Chapter 1: In Search of a Master

Chapter 1: In Search of a Master

A Chapter by Trivn
"

Azael heads to town after visiting her family's graves. She runs into an old acquaintance.

"

Her home lay in wait, unchanged from the day she left. The small house was spotless as always. Cattle grazed in the pasture. Her mother plowed the field whilst her father and brother prepared lumber.

Everything was as it should be. Or, it was, until she opened her eyes, witnessing the true scenery before her.

The blackened corpse of a house stood before her. Five years of weather had all but washed away the lingering scent of scorched wood. Azael was brought back to the day of the fire. An explosion woke her from her slumber. Moments later her parents shouted for her and her brother. The flames turned the once serene house into an unbearable inferno in the seconds it took her to escape her room. The pungent odor as her long, auburn hair burned filled her nostrils.

She closed her eyes again and forced herself to walk away from the scene. Memories of being weak were not something to hold onto. Becoming stronger was her only choice.

After five years of mage training, this was the first time Azael had returned to her tragic homestead. She wanted to visit the graves of her parents and brother before seeking out another master to study under. Her last instructor was struck by misfortune and forced to retire, permanently. Azael grinned, before remembering where she was.

She made her way to the graves she had dug with care after that fateful night. Instinctively going to make a prayer, she stopped herself short, opting to glare at the heavens instead. Most thought being spared from the fire was an act of God; she thought the fire was God's mistake.

She wished her family well, wherever the next life brought them, and concluded her short visit. She set out in search of a new master, one that could help fulfill her desire to become the strongest mage in the world. After all, it was not every day that someone sought to destroy God.

The trek to the nearby town, Landow, would take the remainder of the day. She took the same road that she had taken the day she left her home five years ago. This time, however, there was no fear of the bandits that may be watching from the tree line. She grew stronger than a simple farmhand would ever dream of. There was little left in this world that could scare her anymore.

The trip was uneventful. Azael passed through the hilly land, watching cows and other livestock wander aimlessly in endless fields. She allowed herself to rest under the shade of the trees that occasionally lined the dirt road. Under these trees, she recalled pleasant memories of her countless trips along the same road when she was small.

 

In the moments before twilight, Landow slipped into view as Azael peaked the final hill of her short journey. Landow was a small town. Few people lived within the town itself. Instead, its population was typically composed of the owners of nearby fields and travelers who stopped on their way to the much grander markets to the east.

While walking past a large board with several notices posted, Azael was glad she arrived when she did. If she had chosen to linger with her memories a few minutes longer, there would have been no light left to see the poster advertising a mage's tournament in a nearby city. Not one to show off, this would have normally been ignored, but she decided it may be worthwhile to participate, solely to aid in her search.

The strongest mages often thought partaking in these contests was absurd; the idea of risking major injuries for short lived glory was simply ridiculous. Though, they still attended, like many, to see the bloodshed that passed for entertainment in this country. It would be well worth the hefty entrance fee if she could impress one of them. Fifty gold pieces could cover nearly two months of expenses otherwise.

The poster displayed a sign up period that ended in two days; the trip to the city would only take her one. Her original plan of staying in this town for the night and leaving in the morning would still work.

Azael walked to a nearby inn. It was not the best inn around, but she thought it would be a good place to rest after the draining visit to her home. As she made her way to the front desk, the aroma of baking bread wafted from the tavern's kitchen. Although she had not planned to eat here, the familiar sights made her long for the comforting foods.

"Azy? I' that you?" rang a shrill voice from behind the desk. "N’one's saw you 'round 'ere for years!" Azael grimaced at the familiar accent, one beaten out of her by her first master.

"Hello, Missus Peg," Azael replied. Abigail Peg, or 'Peggie' as her friends knew her, and her husband owned a small shop on the edge of town. Azael had no reason to expect to run into her here; they must have obtained ownership of the shop in the years she was gone.

"Missus Peg!" the plump woman trilled, "You sound like yer still a young 'un. You can call me Peggie like all th' others." She cracked a toothy grin. "Bet you weren’t expectin’ ta see me 'ere now were you? Old Mister Smat passed away a couple o' winters back. 'is young'un didn't want ta run the place, so they sold it to me an' Monty for cheap!" She emphasized her point by slamming her fist into the table. "Now don't you worry, we still run the shop in the mornin's." Hunger intruded on Azael’s thoughts more readily than worry, eyeing the tavern in the other room. "Ah, you must be hungry. I'll get you a key and Monty'll make you some supper, 'ows that sound? Least we can do for ol' times."

"That's not necessary, I have money. I'll -"

"Now, don't you dare! I insist. We ne’er did see you off when you left, you just up an' vanished! Now come on, take this an' head up to the left. Drop your things an' come on back for a bite to eat." Unable to get a word in edgewise, Azael thanked her and took the key.

The room was small, but homely. She let her pack fall to the ground, and herself to the bed. The feather mattress caught her. This was the first time in months she had somewhere to sleep softer than the ground. Azael fought the urge to give in to her exhaustion. On her way back down to the tavern, she found Peggie yelling at Monty.

"Now look a' this! You've burnt another! I thought you knew how ta cook. Azy'll be down soon, make 'er somethin' edible, won't you?"

"We've guests tryin' ta sleep. If you keep on yellin' they'll head somewhere else!" said Monty.

"That floor's thick as yer skull, they ain't gonna hear nothing!" said Peggie as the wirey man opened a cabinet and pulled out a bag of rice. "Oh, Azy! Don't you worry, Monty'll 'ave yer food ready in a jiffy!" She grabbed the rag off her shoulder and wiped down a table. "Come, sit. We'll be wantin' to hear all 'bout yer trip. N’one's heard anythin’ about you since you left, some thought you weren't ever comin' back!"

"Some thought you were dead," Monty butted in, "Figured whatever got yer family went ta finish the job."

"Oh, hush you! Don't you listen to 'im, Azy. We were sure you could handle yerself. So what’ve you been up to?" Peggie asked, taking a seat across from Azael.

There was too much to tell, she had no idea where to start. Between the travelling and the magecraft, she was quite different from the farmhand they knew her as. "I've been walking from town to town, picking up work wherever I could."

"Oh, wow! I've always been tellin' Monty we should go on a trip. 'e says there's no one to watch the Inn and the shop while we're gone. I say we can just leave ‘em for a while, won't hurt none!" Azael was relieved Peggie was as talkative as she remembered. "So, how far have you gone, then? Seen the mountains out north?"

Monty came by with a plate of rice and eggs, setting it in front of her.  "Now how'd you know she went north? She coulda gone any which way, didn't have to go see what you want ta see."

"Oh, hush. It was just a question. Which way, then?" Peggie asked. Monty mumbled something about being hushed all the time.

"I did head north at first, but not quite to the mountains. I worked on a farm during the harvest season." In truth, she had hidden herself in the woods near a farm. They were well off for themselves and never noticed the pittance she took from them.  

"I hope they paid you what yer worth. You could keep up with both yer parents since you were a tiny thing."

"It was enough. During the first winter I was taken in by a caster. He taught me a touch of magecraft." He caught her stealing from his stockhouse and trapped her inside it. Her story got to him after a short while and he agreed to teach her on two conditions: Anything she wanted needed to be earned and she needed to lose her accent. The first was simple to agree to, the second took some convincing.

Azael had remained under his tutelage for over a year before besting him in a duel. There were three others in the years that followed, each more powerful and less friendly than the last.

"Magecraft! Now there's a trick. Monty says he's tried it 'fore, 'e can't even get the stove ta light up some mornin's,” said Peggie.

"I don't have any problem with the stove, yer the one who nearly burnt the placed down!" said Monty.

"Oh, hush!" Peggie told a story of Monty burning himself the first time he tried to light the stove while Azael picked away at her rice. Monty rolled his eyes. "Had 'is hand bandaged the whole first week we were 'ere. Still insisted on cookin'.” Peggie looked at Azael eagerly. “Anyway, won't you show us? Just a little somethin’, we don't get many mages through 'ere."

"Well, it's not much…" Azael put her left hand above the table, shifted her fingers through a simple channeling sign and then snapped her hand open. A small puff of flames wavered over the table before quickly snuffing out. It truly was not much, a drop in the bucket compared to what she could manifest if she wanted. It was, however, more than sufficient to stupefy her two onlookers.

"AH!" Peggie nearly tipped her chair over. She clapped her hands over her mouth, vainly trying to silence her surprise.

"D****t lady, you're gonna wake the whole town screeching like that!" said Monty. Peggie was laughing behind her hands, clearly impressed, if not a bit scared. Monty looked back towards Azael. "Have you seen the papers outside? They say there's gonna be a whole tournament held in Fallkire. Maybe you should check it out. You could see some amazing things there, I hear."

"I saw. I was planning on heading out that way in the morning."

"Now you're not plannin' on joinin’ them, are you?" Peggie was suddenly very serious. "I hear people've been dyin’ in those things."

"Of course not, I just want to see if I can find a new master," she lied. The only way to meet a master was to show some promise in the tournament. She had finished her meal and was trying her best to appear tired.

"Oh, dear, you must be exhausted after yer trip back from the farm. Go on, get up to yer room and sleep well, we'll clean this up." Peggie took up the plate from in of Azael and made her way to the kitchen. Monty flashed Azael a quick smile and headed over to help Peggie. They started bickering before Azael made it to the top of the stairs.

It was good to know that they were doing well. There were few people she was still concerned about after losing her family. Caring about people would only hold her back.



© 2016 Trivn


Author's Note

Trivn
I'm working on the accent, I know it's not very consistent.
Other than that, does it flow well? Is there enough information?

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Added on April 20, 2016
Last Updated on May 9, 2016
Tags: Magic, Fantasy


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Trivn
Trivn

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"Jack of all trades, master of none, but better than a master of one." I have skills across the board, but I'm not anywhere close to a professional at anything. I like to read and write, play games a.. more..

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