Font size: - +
Angela led Tarin back to where she'd found him, where his camping gear was still lying out. It was still dark, so Tarin packed up his things slowly, pausing when he reached the grimoire, which was left out.
"Eldrin must have read it," Tarin muttered.
"Read what?" Angela asked, coming over to see what Tarin was holding. Tarin held up the book, and she gasped in recognition.
"I gave this to Luscar, years and years ago," she said. "It was my spellbook, but… when I had no use for it, I gave it to him. Of course, I feel he made poor use of it at first, but, if he's given it to you…"
"Angela," Tarin turned to her, curiosity shining in his eyes. Angela stared into them, the dark brown was almost hypnotic, in a very different way than the blue had been. They were Nikkolus's eyes. "Tell me what happened to him. What happened to him after he came to you? I'm tired of hearing only half the story. I know there's more, but no one will tell me!"
Angela looked at the young man standing before her. He had already been through so much, and so much of it was because of Luscar's actions.
"Fine, I will tell you," she said, sitting down on a tree stump. Tarin lit a fire, and settled down to listen.
"Nikkolus came to me, nearly 25 years ago now," Angela said, "Wow, has it been that long?"
Tarin said nothing, but he filled a small kettle with hot water, throwing in some tea leaves and other herbs, soon filling the clearing with the scent of brewing tea. Angela continued her story.
“Lunaria had sent a small force of soldiers to attack a small village near the edge of the forest. The attack was unprovoked, and it was only a feint. No one was really hurt, but it frightened the villagers enough to send for help. When the king’s army reached the village, Lunaria had gathered her forces, and she attacked the army from behind. Many were hurt, even killed. The battle would have triggered a war, if it weren't for the events that happened in the aftermath.
“Nikkolus was injured in the leg, and was sent home to recover, but his mother, Ella, so attuned to the forces of nature for a human, had been unable to withstand the shift in the balance of nature as the peaceful elves became warlike. She fell ill, so sick, that none of her herbs could heal her. Only magic could save her, and so Nick came to my cottage. He was still limping when he knocked on my door, but he did not care about his own injuries, but only wanted to save his mother.”
Angela gratefully accepted the mug of tea that Tarin pressed into her hands mutely. His eyes were totally fixed on her face, captivated by the story. Angela took a deep breath, and kept talking.
“I was a very powerful witch in my time, and known in particular for my work with herbs and healing spells. I had worked with the elves for a while, but Lunaria’s distrust of anyone with more power over nature than she had drove me away after nearly a century of loyal service.” Angela caught Tarin’s look of surprise, and laughed. “Yes, I am older than I look. Far older than your grandmother, but that is not really important. Nikkolus had heard of me, and probably wanted some kind of healing spell. I offered him the ability to perform such a spell, and he leapt at the opportunity.
“I performed a spell, that would allow him to take some of my magic energy, and use it to perform the healing spell he needed. It was very old magic, and unstable, but I was powerful, and I had been so for so long, that I thought I could keep the spell under control.
“At first, when Nikkolus stepped into the circle of stones, the magic flowed into him slowly, and I found I could control the flow very well, but when I went to move him back out of the circle, to cut off the flow, he looked at me, with eyes alight with blue fire, and he took hold of me, pulling me into the circle with him. He took my energy, like a vampyre takes blood. Hungrily, and without mercy. He drained me of everything I had, and when I was empty, the stones did the rest, pulling old magic from the forest around us, from the river, and the trees, and the stones. A human being is not meant to hold such power, so, Nikkolus was transformed. His hair turned white, his eyes were permanently glowing with the fire of magic. When he finally stepped out of the circle of stones, there was nothing of Nikkolus left except his face, but now it was the face of a stranger.
“‘What’s your name?’ I remember asking him, for I knew in my heart that this was not the same man who had come into my cottage.
He turned to me, and said, in a voice that echoed with the power of a god, ‘My name is Luscar.’
I told him about Ella, and he went with me willingly enough, healing her with only a wave of his hand. She had begged him to stay, but already, he was leaving, though I don’t know what was drawing him on. I returned to my cottage, to pick up the pieces of my life that Luscar had left. I had no magic, but I was still a skilled herbalist, and I set about teaching another man everything I knew about magic. You met him today, he calls himself the Alchemist. I let him have his fantasies. Names are important, even names you choose for yourself.
“Maybe a day after I had returned, Luscar came back, asking for the knowledge of spells. He had a lot of instinct, and could cast powerful spells on his own that usually took more than one wizard to cast, but he lacked any kind of knowledge. He knew how to read, and how to speak, but where he learned such skills were a mystery. Eager to share my knowledge, and perhaps vicariously cast spells again, I gave him my grimoire, my spell book, which he took and studied carefully. I was naive, again, and Luscar took off in the middle of the night with the book and never returned.