Chapter 2 - The Storm

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Chapter 2, The Storm

"The days after Cheserith's exile were lonely. I can't remember how long I wandered. I longed for my beloved. I'd never see her again, or my Children...

- an excerpt from The Thousand Years War, Part I

The sun was setting in the east as the acolytes continued drilling with Iltar's guards. Each of the boys had progressed since lunch. Many of the acolytes were stopping both Delrin and Jalim before they could reach them.

This pleased Iltar.

He stood watching his acolytes, hands clasped behind his back.

"Master Iltar," one of the boys beckoned, "How long are we going to keep at this?"

"Tired, Bilda?" Iltar asked without looking at the boy. He was one of the youngest there.

"Well... I'm kinda bored, y'know?"

"It takes much discipline to become a powerful mage," Iltar said.

"What if I just wanna' be an average mage, y'know? Just a regular ol' necromancer."

Iltar grunted. He knew that's not how Bilda really felt. The boy was just tired and was trying to make excuses to get out of running the drills again.

"There's more to the magical arts than necromancy."

"But you're a necromancer, Master Iltar," the boy retorted.

That struck Iltar as funny.

"I'm more than just a necromancer," Iltar said, looking down at Bilda. The boy was sitting cross-legged, leaning over with his head propped up by his hands. "I started off as an illusionist."

"Really?" Bilda turned toward Iltar with wide eyes. "You didn't have to become a necromancer first?"

Iltar shook his head. "I first wanted to become a grand mage, but my father said I wasn't skilled enough. When I was twelve he said he'd test me further. But that never happened."

"So, why didn't he?" Bilda asked.

"Something came up," Iltar said calmly, though he was choking back the real answer. His father had left. It was after Iltar's grandfather had died. His father never told Iltar why. He just left him and his mother alone here on their homestead. And the next time he saw him–

No!

Iltar sucked in a deep breath and walked away. He was having another fit again. He couldn't let the boys see it. These fits had never happened this frequently before. What was happening to him?

Iltar hurried around the house, the sounds of the acolytes and guards barely reached his ears. He continued around the walls of a chimney and tucked himself beside it. He leaned against the house, tears trickling from his eyes.

Tears?

The tears turned to soft sobs, and he wept, slumping against the chimney.

This had not happened in years. He couldn't bring himself to the present. He was lost, overcome by sorrow.

He closed his eyes, trying to think of something else, but he couldn't shake those baleful memories of his parents.

No!

His mother's horrified screams echoed.

No!

Eruptions of magic rung loud.

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