Thursday, February 18, 2010
In the Spotlight...
"Tannon," he badgered the bleary-eyed man from where he knelt by the blanket, "Lalt said that the mage that attacked Obblagatt with us was named Alaris, then everybody else got mad. Some people called him "The Alaris," like it was a title. Was that another mage, like Obblagatt, or was he a mage and a monk at the same time? And what's a Dominion anyway? And who can be a Dominion master? ...Tannon?"
Tannon wrenched his glasses onto his face. Half of him wished his students back at the University were this anxious to learn, and the other (older) half of him berated the first half for being masochistic. "Good morrow to you, too, Sanct. Why the desperate need to know about The Alaris?"
"Well," Sanct mulled his words, still hesitant over how to translate feelings into language, "I think The Alaris was involved with our mission, and that I'll be seeing him again. Who knows if next time we will be on the same side? I want to be prepared."
"Involved in our mission?" Tannon asked, desperate for another few moments to clear the cobwebs of sleep from his mind. Repeating some choice phrase had always been an innocuous delay tactic for him.
"I get the feeling that it wasn't only by chance that he arrived when we did, that we were supposed to meet. Does that make sense?"
"Not a coincidence?" the scholar pondered, mind ready for action. "How so? Do you think the battle was staged, that it was a fake? Might Obblagatt still be alive?"
"No," Sanct said, "but it seems like we're missing a connection between them, like someone was pulling our strings - Obblagatt, Alaris, the monks, us. Doesn't it?"
Tannon wondered when Sanct had learned the phrase 'pulling our strings.' "I find it hard to believe that anyone could pull the strings of The Alaris if even half the stories about him are not lies."
"So you believe he exists?"
"The line of The Alaris is no lie," Tannon hedged. "It can't be. It's documented by too many solid sources. I'm certain that it's not the same person, though. No human lives that long, even Seren don't, and in all the credible stories The Alaris is always a middle-aged male human. Perhaps with his magic powers the original Alaris was able to create a continuation of his consciousness... I'm sorry, Sanct. What I meant was that perhaps at death The Alaris passes on his skills, powers and memories to another middle-aged human male who becomes the next Alaris."
Tannon fluttered his hands in front of himself, seeing that he was losing Sanct. "Regardless of how it works, The Alaris definitely exists. His group of Laurian mages, call them a cult or not, is proof enough for me."
"Well, I still don't believe in any old Alaris," muttered Pander from his perch on a rock. He was eating a handful of nuts he had found nearby while touring on his watch. "Humans living forever just doesn't sound right. Kyr wouldn't allow it."
Tannon rose from his blankets slowly, his arthritic hip dictating the speed of his ascent. "I didn't say he was immortal, did I? I agree with you; a human defeating the Goddess of the Afterlife does sound ridiculous."
Pander also rose from the rock upon which he had kept his watch. "The Alaris is an old mage's tale, Sanct, like the Mage God. If there were a deity for mages, there would be a temple to him for mages to worship him. If there was a god that gave mages power, the Surian Combat Mage Corps would know about it, and they don't."
"Tell me this old mage's tale, then," Sanct said.
Pander rolled his eyes. "Professor Tannon, would you do the honors?"
"Certainly." Tannon's face assumed its more scholarly lines. "Very few, if any, know exactly what or who The Alaris is. Some say he was the first mage ever born, and that he was given special powers or extended life. Others believe as I do, that The Alaris is merely some powers and a title passed down between generations of human male mages. A very few consider him a Seren of a Mage God."
Tannon looked over at Pander. "I wish that Lalt were here. He said that he had met the man. That would have been quite a treat and something that I might have been able to add to my Lord's library. Ah, well. Perhaps when he returns to Aeterna."
Sanct was not done with his questioning. "What does The Alaris have to do with Pinnacle and a Dominion?" he asked.
"Pinnacle is the ancient stronghold of the mages. It stands in the direct center of the kingdom of Sur. All the human mages of the world congregate there; many live there, others only come for research or to buy supplies.
"The Dominions are a group of settlements of powerful mages who either prefer solitude to the cramped quarters of Pinnacle or wish to practice certain magics which would be considered unsafe in closer confines. Most Dominion Masters end up taking on a large number of apprentices who are eager for their tutelage."
"So The Alaris is like Obblagatt?" asked Sanct.
"No! Not all mages are like that. Obblagatt was insane. But it only takes one with so much power to ruin the name of all mages for an entire community."
"So not all mages are bad?" Sanct said.
Tannon and Pander looked at one another, each urging the other to answer. In the end, neither did.