Season 3 — Episode 4: A Dance with the Devil

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“Fire is not your friend. It will maim you, kill you, and destroy all that you care about if you give it even the slightest opportunity. Your Kirin Tor teachers probably tell you that it can be controlled, but great wielders of fire will tell you that only in acknowledging your powerlessness over this element can you hope to control it.”

I stood, listening to her lecture, with a small flame cupped in the palm of my hands. It was the best I could do. It took everything I had to keep it ignited, keep it burning, and my frustration at struggling over this simple task wasn’t helping.

“Make it grow,” she said to me now. “Make it the size of your head.”

I nodded and tried to harness the power, to let the flame grow just a little bit at a time, absorbing more arcane energy with each flicker, but nothing. It stagnated, and even started to shrink away.

“What are you doing?” she chastised. “Let it grow.”

“I’m trying to make it.”

“Do not make it. Let it.”

I looked at her, dumbfounded, and my concentration on the flame faded. As it did, the flame seemed to latch onto my arcane energy with a sudden fervor. A moment later the flame erupted from my hand, nearly burning my face as it exploded outward. It took everything from me, as though it would feed on my energy until I was consumed.

Panic filled my heart.

Then, the flame was extinguished in an instant, and my eyes caught Kaellax, holding the original tiny flame in the palm of her hand.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Fire is power. You cannot control it. You can only try to contain it.”

“What if I can’t contain it?” I asked.

“Then it will destroy you,” she replied plainly. “And perhaps countless others.”

I frowned. “Are you talking about the same magic?”

Kaellax smiled. “You know that warlock that showed up and gave you that book?”

“Yeah?”

“He did that because you asked for help with fire magic. The truth of the matter is, most of the warlocks out there today have a better understanding of fire magic than their mage counterparts. Fel energy works much like fire magic. It too cannot be controlled… only contained.”

“So one feeds into the other,” I said. “A fire mage dabbles in fel because they think they understand it, and a fel using warlock can better manipulate fire because of their understanding of the dark energy they use.”

“That’s right,” she said. “It makes you a perfect candidate to become a warlock in the future too. This isn’t the first time you’ll be approached by someone from the dark.”

“Are you trying to convince me not to use fire magic?”

“I’m telling you why you must use it, without fel, and show others that which you learn.”

“What?”

“Your grandfather Ciganis wielded the power of fire without any dark energy. He was a master unlike any other. Angus likely follows in his path, which makes him a great teacher for you, but you won’t learn anything if you don’t master the basics before summer is over.”

“Why is this so important to you?” I asked.

Kaellax frowned. “I am a warlock. I relish the power I have and I wouldn’t be rid of it now if I had the choice, but going down this path, it cost me a part of… me. I lost friends, and family, and my place among the Kirin Tor. I was lured to fel energy because I did not see powerful mages amongst my peers. I saw prideful jerks and arrogant magicians. If there had been a fire mage who could have performed like your grandfather without dark magic, well I might have turned to them for help instead of the dark arts.”

“I’m so sorry,” I started. “I didn’t know…”

She gave me a smirk. “I didn’t become the mysterious and powerful warlock by recounting the troubling tales of my youth. You know now because I told you. What you do with that knowledge is what matters.”

I nodded firmly. “I’ll learn fire. I’ll be the best fire mage that ever lived.”

“I’ll hold you to it then,” she replied. “Now, show me the flame.”

I concentrated on my palm sparking the small fire into existence and then, against my better judgement, relaxing and letting the fire have more control. It grew quickly, and I started to panic once again, but quickly locked down on that emotion and reminded myself that just like the flame, I could contain my fear.

The fire grew, engulfing my hand, and I presented it to Kaellax with a wide grin.

“Good,” she replied. “Now, contain it.”

I did as she said, wrapping my arcane energy around the fire, gently luring into my control. The flame was not mine, it would not willingly obey me, I could only force it into submission. I focused my will and soon enough I had it locked in my grasp.

I looked to Kaellax and she had a full smile on her face. “Impressive.”

“Now what?” I asked.

“Now?” she repeated. “Well, now we can start.”

I spent the next two months learning everything I could from Kaellax. True to her word, fel energy and dark magic were left off the table. The books I read were Kirin Tor approved, and the spells I weaved were purely arcane in their source. Unlike with Angus, however, the secret of containment had changed my view of how I handled the magic, and with that understanding came a deep and sudden power.

I put it to great use, blasting targets with scorching fireballs and listening as nearby soldiers shouted compliments on my accuracy.

Of course, I still lacked the finesse of any real skill or refinement. I attempted to light a candle from across a room and the candle simply exploded into molten wax, splattering across the stone walls and making Kaellax burst into laughter.

Surprisingly, or perhaps, unsurprisingly, the better I became at using fire, the worse I became with frost magic. The use of ice demanded full control. Water would not simply freeze itself, I had to concentrate hard just to form the ice crystals that would become a frozen blast of air. Ice was cold and dead, while fire was alive, a companion, if a begrudging one. Unfortunately, Kaellax wouldn’t let me rest on that one either. She was sure to point out that all three fields of magic would be critical to my success in the Kirin Tor, so I did as I was told and continued my lessons.

The last night of summer, a week before I was to return to class, Uncle Maron and Kaellax started to pack their things, prompting me to beg them not to go.

“A whole summer living in Dalaran,” Maron replied. “It’s be wonderful seeing you, Sionis, but my place is back at the manor, securing your wealthy lifestyle.”

“And I have neglected my own studies for far too long,” Kaellax added. “I can’t risk performing that kind of magic here in Dalaran. The Kirin Tor would have my head.”

“What if I need help with my studies?” I asked.
She chuckled. “You haven’t needed help since the first day. I just wanted to make sure you learned the rhythm. Stay studious and you’ll do fine.”

“Thank you both for coming here,” I said. “It means alot. I’ve missed you all. Will you tell Sonea that I’m well when you return?”

“Can do,” Maron replied. “She’ll be glad to hear it.”

“Do you think I will be able to return to Stormwind?”

Maron nodded. “Oh sure, just a few years to make sure the guards have forgotten about your little stunt. I’ve been good to them since they left, and they’ve become very forgiving.”

“I don’t forgive them,” I rebutted.

“You are a white knight,” Kaellax said with a smirk.

“They have been cruel to you, on multiple occasions.”

“Many are foolish,” she agreed. “But not all.”

“Fine,” I relented.

“Oh,” she added. “When you return to class, tell Angus that Ella sends her regards.”

“Ella?” Maron asked.

Kaellax glanced at him. “That’s right.”

“Nice,” he said. “I can see that.”

A few days later, I watched them sail away from Southshore.

I returned to Dalaran and prepared myself for my first day back at school. When Angus started the lesson with some simple review points, I made sure to prepare myself. I did as I was told and everything came to me with ease.

At the end of our lesson, Angus caught me at the door. “Young Sepher, that was impressive work you showed today. It would appear you did your homework over the summer.”

“I did,” I replied. “I, uh, well I had a few lessons with a teacher.”

“Oh yes?”

“Yes, in fact, she said to tell you that she sends her regards.”

“Oh? An old student of mine perhaps? What was her name?”

“Ella.”

Angus looked frozen. “Ella, you say?”

“That’s right.”

He smiled at me. “She taught you this?”

“Yeah.”

“And… she only taught you this?”

“Arcane,” I assured him. “Purely Kirin Tor approved.”

The old man looked like he might begin to cry. “I am very happy to hear this. Ella was, and perhaps still is from the looks of it, one of my best students.”

“I am thankful for all of her help,” I added.

“I am thankful that you sent me her message, young Sepher. Now, get on to your next class. I am sure you have a lot of work ahead of you.”

I thanked him once more and headed out. From that day forward Angus treated me differently, with more respect, and I couldn’t have been happier to have that change. Kaellax had completely turned my luck around.

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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