Vestria arrived at the Sepher farm the next day, bright and early, but as she approached the farmhouse it became apparent that Sionis was not at home. The older Patnesh man hammering on his door had clearly not accepted that reality, fiercely banging on the wooden threshold as loudly as he could.
“Hello,” Vestria said as she reached the farmhouse. “Everything okay?”
“This blasted Flamecaller,” the Patnesh man grumbled. “He never respects our schedules.”
“I’m sure he means well,” Vestria said, trying to calm the visitor.
“For decades he’s been doing this,” the man barked. “I doubt he means anything other than—”
“Wait,” Vestria asked, genuinely confused. “That’s not possible.”
“You said Sionis has been here for decades?”
“Well yeah,” the man said, suddenly unsure of his exact numbers. “It’s been long enough that he should have some decency!”
With that, the angry man wandered off, his pack slung over his shoulder. He marched toward town, and just after he had vanished over the hill, Vestria heard Sionis’ front door creak as it opened up to reveal the Flamecaller inside.
“You were here the whole time?” Vestria asked.
“That’s Farmer Ong,” Sionis replied. “If you knew him, you’d know why I hid.”
“Well he also added to the mystery surrounding you and that broken wand,” Vestria said, welcoming herself into Sionis’ home. “He said you’ve been here for decades. According to my sources, you did help fight against the Yunai. The Academy of Hope, and some of its members have already corroborated your stories. So you’re going to have a bit of explaining to do about how you could be in two places at once.”
Sionis nodded. He looked… sad?
“You’re right, of course. I have put this part of the story off for far too long. It’s time to tell you the final chapter of the tale you came here to uncover. The broken shards of the magical wand that you brought me, the reason I’m out here in the first place, and how it all comes together in one explosive finale…”
“Yes,” Vestria said. “Please.”
Sionis flicked his wrist to ignite his small stove, and he put on a kettle of water, turning to the table in his kitchen and gesturing for Vestria to join him. The two took their places, it being almost ceremony at this point, and Vestria set up her mechanical quill for her notes.
“When the Academy of Hope collapsed, I was at a loss,” Sionis started. “Fynn and Iliera stood with the Unified Armies of Azirin, but I retreated to Stonehaven. The Udirians were recruiting teachers, and no Flamecaller was too inexperienced to help out, myself included. I got a cushy job in the city proper and I returned to Sepher manor to see how it was doing. The estate had been in good care. Without Maron there, however, it felt hollow. I was reminded of my old days, of Evanor and Keaira, and I didn’t care for it at all.
“So, I moved into the Mage Quarter to be closer to work, and I found myself rather enjoying it there. I was given the task of teaching fresh Flamecallers about the craft, and while I was not nearly as skilled as some of the masters, I was still powerful enough to get folks started, and to help weed out the younger or less apt trainees.
“I might have stayed there forever,” Sionis emphasized. “I was content, I think. Alas, I suppose that’s the nature of calm periods in our lives, they don’t stay calm for long. You see, while I was working at the great Mage Tower, Iliera had decided to hunt down the lost wand that carried her name. The mystery of its past, and the importance it carried for Fynn, myself, and now her too… it was enough to keep her up at night. She pulled a lot of strings and called in a lot of favors, and eventually she got Baron Revelli to agree to give it over, and so she traveled to the jungles of the south, unbeknownst to me, where she would accidentally trigger the wand’s true purpose…”