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Twinsoul: Lesson


Varcor stood at the edge of the cliffs outside Reylyn’s Lair, surveying the lands toward the south, towards Cagar-Tugan.  Spring in Faarthusia usually came later than in other parts of the world, due to its elevation and geography, but this year held an early thaw.  Silvery streams of melted ice and snow flowed from mountainsides and plateaus down to the valleys, where he could already see green life starting to grow.  Soon, the valley farms would spring back to life, and the lands surrounding Reylyn’s mountains would be full of activity and life. 

The half-orc brushed his long white hair out of his deep red eyes.  The collar of his apprentice robes (attire that Reylyn insisted he wear) came up to cover the lower half of his pale, gray green face.  He was strangely short for an orc, even a half-orc, but anyone who judged him on his stature was in for a surprise.  He was an astounding swordsman, and his control over fire magic was getting stronger by the day.  Reylyn said that he was born to be a master of fire magic, as he already had the calm temperament that other fire Principles lacked.

He looked to the back of his right hand, eyeing the crimson symbol that people said Faarthus himself had scribed there.  According to the priesthood, he was the chosen one, the favored soul that Faarthus had sent to the orcs to aid them.  It seemed obvious to Varcor that he would be skilled in fire magic if Faarthus, the god of fire, had chosen him to do his work in this world.  It was his fate.

He looked back out over the landscape, and could see the High City of the Orcs as a spot on the horizon.  He was glad then, that he was not there.  His training with Reylyn was no coincidence.  She had requested his custody three years ago, when she had witnessed him fight in a sparring match against his Uncle Baangs.  He had lost that fight, and had tried to singe Kronta’s eyebrows off.  She had determined that any magical training he was getting from the priesthood was not giving him the control he needed to become a savior to his race.  This had upset Iksol, his old magic trainer, which had pleased Varcor greatly.  His father had agreed that she should take him on as a student, and Varcor liked the idea just because it irritated Iksol.  Why his father trusted that one’s advice was beyond his learning.

“Flamesoul?  Why are you awake so early?” said a still-sleepy voice from behind him.  In the cave behind him, he could see the large red dragoness, lumbering out from the depths of her cave.

Varcor smiled.  “I am sorry if I woke you.”

She sighed deeply when she came out of the cave and into the sunlight.  Her sigh sounded like a windstorm to the half-orc.  “It is so warm this morning!  Spring is early this year.”  She lay down on her belly next to Varcor, half in and half out of the cave.

“Yes,” Varcor said thoughtfully.  “I wonder what it means.”

Reylyn sighed again, but this one had the air of tedium to it.  “It doesn’t have to mean anything, Varcor.  It’s just a shift in the seasons.  It happens now and again.” 

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Varcor insisted, “even if mortals have no control over it.”

“You read too much, my dear,” Reylyn told him.  “You’re starting to sound like a philosopher.”

“I thought I came here to study?” the half-orc replied slyly.

She laughed softly.  “Yes, but half the books in my library already?  It took me a century and a half to gather that many books!”

“You give me time enough to study,” Varcor said, his voice accusing.

“For very good reason!” she said.  “Study and meditation are important to increasing magical control.”

“As is practice,” he hinted.

“Well, winter has a way of taking its toll on me,” Reylyn mumbled, looking slightly embarrassed.  “Actually, this season has not been quite as trying on me.  I believe we could resume lessons very soon.”

“I’ll give you a chance to stretch first,” Varcor said.  “Two weeks of sleep is a long time, even for you.”

“Two weeks?” She said sounding alarmed.  “You must be joking!”

Varcor shook his head.  “I know that your nature makes you more susceptible to the cold, so I thought it would be best if you got your strength back.”

Reylyn looked at him warmly.  “That was very considerate of you, Flamesoul,” she said quietly.  “You are growing very quickly.  Just two years ago, you were afraid to spend a few days alone without me.  Now, you not only take care of yourself when I slumber, but you take care of me.”

“It’s hardly that impressive,” Varcor muttered, his cheeks glowing red.

“You couldn’t be more wrong,” she said, standing up.  “You have come a long way from the spoiled prince with a host of servants.”  A moment later, she smiled, saying, “You have passed the first test.” 

She stepped further out onto the precipice, and beat her wings a few times.  “I am off to find breakfast.  See to it that you are ready for lessons when I return.”

Before Varcor could ask her what she meant, she pushed off strong legs and took wing, flying toward her northern hunting grounds.  He sighed deeply himself, and went back into the cave, trying to fathom the words of a dragon.


For a long while after that morning, Varcor thought hard on the words Reylyn had spoken to him that morning.  He could see that he had changed when he looked back at his years at the castle.  But what about that was important to his training here with Reylyn?  What were the tests that she mentioned?  Before that, she had not spoken a single word about any kind of examination in three years.  He had assumed that she was judging his progress as he made it, and she never seemed the kind to have a regimented learning sequence.

In the afternoon, Reylyn led him up to one of the higher cliffs on her mountain, where they usually trained or sparred.  Reylyn’s mountain lair was not tallest of nearby mountains, but it offered the best view, especially from the south-facing cliffs.  On clear days, Varcor could see the walls of Cagar-Tugan on the southern horizon, and could barely make out the castle that rose above it all.  The western horizon held the shores of the Everwater; the ocean that reached further than any one had dared to travel.  If he walked all the way to the western edge of the cliff, he could also see Martoth, one of the two ports in Faarthusia.  The other, Orcport, was much too distant south to be seen from Reylyn’s lair.

After he took in the view, Varcor turned to Reylyn.  “Shall we begin?”

“Not yet,” She answered.  “Do you remember where we left off, exactly?”

“Well,” Varcor sighed, “we covered projectile magic, focused rays, constant streams, igniting from a distance, igniting an area, heatless flame, and the last was detonation magic.”

“Did we cover underwater casting?”


“How about close range techniques?”

“Delivered through both touch and steel.”

Reylyn thought for a moment.  “What about sensing auras?”

Varcor shifted his stance nervously.  “We tried, but to no avail.”

She nodded.  “I remember now.  It isn’t surprising; orcs are not the best at sensing auras.”

Varcor grimaced.  “I hoped to be the exception.”

“You cannot be good at everything, Flamesoul.” Reylyn smiled suddenly, as though she thought of something.  “There is something we haven’t covered, an application you very well may excel at.”

Varcor cocked his head curiously, unsure of what it could be.  In his mind, she had covered pretty much every application of fire possible, and all that was left was refinement.  At any rate, he hardly thought that an extra technique could help him any, how many different ways to burn things could there be?

“Why don’t we just practice today, like we planned?” Varcor asked, not wanting to voice his opinions out loud.

“If I am right and this is something you’re talented in, you will not want to continue practicing your other magics,” she informed him, stepping over to the cliff side.  “Few fire Principles are talented in this area, but you seem perfect for it.  Even I am not that skilled in this sort of thing.”

Varcor raised his eyebrows.  He was not certain if that was just a fib placed for incentive or an earnest claim.  Sometimes she could bend the truth in such a way as to make him more interested in his training.  They were less lies than they were half-truths, so he could not claim that she had definitely lied to him, ever.  However, the possibility of exceeding a red dragon in any form of fire magic was just too tempting for him to ignore.

Reylyn then took off without explanation, flying around to the eastern side of the mountain.  Varcor waited only a few minutes before she returned, carrying a mountain goat in her claws.  She set down, but still held the goat off the ground in one paw.  The poor beast wriggled and bleated desperately, but it was all to no avail against Reylyn’s powerful grip.

She must have seen his face and felt his unease, because she gave him a wry look. “I promise you, I will not eat him, at least not in front of you.”

“Comforting,” Varcor said, just as wryly.  “Is that what you left for; a snack?”

“I don’t plan to eat him,” the dragon smiled.  “This is your training partner.”         

“Excuse me?” Varcor asked, unable to hide the dubious tone of his voice.  He wondered if it was wise to let her sleep so long, for her brain had surely not woken with her.

“Let me explain before you criticize my sanity,” Reylyn’s smile was starting to give way to laughter.  “I want to teach you how to heal.”

Varcor’s thoughts halted completely.  He went over her words in his mind, just to be sure that she said what he thought she did.  “Healing?  With fire magic?”

“Do you not think it possible?” She chided, waggling the goat at him.  “Natural flame can be use to seal wounds, purify water, and restore feeling to cold-numbed limbs.  Most fire Principles will never realize this possibility, because they are preoccupied with fire magic as a weapon.  In fact, it is the best for healing out of the four natural Principles.”

Varcor bowed his head low.  “I am sorry.  I shouldn’t have judged so quickly.”

She nodded back.  “I understand how you feel, being in your place long ago.  My teacher gave me a similar lecture when I said it couldn’t be done.”  She sighed and frowned.  “In truth, most fire Principles are not suited to the task of healing.  Typically, fires lack focus and mental discipline, and have little ability to control their emotions.  It is a great irony, that those most able to heal in this world are those who are not patient enough or cannot fathom the possibility.

The large dragon looked back to him.  “But you might do well.  You have shown great discipline and patience, and have the perfect temperament.  Are you ready?”

“I will try,” he answered.

Reylyn stepped over to him, and lowered the goat to his level.  “You need only muster the barest warmth to your hands, and hold them to the wound.  Focus your will on that tiny, gentle flame, and let it spread.  After some concentration, you will be able direct it.  Lead it to where the wound is deepest, and press your thoughts into it, commanding it to heal.   Be careful not to stray in thought or you might burn instead.  If you are patient enough, and let the flame do its work, the rest should take care of itself.”

She lifted her other claw, and drew a single talon across the goat’s belly, drawing a line of blood into its white coat, the goat’s bleating became louder and more frightened, but Reylyn held it steady.

Varcor began immediately, doing just as he was told.  He placed his hands on the slice, and concentrated.  Soon, he had the gentle flame that she spoke of, licking at the bloodstained fur.  He fought to gain control over the heat, and soon it moved with his will.  He directed it into the long gash, finding its depth.  He then forced his thoughts on it commanding the blood to stop flowing.

A sudden rise in temperature and a startled cry from the goat made him hold his thoughts. He could not seem to press his will into the flame without it becoming too hot.  He redoubled his efforts, but coaxed it slowly instead of pushing all at once.  Still, the same rise in temperature and startled bleat, and he retracted his thoughts.  He could not think of what he was doing wrong.

A sudden idea came to him, and he tried again.  Instead of focusing so strongly, he closed his eyes and hummed softly.  It was a simple song that he had heard long ago as a child, from a minstrel passing through to Martoth.  The singer was human but the song was surely elven, for a more beautiful tune he never heard.  He often used it to comfort himself, and it gave him a warm feeling inside that he could simply not explain.

A gentle pulse went through his entire body, stemming from his heart.  It felt like a heartbeat of flame.  He focused this new gentleness from his heart into his hands, spreading it into the wound.  He could hardly contain his smile as he felt the wound close, as though of its own accord.

“Well done, Flamesoul,” Reylyn whispered, her smile pleasantly surprised.  “I did not get it right until my tenth try, and you succeed on your first attempt.”

“I almost did not,” Varcor said, breathless.  The strain caused by the new magic was much more than he expected.  “I came close to boiling the poor thing’s blood.”

“You do not understand just how incredible a thing this is, Varcor.”  Her eyes spoke of a profoundness the half-orc did not understand.  “No matter what I’ve told you about healing with fire, there are only two other fire Principles left with the ability to heal, with you being the third.” Her smile increased greatly.  “And all three of us know that song.”

Varcor blushed.  “You know it too?”

She nodded.  “Of course I do.  It’s an old dragon song.  My own mother sang it to me when I was very little.”

“A dragon song?  I didn’t know dragons could sing.”

Reylyn put the goat down, and it scampered down the cliff.  She leveled her eyes with his, her chin nearly on the ground, and a sly grin on her face.  “This might be news to you, Flamesoul, but you don’t know everything . . . yet.”

That night, Reylyn sang the whole song to him.  He was asleep before she could finish it.

This story is the property of Tyler Clapp, Author (AKA "Cael") Copyright DarkFireGraphics.com