Of Fire and Ice: Chapter 1 What do you think?

Perhaps life is much more than the miniscule specks of sand that dot the horizon and disappear in a rush of decimating winds for mortals. For the gods, however, it is but a blink in their time span. That is quite possibly the reason why, at times, they chose to manipulate outcomes and turns of events for their own gains. Such is the mark of my life. Small and momentarily entertaining for them, my life was grueling and cruel for me as I grew closer and closer to my acceptance of mortality. Why not? Has it not been said that to be god touched is but a curse wrapped in the guise of something looking of a gift? You may not believe so, and I shall understand. For a moment, though, cast aside such thoughts. God touched is of nothing to wish for.

To start, I should tell you I am the child of a whore, begotten in the bed of a whore, and, as such, must too then be a whore. Do not pity me. To be honest, I quite enjoy the work. What woman does not, if she be honest with herself? What wives must needs do for no coin I do for much, and, dare I say, I garner much more life of their aforementioned partners then they do. To be a whore, for me, is more than the feel of a phallus in me, the scent of sweat soaked bodies, or cries in the dark.  It is power, magick, and pure, uncontained energy rushing through my bloodstream. Power at my fingertips in ways not many can ever imagine. The name Kavion e’Avarice would sing into the ages. I suppose I could have left that way of life behind. I am a Mage after all. Still, with my type of magick it is easiest to manifest in the manner in which I did. I chose the life I lead and it took me to wonders others can only dream of. Whose life, then, do you think is better?

Before you choose to show sympathy, or worse yet, shun me, let me begin by saying mother never wanted this life for me. Prize of the House of Leviathan she was strong enough to paralyze by controlling the waters around her. A true child of her sect, she followed under the Granddamme Yjasmin, one of the only stronger then her. Her patrons came to her for rains in the drought, swells in riverbeds, and the restoration of their fields. Not in the least, in the end, the valley betwixed the hills of thighs. Not as glamorous, I assure you, as perhaps the children of the House of Light, who had the skill to make things grow. Nor was it as necessary as the children of the House of Selene who could stave death itself. Surely, though, it was more powerful then the House of Noch that was not above resorting to death for its patrons’ pleasure. The King still would contact them if needs be. Galea, poor woman that she was, only made the mistake of baring a child that did not fit her House. A child she bore that was more perfect then she, and yet not of her power. A child who, of coal eyes, blood for hair, and the moon for skin who was to be of the House of Avarice, the worst, and strongest, of them all. Suffice to say I would not be of the Light Mages. As they would say: If it harms none, do as e will.

The eyes are the windows of the soul and, for those of our kind, also the mark of our path. As soon as my squalling form opened black eyes to peer at my mother’s blue she tossed me away from her, even as the tears fell. In that moment she knew what she bore. I do believe, if she could have, she would have snapped my neck if she had but been alone. It would have been better to have a dead child then one she knew would one day could very well go crazy from power. Dark Mages are prone to it you see. Mother, sweet weak, pathetic mother, I do not hate you. What do you understand of power and the balance therein? Without power life itself cannot exist. Without said power, nor would I. Be grateful that Leviathan cast me out of his path. I would not have survived under his touch. As my kind would say: If it gives ye pleasure, do as ye will. He is not as forgiving.

Granddamme Voltira was not an easy woman. Of the twenty in her working House, half were perilously close to going mad. Avarice was a mad god in the end. Brilliant and King of the Gods he may be, but quite mad. For the simple pleasure of laughter he had killed thousands, and would one day banish the whole world of life and start anew. I dare say, only the god Charon was worse, father of Soul Mages. Soul Mages were nearly extinct I do believe, and there was a reason for it. It was best to enjoy what we could do with our skills until we reached madness.

She had a cold stare made worse by the white of her hair from age. It was all the more startling to look at her with the plumage of her third-eye crystal spanning from the center of her forehead and branching around her scalp.  Onyx stone: the mark of a Dark Mage. One day I too would sport the crown that marked the power I held. It would also mean how much I could charge for one to lay with me. The larger the crown then the larger the purse I could ask for. In turn that led to the more patrons, the larger the crown, which added to the purse.  It was a never ending cycle that I quite enjoyed.

She peered at my small nine season form with ill-disguised hatred and contempt. Her great hall was made to intimidate. Black onyx stone surrounded those who came in like a polished mirror waiting to suck away one’s soul. From the floors to the ceiling, everything was covered in the darkness like stone. Even the Granddamme, in a still dress that seemed to be carved upwards from the floor dripped of the stone. No wind moved the fabric, no rustle of her movement. It was like blades of onyx shifted silently as she glided toward us, slipping smoothly back into the ground from which it came. The body forming dress sheeted over her as she stepped, the neckline tight around her neck to her chin so that her head was held high with no effort and points hung down over her hands to end in a complete finger ring on each of her middle fingers. It was a suit of armor, encasing a still wondrously beautiful woman whose magick still surrounded her.

I felt remarkably small looking at her, my body in the flowing azure shift of my mother’s House. We seemed out of place here in this word. In the stillness we were marked for death for marring the perfection. Of the ocean and yet infinitely small against the darkness that was the nights sky and the Great Beyond. Leviathan controlled waters and its power may be strong, so such the spark of growth, or even death as boasted of the other Houses. But nothing compared to the ever living being that was the Great Beyond, and so the House of Avarice was that much stronger. Trembling delicately I pushed closer to my mother’s skirts. I was caught between an odd sense of doom, and desire. I very nearly did not understand the feeling in my youth, but looking back on that day, I see now it was like fear at a great height. It is not the height you fear, but the irrepressible urge to jump. Granddamme and the power she presented was for me my fear of heights. I was drawn to the edge, even as I shied away from it.

“Are you sure you are of this House, child?” Pure seduction. Nothing else could have described her voice. Pure seduction. My little form trembled for a much different reason then as she stood before us.  To be as she was. To have the strength, the presence, the power she had. What would it be like? What would it feel like to command as she did? To control as she so obviously could? The questions propelled me forward to have a closer look, my head held high, back straight. My mother shrank back slightly and in that moment I realized why she feared what I would be. Where I saw seduction, need, want, the urge to jump, and enjoy the fall, she saw fear, madness, and the need to run away. It was then I understood why those of my kind would follow what many others would not.

“Teach me,” I said then, my hand rising to touch the stone of her gown.  “I want to be like you.”

“Ah,” she said then, a smile like none I have ever seen changing the coldness of her face. In that moment she saw one of her own. The hatred and contempt that had been there from the moment we stepped in her domain melted away. I saw the inner working of the Granddamme of my future House. It was not me, nor my mother, that she hated. It was the fear, the weakness she saw there that for a moment permeated her abode.

“Come, little one. Leave all weakness behind,” she whispered to me then, grasping my hand in hers. The jolt of her touch rocked me on my heels. Looking into her eyes, I heard not the shredding of my gown, or the chime of my eye-crystal pushing into place. I did not feel the cold of the onyx rising from the floor to surround me in its embrace. Nor did I hear my mother scramble out of the hall, giving out one last cry that I would never hear again. All I felt was power, zinging through my bloodstream, and the blackness of her eyes becoming fathomless. I was home.

I could regal you with the trials and tribulations of my youth, but what would be the point? It is not what I did in my younger seasons but in my majority that mattered. Let me tell you that there were not many of the Houses that chose to work as I did. Honestly, very few even knew what I was capable of. It was not that they would have looked down on me for it, as I have said I am a Dark Mage and we do everything for pleasure. It is simply that it, well, isn’t the necessary way to do things. As members of the Closing Fist, we were the scions of the best. We sat as the defenders of the Kingdom, and much more then the MUTED children of the Human race who had no spark. The Fount chose to be dry on the day of their birth and so they had not the control of the magick the Fallen had given us all.

I chose it because I learned quickly enough that many people talked more than they should to bed fellows, which in turn gave me leverage to use at some later date, and I simply enjoyed it. My mother, sad soul, was not a courtesan, but a sad being who thought she found love around every corner. She longed for the chance to be more than a healer or defender for the Crown. It made her feel more worth it I am sure to say she would lend her hand to a man she loved.  Well, she never made it to such a wondrous state and all she had to show for it was a loose body and even looser morals when she realized her folly. I’m sure she would have resented me now, had she not perished at her own hand, but I truly press myself to even care. She had no love for me when I was a child, and in my womanhood she barely registered to me even in her passing.

When, after ten years of tutelage and care under Voltira, who I found was the King’s Mage, I was weighed against the Feather of Truth to determine what my deeds would bring in the future. Not that they could tell what I would do, just the weight of my actions on the world. That the scale went severely askew was inevitable, and a thing to celebrate in my House.  Perhaps, some whispered, another King’s Mage would come from the House of Avarice. Let’s just say I greatly exceeded enough expectations, in what way will become clear soon enough.

“You know such an event can greatly increase your nevidya price little one,” Granddamme whispered to me as she turned to leave. Her steps were silent next to me, a moving masterpiece and she knew it.

“It pleases me,” I returned, turning away from the fallen scale and leaving the Great Hall. The King lived in lavish opulence that only one of his kind, and mine, could appreciate. MUTED slaves moved in silence through the halls like living golden statues. The practices of painting ones slaves in golden filament had been implemented in the House of Avarice and it pleased me to see it perpetuated in the royal palace. The home of King Esper was a marvel of carved marble, a solid structured that took nearly one hundred years for Dark Mages to create. Who else would have taken the time?

It was impenetrable. The Realm had not known war since the time of the Fa’Utal when Gods roamed the Avarice. The war pitted all of the Mages against each other and the MUTED Humans in the balance. The first Light Mage, Dark Mage, Soul Mage, and Beastmaster were obliterated during the war by each others’ powers. Karis, the Light Mage and Goddess of Growth, Organ, the Beastmaster and God of the Beasts, became the dual suns of the world.  Leila, the Dark Mage and Goddess of Pleasure, and Charon the Soul Mage, and God of the Soul and Death became the dual moons. Before they died they ensured that the legacy of their kind would continue by creating the Four Celestrals. Charon’s  Celestral was destroyed after his death, making the MUTED  Humans believe that they were in the end safe from the sucking power that was inherent to the Soul Mage. Each of the remaining Celestrals inhabited the fingers in the Closing Fist where their descendants reside.  The remains of the Soul Mage’s Celestral scattered through Avarice never to be seen again. In the forth finger of the Closing Fist the Human centuries resides the last line of defense for the Realm. I suppose it is seen as if all Mages fall in the protection of the Kingdom, we are fated to die anyway.

Within each finger of the Closing Fist the Mages reside in separate areas, depending on their skills or castes. As it’s been nearly two thousand years since the last great war the internal squabbles and divisions have given lonely Mages something to do and focus on. The King indulged us, and it kept us honed in case of future events. The only truly archaic and honor-bound remnants of long days past were the Beastmasters. They chose to prepare for the inevitable war and would most likely be the most prepared. It was best then that they were the forerunners of the Closing Fist. If anyone was able to get by them, it would be a great shock. Still, the Light Mages were still practitioners of the protection arts and often practiced placing a protection field around the land mass. I’m sure it also served to remind the many that they still held their powers. Still, the palace was a sight to behold. A fitting place to begin one’s life and decide on one’s future. I was no different than those before me in this thought.

“I’m sure it would pet,” Voltira continued then, oblivious to my internal musings.  “What we need to determine now is who to reel in for the prize of you. Born of another House and cast out has called in several markers. Add to this strawberry and crème coloring, rather odd choice in path, and, now, the Feather of Truth marking you of great import there will be plenty who will vie for you.”

Voltira moved closer beside me as she spoke. She had chosen not to wear her armor on this day. No, she had opted for a silver sheath that threw into even greater relief her crystalline crown and white hair. She wanted, on such an auspicious day, for her newest recruit to shine. I did not begrudge her the chance. The blood stone I wore was my mark of honor. It shone like me hair, flowing over me like living fire from under my ears to trail on the floor behind me. One solid suit unbroken until I took a step. Then the
vision of a creamy white leg, to the hipbone, peaked through.

“Yes, Granddamme. They easiest path would be at the Validation Gathering. I’m sure there will be plenty who will want to see you newest recruit. As you’ve kept me well hidden and to just the House during the majority of my time with you there is no doubt they will wonder.”

Stepping from the Great Hall and into a parlor Voltira sat across from me closing her eyes momentarily as she readjusted her crown. Unseen hands twisted and turned the edges of her crown until it formed upward in glory. It was the mark that she had gained a new active member in her House. Each circle represented a member, and the last circle on the bottom right side glittered with specks of red. I lifted one brow when I saw it.

“I thought you would appreciate it,” she said, small smile teasing her lips. She blew a kiss at me before sitting back to rest in her chair. “After you nevidya is gone, your crown too with manifest. At that point we shall begin a much different form of training. What you have been learning is the basis of ever Mage under the King’s rule. What to do in defense of the Crown, in war under the Crown. How to be what we are. However, as a Dark Mage who belongs to the House of Power, I’m sure you understand the intrigues that can, and shall begin to happen.”

The warning was not lost on me. We are from power and we crave it. I did not dismiss the chance that it could very well pit me against my own Granddamme one day. As it were, she was the King’s Mage. Still, it was being whispered about already the weight I had brought to the Feather of Truth. I could very well replace her. That was not lost on me. The moment I lost the innocence that the nevidya gave me, then to the gloves would come off. The skill to release, and horde, power would be released. It would not be entirely wise to completely rely on others to assist me. They would be moving chess pieces to give themselves a better position.  I would be sure to pay close attention at my Validation Gathering. It was to be expected.

“Any thoughts as of yet of who you would like to invite?” She asked then, watching me carefully.

So it begins, I thought to myself. Settling back in my chair I let my arms rest confidently on the arms and crossed the bare leg over the other. Tilting my head I regarded my Granddamme quietly for a moment. She acknowledged the stance with a slight nod of her head.

Challenge accepted, she seemed to say. Not that she or I expected any less. It was what we were.

“At this point there is a great amount that can come. I have yet to garner any support or patrons as of yet.” I knew I would have to take time to amass my following. As the King’s Mage Voltira had gathered quite a bit. She was the most powerful Mage of the Realm as she could boast having the King’s ear. A feat any of my kind would gladly take off her hands, I included.

“Then let’s go from the top. Illuminate me,” she finished sitting back to match my pose then touching her crown softly before resting. That was a bite at me, in a way. She had already achieved great power, I was just beginning. As it was my eye crystal was but a three carat ornament in the center of my forehead.  Quite beautiful if I am allowed to say so myself, but, in the grand scheme of things, unimportant, yet.

“King Esper Archeon, of course shall be there. There shall be you, as the King’s Mage. I could do a blanket invitation for the Court but it seems crass. Princes of the Blood Gregori, Yasmine, Jamessen, and Larimer will be on the list.”

“Wise choices, as there are the heirs of the throne it could be beneficial to be in with them.”

“I chose, however, not to do marked invitations for some, and not for the others. As I know not yet who will be with me in the future, I do not want to give undue slight to any of them.”

Voltira’s brow rose at that. I am sure she did not necessarily agree. The Royal Court would expect to have special invitations presented to them, and earlier than the others as well. It could be a backfiring move if they took slight at receiving invitations to the Validation Gathering in the same form and times as all the others. For me though, I had a plan. Power weaves its way through even the lowest ranks. You can find allies, more often than not in the lower class then in the higher. They are also truer in the times to come. It was not for me to decide without even seeing my quandaries which would be the best for me. Voltira may not agree, but this was my game, and I intended to win.

“It is your choice. Who else then?” I acknowledged her slight reprimand and moved on.

“Princesses of the Blood Noemi , Aisel, and Casia.”

“Casia? She is not recognized Kavion. You know this. To bring her in, giving her a recognized title could shun some of the higher echelon you are trying to pursue.”

“Yes, it is true. Still, I will invite her. It is not her fault she was birthed of a whore. As you know, I have…well a softer spot for the predicament. She is in the Minor Court, perhaps not labeled as a Princess of the Blood, but there nonetheless. They may not speak on what she is but they know. Just because I send the invitation to her as a Princess of the Blood does not mean in turn that she will act the part when she comes to the Gathering.”

“No, but the honor would have already been given and so she will look kindly on you. A well placed move, little one.”

“I learned from the best,” I answered, inclining my head to her. “From there I will invite the completion of the High Court, then those of the Minor Court. I know it is not normally done, but again, I am not sure from which I will gather my first patrons from. From there the Granddammes of the other Houses, with their top Mages. The rest will amass from the open call for the Realm. The other five invitations I have will be sent out in due course.”

Voltira watched me for a moment. I would not reveal the last of my ideas, but such was my choice. Each child of a Validation Gathering got to personally invite five of their given chosen. These five would sit at the reserved table and get exclusive rights to me for the night. Most often these five were of the higher echelon and so would provide the best patrons to barter for the nevidya of the coming Mage. I am sure that Voltira expected that the King and his four sons would automatically be the chosen five. She had done something similar in her day. I was not Voltira. Nothing in my path would resemble her. I hoped, in my mind’s play of my future, that I would far surpass her. Do you think me evil? To want to be the strongest, the top, for no other reason than to say I am? For no other thought than to say I have achieved all I ever wanted?

I can tell you this is not some tale of grandeur and the conquering of evil in the path of good. It is simply the life I chose and what became of it. My chosen five would be more than anyone ever could dream of. If my plan worked, then my Validation Gathering would be something for the ages. No one would ever forget what I had done, and what I was able to achieve. In that, I would gain the first rank of my crown. Something that had not been done in quite some time. Majority of Mages received the first rings of their crown at the loss of their nevidya. It also showed how strong their patron was. In doing so before the loss of my nevidya, I would raise my bartering price, and bring pride to my House. In the end, though, when all was said and done, I would be so much more.

“Who could be higher than the King and his sons? You have plans for more than the Realm Kavion?”

“Do not we all?” I returned.

“Still, you do not want to make so many changes that the effect is not what you are hoping for little one. In the end these people may be you patrons if everything goes well. If you lose at this first Gathering, then your nevidya price will drop dramatically. For the simple fact that it is so low those of the higher ranks will not even deem it fit to be worthy of their time. You will be stuck with someone of a much lower caste. There will not be much power to gain there, and you crown will not grow much. That, in turn, will mark you for the lower.”

“Yes, but the Feather of Truth has given me the extra stretch that I need. Knowing that what I will do in the future will greatly impact the Realm one way or the other makes it so that I am something to be desired. I am something to have in the wings. Those that come to the Gathering may see all the changes I am taking at my Validation as something that hints to my future. It may confuse them, certainly. I do believe, however, no one will want to miss the chance that I will not be on their side.”

“Do not weight so heavily on what the Feather told you my dear. It can just as easily mean you will have negative impact on the Realm. In such there will be just as many who want you dead as want you alive and with them. It will be a dangerous slope either way, and you had better be assured you are on the right side.”

“You are the King’s Mage, Voltira, I am sure you will be able to put an end to me long before I make that desent. I am sure the King is well aware of that. So too am I.”

I watched her as she smiled to herself. I think then she believed she would very well be putting an end to me one day. As I have said, to be of the House of Avarice is to court power and insanity in equal measure. I could very well be destroyed before I made any real choices. The Feather of Truth only showed what I could do in the future, if I lived long enough to do so. It was always a chance that I could not. This also was known. What I became in the future, either dead or alive, would depend solely on me.

“You have the right of it little one. Come, there is much for us to prepare for. The Validation Gathering will be expected to happen within the next moon cycle. We do not have much time. You still must determine what it is the House will present you as to the public.”

“I think, Granddame, I have an idea that will make us all proud. Do you think Tobias e’Light would be amenable?”

“Tobias? Of the House of Light? Valerie of our own House is available to you. You can keep everything in House so that no one knows what’s going on until the last minute.”

“No, for my idea Valerie wouldn’t be able to complete it. She will make the garments for the other Mages of the House and the servers therein. My dress, however, I see something much different for and want to make sure it’s perfect.”

“He is of the House of growth Kavion. What he does is contrary to what we are.”

“Exactly Granddamme. Give me this night my lady. I know that what I am doing is not the expected, but I know in my bones it is right. I know, somewhere deep inside, that even Avarice will lend an ear to the proceedings. It is as if He writ upon my flesh with His own hands. I know not why I know this will be all that I believe it shall be, but I do know it shall. In one night, I promise you, House of Avarice shall be the talk of the Realm, and Avarice is pleased by it.”

“Then it shall be as you say it shall be. I give my House unto you, little one. Let us show the Realm what it means to be chosen of Avarice.”

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