This story is based on my character's true adventures in the world of Norrath. The other main characters she meets are all people I have come to know during my journeys, and I hope they'll forgive me for shamelessly documenting our adventures here. Each chapter is meant to be a complete short story on its own, so please excuse any repetition that may occur for the sake of keeping other readers informed. Please read and review, any comments will be appreciated – at least I'll know you're reading...
Naramira's hand paused in the air as she stood before the door to Master Jusathorn's study. She took a deep, calming breath to focus her thoughts. The letter didn't say why he had summoned her, but Naramira knew that this was to be a day to remember. The sky had dawned purple that morning, a sign of momentous tidings to come. She summoned her courage and rapped lightly on the door.
Master Jusathorn was sitting at his desk, a quill and parchment by his side. He looked up at her, his black eyes as unreadable as ever. The only Aviak east of High Hold Keep, the birdman was still as unfathomable to her as the first day she had gaped open-mouthed at him. His black feathers glistened in the glow of a light-stone suspended from the ceiling.
"Welcome, young Initiate," he said simply.
Naramira's heart skipped a beat. Initiate! She unconsciously clutched her plain brown Novice robe as she tried to keep her excitement contained.
Master Jusathorn ruffled his feathers in a way Naramira had long suspected to be his manner of smiling. He indicated for her to take a chair opposite him and she gratefully accepted.
"The Elders have decided that you are ready for your first spell-circle, young one. From now on you must earn your keep and learn the ways of enchantment in practice. You are to go outside the city walls and, with all the skills we have taught you so far, help defend the city against the perils outside the guards' reach."
"I won't let you down, Master Jusathorn," she promised bright-eyed.
"No, you won't," the guildmaster answered. "Fail this task, young Initiate, and the Elders will consider you unworthy of the high arts of enchantment. You will be free to choose your own profession among the Coalition of Freeport Traders, or lead your life as you choose, but the Academy will be closed to you."
Naramira could almost see the doors slam in her face and imagined what her life would be like outside the safety of the Academy's walls. She gulped almost audibly and stared wide-eyed, and suddenly very scared, at the birdman.
He ruffled his feathers once again and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "I have faith in you, Naramira," was all he said. It was all she needed to hear.
An eerie cackle resounded through the dead-quiet night. The two guards at the West Gate gripped their swords tighter and peered into the darkness, searching for any signs of trouble.
Naramira shivered in the cold breeze. She tucked her new spellbook into her satchel and nervously fingered the small dagger the Academy had given her. 'Small help this will be', she thought to herself as she strode purposefully to the gate.
One of the guards smiled sardonically at her, saluted, and said in a mocking voice: "Another youngling off to save the world." His friend grinned, but didn't comment.
Naramira ignored the men and tried to remember the correct incantations for the two spells the Academy's spellkeeper had kindly given her. She quickly cast Strengthen on herself, feeling the heavy satchel she was carrying lightening, and set off into the darkness.
Freeport was suffering from an infestation of giant rats, bats, snakes and fire beetles. Although the town itself was largely free from this problem, the Militia simply did not have the manpower to keep the barren desert outside the gates safe too. To make matters worse, undead skeletons walked at night and the local orc clan, the Deathfist, had recently been prowling the city walls, looking for a weakness in the defences.
Naramira's assignment was one given to all Initiates once they achieved the first spell-circle. Many of them never made it past this stage, dying in the wastelands just beyond the city's walls.
A rat suddenly squeaked at her feet and Naramira jumped in surprise, but a green light was already emanating from her hands. A green glow suffused the rat, draining its strength. The rat screeched and went for Naramira, but she was ready for it. In its weakened state and with her strength still magically enhanced, the rat was no match for the young enchantress. Her skills with the dagger were still poor, but a few well-aimed slashes finished the twitching rat off.
Naramira stood exultantly over the body of her first kill. Her face shone with pride and she told herself that surely this would prove to the Elders that she was worthy of their trust.
"It's just a rat, girl," the guard intruded upon her thoughts. She spun around to see them both smirking at her.
She blushed and her gaze dropped to her feet. The purple hem of her Initiate robe caught her attention and she was suddenly filled with a steely resolve. She looked up to meet the first guard's mocking gaze steadily. "It may only be a rat, sir, but soon my powers will grow and I won't have to cower behind the city's walls for protection," she replied quietly.
The silent guardsman seemed to catch the sarcasm in her remark and frowned at her, but the first guard laughed uproariously. "Aye, soon you can match your powers to that of a fire beetle! We'll see you running back to the gate as fast as you can then," he laughed. He winked at his companion and they returned to their posts, still laughing and joking at her expense.
Naramira sighed and turned back to the dead rat. With a grimace she severed its tail and stashed it in her satchel. She'd heard they sold well in the marketplace, sometimes worth even as much as a whole platinum piece. If she was to earn her keep as Master Jusathorn had said, she was going to need some money soon.
She spent the rest of the night hunting and killing rats and bats, always keeping just within sight of the city walls. Her satchel was soon full of tails, whiskers, rat's ears and bat wings. When dawn came, she made her way back to the city and headed straight for the marketplace, where the first vendors were already putting up their stalls. She sold all her loot for a total of two platinum pieces and five pieces of silver and walked back to the Academy feeling rich and satisfied with the night's work.
After she'd had some rest, Naramira visited the Academy's spellkeeper again. She had enough money to buy three more spells and asked the woman what she recommended.
"Here you go, lass," the spellkeeper said as she handed Naramira three scrolls. "Minor Shielding, Shallow Breath and Minor Illusion. Learn them well."
"What do they do?" the young enchantress asked eagerly.
"Ah, that my girl, is for you to find out," the woman smiled and winked at Naramira.
Naramira thanked her, went back to her room, copied the three spells into her spellbook and, after she had memorised them, packed her satchel and set out for another day of hunting.
When she reached the Academy's entrance, she saw a few other initiates and novices milling about the doors, looking perplexed. Naramira asked one of them what was wrong.
"It's the transporter," the novice replied. "It's broken and we can't get out."
Naramira pushed past everybody to look out through the door. The Academy was suspended over a man-made lake in the middle of Freeport. A platform with a transporter stone twenty feet away from the doors was the only way to access the tower.
"What are you going to do?" the novice wanted to know.
"I'm going to jump," Naramira replied.
"Jump! Can you swim?"
"No, but now's as good as any time to learn."
And with that, Naramira jumped off the step and fell into the lake. As soon as she hit the water, she realised it was a mistake. Her legs were entangled in her robe and the weight of her satchel was pulling her further and further down. A moment of blind panic seized her and then she realised: Shallow Breath. It must be a spell that could help her breathe underwater!
She quickly cast it on herself and suddenly felt like someone was throttling her. Her vision became blurry as she fought unsuccessfully to breathe underwater. Spots appeared before her eyes and she knew unconsciousness would claim her soon. She felt something brush against her arm and instinctively grabbed at it. A rope! She felt someone pulling her upwards.
She surfaced and gasped for breath, but still felt like she was choking. Then suddenly, the pressure on her throat was gone and she gulped air in with such relief that tears formed in her eyes. She looked up to see an unblinking Master Jusathorn standing over her.
"And so you learn the use of Shallow Breath, young Initiate. Also know that you were not choking in reality, but that your mind believed that you were. Use that knowledge more wisely in future," he said. Naramira got the distinct impression that he was amused!
Her throat felt raw, so she only nodded wordlessly.
Another dead rat dropped at her feet. 'This suffocation spell makes it almost too easy,' Naramira thought to herself. She wiped her dagger clean and quickly salvaged what she could from the corpse. By now she had made enough money to buy all her spells, with a few silver pieces to spare.
The sound of huge mandibles clicking together made her turn around. A fire beetle was heading her way. A week ago Naramira would have made sure to stay out of its way, but she's had some experience now and felt confident she could take the beetle on.
A momentary golden glow surrounded her as she renewed her magical shielding. Then her hands glowed green as she began casting Shallow Breath.
The fire beetle choked and rushed towards the young enchantress in a mad rage. Naramira started muttering the words that would weaken and drain the bug's strength, but it suddenly jumped at her and pushed her off her feet, interrupting her casting.
The beetle was on top of her, her dagger a few inches out of her reach. It was all Naramira could do to keep the beetle from slashing her throat with its fangs. She knew the suffocation spell would soon wear off. The gate was a long way off, the guards wouldn't hear her screams.
Frantically she beat at the fire beetle, hoping to cause at least a delay in its attack. Her arms and legs were scratched and bruised, but at least no serious damage had been inflicted yet, if only she could keep it away from her throat.
In the scuffle Naramira had slowly been able to edge closer to where her dagger lay in the sand. With one huge lurch she managed to grab it and stuck it deep in the fire beetle's belly. The beetle fell off her with a blood-curdling scream.
Naramira jumped up as fast as her injuries allowed and cast another suffocating spell that slowly choked the creature to death. She watched its death throes as she regained some of her own breath. Her body ached and she was too exhausted to cast even one more spell.
She stooped to loot the corpse when suddenly pain seared through her back. "For the Deathfist!" the orc bellowed as he wrenched his spear out of her back. He lunged forward for another attack, but Naramira's knees buckled under her and she sank to the ground, narrowly missing his thrust.
She was helpless. Her strength ebbed like blood from the wound in her back, her fingers were too numb to hold on to her dagger. Desperately she tried to cast a spell, but the words eluded her.
Naramira watched in horror as the orc lifted his spear for the killing blow. Suddenly feathers sprouted from his skull and he toppled forward, almost landing on top of the terrified enchantress. He was dead before he hit the ground, an arrow sticking out of his head.
"That was a close call," a cheerful voice said. Naramira looked up into the face of a young wood-elf. He was dressed in green garb that looked strangely out of place in the desert surrounds, and his wild brown hair scarcely concealed his pointed ears.
He crouched by her side and rubbed a foul-smelling ointment on the wound at her back, which immediately stopped the blood flow. Then he put a peculiarly-shaped leaf over the wound and wrapped a linen bandage around her waist.
"There, that should do for now."
"Thank you," Naramira said shyly. Freeport was a bustling trading city and although she had seen many elves before, this was the first time one had ever spoken to her.
"Can you stand up?" he asked and, when she nodded, helped her to her feet. "Come. I'll help you back to the gate. My name's Kiran, by the way."
"I'm Naramira," she replied and then winced as a stabbing pain shot through her back.
Kiran steadied her, then picked up her dagger and satchel and supported her back to the West Gate. To keep her mind from the pain, he talked about his home city of Kelethin in the continent of Faydwer. "It's a city built in the treetops where beautiful music is made, good food and wine enjoyed and life is good," he smiled.
"I would like to see Kelethin one day," Naramira wished. She had never been further than Freeport and the young wood-elf with his tales of home had instilled in her a deep longing to see more of the world.
"You will," Kiran promised. He winked at her.
By the time they reached the gate Naramira felt a lot stronger. The wound was still a throbbing pain, but it was not unbearable.
Kiran returned her belongings to her and said: "This is as far as I can go, unfortunately. I have a long way to go still, and I dare not delay any longer. I have heard the priests of Marr will care for the wounded. Will you be able to make your way to the Temple unaided?"
Naramira nodded. "Thank you, Kiran. For saving my life."
The wood-elf beamed a smile at her and kissed her on the cheek. "You are most welcome, milady. May Karana guide you to safe paths. Farewell."
Naramira waved as he headed off towards the Commonlands. Then she braced herself against the pain and slowly made her way to the Temple of Marr.
Naramira timidly opened the door to Master Jusathorn's study. What she had come to tell him was against all he had taught her. She dreaded to see his reaction.
The birdman looked up from the scroll he was reading and motioned her to sit. She accepted and nervously waited for him to finish reading. When he was done, he carefully re-rolled the scroll and blinked at her, as implacable as ever. "You wanted to talk to me, young Initiate?"
Naramira took a deep breath. "Master Jusathorn, I know you always said an enchanter should never be burdened by religion, but..." She hesitated. The Aviak merely looked at her, waiting to hear more. "But since the week I spent in the Temple of Marr, I have felt myself... called... to the service of the goddess Erollisi Marr. Following her would make my life worthwhile, I think," she faltered.
Master Jusathorn was silent for what seemed like ages. Then he abruptly ruffled his feathers and said: "Enchanters play with the minds of others, young Initiate. We twist their thoughts to suit us and bend their will to ours. How will you reconcile this power with the teachings of the Goddess of Love?"
Naramira didn't hesitate. "I will use my power for good, Master. I will fight to rid Norrath of evil, and not misuse my skills for my own ends."
"You have a noble heart, Naramira. Let us hope you can keep to these ideals." The guildmaster was silent for a few minutes and Naramira wondered if he had dismissed her. She was about to get up when he fixed a piercing gaze upon her and said: "The path you have chosen is not an easy one, young Initiate. You will need to master all the complexities of enchantment to survive, for there are those who will hate you for who and what you are and those who will kill you for who you worship. Do you have the strength of will to continue on this road?"
"I do, Master."
"Good. You have the potential to become a powerful Coercer one day, Naramira." He handed her the scroll he was reading earlier. "The Elders have deemed you worthy of the second spell-circle. Go forth now and prove them right," he dismissed her.
Naramira walked out of the guildmaster's study feeling happy and excited. She had her whole life ahead of her, and she was going to make it count.