Iseabail and Artemis Torbel sat down with their middle daughter, Saidrym, around the kitchen table. Between them, a large book
lay. Its cover was a deep shade of forest green with gold scroll work around all of the edges. The heavy, cream coloured pages were lined with gold as well. In the center of the cover, a small white-clear crystal was embedded that pulsed lightly with magic.
“Saidrym, we've something that we need to tell you and talk about.” Her mother started. For someone that didn't know any better, Iseabail and Saidrym could easily be placed as sisters rather than mother and daughter; she was a spitting image of the elder elf with her moonlight hair, porcelain skin, and amethyst eyes.
“You're old enough for me to do this now, Saidrym.” Her father continued. “As you well know, I'm a runeweaver, just like my father before me, and his mother before him, and her mother before her, and so on. And you know that every generation, one child is chosen to take on the craft, and continue the art, adding to the family runes as you create your own.” Saidrym wasn't daft; she knew where this was going and smiled widely. “After careful consideration, we've chosen you to become the next Torbel runeweaver.” Saidrym stood and walked around the table, embracing her father.
“Thank you, father, for choosing me to carry on the family legacy. The honor you bestow upon me is great.” She kissed his cheek and moved to hug her mother as well. “And thank you, mum, for standing by him in his choice and believing in me.” She sat back down in her own chair and folded her hands on the table. “If I can know, though, why you didn't choose Terrah? I'm not contesting your choice by any means; I'm merely curious.”
“Out of the two of you, you held the most potential to further the craft. Terrah has her arsenal of weapons; I doubt that she'd even want to learn. There are ways that she could have combined the two, but we felt that it would be more beneficial to you. Even at your young age, you've shown a fantastic affinity for healing. You're a lot like your great grandmother in that regard. She used many runes to aid her as a healer. Ones that you'll be able to use as well, once you've learned how to control them.” He pushed the emerald tome towards her. “There are many ways of weaving runes, but this has been the Torbel way of doing it, as you've seen me do many times before.” She took the book and opened it, relishing in the smell of the fresh, clean pages. “That is just like my book. You will notice the resonance crystal embedded in the cover. This enchants your book. You will never run out of pages, so long as you don't deplete the crystal too fast. Do not fill the entire book up in one go.” As she closed the tome, she noticed her full name, Saidrym Yvainne Torbel, embossed on the inside cover in gold.
“For now, however, you will learn you runes and practice them with plain parchment.” Her mother stood and gathered a stack of parchment, a quill, and an inkwell, as well as another sheet with writing already on in, setting it all in front of her.
“Before you actually try to use any of the runes, you need to become familiar with them. You need to learn to draw them on your own, without the guide. Once you have mastered that, we will begin on you learning to control the runes.” Saidrym beamed and gathered the supplies up in her arms, pecking a kiss on both of her parents again.
“Thank you again, for choosing me for this honour. I won't disappoint you.” She left the kitchen and rounded the corner to the stairs of their home, nearly running into her older sister, Terrah, carrying an armful of arrows that needed fletching.
“Dammit, Saidrym, watch where you're going.” She growled. Saidrym dropped down, setting her things to the side, and began gathering the arrows that had been dropped. She handed them back to Terrah and scooped up her own things. Fifty years her senior, Terrah and she had never got along very well, and Saidrym had a sneaking suspicion that Terrah had indeed wanted to be the recipient of her father's art, and now despised Saidrym because of it. Without exchanging another word, she rushed upstairs to set to practicing her runes.
And practice she did. For weeks, several hours every day, she sat hunched over her desk or out in the garden copying the runes over and over again. While she was completely literate and knew several languages, this was something totally different. The runes felt strange and foreign as she drew them. Many a time, she became so frustrated that she had to walk away from it all together to clear her mind and collect herself before she ruined yet another quill with her anger.
But over many months, she had perfected many of the easier runes, drawing them with ease. She still struggled with numerous difficult runes, but this victory urged her to keep going. It would be well over a year before her father was satisfied in her ability to draw the runes before he began to teach her how to invoke and control them.
“We're going to start with some of the easier ones. I don't want you jumping in to these without me here. It's easy to think that you can manipulate the energy, but too easily can you overestimate yourself and too much of your essence will be pulled from you. You're only half a century old; you are still learning to use magic in and of itself. There's no rush here. Do you understand me, Saidrym?” She nodded enthusiastically, glancing over at the stack of parchment beside her on the garden table.
“Let us start with a basic fireball. And for the love of all things sacred, do not burn your mother's hydrangeas. She'd have both of our heads.” Saidrym laughed and rifled through her paper until she found the one for a fireball.
“Faentar!” She yelled as she crumbled the paper in her hand. The air around the paper ball shimmered and it became fire. She threw the ball of fire towards the pond and it extinguished as it collided with the surface.
“Wonderful!” Her father exclaimed and she grinned from ear to ear.
“That felt... amazing! More?!” She inquired, bouncing on the balls of her feet.
“Yes, you can do more. This time, let's try...” He paused for a moment. “Try to form an icicle.” Repeating the same steps as before, she crumbled the paper, yelled the word to activate the rune, and launched a large, sharpened icicle into the pond. She jumped for joy, squealing in delight.
“Very good, Saidrym!” He praised her. She was picking up on it faster than he thought she would. “Now, I'd like you to keep practicing some of the basic runes, but you must remember that each rune you invoke uses some of your essence. You mustn't exhaust yourself. Once you grow accustomed to weaving the runes, you'll build up a tolerance to it; this won't make you immune to the energy sap, you'll just be able to go longer.” He sat at the table, opening a book, and bid her to continue cycling through the basic runes. She exhausted quickly, as he suspected she would, and flopped down at the time, resting her face against the cool stone and panting softly.
“Every day, I want you to come out here and practice. You're going to be tired and it's going to take a lot out of you. But you must practice to grow proficient and to learn the more complex runes.” He stood, gently taking her arm. “Come. Let's get you inside. Your mother has dinner waiting for us.”
The next year went much like the year previously, only with her putting the runes to practical application. In addition to her fireballs and ice lances, she learned to call down a flurry of razor sharp leaves, to have the wind do her bidding and knock down enemies, to enhance various natural abilities, among many other things. She grew steadily more confident as she learned to control more of the runes, and her stamina grew as well, letting her weave for longer periods of time and letting her weave more difficult runes.
Ever since she had begun, she had her eye on a particular rune. It was common knowledge that each family of runeweavers had a few select runes that their family alone had developed and knew. The Torbel's had five unique runes to their family; all of them intrigued her greatly. The ability to essentially teleport short distances, calling down a small storm of stars, binding another to her through blood, purifying one's body of disease, and lastly, the ability to sprout a pair of wings and fly for a short period of time. It was the last rune that she yearned to try. She knew that this was one of the most advanced runes in her book.
But she could do this. Preparing several runes, she rolled the parchment up and headed to a nearby lake. High above the water, several cliffs loomed. She knew that many young elves liked to come out here and dive off the cliffs for the adrenaline. Ever confident in her skills, she climbed to the highest cliff looking over the teal waters. Glancing down, she swallowed hard. It was an exceedingly long way down. But she could do this. Holding out the rune to fly, she took off in a running start, throwing herself off the cliff. Activating the rune, she threw her hands up, expecting her wings to sprout.
Except they didn't.
Her heart flew to her throat as she plummeted to the water below. Scrambling for another parchment, she grabbed it and activated it, feeling a small bubble encircle her. Sighing with relief, she fell the rest of the way, and crashed into the water violently. The water smacked against her skin, feeling as if it didn't have any give, and she sunk to the bottom of the lake from the force of the fall. A pain shot through her arm and she opened her mouth instinctively to cry out, instead filling with lake water. She pushed off the soft, sandy floor, propelling herself to the surface with her legs. She clutched her arm to her chest, gritting her teeth through the pain. Breaking the surface, she gasped and sputtered, coughing out the water that she had inhaled and swallowed.
Looking around, she saw a small group of elves at the banks, pointing towards her. One had already began to swim out towards her. Prideful, shame filled her as she realized that she wouldn't be able to swim back to land without the help of someone. She tread the water waiting for them, still holding her arm. Upon inspection, she found that she had broke the bone in her fall; without her shield she was sure that more would have been broken.
“Oi!” The man called out to her as he neared. “You looked like you needed help after your... fall?” He asked and looked at her arm.
“Yes, well... That wasn't supposed to happen.” Her cheeks tinged pink with embarrassment. “I have broken my arm. If you could... help me to shore... I'd be forever grateful.” The man wrapped his arm around her body and swam back to the land, helping her up.
“Are you sure you don't need help getting home? I wouldn't mind taking you.” She shook her head quickly, stepping away.
“No, it's fine. I can get there on my own and I'll get help there. Thank you again.” No, she wouldn't let herself be more embarrassed than she already was. Her body sore from impact, she limped home to be bandaged, splinted, and chastised.