Cozily seated by the hearth of his home, with the steady crackle of firewood to ward off the bite of winter, the wizened wizard sat in a spell of mere idle reflection.
The firelight warmly wrapped itself around his old frame. He had reclined in his favourite chair, as quiet collusions of thought drifted though his head, untethering his mind to the common worries of younger races. Being ancient beyond reckoning, he was hardly bothered by the brusque and brutish desires of mere mortals, unless their goals crossed his own.
However, there was one young soul to which his thoughts often turned; a single sorcerer’s affairs that still captured his attentions.
Every memory of Tystnad began with his eyes. They were eyes with an oceanic depth that shifted from the greys of tempests to the blues of clear sky; flecked by the gilded touches of a golden inner ring. The wizard remembered how those eyes had told a thousand stories; how those eyes revealed everything that the young magical protégé ever felt. And so, for fear of revealing the truths of his heart, Tystnad hardly ever looked into the eyes of another.
Alone, alienated, and misunderstood… he had ghosted his way through the dreary drag of a provincial life among an ignorant people. Unseen, yet seeing everything. The wizard often wondered how the boy had fared on his own… and whether caution was as much his keeper as was his curiosity. Yet one day, seemingly as out of thin air, he had crossed the threshold of the wizard’s chateau.
Caught unawares, the wizard had stood in the very room in which he was now seated. He had turned, sensing a presence, to find the small hooded figure of the boy watching him. The full mystery of those eyes were intently cast upon him then. They were eyes that seemed nearly as old as his own, only betrayed by the youthful visage from without which they peered. It was the only time the wizard was not sure of what the boy had actually felt, even if their eyes had been locked for what felt like perpetuity.
About two things about the boy became clear to him then: Power, and sensitivity. Two diverging parts of character that divided his soul in an eternal conflict. One offering him immunity, the other offering hurt. And so, despite the impatience of his kind with mortal races, he decided to take the young talent under his keep.
Tystnad had never been an impressionable pupil; he was too headstrong and independent. But he did listen. He listened attentively when he wished. And when he did, he displayed great forbearance in the learning of his craft as a wielder of magic. The wizard had taken the human under his tutelage, patiently guiding him and honing his skill. The boy had returned, day in and day out. Every week. Every month. For years and years on end. Until a wizard of many winters was teaching a mage who had reached his Summer… And then, never seemed to reach his Fall…
But more years yet passed, as master and student studied the mystic arts. Then more years still. Time seemed a relative construct in that place, where the boundaries of reality were calibrated differently with powerful magics that rewrote the thread of time.
… a fact the wizard only noticed much later, as the haunted halls, and darkened doorways were all that was left of the once enchanted chateau…
The wizard snapped out of his reverie, and looked around. All the feigned warmth from the room was gone. Drawn back into a memory now cold and devoid of the life that once infused its walls, its furniture and its history. The fireplace had long since smothered its last ember. The last spark of the arcane had long since dissipated from the very foundations of the fortress.
And inside, its only occupant was the ghost of an ancient sorcerer who had trained the likes of another… Far beyond the years afforded to a single life alone…
And as the wizard sat there, his spirit reeling from reminiscence that had seemed as tangible as it could seem for the dead, he wondered where the other spectre was roaming within the world… The immortal mage who had honed his skill past the brink of eternity…
You may want to read Treasure – Inktober #21 (link here).