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Takeshi

8 Flamerule 1372

Prestidigitation (universal). Material components: none. Grants the user the ability to perform minor magic tricks such as limited levitation, transmutation, and conjuration of small trinkets. Often used as a simple way to practice one's spellcasting skills, heat one's food quickly, or impress non-magic users (often into bed).

The first time I thought about becoming a wizard was during a town festival, Highharvestide or the Feast of the Moon, I can't remember which. The town had employed a visiting mage to provide entertainment to its people, and being a child of about ten, I was entranced by the man's ability to create wonders out of nothingness: glowing spheres of light that circled our delighted heads, figures out of twigs and branches that walked as if they were miniature treants, before falling into a heap on the makeshift stage, only to be brushed aside and out of sight by conjured tiny whirlwinds that then rustled into the audience, causing the women to shriek and the men to whistle as skirts (and in one case, a hairpiece) blew upward.

His name was Fenris the Fantastic. Or at least, that's how he billed himself. After the show, I detached myself from Father and Katherine to tremblingly approach the great man.

"Mr. Fantastic?" I asked him. His back was turned as he knelt on the planks, collecting the various coins that had been tossed their by the audience. When he did not respond, I repeated the name, much louder this time.

"Hrum? What is it, young man?" At close range, I picked up a scent not unlike my father's: tobacco and whiskey, and something I didn't usually smell on the proud, lumber-working men of Quaervarr--perfume.

"Do...do you think I could...I mean, how do you know how--"

"Speak up, fellow! At my age, the hearing's not as sharp as it should be." And indeed, at this distance I could see that the magician was much older than he had appeared from a dozen rows of benches away, where he had conveyed the air and vitality of a young man. Here, I could see the strands of gray hair that had been artfully pushed back beneath his hat, the crows' feet underneath the eyes.

"Can anyone do that magic you do?"

His brow furrowed and I winced at the baleful look that appeared. "Can anyone do that magic? Hrumph! Why, do you think skills such as mine come naturally to just anyone?"

I shook my head, wondering if I could catch Father's attention so that he might rescue me.

"Can you lift this pebble with the power of your very mind?"

I eyed the floating stone with dread, shaking my head.

"Have you ever caused the very fabric of our reality to shift, boy?"

"Um," and I thought I felt his eyes boring into my brain, judging it, and finding it wanting. "I ripped my new shirt this morning. Father yelled at me."

"He did, hrum?" His glare seemed to soften. "Well, he was right to do so. You have to be careful if you're going to be a practitioner of the Art."

I had never heard the phrase before, much less the word "practitioner," but a thrill coursed down my spine when I heard it, and I nodded.

"So you want to learn the mysteries and wonders of magic, do you?"

"I think so."

"You think so? You think so? You're not sure?"

"I'm sure. I want to learn!"

"All right. I don't pass on my secrets to just anyone, mind you. But I'll tell you one." I started to thank him with all the gratitude my limited vocabulary of that time could muster, but he cut me off. "...if you can complete a quest for me, young man."

I gulped, wondering what horror an initiate to the world of magic would have to brave, and nodded.

Fenris leaned in. "You know that stall over yonder? The one by the bonfire?"

"Aye, the Whistling Stag's?"

"That's the one. Here's some coppers. Fetch me some of their apple mead. The smell of it distracted me throughout the whole show."

"That was your first teacher?"

Susan Drake stared incredulously at me, all bright blue eyes and slightly mocking smile. This was two weeks ago. Helmer's Wall, the local student drinking hole, bustled. Truth be told, most of Silverymoon did, courtesy of the Annual Ale Festival, a newly concocted party sponsored by a nearby brewery.

"Not really. Although he did perform some mean levitation tricks."

"Magnos, that's like the first drill they teach you at the Conclave!"

"It may take only a minute to learn, but it takes a lifetime to master." My drink coaster lifted from the table, and undulated in front of her.

"It does not!" Her smile deepened and she poked the coaster with her finger. It floated toward me, and then combed a stray lock from my hair before settling back next to my mug.

"Aha! So you've got it prepared, too! My roommate Jonah says it's utterly rubbish as a real magical application. He refuses to even keep it in his spellbook."

"Oh right, you wizards and your books and learning. You take everything so seriously." She leaned back and sipped delicately from her drink, a strawberry ale.

"Seriously? Me? You must have me mistaken with that gnome over there, or perhaps the poor girl sitting with him trying to look interested."

She laughed at that. "Magnos, that's a terrible thing to say..."

"I thought it was accurate, but then I realized that he was talking about some other girl, and not yourself, Susan." A shadow crossed our table, and I looked up to see Selcar Galacia--a classmate, though he attended the House of the Harp--grinning over us.

"Selcar, I thought you must be approaching. I saw people fleeing past us, their eardrums bleeding."

Susan tried to say something, but he smiled, "Cute. I'm merely dropping by to invite the two of you to the masquerade they're having at the Bright Blade later in the evening. It should be absolutely enticing!"

"You mean like the one we attended last month?" said Susan, brightening. "Do you remember that silly gown I wore?"

"Of course I do," laughed Selcar, seating himself onto the bench, next to Susan. "It wasn't nearly as silly as mine, so you don't need to be embarrassed. Well, too much." Their laughter took on a conspiratorial quality.

"That was a lot of fun. This one tonight should be, too," said Susan. "Don't you think so, Magnos?"

"Of course, the admission charge is five silver. And that's not including the costume," said Selcar, looking pointedly at me. "But I'm sure you already knew that, being such a clever diviner and all, didn't you?"

"Well, I--"

"That's not bad," said Susan. "At home, we have the most elaborate dances sometimes, and the expense some people go through for those--oh!" She stopped suddenly, catching Selcar's look. "Magnos, if it's a problem for you, I can cover your fee. And I'm sure Selkar has access to some lovely outfits through the Harp..."

Selcar nodded. I didn't need divination to gauge the welcome, or lack thereof, in his face. "That's very kind of you. Both of you. I'll be fine, thank you. Besides, I've some research I need to complete this evening."

"Are you sure?" asked Susan. "Because it would be no problem, really it wouldn't."

"Yes, please," said Selcar. "I'm sure we can do something fabulous with you back at--"

"I think I can manage fabulousness without your charity, Selcar. I really need to get going." I stood up.

"Are you sure, Magnos?" she said.

"I'm sure," I said. "You know us wizards and how seriously we take things. It's all books and no music. Here," I tossed enough coins on the table for both of us. "Have a fun night." And I turned quickly, but not so quickly that I couldn't see the hurt on her face.

Comments

What is this? Kronk goes emo and now people are following suit?

What hath I wrought?

Sorry...it's a good post, and I'm interested to see where you're planning on taking it. Unless there's less to it than meets the eye....
Good stuff. I disagree with Rob, though, it's not that emo. Just a little at the end. Although it is a nice set-up for emo-ness in the next installment.