Teaching and Trying
We sat cross-legged on an outlook high above the house on the east side of the valley. The view was breathtaking, the valley stretched for as long as I could see, and it was filled with miniature waterfalls jutting out of the rocky cliffs all collecting into one big brook, the Erebon.
I looked at Kuruk. He was skinny, with light, scruffy brown hair and a dimpled face. His permanent scowl this morning wasn’t going well with his young complexion.
“Dad, why can’t I just learn the big magic already? I’m ready, I know I am!”
I sighed. We’d been over this many times. “Kuruk, there is no need for you to learn the big magic, men who start learning too much magic too early in their lives don’t normally end up in a good place.”
He groaned and turned away, avoiding my eye contact.
Oh bother, here we go.
I pull a small stone out of my pocket and begin rubbing it. It feels smooth and cold in my palm. The graven runes etched along the surface bring back distant memories. I shake the thought from my mind.
“Kuruk, do you know why we got banished to this valley?”
He gave me a quizzical look, “Banished? What do you mean? I’ve lived here for as long as I can remember.”
“Yes, yes, you were just a baby when it happened. I sometimes forget that you don’t know the truth.” I stood up and took a deep breath of air. “Back when your mother and I were first wed, we lived in the village 4 miles south of here. It was called Hotah-”
"Was called Hotah?”
I huffed, ”Is called Hotah, whatever. Stop interrupting. Your mother and I lived there our whole lives, we grew up in that town. When we got married, I started studying the art of sorcery-”
Kuruk looked aghast, “Father!”
I held up my hand, “Yes, I have told you the stories of them, the sorcerers, and the evil they do. But this was different from them. Sorcery is the act of calling upon your own name to wield magic, which is what I did. The sorcerers you hear about in the stories, well, they combine their name with the names of darkness to harness even more power, but it is a chaotic, evil power with little control. I simply just wanted to be self reliant in my abilities. Well, when Lonan, our town leader, found out about my ‘studies’, he was not happy. He feared I would be a danger and a threat to the town. I was forced to stop, except I didn’t. I would practice in secret, with every chance I had, I would dedicate every spare minute in my day to learning how to interpret my own power. It is different for everyone, you see. The way you wield will most likely be different from the way I teach you to wield, my way.”
Kuruk looked confused, “So... sorcery is ok, as long as we don’t call on the dark names...?”
I chucked, “Yes, Kuruk. As long as you use your powers for good, what is the harm?”
“I guess that makes sense. So what happened next?”
“My power got strong. I started being more careless with the way I would use it, until one day, I caused an... accident. This accident was the final straw for Lonan. He shamed me in front of the whole town, disgraced my family, and banished your mother and I here. You were about a year old when it happened. Lonan called upon the name of Star and sealed us inside this valley to ensure that I wouldn’t be a danger again. And here we have lived since then.”
“But why here?” Kuruk asked. “What’s so special about this valley?”
I hesitated. “Kuruk.”
“Four of the most prosperous cities in the land come to mind. What city is north of us?”
“And what city is south of us?”
He thought for a bit. “Aditsan, father.”
“East, and west?”
“Halean and Machk.”
“Yes, yes. And who is in the center of all these cities?”
“This valley is where it all started. Erebon is the beginning of creation, the first region brought to existence by the Brothers. You see those boulders?”
Kuruk pointed out each grey slab around the perimeter of the valley, naming each one by the brother it represented, “Sun, Sea... Sky, Soil, and Star.”
I nodded, “Each boulder was the point of wielding for each brother as they expanded existence during the Creation. This valley is a point of magical significance. It is the very center of creation.”
Kuruk sighed in exasperation, “But then why would Lonan send us here if it’s so great and important?”
I raised my finger, “Because, there was a sixth brother. This brother did not appreciate his brothers’ love for creation. This brother loved destruction and chaos, he took pleasure in ripping down what his family made. Unfortunately, he was the eldest and strongest of the brothers, and there was a tremendous battle in which all 5 brothers joined forces against the sixth. It was a hard, ruthless battle, but finally, the brothers overcame the eldest. Seeing that they were all immortal, and the sixth brother could not die, they banished him into the Unknown. But right before he was banished, he used the last shred of power he possessed and placed a horrible curse upon Erebon. This curse caused Erebon to become a link, a door connecting the two realities. Erebon became the unknown in the known. A place where beings from both worlds can wander. It is a cursed and dangerous land.”
Kuruk sat in silence for a long while, with a look of horror and confusion stuck on his face. “Wait a minute, you’re telling me that our valley is dangerous? Why haven’t we been attacked? Why haven’t I SEEN anything?”
I paused, wondering how much I should tell him.
He’s still so young, so innocent. Why would I want to make him scared?
No, look at his face, he’s already scared. This will reassure him.
“The only reason that we’ve survived as long as we have, is because of my enchantments, I use my power to ward off the Unknown. It is difficult, I’ll admit, but it is the only way to keep us safe.”
“The magic that you’ve been teaching me...” He fumbled with his fingers, “Is it sorcery?”
I looked up to the sky, it was a gray hue, with small splotches of blue sky where the clouds had parted. A breeze swept past us, ruffling Kuruk’s hair.
“I teach you both sorcery and wizardry. Both are good ways to wield magic for different reasons and situations. Sorcery itself is not bad, it is what the Sorcerers do that is bad. We do not follow their footsteps, we use it only when we have to, and we do not... draw power out of the Unknown. Sorcery is the art of wielding magic through one’s own energy. Wizardry is harnessing the universal power of the Five Brothers to bend to our own will.”
I leaned back, studying my son’s face. “Do you understand, Kuruk?”
He knitted his brow, “Yes... yes I think I do. It’s just all so confusing.”
“Yes, it takes a long time to understand it all, but it will come, I promise.”
In the distance, we heard a faint shouting. It was Tula.
“I think your mother needs some help with lunch.” I got up, “I will go, why don’t you practice that spell I taught you yesterday, the growing one.”
Kuruk smiled, “Yes father, I think I’m getting the hang of it.”