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Savaric gazes out the window of his dormitory, looking over the castle grounds, the arching structures, pillars of stone and towers stretching into the sky to kiss the heavens and whatever lies there. The castle stands proudly with the mountains it was built on, as if it were a natural extension of the stone and snow sleeted beasts that peer down into the valley where the city lies, like a cat at the foot of its owner.

For years he gazed up at this very castle from the vastly different perspective of his father’s black smith shop window, the behemoth structure set up above the reaches of the slums he lived in solidified its position of raw power, and illustrated the castle’s unwavering authority. Sitting within the walls that controlled the fabric of his life was something that he did not imagine ever doing, and this is more than likely his last time looking down at the city in this manner.

He survived six months of intense course of study that has the sole purpose of rooting out those who don’t acquire the intellectual abilities that make up the arcane arts. The fact that he has made it to Apprentice Initiation is nearly miraculous. It is rare for a commoner to handle such intensive study with how little education that social class is offered. Nonetheless of his success, ridicule from his peers is something that he could not escape. Your race does not nearly compare as a show of your character as the amount of coins in your family name’s pockets. The lower class belong scrubbing the shoes of the wealthy, and it’s an ideology the young mage had to learn to live with

“Oi, Apprentice Initiation begins in ten minutes. Come on, commoner.”

Savaric breaks away from his thoughts, turning to see a fellow mage-to-be slipping on ravishing robes the color of a deep navy. Their silky nature was a clear sign of his wealth, and the subtle glow on the inside of his cuffs indicate that his robe is blessed with runes that improve thinking, and magic stamina. Savaric dorn greying robes that belonged to a student years ago and was left behind for the school, which was the only thing comparatively he could afford. It only made it less taxing for a person to find the poor one in the group.

“Alright, lead the way.”

Following the boy in navy robes who Savaric had grown to know as Geralt from his months of studying with him, the two take off down the winding corridors of the castle. They pass by many servants preparing to keep the royal family fed and tended to as they watch the initiation, and some of their former instructors. The instructors give them polite nods, but Savaric couldn’t help but notice the subtle glint of disapproval towards him, before they turn sharply away. They tried their best to kick him out for six months and the fact that they have officially failed was clear on their expressions.

Geralt and Savaric arrive at a chamber that empties into a small bridge overlooking a chasm between the mountains, leading into the castle courtyard. From where Savaric stood, he could make out quite the attendance of people.

“Ah Geralt, sorry that we couldn’t have walked with you to the Initiation, you got stuck with the commoner.”

Savaric turned to the familiar brutish voice. Alizon and a couple more of their student peers floated around him. He was a tall man, a few years shy of Savaric’s twenty-five. He had short hair, the rotting color of rust, and a full beard that was shined and shaped to perfection. His role of favored son of a rich family feigning royalty was all too apparent, and his obnoxiously good looks only caused Savaric to resent him more. He had sleek black robes trimmed with gold embroidery, and he walked over to Savaric in a manner that said he was teaching a stray servant a lesson.

Geralt cast a nervous expression to Savaric, but offered no assistance and continued down the bridge and to the courtyard.

“I must say, congratulations on making it this far. It’s quite the achievement for someone who grew up in a rat hole. What? Did your mother have to spread her legs for the community just to scrape by? Or lemme guess, your father is a farmer or a black smith who couldn’t sell shit?”

He snickered with his annoying deep voice that slurred syllables together.

Savaric turns on heel to him, keeping his composure.

“I had to work twice as hard to get to where I am. Instructors waved a passing grade at you once they saw your family’s sigil on your robes.”

His crowd chuckled at Savaric’s attempt of coming back at him, as if he was a kid who muttered something under his breath.

“Your hard work is meaningless because those Masters in there will not choose a filthy peasant who barely passed, as an apprentice. You might as well drop the robes and go back to the local whore house you slithered out of.”

Alizon spat, practically shoulder checking Savaric as he and his onlookers took to the bridge, leaving Savaric alone in the chamber. Savaric tried to keep his composure, to hold onto his pride, but his peer’s words dug deeply başakşehir escort in the chink of his armor and he couldn’t help but admit that Alizon was right.

His studying will amount to nothing if he can’t get a Master today. His pursuit of becoming a mage will be cut right at its beginning and he will be sent back to his father and mother. Savaric closed his eyes briefly, and attempted not imagining such events, but was finding it exceedingly difficult.

Savaric walks across the bridge, and the cold gusts of mountainous weather coil around his body and robes until he is between the shelter of the courtyard’s stone archways that are strangled by the vines sprouting from the contained plots of gardens scattered decoratively throughout the wide space. Stone statues of historical symbolic figures reach their lifeless fingers above the crowds of people, fountains trickling water from thin air around the statues’ calm and somnolent faces.

At one end of the courtyard, raised slightly by a small podeon, was the King, Queen, and their small son doddling at the edge of the raised floor, jumping up and down, a knight dressed in gleaming armor facelessly scolds the child behind a visor, more than likely telling the rebellious fellow to calm down. Masters stood surrounded by students and apprentices at the edges of the courtyard, their robes a magnificent and sophisticated contrast to the dress of the people observing.

The King stands, and a magic knight guarding the royal family blows a horn that reverates its bassy call through the jowls of the courtyard. The idle wave of voices calm to a silence and attention is drawn immediately to the King.

He stood straight, a man bejeweled with ornaments of wealth and power, a yellow cloak dorned with thick white fur trailing over his body, the small details of gold glinting sharply in the sun high over the mountains above us. His crown was placed lazily over scruffs of greying curls, and his wrinkled face forms into a smile looking over his audience.

“Welcome, to the 155th annual Apprentice Initiation! Today, we see these youths to one of our fine selection of Masters here today!”

His voice was practiced in the art of public speaking and its raspy sound fills the courtyard, he stands confidently with his hands outstretched, animating his words.

“Now, without further introduction, may the selection commence! Good luck!”

Chatter and movement crashes over the crowd, and the ceremony comes to a life. Savaric for a moment is overwhelmed by the volume of activity, and stares incredulously at the crowds of people.

Young mages in student robes flock like insects to a lamp in the night to the Masters surrounding the courtyard. This was it, he had to find a master here or now. He had to prove Alizon wrong. He may have been a peasant all his life, but he has earned his graduation from his schooling just like the more wealthy students around him. Feeling more confident of himself, trying to keep his heartbeat calm and his mind collected and sharp, Savaric presses through the crowds of citizens come to spectate the event. A thin Master standing in a sweeping garb of violet robe was speaking to a freckled young sorcerer Savaric could recognize from Spell Casting Theory.

Something about the tan appearance of her skin and the shape of her face was puzzling Savaric, until he neared her, he realized that her face was covered in dark spotted fur the color of ivory. She was a leopard beast-woman. The woman nodded to the boy mage before her, having to slightly slouch to level herself because of her tall and slim form, and the mage excitedly walks off, clearly satisfied with their conversation.

Savaric, his throat suddenly the texture of sand, cleared it nervously as he approached her. She looks up to the mage as Savaric spoke.

“Um- Good afternoon, Master…”

Savaric trails off, realizing he didn’t even know her name. The beast-woman regards the tall mage cloaked with threadbare hand-me-down robes with perplexion, her eyes a teal glow.

“Master Anishika.”

She said, her was voice raspy and feline. Savaric nodded apologetically, struggling to find his words.

“Master Anishika, it would be an honor if I could study under you, as an apprentice.”

The master’s eyes furrowed skeptically, looking the young mage up and down.

“You’ve impressed me for getting this far, young man. But I’m afraid I’m not particularly astute with your kind. My students are highly educated, and a commoner will not learn at the same rate and level as them. I cannot afford to bend my curriculum and hold them back. Forgive me, dear boy, I must reject you.”

The wind that swept the courtyard felt much colder to Savaric, hearing the Master’s words. He felt himself pitied and struggled to find words to respond to the rejection. Instead, he bowed his head and moved on. His shield of optimism and hope was retracting, leaving his skin bare against the cold and thin mountain bayrampaşa escort air causing the disapproving scowls that were cast his way to become apparent and very real.

The Masters were crowded by potential apprentices, and Savaric slid past them desperately, wanting anyone, anything. As he greeted more and more Masters, though, he found his hope fading with each rejection.

“I’m far too filled with apprentices, lad.”

“Your scores were minimum of passing. I only train educated young mages.”

“Being a mage is nothing if not a daunting task, and you look more destined for a smithing anvil, son.”

Savaric was defeated, he stands among the fountains and gardens, looking over the crowds of people, feeling foreign and unwanted around the people he worked so hard to be among. To be one of them. Savaric could see his father’s face, as Savaric returned home from months of study, accomplishing nothing. It was a reality growing far to close with each passing second standing lost among his peers and the great mages.

Suddenly, a deep and impertinent voice captured his attention among the mixing bowl of sound around him.

“Ah- Macaboy! I’ve heard who you are going to choose as a Master. Are you sure you want to consider Master Anishika? My father would gladly take you in.”

Savaric turned towards Alizon’s voice, where he stood around the center of the courtyard, a couple feet from a fountain tossing dancing liquid into the cold air before falling to the pool like scattered rain. He was talking to a young mage, our age. He was dressed in scarlet robes, and he turned back to Alizon, his eyes perked. His narrow features were visibly perplexed about the suggestion.

He crossed his arms, defensively.

“I was looking forward to studying under her, frankly.”

He said matter-of-factly. Alizon doesn’t attempt to withdraw a conceited chuckle, at his peer.

“My House is almost as royal as the king himself. Doubtful that you’ll find her more suitable, especially considering her kind.”

Macaboy, clearly insulted, rebounds.

“‘Her kind?'”

He echoes, jaundiced,

“Are you speaking ill of an esteemed master of sorcery, as knowledgeable as your father?”

This retort only seemed to egg on the rich young mage.

“‘As knowledgeable’? Don’t humor me. Her species are rarely educated and more commonly known as thieves in the slums.”

The intensity of the conversation quickly escalating to an argument was tense and poignant in the air. The people around them stir, eyes casting curiously to the feud. Macaboy’s complexion contorts, and a vein pulsates on his temple at Alizon’s insult. For moments, he is silent before he collects himself and stands taller and broder against his opponent.

“These are quite the bold statements from a rich boy who derives from a family that rides the coastail of the king for control of this city,”

He spat.

“All you are, is wealthy. Not royalty.”

Alizon’s composure slipped, a nerve was struck. Savaric could feel the anger steepling on his reddening face.

“Excuse me? We have made immense contributions to this community. The king is fortunate to have my family to assist him!”

Macaboy shook his head, his moppy locks of brown shaking with his incredulous gesture. He could only grin at the seething mage in front of him.

“I would not call it assisting more than usurping. Don’t you think I know about the little rumor drifting through the upper-districts about your family? The king is trying as he might, even at this moment, to space himself from you and your folk. He fears that your ‘assisting’ may devolve to a knife in his throat. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m learning under a faithful follower of the true king.”

A moment of feral, blank hatred absorbs Alizon’s features. He can only stare at the back of Macaboy’s robes, retreating to his master’s side. His fists were cold and white, straining at his sides, before he suddenly stepped forward with the ferocity and bloodlust that caused Savaric to step back. Alizon throws a hand up, and screams:

“Impulsarlis Impel!”

Suddenly runes, like a silver string come to life around the mage, and the air ripples, as a white blast plunges through the air and collides with Macaboy’s back. He is thrusted off of his feet as if he were yanked frontwards with a rope. A woman shrieks as the mage crashes into a fountain.

Savaric glares at Alizon, dismayed.

He can cast spells?

Savaric thought, both begrudging and amazed by the successful incantation, something that Savaric has never tried for fear of failing and hurting himself. Macaboy pulls himself out of the water, slightly dazed by the attack and clumsily getting out of the fountain. The crowds were dispersing, and a heavy silence draped the courtyard. Macaboy’s robes were the color of blood, soaked and heavy over his form. Having gathered his composure, he glares at Alizon, who was laughing beşiktaş escort heartily, receiving a high-five from one of his friends. Humiliation was ripe on the soaked mage, he grits his teeth.

“You shouldn’t have done that. You want to play with spells?”

The triumphant smile immediately drains from Alizon, as quickly as it had formed.

“I’ll introduce you to my studies.”

Runes, this time cloudy like a cloaked sky, sifted through the air around the mage. A loud crack splits into the courtyard, arousing panicked movements to get away from the mage. Savaric was pushed back by evading bodies, but couldn’t tear his eyes away from the magic before him. It was as if the mage were struck by lightning, but that lightning decided to stay. Rivets of hot white electricity dance and collect over his arms like crazed insects, splashing white light over his enraged features. He raises his hands at Alizon, who is speechless, rooted to the spot. The snotty expression was gone, replacing it with a child facing the reality of his mistakes.

“INGULGET VOLT!”

The scream tears through the courtyard, and a bolt of lightning launches out of his hands, barreling towards Alizon. The crowd recoils from the spell, but suddenly a figure breaks through the mass of people and stands before the approaching blast.

Is that a civilian? They’re going to kill themself!

That’s when the figure’s legs spread in a stance that Savaric immediately recognizes from his study. Whoever it was, was a mage.

The blast collides with the mage’s outstretched hand. The mage’s body is thrusted backwards but they do not break stance. The electricity whips around the body, curling around their limbs. For a moment, Savaric thinks that the mage was going to redirect the spell at the caster as he outstretched their hand, but suddenly the lightning curls and ravels like glimmering twine until a splitting stream of water is gushing out of the mage’s palm. Before Macaboy could react, the water collides forcibly with his body, sending him sprawling like a ragdoll against the cobblestone. He shouts in panic, gagging, attempting to guard his face from the stream until the lighting dancing around the mage’s body ceases, and the water dissipates.

Savaric is rooted to the ground with awe, having witnessed the best show of transfiguration that he had ever seen. Guards quickly run up to Macaboy’s choking body, and force him to his feet, shackling his wrists together with metal restraints.

“Get off of me! Didn’t you see- Alizon started it!”

Another person breaks through the crowd, he strode over to Alizon, who was frozen and white faced. He looks over the boy, muttering something indistinct and possibly consoling, before turning towards Macaboy. He was dressed in gold robes, and Savaric immediately recognized him by the husky begrudging features that Alizon starkly resembled: Master Finnian Brickendec, Alizon’s father and perhaps the most powerful man in the city, other than the king himself.

“My son casted a disarming charm at you. You casted a potentially fatal conjuration of electricity that could have killed my son!”

Finnian roared at the trembling boy being dragged by the guards. His face was bug eyed and terrified.

“You have destroyed your potential career in the arcane arts. You will be escorted to prison to await trial for attempted homicide.”

Macaboy was silent and stone faced as he’s dragged from the courtyard. The crowd stood deadly still, transfixed on the scene. Finnian walks over to the mage who intervened in the fight. Savaric craned his neck for a better look at the man.

“Your services are no longer needed, Aragog. A Master of your revolting studies needn’t draw any more attention to oneself than you already have.”

Finnian spat, his eyebrows narrowed and scolding over his earthy green eyes, that Alizon had also borrowed from his father’s features.

That man is a Master?

Before Savaric could get a solid look of the man, he turned and was heading towards one of the exits of the courtyard.

“Who is that? I didn’t even know he was a mage, he has no robes.”

A young girl near Savaric whispered to another female companion.

The girl regards the retreating figure of the mage at the end of the courtyard with deep distaste.

“That’s Master Aragog. I would reckon you stay away from him,”

The other girl responds in a hushed voice.

“I hear the other Masters hate the man. He’s only allowed in these Initiations because the law requires every Master to attend. He never gets apprentices because instructors recommend we stray from him.”

“How come? What does he teach?”

The first one responds, her eyes wide and worried. The companion shrugs in loose robes, her eyes unmoving from the man.

“I wouldn’t want to find out.”

Savaric pushes his way through the crowd, in pursuit of the mage. It doesn’t matter what that mage is the Master of, this was his last chance- his only chance- to get a Master. He breaks through the dense collection of bystanders lingering after the spectacle, and passing Finnian he accidentally meets eyes with him as he attends to his son who was stooped to the cobblestone, his head bowed. A glint of disapproval crosses Finnian’s eyes as he watches Savaric jog hurriedly to catch up with Aragog.

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