines of writing engraved on it as he read it he thought for a second that he had seen the plaque glow … that was good right? The professor had just made a note with that one. There were a few plants sitting on the table, one he was certain his mother had told him was poisonous and while there might be something valid to do here he decided that it was better to not risk it. Lastly, there were a series of wooden blocks, these of all the elements seemed to be naturally alive with magic. He began to draw them out and build interesting structures out of them. He was approaching the 5th Tier of his tower when he glanced up and saw a clear look of panic on the face of the professor. The panic in her face reflected in his hand and he knocked the tower over by pure accident. He felt the magic that he never saw ripping his body apart. He heard a few voices as people he never knew rushed to heal him. He awoke in a small room an unknown number of hours later. From what he could see it was morning. Which means it was the next day. The only thought that could go through his head was “ Well I’ve missed my ride”.
Priscilla the Professor from the previous day… or at least what he hoped was the previous day entered his small room. “Well Mr. Feylic, that was quite a display we’ve never had so damaging an initiation before. Needless to say, you do have a rather dangerous amount of magical aptitude. With that in mind we will be accepting you to the Academy. Rest up Because tomorrow a whole new world begins for you.”
She turned to leave but Peter had one question he had to know.
“ What kind of Magic do I have Professor Priscilla?”
She turned back to him, “That’s the odd thing about you Mr. Feylic you don’t have just one kind of magic but three. We have had several students test positive for two kinds of magic but not yet have we had a student who has the mental capability for three kinds of Magic. You’ll be studying Wizardry, Sage Craft, and Relic Warding. I’ll send someone to give you a tour in the morning and help you get your supplies and a place to stay but for today rest up that was a very deadly crash you had.”
Peter’s head was swimming as she turned and finally left. Not one, not two but three kinds of Magic that was more than he could ever have wished for.”
The image in everyone’s mind’s eye faded as Master Bard stopped talking for a moment her tone shifted from a light-hearted tale to a much more serious one. The last embers in the previous roaring fire popped and she spoke.
“Then Peter dreamed. He dreamed of the wonders that were to come in the days ahead and all the hope that he had for them. That dream traveled somewhere far away from this world to the world where all dreams reside but for Peter, that dream did not stop there it traveled even beyond that world of dreams to the awareness of a dark soul. That dream, Peter’s dream, struck this dark soul and filled it with terror for an Architect of magic had awoken and his path was his own.”
With that, She stepped down from the stage. As she left people slowly started talking again, though no one asked her to tell more. That would be rude. They all knew they would have to return again another night to hear the rest of the tale. However something about that Dark soul she had barely mentioned stuck with them they needed to know more about what lived in the darkness beyond dreaming.