Ryllak paced impatiently as he waited for his son to return home. The grass in front of the large silver tree was beginning to show signs of wear as he quickly stepped back and forth. After a while, he stopped pacing and leaned his back against the tree. The spring air was cool, and the afternoon sun hid its face behind a thin layer of clouds. He could not, however, enjoy the fine weather. He feared his nerves might get the better of him when he finally told his son the truth.
Finally, River appeared in the distance carrying a small stack of books beneath one arm. His cousin and closest friend, Galen, accompanied him. Ryllak watched and waited as the young elves made their way across the village. They were both tall and slender with long dark hair, and might have been mistaken for brothers had it not been for River’s sapphire-blue eyes. Those eyes singled him out every time as someone special among the Westerling Elves. Blue eyes were not rare, but River’s particular sapphire hue had never been seen before in the Vale.
As the two approached, Ryllak stood up straight and crossed his arms. His face was stern, and his brown eyes stared intently at his son.
“Is everything all right?” River asked, noticing his father’s serious demeanor.
“We need to speak,” Ryllak replied.
“I think it’s time for me to go,” Galen said. He gave River a slight shrug and raised his eyebrows as he turned to walk away. “Good luck, River,” he added quietly.
River followed his father inside the arched doorway of the silver tree. Inside was a spacious home that was impossibly larger than the tree that held it. The magic of the forest supplied homes to the elves that did not require damaging any of the trees. The elves and the woods lived in harmony, each gladly accommodating the other.
“Sit down, Son,” Ryllak said.
He took a seat on the cushioned bench of the great room and patted the seat next to him. River sat, but Ryllak remained silent. He stared out the window overlooking the gardens, lost in thought. Finally he realized he could delay no longer.
“Son,” he began, “in two days’ time, you will be two hundred years old, and you will come of age. You will no longer be considered a child to us, and you must take your place among our people.”
River’s eyes darted around the room as he searched his mind for a response. He knew he was coming of age and would be expected to take on adult responsibilities. He hoped to leave his father’s home and begin his own life, but deciding what to do with a life of thousands of years was no easy task for a young elf. Failing to find the right words, he remained silent.
Ryllak sighed deeply and said, “I have told you of your mother and how she died in childbirth, but there are other things I haven’t told you.”
River, who had been staring at the floor, looked up at his father and stared into his eyes. He could tell what his father was about to say was serious, and it was difficult for him to say it.
“What is it, Father?” he asked after a few moments of silence.
Ryllak looked away from his son and said, “Your mother was taken by the river. You were stillborn, and she traded her life for yours.”
River was stunned by this news. Stumbling in his words, he asked, “How? How is such a thing possible?”
Ryllak cleared his throat and replied, “The Spirit of the river granted your life. We tried for many years to start a family, but we never had any success until Yillmara prayed to the river for a child. That is when you came to us, and the Spirit took her away.”
River’s eyes filled with tears for his mother, who had given up everything for him. Her selfless love overwhelmed him, and he was unsure how he should react. He had heard many stories of her and her sweet nature, and he regretted not having the chance to know her. His father had always been good to him, but not having a mother to turn to had been difficult.
“I do not know the Spirit who dwells in the river,” Ryllak said. “It has always been there, and it protects our people. I believe its intentions are good, and Yillmara was most willing to trade her life for yours. Do not feel guilty that you are here and she is not. She loved you more than words can describe.”
“But the Spirit killed her,” River replied. “Surely that was unnecessary.”
“It takes a Spirit of immense magical power to create a life. To grant an elven life, it must have another life freely given. That is the only way to maintain balance.”
“Then I owe my life to this Spirit,” River commented.
“In more ways than one,” Ryllak said. “Your mother became pregnant immediately after praying to the river. I have loved you and raised you as my own, but I believe the Spirit is your true father.”
A look of realization spread over River’s face. All his life he had felt compelled to visit the Blue River and stand at the base of the waterfall. He would stare into the flowing current for hours and release his mind from all thoughts but water. As he neared his coming of age, the compulsion had grown stronger. He had visited the river daily for the past few years and felt an unknown presence around him.
“This is why the Elders have always looked at me strangely,” he said. “I thought I was imagining it, but they already knew all of this. They knew I was not an ordinary elf. I’m some sort of magical hybrid. What am I, Father?” He stared at his father hoping for an answer.
After a few silent moments, Ryllak said, “You must ask that question of the Spirit. Perhaps you will find the answers you seek within the river.”
River sat motionless for a while. The younger elves had always treated him as one of their own. All of his life he had excelled at water magic, and he had simply considered himself talented. All elves were born with magical abilities, but his heightened abilities would now be attributed to his origin as a creature of magic. He had no desire to be different from the other elves, but it seemed he had little choice in the matter.
The Elders had always seemed suspicious of him throughout the course of his magical studies. He had felt singled out from his fellow students on many occasions. Frequently, his professors would require him to explain exactly how he had performed a task as simple as watering an herb garden. No one else was ever required to explain himself, but he had been questioned and interviewed by members of the Elder Council several times. Once, during a heavy rain, he was asked to stand beneath the drops and count them. At the time he thought it was some sort of punishment, but he had broken no rules. Now it was beginning to make sense.
After a while, he decided to pay the river a visit. He saw no harm in it and hoped he might find some answers there. As he walked through the village, he glanced around, wondering if anyone saw him differently. Of course they had not been present to hear his father’s words, but he could not help thinking that everyone would know the truth of his birth.
As he reached the bank, he removed his shoes and waded down into the water. It was cool, and a soft breeze wafted gently across its surface. The smooth rocks along the bottom provided a finely crafted natural floor. He made his way toward the waterfall, where the river tumbles down from its source in the mountains. The sound of the roaring water drowned all the noise of the village and the sounds of the forest.
Standing in front of the rushing water, he gazed into the foam, which floated lazily away from the falls. The sights and sounds of the water had a hypnotic effect on him, and his mind began to drift. He entered a state of calmness and surrendered his mind to the river.
A blue, swirling mist formed around his waist. The light grew larger until he was completely encompassed by a wave of blue magic. He welcomed the sensation, closing his eyes and lifting his arms above his head. The Spirit had come. River could hear its voice within his mind.
Child of the river, your spirit has awakened. Within you dwells the soul of the water, your true form. This blessing I have given you, and in time, you must return it. Each day you will visit here at dawn, and I will show you your path and lead you on your journey.
Who are you? River projected with his mind.
I am the Spirit, the Soul, and the Heart.
With those words, the voice went silent, and the blue magic faded away. As he turned to face the village, he noticed that many of the Vale’s citizens had gathered at the bank to see what was happening. His father was among them.
Slowly, he made his way back to the bank. As he stepped onto the sand, his long hair, which was previously dripping with water, became immediately dry. His long gray robe was dry as well. A few of the elves stepped away from him, some of them gasping.
His father strode forward and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, guiding him away from the bank. He led him back to their home and asked, “Did you find what you needed?”
“I think so,” River replied. “There are many things I need to learn. The Spirit in the water is going to teach me.”
Ryllak nodded and patted his son’s shoulder. He knew River would change when he came of age, but he had no idea how much. A bright future awaited him, that much was certain. He would be there to help in any way a father could.
River awoke before sunrise, and his mind was troubled. Though it had been more than a month since his father informed him of his true paternity, he could still remember every detail. The revelation had changed his outlook on life, and he was determined to live up to the destiny he had been given.
He still regretted never knowing his mother, and he wished he could speak with her at least once. On several occasions, he had asked the Spirit if such a thing were possible. The Spirit always responded vaguely, and River was never sure how to interpret the response. A few times, River thought he had seen his mother’s face amid the waters. It was only ever a glimpse, and he was never certain of what he saw.
He rose from his bed and proceeded toward the riverbank. As always, the first thing he did in the morning was visit the Spirit and bathe in the waters of the river. He would offer his life back to the Spirit who had given it, submitting himself to its will.
The Spirit had taught him many things over the past few weeks, and River had resolved to make himself useful to the elves of the Vale. Some of their distrust and uneasiness had disappeared as he was growing up, but some of the Elders still had their concerns. Creatures of magic were not fully understood by the Westerling Elves, but they were generally accepted as long as they were good-natured. The magical creatures of malevolent design were kept at bay by the magic of the forest. Their kind were not welcome in the Vale, and no elf sought them out.
River was of an unknown magical design. Though the River Spirit had never caused harm to any other elf in the Vale, Yillmara’s death had made them all uneasy. What had once been a helpful and pleasant creature was now suspected of murder. That suspicion did not easily leave the Elders’ minds. Their reservations about River and the water spirit within him seemed justified. Any creature who could command such power over life and death deserved to be monitored closely.
River himself had a good heart, and his only desire was to be of help to his kinsmen. Recently he had used his newfound powers to bring rain as needed and ensure the safety of the Vale by placing magical barriers at its borders. No one with evil intent could ever cross the river to enter the Vale as long as River lived.
The air outside was fresh and cool, the birds sang merrily overhead. A gentle breeze caressed his skin as he removed his silver robe and entered the cool water of the Blue River. His dark hair trailed freely behind him, floating at the water’s surface as he swam to the base of the waterfall. Nearly five hundred feet in height, the waterfall deposited the remains of snow melting high up in the Wrathful Mountains. At its base were large charcoal-gray boulders, which were suitable for sitting and spending a peaceful afternoon. Near these boulders, River would commune with the Spirit and seek its guidance.
The water was surprisingly warm, considering its source. Weather in the Vale brought a permanence of springtime for the Westerling Elves to enjoy. There were still rainy days to contend with, but the rains brought new life to the forests and provided sustenance for the creatures within.
As River reached the base of the waterfall, an uneasy feeling came over him. He tried his best to shake off the feeling and concentrate, but he found it impossible to focus his mind. Taking a few deep breaths, he proceeded to wash himself in the clear blue waters. After a few moments, he noticed movement from the corner of his eye. High overhead, an object was falling from the top of the waterfall. River stared at the object, his mouth dropping open. Within a few seconds, it hit the water, crashing violently below the surface.
Glancing overhead to be sure a second item wouldn’t follow the first, River moved toward the fallen object. As he moved closer, he could plainly see that this was not some random bit of debris. A dwarf had fallen to his death from somewhere in the mountains.
Nervously, River approached the dwarf and looked down on his lifeless form. Placing a hand at the side of the dwarf’s neck, River could feel no trace of a pulse. The dwarf’s face was pale, suggesting he may have been dead before the fall. There were no obvious bruises or cuts on his skin, which seemed strange considering the route the body had traveled to reach the Vale.
Others within the village had witnessed the spectacle and were on their way to investigate. A few of them had already gathered on the bank, watching intently as River inspected the corpse. Ryllak noticed the commotion and decided to make sure River was all right.
Pushing his way past the crowd, Ryllak waded into the water and made his way to his son’s side. River’s face was troubled, and Ryllak reached out to comfort him.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yes, but this dwarf certainly isn’t.” His concern was obvious in his voice, his hands shaking slightly as he placed them on each side of the dwarf’s head. Blue magic spread over the body as River looked inside the dwarf’s mind.
Ryllak waited anxiously, maintaining his silence so as not to break River’s concentration. He worried what his son might see and hoped it would not be too much for him to handle. Though he was of age, Ryllak could not stop thinking of him as a child.
“This man was ill,” River said softly. “He is a miner from a dwarf village in the mountains, and he became ill shortly after beginning his work this morning. He went to a creek somewhere above to cool his fevered skin before falling in.” River removed his hands from the dwarf and looked at his father. “I believe he drowned and was carried away for miles in the current before ending up here.”
Thinking of his son’s welfare first, Ryllak replied, “Is this illness contagious? Should you be touching him?”
“I don’t know what it is,” River admitted. “The Spirit may know since the dwarf is in its waters. I don’t sense any danger for myself, but for the rest of our village I cannot say.”
“You should speak to the Spirit, then,” Ryllak said. “I will move this unfortunate dwarf to the riverbank.” Carefully, Ryllak dragged the body away. As he reached the bank, other elves offered their assistance in pulling the dwarf from the water.
River turned his attention back to the waterfall and stared into the deep blue water at its base. Focusing his energy, his eyes flashed sparkling blue. The Spirit had come to offer its guidance. Sensing its presence, River relaxed his body, allowing his mind to open and receive the Spirit’s words.
Ryllak gazed out into the water where River stood encompassed by a pale-blue light. He hoped the information his son received would be good news, but in his heart, he knew that would not be the case. The appearance of this dwarf was far too strange to be a mere coincidence. Such a thing had never before occurred in the Vale.
Patiently he waited until River began making his way to the riverbank. As he drew closer, Ryllak could see the concerned look on his son’s face, and his heart sank. There was trouble ahead, and he feared that his son might soon be in grave danger.
Thunder rumbled softly in the distance as Kaiya sat motionless, her face turned toward the wind. A gentle mist began to fall, and she lifted the hood of her gray woolen cloak. The sky grew ever darker, encompassing the dwarven villages of the Wrathful Mountains in shadow.
“You’ll catch your death out there!” Kassie cried, leaning her head out of the doorway. She promptly slammed the door shut to keep out the rain.
“Coming, Mum,” Kaiya replied quietly. Slowly, she stood and made her way back to the farmhouse. Only once did she pause, gazing one last time at the sky. Taking a deep breath, she filled her lungs with the fresh scent of rain that precedes a storm. With a sigh, she continued inside her home.
“There you are,” her mother remarked.
Kaiya removed her damp cloak and carefully placed it on a hook near the door. “It’s not a bad storm,” she said. “There’s no need for a fuss.”
Kassie giggled with joy as she looked upon her daughter. “You’re all frizzy from the rain, my dear.” Licking her hand, she attempted to smooth Kaiya’s short violet locks.
“Stop, Mum,” Kaiya said, backing away. “It’s fine.”
“Of course it is,” Darvil broke in. “It’s not as if she’s after a husband.”
“Not tonight, anyway,” her mother replied with a smirk.
“If you’re going to remain an old maid, at least help your mother with dinner,” he grumbled, scratching the thick red beard on his chin. “It’s not right to still be living with your parents at your age. It’s high time—”
“I found a husband and got on with my life—yadda, yadda, yadda,” Kaiya finished.
“It’s that smart mouth of yours that keeps you from finding a man,” her father declared.
Sighing, Kaiya joined her mother in the kitchen.
“Don’t listen to him,” Kassie said. “He’s glad to have you here to help out, even if he doesn’t want to admit it. The boys have gone, and my sweet girl can stay as long as she likes.” She smiled warmly at Kaiya.
“I still wish he wouldn’t say things like that,” she replied. “It’s already hard enough being different.”
“You’re special, that’s all,” her mother said. “Someday you’ll find someone who’s right for you, and then you’ll be off to have children of your own.”
Kaiya did not reply. Having children was not on her list of things she wanted to do. All her life she had been treated as an outcast, thanks to her magical abilities. Dwarves were not known to possess such skill, and none of her peers could relate to her situation. She was different, and that was all the reason they needed to be cruel. Her father’s constant reminders of her lack of a husband did not help matters. At nearly thirty years of age, she was already older than most brides. Marriage did not matter to Kaiya. She had dedicated every free moment to the study of magic, and she did not intend to suppress her talents in order to fit in.
Outside, the wind started to howl. Kaiya dashed to the window to look upon the storm. The trees danced and swayed, urged on by the powerful gusts. Lightning reflected in her gray eyes, and she felt a sudden surge of power rush through her body.
“Come away from the window, Kaiya,” her mother said softly.
Kaiya did not reply. Instead, she remained silent, entranced as she looked upon the storm.
“Kaiya,” her mother said again. “Please.”
Dropping her gaze to the floor, Kaiya moved away from the window and took a seat at her mother’s side. “I sense a presence in the storm,” she said quietly.
“You’re scaring me, Kaiya,” Kassie replied nervously. “Let’s just have dinner, all right?”
Still troubled by the feeling, Kaiya nodded and rose from her seat. Retrieving dishes from the cabinet, she suddenly felt sick to her stomach. An intense headache overcame her, and she dropped her head into her hands.
“Kaiya, what is it?” her mother asked, concerned. Rushing to her daughter’s side, she helped her back to her seat. “Tell me,” she said.
“I don’t know,” Kaiya replied. “I feel sick all of a sudden. There’s something out there, Mum. I don’t think it’s something nice.”
Darvil made his way into the kitchen hoping to eat but saw that his daughter was ailing. “What is it, girl?” he asked as tenderly as he could manage.
“She’s not feeling well,” Kassie replied. “It’s that magic. She senses something in the storm.”
“An evil spirit?” Darvil asked. “That’s the only thing that could account for this.” He bent forward and patted his daughter’s head. “Let Papa help you to bed,” he said, helping her to her feet.
Kaiya nodded slowly and rested her head on her father’s shoulder. Together they ascended the stairs to Kaiya’s room.
After helping her into bed, Darvil said, “You know I love you, girl. I didn’t mean those things I said about having you married off.”
Weakly, Kaiya replied, “I know, Papa.” The pain in her head intensified, and tears filled her eyes.
Kassie made her way up the stairs with a bowl of cool water and a cloth for Kaiya’s forehead. Gently, she patted her daughter’s face with the damp cloth, hoping to soothe her pain. The storm continued to rage outside, and the wind howled as if crying out for help.
With a sudden jolt, Kaiya bolted upright in her bed. Kassie jumped back, startled.
“What is it?”
“The wind,” Kaiya replied, her gray eyes beginning to shine with magic. “It’s calling to me.”
“Let it call,” Darvil replied. “You need your rest.” He quickly went over to the window and fastened the shutters.
“Rest, dear,” Kassie said softly, still patting Kaiya’s face with the cloth.
Kaiya settled back into her bed, squeezing her eyes shut. Just breathe, she thought. This will pass. The wind continued to call, and she fought the urge to run out into the storm. She knew there was no danger for her, but she did not wish to frighten her parents.
Somewhere nearby, a presence had awakened. Though she did not know exactly what it was, Kaiya knew it was evil by nature. A dark spirit had come into the Wrathful Mountains, and its purpose was unclear.
Despite the evil presence, Kaiya felt no fear. With the wind as her ally, she knew she would be safe from harm. Her family, though, might not be so lucky. Danger was about to descend upon the dwarves of the mountain.
Telorithan took a seat in his former master’s library to await his arrival. He smoothed out the wrinkles in his long red robe and casually twirled a silver strand of hair on his finger. The mirror above the fireplace attracted his attention, giving him yet another opportunity to admire himself. There could never be another as beautiful as me, he thought. His blue eyes sparkled, accentuated by the bronze-toned skin of his face. I am truly perfection.
Though he had been sitting only a few minutes, he began to tap his finger against the arm of his chair. Patience was not a virtue he possessed. When he wanted something, he wanted it immediately, and nothing could stand in his way. Today he came seeking his mentor’s advice in hopes that the old elf would be able to assist in his latest endeavor.
Finally, Yiranor entered the library wearing his usual red-black robe, his face showing his advanced age. He smiled warmly at his former apprentice. “So delightful to see you, Telorithan. It’s always a pleasure to have you visit.”
Remaining in his seat, Telorithan nodded. “Yes,” he replied dismissively. “Tell me, do you have any knowledge of the process of soul binding?”
Yiranor was momentarily shocked by the question, his mouth dropping open in reply. Telorithan raised his eyebrows, awaiting a response. Slowly, Yiranor regained his composure and took a seat opposite his guest.
“It’s a banned practice. Please tell me you aren’t wasting your talents on such nonsense.” His dark eyes regarded his former pupil suspiciously.
“Always the teacher,” Telorithan replied, shaking his head. “As a matter of fact, I have been doing some research in that field. I have had success with animal specimens, and I’m planning to expand my research to include elven subjects.”
Yiranor, who was taking a sip of tea, coughed and sputtered. Telorithan sat unmoving and expressionless. The practice of soul binding had been banned for centuries in the Sunswept Isles. No Enlightened Elf had publicly admitted to performing such magic in living memory.
“I am shocked by this, Telorithan,” Yiranor finally replied. “You were among the youngest ever to achieve the rank of Master. You were the finest pupil I ever taught, and now you are wasting your talents on this? Is this what you’ve been doing for the past two hundred years? Tell me I have misunderstood.”
“On the contrary,” Telorithan said. “You have understood me perfectly. It is my intention to eventually bind the essence of a god.”
The old elf stared at him in disbelief. “The gods cannot be bound. That is what makes them gods.”
“Yes, but they were elves once,” Telorithan replied, his voice becoming excited. “No one has discovered what process they used to make themselves what they are now. I have searched high and low, finding nothing but dead ends. With soul binding, I don’t need to know their process. I can simply take what they already have.”
“Simply?” Yiranor echoed, jumping to his feet. “This is no simple task you speak of. Soul binding takes immense concentration and vast amounts of power.”
A wicked grin spread across Telorithan’s face. “So you do have some knowledge of the process?”
Sighing, Yiranor sank back into his chair. “I admit I have studied such things in the past. I was intrigued by the process, but I never practiced it on any living creature.”
“What exactly did you study? Where can I find more information?” Telorithan leaned in close to Yiranor, interlacing his fingers in an effort to stop himself from fidgeting with excitement.
“We should not be speaking of such things.” Yiranor was plainly uncomfortable with the conversation.
“But we are speaking of it,” Telorithan replied. “Why is the process banned? Because other sorcerers did not have the power to control the bound essences. They were failures. I will succeed.”
Yiranor eyed him suspiciously, still unsure if he should share the information he was withholding. Telorithan had been an extremely talented student, but he could be impulsive and was quick to anger.
Seeing that Yiranor was not yet convinced, Telorithan tried again. “If I can perfect the process, everyone will want to perform this magic. The process will no longer be banned.” These words were empty. Telorithan had no intention of sharing anything he had learned or was yet to learn with any other sorcerer.
Considering his former student’s words carefully, Yiranor asked, “Do you truly think soul binding could be put to good use? Which elves would be subject to the binding? How would you choose?”
“We can use criminals for practice. Once the process is perfected, anyone is fair game. If you don’t want your essence bound, you had better be strong enough to put up a fight.”
“That’s a dreadful way of putting it, Telorithan. I hope you didn’t expect to convince me with such talk.” Yiranor had always been somewhat frightened of his apprentice, but he tried not to show it as he spoke.
“Honestly,” Telorithan began, “I am doing this for my own benefit. If others wish to follow along afterward, it is no concern of mine. No one is as skilled as I am. No one else will be able to bind a god.” He did not bother to hide his conceit. To him, the only thing that mattered was obtaining his mentor’s help. Somewhere within this library was a scroll that could answer all of his questions. He was determined to obtain it at any cost.
“I suppose that is for the best,” Yiranor admitted. “I do not relish the thought of elves dueling over trivial matters in an effort to collect souls. There would be chaos in the streets!”
“Will you help me?” Telorithan asked impatiently. “You have a vast collection here. You’ve managed to obtain texts the University would not allow in its library.”
The old elf beamed with pride, a smug expression settling on his wrinkled face. “It’s true. My travels have afforded me some rather valuable little trinkets.”
“There must be something here I can use. I need your help, Yiranor.”
Yiranor couldn’t help but feel sentimental at the plea of his former student. Though he was a dangerous elf to cross, he had always felt a special bond with him. Having no children of his own, he had come to look upon Telorithan as his own son. “I will do what I can,” he replied. “I believe I have what you are looking for.”
Telorithan smiled, knowing he had come to the right place. Yiranor was a man of wealth, and within his spire were ancient texts and artifacts that would rival even the finest museum. Though he would never admit to such things, Yiranor had dabbled in dark magic in the past. If anyone could provide the information Telorithan was seeking, it was his former master.
The old elf popped up from his seat with surprising energy. Turning to observe the shelves of his library, he lifted a finger in the air and shook it. Finally deciding on a direction, he pointed and said, “That way.”
Telorithan followed closely behind as Yiranor headed for a shelf at the farthest end of the room. On a low shelf was an ornate golden chest carved with runes. Yiranor ran his hands over the lid, caressing it gently.
“This is a rare thing indeed,” he said. “Inside this chest are documents written by the ancients themselves. They cover all manner of dark magics, including soul binding.”
“Why didn’t you show this to me immediately?” Telorithan asked, slightly offended. “You’ve known all along you have what I need. Why did you require me to beg?”
“Nonsense,” Yiranor replied. “I only wanted you to explain a little. No harm in that, is there?”
“There could have been,” Telorithan snapped. His eyes flashed red with anger, but he had no intention of harming his mentor.
A warning was fair enough, for Yiranor knew he could never defeat his former student in a duel. “You may study this here or take it with you,” Yiranor offered. “I would enjoy working on this with you. I have greatly missed your presence here in my spire.”
Telorithan rolled his eyes. He had no need for the old elf’s emotional connection. Knowledge and power were far more important than any friendship. “If you have knowledge, then I suggest you share it.”
Yiranor nodded and lifted the chest from its shelf. “Let’s have a look at these scrolls, shall we?” he said as he proceeded to a long wooden table. Placing the chest on the table, he opened the lid and took out four scrolls. “I looked at these nearly a thousand years ago and haven’t taken them out since. I admit I read about the practice, but I never tried to cast a binding spell. The idea was tempting, but I didn’t have the desire to harm anyone by practicing on them.”
“And that’s why you failed to learn,” Telorithan said. “I will not fail.”