Learning to Love (Tinder and Saren)

Discussion in 'ONE ON ONES IN CHARACTER' started by Tinder, May 22, 2015.

  1. Show Spoiler
    Main Cast:

    Name:
    Sephanir Nightbane

    Nickname/Alias: Seph; The Dark Wizard; Wizard of Darkness

    Age: 28

    Gender: Male

    Appearance: Seph (Normal) ; Seph (Battle Robes)

    Skills:
    • Can manipulate darkness and cover large areas in complete blackness
    • Can cloak himself in darkness and become invisible
    • Helps contain the darkness that is brought by the Moon Mage
    • Is also skilled in lightning magic, though rarely uses it due to the danger
    • Understands many aspects of one-handed sword combat
    • Knows how to set magical traps that trigger silently

    History: Sephanir had a fairly normal childhood, free of magic and the problems he faces today. However, when he was only 10, he learned he was able to manipulate darkness. However, the previous Dark Wizard, Malkore, required Seph to live away from home to learn how to become the next Dark Wizard. He took the young Seph to live with him far away from civilization, only having contact with the traders who brought food and books every two weeks. Word that a new Dark Wizard was being trained soon spread around the kingdoms, but Seph was not granted the honor of meeting any of the people wanting to see the new Dark Wizard. However, he gained a reputation for being able to control darkness and keep the balance even though he was young. He became revered as the strongest Dark Wizard anyone had ever seen.

    Other:
    • Is blind in his left eye, but in darkness, he can see with both eyes, though limited in his left
    • Has several focus items: his oldest sapphire gem, a jewel-encrusted silver sword (shown in picture), and his book of spells (shown in second picture); the book is necessary because the most complicated spells, the one to keep balance, are long and require a lot of energy
    • Is friends with Zaphalore, the Moon Wizard, and Pyrisilka, the Fire Mage
    • Has a pet black mamba snake named Scalesworth, who serves as a partial familiar and focus object

    Name: Narcisa (Cisa) Naismith

    Age: 22

    Gender: Female

    Appearance: Cisa's foreign heritage has always set her apart from the rest of the village. Her hair is black and cut short to make working in the smithy easier. It’s thick and reaches her shoulders, but is rarely brushed out and more often than not it is pulled back behind her head. She has dark olive skin like the Ercedi people. Her eyes are a more mundane brown like her father. She is about 5’5” and is fairly muscular due to the time she has spent assisting her father. She also has a scar in the shape of a “b” located on her neck. Though no one knows exactly who placed it on her, Sofia assumes her mother or relatives burned it onto her as a baby when she was born, marking her as a bastard.

    Skills: Cisa is especially strong after years of helping her father in the forge. She acted as his apprentice, taking care of the fires and smaller jobs. Her father taught her many things, making her quite the skilled for her age. She also learned to cook to help Sofia with the family meals. She is a fast learner though and rarely says no to a challenge.

    History: Narcisa’s past is mostly shrouded in mystery. Cisa’s father, Aden, swears he cannot remember ever having an tyrst before his marriage to Sofia, his current wife, yet Cisa appeared on his doorstep one day with a letter claiming she was his daughter. The letter included her name and a plea to take care of her. Unsure of what else to do, Aden took her in despite his wife’s protests. They have lived together ever since, though most of the villagers were unsure of what to think of her. Over time they have come to accept her, viewing her as an adopted member of the community. Even so she has little hope a future in the small community with her unsure parentage. Her time is running out to come up with a plan.

    The village itself is small and growing smaller year by year due to the closeness of the Dark Wizard. It is this reason that Cisa must help her father in his forge as he is the only blacksmith in town and no one has ever accepted the position as his apprentice. There are no young men in the area who stayed long enough for him to properly train so she took the position to keep things running smoothly to keep things running smoothly.

    Other: She often hums a song that she does not know the words to. No one has ever recognized the tune.

    The Wizards:

    The Fire Wizard Pyrisilka - Appearance

    The Water Wizard Telasorin - Appearance

    The Earth Wizard Cromdali - Appearance

    The Air Wizard Vatanax - Appearance

    The Light Wizard Gelrathar - Appearance

    The Sun Wizard Arharise - Appearance

    The Moon Wizard Zaphalore - Appearance

    The Space Wizard Nulphioryn - Appearance

    The Time Wizard Kleliharith - Appearance

    Mortal Characters:

    Joanna Naismith - Appearance


    Sweat dripped down Narcisa’s face as she stoked the fires, coaxing the flame until she could barely stand the heat even with the leather gloves and apron to guard her skin. She sat back, rubbing her forehead with the back of her arm. The dimly lit workroom was alive with the sound of metal on metal as her father shaped a red-hot horse shoe at his anvil. Each clang rang out clear as a bell, sending a cascade of red sparks into the air. He’d chosen to work without a shirt that day due to the summer heat. Cisa wished she could do the same, but there were some social rules even she dare not break. Wearing trousers got her in enough trouble as it was, though she found it unavoidable. The forge was no place for skirts.

    Her attention was drawn from her thoughts when the door to the forge opened. Sofia poked her head in and called out, “Joanna!” She frowned when no one answered her call, directing her glare to her husband’s back, “Aden! Aden, have you seen Joanna?!”

    Aden paused his hammering, blinking as though he’s come out of a trance. He turned to Sofia, “What was that, dear?”

    Her frown deepened, “Your daughter. Where is Joanna? I haven’t seen her since breakfast. It’s almost time for her lessons and she’s not even begun her chores this morning.”

    “Haven’t left the forge,” he replied, turning his attention to Cisa, “You seen her?”

    Cisa shook her head, “Have you checked the market? She likes to wander there sometimes whenever new merchants come to town.”

    Sofia nodded curtly, “I’ve checked already. It seems she’s disappeared, the foolish thing.” She turned back out of the forge, heading toward the neighbor’s home.

    Aden sighed, scratching his head before beginning his work again. He called to Cisa over his shoulder, “Why don’t you help Sophia find her? I can manage for a while.”

    Cisa nodded and made her way to the door, pulling off her apron and gloves as she left. Her skin was coated in a layer of sweat and grim, turning her already coppery skin a shade darker. She went into the house, grabbing a ragged towel already blackened with soot and attempting to wipe some of the filth off of her face. Where could Joanna have gone today? It wouldn’t be the first time the teenager had disappeared, though this was the first time she’d managed it so completely. Joanna, though on the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, was still a child at heart. She loved to read fairy tales and would often prattling on about knights and their adventures to whoever would give her the time of day. This week she had been going on about a prince in disguise. Cisa could still remember the odd conversation Joanna'd had with Sophia earlier that week.

    “Mama,” she'd began, her sweet voice sounding more like a curious child than an educated young woman, “Have you ever seen the Dark Wizard?”

    Sofia had dropped the plate she’d been washing. She turned around with a shifting gaze as though the walls were about to attack, “Watch your mouth, young lady. You know better than to mention his name in this house. Do you want to bring a calamity down on us?”

    “Mama, that’s just a superstition,” Joanna laughed, nibbling her bread, “I wonder what he’s like. It must get lonely up in that big castle all alone.”

    Sofia gave an unimpressed grunt, “He’s alone because he’s dangerous. No sane person would willing go to him and expect to leave with his life. Wizards are unnatural creatures and not to be trifled with.”

    Joanna jumped to her feet, her blue eyes flashing, “That’s unfair! You don’t know him! I bet he’s a really nice person, but everyone’s just scared of him because he’s cursed with his mean old magic.”

    Sofia laughed lowly, “Cursed? No, my little dove, wizards relish their power over us ordinary folks. He’d sooner kill you than befriend you.”

    Joanna opened her mouth, but snapped it shut after a moment and ran from the room with tears streaming from her eyes. Sofia had glanced back but said nothing else.

    Cisa jogged up the stairs to the room she shared with Joanna, hoping to change into proper clothing before she went out. She avoided walking around the town in her work clothes whenever she could to keep the town’s talk of her to a minimum. She made a beeline for her bed where her clothes were laid out; a cream colored smock with a brown kirtle to go over it, though both article of clothing had seen a better day. She picked up the smock, but stopped when she glanced at the back of the door. Joanna’s cloak was gone. She never took her cloak out unless she was going into the woods. Why would she take it into town?

    The realization hit Cisa like an unexpected hailstorm. She dropped her clothes. No…no not even Joanna was that reckless. But she had been acting strange lately, even for her. But everyone in town knew to avoid him at all costs; Joanna had been taught that from the time she'd taken her first step. If there was one thing Sofia had instilled in both Joanna and Cisa, it was to keep away from wizards. Magic was trouble for common people like themselves.

    Cisa ran out the door, forgetting all about the clothes she was wearing. Joanna had been asking many questions about the woods lately...and about the wizard. She would sigh to herself and look at the woods with a wistful glance at night, a sad smile crossing her face. It wasn’t proof, but those thoughts did make Cisa uneasy. Why had she not noticed before?

    She ran for the woods, speeding down the path as fast as her heavy boots would allow for. Joanna couldn’t be far yet; she’d never gone to the woods alone. The forest felt tense today, unlike she’d ever known it to. On any other day, a light breeze would have greeted her, carrying the scent of moist earth and greenery. She slowed to a walk, panting after her long run. She knew the path that led to the old keep that the wizard lived in; everyone knew it. Children were taught that walking it brought bad luck and hunters would abandon their prey if they happened to cross it. Joanna knew it as well. Cisa picked up her pace once she found the overgrown path, making her way through the weeds and thick underbrush that had overgrown the path.

    After what felt like ages of trampling plants, she arrived at the clearing in the woods where the old manor stood. The giant house was far bigger than Cisa had imagined it would be, standing tall with a stone wall surrounding the boarder of the house. A heavy set of iron gates stood shut, rusted by the looks of them. Cisa heard a grunt, taking her attention from the impressive house to the top of the wall just a little ways down from her. There, nearly at the top of the stone wall was Joanna. She’d struggled up the old stone work by the looks of it, abandoning her cloak along the way to ease the climb. Cisa ran to the wall, “Joanna!”

    There was a gasp and a scuffle as Joanna kicked herself over the top of the wall onto the other side, landing with a solid thump in the grass. Cisa ran up to the wall, “Joanna, stop!” It was little use. She had disappeared. Cisa groaned under her breath before kicking off her boots. She swore Joanna was a squirrel in human skin. That girl had always been able to get up any tree or building no matter how improbable the height. Cisa sighed before gripping the stone and beginning her ascent. It wasn’t enough that Joanna had gone near the wizard’s keep, no she’d had to go in. Cisa strained as she reached for handholds, wondering how that thin twig of a girl had managed the holds. There were cracks in the wall, small but firm. After a several grueling minutes of searching for holds, she reach reached the top of the wall and hauled herself up. Pausing to catch her breath, Cisa survey the yard, shocked at the sorry state the house appeared to be in. Could it be possible for someone to actually live here? Her eyes searched the grounds for signs of Joanna, but it seemed she had vanished again. Cisa lowered herself over the wall and dropped onto a bush of some sort, thankful that it lacked thorns. She stood up and started heading for the house, shivering despite herself. Something about this place felt unnatural. The grounds were silent and the air was cold despite the time of year. She walked slowly toward the house, remaining quiet for fear of alerting the inhabitance of the house to either her or Joanna’s presence. She headed for the back, praying Joanna at least had the brains not to try using the front door. She found a back door which might have been a servant’s entrance back in the day. She tested it and found the door opened. Cisa cursed under her breath and headed in, holding her breath as she passed through the doorway.

    The room she entered was filled with many crates and barrels, some marked with the familiar symbols for wine or food while other bore symbols she’d never seen before. There were cobwebs over many of the objects as though no one had entered the room in years. Something skittered across the floor in front of her, though the poor lighting kept her from seeing whether it was a rat or…something else. She wandered through the cluttered room and came to a staircase near the back. She crept up the stairs and found herself in another room only cleaner with several items being displayed. Whatever they were, they looked important and important things were rarely left unguarded. She would need to be careful. To be on the safe side, she avoided touching any of them. Magic was nothing but trouble and she wanted no trouble today. All she needed was to find Joanna and go, hopefully without running into any of the inhabitants of the house. ‘Joanna,’ she groaned internally, ‘Where are you?’
     
    #1 Tinder, May 22, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2015
    • Like Like x 1
  2. [​IMG]

    Darkness always shrouded his home; he worked better when there was little light surrounding him. The dimmed atmosphere even surrounded the woods around his home, giving the entire place a sense of foreboding and danger. Of course, there was no true danger coming from himself, but he couldn't speak for the woods. There was always some creature threatening to kill off the occasional villager or traveler wandering through the trees. It was those animals that, more often than not, set off the warning traps and alarms he'd precariously built to keep intruders out. As of late, no animals had dared to set foot near his home, as if they could sense his growing frustration. And frustrated he was. Light was trying to force its way through the misty darkness of his home, for reasons he could not discern. Something was trying to work its way inside.

    Even as that thought crossed his mind, a dull hum drummed the back of his senses. It was the warning signal that one of his traps had been triggered. However, a second hum quickly followed. Two intruders inside the sanctity of his home... Now that was rare. It was likely that two different animals strayed inside the barriers at the same time, or that his traps were weakening. Either way, he would have to check on the disturbance.

    With a sigh, the Dark Wizard swept his book closed and settled his sword on the cover. The focus wasn't necessary to deal with animals, as he learned they could be easily spooked off with a few simple spells. He pivoted, dark blue robes fluttering in his self-created breeze. The cloth was heavy, but it was meant to withstand the more taxing and dangerous magics. Magic, as he'd discovered at a young age, was exhausting and had the potential to be deadly without the right preparation, so clothing mattered in that sense. If he could enchant his own clothing, he wouldn't pick something that would drag on the floor.

    Closing his eyes, he followed the hum as it grew louder in the back of his mind. The servant's quarters was the first one he went to check on, as the area was small and contained many useful, if breakable, items. The door flung open on its own accord, used to its master checking the contents of the room. As with the rest of his home, the room was darker than it had any right to be, lit only by the gentle glow of his magic items. With this sort of setting, he could clearly pick out the thing that had triggered his trap. It was a human, and no human was allowed to enter his home, especially not this room.

    "Show yourself," he demanded, and his voice boomed without any effort. "Do not think you can escape the way you came in. Tell me why you've infiltrated my home. I don't take kindly to liars or thieves, so it is in your best interest to be honest, and I may let you walk freely."
     
  3. The silence was shattered by the sound of a door opening followed by a voice that sounded like one of the monsters straight out of the stories that Aden had told Cisa when she was a child. Her heart skipped a beat and a cold sweat broke out over her skin. She’d expected to be found by one his…well whatever creatures he kept in this place to help him do…whatever he did. Now the Dark Wizard himself, the man the people of the village were too afraid to even speak of, was standing behind her. Her legs felt weak, knowing that she was at the mercy of this man, if he could be called such. She wore only her loose fitting and thin work clothes, meant to keep her from overheating in the forge. They offered little protection against anything else. She’d even abandoned her boots at the wall to make climbing easier. The room was too dark to see if there were any items she could use as an effective weapon though she knew that would be a poor choice. Using force would only provoke the wizard.

    She had Joanna to think of as well. Had he found her already? She was Cisa’s first priority. The wizard could do whatever he wanted to her, but she refused to let him hurt Joanna. She gulped and straightened up, willing strength into her legs. She turned toward the voice, raising her hands into the air in the universal sign of cooperation. She searched the darkness for the door and his figure, locating them in front of her after a moment. Her eyes had adjusted to the dim light which improved her eye sight some. She would need to be a cat to see well in this place. She saw only the outline of his form, perhaps the glint of what she thought might be his eyes. It was like she was talking to a living shadow.

    Taking a breath to steady her voice, she replied to him calmly, “My apologies, sir wizard, I mean you no harm. I did not come here to steal.” She paused to take another breath, her heart practically beating out of her chest. She went slowly to keep her voice from breaking, forcing herself to stand steadily, “I came here looking for someone; a young girl about sixteen years old. I’m afraid she may have accidentally wandered into your home looking for help. She’s never been in the woods alone before.” A partial lie, but she was not about to give the wizard any reason to be suspect Joanna had come here on purpose. There was no telling how he’d response to a young girl like Joanna snooping around somewhere in his home. “If you will let me take her home to her family then I swear we will leave you in peace and never return.”

    Cisa kept her eyes on the wizard, watching for any movement. He could kill her easily, she knew that just by looking at him. His presence in the room alone told her she was the equivalent of a fly to him. Nothing would help her if he decided to kill her where she stood. Only her words could save her now.
     
    #3 Tinder, May 23, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2015
  4. The Dark Wizard, despite his name, had a set of green-yellow eyes that glinted and almost glowed in the blackness of the room. He could clearly see the intruder, and when the person spoke, he identified her as a young female. No one had any reason to be in his home, especially not a young girl. As she inched forward, he could see her form as clearly as if it had been daylight. She wasn't dressed in any proper dress. Instead, she had on dirty trousers and a dark tunic. She was pretty, if someone found a soot-covered woman attractive. But her level of beauty didn't matter; her innocence did. She seemed to be speaking the truth, but fear pulsed in her tone. She didn't want to be in her current position. Well, if that was the case, then she shouldn't have come into his home.

    She was looking for someone, which led him to believe the second triggered trap was this other human. The trap had been triggered on the other side of his home where the former stables were, and there were few items of importance out that far. Everything he needed was inside, which had now been infiltrated by not one, but two young women. This Joanna might have been seeking shelter, but she had come to the wrong place for that.

    "Come," he ordered, robed form sweeping from the door and allowing dim light to seep inside. "We will find your friend and then you will leave. I will know if you have lied about your intentions, or if you walk away with something that doesn't belong to you." With that, he was on his way, leaving the young intruder to follow on her own devices. It wasn't a very easy trek for someone who wasn't him, since the lack of lighting always hovered around like a sickly shadow.
     
  5. Cisa sighed silently when the wizard turned his attention away from her. He believed her or was humoring her in the very least. All that needed to be done now was to find Joanna and then she could drag her back home like nothing had happened. Cisa only hoped that no curse existed for talking to the Dark Wizard or they’d probably meet an unfortunate end on the way back to town. She had never been able to decide if she believed the old wife's tales about the wizard like how mentioning his name summoned him. No one had ever proven them to be true. Or perhaps no one had lived long enough to say so.

    She followed behind the wizard, keeping as close to him as she dared to avoid getting lost in the darkness. Is he afraid of candles? Had anyone one other than the wizard been in front of her, she might have voiced her complaint aloud. Good sense kept her silent. She could barely tell how annoyed he was just from the intrusion. The darkness hid his expression and his voice revealed little. He could be seething and she would be none the wiser. Not that it mattered; Cisa intended to be out of this place before too long.

    The wizard jerked to a sudden stop in front of her, causing Cisa to nearly run headfirst into his back. She stopped inches shy of touching him, far too wary to even wonder what kind of bad luck she could get from physically contact with him. She opened her mouth to ask what was wrong when he swept off again, moving faster now. “Wait!” Cisa had to jog to keep up with the man. She had no idea what had changed, but she could feel a growing knot forming in her stomach with each step.

    They came upon a room, though Cisa would never have been able to say where in the castle they were. She felt so turned around they could have entered an entire different building and she would have been none the wiser. The door swung open without anyone touching it as the wizard entered the room, followed by Cisa. Her eyes strained to locate what had drawn the wizard to the room, stopping near the center of the room where a young woman stood in a powder blue dress.

    No one would have guessed Cisa and Joanna were related by looking at them. Joanna was pale as moonlight with freckles across her face from her time running around in the streets. Her eyes were pale blue adorned with long lashes and her hair pale blonde just like her mother. The young girl had collapsed in the middle of the room, her thin frame shaking from silent tears. She squealed with surprise when the door opened, staring wide-eyed at the wizard. Her lips quivered as she tried to explain herself, “I-I’m sorry, Mr. Wizard. I-I didn’t m-mean to break it. I just wanted to find you and…I-I couldn’t see anything so I…I looked for light and I saw this pretty rock that glowed and it was so pretty and I thought it might help me so I touched it and…and it just broke. I’m sorry; I’m so sorry.”

    Cisa glanced at the ground by Joanna and noticed something glinting on the ground. It looked like the night sky had fallen onto the ground, shimmering in the darkness. That dust had been a rock? She looked back at Joanna, the knot in her stomach now moved to her chest. Not only had she touched something of the wizard’s, but she’d broken it. ‘Gods,’ she cursed internally, glancing warily at the wizard to see his reaction.
     
    #5 Tinder, May 25, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  6. The dull hum at the back of his mind grew louder as they walked the shadowy halls. He was used to such things swirling in his head, but he always left room to worry. Now, he had definite cause to, for there were two human intruders in his home. Animals he could deal with, but human beings were an entirely different story. He'd spent such a long time away from civilization, but those were the ways of the Dark Wizard. He'd learned to cope with small moments of interaction, and this wasn't going to change anything. The young women would vacate, and he would be in peace once more.

    The thoughts changed as he pinpointed the source of the hum. It wasn't the girl setting... it was the room she was located in. He came to an abrupt halt, fury building to impossible levels. This other girl had come inside, just as Joanna had, but the other one was stumbling into his personal areas. His home was off limits to any visitors, but the room where he kept his focusing items and spells was especially private.

    He kept moving forward, though his pace had quickened to a near jog. He had to remove the young women from his home, and he had to do it fast. Other people were always a nuisance, and Joanna and the other intruding girl weren't helping that idea.

    The Dark Wizard blew open the door to his room, eyes immediately catching the pale form on the ground. This girl was prettier than Joanna with her large doe eyes and light hair. However, her appearance meant little to him, for he noticed the glittering dust beside her. He knew in an instant that she had broken his beloved sapphire, his childhood item that glowed and shined like starlight, even in the day. It had helped him learn to focus his magic and deal with the weaknesses of using said magic. The sapphire had carried through even the darkest times, even as darkness became his life.

    The barely lit candles in his room flickered out with nothing more than a whisper and the air grew chilly. "You have defiled my home, intruder! You were not welcome here from the start, yet you destroy what does not belong to you!" Wind blew around the room as the Dark Wizard's eyes lit up in rage. He thought about drawing his sword, but the room was small and he risked breaking other things. It was that idea that forced his magic to simmer, to tingle at his finger tips. The wind died, but he remained infuriated.

    "You cannot replace what you have broken, but you will repay me. If it is with your life, then so be it," he said, no hint of a joke in his tone. He didn't enjoy killing, but this girl had destroyed his last ties to his childhood with nothing more than a push of her hand. He could do the same to her.
     
  7. The room went from cool to icy as the remaining light was snuffed out. Cisa began to shiver as she wrapped her arms around herself. Her breath appeared in a puff of white as it left her mouth, barely visible in the darkness. She backed away from the wizard when he began talking, trying to keep herself from backing into anything in the dark. It was like walking on a bed of nails. All it would take was wrong move and she’d been in pain. Goosebumps began appearing on her skin even as she rubbed them to keep the blood flowing.

    The wizard was furious beyond a doubt. Cisa could clearly see his eyes in the dark and they’re were set on where Joanna knelt. Cisa had never seen magic, but from his words she knew she was close to her first experience. He meant to take a life to avenge the loss of that gem. Joanna began to cry again, falling on the floor in front of him, “I’m sorry, Mr. Wizard! Please have mercy! I didn’t mean it, it was an accident.”

    Cisa moved in a rush of adrenaline, throwing herself between the wizard and Joanna. Her heart was pounding and her sense screaming at her to run, but she stood firm. She stretched her arms out to shield Joanna from any blast that could come. “Wait,” she said, her eyes fixing onto his in a glare, “Take me instead.”

    “Cisa,” Joanna whispered now realizing that her stepsister was in the room.

    She ignored the younger girl and continued, “It doesn’t matter who pays the price so long as it is paid. Let the girl go and take me instead. I don’t care what you do after that.” This was easily the stupidest thing she’d done to date. Her mind flashed back to other times when she stood in this place against bullies, disgruntled adults, even young men that were too forward. Then the worst pain then had been a tongue-wagging or a bruised lip. Death had not been a factor. I’ll protect her. No, now was no time for reminiscing. She held her position, ready to move if the wizard did. Even if all she did was delay the inevitable, at least she would have tried.
     
    #7 Tinder, Jun 5, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  8. Mercy wouldn't be in the cards for Joanna unless she begged so hard, she lost her voice. There were few things that could repay what she'd broken, and while the lives of mortals meant little to him, they were precious to everyone else. It would be an equal exchange, and that was enough for him. His eyes blazed yellow as tears fell from hers, but she gained no sympathy from him. He internally spoke the words of his deadly spell, one that would replace Joanna's soul with darkness. At the very least, he could bottle that and use it as a focus for something else.

    That was until his first guest stumbled from behind him and threw herself between the two. The spell was just about to be completed, but he let the magic dissipate. The only remnants of him even thinking about casting the spell was a short burst of wind through the room and painful shocks up his arm. He always paid a price for ending spells prematurely, but Cisa was not part of the exchange. She had entered under the pretense of finding Joanna, and while she had intruded, her intentions were noble. Now, she was marring that gesture by defending the defiler.

    But he would have his payment, whether it came from one girl or the other. "Very well," he said, voice losing the angry edge and returning to a neutral state. "You know not what you agree to, but you are willing to throw yourself into danger for this girl." He didn't outright admit he slightly admired Cisa's selfless action, but he was sparing her for at least ten seconds, so she could infer at his thoughts. "We will remove her from my home, then we shall see about the debt you now owe." With that, the Dark Wizard swept from the doorway. With his departure, the short candles flickered back to life and the dusty remains of the gem lost their glittering glow. He moved like a shadow: prominent and all around for one moment, vanishing and fading the next. He certainly lived up to his title and all of the stories people told.
     
  9. Cisa maintained her place in front of Joanna, her muscles tense, until the wizard spoke and left the room. He appeared to have calmed down at least enough to hide any remaining emotion. She gasped, unaware she’d been holding her breath. It was done. Joanna was safe, though Cisa couldn’t say where that left her. He hadn’t killed her on the spot at least. Cisa had half-expected to become a pile of ash for even speaking.

    The candles flickered to life once the wizard had gone, their previously dull glow now almost bright after the absolute darkness. Cisa turned to Joanna only to be grabbed in a fierce embrace. “Cisa,” she cried, burying her face in Cisa’s shoulder, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make him angry, I just wanted to meet the wizard. Mama’s going to be angry isn’t she?”

    Cisa almost laughed at the absurdity of Joanna’s fears. She’d almost died a few moments ago and she was worried about Sofia’s temper. Cisa patted her head, “She’ll be far happier to see you safe. Now come on, we can’t stay here. You need to go.”

    “What about you?” Joanna asked, looking up into Cisa’s eyes, “You’re not really going to stay here, are you?”

    Cisa smiled as best as she could for the younger girl, “I’m afraid so.”

    “But you can’t. He’ll kill you!” she exclaimed, backing away now.

    Hearing her fate spoken out loud was terrifying, but Cisa kept the emotion from reaching her face. She could worry about herself once Joanna was out of the castle, “Listen, Joanna. I need you to be strong for me right now. When you get out of here, you need to promise me you’ll go straight home. Don’t stop anywhere and don’t tell anyone where you were.”

    “But I -” Joanna protested desperately.

    “No buts. You can’t tell anyone else where you were, not even Sofia and Aden. If they ask, we ran into a wild animal in the woods and I didn’t get away,” Cisa said, holding Joanna’s shoulders and keeping her eyes locked with her own. The villagers feared the Wizard. Joanne would be shunned or worse if it was discovered that she'd gone into his home. Most thought you could be cursed just by thinking about him too often.

    Joanna pushed Cisa’s hands off her shoulders, “But they’ll think you’re not coming back…”

    Cisa sighed, trying to keep her frustration from building. They need to get moving or the wizard would probably get mad again. “It doesn’t matter what happens to me. It’s more important that you get out of here.”

    “I can’t leave you here to die,” Joanna said, tears welling up in her eyes again.

    Cisa took a deep breath to steady herself. Just remain calm, she told herself before beginning to pull Joanna toward the door, “It’ll all be okay. Let’s just get you out right now. Things will turn out alright, but first you need to go home.” She took Joanna’s hand and led her from the room. The wizard wasn’t too far ahead and Cisa jogged to catch up with him, pulling Joanna along. Cisa focused on following the wizard and keeping Joanna close to her. Anything that didn’t involve thinking about what was going to happen next.

    Unlike the journey to find Joanna, this walk seemed far shorter. In what seemed like a few short breaths, they reached a door that Cisa assumed to be the front one. Cisa pulled the door open when they reached it, bringing in a shaft of light that now felt overly bright after being enveloped in the darkness. Joanna stepped toward the door, hesitating a moment and turning back to look at Cisa. There were more tears threatening to spill over. Cisa smiled as brightly as possible considering the circumstances, “Go straight home, okay?”

    Joanna nodded, unable to speak as she walked out into the light, her lip quivering as she held back tears. The door closed behind her, leaving Cisa alone with the wizard.

    She felt her bravado leave her now that there was no one to protect. She realized she was moments away from dying; really dying. Her eyes remained locked on the closed door, unsure what to do next. She could grovel; beg for her life and explain what happened now that Joanna was safely away. No doubt it was what he expected. Most anyone facing a wizard would. She smiled grimly. It fit, really. She had appeared out of thin air as a baby and now she would disappear back into it. Just like she had never been there. Why was she even concerned about dying? It wasn’t as though there was anything for her in the village. Joanna was the closest thing she had to a friend and the only other person who cared even a little was her father. Neither of them needed her. No she wouldn’t grovel. There was nothing to beg for.

    The fear seeped away as she decided on a course of action. If she had to die in the darkness, then she would be sure to die well. She crossed her arms and turned in what she assumed was the direction of the wizard, “Well what are you waiting for? Let’s get this over with. I’d hate to take up any more of your valuable time.” There was more sarcasm in her voice than she’d intended, but she didn’t care. Her life was already forfeit, but she wasn’t going to go down like a simpering dog. It wasn’t like making the wizard madder would do much. What could he do that was worse than killing her? Well, he could kill her slowly she supposed. Why hadn’t that occurred to her before?
     
    #9 Tinder, Jun 10, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
  10. Their voices threatened to echo through the walls, but the Dark Wizard would have known what they said even if they had been whispering. All the shadows in his home belong to him, eavesdropping and bringing him the words of any who spoke near him. The second girl, the one who'd given herself up, hadn't lied about her intention, but she had covered up for the pale-headed girl. It was almost admirable, if the Dark Wizard was an amenable fellow. Given that he wasn't, he didn't find Joanna's intrusion pleasant. Still, his debt would be paid, and there would be one less girl in his hair.

    Their rushed footsteps followed his silent ones, and soon, they reached the massive door that led to the outside. The path was a simple one to follow, and once the girl breached his boundary, the sky would light up and she would find her way home. She'd found her way here, after all, so he trusted that she wouldn't return.

    The Dark Wizard was privy to Joanna's sniffles, but the girl walked out without shedding more tears. He didn't give her a farewell. He simply watched her pry open the heavy door. He shied away from the small light that filtered through the crack in the door, but in an instant, it was gone, and his home was back to being pitch black. He could make out every broken stone, every thread in the tattered rugs, every fleck of dirt on the face of the girl still inside his home. He could have killed her then to collect on his debt, but he disliked killing. Being the Dark Wizard didn't mean he could dictate the lives of others, and it wasn't his choice whether or not someone could live or die.

    However, the young woman before him seemed eager for him to utter his spell and be done with her. "Your life need not be payment," he said, though he didn't see an immediate alternative. He couldn't very well let her go, of course, but if there was a way to avoid the death penalty, he preferred that. Perhaps if she...

    Well, he'd never had a servant before, but an indentured service might be payment.

    "Perhaps you might seek an alternative. Your life, or 11 years of service to me." It seemed a random number to choose, but the Dark Wizard had used his precious sapphire for over a decade before he moved onto stronger focus objects. It had served him for such a time, just as she would, if she chose to accept his offer.
     
  11. Cisa was unsure how to respond to the wizard, “You’d let me live?” Earlier he had seemed so intent on killing Joanna, Cisa had thought death was the only price he would have accepted. Mercy was unexpected. Though being a servant to the Dark Wizard might not be considered merciful. There was no telling the kind of things she’d be expected to do. Then there was the duration. Eleven years was a long time to live in a place like this. There wouldn’t be anything for her to go back to once the years of service were up. Her family would have given up on her long before that which would leave her out on the street.

    She frowned, glancing away into the darkness as she deliberated. Could she even trust this man? He said ‘service’ and that could have meant anything from cleaning to serving as a dummy for his experiments or whatever it was that wizards did in their free time. Just because she was alive didn’t mean she would be comfortable. Death might be the kinder option. She considered just continuing with the execution, but the thought of willingly asking for death was not one that sat well with her. Her life wasn’t worth much to others, but she personally enjoyed living.

    She swallowed hard as she made her decision. “I’ll do it,” she said as she looked up to meet his gaze, “I’ll serve you for as long as it takes to pay back this debt.” There was a good chance she would still die in this man’s service, but at least she had a little more time. She wasn’t ready to find out what was beyond the grave just yet. Even if she had nowhere to go when all of this was over, she would have eleven years to come up with a plan. She’d think of something by then.
     
    #11 Tinder, Jun 12, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
  12. Well, now he wouldn't have the blood of an intruder on his hands.

    The thought brought him little pleasure as he realized that now this girl would be stuck in his house for the next decade, and then some. He would eventually run out of things to have her to outside of cleaning the castle from top to bottom, but then she would simply be stuck. But she had a debt to repay, and if she spent it being bored and wandering around, then so be it. He would have to seal off certain places so she wouldn't damage anything like the other girl.

    "Then you may start by cleaning up and bringing me the remains of my gem," he said. He began to walk away, but something gave him pause. The girl was not him, therefore she was not equipped to handle the perpetual darkness of his home. With a sigh, he swept his hand up and around. The shadows over the walls lifted and gathered around his palm, absorbing into his skin. The hallway lit up, light streaming in from the dirt windows lining the walls. There were some small torches fastened into the stone that lit on their own as the shadows slithered by.

    "When you walk, the way will light for you. You need not worry about light." Cisa wouldn't have to worry about light, but it was certainly a concern for him. He despised the light, and his counterpart, the Light Wizard, might have been ecstatic to see such a thing inside the Dark Wizard's home. That is, if they were on any good terms.

    "I don't care how long it takes you. I will be in my room. Highest tower in the southern end of the castle." With that, he disappeared with nothing more than a whispering shadow. He could manipulate the darkness inside his home to pass through walls, but he was only able to do so because he was familiar with the area. Still, it was an impressive feat to anyone who had never seen magic. Cisa wasn't going to be short on seeing the Dark Wizard perform his magic, for she'd be stuck with him for a very long time.
     
  13. Cisa blinked as the darkness lifted. It was still far from being bright, but she could see her surroundings. For a while she’d thought she would simply need to adapt to walking around blind, but it seemed the wizard was at least practical. He gave her instructions and then vanished into the darkness, leaving Cisa alone. She watched the spot where he’d disappeared, her eyes slightly wider than they had been. That was going to take some getting used to.

    She glanced around the empty hallway, noting where the door stood and the open room behind her that must have functioned as a grand hall at some point. Judging by the dust and grim she saw caked onto most of the surfaces, it seemed that cleaning this place may just take all eleven of those years. She sighed and started walking down the hall where they’d come from, hoping she’d be able to find the room from earlier. The hall was lined with doors, most of which seemed to have been shut for years. Cisa kept her eyes open for one that looked recently disturbed, hoping to avoid having to rummage through the rooms without the wizard’s permission. Better to get back to that room and bring the wizard his gem. She wasn’t sure how completing this one task quickly would make much of anything better, but doing something felt better than wallowing in self-pity. It was more productive, and honestly she was starting to feel a little excited. True, she was trapped in a castle with a wizard who she knew next to nothing about for the next decade of her life, but she had chosen this. For the first time in her life she’d chosen to do something.

    After another few minutes of wandering down the halls, she saw the open door to the room from earlier. She walked in noting the layout of the room now that she could see more than a foot in front of her. The room was small to be sure with a few other objects spread around it, all of which Cisa avoided. No need to break a second item and extend her sentence…or make the wizard change his mind. She dropped to her knees near the table where Joanna had been, surveying the damage now that there was light. The gem was shattered though not quite to dust as it had appeared in the dark. Cisa was thankful for that. It would have taken significantly longer to pick up dust. She pulled a leather cord off of her wrist and brought it up to her hair, tying it back as she did when she worked in the forge. Her hand brushed past the familiar rough skin on the nape of her neck. Her hands came down into her lap once she’d finished. For a moment, she lost herself in a memory of a time she’d asked Aden why no one else had marks like that on them. She leaned forward and began picking up the pieces of the gem, gathering them into a pile on the table where it had once sat. “You’re special, Narcisa.” She tried to force the memory from her mind, examining the ground as she gathered the many tiny shards. There had to be a thousand of the blasted things. “Unwanted is more like it.” She started to hum to herself to remove the memory from her mind. It was a tune to which had been with her longer than she could remember, though she didn’t know the words. No one in the town had known it either though some mentioned it sounded like songs of the Ercedi. Remnants of a mother who’d rejected her most likely, but the simple tune somehow still brought her comfort. “Ah,” she grimaced as a piece of the gem punctured her skin, drawing blood. She put her finger to her mouth, waiting for the stinging to stop. There were still hundreds more pieces to pick up. She sighed; this would take a while.

    The sun had left the sky outside by the time that Cisa finished her task. She glanced over her work; a small pile of sparkling shards. A few of the pieces had managed to cut her hands, but she’d been careful to wipe the blood off to keep from damaging the stone further. She did a final swept of the ground, running her hand across it to be sure she hadn’t missed anything. Satisfied with her work, she stood up and gathered the shards from the table into her hand, griping them gently to avoid further damage to herself and the gem.

    She left the room, closing the door behind her. Judging from the rest of this place, the wizard preferred to keep his rooms closed off unless he was inside it. She started off toward the direction she believed to be the southern part of the castle. The front was behind her at least, so she had to be moving somewhat in the right direction. This castle was a maze to navigate. She walked down several dead-end corridors and doubled back at least twice before she found the stairs to the tower. She began to climb the tower stairs, deciding to try exploring the grounds whenever she had the opportunity. It was going to take some getting used to if she planned to live in this labyrinthine. The tower was a simply straight climb however, though the number of steps it took to get to the room at the top was a little ridiculous. Apparently there was a good reason he used his little disappearing act to get places. Had she not been accustomed to work in the forge, she doubted she would have made it up without stopping several times. As it was, she reached the top slightly winded. She paused for a moment to catch her breath, rubbing her free hand along her arm to warm herself. Now that night was falling, she was beginning to get a little cold. The tunic and trousers she wore were thin and she was currently lacking shoes since she’d dropped her boots outside of the castle walls. She headed for the wizard’s door once she had herself more under control. Clothing would need to wait for later. Maybe she’d be able to convince him to let her go find her boots later.

    She walked up to the door and knocked firmly, though she was careful not to be too loud. “Um…Wizard, sir,” she called out, realizing for the first time she’d never asked how to address him, “I have your gem here.”
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. The Dark Wizard's departure hadn't been all for show. His castle was not only big, but the paths and hallways wound around and often doubled back. It was a maze of stone and darkness, and though he hardly ever walked the halls, he knew the entire layout by heart and could still get lost. Wandering the castle when he was younger allowed him to know even the deepest and darkest corners of his home. In a way, the castle reminded him much of himself: both dark and foreboding with walls surrounding the most secretive of things.

    Spreading his senses around the castle's atmosphere, he found the shadowy traps sprung by both Narcisa and Joanna. Carefully, he reset both, making sure that no one would ever sneak up on him again. It was the first time an outsider had entered his castle, and now he had an indentured servant. The trade off didn't seem to favor him, but the girl was stuck in his home for the next eleven years, and maybe she didn't enjoy her new position either.

    The Dark Wizard wasn't one to inquire about the feelings of others, so asking his new servant girl how she felt wasn't something he bothered to bring up. When she walked to his door, he seemed unaware of how long it had actually taken her to reach him. It was that, or he didn't care how long it took her to do anything. "You may enter." At least she had the courtesy of knocking, unlike her previous friend. Once she came in, he pointed to a long table filled to the brim with old papers and tiny gems. There was a section cut into the table that appeared to be enchanting lines, as they glowed with a faint, soft glow. It didn't seem like the penetrating candle the light the Dark Wizard despised so much. Despite his clear disdain for any light, there were more candles in this particular room. It wasn't his sleeping quarters, as there was no bed, but he appeared to spend much of his time in the tower room.

    "Set them there," he said without looking up from a wide open book settled on a pedestal in front of him. The book was massive, and there were various pages sticking out of the sides. He was reading and not writing, but there was a hefty quill settled in his other hand. Now that it was slightly brighter, the Dark Wizard didn't seem to be all that dark. He had fair skin, despite years of remaining inside, and his hair shared the same color as a raven's wing. Now that his robes weren't fluttering in the self-generated wind, they settled loosely on his frame, sleeves drooping over his wrists. They were dark blue and black in color, but something at his side flashed in the gentle candle light. It was the sword he'd contemplated drawing to slay Joanna, and it seemed every bit as menacing even while sheathed. The hilt was silver with leather wrappings around the handle, and there were several gems encrusted along the base and on the end.

    He straightened, laying the quill in the book feather first and closing the pages. "Since you will be living here for some time, I suppose it's only right to learn your name. You may refer to me any way you wish." Titles only mattered to the other Wizards, and a servant had no use for them. He finally turned to look at her, and nothing was surprising about his face. His hair framed narrow features, the ends of the locks threatening to brush his chin. However, if his face was unassuming, his eyes were another story entirely. Just as before, they held the same yellow-green tint, but he wasn't channeling magic. The strange color was simply the color of his iris, but in his left eye, the hue was decidedly muted. The yellow was more clouded and didn't seem to glow as his right eye did. It would have done him no good to announce that he was blind in one eye. Disabilities often put a damper on reputations, after all.
     
  15. Hearing his reply, Cisa pushed the door open and made her way in. She walked slowly, pushing the door closed behind her as she began to examine the room. It looked more like a study than a bedroom. There were piles of paper everywhere along with an assortment of items and an odd amount of candles. Perhaps even wizards couldn’t read in the dark. She followed where his finger pointed her and stopped at the table to the side of the room, gently placing the pile of shards onto a nearby pile of books. She looked around at the collection of papers, fascinated by the looping characters on the page. The smooth handwriting told her that the writer was an accomplished scholar, at least to her untrained eyes. She wished she knew what was written there. They could be anything from pages of spells to simple musings and she’d never know. The letters looked beautiful though. She was sure if she looked long enough she might be able to pick out one or two words. Her hand moved forward to touch the page, but she pulled it back without laying a finger on the pages. They were probably important and she doubted the wizard wanted them disturbed.

    He spoke again and she quickly turned from the table to face him, praying he hadn’t caught her staring. Her lack of education wasn’t something she was proud of, though it would likely become apparent eventually. She only hoped it would take a while for him to notice. She coughed to cover her embarrassment, moving the conversation along before anything else be asked. “My name is Narcisa Naismith,” she replied, pausing for a moment before adding, “Though most just call me Cisa.” It sounded ridiculous mentioning her nickname to a wizard, but then again she was more used to hearing it than her full name. She almost asked if she could learn his name, but that seemed like it would be a little too informal. She decided to call him wizard for the time being unless he objected.

    With the light of the candles in the room, Cisa realized she could actually see more than the silhouette of the wizard. He looked…human, handsome if she had to admit it. She didn’t know what she’d expected, but this wasn’t it. He looked like a man that could walk down the street or would if he weren’t wearing those heavy robes. Somehow she’d expected him to look more monstrous. The way the people in town whispered his name, she’d almost thought he was part demon or something. The man in front of her almost looked like he could be a noble from the capital. It made her realize just how plain she must have looked to him standing there with tangled black hair pulled into a careless ponytail and skin still dirty from the forge earlier that day. She was especially drawn to his eyes with their odd glowing quality. Now that she saw them in the light she realized they must have been reflective like a cat’s to help him see in the darkness. Perhaps that was a part of his abilities. The color was beautiful, though one of the eyes seemed lighter than the other. Odd that she hadn’t noticed that before. Her own eyes were brown like her father’s which she’d heard described as both the color of hazelnuts and mud depending on Sofia’s mood. Her eyes were the only trait that resembled her father and the other residents of the area. Now that she’d seen the wizard she wondered where he came from and how he could still look this young. Maybe someday she’d get to ask him these questions, but that would have to wait. She needed to learn how to live with the man before she started to pry. Otherwise she was just as likely to end up dead as she was to get any answers.
     
  16. Cisa seemed like a nice girl, and so far, she'd proven herself at least somewhat obedient by listening to him. She also hadn't stuck her nose where it didn't belong, for she hadn't set off any of his traps inside. The Dark Wizard valued his privacy to the point of setting traps inside of his own home, and now he had a living, breathing reason as to why he did. The other Wizards might have called him paranoid, but he'd had little contact with his fellow magic users in quite some time. It wasn't that he didn't like them; it was that he simply enjoyed the peace and silence in his own home. Some of the other Wizards were strange, even compared to his reclusive self, and he was often overwhelmed by their presence. Not that the Wizards met often; rarely was there a time that the Dark Wizard saw the other magic users of the world. It was nice, in a way, for it meant the world was functioning as it was supposed to.

    "Cisa," he mused, allowing the name to roll on his tongue. A pretty name for a pretty, if dirtied, girl, though she lacked the trussed up appearance of the other, paler girl from before. However, Cisa looked like a harder worker, and that was something he could appreciate. "You are free to leave me for now. I suppose a map is in order, for it's easy to become lost among these halls." He moved to a second desk around his pedestal, fishing through worn, yellowed papers. Long ago, he'd drawn a map when he'd first taken lessons from his old master. He hadn't been granted the courtesy of an already-drawn map, so he'd taken it upon himself to learn the halls and mark them in his memory. Now, he could wander among the castle with ease, but Cisa wasn't so lucky. "Ah, here." He held the map out to Cisa, allowing her to take it before he turned to his real concern: the broken sapphire.

    It really was a shame, and if an animal had broken it, he might not have been so upset. However, a sentient, consciously aware human had done it, and that was something he could take his anger out on. Now, however, he only had an indentured servant to show for that rage. Stifling a grumbling sigh, he bent to inspect the pieces. It seemed like a mixture of stardust and blue chunks, something that should have been beyond repair by any human standards. But the Dark Wizard was no ordinary being. He would repair his childhood focus, even if it could no longer hold magic.

    A distinct smell hit his nose as he straightened. Blood. It wasn't coming from him or any of his surroundings, and it seemed fairly fresh. Looking down at the discarded sapphire pieces, he noticed a dark stain lining some of the corners. As far as he'd known, the other girl hadn't injured herself, so it had to be one thing. "I don't think you should be walking around with any wound," he said, but he didn't turn to look at Cisa.
     
  17. Hearing her name come from the wizard’s mouth was an odd experience, one she could say with certainly she had never expected to witness in her lifetime. The wizards were far removed from the common folk and that distance created more than a few misguided ideas about them. Everyone treated the wizards with respect, though some stayed farther away than others. Their reputations varied as well, with some like the Dark Wizard being feared while others like the Time and Space Wizards were revered as gods. Cisa knew little about the wizards other than the superstitious grumbling that Sofia muttered about whenever someone in town talked about them. The woman believed any involvement with magic was asking for trouble; said it was unnatural. Cisa hadn’t completely believed her, but she had learned to be cautious of magic. Judging from her experience today, that cautious was warranted.

    He dismissed her though not before coming forward with an old map for her to use. She took it and murmured, “Thank you.” The wizard turned from her as soon as the map was in her hand, his attention diverted from her. She was grateful for the distraction. Though she’d seen maps before, she couldn’t say she knew much about reading them. After he turned away, she lifted it up to examine it. There was little the lines told her that she did not know. This place was a maze. She folded it once more, taking a hesitant step toward the door. It was true he’d told her to go, but she had no idea where to go. It was getting late and she was tired, cold and hungry. She knew she needed to get the wizard to at least tell her where she could find a place to sleep, but she wasn’t sure if complaints would anger him or not.

    Just as she was about to chance it, he spoke up again. She felt her cheeks flush when she realized that he’d somehow found out about the cuts on her hands. She tucked them behind her back to hide the gashes, “Calling a few cuts a wound seems a little overly dramatic, Wizard. I’ll be fine, though I would appreciate a place to sleep tonight. It’s getting late.” Her stinging hands begged to differ, but there was no need to trouble him with that. Compared to the wounds she’d seen her father take in the forge, these cuts were of little concern.

    The wizard’s concern was unexpected though. She never would have imagined after the display earlier that day that he’d be concerned about her health. He’d been ready to kill Joanna over a mere stone. There had to be some other reason behind his concern. Perhaps he worried that the blood from her hands would get onto something important in his home. He seemed to have quite a bit of paper sitting around. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he was worried about the blood destroying one of them. Either way she had other concerns at present, like finding a place to sleep.
     
  18. Though her back was turned to him, his eyes still narrowed at her bold statement. She didn't seem to want to mind her words, even when in the presence of someone much more powerful than she was. He could have torn out her soul with nothing more than a few words, but a snarky quip wasn't enough to kill over. The fact that he'd even had the brief thought of replacing her soul with darkness showed just how little he interacted with living, breathing humans.

    "...Small cuts or not, I expect no further blood on anything else I ask you to retrieve." It wasn't really a threat, but there was also a hint of irritation that said he wouldn't be pleased if it happened again. The Dark Wizard had learned that normal, non-magical humans could rarely be relied on for anything, and there was a twinge of hope that Cisa would be different. After all, she was going to be with him for a very, very long time.

    She had asked for a place to sleep, and it was something he hadn't really made clear on the map. There were many rooms with beds, but they went so unused that the rooms were more likely to be filled with dust rather than decoration. Only his room appeared used, and even then, he wasn't in there as often as he should have been. "Follow me. There is a set of rooms close to this one that will suit your needs." He didn't mention on the state of cleanliness, but she had already walked the halls once. Signs of dirt and decay were all around, and any time a room became too filled or dirty to use, he moved onto another rather than picking up. There were simply too many spell scrolls or books to move about, let alone clean after.

    Sweeping past her, the door swung open without so much a whisper as he walked forward. The castle seemed to bow to his needs at every point, and it was a constant reminder that he was in control in any aspect of his home. His life, however, seemed a little beyond his control. No words in regards to that, or anything, left his mouth as he led his new servant down the winding steps. There were several rooms in the tower, but none were suited for guests. The Dark Wizard had spent months trying to read up on the history of his home, but his former master had kept all of that hidden for his own reasons.

    The Dark Wizard and Cisa came up on the hall leading to another set of downward stairs toward the previous gem room, but instead of venturing that way, he turned to the left down a different path. This hall only had a few doors, but they were massive and old, judging from the cobwebs lingering on the hinges. "This should be well enough, but if for some reason you find it unsuitable, you may move into any of these other rooms." With that, he turned and walked away, but not before the door squeaked open for Cisa.

    Inside, the room was untouched, but surprisingly, there was only a thin layer of dust coating the furniture. The bed was situated in the corner beside the window, though sunlight barely scratched the surface of the glass. There were unlit candles strewn about with some even laying on the ground. The dresser had a long, oval mirror hanging in front of it, and it was tall enough that anyone could inspect themselves even if they were close up. The sheets were silk, dyed a vibrant red, an out of place color for the castle's gloomy atmosphere. A few feet from the dresser was another door that lead to a bathing room, though hardly anything adorned the walls. The main room had a woven rug covering half of the floor, part of it reaching under the bed. It was perpetually warm to the touch, despite everything else being cool inside the room.

    It might not have felt like home, but it would have to do.
     
  19. Just as she’d thought, the wizard cared only that the blood from her hands would damage his belongings. Cisa made a mental note to be more wary when handling his things in the future. No need to invoke his wrath over something as trivial as bleeding on a piece of paper. She had no time to return his comment either as he headed out of the room to show her a place to sleep. He moved as quietly as a cat despite the heavy robes he wore. Cisa wondered if it was magic that made him that quiet or if the wizard was just a naturally quiet man. Was it possible to separate the wizard from his magic? To him it was natural, even if it was foreign to her.

    They arrived in another wing of the castle. It looked to be in as bad a shape the rest of the castle, likely untouched for years. The wizard pointed out a series of rooms and then left her standing there. A door nearby opened and waited for her to enter. She approached it cautiously and peered in, causing the candles to come to life. She gasped when she saw the contents of the room. It was far cleaner than the rest of the house, like it had been used not long ago. A bed was situated in the corner of the room, one that looked finer than any bed Cisa had ever had in her life. She approached it, running her fingertips along the red fabric. It felt like water; Cisa could hardly believe she was being allowed to sleep on it. Was this silk? She’d heard stories about the fine material, but she’d never seen it. Only those who lived in the lap of luxury could afford such finery. Moving from the bed, she wandered around the room. The only other furniture was a dresser. Other than that there were several candles that lay strewn about the ground. Cisa decided she would gather them up in the morning. They would come in handy at night or in the event that her little bubble of light failed. Her eyes were drawn to the mirror next to the dresser as she caught a glimpse of her reflection. Mirrors were precious items and one this large must have cost a small fortune. The fact that the wizard had simply left it laying around spoke volumes about him. She walked over to the door on the opposite of the room and was surprised to find a bathing chamber there. She’d heard about nobles who had rooms like these in their homes with basins like the one that stood in the center of the room. Servants would fill the tub with water for them to bathe in from a serious metal pipes that pulled water out of their household’s well. She walked into the small room, looking around it for a few moments before noticing what looked like a pump. She leaned down to examine it and gave it a few pumps, unsure if it still worked. Water came pouring out, gathering in the basin. The wizard’s home continued to amaze her and she could only wonder what the wizard’s personal quarters had to be like if this was one of the rooms he left unused.

    Realizing that this was her chance to clean herself up a bit, she filled the basin and began by washing her hand, cleaning the cuts in the cool water. The bleeding had mostly stopped, leaving dried blood smeared on her skin. Once her hands had been dealt with, she paused a moment. Sleep would be welcome, but so would being clean. It had been awhile since she’d last had a chance to bathe. In her father’s home, there had only been so many times when they took the time to get enough water together for proper bathes. Considering all that had happened that day, Cisa decided it would be a good idea to clean herself fully while she had the time. She slipped out of her clothes and washed the rest of her body, even taking time to scrub her hair and work out as much dirt as possible. The water was chilly, but Cisa didn’t mind. It was good to feel clean again.

    Once she’d finished, she pulled her clothes back on and walked back into the room. She walked back to the dresser and peered inside, finding a hair brush oddly enough. She picked it up, looking it over for clues as to who left it there. Seeing no marks to indicate that it belonged to someone specific, she used it to work the knots out of her hair. It took several minutes of tugging with more than one pain-filled grunt, but after a while she succeeded in fixing the mangled look of her hair. The attention returned the natural shine to her hair and showed off how long her hair had gotten since she’d last cut it short. Satisfied that she’d done all she could to make herself presentable, she headed back to the bed.

    She pulled back the covers of the bed, hesitating a moment before getting into it. It was the closest thing to paradise she’d ever experienced. The silk was smoother than the new leaves of the spring and the mattress beneath it was plush. There was even a pillow on the bed, which Cisa happily made use off. To anyone with money, a bed like this would be nothing special, but for Cisa this was the grandest thing she’d ever experienced.

    A sigh escaped her lips as she settled in, her eyes closing as sleep came to claim her. Her mind drifted back through the events of the day, hardly able to believe what had happened. It was too much to take in at once. Even though she knew she ought to be concerned about her present situation, she was too tired to keep her eyes open. The last thought that passed through her mind was of Joanna and her father. Regret flashed through her mind. There was a good chance she’d never see them again. She felt certain she’d done the right thing, but it didn’t change what she faced; eleven years serving a complete stranger who could kill her at any moment. The people of the village had kept her at a distance, but now she was truly alone. The unhappy thoughts eventually dissipated as sleep took her. Her body relaxed completely as she rolled onto her side, her limbs stretched out under the covers. Her hair fell across her face as her mouth opened slightly, all the tension leaving her face as she slept.
     
  20. The next day, the state of their relationship had barely changed. The Dark Wizard was still attempting to discover what few uses Cisa actually had, and there was too much of his home to explore before he could send her anywhere safe. There were plenty of dangerous rooms strewn about the halls that she could die or injure herself in. Not that he trusted her with anything precious. After her blood had stained his broken sapphire, the Dark Wizard had spent hours painstakingly cleaning even the smallest specks of dust. If he wanted to even think about trying to put the blasted thing back together, everything had to be perfect.

    In order for that perfection to come by, he had to concentrate on nothing else. Which meant that Cisa was free to do what she wanted. For being a servant, she had few duties on her first days in his home. He didn't particularly care for having a servant, and as far as he saw her, she didn't seem all that great. He couldn't gauge any of her talents or strengths, and the only thing she'd done correctly was almost kill herself to save another human. Typical of them, I suppose, he thought, using a pair of small tongs to set a piece of his sapphire in place. He'd managed to rebuild the base the jewel and nothing else. The dust wasn't settling in the right spots and the slivers were poking in the wrong directions.

    Still, he was going to fix it, no matter what. It was that determined thought that brought him to yet another crouched position in front of his desk a week later, rolling blue dust in his palm. A shred of black stretched into a shadowy finger, flicking the dust onto the partially built jewel. However, the motion slightly rattled the base, rupturing his work and letting shards slide out of place. "Damn it all!" he snapped to the broken object, though his voice threatened to rattle the rest of his hard work. Seething, the Dark Wizard drew his sword and slashed at the wall. With a quick, metallic snap, the tip of the sword clashed against the stone wall. Instead of cutting through the wall, the sharp tip broke free from the rest of the sword, bouncing into a corner.

    Now, not only was his prized possession still in pieces, but his second prized possession was rendered useless. With a sigh, the Dark Wizard sat back in his chair, letting the sword fall to the ground with a clang. There was too much to deal with, and what had been his escape was now falling apart.