The fire in which we burn
High Elf Wizard
I am from the small high elf kingdom of Sainadar on the western coast of the continent. My parents were academics, and so my life growing up was pretty much filled with quiet study (and my life since has been, too). My parents made a decent living at the university, but we weren’t rich. I’d say reasonably comfortable – didn’t go hungry, but didn’t shit in gold chamberpots.
My family has a long tradition of plumbing the depths of magic and the arcane, and while neither of my parents were powerful wizards, I showed the spark at an early age. I was strongly encouraged to pursue this path of study, which I didn’t mind because I quickly discovered that, not only did I love it, but I was very, very good at it. I became a professor of the arcane arts at the university.
Kavol’s Last Letter
From the journal of Doramel Starblind
Kavol and I played a game by post. I can’t remember when we started, probably forty years ago after he graduated from Silvertree University where I taught. He was brilliant, for a human, and I say that with no insult intended. Elven wizards have years and years to study and perfect their art, but humans are much more limited by their lifespans. Human wizards luck into their power, whereas elves study and practice. Every human I’ve taught in my classes in my hundred years at university quit before completing my classes, all except Kavol. He was exceptional. As soon as he displayed his aptitude, I took it upon myself to “break him,” as it were; no human would outperform any elf in my class! But Kavol rose to the challenge, and defeated my expectations. He graduated at the top of his class.
And something strange happened; the filthy human – and I admit my prejudice here – whom I had considered a rival and an enemy, became one of my dearest friends. One of my only friends, I am sad to say.
At the graduation ceremony, after he’d been bestowed with his golden chain, he sought me out amongst all the others in attendance. He grabbed my hand and shook it vigorously in that strange human custom.
“Thank you, Professor Starblind,” he said. “You challenged my mind. Nobody has ever done that before.”
“You show promise,” I told him, or something to that effect. “Perhaps if you discover some method to guarantee you immortality, you may amount to something.”
He simply laughed and winked, another human gesture.
It was two months later, I think, I received a letter from him.
“Fenstal had two apprentices,” it read, “who was the other one?”
I responded that afternoon, and so our game began. We challenged each other by post, not only with obscure trivia, but also strange spell-casting methods, philosophy debates, and scavenger hunts.
We played the game for decades, but the last letter I received has disturbed me. I don’t understand it, and that drives me. This is the letter:
There are two of them, and they circle each other. Lightning in between. One smiles and the other one frowns. One loves and one hates. One stands and one falls.
Can you hear that sound? Thunder when they clash. And when one comes down, everything stops. Silence.
I immediately assumed it was a riddle of some sort, but its meaning and the answer eluded me. I pondered possible solutions for weeks, and finally wrote back with my guess, half knowing I was incorrect. Kavol did not respond to my letter, so two weeks later I wrote another. For six months this went on, me writing but receiving no response. I had feared that my friend had died; after all, he would have been in his seventies by this point, ancient for a human.
It was during that period that my affair with Vadansia was exposed. The expulsion ceremony was humiliating. They named our accuser, but Sevenor wasn’t present; I didn’t even get the chance to face the man. They stripped my golden chain from me, and covered their faces until Vadansia and I had departed. She wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t even look at me. At the time, I thought that maybe the two of us could still be together, perhaps move to some other kingdom to make a life together, maybe to a human land where attitudes are much looser and accepting. But I assume the shame was too great for her to bear, and I haven’t seen her since.
It was that same day that I discovered that Sevenor had stolen my family’s spellbook. He made sure I knew it was him; he left the pathetic book I now carry in its place, with his name written inside.
In the ensuing weeks, with no career to pursue, and little else to occupy my time, I turned again to the mystery of Kavol’s last letter. The more I studied it, the more sinister it seemed to grow in my mind. At night, in my dreams, I could see the lightning flash, could hear the crash of thunder. I could see indistinct shapes revolving around each other, but I could never make them out.
This was no mere riddle, no obscure trivia question Kavol had sent to challenge my mind or my resourcefulness. This was something different, something important. And I felt that if I didn’t solve this riddle, there would be dire consequences.
I resolved to travel to Kavol’s homeland. It would be the first time I had set foot in human lands, but I had studied them and knew much of their customs, strange though they seemed to me still. It took me almost three weeks to reach Kavol’s home, and when I arrived I was informed by his butler that Kavol had died the previous winter. I don’t know why I asked him for it, but the man told me the date Kavol had died; two weeks before he’d sent that last letter.
I learned one other clue during my visit. It seems that Kavol had spent several weeks prior to his death in the great southern city of Ruwek. His butler didn’t know why Kavol had been there, but I thought I knew. In Ruwek is one of the greatest libraries in the world, full of ancient texts and crumbling scrolls from before the First Age. If Kavol had made the journey there, at his age and in undoubtedly failing health, it was more than just a whim that led him there.
So now I will travel to Ruwek to pursue this mystery. It’s more than simple curiosity that drives me; I fear that if I do not discover the answer to this riddle, something terrible will happen. I only wish I knew what.
One last thing. I neglected to inquire after the manner of Kavol’s death…