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Rated: 13+ · Other · Fantasy · #1503931
Fantasy story. Work in progress, comments appreciated.
The snow drifted across his path, obscuring the way he had taken. Most would have been worried to wander about the woods in the first place, but to do so in winter would have been a sure way to become lost and perish in the bitter cold. Jorlan wrapped the oversized fur cloak tighter around his body. He had to make it back to the cave or he would die. Topping the small rise, he stopped and ducked behind a tree. A small group of Goblins were making their way up the valley. They and their brother Hobgoblins were causing trouble in these parts for the first time in a century, according to Shandrell.

Jorlan eyed the small opening in the cliff beyond the patrol. It glowed with a soft, amber light that only he could see. If the patrol did happen to notice the opening and went to investigate, they would not survive to report of it. The wards his teacher placed around the opening would see to that. It had done so the other two times the cave was discovered. First was that poor bear trying to find a place to hibernate. Oh well, it did make a warm cloak. Second were the three bandits trying to find a place to hide loot. Thanks to them Jorlan had a few coins in his pocket, and a decent blade on his hip.

When the patrol topped the next rise, he made his way to the cave and hid his sword under a pile of stones next to the entrance. Shandrell did not particularly like him to carry a blade other than the dagger she had bestowed upon him, but he knew that wielding a longer blade was a handy skill to have in these times. That was, until his Mistress taught him a better way to protect himself. He made his way deeper into the cave. He passed various side chambers that contained supplies, his personal belongings, and the one chamber he was forbidden to enter, Shandrell's bed chamber. When he turned a corner to approach the main part of the cave, the fire in the center of the room sprang to life. He should inform Shandrell of his return. She would worry if he had been out too long, and he did not wish to cause her worry.

Yes, deep down he knew he loved her. So much so that he would sacrifice himself to keep her safe, but he also knew it was not the way you would feel towards a lover but more what one feels for his parent or grandparent. Jorlan could barely remember his family now. Shandrell said he had stumbled into her cave five years ago, injured and mumbling about bandits. She assumed his parents had been attacked killed by bandits along with his older brother. She confessed later that she knew of his father and brother and it saddened her in the deepest parts of the soul to know they had perished. She let him forget what had really happened to them so that he could move on in life. She had healed him, and slowly he regained his vitality. At first he would do little errands for her. He had just assumed it was because she never left her cave and needed someone to serve her, but that was fine by him. She was kind and she began to teach him.

First it was simple survival, reading and writing the common language of man, and what herbs were useful for cooking and medicine. Soon though, he began to learn other things, like her native language and the gnomish language, how to craft clothes and such, and how to cook that which was edible. For the past two years she had been teaching him in the ways of magic. How to craft the tools and supplies one needs, to cast a few simple spells, and even how to read and write the magical language of wizards without the use of spells. She was very impressed that he picked up the last part so quickly. Not many magic users took the time to learn how to do things without magical aids. She said that soon he would be ready to take his test at the Guild Magical in Kinghome.

With his mind walking the streets of Kinghome, he never heard the gentle footsteps approach behind him until a cold but gentle hand touched his shoulder. Startled, he leapt forward, spun around and reached for his longblade, which was still outside the cave. Shandrell cocked her head to one side and smiled at her wards’ overreaction. Shandrell was not as tall as most human females, but she was not human, and he didn't know the average height of elven women. Her eyes were as icy blue as a frozen winter stream, and her hair was as brown as sand after a spring shower. Jorlan, realizing how foolish he must seem, quickly straightened himself from the defensive stance and smoothed out his clothes.

"You are not consorting with the intellectuals of the Guild Magical yet, little one. Keep your mind on the present, and let the future take care of itself." She said with a loving smile and a twinkle in her eye.

"Actually, if you must know I was enjoying ale in one of the many taverns with the head of the Guild. We were having a stimulating discussion about how silently elves move, and whether it is magical in nature or just that they are sneaky."

"I was coming to see if you had made it back safely, and whether or not you got the supplies I need for the spell I've been working on. Now, I don't think I will contact my old friend in Kinghome and ask him to visit after all." She returned, her smile becoming a smirk.

"Oh please Lady Shandrell, don't do that! You know how much I want to go. You said yourself that without proper instruction I may never reach my full potential." He replied, visibly alarmed.

"Fine, I will contact him as soon as I can, that is, if you brought the things I asked for. Well, did you?"

"Yes Mistress." he replied, reaching into his discarded pack and pulling out several items wrapped in fur. "Your veil blossoms, your silver mirror, and your gem of 50 copper value." he said handing her each item in turn. "Now I understand the mirror and even maybe the gem, but why the veil blossoms?"

"Oh, the blossoms aren't for the spell, silly boy. I just thought this cave needed a little beauty. I always loved veil blossoms." she answered, putting them to her nose. After a moment, she lowered the flowers and with sad eyes, handed them to Jorlan. "Put these in water and leave me be for the next three days." she added, then turned to return to her private chamber in the dank, dimly lit cave.

After cleaning up the cave and tossing the contents of his chamber pot outside, Jorlan began to contemplate what he could accomplish over the next three days. He decided to make a list. He sat down with quill in hand and began scratching a basic idea of what to do. He liked lists, so orderly, so simple. He often made lists, but seldom did the entire list get accomplished. He would do the first three things on the list, and at roughly this point something else came up that wasn't on the list. Then one more thing would happen and then something else until finally the day was gone, and the list was used to start the cook fire that night. He decided that the first thing to do was to gather up his scrolls and go to the quietest area of the cave system to practice that new spell. As he walked along, he went over the pronunciation of the words in his mind.

By dinnertime, he had the spell in his mind, and even cast it while on the move. Now even in a panicked flight from danger, or in the pouring rain, he could create enough light to see quite well. For his meal, he reheated the last of the salted pork from Stonewash, the small village about a day’s march from the cave. Soon, he would curl up in his chamber and sleep till morning, then he would gather some herbs for the potions he would need for the trip to Kinghome.

As he slept, his dreams were nightmarish. Images of fires raced out of control, and of the horrid screams. Someone was calling his name, but he could not answer. He was hiding from shadowy men and dared not reveal himself. The last thing he saw before his troubled mind brought him to fully awake was a symbol on someone’s armor. The cold sweat chilled him to his bones so he made his way to the hot embers and stoked them to life once more. He tried staring into the fire and remember what the symbol on the armor looked like but it hid just out of reach in his mind. It mocked him by letting him know it was there someplace in the back of his thoughts but would never come to the surface. Again his mind was in other places and on other times so he did not here the light footsteps approach until the voice drifted over his shoulder.

" Was it a another nightmare dear boy?" Shandrell asked, with real concern in her voice.

"Yes Mistress, and again I can not remember everything. I know the fire is when my home was attacked and destroyed. The voices I hear are those of my father and Kiral, my stepmother. They are calling for me and telling me to run away. I know I can't run I had injured my leg and the shadowy figures in the armor would run me down quickly if I tried. What bothers me most is that I still can't make out the symbol on the armor. If I can remember that, then maybe I can figure out why my home and my family were destroyed." looking up into her face, he was touched to see the hurt and sadness there. She always got that look when he spoke of the past. She knew how much speaking of it hurt him but she also knew, as did he, that talking about it helped him reconcile with his past. Suddenly panic crossed his face and before he could ask the question she smiled and shook her head slightly.

"No the spell is not ruined. I had finished the preperations and was going to start the casting soon, when I heard you scream. I will start soon but first tell me about your mother." The statement startled him. They had talked in the past of his father, Darsin. How he had been a great adventurer and after the death of his wife, Jorlan's mother, had come to these woods to live a simple life as a wood cutter for Stonewash. He had told her of his Stepmother Kiral, the daughter of Barrel the inkeeper. Who had married his father when he was only six and raised Jorlan as her own. Even at that young of an age Jorlan knew that his father had married here more out of loneliness and a need of companionship then for love. Jorlan had even told her of Marrek, his older brother of two years. Who's body he could not find after the attack. But this was the first time she had asked of his and Marrek's true mother.

"Well honestly I really don't remember much about her. Mostly I know only what my father had told me of her. She was elven by birth and a wizard by choice. She was the Great Granddaughter of Jorlac the greatest elven wizard. My father was a hired swordsman when they met. He worked for one of her former students and they had fallen in love almost upon meeting. They were married soon after, which ostrisised her from her people. They lived, loved and adventured together before my brother was born and then after they built a home for themselves. I was born two years later and then when I was three she died suddenly. I don't know how she died, my father would never speak of it. I know he entombed her near her ancestral home and then moved here to lead a quite life with my brother and me."
© Copyright 2008 Lee Trapper (meeksml at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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