Chapter 1: Tribute to the Void: Arcane Arts
Mezoge studies magic over a series of months, eventually gaining proficiency with it.
“Ugh! This is pointless!”
Mezoge closed the coral-encrusted tome with a snap and tossed it across the room. A shattering sound echoed as it settled into some corner, but the Prince of the Blue had already tucked his head into his pillows, wailing miserably.
Beside him, Kirrin paused in their brushing. A hand rested on Mezoge’s shoulder. “Something wrong, my Prince?”
“Don’t stop brushing.”
Kirrin let out a soft, amused snort, but then returned to their job. Mezoge might have rebuked them for being so disrespectful as to laugh at their Prince, but the comb gently working through his feathers felt too nice to bother.
“It’s that stupid book,” he blurted, sometime later. “It’s boring. I had thought studying magic would be more exciting.”
“What was so boring about it?”
“Well, it made magic sound about as interesting as manatee grazing, for starters.” Mezoge paused, then added with no lack of indignance, “and I got three whole pages in and it hadn’t even started to tell me how to cast a spell?”
“...Three pages?” Kirrin echoed.
“Right? The author obviously wrote it just to waste my time.”
“That seems like a reasonable assumption.” Mezoge stopped wallowing in his pillows to shoot Kirrin a glare. Was that sarcasm? But they continued before he could call them out on it, “perhaps you’d have a better time learning with a more hands-on approach?”
He hummed at that, torn between curiousity and not wanting it to seem like he was listening to a servant’s suggestion. “Go on.”
“You could find a tutor. Learning from someone already experienced in magic would be far more exciting, wouldn’t it?”
Mezoge blinked, absolutely mortified, “you want me to ask for help? To tell someone I was not able to learn on my own?”
Kirrin waved a hand. “No doubt it would be an honour to teach the Prince of the Blue to wield magic.”
Mezoge mumbled, then rested his head back upon his pillows to think. Kirrin went back to brushing his feathers.
It would be an honour. He thought to himself, closing his eyes and beginning to drift off to sleep. And it wouldn’t it be famous to learn magic? Even Mother would be impressed.
“I still don’t see why you have to come.”
Not for the first time in the last hour, Mezoge shot Kirrin a reproachful look. Did they think him incompetent? He was several times as long and several hundred pounds heavier; if they came across any danger, Mezoge was sure it would be him needing to protect his attendant and not the other way around. And though he trailed behind Kirrin now, the fishfolk armed with a compass, his sense of direction wasn’t that bad. He was quite certain he could have made it on his own.
“It’s my job, my Prince,” Kirrin’s response was no different than the last time Mezoge had complained. They didn’t even bother to look up from their compass while addressing him.
Mezoge snorted, about to say that surely this was beyond what could reasonably be expected of an attendant when a cool wind blew over the surface of the water. The Prince shuddered, the silky feathers of his mane bristling along his spine. He did not often leave the Spiral Keep; the weather outside its familiar halls was strange.
“It’s cold,” he muttered miserably. “I don’t see why any self-respecting wizard would choose to live somewhere like this.”
Kirrin laughed. Laughed. Mezoge looked up and glared at them, but they were focused someplace ahead of them. “I can’t do much about the weather, but we’re almost there,” they pointed ahead of them, “see?”
He followed Kirrin’s finger toward a rocky island a few minutes ahead of them. Choppy waves beat heavily against sheer cliffs, kicking up clouds of white seafoam, and beyond them, a spire of black stone jutted into the grey sky like a spear. Mezoge could just barely make out narrow, carved niches that he thought perhaps were meant to be windows.
It looked more than a little intimidating, but more pressingly, it looked more than a little uncomfortable. He had swum this far from the Spiral Keep just to have to squeeze himself into a narrow stone house? The indignity of it all stung more than if he’d been bitten by a shark.
“They had better have a chair,” Mezoge grumbled. Kirrin did not reply, but he caught sight of the smallest smile on their face.
It took them nearly half an hour to circle the island and find a shallow cove where Mezoge could come ashore. Korora, and Princes, were not built for climbing up steep cliffsides. Kirrin had offered several times to scale the island and find where the wizard had gotten off to, and each time Mezoge had refused him. He had come all this way already; and besides, Kirrin was very small. Not that he cared about what happened to his attendant, but it would be a far longer journey back to the Spiral Keep if they were injured. This island was creepy and he would not be surprised if there were rabid land-sharks wandering its shores.
Even worse than being creepy, though, the shore was uncomfortable. Rather than being a gentle slope of soft sand, the beach was instead covered in layers of pebbles. They were worn down by eons of water rushing over them, but they still rubbed uncomfortably against Mezoge’s belly, and shifted unpredictably. On more than one occasion he nearly lost his balance and faceplanted into the ground.
Kirrin looked again like they wanted to suggest he wait there for them to find the wizard, but then both attendant and Prince went still. A black shadow fell upon them. Mezoge’s head arrowed up, his eyes widening in a moment of purest terror.
For an instant, it looked as though a piece of the night sky was falling upon them. Then it darted past, feathered wings beating hard, and alighted upon a nearby outcrop of rock.
A stryx? Mezoge shook himself, indignation overcoming his fear. “And who are you, to drop down unannounced like that? You nearly gave Kirrin a heart attack!”
Kirrin, for their part, had not looked nearly as terrified. They did not bother trying to correct the Prince.
The stryx - a black harpia, feathers glittering with glowing blue-green spots - had the wisdom to look embarrassed. “I wasn’t expecting guests,” he said, by way of apology. “I am the owner of this little rock; and who are you?”
Mezoge blinked. “Who am I? I am Mezoge, the Prince of the Blue. You don’t live so far from the Spiral Keep; how do you not know of me?”
“Prince?” The harpia looked alarmed. “My apologies, then. I… ah. I don’t really get out much, these days.”
Before Mezoge could say anything else, Kirrin stepped towards the stranger, waving a hand in greeting. “And I’m Kirrin. We’ve come looking for a wizard; are you he?”
“Oh? Oh, yes I am!” The harpia’s eyes glinted excitedly, “did you really come all this way for a tonic? Or is someone in your homesick? I had no idea that I was so well known, this is so exciting-”
Mezoge interrupted him. It took great effort not to come off as awkward - Nokt forbid! - but he managed it, “I came here looking for a tutor.”
That silenced the harpia.
The harpia scratched at their face thoughtfully with a talon. “I suppose I could teach you something. Do you have any experience with the arcane arts?”
“I’ve read some,” Mezoge said with no lack of pride, thinking of the three pages that he’d painstakingly put himself through reading yesterday. Kirrin opened their mouth, looking like they wanted to correct their Prince, but a glare from Mezoge made them reconsider whatever they had been about to say.
“Excellent! Let’s get started now, then; no time like the present.”
The ordeal that Kirrin and the wizard called “magic lessons” lasted for several months. If it wouldn’t mean both their attendant and the strange harpia knowing that he had failed, Mezoge would have quit several times over. It was at least more interesting than reading about magic in a book, but it was still hard. Mezoge had never liked being challenged, by people or through difficult tasks.
It was a calmer day than when he had first come upon the wizard’s island, the sun shining down through a clear sky. In full sunlight the island did not look nearly as intimidating, the black rocks softened to grey. Mezoge still thought the wizard’s rocky cave of a home was shabby, but he was here to learn spells, not critique their house. Even if he had done so on several occasions.
“That’s it, yes!” The harpia had said one day, bobbing his head approvingly as Mezoge coaxed an orb of water out of the sea.
Normally Mezoge might have preened at a bit of well-deserved praise, but as it was now it took all his concentration to retain control over his magic. The water shimmered as it drew closer, and then Mezoge had brought it a few feet from his head.
The next part was harder. Mezoge thought of cold days; he had never known real winter, but as he revisited memories of icy winds, the ball of water began to frost over.
Mezoge exhaled and let it drop. The ice shattered against the rocks, but he had done it! He turned to the harpia, eyes shining as Kirrin dutifully applauded him.
Post a comment
Please login to post comments.
Nothing but crickets. Please be a good citizen and post a comment for