-*- The Beginning -*-
When one is born it is then that they begin to die, and so begins my story.. I was born in Castilla (kas-teal-ya), and am the second oldest of my mother’s seven children. My eldest brother was torn from mother’s arms and taken from her, by the same Dark Mage – Balzariae, from whom she had received her powers from as punishment. She was punished for she had betrayed him. It was with bitter tears my mother cried as my brother’s tiny body writhed in pain as The Dark Mage placed his hand upon him and burned a mark of blame into his tender newborn flesh before taking the child away. Knowing full well that the mark of blame that her son now bore, that is to say, the mark of evil and of punishment would bring only sorrow and strife to him my mother was doubly broken, and the pain of his loss and curse hung heavy upon her heart.
A few years later just after my mother gave birth to me, Balzariae returned, his will bent upon once more punishing my mother and father. He offered my mother a chance to repent and to return to his side; that perhaps in time she might earn back her son but she refused. She knew the kind of things she would be forced to endure and to face and as such not even the love of her son, for her son, could make her return to do the evil biddings she had once been placed under. With but a single swift gesture of Balzariae’s hand, my mother and father were frozen in place as if bound by invisible chains. Struggle as they might, they could not move from their places, nor could they utter any sound louder than a whisper. This time Balzariae would not steal away a child as he had done my brother. He had reasoned within himself that to take another child from them would merely add to their pain, and that would not be enough to satisfy his lust for vengeance. He instead had devised a hideous plan to not just simply add to their pain, but to multiply into unbearable measure.
To these ends he had not returned alone, for he had brought with him Pandora, an exceedingly evil child who’s spirit was as dark and dead as any that had walked the earth. Then in an unholy ritual Balzariae weaved his bitter vengeance. My very soul seemed to be torn from me and exchanged with that of Pandora. Then Pandora was spirited off to live with my brother a great distance away. As a final act of indignation Balzariae placed his hand upon my shoulder, and as the room filled with the sounds and stench of searing flesh I too received the mark of blame. As Balzariae faded away into the night the unseen bonds that had entrapped my parents melted away and they rushed forward to cradle me in their arms and wept.
My parents were so very protective of me it was frightening. In fact you could say it bordered on paranoia for fear they might wake and I would be gone forever. Try as I might though, I could not escape the evil that was now eating away at my being. I had learned to talk at an astonishingly young age, and showed an understanding far beyond my years. One morning, at the age of three a neighbor’s child and I were playing. The other child took a simple toy from me and would not return it. As if by instinct I arose to my feet and shouted at her in a dreamlike rage, and as the sound of my voice faded, her simple garments burst into flames. In terror my mother who had been watching us play ran out and smothered the flames before any great harm came to the little one, but with that action, another woe was to befall me. My parents now feared of what I might become, and now wanted me no longer in their home for fear of what I might do to my younger brother and sister who had been born a few months earlier.
After much searching my parents gave my charge to the kindly, but stern mage Jaiiaan` and commanded he lock me away so that I could cause no harm to anyone. He sighed and had pondered this deciding that the only place safe for me was locked in a magical cell deep inside The Mountains of Myst, though sadly this was at my own parent’s urgings and not something he himself wished to do. In this dark and dank cell, no magic would operate and I would be left to my own devices. That first night I lay there drenched in my own tears, a small frightened child torn from her parents and siblings. I had no way to know that it would be just the first in a seemingly endless procession of heartbroken days as the years of my imprisonment unfolded. To this was added the pain of knowing that as my estranged family grew, I knew them not. The only relent from this constant mental and metal torture would be the times that Jaiiaan` would allow me to study his magic, for he believed that to teach me his discipline would allow me to overcome the dark soul that lurked always just below the surface.
On my sixth birthday I was rewarded with a day of freedom. I was out of the dark cell and in the light the oh so lovely precious sunlight! I spent hours practicing the cantrips that Jaiiaan` had been teaching me day in and day out. I had only learned to read within the last year but even that did not impeed the magic that surged naturally through my veins. Through this temporary freedom I gained access to Jaiiaan`s arcane libraries and while there I learned a great deal about the natural ability I had been granted over flames. I might not have understood things that the adepts and apprentices were trying to explain to me as I asked my questions.. but the words would forever sink into my mind. Even though as they laughed at a young child trying to make sense of the books and scrolls the words sank deep within the mind.
Then as if hearing an old friend’s voice, a sound from outside the studio window beckoned me. It was Legend, my father’s wolf whom I had not seen for all those long years of my captivity. He had not deserted me.. he had indeed remembered me! I ran out to meet him in the grass. I wept softly as I held him in my arms and rocked him as a mother might with her newborn baby. I had always loved my fathers wolf for he had been very protective of me and the warmth of his closeness made me feel renewed of spirit.
Then soon came the sounds of children from along the path leading from the dark woods. It was my mother, Raven, and she had brought my brothers and sisters so that I might meet them, but as we all met a cold wind ripped through us and Balzariae appeared, his eyes burning with a dark flame and his face distorted in rage. Balzariae glared at my mother and then stretched out his hands toward her. From his fingertips floated a small jolt of light, looking like a firefly carried on the breeze, but in an instant there came a deafening roar as it grew into a bright ball of fire. The fireball streaked toward her and struck her squarely in the chest, and as it collided with her, she was enveloped in a shroud of flames that immediately burned her to ashes.
Jaiiaan` ran out to us having seen this from the window and attempt to stop Balzariae but he had vanished as quickly and with as much cowardice as he had appeared with. Jaiiaan` gathered the stunned children and myself inside till he was sure that it was safe and then after sadly locking me into my cell once again, returned my siblings to my fathers cottage. He had looked so reluctant in locking me back up.. but every time I was allowed "out" the dark mage would appear or something bad would happen.. and as such.. with me under lock and key.. he seemed not able to find me.
Now once again I was exiled into my bitter cell, and the images of that day were added to the already unbearable existence I was to endure there, locked away for what was thought to be protection for myself and those around me. Many a day I spent there in the solitude that was only broken by my lessons from Jaiiaan`. Many a night I fell into slumber cold and hungry and even though Jaiiaan did his best to care for me, all I really wanted was my father to hold me. I can recall the early budding seasons when the rains were so fierce that the cell would almost flood from the weather that raged upon the mountain. So many nights my screams bounced off walls of cold and bitter stone for dread of drowning do to the heavy storms that riddled the area. But through all this Jaiiaan` stood by me. He was in a sense my warden, keeping me locked away to fulfill the wishes of my father and now the town’s people as well that feared me. He however, took no pleasure in my captivity, and had grown to be the only figure of father-hood toward me I would ever know. He made clothing for me by his own hand and even fashioned a dolly made from rags to ease my isolation. And through all this he taught me daily and in this shared his vast knowledge with me, both practical and magical.
By my ninth birthday Jaiiaan` had convinced all that would listen to him that his teachings and the long imprisonment in that cell that permitted me no use of my magic had broken the dark hold over me, and I was no threat to the people of the land. I was released from my prison cell and was told got prepare for a journey to visit my father and siblings. I hastened to gather my few meager possessions into a bundle and it seemed I was ready to travel before the echo of the invitation had died from the room.
Jaiiaan` accompanied me along the arduous trip to sea. Papa I soon learned had remarried and moved to the far sides of the territory. With a tear in his eyes my father, Jolin, held out to me my six month old step-sister and told how my step-mother had died giving birth to her. The atmosphere lightened up quickly though as my other brothers and sisters filled the room. Then my Papa produced a small velvet bag from inside a drawer and gave it gently unto my hands. As I tugged on the draw strings on the bag, it opened to reveal a small wooden music box with bronze latches. As I opened it soft sweet notes rang out from it as it played a hauntingly peaceful melody. Then to my delight papa told me that the music box was very special, and it played not one but many sweet songs. Jaiiaan` smiled down at me and kissed my forehead and with a wave was on his way. I turned back watching sadly not wishing him to go but I couldn't find the words to ask him to stay as I feared angering my father.
I lived a day or two of happiness before the curse would once more resurface. Just as true joy was entering into my heart, and it seemed as if all that had been lost might be regained Balzariae reappeared. He stood just outside the open window and stared through us as if we were not there. He raised his hands against the sky and in a moments time the peaceful skies filled with clouds and a bitter cold wind began to rage against the cottage. In the twinkling of an eye the roof was torn away and the howling winds filled the cottage tossing us about like leaves at the mercy of the wind. My papa found his way to his feet and stood to face Balzariae. In an instant their eyes locked the dark one reached up to the stormy skies and then dropping his hand toward my papa, and as he did so a torrent of lighting bolts fell upon him killing him. I was racked with pain as my papa fell lifeless to the floor and in an instant rage consumed me. I turned to the one who had now slain both my parents and shrieked an incantation at him, but all those years in the seclusion of that cell that allowed not for any magic's use had taken its toll upon me, for even my natural ability to call forth flames had no effect. For a moments time that seemed to drag on without end we stared into each others eyes while I awaited my fate.
Just as it seemed he was about to take action the front walls of the cottage gave way to the horrific winds that were still raging about us. With my father dead and Jaiiaan` not there to protect me I had no choice, I had to use this chance to escape. I gathered my siblings about me and we made off through a large opening in the back wall of the cottage. We ran stumbling away not looking back and made our escape into the dense woods at the edge of my father’s land. Deep into the forest we ran, and one by one as the little ones could run no more I tried to carry them until I could run no longer and we collapsed and cried ourselves to sleep.
In a small village such as Castilla word spreads swiftly. it was sometime later that night that Jaiiaan` found us and with his help we found a deserted cottage deep in the forest. It was old and in disrepair, but we claimed it as our own and from that day on it was home. There I raised my younger siblings doing whatever was necessary to survive. Jaiiaan` would visit us regularly providing what help he could, and continuing my lessons which I now passed on to my brothers and sisters. Jaiiaan` even had begun to teach me to defend myself using a quarter staff. He had decided it would be good that I learned to defend myself as magic was not always going to be able to be used in a fight and to rely solely on that would be foolish.
For my thirteenth birthday Jaiiaan` gave to me a golden dragon as a gift, I loved FyreThorn the moment I set eyes upon him and I still have him to this day. My brothers and sisters were growing and while we didn't have much we did have each other. I was learning and occasionally Jaiiaan` would bring one of his friends around to help teach me a different weapon as he wanted me to know as much as I possibly could with someone like Balzariae on the loose. Life was hard but in a strange way happier than ever before, I had a family again. But this was soon to be shattered.
At fourteen Balzariae sent an assassin into the forest to search us out, he was likely fearful of Jaiiaan's magic. One morning just as we all awoke he crashed through the door of the cottage and forced us outside. He found amusement in my efforts to defend against him and he mocked me telling me that if I could vanquish him that he would return to Balzariae and report that his task was complete. We both knew that even though I was adept with my staff, I was no match for him. Vanquish would mean he could not return to deliver this message.. so I knew it was fairly hopeless. A hardened killer against a child. I fought with every ounce of my being but I was soon overpowered and then struck unconscious by a blow from the broad side of his sword against my head. When I later awoke I discovered I was bound to a tree. My siblings were there too about five paces away bound and gagged facing me.
The assassin took great pleasure in telling me that his instructions were to torture me in the most heinous way he could devise, but that I must be left alive, though it mattered not what he did to the rest. He then took sap from a near by pine tree and rubbed it over my eyelids. He held rolled back the lids of my eyes until the sticky sap took hold like glue and I could not force my eyes shut. Without another word he then slowly slaughtered my brothers and sisters before me, holding each one level to my head so I was forced to watch their tortured faces as the life drained from them. When he had finished he wiped his blade clean in my hair and disappeared into the thick forest leavening me there screaming on the blood-soaked ground. In a few hours my tears had loosed the sap from my eyes, but it mattered not, for eyes open or shut I could still see the lifeless bodies of my brothers and sisters strewn about me.
Days passed and all I had to sustain me was the morning dew that formed on the tree. I lost time and after what seemed like weeks though it was probably closer to six days or so.. my bonds had loosened from starvation and I finally freed myself. I buried my brothers and sisters a short way from our cottage on a hill that overlooked a small pond where we had all spent countless hours laughing and playing, but it never really seemed enough.. I know in my heart it never ever will be. What worried me the most though was, where was Jaiiaan`? What was keeping him away?...