Record of the War of Gæsidris
Dawn stared at the ground, trying to ignore the stares that were aimed her way. She hated it when people stared at her, with her silvery white hair and pale skin. Albinism was not common in her family but every fifth or sixth generation or so, one comes up. It was just her luck that it was she who got it. Besides, it wasn't really that bad. She has seen some humans – who didn't look like albinos with their hair – who were slightly paler than her. But her skin did not erase the fact that her white hair stood out. Dawn hated receiving attention; especially if the attention wasn't really good attention since most who gave her that attention thought she was a freak. It was due to this attention that Dawn developed a liking for hats and anything else that covered her hair. She had asked her mother if she could cut it but her mother firmly said 'no'.
Pushing through the crowd, the young woman took a sharp turn around a corner to a more secluded street. For the umpteenth time, she muttered sourly about festivals, especially the sky festival. The major celebration only reminded her of the prophecy made upon her birth and her failure in reaching what was supposed to be her full potential – the amazing power of the skies.
Her family was full of witches. Almost every single female was a witch. Some were even powerful enough to be able to combat against spirit lords if necessary. Before Dawn's birth, her great aunt, who was a Seer, Saw that she would be the one to carry sky magic and will be named Dawn. Her parents were excited with the Sighting but when her thirteenth birthday came – the age where witches and wizards reveal their true potential – nothing happened. Yes, there was magic but that magic was basic magic.
She could not even summon a breeze.
Her parents, along with the Wicca Faction, were greatly disappointed. They had waited for her fourteenth birthday – even up to her fifteenth birthday. But in the end, they had given up, seeing that she wasn't learning anything past the basic magic skills. As the witches thought about it, it did seem absurd that an albino would get such a gift from the sky when she couldn't even go out in the sun without covering her whole body. Now, they had turned their attention to Bronwyn, a girl her junior of two years and a master with her teleportation magic and potions. Teleportation was a rare gift and hard to master. However, being perfect, Bronwyn had full mastery of her powers as soon as she got to her fifteenth birthday. Bronwyn was also beautiful and intelligent. She had such charisma that people were easily drawn to her.
Basically, Bronwyn was everything Dawn was not.
They also disliked each other immensely that one would call it hate. Well, in Bronwyn's case, she hated Dawn. For what reason, Dawn had no idea. Bronwyn would always try to get Dawn in trouble. Of course, their teachers would believe perfect Bronwyn, not 'Disappointment Dawn'. Then again, Dawn thought that Bronwyn's nasty personality made it easy to hate her.
Dawn had planned on doing some practice today. She still continued to hope that she could grant her family's wish. She had promised herself that she would give up on her fifteenth birthday but that did not happen. She said one more year. When her sixteenth birthday came, she said one more year. When her seventeenth birthday came, she decided to try one more year. She thought that her eighteenth birthday would be her lucky day. She was wrong.
Now her nineteenth birthday was coming up.
Maybe she should just give up. There was a big chance that her great aunt was wrong. Her great aunt wasn't exactly known for her amazing Seeing powers. In fact, she only showed signs of having the Sight when she was sixteen.
The girl sighed. When she had told her teacher that she wanted to practice, the teacher gave her a look that said, "Why bother practicing if you can't practice anything?" That look had hurt Dawn more than she wanted to admit. Instead of practicing, her teacher had sent her on an errand. Now, here she was, in the centre of all the festivities, looking for an old wizard.
Might as well make the most of it, Dawn thought. The wizard she had been sent to was actually her maternal grandmother's cousin. Dawn meets him from time to time and she always learned something new. Maybe visiting him would be a better use of her time instead of practicing.
Finally finding his workshop, Dawn tapped the door three times and it opened for her. She stepped inside and the door automatically closed behind her.
The room was empty. Dawn, however, knew that the wise wizard was at the back, probably finishing off what he was doing. As she waited, she looked at the shelf full of magical items, such as talismans, next to the counter.
One particular talisman caught her eye and made her smile. It was a love charm. She giggled to herself when she thought of the uses people who buy these things have for it.
"I never thought you would be one to have interest in love charms, my girl."
Dawn jumped in surprise and quickly spun around to face the owner of the voice. She sighed in relief when she saw that it was only her grandmother's cousin.
"I'm not interested in them, sir," Dawn said as she looked at his smiling face. "I was just wondering what kind of uses people would make of them."
The wizard's smile widened. "Very interesting uses, my dear. Tell me, was that the reason you giggled?" Dawn chuckled.
Oloron was a well-known wizard in their town. He was also one of the oldest, making a lot of people come to him for advice. Sadly, he was also one of only four who supported Dawn. For that, Dawn was extremely grateful.
Now, Oloron smiled as he looked carefully at his kin. "Well? I'm sure you're not here for a social visit."
Dawn's eyes widened and she suddenly found the floor interesting. She looked guilty. "Am I not visiting you enough? I'm deeply sorry. I'll make more time-"
Oloron laughed and held a hand up. "No, I am not complaining on the amount of your visits. I just happen to know that you hate going outside during the Sky Festival."
The girl looked back at him, her lips forming an 'o'. Smiling weakly, she took a letter from her pocket and gave it to him.
"This is from Madame Sarita," Dawn supplied as Oloron opened the letter and read its contents. "She also told me to tell you that the potion you asked for is ready for you claim… She couldn't entrust it to me."
Or she wouldn't.
Oloron reread the letter before looking back at her. "Tell Sarita that I shall be there tomorrow. She's sending for me and as usual, it's only because she needs someone else to do dirty work for her." Oloron shook his head. "Not that I'm trying to make you think ill of her. Sarita can be a good teacher."
- If your powers weren't limited to basic magic.
There was an awkward silence. Dawn was no fool and she knew what was left unsaid in that sentence. Still, she tried to shake it away.
"Madame Sarita expects me to be back soon," Dawn said reluctantly. "It's nice seeing you as usual, Master Oloron."
"I've told you a number of times not to call me 'Master'." There was exasperation and fondness in that voice.
"What do I call you then?"
"Hmm… Uncle." Dawn grinned.
"You're my grandmother's cousin. But if you want to sound younger then I'll call you Uncle."
"That's my girl! Now, shoo!"
Dawn smiled brightly, gave the wizard a kiss on the cheek and left. Oloron watched her walk along the street through his glass windows before his smile became a serious expression.
"Uncle, hmm?" an attractive deep male voice rang from the shadows. "What is her name?"
Oloron smiled darkly as he faced the shadows. "She is off limits to you, Fao. Her blood is one of the things you cannot have from me."
"Did I ever say I wanted her blood?" There was amusement in that voice. "I only want her name."
Oloron looked suspicious but gave him the answer anyway. "Dawn."
"Dawn…" The way he said the name was like a caress. "What a lovely name. Is that her witch name?"
The wizard looked more suspicious. "Her witch name. Why the sudden interest?"
There was momentary silence before he was given an answer.
"No reason." Oloron then felt the other male's presence disappear. Despite the fact that they have been acquaintances for a number of years now, Oloron was still worried.
If there was one thing he was sure of about the Spirit Lord Fao, it was the fact that he never has no reason for anything he does.
Dawn finally reached the witch school. It was already getting dark. She was sure that no one was really looking for her. Since she was so close to her nineteenth birthday, she was already considered capable of taking care of herself. She should be able to take care of herself.
Each passing year makes Dawn's situation direr. If she reaches her twentieth birthday without her supposed sky powers appearing, she would be kicked out of the school and declared to only possess basic magic. Personally, she thought that her teachers want her out now but the lead witch of the Wicca Faction was fair enough to let her stay until her twentieth birthday. Still, no one really expected her to suddenly get her magic in a year's time – not after waiting for six agonizing years, but for Dawn, a lifetime.
As soon as she entered the one-levelled establishment, Dawn was greeted by none other than Bronwyn. Even smirking, Bronwyn was still the most beautiful girl Dawn has ever seen. She was positive that the snobby witch would be devastating after a couple of years.
"Madame Sarita's waiting for you," Bronwyn said viciously. "She's with your parents. I think you're in trouble… I certainly hope so."
Dawn only replied by rolling her eyes and pushing past the younger yet taller girl. She went straight towards Madame Sarita's office, wondering what they could want with her.
The young witch knocked on the door. When she heard the "Come in." she pushed the door open. To her surprise, it wasn't just Madame Sarita and her parents who were there. The head witch of the Wicca Faction, Medea, was there, along with her most loyal Sisters. The white haired girl instantly knew that this was a very serious situation.
"You summoned me, Madame Sarita?" Dawn tried her hardest to sound calm but her whole form was trembling. She felt so small in front of Medea and her most powerful witches.
It was Medea who answered. "Please sit down, Dawn."
Medea was an extremely beautiful woman in her prime. Dawn had heard rumours that Bronwyn was related to this powerful witch. There were similarities between them such as the eyes and some facial features. Bronwyn, it would seem, would grow as lovely – and maybe as powerful – as the woman currently standing before her.
"You might be wondering why you're here," Medea started and paused, giving Dawn the chance to nod her head. "I'm sure you've heard rumours about an upcoming war between magical humans and spirits, correct?"
There were rumours about an upcoming war. However, Dawn thought they were just that – rumours. Spirits were immortal unless slain and were extremely powerful creatures. Most of them have a branch of nature such as wind, water, fire, earth, wood and metal. There are other branches but those six were the main branches. In addition to that, some spirits have spell-casting abilities just like human witches and wizards. What chance did magical humans have against them?
On the other hand, there are a number of witches and wizards who can slay spirits. Magical humans can also live for a number of centuries depending on the amount of power they have. The oldest recorded reached up to 1500 years old. In addition to that, there are more humans than spirits so that somewhat evened the odds. But if a war did occur, if one race is wiped out, the other race will be close to extinction anyway due to the great losses.
That was not Dawn's current worry though. Her current worry was why they were asking her this.
"Yes I have heard rumours but I thought they were only rumours," Dawn answered politely. Also, why were they discussing a matter of this gravity in an office?
As if hearing her thoughts, Medea explained, "You must be wondering why we would ask you this so unexpectedly and in less a secure place. Don't worry. I assure you that this room is heavily guarded. I just cannot have this conversation in the Wicca Faction's base since I fear that we may have spies in there. These are my most loyal Sisters." She gestured to the six women behind her. No one was looking straight at Dawn except for one. This woman looked to be Medea's age and was as beautiful. However, instead of having black hair, she was brown-haired – a gorgeous shade of brown. Dawn felt a chill run down her spine as those light green eyes stared into her own hazel ones.
Dawn snapped back into attention. She looked up at Medea, startled. Medea only closed her eyes in exasperation before standing back. Dawn stared at the ground apologetically.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. Medea waved a hand, dismissing the apology.
"Now Dawn, I have been informed that you're still limited to basic magic despite the prophecy upon your birth?" Dawn winced. If Medea noticed, she chose to ignore it. "Your nineteenth birthday is coming up and there are still no signs. I'm afraid I have to let you go."
The young witch quickly looked up and saw the grave expressions on her parents' faces. She looked back at Medea, eyes pleading. "Can't I have 'till my twentieth birthday? This last year might be my lucky year! My family has been full of outstanding witches and wizards. I'm sure something will happen-"
Medea held her hand up and Dawn immediately shut her mouth.
"I know all about your family. That is why I have a proposition to make." Sarita stood up from behind her desk and stepped away for Medea to take her place. Medea smiled at her before looking down at the scroll folded on top of the desk. Opening it, Medea looked back at Dawn. "The rumours about war are not rumours, Dawn. The spirits are preparing for it and so must we. We have planned a very special task for you."
Dawn resisted the urge to swallow visibly. All her senses were screaming at her to run far away. However, seeing the stern looks on her parents' faces, including the hope in their eyes, she stayed put and tried breathing evenly.
"What task?" she asked.
Medea smiled, the kind of smile that would make anyone do anything her will bids. Dawn had heard about that infamous smile – a smile that could send ten hundreds and thousands of humans to their death with joy in their hearts for having the chance to serve her. However, Dawn could not help but hate that smile.
"We have received reports that the Spirit Lord Fao is currently on the prowl in this area. I'm sure you know who he is."
The task seemed to be coming clearer and clearer. Fao was a legendary spirit lord of fire, wind and earth. It was general knowledge that he drank witch blood to sustain himself and increase his powers. However, for some reason, he does not choose just any witch. He takes virgin witches. He lures them into trusting him. There are those who have lived after seeing him. They all said he was ethereally beautiful even for spirit standards, which was why he was able to ensnare virgin witches so easily. But this ethereal appearance was only a mask of the monster within him. At least, that was the tale.
Medea continued as Dawn grew paler and paler despite her already pale skin. "He does accept workers in his household, or so we were told. You can see where I'm getting at, right?"
Oh, Dawn knew all too well. They want her to go into Fao's service.
"But do not worry," Medea went on, knowing that the younger girl was having a difficulty in breathing. "He only takes blood from witches with powers beyond basic magic."
Again, there was that painful reminder that she owed them her service, owed them for not being who she was supposed to be, owed them for giving them such a great disappointment.
She looked at her parents, desperately wanting them to intervene, desperately wanting them to say that their child's safety was more important than some mission to redeem herself. But the hope that was in their eyes became triumph. They wanted her to sacrifice everything and make her family proud. Heartbroken, Dawn could only say the protocol phrase that sealed her fate.
"I will do as you wish."