Or, When Medivh's Apprentice Failed to Realize He was Blind Too
Young Khadgar steadied his gryphon as they descended, landing on a clear patch of grass not to far from the Stormwind township of Grand Hamlet. It had been a hard flight, a hurricane had pressed around them making what would normally have been only a few hours travel into a day. The flight left Khadgar exhausted and he slid off the gryphon before unceremoniously collapsing on the wet and matted grass.
The Master Magus, on the other hand, landed easily beside him. Any effect the weather was having on the older wizard didn't show on Medivh's face. He carefully tied the gryphon's reins to the branch of a nearby oak tree before doing the same for Khadgar's. His face remained stony as the wind for which Stormwind was named raced around them, however his countenance softened as he walked over to his apprentice. "Are you alright lad?"
Khadgar nodded weakly, unable to find his voice. The flight had drained him more than he originally thought and he fumbled with his limbs trying push himself up off the ground.
"Easy son," Medivh warned, laying a hand on the apprentice's shoulder to steady him. Offering his hand, Khadgar gratefully took it and the older mage pulled him up. "We can't travel anymore in this foul weather," Medivh stated before adding with a chuckle, "I was afraid you'd fall off your mount young apprentice."
Khadgar laughed tiredly, "As was I, Magus."
"Come," the Magus said warmly, wrapping his arm and cloak around Khadgar as to support the younger mage. "I very much doubt Anduin will admonish us for a delay that was out of our hands. Besides, with this storm the Kingdom has likely postponed their festivities."
Medivh led the two of them the short distance into the heart of the village. Like many in Azeroth, the main square was the bustling center of commerce and trade, with residences circling around the fountain to the town hall, or the market, or the tavern. However, the late fall storm prohibited such activities, and the only light on the street came from upper apartments and the pair's destination, the inn.
"He may yet blame you for such a storm," Khadgar joked as they stepped inside, already the heat from the hearth warming his bones.
"He wouldn't put it past me," Medivh smiled. The Magus wasn't looking at his apprentice, but rather the innkeeper who rose to meet the pair. He nodded briefly at the innkeeper, saying briskly, "I'm afraid the storm has halted our travels and we are in need of rooms until this weather passes."
The older mage paused for a moment, and Khadgar felt the piercing eyes of the Magus considering him as he had so many times before. Before the young man had a chance to think of something to say, Medivh continued by saying to the innkeeper, "And prepare a warm meal for my apprentice."
"And for you sir?"
"I am fine," Medivh snapped curtly.
The innkeeper nodded timidly, and Khadgar flashed a look of apology to the man. The young mage turned to the Magus, whose steely eyes were still glaring at the poor innkeeper sternly. "Master, I will be well enough after sitting by the fire," he said, "It was a passing moment."
"Nonsense dear child," Medivh replied jovially as though the incident with the innkeeper hadn't even happened. He patted Khadgar's shoulder, pushing the young mage forward clumsily. "You are soaked to the bone and I shall have no one to talk to if you are ill during this damnable festival. Llane and Anduin are downright dull to talk with during these things, far too much pomp and circumstance."
Khadgar beamed at the mage's acknowledgement that he appreciated the young apprentice's company. "Thank you sir," he stammered.
"Anduin seems fond of you though, Young Trust. He might try to spirit you away from under my nose. Or at least try to pry information out of you as to my well being," Medivh mused.
"He just worries about you Magus, as any friend would," Khadgar smiled.
Medivh gave a slight huff and settled Khadgar into one of the seats closest to the fire. "Hmph, he would do better to worry over the orcs at his doorstep rather than the doddering old fool locked up in his tower."
The young mage shifted in his chair, finding the worn leather scratchy despite his heavy travel robes. Khadger watched the fire for some time, while the Magus tapped his fingers against his own chair impatiently.
A soft melody began playing on the other side of the inn, each string sweeter than the next as is picked up volume and tempo. Soon Khadgar found himself lost in the sound, drowning out the workings of the inn and bar, even the insistent clicking of Medivh's rings as they brushed against each other. He didn't have many opportunities to listen to music, sometimes during his and the Magus' trips to Stormwind or months ago home in Dalaran. Music was a special breed of magic, one Khadgar knew he'd never master however long he studied.
The simple tune weaved into Khadgar's consciousness, and the young mage quickly found himself nodding off. His chin slipped off the hand that had been propping it up and he jerked as he fully awoke. "Sorry," Khadgar mumbled. He glanced around the inn, the source of the melody to be a slight blonde girl in the far corner near a cooking hearth. Khadgar blushed and looked away quickly, but not before Medivh noticed.
The older mage bristled, noting the apprentice's boyish demeanor. With a bemused smile, he grumbled, "One would think you had never looked upon the fairer of our species."
"I'm sorry Master Magus," Khadgar stammered, stealing a look to the woman playing the music again, crestfallen when he was unable to find her in the crowd.
"Don't be," he replied, "I know how lads get. Something I never had the chance to appreciate…" Medivh stopped tapping his fingertips against his chair, locking eyes with Khadgar. "In fact," he said slowly, "If you should like to find the young lady I would allow you to do so, after all, we don't have anywhere to be until the weather breaks."
The wizard looked at his master dubiously, but straightened his tunic with nervous confidence, "I believe I will."
The two stood up, and Medivh clapped him on the back proudly, "Enjoy yourself young Trust." He drew his hood up around his head and looked out the window darkly, "I am going to go see an old friend in the town hall quickly to discuss some things."
Freed from his duties for the evening, Khadgar eagerly crossed the length of the inn towards where he had seen her. The inn was a large one and due to its proximity to Stormwind castle it was crowded with weary travelers. Despite all this, the young apprentice quickly found the blonde girl sitting in the corner with her lyre.
He took the seat opposite hers, with the fire between them. "Ahem," he coughed, vying for her attention. When she didn't respond, he awkwardly fiddled with the hem of his sleeve until he caught her head tilt toward him.
"You've been here before…"
"Oh?" Khadgar asked dumbly, unaware she was talking to him. Her voice was as lyrical as the instrument she continued to play uninterrupted.
"You were with the party of the Mage and the Warrior from Stormwind."
"That's right," he replied hastily, "My name is Khadgar."
She turned towards him, head tilted slightly and her eyes reflected the dancing firelight from hearth although she didn't quite look directly at him. "Cecily," she said simply. "So you're with the wizard then?" She asked, looking back to her instrument.
"Yes I am," he stammered, adding proudly, "I am his apprentice."
"It always seems to rain whenever he comes," Cecily sighed, leaving Khadgar flustered. "Are we to be afraid of him?"
"What? No! Not at all! I mean… he's…" Khadgar protested, "He's a bit eccentric, but what mage isn't? No harm will come from him."
The music stopped as she looked at him again. "Are we to be afraid of you then?" Her eyes were large and unreadable as she leaned slightly towards him expectantly. Again she didn't look directly into Khadgar's eyes, but rather slightly to the side of him.
The young apprentice grew uncomfortable, squirming in his chair. "Not at all," he replied, "I'm just his apprentice."
She replied with a weak smile, leaning back into her own chair. "Well you do sound young."
He held back a gasp as realization set in, "You're blind?"
Her face seemed to twitch but she recomposed herself quickly and replied in a neutral tone, "Yes I am. Are you?"
"How was it you recognized me from before?"
Cecily flashed a wide smile, "Your accent. You come from the north. Not many do."
"I'm terribly sorry," he apologized, "All this while I had no idea. I…" Khadgar clamped up, steadying his breath. He got up abruptly and sat next to her. "Close your eyes," he said.
She turned her head to him in alarm. "What are you doing?" Cecily asked.
He smiled, even though she couldn't see it. "Just relax, I promise you'll be fine." He took a hold of her hand gently and with the other lightly brushed the back of her neck.
Khadgar closed his own eyes and thought back a few months, to before he left for Karazhan when he casually walked the streets of Dalaran. The sky was azure blue, the white marble walls bright in the morning sun and the varying purple hued shingles glimmered on the roofs of the proud towers. He then moved quickly to the edge of the city, Lordamere Lake glistened with the reflections from both Dalaran and far off Capital City.
Cecily trembled, but Khadgar again shifted his thoughts to Stormwind City, and the nearby Elwynn forest, green and vibrant with sunlight filtering through the leaves and down onto grazing sheep and other livestock. Flashes, a jovial image of King Llane and Lord Lothar over a map, Cook with her rose-colored lenses leaning over a boiling pot, herbs and other things hanging from pot racks, and last but not least… a young mage and a pretty blonde sitting in a tavern.
"Khadgar…" Cecily whispered nervously, her hand clenched underneath his. Just out of sight, a swirling shadow manifested, and vague form of a man bubbled just under its churning surface. "Khad…" she repeated anxiously, tugging on his cloak with her free hand.
The shadow fell away and solidified into the scowling shape of Medivh. Cecily jumped, pulling her hand from Khadgar's, causing the image to fall away into blackness.
His eyes snapped open as Cecily pressed against him, pulling the wizard closer to her.
Medivh stood over the two impatiently. He pulled on Khadgar's shoulder roughly and Cecily trembled as he left her. Medivh frowned at her sternly, "I believe you've taken all that you can out of my apprentice for one night." He jerked Khadgar towards him, the young mage off balance after his spell to begin with, "And you are not to be attempting that sort of magic when you are already ill. Especially not in order to impress some common farmer's daughter."
"Master Magus I…" Khadgar protested. The older mage raised an eyebrow, daring the young apprentice to continue. "No sir."
"Upstairs," Medivh ordered him, pushing him away from Cecily.
Khadgar gave a lasting glance at Cecily and wandered slowly to the back of the inn, followed after a moment by the older mage. His heart fell when Cecily disappeared from his view as he climbed the stairs. The older mage gave Khadgar a weary look as they got to their rooms, and the apprentice's mood further deflated as Medivh sat down at Khadgar's small table tiredly with a grunt. "I'm sorry again Master. I hadn't know you didn't want me practicing…"
"You weren't practicing anything. You were showing off."
"Earlier you had said…"
"I had told you to enjoy yourself, not throw yourself and your abilities to be abused by some stranger. You're lucky I interceded when I did or else you could have wound up useless to me…" Medivh sighed, "Or worse… dead. That sort of mental magic is dangerous and you are certainly not up to it yet."
"It went fine!"
"Much longer and you would have been unconscious." Medivh snapped. "You will learn, young apprentice there are some things that should not be changed. Imagine being unable to see the evil in the world, happily creating your own world around you. Her ignorance is a gift."
"I had thought…"
"However "well intentioned" it may have been, now all that poor girl will be able to imagine is my idiot apprentice who would gladly throw himself at the opportunity to prove himself to a pretty little girl."
Khadgar found the floorboards suddenly very interesting, and studied them intensely. He couldn't hope to explain his thoughts to the older mage… if he had even thought over it over in the first place. "I'm sorry," he apologized again.
Medivh huffed. "Eat your food," he ordered, motioning to plate left by the innkeeper.
The young apprentice sullenly picked up the fork but did little more than shuffle the applesauce and lamb.
"How are you feeling?" Medivh asked softly.
"Fine…" Khadgar replied dourly. The apprentice felt the older mage glare at him and confessed, "I've felt better. I'll get an early rest for tomorrow."
"No doubt, Trust," Medivh acknowledged. The mage poured a glass of water from a pitcher next to Khadgar's meal into a glass and took a flask out from his cloak. He emptied the container into the glass, offering it the apprentice and grumbled, "I had one of the local clerics make you a draft to help nevertheless."
The younger mage eyed the glass dubiously, never being fond of potions and the sort. He had seen more than a few potions and elixirs literally blow up in the alchemist's face while he studied at Dalaran. "I could have prepared such a concoction myself," he added, lifting the glass to smell it.
Medivh gave a small huff, "Then what could would the expertise of the priest be? If it makes you feel any better, once the man caught wind of your potential illness I'm afraid it was all I could do to keep him from visiting you personally."
Khadgar gave a puzzled frown; it was unlike his master to take matters of such little importance in his own hands. He swallowed the foul mix in one long gulp, fighting back the urge to gag. The young apprentice moved over to the window of his room, watching the rain pelt against the thick glass. "It's unnecessary…" He whispered mournfully. Tilting his head he said even louder to Medivh, "The rain is getting heavier, and isn't letting up. I hope Cecily made it home alright."
"That is noted," The mage replied uninterestedly, and added sarcastically, "It would be a shame to delay our trip to Stormwind any more than we already have."
Khadgar laughed. It died quickly though and he frowned, a pervasive cold crept up his spine and goose bumps crawled up and down his arms. "I think this room is a bit drafty," Khadgar complained absently, pretending to look for openings in the walls or ceiling. He caught a glimpse of Medivh, and while the Master Magus appeared at first glance to be relaxed, sitting at Khadgar's table, upon a closer look his whole body was tense, watching his student raptly. "Oh right," Khadgar said suddenly, fumbling with numb fingers to pick his glass up from the sill.
He stepped a bit closer to the Magus, spots dancing in his eyes as he held the glass out to Medivh. The glass never made it however, slipping from Khadgar's hand and shattering on the floorboards. He tried to mumble an apology, but his tongue was heavy and all that came out was unintelligible.
The older mage seemed unfazed by Khadgar's predicament, and the young apprentice looked at him pleadingly. All too late Khadgar thought that perhaps there was something wrong with the potion the Magus had given him. He stumbled back from Medivh, his whole body wavering. "I don…" His knees buckled, and only then did the young mage see the blurry form of the Magus lean forward to catch him before the world faded to black around him.
The young mage blinked in the attempt to rid himself of dark spots clouding his vision. He pushed his body up against the headboard and swung his feet over the side of the bed. Vertigo caught up with the mage as he stood up, and the dizzy spell forced him back onto the bed. He tried once more, this time using the wall as a crutch.
A quick look out the window didn't reveal much beyond the fact it was still down pouring and probably the dead of night. Khadgar ran his free hand through his hair nervously, clicking his tongue as deafening thunder cracked and shook the walls of the inn. Focusing on not falling over, he made his way to the hallway, spying light coming through from underneath Medivh's door. He stumbled over to the door and opened it so he could just see through the small crack of light.
The familiar shape of the Magus' back was towards the young mage, silhouetted against the light of a few candles. At his feet there were some pretty rare reagents such as bones and rare herbs. There were also some crystals Khadgar recognized as those used by warlocks, fallen mages who excelled in demonology. Khadgar's curiosity got the better of him and he opened the door further, praying that the rusty hardware wouldn't creak. He wondered why the older mage would be working with such unorthodox and frowned upon items.
Khadgar felt his face drain of blood, an unsettling feeling of apprehension in the pit of his stomach. A powerful mage like Medivh any summoning wasn't out of the question, but who would want to summon a golem or demon?
He tried to study the runic circle more closely, to discern what the Magus was trying to summon. The circle was large, almost taking up the entirety of the room and had forced the old magician to push aside the table to the far corner. It wasn't drawn in chalk either, some dark ink or the like.
The young man frowned, debating whether or not to announce his presence, but he felt this was a spell the older mage was doing on his own. Khadgar absently felt something warm running down his arm, and he looked down at them casually. The sight caused him to pause; both of his forearms were wrapped tightly with bandages, stained red with Khadgar only could presume to be his own blood.
That's what the circle was drawn in…
He silently choked… the Magus was using a blood ritual…
The young apprentice's head swam and the whole room swayed around him. The Magus had… no wonder he felt so ill. The Master Mage had probably taken all the blood he could have from his apprentice without killing the younger man.
Khadgar heard a few soft words from the Magus, but none that he could make out distinctly. All of a sudden a loud thunder rocked the inn, and a brilliant light exploded from whatever it was the older mage was working on. Khadgar fell back, unable to keep his balance, and let out a quiet yelp.
The door flew open and the Magus stood above Khadgar in less than a second, looking tall and terrible with the light of the spell work that still illuminated the other room behind him. He briefly glanced behind Medivh, seeing a dark crimson beast flickering within the circle. Demon. Panicking, he looked back up at Medivh prompting Khadgar to recall the mage's other bouts of wrath. Unsure of what to be more concerned over, the demon… or the conjurer who created it, he could do nothing but stare up at the mage.
"My dear lad," Medivh whispered fondly, leaning down in front of Khadgar. His voice was calm, but the young apprentice heard lingering tones of malice. The student pulled himself away from Medivh, mumbling strings of apologies for his disturbance. The Magus looked at him curiously and narrowed his eyes. Whether it was some spell or simple fright Khadgar froze.
The Magus gave him a wicked smile and placed his palm on Khadgar's forehead, fingers laced in the apprentices hair. "You should not be awake yet my child." White-hot pain shot through the apprentice's skull and the young mage's eyes grew wide in an unseeing stare. The assault was so terrible that Khadgar's mind simply went blank, all sensation lost except the pain and tears unconsciously running down his face.
When Khadgar awoke he kept his eyes closed, finding opening them more of a challenge than originally anticipated. Something on his face itched, and when the feeling wouldn't go away he finally brought his hand up to wipe it away. Only when his fingertips touched his face did he realize that his face and eyelashes were damp with tears.
Khadgar shot out of bed at the sound of Medivh's voice. He trembled although the young mage had no idea why.
"What's wrong lad?" The Magus seemed genuinely concerned, and leaned over to place his hand on Khadgar's forehead. "Your fever seems worse. Perhaps it would be for the best I do actually send for that priest."
"But there was this potion or poison or whatever," the apprentice babbled, "And you were there and there was…" He looked up at the sky, unable to fully recall the night before. "And thunder…" He whispered, a feeling of dread settling over him. Khadgar had the terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach that he had forgotten something important. Was it something he should've remembered? Or should he be glad that he had forgotten?
Just thinking about it made Khadgar queasy and he leaned over the side of the bed, emptying his the contents of his stomach into the room's chamber pot. His body shook nervously and he tried to make himself as small as he could, with his knees pulled against his chest and arms wrapped around them.
Medivh smiled knowingly, "The storm lasted through the night." He stood up from his chair next to Khadgar's bed and opened up the curtain, grey storm clouds and rain still outside the window. "And on into the morning. And so forth into the afternoon," he added with some amusement.
Khadgar was silent, watching the Magus pour him a tall glass of water. He drank it eagerly, and Medivh brought him another which he also finished quickly. "Why did you bring me with you on this venture?" Khadgar asked.
The Magus looked stern, and didn't answer for a long while. Just as Khadgar was about to press again, Medivh sighed, "I don't know. Perhaps I felt that you could…" the older mage trailed off.
The silence stretched between the two of them, and Khadgar looked uneasily at the Magus. He opened his mouth, and closed it again, furrowing his brow in determination. "May I call on Cec… the uhhh… young lady from last night? I want to know if she's okay."
"We'll be departing for Karazhan in the morning," Medivh bristled, ignoring Khadgar's request, "Whether or not the weather permits us to fly is a question left for fate. I will have horses sent for if it still looks nasty." The older mage gently pushed Khadgar back to a flat position on the bed, and pulled up the quilts around the younger man. "Sleep now child," the mage hummed, the voice soothing and soft, carrying Khadgar concerns away, at least for the moment.
"What of the festival?" the young apprentice asked dreamily, the throngs of sleep already welcoming him back into their embrace.
Medivh brushed loose hair off Khadgar's forehead in an almost fatherly manner, massaging the younger mage's temple with the tips of his fingers moving in small circles. The motion caused Khadgar to relax and his mind to melt in the hypnotic rhythm of the motion. "My dear friends will understand, and I am hardly needed for the activities." A small mischievous smile flashed on the mage's face, "I do believe it was a storm much like this one that prevented me from last year's festival as well."
Disclaimer: Warcraft is of course owned by Blizzard Entertainments. And a lot of this is owed to Jeff Grubb's The Last Guardian. It really helps if you have read The Last Guardian to understand this fic, just saying.
A/N: This is was an interesting story to write, because I tried to model the writing after The Last Guardian as well as keeping the focus on Khadgar's sphere of knowledge in regards to the Med/Sageras twist. I have to confess, writing Med's mood shifts was the best part.
Well I hope you've enjoyed my bit of random lore-based fiction. Leave a review!