The Last Wizard
She would certainly suspect that something important was about to happen, perhaps she would sense it like one feels the change of season comming... a scent of autumn leaves on a late summer night, or the tiniest purple crocus seen emerging from the blankets of snow.
Shayl the victorious, whom had had only been an occasional presence in her memory. Within the last year, he suddenly became a common sight in the castle. He spoke with her father, the Emperor, behind closed doors in candlelight, in hurried hushed tones as they traversed the castle corridors. Her father had began to look at her differently, she would catch his glower from the corner of her eye; his eyes and expression a strange mix of worry, rage, and love.
Six months ago her father abruptly ceased all of her marriage negotiations, and refused to consider further proposals.
At last, the Emperor would confront her. The two were enjoying a rare moment of solitude over tea. He dismissed the servants and guards, then he reached across the table, past the teacups to enfold her tiny hand in his large calloused palms. His icy eyes bore into hers.
“My daughter... You make me proud, and I love you more than you will know... I have never doubted your capabilities nor loyalty to me. However, there is something I must ask, a question I never imagined would be asked to anyone in my lifetime... never my own daughter...”
“First, you must understand that the choice is yours my daughter. You must bear the weight of the decision, both its rewards and risks.”
He slowly slid his hand from hers. He took a sip of the rich dark tea, before explaining.”
“My tutor, Sahayle the Victorious, is the last Wizard in the world. We all imagined that he would die the last. However,” He tapped his nail against the porcelain. “This does not have to happen. In fact, we do not wish it to anymore...”
“Sahayle will seek apprentices, passing on his knowledge of the Art to those who have potential.”
His eyes would bore into her again. “... Like you.”
Otherwise, it was a normal day at the Ironhand smithy. The smithy was always a place of incredible transformations: The bellows fed wind the embers, the forge turned stiff metal into white-hot liquid.
It was a very busy day, the smith was busily engaging customers, bragging about his daughters growing talents, assisting his daughter at the forge when he had a spare moment. His son was expected to help, but he truly was not paying attention how the boy occupied himself.
A young girl quietly slipped into the smithy shop. She slowly paced its shelves, surveying the wares with wide hazel eyes. She had a freckled moon-shaped face and incredibly long dusty-brown hair. She seemed to be around 16 years of age, dressed practical earth-toned traveling clothes.
She paused, her eyes glued upon an object in the lower shelves. She lifted the small bobble gingerly in her fingertips. It was not quite like the other items in the shop: The overall shape of the thing was a bit clumsy, yet, it had extremely intricate swirls and shapes etched across its surface. She turned it over several times, then quickly approached the blacksmith.
She had to tug at his elbow to receive the Master Smiths attention. She presented to him the object in her left hand, and the coinage in her right. When he questioned her, she wouldn’t speak to answer, nor heed suggestion to buy a more worthy item of its kind. Through her expression and body language; she insisted. When the smith conceded to her quiet stubborn will, she clenched the object tightly in her hands and quickly turned to leave.
She stopped briefly at the threshold, turning to catch the glance of a boy with a green and red eye. She smiled widely at him, then disappeared.
One week later a well-dressed messenger arrived, who handed his father letter sealed with the imperial seal. It was a summons for his son from The Emperor himself... and Sahayle the Victorious.
The messenger had a carriage ready, but would await whatever preparations needed to be made for the boy, even days if necessary. Every courtesy would be extended to the family.
The carriage would be ready when he was ready to leave; a small quick fast carridge, yet still more expensive and fancy than any carriage the boy had been in before, and with a small guard assigned to protect it. It was red, painted and carved with golden flourishes.
A thin cloaked figure traversed the alleyway. The night was cold and humid from the day’s rain, but the clouds had blown away and moonlight reflected from the dark puddles, and glinted from a clear faceted object in the stranger's hand...
The clear-purple stone was held dangling from a golden chain. The stranger would walk from street to street, block to block. They would pause at each intersection, producing the chain and stone from the folds of the earth-brown cloak, dangling it for a few seconds. Then they would tuck it back into the cloak and bolt of in one direction or another, before they attracted attention...
The stranger approached the girl, she was asleep in the cold dank alley. She was shadowed from the moonlight, most would have simply passed her by...
The stranger knelt, pulling out the pendulum and dangling the stone before the sleeping girl.
It spun in a small tight circle... then suddenly heaved toward her.
Arrow might catch a glimpse of it as she awoke, the stranger would snatch the stone into her hand and tuck it back into her robe before the girl could see exactly what had happened. The stranger stood, taking a few steps back to stand in the moonlight, allowing the girl to fully awaken.
The stranger would extend a thin pale hand, beckoning the girl to follow.
The road Bahara was long.
But also long in coming...
Sahayle the Victorious had not been seen in the court of Braxs in 18 years. He had honored its Lord Sethres in his youth, and paid respects to his mother Synelle, whom had died for the cause of peace. Eventually, Shayle left every court: he spoke that he desired to live out the remainder of his days in peace and solitude.
He was never present, but ever watching... he particularly watched the house of Brax. He watched the young Rhea’s birth, watched her bloom in childhood... Anyone could tell she took after her grandmother, only Shayle saw how much. The girl was brilliant, brimming with magic. As she grew older the time grew nearer...
Surely the house of Brax would hear rumors of his increased appearances in the royal palace. They might suspect, Sahayle there to make plans with the Emperor. They would eventually receive a letter, parchment marked with the imperial seal. It was a summons, should Sethres permit, his daughter Rhea would be escorted to the Imperial palace, to give an audience to the Emperor and Sahayle the Victorus.
The letter was signed by each.
Soon after Lord Brax sent his reply... much sooner than expected, surely the reply had not yet reached the capitol? Yet, the carriage would arrive when the girl was ready...
The thief was left locked in his cell. They didn't tell him when he would be released, or when his training would begin. They left him to wait, and wonder at his future, ponder his diminishing prospects.
He would, however, immediately observe an improvement the frequency and quality of his food, and other small but precious comforts allowed to him.
“I still do not comprehend your... choice. Are there so few with the gift? We must resort to training outright criminals to be Wizards?”
“It is unlikely that you ever will. My choice is for the betterment of your kingdom, trust in this, you must trust in me.”
Without natural light, it was difficult for the thief to discern the exact number of days that had passed between his conversation with the Emperor, and the sound of his lock releasing. The wrought iron bars dragged across the filthy floor as the guards hauled open the cell.
One guard stood before the door, holding a lantern. The guard that stood before him was familiar, part of the regular warden rotation. His face was mostly concealed by his helm. “It’s time, kid.” He had a rough-edged gnarled voice. “Follow me.”
The guard would lead the still-shackled thief down the all and up a dark twisting stairwell, they were followed by two more guards. The sound of their boots and the sharp noise of clanking armor echoed along the stone stairway.
Finally, the jangling of iron keys resounded, the lead guard opened the tall wooden door... daylight spilled into Seven’s eyes for the first time in weeks...
When his vision cleared, he would find himself outside the dungeon tower. The guard would about face, taking the boys shackles in his hand, and releasing his wrists with the iron keys.
“Haven will show you where you're to be staying apprentice.” There was a hint of amusment peppered in the guards deep gruff voice. He hooked the shackles and keys back onto his thick belt. “No funny stuff. You’re being watched.”
He would notice a girl standing on the grass. She had very long hair twisted into an intricate braid, and wore a plain but well-tailored blue dress.. and bare feet. She would turn to him and smile, sending him a small friendly wave.
The guards would disappear back into the dungeon. Leaving the criminal, no, the apprentice to his fate.
Dimitric “Tric” Scandellev
“S-Someone... someone wants to talk to you!” Whispered the stagehand. She spoke in a quiet concerned tone.
The show had gone off without a hitch, a rare event in theatre. The circus was always a fabulous experience; light, musical, spectacle, exotic beasts and tricks. Men who could imitate magic with thin strings and quick fingers... but a flawless production, with no late entrances or exits, no missing or malfunctioning wardrobe pieces, no forgotten lines nor stumbled words, none of the riggers were too drunk for their task... should have been taken as an ill omen.
“I-I don’t know who it is... they-they’re Imperial guys.. and... and...” never before had a noble spoken to her, she imagined some great terrible trouble. She swallowed. “He’s waiting.”
Charles "Cat Nap" Frimbard
Through the unsung shadowy spaces that each city has, a message rippled through the ‘scum puddle’ of the city. “I am looking for... Cat-Nap” a cloaked man spoke to a homeless boy in a ditch. “Let him know I have a job.” He passed a small fold of parchment, and a thick gold coin to the boy. “I will be waiting for him.”
Both were more than they appeared to be. The man with the note, well, Charles would discover his true identity in time. The ‘homeless’ boy in the ditch, was actually a thief, a look-out for a local operation.
The boy kept the coin and passed on the note to a friend... who passed it on to a friend, who passed it on to a friend...
Who was finally, a friend of Charles. “A job unlike what any ‘yewv ‘ad before. used to.” said the man who finally handed the parchment to its intended recipient.
~Time, Water, Light~
Was all it said.
“Don’t make much sense to me.” Said the deliverer. “'e Just said also that ‘eed be waitin’.”