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Footsteps 4

April 4, 2013

The next time Jeraint is in the Lazy Turnip, as well as serving him a mug of delightful beer and a really nice carrot-based dish, Lei Lan picks a quiet moment to pass on a request.

“The young one from before?” she says to him. “Asked if you would meet with him again.”

“I’ve made you honey cakes; you should eat more! People will think my food is poor if so regular a customer is thin as a rake!” she adds more loudly, and bustles off, leaving the cakes at his table.

Jeraint eats the cakes appreciatively. They are definitely a better flavour than his own conjured pastries. “Thank you.” He says as he leaves the innkeeper.

He returns to where he last met the young mage to see if he is there.

He is; probably has been since he left the message, Jeraint would guess. The young Mage is clearly afraid and unhappy, but seems much less troubled than the last time they spoke. He is staring out of a window, when Jeraint arrives, but turns and offers a graceful bow.

“Magister, thank you for coming,” he says simply.

“A pleasure,” Jeraint says simply.

After a brief pause in which he obviously seeks to organise his thoughts, Feanáro says:

“I have concluded that I cannot know what Garrosh has already done and seeks still to do and not oppose him.”

“Nor can I pretend to agree, pretend to serve, all the while working against him in secret. It is not in me to do so.”

“So I would choose to oppose him openly. And for that to mean more than my death, I must leave the Horde and seek to join those who are allied against him.”

“I cannot do so as I am. But I lack your skill, Magister. Even knowing what you have done, I cannot see how to do it. You offered to teach me the spell you used, before. I beg that you do so, if you are still willing.”

Jeraint looks at him and nods. “I can and will. For that matter, I can teach you the knowledge I lacked on how to draw power from the tiniest sources of the world rather than the biggest. Or I can introduce you to my own teacher, Morthil, if you prefer.”

The younger Mage for all he still looks afraid, seems, more than anything, relieved, as he replies: “Thank you. And if you are willing to teach me, also, I would count it a great honour.”

Jeraint simply nods. Then seats himself. “So, I will go and speak for you to the Silver Covenant. You will need their sponsorship if you wish to do this. They are listened to and especially after the Purge, you will need that. Many will not trust you, just as they do not trust me. While I do, you should study the ritual itself.”

Feanáro swallows, but nods. “I understand that no matter what, there will be many who will never trust me. I… that you will speak for me to the Silver Covenant,” he bites his lip and shrugs, unable to find any words at all. “I will study the ritual diligently,” he says in the end, hoping the other will understand.

Jeraint nods and with a gesture turns the top of the nearby pond into a sheet of ice. He starts melting hasty but elegant figures in the improvised chalkboard with the tip of his sword. “As you can see, it is difficult. You need to isolate each connection to you, using this formula and then sever it like this. I also found it unbalanced my emotions for a long while, the Sunwell is tied to our souls and disrupting that is painful in ways I cannot explain. You must be careful not to act hastily as a result.” He pauses. “You won’t have access to any magic other than your own lifeforce can sustain once you have done this so make sure you are somewhere safe. If you wait, I will see if Dalaran is safe for you and then we can go to Darnassus if I can get agreement from Tyrande.”

Feanáro studies the diagrams and notes intently, his expression a blend of respect and fear, overlain with fierce determination.

“Part of me wants… to be done, and now. But I am not such a fool. This,” he gestures admiringly at Jeraint’s figures, “will take all the skill I have.” In the privacy of his own head, he adds to himself ‘If I can do it at all’. “I will wait,” he says, adding with sincerity, “I do not know how I will ever repay all your kindnesses.”

Jeraint shrugs. “Others were kind to me. One never pays such things back but forwards.”

With that, he casts a teleport spell and disappears, to Dalaran from the coordinates of the spell cast.

Feanáro studies the diagrams until the jungle heat starts to affect them. Then, with a whispered word, he heats the pond until no trace of the ice, let alone the sketched notes, remains. He then retires to the quietest depths of the Temple, to study the ritual further and begin preparing himself to undertake it.

It is several hours before Jeraint returns from Dalaran. He goes to have a good meal in the Inn and mentions that if anyone is looking for him, he will be in the public inn in Dalaran.

Lei Lan teases him about other inns not having food half so good, but he knows she will pass it on if it seems appropriate.

He agrees and notes that the climate is not as good either but that he hopes it is warming slightly.

After his meal, he returns to Dalaran, takes a room and waits.

It is not the shortest of waits, but eventually, a very nervous Sin’dorei Mage knocks on his door.

“Come in.” Jeraint welcomes him. “I have spoken with Vereesa and she is willing to accept you as a member of the Silver Covenant under my sponsorship. Which largely means she is likely to kill me if she decides you have betrayed the Kirin Tor. We are to report to the battle front as soon as possible.” He sighs. “I suspect it will be hard. They are likely to watch both of us closely and to purposefully give us tasks that bring our loyalties into conflict. I hope you can deal with it.” His voice hardens. “But realise this, I will completely understand feelings of emotional distress and anger, but as my master told me and I have slowly come to understand, they must be mastered. Especially if you serve in Pandaria, there is no room for anyone who cannot discipline himself. I will not teach you how to draw power unless you can accept that.”

The younger Mage looks back steadily. “I have spent enough time helping the Shado Pan to understand. And to accept it. I cannot expect to succeed at once, but I will strive to do so as fast as I can.” He looks away. “And I will do everything in my power to be worthy of your sponsorship.”

Jeraint nods. “That is all I ask. I have done my best to ward this room and Eleiana has spoken with the spirit of place to make it sympathetic to our needs.” He shrugs. “She says it will help. The ritual should be done alone but I will be next door in case of need.”

Feanáro nods gratitude, eyes gone distant as he fixes his mind on what he must do. Once he is alone, he kneels on the floor, forcing everything but this moment away. His eyes close, as he seeks to centre himself. When he is ready, he musters all of his skill, and attempts to carry out the ritual the older Mage has taught him.

It is not that any individual component spell is difficult. Indeed the spell to remove each tie bears a pronounced similarity to the remove curse spell he knows well, mixed perhaps with a peculiar twist on that for cautery and an inversion of evocation.

The real difficulty is twofold. Firstly, that no magery deals particularly well with the spirit and so finding the ties requires extreme self-knowledge. Secondly, that each spell is a wound to the spirit. Self-inflicted but none the less painful and debilitating. After the first, Feanaro has less power to cast the second and must do so with the nagging distraction of the wound’s spiritual pain. Not much less power, nor vast pain. But there are hundreds of such spells to be cast in the ritual and Jeraint’s figures had shown clearly that the ties would start to reflow so long as one existed. The roots of the Sin’dorei were tied to the Sunwell and like the roots of many plants, they would regenerate if they could. He had to complete this in a single sitting or fail, for he would not have the power to complete it a second time.

As he found and severed the first ties, Feanáro found himself grateful to Jeraint; the other had not tried to describe the pain and sense of loss. Setting himself to the task, he sought the next tie, and the next, working methodically. He would do this. He must.

Much, much later, he looked for the next tie, and found nothing. Guarding against hope, he searched himself for any last missed connection. He could find none, but he knew his concentration was fraying, and he found himself unable to trust his own judgement. He had so little left, but he drew on that little ruthlessly to search, determined that he would not fail for want of trying.

Finally, he knew he could do no more. If there were any tie left, it was beyond him to find. Either he had succeeded as he thought, or he would not. Empty and exhausted, Feanáro opened his eyes, but could not find the energy to rise.

“Magister?” he called, tentatively. He hardly recognised his own voice.

“Drink!” Commands a voice. The smell of his favourite tea from the Halfhill Inn wafts to his nose.

Slowly, he complies.

The tea is highly restorative and he soon feels able to think. But the sheer lack of power is disturbing. He is not sure he could light a candle let alone engage in battle.

“How do you feel?”

“Helpless,” he says, his discomfort plain in his voice. “But… I think that it is done.”

Jeraint nods. “That is probably a good sign. Do you have access to any external power at all at the moment, or are you limited to your life force?”

Feanáro frowns, and concentrates. After several long moments, he shakes his head. “Nothing outside myself,” he tells him.

“Good. You should rest now, we will start your training tomorrow.”

He nods acquiescence, letting the lightening of heart that that gives him bring a grateful smile to his face.

Tempting though the floor looks, he will, he decides, use the bed. He is asleep almost before he is on it.

His sleep is deep but disturbed. Although he is exhausted, nightmares chase him and he is too tired to wake. When he wakes, he feels refreshed but harrowed.

He does have enough energy to clean the filth of the previous days exertions from him. The mirror shows a scarily different being, taller and coarser featured. The same pains and travails as have graven themselves on Jeraint have marked him. He looks older.

His hair has gone pure white and lost its vitality. It looks not just as if it had never seen conditioner but as if such had never been invented.

Hardest is seeing his hair. The other changes, that shocked him when he first saw Jeraint, he was braced for. He had never thought of his hair as being important to him; the shock to his sense of identity is sharp and unexpected; the flash of anger it sparks is swift and hot.

“How,” he asks himself, not realising he’s speaking aloud, “can I be angry with Lor’themar because of my hair?” The mocking tone is intentional, as he adds “And with so many things to be legitimately angry about!”

The mirror, wisely perhaps, does not answer him.

He finishes his ablutions, doing his best not to dwell on the changes. He then looks for Jeraint. He might hesitate, but he did take note that they were to report as soon as possible, and he is also really quite eager to begin to learn for himself.

Jeraint is in the next room, meditating. He seems to have a new sword, one with a blade of pure fire that is resting besides him. He looks up and waves to Feanaro to sit on the other chair.

“Right,” he says. “The chief difference in the teaching I was given as a Magister of Silvermoon and a Highborne mage of Darnassus is this. Magic should never be used for a minor purpose.” He pauses and eyes the other mage. “Why do you think this is?”

Feanáro sits and looks thoughtful. It was not a question he had expected. “I suppose… if you have no power source, wasting magic would be unwise?” he half-asks, eventually.

Jeraint nods. “One reason that you will seldom see the same level of arcane usage even somewhere like Dalaran as you do in Silvermoon is that most mages are much more limited in power than the Sin’dorei are, that is after all what caused the problems when the Sunwell burnt out. The power there was corrupted beyond the majority of most to use so they took to drawing power from other, lesser but more personal sources: the Naaru in the case of the Blood knights and, in the case of weaker magisters, from demons.

“You now feel why. It is unsettling to be so powerless.

“All of us have to find power sources, but few are either as potent as the Sunwell or as linked to you.

“The mages of the Kirin Tor tend to draw power from ley lines, which is why Dalaran is still here when the Lich King is gone. Malygos draw many of the most potent leylines to Northrend and so their powers are greater here.

“Others store power in items or power pools that they can draw on later.

“I can teach you both techniques and they are useful.

“But what Morthil taught me that I have found most useful by far is this.

“There is no shame in tiny amounts of power.

“If you try, you can sense power in everything that lives.

“Try now.”

Feanáro frowns with concentration. Used as he is to drawing on power outside himself, he finds himself struggling to function without it, even when it is possible. Still, he will persevere until he can see what the Mage asked him to

It is difficult, the trace is so faint by his standards that he keeps overlooking it. Then he feels it, a trace, a whisper of power that is not his.

He looks at Jeraint with a frown. “It’s so faint. But I feel it.”

“Now try to draw it in.”

That takes many more attempts, but eventually he nods.

Jeraint holds out a candle. “Light it. Use only that power, none of your own.”

A wry smile crosses his face. He had, after all, been thinking he was not sure he could even light a candle with his own power. This comes to him more easily than the other instructions; when he succeeds, he feels a warmth that has nothing to do with the tiny flame.

“Good,” says Jeraint, “now repeat that for the rest of the day.” He rises and leaves.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 5, 2013 11:19

    So enjoyed this, you have a clean crisp style that captivates.

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