In life, days go by one by one, and for most of us, it’s usually the same thing over and over. Nothing really changes in those lives, and eventually everything becomes routine. You feel safe and secure because everything always works out the same way. But there will always be that one day where that one thing happens that just shakes your quiet, repetitive life so hard that you’re left in shock as you stare at the shattered remains of your life left behind by that devastating hurricane. That day happened when I was twelve years old.
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My name is Draco; Draco Cyriius. I was born and grew up in a large village built around a Sorcerite temple. Sorcerites were like knights, except they didn’t belong to any king or lord. They held their own rule, and were completely committed to one purpose: keeping peace around the known world. Their greatest concern these days was the ever-thinner line of peace between humans and demons. All of them were expert in their fields, whether it be sword, archery, or magic.
My father’s name is Walker Cyriius, a well-respected and skilled warrior and Sorcerite. His reputation was known throughout the lands as one of the bravest in the eastern lands. My mother was Fiona Cyriius. She was a very kind and proud person, but was not very popular to most of the other mothers. There was not a thing that could bring someone to dislike my mother. It was just the simple fact that she was a demon.
If you do the math, you can probably deduce that this would make me a demon. While such a paring is not unheard of, it is very uncommon and looked down upon greatly by society. Had it not been for his reputation, my father would have been banished. My mother was not so lucky. Her clan disowned her when they heard about the news. They met during one of my father’s expeditions.
I have a twin brother as well; Bahaumut. We’re nothing alike, but we get along well.
The morning started like any other. I awoke to the scent of breakfast. It was just another morning like every day. I looked to the bed beside me and saw that Bahaumut was not there. As always, he was up earlier than I was. Our room was small and simple; two small beds with a chest at the foot of them. I rolled out of bed and kicked the chest open. Inside were all my belongings.
I changed out of my night clothes and put on my school clothes. Both Bahaumut and I attended Sorcerite training in the temple. Both our parents wanted us to be Sorcerites. But I didn’t feel that my future rested there. A Sorcerite had so many codes to live by that it didn’t appeal to me. But at the time, I could think of no better profession, so in the mean time, it was my only course of action.
Bahaumut, on the other hand, ate the stuff up. I was certain that he would be a Sorcerite one day. And although he appeared to follow all the rules and be obedient, I knew otherwise. I would know. Pull up the third floorboard to the right and you would find a stash of herbs and spell books. I know its there because I was the one who pulled up the floorboard and dug the hole.
Bahaumut practiced the art of black magic in his free time. Mother forbids it. Mother also forbids me to play with her twin daggers; called dai-blades; and keeps them locked away in a box with an enchanted lock on it. Bahaumut is the only one who knows the enchantment to open. So in return for making him a hiding spot for his magic, he lets me access the box.
I left the room and entered the kitchen. Mother was cleaning while Bahaumut was finishing his breakfast. “You missed breakfast,” he said.
He was right. If I had breakfast, I would be late for class. I hated it when he was right. I made a face at him.
“Knock it off you two. Draco, you know I wouldn’t let you go without eating.” She handed me something folded in a cloth. I looked inside and saw an egg sandwich inside.
“Thanks mom!” I bit into it. It was delicious.
Even by demon standards, she was a lovely person. Many demons had the ability to take on human form. As demons, our race closely resembled a mix between a wolf and a human. Everything about us was human, except for fur and wolf-like facial features such as a long snout and wolf-like ears. My mother had silver hair and fur, and light purple eyes. She was slender and very graceful. I got most of my features from her. But my hair was not silver, but gray; and my eyes were a darker tint of purple.
She was also very quick. Once I knocked the wooden knife holder, spilling out all the knives. In a flash, she managed to catch all twelve of them before they hit the floor without as much as a scratch. Sometimes I wondered what she used to do before she became a housewife.
“Okay you two, time for school. Hurry or you’ll be late.” She shooed us out the door and Bahaumut and I started to walk to the temple. I at my sandwich and stuffed the cloth in my pocket. The day was beautiful. The sky was clear and a light, refreshing breeze blew through the village. Morning dew still covered the grass and shimmered like a million jewels. The day looked promising.
“Draco, can I ask you a favor?” Bahaumut said as we cut between two houses.
“I’m running out of supplies. I need to run out to the forest and pick some more. I also need to get inside the Archives.”
I caught on to what he needed. “We’ll go to the Archives right after school. I’ll tell Mom that you stayed behind for extra study when I get home.”
A bright display of orange caught my eye. I looked over and saw a large tree heavy with oranges. They seemed to glow like little fires under the morning sun. The branches reached past the low fence that enclosed the yard it was in.
“Bahaumut, look!” I quipped. “Kirk’s tree is growing oranges!”
It wasn’t uncommon for my appetite to dictated most of my thoughts.
Bahaumut shook his head in disapproval. “If we are late for magic lessons again, mother will scold us.”
I ignored him as I always did and approached the tree, looking longingly at the oranges that hung just out of reach. I crouched over and pressed my hands to the ground. I focused on my magic and with a dull flash, the ground beneath me rose a few feet and lifted me high enough to grab for the oranges.
“Draco, you know what mother told you about practicing wild magic.”
“And you know what mother said about you practicing black magic.” I shot back. Bahaumut stayed silent. Sometimes Bahaumut could be a little hypocritical. But I understood that since he was the older one by five seconds, he felt the need to at least try and keep me out of trouble. He failed miserably.
I got off of my makeshift stand and tossed an orange to Bahaumut. “Why do you think mom doesn’t plant an orange tree?”
“Probably because she doesn’t like oranges,” Bahaumut shrugged.
In the distance, the bells at the temple began to toll. “Now we’re late.” Bahaumut complained, and we broke into a run to the temple.
We ran through the temple’s front entrance and navigated the halls to the class room, avoiding Masters and Journeymen as we went.
Once at the door to the classroom, I heard Bahaumut whisper s few words. His shadow spell. I watched him melt into the shadows and ooze halfway to his desk before he reappeared ran out. He quickly sat down while the teacher’s back was turned. The teacher faced the board a second time and I made a break for my desk. I made it just as the teacher turned back.
The class for the morning was the Fundamentals of Magic. It was a boring class, but not as boring as History. Our teacher was an old and slightly senile Master who smelled a lot like mothballs up close.
“Good morning class,” he said. He got a half-hearted, bored reply. He didn’t seem to notice. “This morning we are going to learn about the different classes of magic.”
Oh, yawn. I could already feel myself slowly slipping away to sleep.
“Now, as you all should know by now, there are four main categories of magic. Can anyone tell be what they are?”
Some redheaded girl in the front raised her hand and she was called upon. “White, red, black, and wild,” she said.
“That is correct. Good job. The different forms of magic are divided into those four categories. We’ll start off with white magic. White magic is any magic used to heal or protect something. Spell such as healing wounds or creating barriers are considered white magic.” On his desk was a large array of objects and instruments. One of them was a jar with a toad and a few twigs and branches in it. He opened the jar and placed the toad on the table. He set his hand over it and the toad briefly glowed.
“Now, please observe.” He reached behind his desk and pulled out a mason’s hammer. He raised it above his head and brought it down on the toad as hard as he could, which wasn’t very hard. The hammer bounced off the toad and it glowed again. “That is an example of the usefulness of white magic.”
“Now can anyone tell me about black magic?”
Someone up front raised their hand. “To break things?”
“Not quite, but close. Black magic utilizes magical energy; mana; to harm or destroy, and can even manifest mana into a physical force. It can also be used to summon spirits, an art that is forbidden by the Temple. Many people also argue whether or not necromancy is black or white magic, since you are essentially healing someone of death.”
I set my chin down on my hands. “Red magic is a little more complex, and it has many subdivisions. It uses mana to influence objects. Alchemy, and enchantings are examples of red magic.”
“Wild magic is the most difficult of all forms of magic. It requires the user to integrate their mana with natural elements in order to influence it. It requires large amounts of mana, and great control. Wild magic is very unstable and can sometimes backfire on its user if they attempt something beyond their level of control. But if they can master the ability, they can control elements.”
He was right about control. Countless times I have come home with multiple cuts and bruises because I was trying to do things like control the wind to cut things, or raise the earth like I did this morning. I tried my best to hide them from Mother. She would have a conniption if she found out. Father would be upset too, but he tended not to overreact as much as mom.
“Now, can anyone tell me…?” I never heard the question. My eyes closed and I drifted to sleep.
It felt like I slept for five minutes, but before I knew it, Bahaumut was poking me to wake up. I blinked my eyes and wiped the drool from the side of my face.
He nodded and walked off. I stood up, stretched, and followed out.
After magic lessons came my favorite class: fighting. In the Temple, Associates took all forms of lessons. Once we graduated from that status and became Apprentices, we could choose the courses we wanted to focus on, such as magic or combat. After that came Journeyman, Master, and finally Elder, which was the highest one can reach.
I walked down to the training field behind the Temple. There was a Master there waiting for us. He wasn’t as old as the other teacher, but he was at least middle aged. I was disappointed. There were two teachers for this class. The younger one was always there when we actually did sparring exercises. When this one was here, it was going to be a spoken lesson on the art of combat. I sat on the grass with the others and got myself ready for another nap.
After classes, I met up with Bahaumut and we made our way to the Archive; after school was always the best time to break in. During this time, the instructors were cleaning up and preparing for their next class, and if we were spotted in the halls, no one would question what we were doing there.
The Archives were locked with a pad lock. Only Journeymen and higher carried the key. When we reached the door, Bahaumut went to the end of the hall and stood guard. He knew the routine. I reaching into my pocket and pulled out my lock pick probe. I carried it around with me everywhere I went, like a good luck charm. It was, after all, lucky. There wasn’t a lock in the world I couldn’t break into with this.
I inserted the pick and started to tweak the tumblers. One by one, they fell into place. This was going to be easy as always.
I heard footsteps and turned to find Bahaumut running towards me. I crouched down and he threw himself over me. The world around me took an abstract view, like I suddenly dived in a pool of colored water. From the end of the hall, a Master stepped in and walked towards us. He passed without as much as a glance our way. Thanks to Bahaumut’s shadow spell, we were nearly invisible to the naked eye as long as we were within contact of a shadow.
When the Master turned the corner and disappeared from sight, Bahaumut let me up. The world returned to normal. “You have got to teach me how to do that some day. I could use it so much more than you can.”
I went back to the lock and in moments cracked it open. I pulled it off the latch and set it aside. With the lock off, no one would come in and investigate. After all, only Journeymen and Masters could get in. If it was open, then that would mean it was occupied. I pushed open the doors and let Bahaumut inside.
He said, “Thanks.”
He paused in the doorway as if he just remembered something. He reached into his pocket and handed me a piece of paper. There was a glyph written on it.
“It will temporarily remove the enchantment on Mother’s dagger case. I learned how to make it last night in one of my books.”
“Sweet!” I looked it over. “Umm…how do I use it?”
“Just touch the box with it. One use only thought.”
“Thanks. Make sure you lock up when you’re done.” The Archive was the only place Bahaumut could obtain information to study black magic. I preferred my wild magic there were no books or scrolls for wild magic; the technique was something that could not be taught through books.
Bahaumut nodded and disappear in the shelves of books. The Archive was a creepy place. It was ill-lit and smelled of old and musty books. The lanterns that burned inside sent creepy shadows across the cold, stone walls.
I left Bahaumut there and headed home. I knew that if I went home, I would have to do my chores, but I needed to cover for Bahaumut. I was willing to bite the bullet for that.
I walked in the front door and found father at the table, sharpening his large broadsword at the table. The sword was legendary, known as the Dark Legacy. It was when he was on a quest for it he met Mother.
“How was school today?” he asked as I entered. He slid the whetstone down the edge of the blade.
“Nothing has changed since I went to school there it seems.” He laughed.
My father was a proud man, and was well-respected. He was well known around the Sorcerite Temples. He had black hair that was graying near the front, but a strong face that did not betray his aging. He came from a line or warriors, and because of this he had no surviving family besides the one that lived in this house. He was smart and practical person. It wasn’t hard to see that it was he who Bahaumut took after.
“Where’s Bahaumut?” he asked.
I answered, “He stayed behind to study.”
He nodded. Sometimes I wondered if Father knew that Bahaumut and I went behind Mother and his back to practice our magic. If he didn’t know, he definitely suspected something was up. There were too many signs for someone like him not to catch on to. But then I also wondered if he even cared. After all, not practicing that kind of magic was Mother’s rule, not his. But he never argued with Mother. He would only lose anyways.
Mother had her reasons for banning the use of black and wild magic, and they were understandable. She banned wild magic because I tended to hurt myself and black magic because she was probably afraid that Bahaumut would become drunk with the power like most do and end up evil or something.
Both Bahaumut and I knew the risks of practicing our magic. We were willing to risk it. Besides, I was certain Bahaumut had enough willpower to not turn to the dark side. He wasn’t an idiot.
“Well, you better get your chores done. Your mom will be home soon,” he said.
I sighed. “Alright. Then can I go out and play?”
“I don’t see why not.”
I smiled in anticipation and ran off to do my chores. My daily chores included feeding the cows and chickens and shoveling out the stable. It was Bahaumut’s job to milk the cows, collect the eggs, and clean the coop. He would have to do that when he got home. Once I finished, I checked inside. Dad wasn’t at the table. His gear was put away, and his sword was resting against the wall. I left it alone. If I knocked it over, I would have a hard time putting it back. It was nearly two feet taller than I was, and must way more than I did. Only Bahaumut was able to lift it off the ground, and even then he had to rest it on his shoulders.
I looked inside the storeroom and kitchen. Mother wasn’t there. They must both be out. I grinned and went to my parents’ bedroom. Sitting on top of the mantel was a square box with a small lock in the lid. I took the paper Bahaumut gave me out of my pocket and pressed it against the lock. The paper disintegrated in my grasp and the lock came undone.
I lifted the lid and looked inside. Sitting inside was a pair of twin daggers. The blades were a little over a foot long, double edged, and made of a black metal that was unknown to me. The hilt had a small hand guard, but it was more from protecting the hand from slipping and catching the blade than defending against an enemies attack. The blade was extremely sharp, and never dulled. At the end of the hilt was a ring. It was there as a finger grip and allowed you to spin the blades. The sheaths were made of some kind of light stone.
I was about to pick up the blades when I heard the door open. Quickly, I closed the box and heard the lock click. It was a wasted chance. Oh well. I walked out and found that mom had returned. She carried and armful of vegetables.
“Oh, you’re home,” she smiled when she saw me. “I thought you’d be out playing by the time I got home.
“I just got done with my chores and was on my way out.”
“Okay then, have fun.”
I left the house, disappointed that I had wasted a chance to practice with the blades. I left for the field, where my friends usually had a wrestling game or something going on.
That night, Bahaumut wasn’t there for dinner. By the time I was in bed, he still hadn’t arrived. I told my parents that he was helping out at the temple, but once bed time came around, they started to get worried.
Father went to the Temple to see if he was there. Mother came in to tuck me in to sleep. Where was he? He always came back in time to keep our parents from worrying. I couldn’t cover for him past this point. I found that I too was worried about him. Something wasn’t right.
Mother kissed me on the cheek as she pulled the blanket over me. I could see in her eyes that she was worried sick. But she tried her best to hide it. “Goodnight sweetie.”
“Goodnight mom.” She extinguished the lamp on the dresser and closed the door behind her.
Moonlight was the only thing lighting the room now as it seeped through the window. I looked to Bahaumut's bed. He was in trouble for sure. And knowing him, he would fess up. But not all the way. Bahaumut was not like me. He didn’t like lying. He was a fan of bending the truth, or giving only some of it. Besides, I was sure he was fine. He’ll be back any time now.
Reassured by the gullibility that comes with childhood, I fell quickly to sleep.
Sleep seemed to last only seconds when someone began shaking me awake. “Draco. Wake up,” I heard Mother said urgently. ”Come on, wake up!”
At first, I was going to shrug her off like I did every morning when she woke me up for school, but there was unnatural urgency in her voice.
I was slowly starting to wake up when my senses started to perceive the smell of burning wood and crackling wood. At first, it took me a moment to comprehend what was going on. And then it hit me like a punch.
The house was on fire.
My mother had her daggers attached to her hip. Sparks of burning embers danced in the air before me like fireflies and the air was thick with smoke and heat.
The air was thick with heat. Outside, there was yelling and the sound of metal striking metal. It was the sound of battle.
Sleep was gone. I was wide awake and aware now. Confusion still gripped my senses, but I had it under control. It was like starting a book halfway through. I knew what was happening now, it was just the in between that was unclear. But that could wait. The now was all I needed to know at the moment.
Bahaumut. Where was he?
Mother grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the house. Outside, the sounds of battle became louder, and I saw that our house was not the only one on fire. I could see smoke raising into the night sky, and the night was illuminated by the flames.
“Mother, where’s Bahaumut?”
“I don’t know,” Mother said. “I pray that he’s safe.”
Bahaumut wasn’t back yet. I felt worry strike through my gut like a dagger. I looked around for any information about the current situation. To my right, a Sorcerite was fighting a pair of armored demons. They were not of the same breed as us. They were too far away and it was too dark for me to make out the details. But they both stood a foot taller than the Sorcerite.
It had happened. Demons had attacked the village. We had always believed that they would never come. Our village was too small for them to take notice of us. But we were wrong, and now we were paying for being so naïve. That dagger of worry that was in my gut suddenly twisted. In order to get to the village, the demons had to have come through the same forest Bahaumut was supposedly at. Had the found him? Was that why he was not home? No, they couldn’t have killed him. Bahaumut would not go down so easily. He knew enough magic to make a good escape.
The two demons overpower the Sorcerite and struck him down. My mother pulled my arm and pulled me to away from the scene, away from the sight of the two demons. But another demon, smaller than the others, turned the corner and blocked our path. I look to the right. The two demons notice us and headed towards us. We were trapped.
The demon in front of us had a spear and charged at us. Mother pushed me aside and drew her daggers. With speed I only caught glimpses of she drew her daggers and ran towards the demon. It thrust its spear at her. She parried and with one quick motion, cut the demon’s throat from ear to ear.
The other two attacked her at the same time. With incredible grace she dodged their attacks. Their blades skimmed inches from her, but not a single blow connected. When an opening presented itself, she slid between the two and slashed with amazing speed at the openings in their armor, slicing through muscle and tendons. No longer able to manipulate their limbs, the two collapse to the ground.
I heard a faint sound, and it took me a moment to realize it was the sound of a bowstring. I looked to the house across from us and saw an archer on the roof, arrow ready. “Mom!”
The archer fires, but Mother cut the arrow in two with her dagger. She raised her hand to the archer as if she was trying to grab him. Fire from the next house over suddenly changed its course, turned completely horizontal, and engulfed the archer in its rage. Wild magic. I never knew Mother knew wild magic.
I looked at her. There was a splotch of blood on her cheek. I was sure it wasn’t hers. Her eyes had a blaze in them that made the inferno around us look like nothing more than a campfire. The gentle housewife that I knew as my mother was gone. Mother had turned into a totally different person; a strong, determined, and very frightening person. What did she do before she became a mother?
Mother turned and grabbed my hand. The flames in her eyes had died down a bit. “Let’s go, honey. We have to get to the Temple. We’ll be safe there.”
I knew that the Temple would be safe, but I was pretty sure I was just as safe with her around. I let her guide me through the streets. Every time we came across a fight, we went the other way. All around us, small battles were raging. It seemed like every Sorcerite in the village were fighting. Just how big was the demon force that was attacking us?
We were close to the Temple. Soon, it was within sight. But it wasn’t over.
Mother stopped abruptly and I almost fell over from trying to stop with her. She seemed transfixed on something ahead. I followed her gaze and found Father locked in combat with a demon. This one was different from the others. He was no normal demon that was sure. I could sense pure evil radiating from him, and I never saw someone with so much skill with a sword. Could he be the leader of this attack?
“Father!” The words ran from my tongue before I could stop them.
Father’s attention shifted over from the fight to me. It was a fatal mistake. The demon took advantage of my distraction and slashed his back, severing his spine. Blood streamed from the gash, cascading into the air and staining the grass. My father went rigid, and collapsed to the ground.
“WALKER!!!!!!” Fiona screamed. She let go of my hand and rushed forward with amazing speed, spinning the daggers in the hands. She lunged at the demon and attacked viciously. The demon blocked every blow, defending against both blades with his single sword. With his free hand, the demon shot a black stream of magic through her chest. My mother flew back a few feet towards me and hit the ground. She did not get back up. The image engraved itself into my memory. The demon turned away from my mother’s body, and began casting magic at other warriors. He took no notice of me.
I walked up to my mother’s body. Her eyes were still open. I closed them gently. I wanted to say something, but words did not form. Tears blinded me. I grabbed the belt that held the sheaths and the daggers. I put it over my shoulder and gripped the daggers tightly.
“Don’t turn your back on me!” I screamed at the demon and rushed forward. Any other time, I would recognize that there was no way I could take on the demon and live. But I was blinded with rage, and I felt that it was the right thing to do. It was what needed to be done.
The demon sensed my attack. He quickly sidestepped and knocked me away with the flat of his blood red long-sword. I struck the ground hard. I picked myself up, and made another blind attempt to strike the demon. The demon laughed, a haunting sound that sounded like the mumbles of a thousand damned souls. It just pissed me off more. How dare he laugh.
A smoky silver bolt of magic erupted from the demon’s hand. There was no chance to dodge it, and it struck me in the chest. Pain wracked my body and my veins felt like they were on fire. The world faded into white.
When in doubt, empty your magazine.