[Story] Xanaroth’s Notes

Vallindra and I had an outing last night, thanks to the tickets to the theater that Isturon got for us. While it was nice to get out for a change — it’s been far too long — I was worried about Elara. She’s never been left alone before. Granted, Isturon was watching her, but she doesn’t know him. I worried that she might be afraid of him, or that I wasn’t coming back. Sometimes she cries if I leave her alone in her crib for a few moments. Vallindra said she wouldn’t, but she doesn’t know Elara as well as I do. When we got home, Isturon didn’t say anything. He was probably just trying not to embarrass Elara. We did stop after the play to get one of those toys for babies to chew on, she has a few little teeth coming in and that should help them. Lately she’s been gnawing on anything she can reach, including my hands.

Dinner was at the seafood restaurant, it was very nice. I’ve missed being able to go out. Hopefully Elara will be old enough soon that she can come with us. Vallindra had scallops, and I had a shrimp pasta with the most delicious sauce. I wonder if Tik could make something similar? Surely he’d need to taste it to figure out the ingredients. We got a bottle of white wine to share, and it was very good, I believe it was from an Eversong vineyard. Vallindra also enjoyed the miniature cakes for dessert, she had the chocolate ones and I had the vanilla and fruit ones. On the way to the theater, I bought some little boxes of chocolate truffles from the candy shop. We brought them inside our cloaks so we’d have something to nibble on during the show. They really ought to sell things inside the theater.

The play was exciting. Vallindra was worried it might be a cliche love story, but it was a mystery about a noble who is murdered at his estate. Everyone is a suspect, from his much younger wife to his son, the butler and the other staff. The way it was written made everyone seem like they could have done it, so I was kept guessing until the end? Should I reveal the killer here? I don’t think so, what if someone else reads this one day! I did enjoy it a great deal though. I’d like to see others if they have any. I’ve even heard of some dinners where you get to portray a character in the mystery, that sounds as if it would be fun.

Felarius said that Aeramin hasn’t been at school much this week. It’s nearly time for final exams, so I hope he’s back soon. I might have to ask Hethurin if he’s all right. I had the idea that he might want to start a class about ley-lines at the school, it’s a valuable and interesting area of study that isn’t covered there yet. I can understand he may not want Vallindra at the school, but he might want to use a copy of her maps, or the book she hasn’t written yet despite my urging. The summer ball is soon, I could speak to him then. I’ll have to ask Tik to make up a box of leftovers so I can bring them home, Vallindra should enjoy having a quiet evening to herself.


[Story] Character of the Week – Xanaroth Embersun

[[ Xanaroth is a summoner who has worked with Aeramin and Kestrae in the past to bind powerful demons. Currently he’s married to Vallindra, one of Hethurin’s sisters. But you know I like writing background stories, so here’s one from when he was just a wee little mage student. ]]

The afternoon was unusually warm, and Xanaroth thought he might take the longer way home from school. He hadn’t even known there was a unit of rangers nearby, until he overheard some of the girls talking about it. They said that they often practiced outside, and when the weather was nice, they’d sometimes take their shirts off. That was back in the autumn, when he’d first started magic classes. He’d been skeptical, but curiosity got the better of him, and he took the other road back one afternoon. The girls hadn’t been lying; four rangers were practicing their aim, pulling back their bows to hit targets that were set up across the yard from them. How strong they must have been! Those bows were almost as tall as they were. Not wanting to linger too long, he’d hurried past. But more days than not, he took the longer way home. His parents certainly didn’t notice what time he got home, and it wasn’t far out of his way. Besides, there was one ranger in particular that he liked to watch, and Xanaroth liked to see if he was there, even if just for a few minutes while he walked past. He didn’t know his name, but he had long black hair, tied back, and he couldn’t have been much older than Xanaroth was. Oh, and he was strong. He pulled back the long bow with ease, and on warm days, anyone could see just how muscular he was. Xanaroth tried not to imagine what it would be like to have those strong arms around him, at least not until he was safely past and no one would see how red his ears had gotten.

Xanaroth felt uncomfortably hot in his mage robes, he’d still worn the heavier ones as the mornings were cool. But the day had grown much warmer than expected, the sun illuminating the forest and sparkling off the water. He almost went straight home, just so he could change, but the rangers would surely be outside on a day like this. They were, but only the one. Xanaroth watched him draw an arrow back and send it perfectly into the center of the target. Perhaps he sensed that he was being watched, because he paused and looked at Xanaroth as he passed by. Flustered, he quickened his pace.

“Hey, wait.” The ranger approached the wall that surrounded the yard, leaning against it.

Xanaroth’s ears darkened. Was he going to tell him to stop being a creep and watching them all the time? Probably.


“You’re in a hurry today.” He had a broad, easy smile. Why did he have to be so cute? Xanaroth felt his ears getting even hotter.

Xanaroth gestured to the books tucked under his arm. “I have a lot of homework to do.”

“You’re a mage, right?”

“Yeah. I mean no, not yet. But I’m a student.” He really hoped that he wouldn’t ask him to do a spell. Not only was Xanaroth not very skilled yet, he was studying fire, and the last thing he wanted to do was set the ranger building on fire.

The ranger smiled again. Stop doing that, Xanaroth thought. “That’s great. All I’m good at is shooting a bow.”

Xanaroth wanted to respond to that, but he couldn’t think of anything that didn’t sound stupid. Or weird. Normally he didn’t have any trouble finding the right words, but normally he wasn’t talking to handsome rangers with really big muscles.

“I was just about to take a break though,” he said. “Maybe go swimming. Want to come with?”

“Uh,” said Xanaroth, not really sure he’d heard him correctly. Swimming, like in water, without clothes on? This guy would probably laugh at how skinny and pale he was. “Won’t you get in trouble? You know, for leaving.”

“Nah, the river’s just down that way. It’s not far at all.” Xanaroth knew he was right, he’d cross it via a bridge a little further down the road. “Come on. I bet those robes are hot.”

Xanaroth didn’t really know how to swim, but he felt himself nodding in agreement anyway. It was kind of a stupid idea, but it would be even worse to say no. The ranger set his bow against the wall and hopped over it easily. “I’m Astimos, by the way.”



[Story] Xanaroth’s Journal

Aeramin came calling on me at home, which is a rare enough occasion that I figured it must be something important. Thankfully, Elara had just gone down for a nap so I didn’t have to try to corral her while we were talking. Normally she’s quite happy to stay in the sling, but of late she’s got the urge to explore and I have to keep a close eye on her at all times when she’s in such a mood. I’ve gone through and put up most of the things that could be dangerous, but babies can be extremely persistent, and sometimes I or Vallindra will forget and leave a glass out, something like that. Aeramin seemed curt and tense, and it took some prying to get the reason out of him. He wasn’t happy that I allowed Felarius to summon an imp, he believes that he’s not yet ready. How odd that he should be the one lecturing me about being reckless!

The summoning was performed under my direct supervision, in my work room. Felarius knows not to attempt it anywhere else. Maybe some of his skills are lagging behind, but I thought it would give him incentive to work harder, a reward of sorts. His rune drawings are excellent for a student of his age, and he is eager to study demon anatomy and physiology. His felfire lessons are perhaps not where they should be, but he is making progress. Aeramin seems concerned with his progress in regular fire class, but I believe it is just that Felarius lacks the same drive for that material. Any student will learn more quickly and easily when they find the subject exciting and interesting. That’s not to put the blame on Aeramin, of course, but I will see if I can’t instill the importance of a good fire foundation in Felarius.

I would never put Felarius at risk, nor Elara and Vallindra. I’m a little insulted that Aeramin would even suggest it. One imp, properly encircled and bound, behind a sealed and warded door, is not a risk. We’ll need somewhere more suitable — and away from my family — if Felarius is ever ready for anything more dangerous. To that end, Aeramin suggested that I take him to the void fields in Outland to observe the voidwalkers there. I agree that it would be a very valuable experience for him, he could get first-hand experience and observation from a safe distance. But I couldn’t bring Elara for that, and I’m not certain if Vallindra knows what to do to care for her on a daily basis. Aeramin offered to keep her for me, they apparently watched Imralion’s nephew for a few days, but I’m not entirely convinced of his ability in that area. There’s Hethurin of course, but I’d need to speak to him about it. I think he would probably agree, though he’s no doubt busy with his own students and the operation of the school. Still, I know he’s at least managed to care for babies successfully. I tried to speak to Aeramin about Lyorri, but he would have nothing of it. I can’t understand how he can feel nothing at all for her. Even if he didn’t plan for her to be here, she’s here now, and she’s part of him. I’m certain that Kes is caring for her well, she’d wanted a child for so long. I just hope Aeramin doesn’t regret it later on.

[Story] Story a Week – Imp

Xanaroth held his breath as the portal opened, fel-green smoke swirling through the room. Though Elara was safely upstairs, there was always still that moment of danger before whatever it was stepped through the portal. Felarius wasn’t powerful enough to open large portals, but that wouldn’t stop something that was really determined to get through. Most demons, though, preferred to stay in their own realm. Imps were generally a bit easier to coax over — and they never seemed to guess ahead of time what lay ahead of them.

Felarius, his summoning student, shook faintly with the effort of maintaining the spell, his eyes fixed on the demonic portal. He had made great progress in the past few months, and Xanaroth felt he was ready to work with his first demon. Of course, that meant he had to summon it first. For a few long seconds, he believed nothing would happen. Though the portal had opened, perhaps there was something wrong; a rune slightly smudged or the angle just slightly wrong. But Felarius’s rune drawings had been immaculate. He’d copied them over and over in his books and was meticulous about his work — more so than Xanaroth himself had been at that age. The Twisting Nether teemed with demons, especially the little imps, which traveled in swarms for protection from their larger cousins. Was it possible that they were all in another spot?

A tiny hand appeared from the portal, followed by a wobbly oversized head. The imp stepped warily out of the portal and into the rune that Felarius had drawn on the workroom floor.

“Now,” Xanaroth said, and Felarius let the spell drop, the portal collapsing in on itself with an audible fizzle.

The imp, now alarmed, attempted to flee, but the magic circle held it in place. As it realized this, its panic grew and it began to shriek, flinging itself against the magical barrier.

Felarius frowned faintly. “Is it supposed to do that?” he whispered to Xanaroth.

The older summoner nodded. It wasn’t unusual at all for demons to resist binding. Once it accepted its fate, however, it would be easier to work with. And for imps, the protection of a warlock was preferable than being eaten by a larger demon. “Ask for its name,” Xanaroth reminded Felarius quietly.

“Imp,” Felarius announced. “You will give me your name.”

The imp cowered at the edge of the rune, its little clawed hands over its large ears. It wouldn’t matter; the rune that Felarius had drawn compelled it to obey. “D-dagtuk!” it screeched. Xanaroth hoped it wasn’t going to scream like that all of the time. It hurt his ears, and it would likely wake Elara.

He had also had Felarius practice the binding spell repeatedly. Any error there could cause the binding to weaken over time, putting the summoner at risk. As Felarius recited the binding spell, shadowy shackles formed around the imp’s wrists and ankles. “Dagtuk, I bind you to my bidding,” he said, and the imp whimpered quietly, but seemed to have calmed down, at least.

Xanaroth walked the perimeter of the rune, checking for any errors and inspecting the imp’s bindings. He was well aware that any mistake he overlooked would put his student in danger, so he took his time to see that everything was done correctly. Felarius watched him anxiously. At last he nodded. “Break it,” he instructed Felarius. With his boot, he smudged away one of the runes of the binding circle on the floor. Dagtuk crept warily to the spot and stuck his arm out tentatively. When nothing happened, the imp crawled slowly out of the circle to crouch at Felarius’s feet. For the first time, his student allowed himself a smile. “It worked,” he said, sounding a little amazed. “Can I pick it up?”

“Of course,” said Xanaroth. “Don’t lose it. Or if you do, you remember the recall spell?”

“I won’t,” Felarius said, touching the imp’s head gingerly. “And I do.”

As Xanaroth had expected, the imp calmed down once it realized that it wasn’t in immediate danger. It would still be curious about its new surroundings, and cause trouble if not supervised, but in time it might even grow fond of its master. Once it got a taste of proper food, it would never want to leave.

[Story] Xanaroth’s Journal

Felarius’s lessons have been going well. Fortunately I’ve been able to keep Elara with me much of the time, in the same way that I imagine Hethurin must. I feel safer having her there with me rather than leaving her alone in a room during that time. Though I take her out any time we are summoning, even with imps. I’m not taking any chances. If she shows interest when she is older, that would be another matter, but I won’t take the risks I did in the past. It isn’t worth it. Nor will I put Felarius at risk. He’s so curious and eager, and I don’t want to dampen that, but at the same time I want to ensure he really understands the dangers of what he is working with. Like any tool, demons can harm the user if used incorrectly or carelessly.

He’s copying and studying bindings, and learning about the various types of demons. Sometimes he has questions that I don’t know the answer to — like last night, he was asking me about imps. I’ve never given imps much thought, they are just simply there most of the time and taken for granted. But he asked me about where they come from. I explained that they are born in great litters? Clutches? From broodmothers, something like a queen bee will give birth to all of the bees in a hive. And like bees, individual imps are simply workers who exist for the greater good of the swarm. Who fathers them? That question stumped me. Something  must, assuming that demons work in the same way that animals do. But perhaps they do not, perhaps the female doesn’t require a male at all. Or perhaps she finds a mate before she becomes so large. There is much we still don’t know about demons and their lives, given their secrecy and ability to hide away in the Nether. Maybe Felarius will be the one to discover it one day. He also asked if they miss their families. I said that they didn’t, because they don’t form familial attachments in the way that we elves do. Doesn’t the mother miss her children? I doubt she even knows how many she has, but it is true that imps form attachments easily to their masters. Perhaps they do seek some sort of parental figure, though I had always assumed they wanted protection from the Nether’s more dangerous residents. It’s an interesting thought, one I am glad that he brought up. A student who challenges the teacher is sure to go far in his studies, and in turn should make me a better teacher.

I do worry a bit that he’ll fall behind in his fire lessons. Aeramin is away, so his assistant Maerista is taking over his classes for the trip. Normally, Felarius does his private fire lessons with Aeramin, but it seems that he’s been studying his summoning instead. I don’t want to discourage that, of course, but nor do I want him to fall behind in fire. Not only is it incredibly important to have a good fire foundation, it would look awfully suspicious if he’s taking private lessons off site and still not doing well. I don’t want to raise any questions.

I think he’ll be ready for an imp soon. Obviously he can’t keep it at the school, but I could probably set up a place in the work room here. It will be easier than constantly summoning it, and I will also be able to keep a closer eye on its behavior. I’m somewhat relieved that he doesn’t seem to have any interest in a succubus. Those are nothing but trouble.

[Story] Xanaroth’s Journal

I brought Vallindra into the healers’ office, I was worried that something might be wrong and I thought it best that they see her. Everything seemed normal to be, but of course I’m not a healer, and she was well past her due date. I suppose the little one was warm and comfortable and wasn’t in any hurry to be disturbed! They decided to give Vallindra something that they said would hurry things along, she said it tasted really terrible. We waited there for quite a while, but nothing had happened yet. Esladra went home for the night, though Lani was still there, seeing to her father in the next room. Vallindra was worried because Lani doesn’t have much training in the area of babies — though she does have one herself so she must have some idea. Still, I had a hawkstrider outside ready to go and fetch Esladra at a moment’s notice. Vallindra slept, I had meant to stay awake but I fell asleep in the chair, until she woke me later that night. I wasn’t sure of the hour, but it was certainly late. Or early. I felt a little guilty waking Esladra at that hour, but then it was her job, wasn’t it? She was dressed and had her little bag ready much more quickly than I expected.

Once things started to happen, it went quickly. Lani came to assist so I did my best simply to stay out of the way. I wasn’t especially eager to see Vallindra in pain either — not to mention that she might rightfully blame me for being in this situation. I’m not the one who had to go through all of the discomfort, hopefully I can make it up to her later on. The baby is a girl. Vallindra said I could choose her name, and though I had a whole list ready it still wasn’t easy. Their name is something they have for life, it has to be nice and should fit them. I chose Elara, it’s short and pretty and it goes nicely with Embersun. I got to hold her, she’s so tiny that I was afraid I might drop her. Everything about her is tiny — her little fingers and her little ears and nose. And she’s cute. Of course I’m biased, but I think she’s one of the cutest babies I ever saw. No doubt she’ll grow up to be just as beautiful as her mother. She mostly sleeps now, and eats. I bring her to Vallindra for that, though sometimes I make a bottle if I want to let her get some rest. Esladra said that’s all she will do for a couple of weeks. I wonder about what she’ll be like, what her interests will be, what she’ll like in school, whether she’ll want to study summoning or not. I wouldn’t deter her of course, but I admit that it would worry me.

I had to skip Felarius’s lesson that week, because there was just too much to do. I felt bad about it, so we had an extra the next. He’s a good student, he has been keeping up on his reading and did all of the practice circles that I asked him to do. He asks questions but he doesn’t challenge me. I think he’ll do well. It’s been nice having a student again. I tried to explain it to Vallindra but I’m not sure she really understood. There’s nothing quite like seeing the student that you taught succeed and grow. Though I expect it must be similar to be a parent.

[Story] Xanaroth’s Journal

I stopped by Magister Firewind’s house to meet his new student. He’d been caught with certain books, and Hethurin agreed to allow Aeramin to instruct him safely, rather than expel him altogether. Many people aren’t so understanding, so I’m grateful that he allows his students to explore subjects that he may not agree with. However, he’s not to study or practice on the school grounds, which is where Aeramin came in. It’s far safer this way, he can learn the foundations required to summon safely and without putting others in danger. But then Aeramin said he thought I should take over his lessons, for what reason I do not know. I was surprised by the suggestion, but quickly agreed. It’s been far too long since I’ve had a student, and I look forward to watching him learn and progress. He’s studying fire magic currently, which is a good starting place. I intend to begin with the classification and attributes of various types of demons. He has a few books, but I can loan him more. It’s difficult not to give them all at once, I have to remember that he’ll be easily overwhelmed by too much information too fast. I can hardly believe I was once that naive and eager.

I intend to organize my work-room and give him his own corner to use for study and practice. Most of what’s down there are my notes for the book, but it’s been overdue for organizing anyway. I am a little concerned that Vallindra might not be pleased, but she shouldn’t see or hear him at all aside from when he arrives and leaves. That, and the baby will be here any day now. I know Hethurin teaches his classes with one (or two, sometimes) in a sling, and I expect that would work well for me. But later on, once Felarius actually begins summoning, we will have to find another arrangement. There’s no way I would expose my child to even an innocent looking imp; too much can go wrong. But I suspect that is quite some time off, I suppose how quickly Felarius learns and where his individual strengths lie.

I’m uncertain of Aeramin’s reasons for giving me his student. I’m not complaining, of course. On the contrary, it was a pleasant surprise. He did make a remark about not wishing to make Imralion jealous, which I found rather strange. Would he really be jealous of Aeramin spending time with a student? He did say there had been issues in the past, not necessarily with Imralion, but others. I suppose if Vallindra had a very handsome young blood knight wishing to visit her often, I might not like it very much. Whatever the reason, I look forward to it. And to finally meeting my son or daughter as well.