Alwyn, Novice Wizard
This is the first book in the Alwyn Trilogy. The story introduces many of the characters, regions and concepts that are at the core of the Chronicles of Arland.
It is the year 5460 GR and a young man finds his way to the village of Wyckhurst in the southern Provinces of Wyck. The young man's name is Dannu-Wyn or, as the Arness would say, his name is Dannu of the family Wyn. He had come on a long journey from the city of Farwatch on the very northern border of the Provinces. For nearly a month he traveled on foot to get to Wyck and far away from his crime.
A year after his arrival and starting a small business as a carpenter and lumberjack for the homes in the village, he found a wife, Brenna and she delivered a son for him in the middle of their first summer together. Dannu loved his first son and named him Bron-Wyn.
For four years, the couple was happy in the village - providing a much-needed service and earning a tidy living. Brenna delivered Dannu's second son near the begining of Winter and the physical toll was nearly more than she could bear. Mara, the midwife of the village, advised her that the delivery of Gar-Wyn nearly killed her and that she should start drinking a contraceptive tea to prevent further pregnancies. Gar was a very greedy and demanding child as many winter-births are, but Brenna loved him as her own child. With yet another mouth to feed, Dannu was forced to work longer and longer hours in the day and travel farther from home to haul wood back to sell or turn into whatever he needed.
In the four years that followed Gar's birth, Dannu grew more and more bitter, seldomly taking pride in Bron's achievements and often snarking insults at how slow and dim-witted Gar was as a young boy. Many in the village would not buy Dannu's wares for he tended to bully his customers into accepting what he wanted for them rather than what they needed. Lack of work and growing mouths to feed drove Dannu into the village tavern more than once, and that's where he started to openly bully and attack others in the village. Dannu was a broadly built man with a sturdy frame and was quick to launch a quick jab at someone not expecting the attack. In the winter of gar's forth year, Dannu became angry that Brenna was drinking the contraceptive tea and hid the mixture from her one day. Knowing her cycles well enough, he made sure that he was good and drunk by that night and came to her in their home and demanded that she fill his needs. Since Brenna was unable to drink the tea on a daily basis for a day or two prior, she knew that there was a chance she would become pregnant and told him that she couldn't. Dannu would hear nothing of it and ended up raping his wife.
The following fall, Brenna began feeling the pains of a coming birth while away from the village with Dannu and the boys. Dannu had forced the pregnancy on her and ignored her warnings of what might happen if she were to carry another child. He had bragged to the whole village that he would sire a third son and that each of them would father three sons and they would take over the village's trade. He was always making such grand plans but when someone called him a braggard, he nearly beat the man to death. Dannu had bragged to the village that this last son would be the best of the first three and make him as proud as a father should be. Fearful of Mara's warning, she tried to return as quickly as possible and was seized by the labor pains while crossing a small stream.
Brenna eased herself against a large oak as the pains took her and she delivered the child there next to the waters. When she delivered the child, she realized that it did not cry as the others had when they were born. To her shock, she discovered that the child was stillborn. She knew that Dannu would be furios and so tried to think of a way to escape his wrath. After Brinna stopped crying at the death of a child, she heard a peculiar sound - the sound of a child crying nearby. Not more than a few feet away from her, in the slender hollow of an oak, she found a human baby wrapped in in the tattered end of an old cloak. Her own cries must have disturbed him for he was healthy and uninjured and couldn't have been more than a few days old at best. She decided that she would exhange the babies and claim the new one as her own. This new child, a son that Dannu would name 'Al-Wyn'
Early ChildhoodAlwyn spent much of his youth close to his mother due to his continued poor health. Wyn attempted to pull him out into the forests to assist him in chopping and hauling firewood and timber but each time he returned from working with his father he would be ill for several days. His continued poor health kept him within the attention of the village’s healer, Mara the Midwife.
Mara could never stand Wyn’s blinding drive to use his children to accomplish his lofty goals. Because of Alwyn’s usually poor health she made regular visits to their home to provide some herbal remedy or cure to coax him back to health after any particularly rough bouts. She became a surrogate grandmother to the boy as he was growing up since she saw so much of him. Brinna's own family lived in a neighboring village and she wasn't permitted to visit them without Dannu with her. Alwyn and his mother shared their poor health and Brinna became schooled in the herbs and plants used to cure their bouts of illness when Mara wasn't around. Mara could tell that he had inherited his mother’s intellect but the middle brother, Gar , had found his father’s bullying stubbornness. By the time that the boys were fourteen , nine and five, Dannu was teaching the older boys how to sharpen axes and split kindling for their own hearth. Alwyn helped with things around the house but his father considered him to be suitable for little more than woman’s work.
EducationBy the time he was eight, Alwyn wanted to learn to read and write from the village alchemist and scribe, Caphar, but Dannu would not spend a penny upon anything so foolish. He was the font of all the information his boys would need. Anything else wasn't worth knowing. All extra coin in the family was being saved for whatever 'big plan' Dannu had at the moment. Brenna, however, had other ideas. With what few coins she had saved from selling eggs and doing laundry for other families in the village, she paid for the supplies Alwyn would need to start his education; Caphar did not charge for his lessons.
At first Alwyn kept his supplies hidden from his father and studied mostly at night by candle light but eventually Gar found out and ratted him out to their father. Dannu confronted Alwyn in his usual manner of yelling and screaming and breaking things. Brenna was quick to put a stop to the fuss by threatening to leave him if he didn’t allow Alwyn to find his own path through life. Dannu was quieted for a while but clearly there was stress in the family that wasn’t going to rest forever. He wasn't one to be disobeyed but he also knew that if word reached Brinna's father that he had harmed her - he would have bigger problems.
By the time Alwyn was eleven he was already able to read and write better than both of his parents and was on par with his teacher. Dannu was content to let him have his books so long as Bron and Gar were his to do with as he wished. Brenna knew her battles and choose them wisely. Alwyn became a friendly face within the village, helping his mother collect and deliver laundry and herbs and sometimes help with Caphar and his work as the village’s alchemist. His father was alright with his son’s intended path as it would keep him out of mischief and perhaps someday a girl would take pitty on him and make him a father – if he ever but down his books and discovered how to be a man.
Alwyn had read almost every book Caphar had in his small tower. Though there were less than three-dozen books in total by the standards of the village it was the largest collection by far. He would have had the skill to make his own copies but parchment was expensive and paper was hard to come by. Gizadi pilgrims did not travel packed like a mule so it was only an annual trade caravan that allowed him to expand his library.
Alwyn received an anonymous gift of elven paper near the Snow Fall celebration past his twelfth birthday. No one seemed to know where the paper came from but there was enough that he could copy almost every book in Caphar’s library. Not artistic enough to add the flourishes of illuminations found within the original, Gizadi-copied texts, Alwyn could, however, write a find hand with remarkable speed and accuracy. That winter, he borrowed his four favored books from Caphar’s collection to copy them in his spare time. Winter was a harsh time for the family since Dannu couldn’t work in theweather. All that they had to survive on was the food and supplies that had been stashed during the year. The home was usually warmer than some as Alwyn's father always stocked plenty of wood near his home before the start of winter incase a home needed to buy more during the snows. As the season stretched on and the holiday celebration of Snow Fall had been forgotten, Alwyn continued to do laundry with his mother until the sunset and then would retire to copying his books while the family entertained themselves near the hearth. Dannu grumbled at the waste of a good candle but mostly kept his voice silent if only so that he would have a cozy night with his wife.
Bronna, the sister of Alwyn's mother, arrives with her family to pay respects to Brenna's Mother who had recently died of old age. Since Bronna lives only three days away in Feldspar it's not that far away.
Brenna's mother had expressed her will to Mara before she died and wanted her home to go to Bron for whenever he gets married.
Bron moves outWhen Bron, who had turned twenty the previous summer, moved out of father's home Alwyn was very happy for him. Having been apprenticed to a local blacksmith for a few years prior and now a Journeyman, he was able to move in with Thurzen, the Smith, and perfect his skills.
Alwyn was moved out of the bedroom he had shared with his brothers since they had been born and moved into the loft space above the hearth. It was a cruel decision since the hearth was always stoked for cooking and boiling water for laundry. It would make the loft space unbearably hot that summer but if he could survive it he would be nice and warm that winter; if Dannu didn’t choose his mind by then. Alwyn’s things had been tossed into an old chest and thrown into the loft without ceremony and he was given a straw matrices to sleep on. It could be no more inviting than a pile of scratchy thorns.
Bron was introduced to Kaelyn by a friend and the two began to date.
Alwyn's first paying job
Alwyn had plenty of paper to make the copies that was requested and had even learned to bind the pages into a book from Caphar but was nervous about going home without silver in his pocket. The alchemsit seemed to guess his hesitation and offered him a silver marks, or one-tenth of a gold crown, in payment for each book copied. That would earn him more money than his father normally made in a good month of wood cutting or carpentry. When he returned home, books hidden in his shoulder-bag, he could hear Dannu screaming already. Normally he would begin screaming towards the end of fall about how little they had managed to store for the winter, but this year was even worse than normal because Brenna was not able to make the preparations she normally had because Dannu had drank through most of their money.
Alwyn got an idea of how to break the news for his winter job and turned around and walked back to the center of the village to make some purchases. When he returned to the house it was near dark and things were quiet. When he walked inside, Dannu was sitting at the table with an expression of surpressed anger. He asked where Alwyn had been and Brenna tried to stop the fight before it happened but there was little hope of that. Alwyn smiled confidently and walked back to the front porch to retrieve the supplies he had purchased, but his father pounced too quickly. He screamed at Alwyn for walking out on the family and slapped him several times for his imputance. The only thing that saved him from yet another beating was a visit by Mara. She was hauling an extra sack of beans for Alwyn since he couldn’t carry it all in his shoulder bag. She swung the sack of beans and connected them squarely against Dannu’s jaw to knock him off the boy.
He stumbled back and stood up with every intention of taking Mara down more than a few pegs when Brenna stood beside the healer to protect Alwyn from his rage. Dannu knew that if he was branded a wife-beater that the village would literally drive him out. He knew he could easily have let his own anger push him to the point of hurting Mara, Alwyn and possibly even Brenna – though he would regret the latter. He backed down and left the house to go find something to drink at the Rambling Rose tavern. Brenna and Mara had a long talk about Dannu’s temper that evening and Alwyn was made the hero of the family for purchasing so much for their winter supplies – almost ten-times the meager amount the father could normally afford. They would eat well this winter and none could ignore that Alwyn had provided it.
Dannu never knew where the money came from, he assumed that it was from Caphar. Brenna didn’t care where it came from so long as she and the boys were assured of a healthy winter. Alwyn and his father did not speak more than a dozen words the entire winter. The family was well-fed and Brenna managed to keep everyone’s spirits together until Snow Burn and the start of spring. As soon as the weather warmed even slightly Dannu was out with Gar felling trees and cutting wood to sell in an attempt to regain some of his lost pride. Alwyn’s older brother was definitely his father’s son; he had the muscled body and short temper to match.
Alwyn was found by Caphar at the village’s Snow Burn celebration. The boy turned in the books he had copied and assumed that it was a one-time job. Caphar, after examined the texts, was quite impressed by the skill of the binding and the calligraphy and with a few careful questions he could tell that Alwyn had made copies for himself. He expected as much. There was little doubt that the boy would want to continue the relationship so he offered him more books to copy and the paper and ink to complete it.
Bron's WeddingBron, Alwyn's oldest brother, manages to convince Kaelyn to marry him - despite his father's reputation. Promising to find them a house for themselves so that they won't have to live with Dannu.
The wedding is planned for spring, so that she can be a Marny Bride and all that it entails.
In the many years that he lived within the small village of Wyckhurst, Caphar had never taken an apprentice. Many families attempted to secure such a position by paying impossibly steep Lehrgild; the Dwarven-inspired price to secure an apprenticeship. For years, Caphar lived alone in the old tower off of the market square serving the alchemical needs of the small village as well as serving as their only scribe.
Not many people in the village needed the services of a scribe save for a merchant needing a contract or someone commemorating a special occasion such as a birth or a death. When a young boy asked to learn to read and write he was not surprised - there had been a few in the past but few held the patience to continue their studies past a single season.
Alwyn’s family was seasonally poor and his father held onto every copper coin as though it were his last. It was his mother, Brenna, that arranged to buy Alwyn the supplies so that Calphar could teach him how to write. Alwyn’s curiosity could not be easily matched within the village and Caphar could not refuse it.
It all began with the lessons that Alwyn received at Caphar’s tower. As an Alchemist, Caphar is constantly tending one process or another at all hours of the day. It doesn’t leave him a lot of time to leave to hunt for his own materials. Without an apprentice, he has to schedule when things are made, cooled, distilled or the like. While practicing his writing with Caphar, one of the few students who lasted past the summer and into the fall, he noticed that some of the herbs in his teacher’s stores were dwindling. So, to repay his teacher for the lessons - Caphar did not charge for his teaching but could not always provide the supplies - he gathered a basket here and there of the materials most needed.
One morning in early Summer, he arrived at Caphar’s ready to work on his lessons with a basket full of herbs. Rose petals, heather, peppermint, and a sack of walnut hulls. Rather than putting him to work copying lines, his teacher glanced to the walnut hulls and told him to start separating them from the nuts. If Alwyn was serious about being a scribe - he would learn to make ink. The process took a few hours to get the hulls separated and boiling in a huge cast-iron pot but eventually he was sent home with a few bottles of ink; his own ink.
Alwyn’s father, Dannu, was away on one of his wood-gathering trips so he had the week to himself. Aside from helping his mother with the chores around the house, he would sprint down to Caphar’s tower to work on copying out some of his texts. Making the walnut ink was, in his mind, just a one-time affair. When he arrived the next morning, Caphar had placed the herbs that Alwyn had delivered the day before on the table where he copied his lines.
The village Alchemist came down to the work room and closed the book Alwyn had opened to copy. In its stead, he held out a basket of peppermint leaves. The boy was confused at first, quirking an eyebrow in curiosity. By the end of the day they had turned the leaves into peppermint oil; an aromatic oil that can be used to help aching hands.
Each day that week, the herbs that Alwyn had collected were processed, distilled or converted into some alchemical concoction. By the end of the week Alwyn had learned to make peppermint soap and then Caphar taught him how to make hair-soap; a liquid soap. Alwyn gave a large glass bottle full of the peppermint hair-soap to his mother in appreciation for the lessons she arranged for him.
Dannu, seeing the growing connection between Alwyn and Caphar, informed the Alchemist that his son was not to have any further dealings with him. Alwyn was threatened with yet another beating if he was seen in the presence of the foreigner.
Alwyn was crushed.
The Nightmares Start
Alwyn starts having nightmares of his mother dying - but the visions show his mother fighting a frost witch in a magical duel. Though the woman's face isn't clear, he -knows- that it's his mother. Mara administers a sleeping tea to calm him when he has such fitful dreams.
The Gizerath:The Gizerath had never come to Wyckhurst in the years that Alwyn had grown up there. So when three of the wizards arrived it was a great surprize.
Gizerathi were the magical police force of the Provinces, traveling the land in search of those with magical talent and keeping control of rogue wizards that attempted to stir up trouble or worse. They arrived just in time for the Apple Moon festival and were immediately surrounded by children asking for demonstrations of their magic. It took some coaxing but eventually the senior Magus agreed and his two juniors sent sparks and lights into the sky to amaze and awe the crowd.
Alwyn became their shadow but everytime he got close enough to talk to one of them either Dannu or Gar would intercept him and drive him away. They were not about to have one of their family seen consorting with Mage-Filth. Even though the Witch War had been over for decades, the hatred and fear still ran hot in several families though Dannu would not admit to why he hated wizards so much.
Alwyn was through with obeying his father’s tyrannical rule and asked the senior Magus, a man named Randelfur, to begin teaching him. The wizard refused - citing the rule that so long as Alwyn was a child, he would need his parent's permission to begin studying. Alwyn pleaded with him - explaining that he wished to join the Gizerath and leave the village to serve the Order. Randelfur continued to refuse, and began distancing himself from Alwyn to attempt to disuade him from continually begging.
Sickness & Visitors
Brenna, Alwyn's adopted mother, starts to show signs of a growing illness. She's always tired, dizzy and coughs up white mucas in the mornings. Her twin, Bronna, apparently having felt the illness in her sister, comes to visit Brenna. It is the first time that Alwyn meets his cousin, Nevik.
Twins are rare in Arland. When it occurs the two possess a bond that is nearly Kithian (telepathic) in nature. What one feels the other knows and vice-versa.
Alwyn's First Master
Alwyn's tutor, Caphar, saw how distressed the boy was, offered him a consoling gift and he began teaching the boy, in secret, the language of magic; Medjia, if he would help him out with a few things. They could not meet in the village for fear that Dannu, Gar or one of their friends would see the two together.
As Alwyn was still under the age of apprenticeship (16), he was still under the direct control, as far as the village was concerned, of his father.
The WitchElen lived in the forest outside of the town, not wishing to get too close to those people who, at one time, condemned her mother and cast her out. Elen and Caphar were both skilled alchemists and he would visit her often. Though the vows of his own people forbade him to remarry after the death of his wife, he found a sense of comfort with Elen that he did not with anyone else in the village.
It was at Elen's cave that Caphar and Alwyn could meet and he could learn the basics of Magic.
The first spell
For days and days he found excuses to be away from the village and his father's house and would practice feeling the energy around him, pulling it into himself and then focusing it into the form of a spell. The first simple spell was the same spell that Caphar learned so many years ago; light. A small ball of pale green light wasn’t much of an accomplishment in the arcane halls of wizards but to him it was a revelation. The surge of magical energy that flowed through his body at the instance the spell was cast was the start of an addiction that would not easily be curbed. There were only a few cantrips in the book that Caphar gave him. The book was small and plain; not what one would imagine as a harbringer of arcane magic. He kept the book with him at all times, disguising it with ink stains upon the cover.
By his own birthday that fall, Alwyn could read and write in Medjia and with a small gift of a book of simple spells from Caphar, he would learn to cast his first cantrip; a simple spell to pull objects to him with a word. He had spent days practicing the pronunciation of the incantation and the flick of his hand. But what was more important was combining them with the right thoughts to pull the arcane energy up from the earth, through his body and then out through his fingers. Speaking Medjia was only the smallest step to being able to channel the energy needed to fuel the spell.
His Mother's Death
Later in the season, Alwyn’s mother grew sick from a wasting cold. Mara attempted to offer remedy after remedy to cure the sickness but nothing seemed to restore her strength. Week after week came and went and each Soulday saw her strength wane and waste until just before Snow Burn, the last day of Winter, she slipped into a deep sleep and left her family behind. Dannu was devastated and blamed Mara for not saving her. Anything that reminded him of her absence would send him into a maddening tirade that would clear the house in moments. Alwyn was lost for several days but was smacked back into reality by a long talk with Mara. Dannu couldn’t cook for himself so Alwyn became the woman of the house. His books were put on hold and he secretly suspected that his father enjoyed that fact most of all.
Wool-DrivingEach spring when the shepherds sheer their black-faced sheep, the trade caravans make their way into southern Wyck to bring their wares and buy up all the wool they can. In mid-spring, at the Fleece Fair, the wagons are quickly filled with sacks of wool and the drivers need plenty of young men to accompany them back to the town of Cross-Roads to guard it along the way as well as help unload it at the market. Normally the wool-drivers hire only the boys that are nearing maturity, around eighteen years old.
Alwyn's older friends are hired by the Wool-Drivers to escourt the caravan back to Cross-Roads.
Alwyn hides aboard one of the wagons and tries to run away from Dannu.
As the wool caravan rests for the first night, Alwyn is discovered by one of his friends, Gordyn. Gordyn knows that Alwyn will get in trouble with the Wool-Drivers if he is discovered so he tells him to stay hidden in the wool sacks and only come out at night when they're camped.
Alwyn's plan is to make his way to Feldspar where he can find his 'adopted' aunt, Bronna and ask for details of his birth. He hopes that his adopted mother may have told her something.
When Alwyn arrives in the town of Feldspar, he has a full day while the caravan sets up shop for a day to trade their goods. Alwyn searches the town until he finds Bronna's family.
He spends the night with Bronna's family but she doesn't know anything concerning how he was found. She only knows that Brenna mentioned something about the Gizerath being present when his adopted mother found him. If anyone might have more information it would be them. Bronna also tells him that Nevik has joined the Gizerath as a scribe and servant of Gizad.
The next morning Alwyn finds Gordyn and his friends with the caravan and tells them that he needs to keep going as far as Cross-Roads. The leader of the Wool-Drivers, Yorrik, discovers Alwyn as a tag-a-long and puts him to work for the caravan if he wants to come with them to Cross-Roads. Alwyn was excited to be allowed to continue with them to the town and worked as an assistant to the wool driver's cook - who just happened to be Yorrik.
Alwyn and the caravan arrive in Cross-Roads and Yorrik pays of the wool-drivers and the escourts and gives a little silver to Alwyn for what work he did for the trip. As it's nearly dusk by the time the wool is unloaded, the three friends decide to spend the night in Cross-Roads so that they can spend their money (around 5 Silver marks each) and Alwyn can speak with the Gizerathi at their tower the next morning.
The next morning Alwyn sets out bright and early to find the Gizerathi and see if they have any information about who his real mother may have been. The first thing that he notices is that the tower is a buzz of activity. People are coming in and out and without noticing it, he's able to slip into the interior courtyard where he finds Nevik, his adopted cousin, healing a Magus.
Nevik had been called to serve Gizad as a cleric.
Alwyn overhears the injured magus tell his superior that a patrol was handling a Warlock in a nearby hamlet when they were attacked from behind by someone able to wield significant magic. Alwyn hears them discuss the movements of a Frost Witch and he was about to call out for Nevik when a Magus grabs his shoulder and spins him around to ask what he's doing.
It's Randelfur.Alwyn is startled and filled with so many questions he doesn't know where to begin - or, apparently, how to speak. Randelfur, having no time to waste on children who are where they don't belong, is in the process of throwing him out of the courtyard when Nevik sees him and asks the magus to stop. Nevik is able to convince Randelfur not to throw him out, at least until he's able to speak with him. Randelfur, grateful for the healing of one of his Magus, allows Nevik the moment and heads off to deal with another matter.
Alwyn and Nevik have a few moments to talk before Nevik is called away - but in that time he's able to explain that his adopted mother, Brenna, has died this past Winter and that he's run off to find out the truth of his parentage. Nevik tells Alwyn that Gizerathi are not permited to take lovers or get married while they are within the Order. But, if there's any truth to the idea that his real mother was around the village of Wyckhurst, it would be recorded within the Record of the Tower.
A NameThe two go to the temple-library within the Tower to investigate the dispatches that might reveal who may have been assigned that far south all those years ago. All that they can find is that a magus named Rhiannon was reported near the area on extended patrol about a year after she was disciplined for some infraction that was stricken from the records. This, to Nevik, is a surprise as nothing is 'striken' from the Record of the Tower. The record is a holy list of the activities of the Tower - maintained by the Clerics of Gizad. To alter, tear, destroy or 'strike' something from the record is a blasphemy.
Nevik brought this to the attention of his superiors and Alwyn tagged along. Not wishing the mistake and the 'stain' to be seen by outsiders, his superiors were more interested in Alwyn's identity more so than the problem. Nevik explained that he was, essentially, an orphan and saught information about his parentage. One of the older Clerics remembered something concerning Rhiannon's hearing - a vague memory about not bringing a reported witch in for questioning.
Before the matter can be discussed further, Randelfur returns looking for Nevik as yet another Magus has returned from their patrol with a report that he and his team were attacked while investigating a village being at the mercy of a young warlock to the west; in the opposite direction to the first report. A healer was needed.
While Nevik was seeing to the health of the wounded Magus, Randelfur took Alwyn into a side chamber to ask him about why he came to the Tower. Alwyn explained about the death of Brenna and the possible connection to the Magus Rhiannon who was reported to be on extended patrol in the south of Wyck. Randelfur tells him that he knew Rhiannon and that she was on patrol hunting after a frost witch.
Randelfur removes Alwyn from the Tower and tells him to go home to Wyckhurst. Without being able to speak to Nevik, he is put outside of the Tower onto the street whre his friends wait for him. Alwyn does not want to return to Wyckhust - his adopted father would just throw him out for leaving without permission or worse, punish him for insolence. The friends plan to return home and don't want to leave Alwyn alone in a strange town.
They convince him to return to Wyckhurst after the idea is hatched that he could probably stay with the witch, Elen until something else could be figured out.
Elen's cave was outside of the village in the valley below the shelf where the village was built. Far enough away from the village that Alwyn is able to stay there with Elen as her 'Nephew'.
In time, he grew to enjoy his isolation with his 'aunt' Elen and Alwyn found true happiness. Though he would not return to the village, he discovered that his father had let it be known that should he be seen again, he would beat the disobediance out of him.
Randelfur the wizard
Randelfur was a powerful wizard that had chosen to retire to the quiet forests of southern Wyck after serving in the Kels. None in the village knew his past prior to his work with the Gizerath but they did know he had the coin to afford almost anything he wanted. He would occasionally wander into the village and purchase supplies and materials from the local craftsmen; usually when they were falling on hard times. Many suspected Mara to be a friend of the old wizard and would arrange his purchases so that no one felt beholding to him. He was generally welcomed within the village but none would actually approach him as a true friend.
New MotherAt the end of Summer, Alwyn's adopted father married the widow Shawna. Shawna had been married to a weaver in the town of Jasper and had come to live with her sister and her husband in Wyckhurst in the previous spring. After a three month courtship they were married and she moved in to become his wife and mother to the two remaining boys. She brought with her a daughter of seven years, Kyla and a more plyable personality that Dannu appreciated.
Though he said that he loved Brenna very dearly, he never felt that she accepted him as anything more than an equal and that chaffed at his sensibilities. He was convinced of his own superiority and authority. Brenna could make him look foolish, feel inferior and all with a single look. Shawna, however, knew the place that Dannu wished her to be and gladly accepted the role.
Sneaking back for Books
While his adopted father was away from the house for his wedding, Alwyn decided to sneak back to the village to reclaim some of his possessions that he was unable to take with him when he left on the Wool-Drive back in Spring.
Alwyn is able to make it back to the house and sneaks inside to find the small stash of things he kept under the floor in his old room.
Contents of the Stash:
- Collection of books
While leaving the house, he is caught by Shawna's daughter. She instantly starts screaming for her mother and Alwyn panics and escapes out of a back window. Unsure of why the young girl is screaming, both Shawna and Dannu come running. Gar and his friends hear that Alwyn has returned and try and pick up his trail in the forest.
Alwyn managed to throw them off the trail and make his way back to Elen's cave but fell into a patch of Blister Wort. He needed to wash the powder from the leaves from his skin before it began to produce boils. A small wading pool within a creek near Elen's home was his next stop.
One evening in early fall, only a few days before the Apple-Moon festival, Alwyn was swimming in a creek away from the village. He had found the small pool when he began working to channel magic and used its remoteness to practice his spells against orcs and goblins that seemed to crawl out from the gnarled roots of his imagination.
As he swam back to the shore to dry himself and dress, he saw that Gar had finally discovered him. He was standing on his clothes definitely. Alwyn told him to leave him be but his older brother was mean enough to bite the snake that bit him. The two brothers had been raised together since birth but Gar had the build of a boy who had been working hard most of his young life; tanned and showing the early signs of muscles that would draw the eye of the girls in the village. Alwyn’s own pale, thin frame was a constant source of jokes and prods on bath day when they were younger, but he had never felt so vulnerable before. When Gar reached to grab his satchel, Alwyn screamed for him to leave once more. His older brother didn’t pay attention as he dug into the leathery pocket to reveal the ink-stained book Caphar had given him as a present.
Alwyn sloshed through the water to get it from his brother, but as soon as he approached the younger boy held the book as though he were going to rip out a few pages. He warned Alwyn to stay in the water or he would rip it up. It was yet another game of control between the two. Alwyn was helpless in the water; or so his father’s favorite thought. He couldn’t let his grimoire, his joy, be destroyed by his thug of a brother. With a practiced flick of his wrist and a single command word the book leapt from Gar’ teasingly open palms and into Alwyn’s hand. Gar's eyes were wide with shock and momentary fear that quickly flipped into anger.
His two friends charged into the water to seize Alwyn's naked form and drug him to shore. Gar slugged him in the gut and back-handed him across the face to drive him to his knees and threatened him with a beating that would rival that of Dannu's if he tried using his magic again. Gar ordered him to get dressed and he was going to take him back to their father.
Alwyn explained, curtly, that Dannu was not his father and that Gar was not his brother.
Gar didn't care about anything Alwyn was saying but as soon as he was semi dressed his friends grabbed him and they marched and drug him back to the village. The one bit of leverage they had was one thing thing that Alwyn would not risk being damaged. Every time Alwyn resisted them Gar ripped a page from the book and wadded it up to be tossed away. It took only two or three pages before Alwyn was subdued.
Funeral for BooksHe sprinted the last few dozen yards to get to the fire in a vain hope to rescue some fragments, but Gar sprinted into him from the side and sent him flying. He was overjoyed to be able to finally fight openly with his brother and have no one stop him. Shawna was also away so there was no one to come to Alwyn’s rescue. Alwyn, however, did not need anyone’s rescue. His own anger would be his companion. He kicked at his younger brother’s knee and stoved him back. When he stood Dannu matched him and the two walked towards each other with murder in their eyes. Before Alwyn could make any form of an attack his father was pummeling him with insult and punch alike. He was reduced to a small ball of bruised flesh in a few seconds but then the punching stopped. He looked up through swelling eyelids to see Dannu on the ground a few yards from him slightly dazed. He turned to see what was the cause of his salvation and spied Randelfur standing in the road with the tip of his dragon staff gleaming with light from the blue crystal held in its open jaw. His father got to his feet and charged the wizard in a blind storm of rage. He would avenge his life’s failure upon the old man before him and be done with wizards once and for all. The villagers had crowded in for a fight but no one suspected this.
Shawna was quick to make the house her own and Alwyn was at a stage in life that he wished to be left alone more and more often. Though Gar accepted Shawna as a surrogate mother – especially for her cooking, Alwyn knew that his mother was dead and that Shawna was simply another woman that his father could use. He was grateful not to be humiliated by his father as the woman of the house any longer, but did not expect him to forbid him to waste his time with books now that Brenna was gone. That touch of malice struck a cord deep with Alwyn’s mind that confirmed that he would need to get out from under his father’s roof as soon as possible. Moving would require gold so he began to make copies of books and such for Caphar but the teacher didn’t have that many coins to spend. The trade caravan would probably buy what he had but they only came twice a year. Alwyn was unable to find much work with his scribal skills until Randelfur, a wizard that lived in the nearby forest, approached him and changed his life forever.
Few in the village could deal with Dannu and his blustering stubbornness for long but even fewer would consider Randelfur a welcomed guest in their home. As a wizard, even a friendly wizard, he was still a person of suspect within the village. Alwyn, however, was treated almost like the village orphan. Everyone knew of his history and his family’s troubles and most took pity on his situation but not so much as they would step in to fight Dannu for him. The woodcutter was just too strong for most of them. As he charged the wizard he was struck back by an invisible blow that struck him across the chest. He sucked at the air that was knocked out of him as he tried to stand when he felt the handle of one of his axes being thrust into his hand. Gar wanted to see Randelfur, his younger brother’s savior, dead. The axe was a familiar weapon in his hand and he had cleared many a tree with it. What would a willow of a wizard be to the likes of his strength? Before he could swing the blade to its completion the wizard’s staff shot a ray of frosty wind at him that chilled his bones and slowed his movements. Alwyn pushed himself to his feet and clutched a spare water-carrying pole as a staff. He knew that his father would not stop his attack until he or the wizard was dead. He called out to the two to stop the fighting but none seemed willing to back down. Randelfur could not stand bullies.
Gar charged Alwyn once again but this time he was ready for him. With a few words of magic he forced the end of the pole to glow just like Randelfur’s dragon staff. The glow was simply raw magical energy not the true power held by the wizard but it was enough to keep his younger brother at bay. The trick only worked for a moment but it was enough time to ensure Dannu’s defeat. His father had been struck back, scorched and frozen with simple gestures from the wizard; and each time he tried to allow his rage to consume his mind further to overcome the evil magic. In the end the battle lasted only a few moments but finally Alwyn's father was defeated. The axe he clung to was ignited in his hand and burned to a cinder at his feat and he had not the strength to fight on. The strength his rage had given him time and time again was proven insufficient. He had failed twice.
Mara emerged from the crowd as the fight had settled and walked to Alwyn to treat his injuries. The village council gathered within the throng of on-lookers to discuss the outburst in its greater context. He was pretty badly beaten but Alwyn would survive. She hadn’t kept him alive this long to loose him to a brother’s scornful attack. Randelfur left Dannu in the dirt and walked to his would-be apprentice with a reassuring smile upon his face. The books and meager possessions could be replaced but Alwyn would have a decision to make that would change the rest of his life. Randelfur offered him a place within his house and apprenticeship openly and before the villagers.
Dannu, though nursing a few cracked ribs and broken pride, wailed his objection but Alwyn heard none of it. Mara helped him to his feet and offered him a few consoling words as he and Randelfur began walking out of the village. Dannu struggled to his own feet only to be stopped by several men in the village. The council would not permit him any revenge upon the boy lest they shun him from the village.
Alwyn the Apprentice
Alwyn awoke in Randelfur’s house the next morning having fallen into a deep sleep the evening before; he suspected the tea he had drank with his new master had been laiden with slumbering herbs. He had been in his Master’s house before but not in more than the front room where he was taught. The bedroom was cozy and comfortable with shelves of books lining the walls and bunches of herbs hanging from the rafters. A small fire burnt within the room’s hearth much to Alwyn’s surprise; he had never been in a house with two hearths before. He rose from his bed with regret; it was very comfortable and smelled of fresh linen. When he rubbed the slumbering wrinkles from his face he could tell that he was no longer wearing the thread-bare and mud-stained garments from yesterday, but had been dressed in a fine long shirt of blue linen. He was a bit confused and embarrassed about how he had been changed but as he put strength into his feet to stand he realized that his body did not ache from the fight. The bruises on his arms and sides were gone to his wonderment.
He wandered out of the room and saw that the house, though deceptively small on the outside, was confusingly spacious inside. His room opened to a hall with many doors. The hall was wide and stretched towards the front room at least four staff-lengths away. He tried to creep down the hall but the wooden floor creaked under his weight. His master called to him politely and he dropped his shoulders and stepped into the main room curiously. Randelfur sat in one of the two large chairs that flanked the hearth with a small table set with bits of food. He invited his apprentice to join him for breakfast and they would discuss their future together. Alwyn was a bit self-conscious as he sat in the chair and nibbled upon the hunks of toasted bread. He sat naked saved for the linen shirt and was unaccustomed to simply enjoying a quiet meal. The question of his father and his injuries were finally asked and Randelfur explained that Mara had followed them back to his house after she sat in council against Wyn. He and Althas would be shunned from the village and his wife had left him to move back with her sister. Mara had treated his injuries and, to changed his clothes, while he was under the effects of an herbally-induced slumber. She had brought him into this world and treated every cold and flu that he had ever suffered; as she had done for most of the children in the village. She was never phased by the modesty of her patients.
Once their meal had concluded, Randelfur escorted his new apprentice to his bedroom and showed him the chest of robes he could choose from. The robes were ones that his master had worn or purchased in his life before he came to Wyckhurst. The garments were a mixture of linen, wool and a fabric that he did not recognize; it shimmered like still water. Blues and greens and all shades in between spilled out from the large wooden chest in the corner of his new room. He selected a robe of linen and wool that was died in a mixture of blue shades. Once he had selected his new garment, Randelfur selected a belt and a pair of sandals that would fit him and set them on a dressing chair and left the room to allows his apprentice some privacy.
The room was quite ample, almost empty from any personal touch. It seemed as though it was a storage room for books and materials from the wizard’s past. The wooden floor was covered with a brilliantly woven carpet of earthy tones of russet, brown and moss-green. The bed, now that he had his wits about him, was large enough for a boy twice his size to sleep in and as wide as a staff. He couldn’t help but touch the matrices to ply its softness under his fingers when he realized that the bed had made itself; that or someone else was in the house. He knew that when he left the room it was as rumpled as any bed would be in the morning. This would be only one of the questions that crawled through his mind as he slipped the nightshirt over his head and stepped into the thin, linen under shorts. He felt better not standing as naked as he had been during breakfast. After his shorts he slipped a long white shirt over his head and then the blue robes which he gird to his thin frame with a wide belt of woven leather. There were already some sturdy leather pouches affixed to the belt but he didn’t know they weren’t empty until he felt their weight. His sandals were cut in the style of the Wyck’n shepherds; simple but practical. As he brushed the front of his robes to smooth them he turned and was almost stunned when he saw his reflection in the large mirror in the corner of the room. He couldn’t believe that he missed it earlier as large as it was.
The mirror stood more than a staff’s length in height and was cut in an oval shape with serpents coiling about the edge. His mother had a small, hand mirror that she used when she fixed her hair up for important celebrations. Mirrors weren’t completely uncommon within the village but never one so large. He had never seen all of him at once like this. The image of him in the robes caught him off guard; he didn’t recognize himself at first but then could not help from smile at his appearance. He was an apprentice.
When he emerged from the room, after a few dramatic – yet powerless – incantations in front of the mirror, he called for Randelfur. His voice echoed throughout the hall and he heard a cacophony of chitters and other, odd animal noises coming from a door at the opposite end of the hall.