A secret well hidden
Lady Sherann of Thivally was feeling rather peaceful this lovely evening, the sun was setting behind the beautiful towers of the fifth island and the air was filled with the pleasant fragrances of high summer. She turned her face toward the light and sighed to herself, she had to admit to herself that she should be very pleased with her work and what she had achieved. But she could not, she still felt a sort of irrational guilt she could not explain. The garden she was walking through was perfect, no other word could describe it. Flowers and trees were growing there in a seemingly random pattern but everything was in fact placed according to very skilled planning. Nothing was out of place, not even the vines that were growing between the branches had been allowed to follow their natural pattern. This was nature made more natural than it actually was and she did not know if she liked it or not. It was beautiful but she felt that it was stiff somehow. There was nothing of the free energy she sensed within a real forest. But it was as it always had, their house had always been famous for their garden and she could not just go ahead and change what had been a trademark for their family for millennia.
She sighed, took a look around, tried to return to the peaceful state she had been in. It was hard to find peace these days, and she was feeling tired. Things had not been thus when her husband had been alive but he passed away because of a tragic accident two years earlier and suddenly she was left with the responsibility of ruling their house. And that job was not something anyone with a soft heart and weak condition should try, it was back breaking and she sometimes felt like she had put her hand into a nest of venomous snakes. Her husband had been strong, he had a lot of authority within their society and everybody respected him. She had lived within his shadow and had been happy that way but now she had been pushed into the light and had to do what he had done.
Sherann had been a high priestess of the Goddess Ahklariel for most of her life, it had indeed given her both a taste of power and a deep insight into the minds of others but she had never imagined that ruling a noble house would be this demanding. She felt trapped, no less than that. As a priestess she had often been involved in intrigues and petty fights between different groups within their herd of believers and also between followers of different deities but the constant battle for power that was fought among the seven ruling houses was down right in sane.
Her race was a peaceful one, or at least that was the common belief but by every god she knew of, the noble houses were no less ferocious and bloodthirsty than a band of wild orcs. Murder was not the way of their people, after all they tried to be civilized but the gossip and the dirty tricks were often no less lethal than a dagger. Magic were commonly used to assure one owns power while destroying that of others and every house had at least five strong magicians. And a whole herd of priests and priestesses who sought their own form of power. By influencing their masters they could increase the wealth of their own temple and it had become a spider’s web of hidden treaties and alliances that could make anyone confused.
Sherann was in a way lucky, her house was the lowest of the seven noble ones and it had been so for ages. To some this was a sign of weakness and a lack of ambitions but the truth was that they knew how to survive. Being among the top houses was practically equal to being at war and while the others were spinning their plans and wasting their energy the seventh house was growing ever more powerful but doing so very slowly and discreetly. She had to smile to herself, the methods that were used! Lies and deceit was of course normal, everything well camouflaged as friendly advice and benign chit-chat. Getting someone of your own house married into one of the houses above you was just normal, it was to expect and nobody saw anything weird in it. Parents were desperately trying to catch the attention of that particular someone they thought could make a good son or daughter in law and the children themselves seldom had anything they should say.
It was terrible really, they were all the children of light and yet they were struggling to climb this rather rackety social ladder like they were worshipers of the dark gods. But time had forced this change upon them, they had removed themselves from their original state and she felt deep within her heart that it was the commoners who carried the true legacy of their people. Her class was no longer what they once had been, not in any way. They worshiped nature like all of their race but denied to see the true beauty of it and she knew of no one who would leave all this luxury and wealth behind and live like their ancestors, free within the shades of the mighty forests.
In fact they lived so far away from the rest of their people that some nobles never had seen a city or a natural forest. It was a shame, it truly was. The seven islands of the sacred star was the ultimate symbol of their power and in her eyes the ultimate symbol of their failure. When had power become more important than people, than happiness and fulfillment? The seven islands were artificial, some said that a very mighty magician had formed them during a stormy night with the help of a horde of demons. The lake which housed them was huge and not very deep and now it had become like a world of its own. All islands were shaped like a star with seven spikes and they lay there with wide canals between them. To travel from one island to the other one had to use some of the very lovely boats that lay moored at the designated piers and the water was literally sparkling with magical defenses and some more sinister ones too. She knew that falling into the canal could be fatal, there were things living in the lake that could strip a body of flesh in a few seconds.
And this was the fate of her people, of this ruling class. To become so paranoid and mad they literally caged themselves in and forgot all about living. Of course the islands were beautiful, admired by everyone and many came from other countries just to behold them. The buildings on each island were representing the preferred style of the house that lived there and so were the rest of the island too. Her family had chosen natural shapes to their architecture and garden, it wasn’t too bad and seemed inviting even to Sherann’s eyes but she had to admit that their island was rather anonymous compared with the grandness and glory of some of the stronger houses.
Towers of silver or gold, gardens made from magical plants and animals or gardens where everything was made from living crystal. It was such a waste cause in her mind nothing could ever compare with the beauty of a real forest. But it all showed power and nothing showed power more than the island of the house of Hara’kree, the ruling house. They had the most influence and the ruler of the entire society was of that house now. On that island which was the biggest of them all everything was kept in an almost Spartan form. There were nothing extravagant or luxurious to be seen, the walkways and gardens almost bleak compared with those of the other houses and the buildings simple and almost boring to watch. No magic, no extra lighting at night and absolutely no show of strength. Because they did not have to, everybody knew what Hara’kree could achieve. One word and everyone could become nobody over just one night. They had the most powerful wizards and the greatest wealth and everyone who had actually visited the island could tell that inside of the seemingly mundane buildings was a luxury that was both overwhelming and tasteful. And that was one of the very signatures of the Hara’kree family, taste!
The only reason why Sherann liked them was that fact, their taste. They were known for elegance and style, not for being of those who thought that they could show power by over dressing and carrying enough jewels to almost break their own necks.
Yes, Sherann liked some of the Hara’krees, since they did not have to fear being overthrown by some devious outsider they relaxed and sought other things than just worldly power. Some were great artists or very devoted priests while others spend their time doing charity and helping the less fortunate members of their people. Yes, in her eyes the upper house was the only one worthy of respect. The lake lay far from any city and the area was very secluded and peaceful, like a small world of its own and it was both a good thing and a nuisance. If their forefathers had placed this center of power within a major city everybody would have been able to see reality every day but to most of the upper class the world outside of the sacred star was a mere word. It did not concern them and they knew very little of the realities of everyday life. Sherann was privileged by the fact that she had served as a priestess in the temple of the country capital and had seen more of the world than many others. And thus it saddened her even more to see how unreal the lives of many were.
She walked through the garden, the sun was warm and she fanned herself and tried to keep a straight face as always. You never showed anyone your true emotions and she could never allow herself to seem weak or even distracted. There were eyes everywhere and even within her own house there were people who would have enjoyed to see her removed from her position. But she was too smart, to cunning. Sherann had lived for more than one thousand seven hundred years and that gave her enough respect to secure her in at least some ways. But on the other hand the future looked a bit bleak in deed. She had only one child and he was a weakly boy who didn’t seem to be interested in anything except books and sulking. He was her great sorrow and the source of many of her worries, a boy should be more energetic and show more initiative but Ushann was the opposite of their ideals. A silent and somewhat shy child who just celebrated his eight birthday and he was not at all the future leader they had wanted. He would never be able to lead their house cause he would bend to the will of others and allow them to lead him in whatever direction they desired. Sherann could see that very well, she was a master at reading peoples personality and she had little faith in Ushann, he would never change.
There were too much of his father’s family in him, their lack of a strong will and lack of self confidence had struck again within this boy and she could only be grateful that it had skipped his father. She sighed and walked on, she would have to come up with a plan to save their position, a marriage with a good and wise woman was of course an option but treasures like that did not grow on trees. She would really have to think hard to find a solution.
She sat down on a bench and tried to relax, she could see a gardener working on a decorative fence close to where she sat. He was obviously trying to fix it and she saw that a young boy came running to him with some tools. It had to be an apprentice but so young? The upper class seldom noticed those who worked for them but Sherann was different, she did not see her own class as any different from all others, they were just born by the right parents and luck had decided this fact. She cared about her servants and she cocked her head and stared at the man who tried to push two parts of the fence back together again.
He was a tall blond man with the smooth features of the elven race native for this land but the boy was dark. Sherann got curious, the child was obviously trying to obey and learn but it was rather clear that he didn’t enjoy the work. His attention was elsewhere and Sherann had to smile. Children were innocent and didn’t always understand that their parents only wanted what was best for them. She fanned herself again and allowed her inherited special power to get active. She had been born with the gift of chere-char, the eye that saw everything, it was a secret within her family that some women had this ability and she rarely used it because it gave her a terrible headache and could show her things she really didn’t want to see. But there was something about this child that made her forget about that.
To Sherann the gardener and the child suddenly were surrounded by a strong light and its color and shape told her a lot about the person. The gardener’s aura was normal, he was a strong healthy male who probably was a very good person, dedicated to his work and his family. But the boy… Sherann felt how all color faded from her face, she had to gasp for air and grasped on to the bench not to topple over. She had never seen anything like that, anything more horrifying or fascinating and she did not understand. She had to use all of her will power to pull her gaze away from the child, her heart was thundering in her chest and she felt her throat go dry. The aura of the boy had been unlike any aura she had ever seen, it carried within it every thinkable color and yet none, and there had been things moving within it. It had reminded her of staring at a thundercloud, it carried with it an ominous warning of great danger, and power. More power than she could comprehend there and then. She gasped again and the gardener got aware of her and her obvious distress.
He walked over toward her and stared at her as politely as he could. “My lady, are you OK?”
She had to grasp a hold of herself, tried to smile and seem calm but her mind was racing. What was this? “I…I am fine, it’s just the heat.”
She straightened herself up and smiled at the man, fanned herself frantically to hide her emotional chaos. The boy walked over to the man, stood there and stared at her and she felt cold chills running down her spine. He was a beautiful boy, in fact one of the loveliest children she had ever seen in her life and she could see that he had to be of mixed heritage. His features were not entirely elven and she had a suspicion that one of his parents had been a half elf or at least someone with a bit of human blood.
She smiled at the two, tried to look like the powerful and yet benign lady she was known to be. She had become good at hiding her true feelings over the years and knew that they probably believed her. Everybody knew that the current fashion often caused the high ladies to faint, those darn dresses demanded the use of tight corsets and she hated it of all her heart. “You have brought an apprentice to work I see?”
She smiled at the two and the man ruffled the boys black hair with a loving gesture. “Yes my lady, he is my grandson actually.”
She raised a perfect brow in a questioning grimace and the man bowed slightly. “I am known as Aldhiin lady, he is my son’s child but my son and his wife died last summer. It was at sea, their boat sank and I have been taking care of him ever after.”
Sherann smiled, could sense the man’s sorrow. “So your daughter in law must have been darkhaired?”
Aldhiin shook his head. “No my lady, she was blond like my son. They could not get children on their own so they adopted him, he was found abandoned on the steps of the orphanage in Chualdy.”
Sherann blushed, she feared that she had insulted the man somehow. “I…I am sorry, I really am. I have no business asking such questions, but he is such a beautiful child”
Aldhiin smiled lovingly. “Yes he is, and he is smart too. Much more bright than the other boys of his age. He should not have to become a gardener but what other options is there? We are poor, we cannot afford sending him to school.”
Sherann sighed, it was a common problem. The children of the rich and powerful got to learn the things they needed to remain powerful and rich and the children of the poor remained poor. But she had to find out what it was she had seen in this boy’s aura. «I am sure he is very bright yes, how old are you young man?”
The boy bowed and swallowed, he was not shy or withdrawn like her son and it made her heart ache. He had such wonderful blue eyes, blue like nothing she had ever seen. They looked almost unreal and she wondered who his true parents were. “I am seven years old my lady, and my name is Kyall.”
Sherann was for a moment startled by what he said, just seven? He was tall like a boy of fifteen and the name? She knew why he had gotten it, it was his eyes of course. That color was so intense and Kyall was the name used for a very special type of steel that was almost legendary. It was known for having an intense beautiful blue color and as far as anyone knew only six items had ever been made from this metal. It had fallen from the sky itself within a falling star and a master smith had wrought six weapons from the heart of that star. Two daggers, two swords and two battle axes and all the six weapons were masterpieces unlike any other ever made. And they hid a terrible secret. All of the weapons forged by that dwarf smith were magical and they would feed upon the very life of those who were killed by them and give the one who wielded them an almost unending amount of power. They would draw magical powers too and so the weapons had been known as the dragon blades since some dragons were able to feed upon the magic of others. They were lost somewhere within the oceans of time and nobody knew where they were now but the legends were still well known. But she did not like the idea, that such a beautiful boy was named after the most terrible weapons ever made.
“It is a very nice name young man, don’t you like helping your grandfather with the gardens?”
The boy shook his head and stared down at his shoes.” No, it is boring! But he says I have to, I want to be a knight or something!”
Sherann forced herself to laugh. “Oh I am sure you would make a fine knight too, the very best!”
The boy blushed and stared down and she could see no evil in this child, he was innocent like all children are but she could sense the potential within him. By the gods, there had to be a way to… She shook her head, no, she would not think that thought. She could not exploit a child that way, even if he somehow could strengthen her position. Kyall was staring at a bird that flew by and there was a strange grace within his moves that reminded the noble lady of the huge cats she had seen in the king’s zoo.
Aldhiin touched the boys shoulder. “Come now, we should not disturb the lady any further. The fence does not repair itself”
The boy turned his head and looked at her once more, there was a silent question within those incredible blue eyes and Sherann had to swallow hard. By everything sacred, this child was indeed special. She had to do something, there was a mystery there somewhere and she needed to get to the bottom of it, and soon!
She hurried to her chambers and fetched the key to the huge library the family had gathered over the centuries. They had books of almost every thinkable kind and some were very ancient and valuable. She hurried down into the huge room and stopped at the entrance. She had to know what she was looking for and sighed. It would be tricky but she had a small trick up her sleeve. She pulled a small crystal hanging in a chain from her pocket and whispered a few silent words, the crystal began to shine and she followed the small streak of light. The light was leading her along the huge shelves and she threw nervous glances around her. The huge room was dark and dusty and it smelled of something stale and dead, it had to be the books that smelled that way.
After a while she stopped before a small shelf at the back of the room, she lit a lamp and stared at the books gathered there. “Show me which book I need”
The light turned toward a rather small and insignificantly looking book that had been pushed in between a rather monumental book about the herbs of inner Vhyliar and a book about rare and exotic dishes made from fowl. She pulled the book out from the shelf and hurried back toward her chambers. She did not want anyone to know what she was doing and so she ordered the servants to leave. She claimed that she was tired and needed to sleep, they believed her because she had been pushing herself hard lately. The newest achievement, a trading agreement with some well known merchants had been made possible only through countless meetings and a lot of presents and some rather huge payments underneath the table. But she had pulled it through and the deal was done, right in front of the other houses. She was a little proud but also ashamed.
There had been a time when someone’s word had been enough, now there was no such thing as loyal attitudes or honest trade, money was everything that mattered and the deals and the wealth went to those who could pay the most. It was a shame, the world had changed a lot since she was a child and she feared the consequences. She got her tight yellow dress of and put on a soft robe. Here within the walls of her own chambers she could relax and just be herself and she got rid of her jewelry too. She was expected to show the family’s wealth by wearing expensive dresses and fine jewelry but she hated it. She had never really cared about fashion and had always thought that the body in itself was pretty enough without being adorned with such trinkets.
She placed herself in her bed and started looking at the book. It was a book of ancient magic and it told of many magicians that were forgotten by everyone these days. But they had been great names and she slowed down when she suddenly recognized what she was reading. It was a description from the days before the great disaster when dragons were common and the lands wild and uncharted. There had been magicians and warriors back then with powers nobody possessed any more, the power to rule the forces of nature and control the mightiest of beasts.
She knew of the history of their lands, everybody did that, even the commoners. Once upon a time there had been no countries, just one huge land where several kings tried to rule as best as they could and even though there had been freedom there had also been wars and many battles. And the magic had been more vibrant back then, almost everyone owned that special power that was given to them because of their heritage and there had been few cities and many tribes were roaming the lands like nomads. And the dragon guards had protected the goodly races from the evil forces of darkness that was always trying to gain control.
Sherann closed the book, bit her lower lip. She thought she now at least had a suspicion of what it was that rested within that boy, a power that could turn both to good and bad. What should she do? Should she allow him to be just a gardener? He would probably spend his life peacefully and with a feeling of being incomplete but was that so bad? Was there any other choice? She sighed, hid the book within a secret room in her bed and tried to sleep but it was hard. She trusted few people but she knew of one person who maybe could help her decide what to do. Yes, that was the answer. She would go see that someone the next day and then she would know what to do. Relieved she fell asleep and dreamt of a pair of beautiful and yet terrifying blue eyes that carried within them the promise of both life and death.
The next day the lady ordered her carriage made ready and she hurried with her first meal of the day. Still she tried to appear as calm as possible because she would not reveal her plans and what she was so frantic about. She dressed in a rather plain dress and had her handmaidens braid her hair and tie it up in a simple style, she was good looking and she knew it and she also knew that her face was well known everywhere. Sometimes that could be a problem so she made sure to bring a few small items along with her. She gave the driver the order to set the course toward the capital as soon as the boat touched the pier and he drove the two horses with considerable skill. The road was wide and well maintained and they made good speed. The carriage was not particularly nice, in fact it was the same type of carriage people who made a living by transporting passengers and goods used and the horses were of the local breed that was plain but strong. She tried to remain as anonymous as possible.
They reached the gates to the capital that evening after a few shorts stops to rest the horses. She was unimpressed by the sight she had seen so many times before but others stopped and stared at the mighty walls and the impressive castles and temples within the city walls. The driver went straight to the address she had given him, he was very loyal to her and she had in secret made sure that he would keep his mouth shut too. She had put a small spell on him that made it impossible for him to remember where he had been for more than a day and a night.
The house was small and ancient, squeezed in between two warehouses and it looked like it was about to fall down. But it was a charade, the building was very solid and she left the carriage while squeezing one of her magical amulets between her fingers. To anyone watching her she would look like a wrinkled old human woman wearing nothing but rags and hardly worthy of any attention. She knocked on the door and went in. The room behind the door was empty and seemingly abandoned. Garbage lay everywhere together with bird droppings and spiders webs and the smell was terrible. She stood still for a moment, a cold feeling rushed through her and she closed her eyes. When she opened them the room had changed into a very inviting lounge with couches and soft chairs. There were lights everywhere and a soft sent of perfume hang in the air. The place looked a bit like a brothel but it was no such thing and the woman who came down the stairs to greet her was only known by a very few.
Sherann bowed and the sorceress smiled at her and embraced her, she looked genuinely happy to see her. “My dear friend, I have not seen you for years, what brings you to my humble abode?”
Her voice was melodic and soft and told nothing of the fact that this woman was ancient even by the way elves regard time. She had gorgeous sparkling green eyes and a thick red hair and a body that made many a man forget his own name.
Sherann smiled and returned the hug, this was one of her best friends and a person she knew she could trust. “Nhalaine, I have discovered something very strange and I need your help to decide what to do.”
The sorceress took her by the hand and lead her into a room that was much smaller and very comfortable. A fire was lit in the fireplace and the smell of flowers was breathtaking. She sat down and Sherann sat down beside her. “Tell me more my friend, open your mind and let me see what it is that is bothering you!”
Sherann sighed and cleared her mind, opened herself to the sorceress telepathy and allowed her to see her memories and her thoughts. Nhalaine was silent for a few minutes, searched through Sherann’s memories and she froze and sat there in a strange position. She was panting and her eyes were wild.
“By the gods…”
She grasped Sherann’s hand and stared her straight into the eyes. “It is as you fear, what you suspect. He is…”
She closed her eyes for a few seconds and there were fear in them when she opened them again. “There has not been anyone like that for millennia Sherann, nobody knows what he is capable of or whether he will be good or evil. But there is power within him to do both, and it cannot be denied nor erased. He is what he is no matter what happens to him and it is the core of his soul. “
Sherann sighed, looked down. She felt sick, that poor innocent child. “Is there anything I can do, I wish to help…”
Nhalaine closed her eyes again. «His path will be one of blood, no matter what direction he chooses. I can see pain in his path, and death but also joy and maybe even love. Few souls are like this one, a beacon in the night destined to change the world for good or for worse.”
She placed her hands on Sherann’s shoulders. “There are things you can do yes. This world will be hard on him, he is different and will always be. People will sense it and fear him or face him with hatred or even turn their backs on him. Teach him strength sister, allow him to grow to be more than he thinks that he can be. Clear the path towards greatness.“
Sherann made a grimace. “And if he is a bringer of chaos and death?”
Nhalaine petted her on her cheek. “Then be it, it is destiny and we cannot make those Gods turn their plans into something else.”
Sherann nodded. “I will help him, no matter what. His grandfather will be grateful if I pay for his education, and no mind should go to waste.”
The sorceress smiled gently. “Wise words my dear, see to it that he gets all the education he wants and desires. He will be of great importance one day, I can see that. And even if his destiny may be a harsh one he will face it with pride.”
Sherann bit her lower lip. ” I would really have loved to know who he really is and who his parents were?”
The sorceress looked down, there was darkness in her eyes. “That is a question to which he should never find the answer, but the gods have played a very strange game with his existence. He was conceived with the help of ancient and forbidden magic and although he is mostly of elven blood there is also some small amount of a different type of blood in him, and that being was one of the condemned.”
Sherann went pale. «By the goddess, a dark God?”
Nhalaine nodded, there was a hint of something wild within her face, something that told of disgust and even fear. «It is not possible but yet it has been done. I think some of the brothers of darkness are behind this, I know there have been rumors of them interfering with nature in the most terrible ways and this would be just the kind of thing they would try to do.”
Sherann gasped and for a second she hid her face in her hands. “The circle of magicians destroyed the last of the brotherhood six years ago.”
Nhalaine smiled and the smile was not a pretty one. “And the boy is seven? Just the right age, his mother was probably unaware of the nature of the child she carried and the gods of destiny saw a chance to let the ancient power come to life once more. When the brotherhood was destroyed there was no one left who knew of what they had done.“
Sherann made a determined grin. “The mother must have abandoned him, or perhaps she died?”
Nhalaine closed her eyes, searched through the energy she had seen in Sherann’s mind. “She is dead, nobody knows the truth any longer. And it is good.”
Sherann nodded. “But what will it do with him?”
Nhalaine just shrugged. “The gods alone knows, I do not think he will need to drink blood or anything like that but there is one thing I do know for sure. He is a child of both life and death and so he is completely immortal.”
Sherann closed her eyes. “I should expect that, after all he is of mostly elven origin, but totally immortal? Poor child.”
The sorceress smiled, caressed Sherann’s hand. “We can only use what the gods have given us, to him they have given a gift that can be both a blessing and a curse, and it is up to him which way it will turn. He will be comfortable both with darkness and light, fear not for that.”
Sherann made a faint smile. “Still I pity him, I can’t help it”.
Nhalaine smiled. “You have a soft heart my friend, and it blesses you in every way. See to it that he is properly schooled and leave the rest to the Gods.”
The lady took a deep breath. “That I swear to you, I will do everything that is within my power to prepare him for his destiny.”
Nhalaine smiled and embraced her gently. “I know you will, and don’t forget to tell me everything that happens.”
Sherann sighed and straightened her skirt, she knew what to do now but it would not be easy. She could not let anyone know she tried to help the boy. But she could surely do it, she had her tricks and knew how to use them too. She thanked the sorceress for her help and just prayed that nobody ever would know the truth.
They talked for a while about other things and when Sherann left the sorceress it was night. She was tired but remained awake the whole way back to the island. She had to make careful plans and be sure that there were no holes in them. Her servants helped her to bed and she fell asleep knowing that she suddenly had a mission and one she feared to fail at. The power she had seen hidden within this child had to be a secret well hidden from everyone, perhaps even the boy himself. Only time would show what kind of man he would turn out to be.
The next day she got busy making arrangements, she had many people serving her and many more who owed her favors and she pulled every string she knew of. Before a week had passed by the gardener received a heritage from a distant relative he didn’t even know he had together with a scholarship at the best academy of the capital. And the lady offered him a new job at her palace in the city so he could bring the boy and let him use that offer. It sounded almost too good to be true but it was real and so the boy started at the ground level at the academy.
Many there sent their children to school when they were only six and to the boy it was a shock but a good one. Suddenly he could learn things and he was among the most eager of the young students. The first year went to basic things like reading and writing, math and such things but later the masters would determine what path would be best for the individuals and try to teach them enough for them to make a choice for themselves.
Kyall was no noble, he was a commoner and even though his grandfather now had money he was still a nobody. The other kids often made fun of him when he did not know things they were brought up to know but he quickly learned to ignore such things. There was a burning desire within him, a desire to learn and explore and the masters were very satisfied with this boy. He was best in his class and soon he excelled in every way. The boys were naturally trained also in different martial arts and Kyall was very strong for his age, and he had a body control that was just amazing. The teachers swore to themselves that they could create a warrior like no other out of this kid and they did not care who he was. To them talent was all that mattered and the fact that the teachers liked him made some of the other boys hate him, but he did not care.
And Sherann was watching him carefully, she removed any obstacle in his way and made sure that his progress was without any thing that hindered him. He could soon read like he never had done anything else and the boy flourished, he enjoyed this life to the full.
He got to know Ushann, Sherann’s son. He was also an outcast among the others and the two boys formed a very strange friendship. Ushann was older than Kyall and a noble but they looked upon each other as equals. They both had a strong need to learn and loved books but where Kyall was strong and agile and soon became a promising fencer, Ushann was weak and frail and feared weapons. But they protected each other and so the years passed. Training and learning, learning and training and the boy spent all of his time either reading or doing physical training. And it showed too. The school was the best in the country and the students were well fed, they never had to go hungry and the boys the teachers thought would be knights or warriors were given the best food. He grew, and he grew fast too. He soon outgrew his classmates and the masters agreed that he would be an extremely tall man one day, and strong too.
The other boys never tried to make friends with Kyall, it was as if they somehow sensed something within him that scared them and when training he would sometimes lose control of himself and become more violent than he should. He broke another boys arm once and dislocated the elbow of one of the teachers and that was a turning point. He was old enough now to realize that he had to remain in control of himself and he joined those who were meditating and sought to unravel the mysteries of the mind. And also there did he stand out among the others, the master saw his potential and made sure that he also got some training that involved magic and the use of magical items. It seemed as if he was carrying the powers which others would need decades to learn, to him it all felt just natural and he didn’t really need all that much training nor advice. His days were filled from sunrise to sunset and it felt good that way. He never had to think about the fact that he was of simple birth and he could feel that he was achieving his goals.
When the other boys were leaving the school at night to party or visit the taverns he would study and the masters were encouraging him. He learned that he had some special gifts that made the magic teacher beside himself with fascination and the masters of weapons allowed him to train with boys who were several years older than him. And he raced through the lessons with incredible speed. He was never satisfied with only a piece of information about a topic, he wanted the whole truth and he often spent long evenings in the school’s library with Ushann and they managed to read books not even the senior students were allowed near.
Kyall had a strange feeling sometimes, like there were voices within the shadows and they were calling to him but he did not know what they were saying, all he knew was that it scared him. Since he was a friend of Ushann Sherann often saw him and she was surprised by his development.
At ten he was as tall as a boy almost fully grown and when he was fifteen he was more than six feet five heading towards seven feet and looked fully grown. And yet he continued to grow and the hard training gave him a body few of the masters had seen the likes of. He was finished with all the masters who taught things like history and religion when he was sixteen, there was nothing more anyone could teach him. He was just as learned as the masters themselves and they saw in him a jewel, a hope of achieving something grand. The only things that were left for him to learn were physical and he trained even more than before. When he finally stopped growing he was seven and a half foot and still as elegant as a good sword but with amazing body control and strength. Ushann still had a long way to go and he spent his spare time helping his friend achieving his exams. The two were like brothers but things were changing now, Ushann was coming of age and he did notice some things that had been of no importance before but they bothered him now.
Ushann was by no means ugly, he was just frail and his frame delicate and almost feminine and he had his mother’s lovely brown eyes and nice skin too but compared with his best friend he was just bleak to look at. It was like comparing a small ragged pony with a huge beautiful steed. Kyall did not have time to bother with girls but Ushann quickly developed some healthy urges and he gradually grew jealous of Kyall and was terribly ashamed of this fact. And so he made the decision that would change their lives forever. He chose to become a magician.
Thus he would gain the respect of others he though since he never would be able to compare with Kyall in other ways. Kyall of course supported him like he always had but he did somehow doubt Ushann’s motives. To be a magician was a very long and hard path to wander and it required an inner strength that few men did possess. Some of the things a magician dealt with on a daily basis would scare other men to death and the training would take the better part of a century. But Ushann was certain, it was his destiny to become a true magician and the masters too supported him because they could sense at least some talent within the boy.
And so did the two boys wander onto different paths and their friendship became more distant but yet real and true and they kept in touch and met whenever they could. Ushann seemed to thrive, at the special school for magic he was just like the others, a bookworm who never wanted to excel in battle and he got more open and flourished. He even went out and visited the taverns every now and then. He had money and influence because of his name and soon some started to gather around him, he got a small flock of followers and this small taste of power made Ushann hunger for even more. He lost his virginity at nineteen to a barmaid with a very nice bosom and lots of experience and that made him aware of pleasures he had denied himself until then. He still studied like before and he learned a lot still but his goals became more and more distant.
Kyall on the other hand finished his education when he was twenty, by then he was the best fighter the school had ever created and the rumors said that nobody would be able to beat him no matter what weapon they used. He had lightning quick reflexes in spite of being way over seven and a half foot tall and he had the elven elegance and slender frame but he was much more toned than a normal elven male and also wider across the shoulders and back.
He was skilled in magic too and although he was no magician he knew enough to use even difficult spells safely. He was in perfect control of himself and the masters had begun to bring him with them into the city to test him out. They knew that he needed to see reality and learn how to behave among others and for an entire year he travelled around the country side and learned about nature and its mysteries from an old ranger. Kyall learned also these things fast, he had this insatiable appetite for knowledge and the ranger also taught him of the different dangerous creatures one could encounter. Soon he felt like he had found his calling, he and the ranger tracked down and killed several monsters and Kyall discovered that this was a perfect way of living. He loved the forests and the moors and he started to shun the cities with their filth and crowds.
Soon he left school for good and started working as a ranger and the rangers took him inn with arms wide open. The rumor of his skills had spread wide and far and they were thrilled to have such a magnificent fighter among them. He was doing good work and felt happy and although he was somewhat shy he did make friends. And then one day Sherann came to see him and he immediately knew that something was wrong, the lady seemed worried and in distress and she was pale. She told him that Ushann had started to gamble, he was drinking and sleeping with whores and he had already wasted a lot of money. She was deeply worried and asked if Kyall could try to talk some sense into him. His studies were suffering from all this and the masters were furious. If he did not make an effort they would banish him and as a half studied magician he would have no future to speak of.
Kyall promised to talk with his friend and left for the city that very evening and Sherann could only wonder about the changes that had happened to the once innocent child. He was just half a foot short of being eight feet and had a physique that was nothing less than stunning, and yet he was slender and elegant like a giant cat and so handsome even men with no gay tendencies would turn and stare. But the biggest change was within his eyes, the innocent look had been replaced by one of bittersweet sadness. He had learned so much and seen so much and he knew that the world was a tough and dangerous place and far from just and righteous. His grandfather was well taken care of, he would live his life very well but that peaceful life was nothing for Kyall. His blood was too wild, there were still those voices within the darkness and he feared what they might reveal. But as long as he kept moving around and kept challenging himself he did not have to listen to them.
He found Ushann within a tavern in the more dangerous areas of the city. Here you would find cutthroats and scum everywhere and it really was no place for a young noble man. Ushann was not pleased to see him, in fact he was furious. The sight of his old friend reminded him of too many things and he wanted Kyall to leave. He did not want to stop this wonderful new life he had found and he saw nothing wrong in it. He should be allowed some fun before he put on the cloak and the hat and Kyalls pleading words had no effect. Ushann got really angry and now Kyall saw the less than charming side of his former friend, he turned against not only Kyall but everybody within the tavern. In a drunken stupor Ushann did what no magicians apprentice should ever even think about, he started using spells. And things got from heated to hellish.
Suddenly the place was teeming with small demons and Kyall had a hard time protecting the rest of the guests from them, the beasts were quick and lethal and several got killed. Kyall tried desperately to fend off the terrible creatures, the building caught fire and people got trapped and something within him just snapped. The fear and the shock pushed him through the barriers of his own mind and allowed him to see things he never had seen before. He knew how to fight them, and he did without hesitation or even thinking. They fell dead before his feet. He got the people out of harm’s way but Ushann was still on the rampage and now he tried more spells and threw them at Kyall who just shook them off and desperately tried to talk Ushann into submission. It did not work, and suddenly Kyall heard those voices again and now he understood what they were saying and it made him more terrified than anything he had ever encountered. The shock made him freeze for a short second and Ushann threw one last spell at him.
It would have killed any ordinary man, elf or human but it only hurt Kyall. It hurt him so bad he screamed and dropped his sword to the ground and Ushann was beyond himself now. The rage had possessed him like a demon would and he saw red. To him everyone was an enemy and he started to conjure up something even experienced magicians with many centuries of studies would refuse to even think about. He was opening a gateway to another dimension and he was probably planning to bring something through from the other side. Some wizards from the school managed to get into the building just at the moment when that portal opened and a long sticky burning tentacle came through and swung around the screaming apprentice. He was pulled through before anyone could do anything and the portal closed with a terrible bang that almost brought the entire house down.
The wizards managed to pull Kyall to safety but he was heartbroken. He had not managed to save Ushann and even if they over and over again ensured him that there really had been nothing he could do he did not believe them, not entirely. He blamed himself and he was deeply scared by this strange glimpse of the powers within him. He had heard the voices and they had been pleading him to kill, to lose all control and become a tool of death itself and he refused to listen to that. Instead he had almost gotten himself killed.
Some said that this would have happened anyhow, Ushann had been a disaster waiting to happen from the first day he joined the academy and it was plain luck that not more people got killed. It could have gone far worse and Kyall was seen as a hero. But he felt nothing like it. Sherann mourned her son but she did not blame Kyall at all and that made him feel even more terrible. Why had he not seen the flaws within Ushann’s character earlier? Why hadn’t he managed to turn things around? Those were pointless questions and they bothered him for a long time. Sherann gave him some of Ushann’s belongings. She said that they were tokens of gratitude, after all he had been her son’s only friend for years and it had brought her too great relief and joy. He felt ashamed by her gratitude and did not feel worthy of his things but he did keep them. She told him that he always would be welcome within her house and he could sense that she wanted him to come and visit but he felt like it would be wrong somehow. He had realized who it was that had helped him all this time and he was grateful but also confused. He had no idea why and Sherann could only sigh and tell him that it was because of the innocent child he once had been. It was an answer but not the whole truth and he knew that she never would tell him the rest of it.
And so Kyall left the area, left the city and the country and tried to leave also his memories behind but they continued to haunt him. He had failed, but he would never fail again, not in such a way. And at the sacred star Sherann could only hope that what she had did had been enough to strengthen him for the future that lay ahead. She sensed darkness approaching and knew that changes were coming, changes nobody could have anticipated.