And All Things Will End
Archmage Traven Darrenloft sat in his office Friday morning behind a desk filled with scrolls and tomes which were littered with paperwork and responsibility. In the corner sat three homonculi that he hand-crafted to keep up with the ever-demanding needs of his position while still affording him the time he required to further his studies into the advancement of magic. Traven reflected on the paradox for a moment while lighting his pipe and staring out the large window that completely filled the back wall of his office. What an odd fate it was that the more powerful he became and the more he could advance the principles of magic, the more he was burdened with the bureaucratic responsibilities of the Academy. The room took up the highest floor in the tallest of the towers at the Athlanthar Academy of Magic and afforded him a unique and breathtaking view of the entire campus. He cracked his window open to mix the morning air with the sweet smell of tobacco and let his familiar fly in from its morning routine. His raven, Mordakainen, was a powerful creation of magical imbuing and raw arcanic power and a fitting companion for the arch wizard. His fingers idly stoked its chin in their customary word-less morning greeting before the bird squawked harshly and flew over to its own desk to pen the mornings events.
Interrupting the sounds of pens scribbling and the morning breeze, a knock at his door woke Traven from his daydreaming. His attention turned to the sturdy and massive iron-reinforced wooden doors which were enchanted to be lighter than air and a wave of his hand beckoned one of his homonculi rise from its desk and welcome in the visitor. Traven lowered the pipe from his mouth with a gentle smile at the first year headmaster, Balthian Kurzen, welcoming and inviting him in with but a glance to the chair in front of his imposing desk. He set down the pipe while the headmaster made his way forward and drew back the long locks of silky silver-blonde hair behind his ears to expose his elven heritage. The headmaster himself was an accomplished half elf that Traven had appointed to the position not two years prior for his ability to intermingle with and appeal to all new students to the Academy. Lifting a cord of hemp infused with magical power, Traven began tying back his hair while magic unwound from the cord and pulsed up his body to adorn him in the traditional robes of the archmage.
“Always a pleasure Kurzen, but I believe you’re early for our weekly meeting,” began Traven as he returned to his pipe and his chair behind the large oak desk. He cast his eyes downward and the dozens of pens strewn across the desk lifted into the air, dipped themselves in ink, and began their daily paperwork symphony.
“Apologizes archmage, but I felt the need to bring an urgent matter to your attention which could not wait.”
Traven lifted his icy blue gaze from the morning paperwork causing all of his pens to pause for but a moment before continuing their routine. He leaned back in the large solid oak chair folding one hand over his lap and cupping his pipe with the other.
“Very well then, it sounds urgent. What’s on your mind?”
Kurzen hesitated, glancing down to the files in his hands and carefully considering his words before he began pulling the pieces of paper out of the folder and setting them above his head in the air to face the archmage. A spark of magic gleamed in the archmages eyes before they began racing over the sheets of paper, blurring with obviously augmented speed and allowing the archmage to absorb the sheets in mere moments.
“It’s about one of my new students, a boy named Cainan Cathak.”
“Ah yes, the half celestial half elf. He is showing great promise, I assume? This institute has high expectations for any person graced with the blood of the heavens… and of elves.”
Kurzen fidgeted with the few remaining papers in the folder, then rose and timidly walked over to the archmages desk and set the last few sheets in front of him.
“The boy shows exceptional promise in alchemy. He’s already begun brewing potions and was granted acceptance into the introductory class two years ahead of schedule. Despite this, he’s developed little in the conventional magic abilities we’ve come to expect. Magic surfaces in different ways across all creatures and though I’m sure he’ll come into his own, its his midterm paper that brought me to your chamber this morning.
“In it, he begins postulating advanced theories of alchemy and the natural order of the Universe. His theories are so advanced, I had to bring in a few other professors just to break them down and understand what he was saying.”
The archmage dispersed the magical spell with a wave of his hand and slid on a pair of thin-rimmed glasses before lifting the few sheets of paper sat before him to review in detail.
“Simply put, his work is brilliant. He theorizes that using the principles of alchemy, a magically inclined being can transmute the fundamental elements of the world around them. With nothing more than a focus sigil, water can be made to earth and air to fire using little more than mathematical equations equivocating the underlying principles of matter. These equations are unlike anything we’ve ever seen, but his principles seem to imply that he can transcend the natural magical energy of a single being and use his equations to manipulate the world itself which would, he theorizes, allow an entity to indefinitely transmute virtually any and all substances regardless of personal magic power. He goes on to detail that the only restrictions would be the intelligence and skill of the alchemists themselves. While they begin transforming the natural elements of the world, he speculates in this thesis that these formulas and alchemical equations could be further expanded to include valuable substances. At that point, a suitably intelligent and powerful alchemist could not only transmute silver to gold, but could create gold from something as simple as lamp oil.”
Kurzen paused to allow the archmage to continue reading whose lips curled in a smile of delight at the progeny Kurzen had discovered in their ranks. He stopped reading only to look up and take in the expression of worry and hesitance that Kurzen wore so sullenly then continued the paper with a more concerned demeanor. As the archmage continued reading, his eyes visibly widened alarmed by the end of the paper and the conscription of Kurzens conversation with his student.
Kurzen folded his hands behind his back and looked off to the side at the floor to ceiling bookcases that adorned the walls of the archmages office before continuing. “He continues the paper to speculate that, should an alchemist miscalculate one such formula it would backlash on the alchemist. This could take any effect from magical discharges to the transmutation of the very body of the alchemist himself. The more complex the formula, such as the ones to change mundane substances into valuable ones, the more volatile the miscalculation could be. Potentially, he theorizes, enough backlash could be created to completely kill the alchemist or obliterate all of his surroundings. What’s more, since this new school of thought is in its infancy, there is little to no magical protection that could be afforded to the alchemist.”
Kurzen paused for but a moment before he forced himself to look back at the archmage.
“He’s already begun pursuing these theories. Cainan also speculated that in order to construct these sigils which are necessary to transmute a substance, a focus would have to be used. This could be magical emblem designed to give the alchemist access to the equations of the universe or…” Kurzen let his words trail off before swallowing a lump in his throat. “Or it could be initiated by the blood of the alchemist themselves.”
“Blood magic,” whispered the archmage. His fingers now tightly clutching the parchment causing wrinkles to form in the paper. “He seeks to use blood magic to further the cause of alchemy?”
Kurzen winced visibly before quietly continuing. “It’s not blood magic, he thinks, it’s merely using the energy that is the life force of the alchemist to lubricate the transmutation. Of course, to an experienced mage, this definition is already well known.”
“Madness,” murmered the archmage. “This is wreckless and dangerous. Surely you talked with the boy about this theories and explained the dangers of them and why he cannot continue this line of study at this institution.”
Kurzen once more hesitated before letting his eyes drop to the floor. “I have, archmage. I spoke with him at length about the dangers of these theories and how much he would risk should he succeed in proving this line of thought. I also briefly mentioned the dangers of blood magic and where that line of thinking has brought other mages in the past.”
“And?” The archmage leaned forward intently listening.
“And he dismissed the ideas. He said I was over reacting and that the true power of alchemy has yet to be realized to its full potential which he intended to bring forth. I begged and pleaded with him to abandon his campaign, but his mind would not be swayed.”
The archmage set back in his chair pressing his fingers gently to his temples in contemplative thought.
“The other professors, they witnessed these events?”
Kurzen nodded quietly.
“Then we have no choice. As this boy is a danger to this institution and the world at large, he is hereby expelled from this academy effective immediately for disobedience and endangering his fellow students.”
Kurzen sighed heavily, distraught with the idea that the boys genius mind would no longer be welcomed at their school and all the possibilities Cainan could have uncovered. Despite all this, he felt in his heart that the archmage was right. Kurzen himself had never dabbled in magics darker half but was well aware of the many stories of power-hungry mages that sacrificed innocent lives by the thousands in pursuit of power. If the archmage believed it to be this dangerous, then surely it must be.
Traven signed the appropriate paperwork and issued the mandate formally. An afternoon potion brewing class was interrupted and campus security escorted a young celestial half elf from his classroom. With the entire student body and staff watching, he was sentenced in a public spectacle and cast out of the school. Kurzen and Traven watched on with conviction hoping that their actions would stymie the boys attempts to uncover what he speculated in his paper. What they didn’t realize in that moment was that while the boy walked down the cobblestone path away from the school with his fists clenched and tears in his eyes, his determination rose to new heights and they only inflamed his passion for the very thing they sought to snuff out.