Thomas took a few deep breaths, waiting for his mind to calm and the hackles along Pallo’s back to lower. Now that he could think straight, it was time to get a grip on his situation. He was surrounded by snow and frost, but above him was clearly a summer sky. A frozen plain in the middle of summer. Odd. Perhaps it was the mischief of spirits?
“Spirits had nothing to do with it, child. Time passes, things change… and you are far away from your age of iron.”
Thomas snapped back to reality. The voice – given who he came here to find, it probably came from Adalric… who Thomas had been ignoring. “Oh! Sorry! I was just – I was startled… distracted, I was dis – I was startled and distracted.”
“As jumpy as a wolf.” Probably-Adalric chuckled. “As my master once said, ‘Your nikk is half your opposite, and half your twin.’ Nikk was what we called familiars at the time. Well, they weren’t really familiars, but…” He trailed off. “I’m getting sidetracked. Why don’t you turn around boy, let me see my grandstudent’s face.”
Thomas took a deep breath and obliged. Before him, was a man physically in his early 40s – though it was clear just from the glint in his eyes that he’d been alive for many generations. He was quite short, and had a stocky frame. His face looked a little like someone had grabbed him by the nose and pulled his entire face forward, stretching most of his features outward.
“Don’t worry about introductions. I’ve always been more comfortable without all the formalities. I’m sure you’ve figured out who I am by now, and there’s no way I wouldn’t know who you are.” Adalric smiled. “Thomas Thermi Henryborn, apprentice to my apprentice, Erline Kadeborn. Well, she was one of my apprentices. My many apprentices… each impossible to forget.” A twinge of nostalgia passed across his eyes. “Now then, I’m going to get this out of the way and just pass you right now. Why? Because the whole testing thing is idiotic. More than half of all magicians can see the future, and it isn’t like divination can be wrong about things – just vague. So why bother guessing about someone’s potential when we can just peek at their future and be done with it.”
“…Because learning from many masters as you travel the land is a valuable experience that allows you to learn things your original master couldn’t teach you?”
Adalric nodded. “All the more reason not to let the journey become confused with the destination. Testing only serves to degrade the process to a list – full of names with tiny little boxes next to them for checking off.” He looked Thomas up and down, then began to walk off, gesturing for the young magician to follow. “Besides, you aren’t the type to learn well from your fellow men and women. You’d learn much better from my master, the original master that all magicians can be traced back to: Nature.”
A note from the
In case y’all haven’t picked up on it, Adalric/Tokka is a pretty big deal.