Shard and Nur: 1
Shard was out exploring some of the most frigid sections of the Ice Kingdom, where blizzards and storms happened nearly constantly. Even he, an Icewing, could feel the bite of cold here. He came out here for isolation, and time to think. And mostly, because he wanted to get away from his parents.
They meant well, but they were so incredibly overbearing. He felt smothered whenever he was near them. A vast difference from the icy attention other Icewing parents gave their own kids. It made him stand out even farther than he already did, hatched and partly raised outside of the Ice Kingdom, in a small multi tribal village.
He sighed, and inhaled, feeling the frozen air enter his lungs almost painfully. It truly was cold here. It made him wonder. Was it just him, not used to the supreme cold, or was it truly cold? He shook his head, to clear his mind. He came here to destress, not stress more.
He found a large snow pile, and decided to launch himself into it, for no other reason than boredom, and it looked fun.
Instead of a soft pillowy mound, he slammed into something, the layers of snow cushioning the impact to be less painful. Ow. Luckily, he didn’t break any of his bones, and the pain was fading away slowly. He laid there, in the snow, on top of whatever he just jumped into.
After he felt okay, curiosity overtook him on what he possibly could have landed on. Using his claws to dig, they soon found themselves scraping against smooth stone… bricks? Now this was interesting, Shard mused. Very, very interesting.
He decided to dig further, to see what he had unearthed. During this time, the wind picked up, and snow flew around in a flurry. A full on blizzard was kicking in, and the already freezing temperature dropped further. Shard’s digging grew more frantic. Perhaps he could find shelter in whatever this was.
He claws finally scraped against what appeared to be a door of sorts. On the rightmost side of it, was a stone loop. Figuring how he had nothing to lose, he pulled the loop, and found it hinged up a bit. Grunting with effort, he pulled the circle back, making the door open with a grinding noise.
Stale air immediately billowed out, and while it was stale, it was warm, chasing away the cold for a few seconds. There was somehow some form of light inside, even as the sky darkened further from cloud and snow.
Shard made his choice, and headed inside, squeezing into the doorway just barely big enough for one dragon. A similar stone loop was on the inside of the door, and with another grunt of effort, he pulled it closed, sealing him this strange place.
The moment the door was closed, the dim light brightened, revealing the room. It was domed shaped, and larger than he was expecting. It lowered into the ground a bit, expanding its size even further. There was a lot of dust in the air and Shard could feel some dust settling in his mouth as he breathed.
Decorating the walls were various bookshelves containing old scrolls, and ancient tomes. In the center of the dome, underneath the light source, which was some sort of large moon globe, was a circular desk, with open books, quills, and inkpots, and other such things. It looked like it was somehow untouched by time, that even if a century passed, it would still look the same.
There were some other, smaller tables scattered throughout the room, unfinished items and odds and ends on them. Some were simple, like, what appeared to be a knife made of some iron, to things of which Shard didn’t even know what he was looking at.
Where there weren’t bookcases, maps and diagrams, and even some trophies lined the walls haphazardly. What drew the most attention was a round crimson oval, barely larger than his claw, that had two blue sapphires inserted into it, and a black curved something. It almost represented a smile, but Shard couldn’t be sure.
In fact, it looked like a very, very crude face of a Scavenger, if a Scavenger was red, and had sapphires for eyes, and a crude black grin. A mask. It was a mask, it clicked in Shard’s mind. A mask that would fit a Scavenger, and he knew they were crafty enough to make one. The only problem was that it was too big to ever fit on their weird flat faces.
He felt drawn to the weird thing. It seemed almost out of place for the entire motif of this dome. For some reason, it sparked wonder. As he got closer, the moon globe’s pale white light started shining off the sapphires. Except when he stopped moving, the reflected light in the sapphires moved towards him. Somehow looking at him. He felt chills down his spine, and not the cold kind.
Peering closer in morbid curiosity it was not reflected light, but as if two very tiny white flames were inside the sapphires. They moved around, tracking his movement. And Shard had the definite feeling as he observed the weird mask, it was observing him back.
Totally not creepy, at all. Nope… not at all. And he totally didn’t yelp in surprise when the mask started speaking.
“Look, I know I cut a good figure, but no need to eye me over all like that.” Its voice was weird. Instead of coming behind the mask, it was like it came out the front like a normal voice, which made it all the weirder. It spoke concise and clear Dragon, and sounded masculine.
“You can speak?” Shard couldn’t help himself.
“Well seeing how I am making sounds that are understandable to you, yes, I can speak.” It had a droll tone, and it rolled it white flames around in the sapphires, like they were pupils.
“Right…” Shard felt silly. He was talking to an inanimate object that was very much animate. And he asked the thing if it could speak, right after it spoke.
“Well, have you come to claim the treasures of the O’ Mighty Silvermist, the first dragon wizard…” It said the name Mighty Silvermist with a mocking undertone. “the only thing larger than dragon greed is dragon ego” muttered the mask to itself, but still entirely within earshot of Shard. He felt offended for his kind, but taking a moment to think, he did have to grant the mask that, despite how much he disliked the fact.
“Uh… no, not here to take anything.” Shard answered with an awkwardness. The entire thing was too weird for him.
“Lovely! Would have to fry you if you did, and you seem like a nice… is your kind called Icewings again? Yes? You seem like a nice Icewing.” Shard was a bit put off at the casual mention of him getting fried if he tried to take anything.
“Wait, wait, wait, so if I did take anything, even by accident, you would kill me?” He asked, hesitant on the mask’s supposed ability to harm him.
“Eyup! And there are a multitude of ways I could kill you, but just plain old frying you is quick, easy, and mostly painless. I am sure being drained of all blood, or suffocating, or getting crushed, and all of that, would not be pleasant.” The complete matter of fact tone threw Shard off yet again, and cemented the idea that this mask could in fact kill him. And none of the listed deaths seemed pleasant, at all.
Shard’s mind finally caught up with him, and he backtracked to a previous statement.
“Wait, what do you mean by, O’ Mighty Silvermist dragon wizard?”
“It’s a dragon, that’s a wizard.” The mask stated like it was obvious.
“Well, yes, but what is a wizard?” Shard asked.
“More than one description, but an entity that can do magic, and arcane spells. Basically manipulating reality with their will, etc. I myself, could, extremely technically be called a wizard, but that would be heavily incorrect, as I am more of an Elementalist, and a Cultivator. I can send spikes of earth and fire crashing down on my enemies, and out punch just about anyone, but casting arcane missiles? Nope!” The mask seemed almost braggy about it all.
“Okay~y~y then…” Shard was now just more confused than ever. The mask was a what now? It didn’t matter. This could be all attributed to a crazy animus, who made all of this up, and made this mask.
“I can tell you are doubting me, which is a real shame. But you see that white crystal on that desk over there?” The mask gestured with its ‘eyes’ to a small desk with an open scroll and a white cloudy crystal, which was long and rectangular, but could fit easily in his claws. “Now, just stare into it, and really, actually look at it,, and it should clear up a lot”
He didn’t really trust the mask, but again, he had nothing to lose. Hesitantly, he went over to the crystal, and just holding it, Shard could feel a thrum coming from within it. Wary, he started staring into it, and almost dropped it in surprise when something happened. He mustered his resolve, and stared at it.
The crystal seemed to dance, as reality in the corner of his eyes started to distort. A distinct crystalline ringing sound rang in the background, so very close, but impossibly far away. He was here, but not here. Not anymore.
Falling, rising, dancing, nothing, everything, color that is heard, and sound that is seen. Blue matrixes of light explaining secrets of the universe. Going deeper. Reality folding, splitting. Magic. Fire, ice, earth, windwateraciddarknesslight. There was so much, too much. Abstract ideas given form, shapes that ranged from one dimension, to all of them. Colors that don’t exist, and sounds intermixed.
Yet more still flooded his mind. Images of great and terrible things. Monsters of creatures of such twisted evil and power that would make Darkstalker look like a daydream, and heroes who fought against these monsters. Cities of light and crystal, shining resolutely, and then destroyed, and then rebuilt. The scenes shifted, going faster and faster. Liquid trickled down his eyes like tears.
It was all so beautiful. Concepts of which he has never understood before made perfect sense. If he merely stared deeper, he could understand everything. But who was he? He was awash in color and sound and beauty and horror. Understanding both magic and the arcane. Who was he in this vast, vast world?
Before his mind was frayed, and his identity lost, an outside force knocked the crystal out of his sight.
With a sense of vertigo, reality snapped into place. Shard mind’s hurt so much. However, all that he has seen was quickly disappearing, only leaving faint traces of their existence. But he was changed. The things he saw. The wonder and the horror.
He was bleeding from the eyes, he realized. He didn’t care however. He was still in shock, still processing. He knew what a wizard was. What they could do. An animus, except one anyone could be, and without the cost of your soul. He had to learn. He had to know.
“Teach… me” Shard coughed out, his voice hoarse, and raw. Blood trickled out of it. “Please…” Shard coughed again, spitting out more blood. He felt woozy and sick, but it was worth it.
“You know, Silvermist said those exact same things, when he was done looking in that crystal. And just like you, he didn’t know how to stop. Almost killed himself with that stunt. However, you only lasted a second, while he lasted two.” Shard didn’t care that what felt like a lifetime was merely a blink of an eye. He didn’t care that Silvermist lasted longer.
He just wanted to know. Not for any other purpose except to know.
The mask sighed, which was impressive without lungs, Shard thought almost deliriously.
“Yes, I’ll teach you. But under a few conditi--”
“Yes, I agree” Shard blurted out. He knew it was impulsive, but the things he saw, those things still danced in his mind, no matter how faint.
“Alrighty, so no unnecessary killing, no revealing my existence to others, and no using it to make people like or love you. That’s a big no no. I am all about free will. Violate someone’s free will with magic, and I will personally end you in the ways I know are the most painful” His words had a cheery tone all throughout, but the white light faded, and his sapphire eyes turned to absolute black as he said the last part, then he was back to normal, before Shard could even blink.
Huh. That wasn’t bad.
“Oh and you gotta take me out of here with you. It’s boring and dusty here. And, you gotta tell me about this world of yours. Everything I know about this place is probably a few centuries out of date. Last I remember was some crazy Nightwing running around, Dark… something. Eh, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you are taking me out of here, and letting me see the outside world, no ands, ifs or buts about it!
Still… reasonable demands. Shard could do that. Glady so, in return for being taught magic.
“So do I just remove you from the wall?” He asked, not sure on how to get the talking magic mask out of this dome/laboratory/archive.
“Eh. I can make it easier for you.” The mask flung forwards, seemingly on its own accord, before landing in front of Shard’s claws. He hesitantly picked up the mask, finding it neither cold nor warm to the touch.
“And onwards we go!” The mask was now enthusiastic about leaving, practically vibrating in his claws. Taking care to not disturb anything, Shard went over to the door. Feeling it however, you could tell it was covered in snow from the outside. He tried shoving it open, but it wouldn’t budge. Penguin dung, they were trapped inside.
The mask emitted a coughing noise, and then suddenly a loud FWOOM happened, rattling Shard’s bones. The door flung upon, launching all the snow outwards in a flurrying heap. It was an intense blizzard outside, and the freezing cold came in full force, compared to the warmth of the dome.
Snow was already entering the domed room. While this all happened, something finally clicked in Shard’s mind.
“Wait, what’s your name?”
“Finall-- My name is Nur, pleasure you meet you, Shard!” Nur said with forced cheer. “Now, let’s go. Take me to whatever living quarters you have and then the lessons, begin.”