A/N - Please read. I know that many of you have enjoyed this story, and I am immensely grateful for all of the alerts, reviews, and favourites it has gotten, However, I am not happy with it. I look at it and cringe. Which is what makes editing/re-vamping it quite hard. What I'd like is someone to help be beta/edit it. Really rip it apart, give advice, give critics, etc. I know it's somewhat of a major project, so I'm more than happy to offer as 'payment' of sorts a oneshot of their choosing.
If you're interested, please PM me.
D'rian trudged reluctantly down the steps of his tower. He very rarely had cause to leave it, and that was perfectly alright with him. It may have seemed claustrophobic to many people, but his tower was his home; his sanctuary. When D'rian had to venture out into the castle proper, he was generally regarded with stares (both obvious and subtle) and was the subject of whispered conversations. A shame he was forced to ignore those comments; as tempting as it was to remind the people why exactly it was that he was the Royal Wizard. Not that he would actually hurt anyone, but there were plenty of harmless but humiliating things he could do. Unfortunately, he didn't need to call any more negative attention to himself, so he was forced to endure the stares and whispers.
Reaching his destination, he scowled under his hood as he noticed the closed doors. Of course he was called down here 'urgently' and then forced to wait around. Slumping into one of the uncomfortable chairs he settled in to wait for his audience. Thankfully the guards were professional and ignored the hooded figure of the wizard.
The young man snorted to himself at his title. He wasn't anything close to a regular wizard, but if that was found out, he'd be a dead man. His father, he barely remembered him, but he did remember serious silver eyes slowly dimming, telling him that no matter what, he had to hide what he was. It was nearly two decades ago that D'rian had been left alone, fending for himself on the streets for a few years before an elderly couple had taken him in. He found it hadn't taken much to alter his appearance, except for his damning inhuman eyes. But it had quickly become apparent to the eight year old that he would also have to hide his powers. Living on his own had taught the young boy to be a quick learner, and it only took one incident for that important lesson to be driven home.
D'rian had been starving, not that that was an uncommon occurrence during that period of his life, but he had seen that freshly cooked meat and his mouth was watering. Taking a furtive glance around, he hadn't seen anyone in the near vicinity so had deemed it safe to swipe some dinner. He concentrated and pulled, and the meat (and the whole plate) left the table and moved into D'rian's waiting hands. Just in time for a woman to walk into the kitchen his dinner had been located in. She met his eyes - damned eyes! - And promptly screamed. The plate and his meal hit the ground and the youth took off down the street. However, his keen hearing heard the woman's panicked description of what happened, and the man's attempt to calm her down, that "the king had purged the monsters; of course it was just a little thief." Her next words, however, twisted in his gut to this day.
"But his eyes! I saw them - silver like one of those demons! And the plate moved. Don't tell me to hush, I know what I saw!"
The guard was called, and it was only by luck that he was able to get away from them. For the rest of the night, he lay curled up on the tree branch he was hiding on, afraid that the slightly movement would rustle the leaves and bring someone's attention to his hiding spot. Eventually the panic subsided, and he was able to crawl down, stiff, tired, and still hungry, to continue to the next town hoping for better luck.
From that point on, he stopped using his abilities, except to change what he could of his looks, and let his hair grow long to shadow his face and his damning eyes. A little over a year later, he was attempting to get some lunch the old fashioned way. Stealing was hard work, just not honest hard work. Everyone thought thieves stole because they were too lazy to work. D'rian would have been happy to pick up a hammer or a plow and then be able to take his coins and buy a meal like a normal person. But he was too young for most people to employ, for anything that he was willing to do anyway, and he would have to risk exposure for it. So he was left to try to steal to eat, which most of the time ended in him being caught and chased away. But this particular theft happened to be the best mistake he could have ever made, not that he thought so when he had been immobilized by the retired wizard he was attempting to steal from. While D'rian's own abilities were formed of his own will, a wizards were formed of spells and enchantments created with herbs, stones and other such tools. Brant, or Gramps as he took to calling the elderly man who took him in, never outright said that he knew D'rian wasn't human, but it was obvious in the way he took to training the boy in his craft. Over the next ten years, his Gramps showed him how to make it look like he used wizardry to cover the use of his own abilities. It even gave him a way to hide his eyes, as most wizards wore long robes to carry all of their tools, and it was a simple matter to pick one with a hood.
So his youth passed. The good thing about not actually needing to learn the spells was that it gave D'rian time to learn other skills, such as sword work and archery. While most wizards were pale and gaunt from long hours learning spells and reading incantations, D'rian quickly became toned from hours in the sun. He was by no means a master swordsman; having no one to practice against limited his training, but he was an excellent shot with the bow, and combined with the spattering of street fighting he had to learn earlier in his life and the agility he had gained as a child thief, he was fairly confident in his ability to protect himself should the need arise, if for whatever reason he couldn't use his other abilities.
For companionship however, he was leery about anyone other than his Gramps and Gram. While at home he could pretend he was normal, and so would his guardians, he knew it would only take one person to see his eyes or see him perform magic without use of a wizard's tools, and both his life and Brant's would be forfeit. He did his best to not let it bother him, but at the same time he couldn't help feeling a little bitter towards society as a whole and the King in particular. Yes, he could do magic - without the trappings that wizards needed that is - and yes, he may appear different, but not so much where he should have to hide in fear. Eyes, hair, even skin colour changed from human to human yet that wasn't punishable by death! However, at the end of the day, it changed nothing and he was forced to hide away. As a child, he watched the children in his neighbourhood play together, then as they grew older the playing turned to shy flirting, then courting, and as the years passed more and more married and moved away. Each couple that left was a relief, as he envied them the normal, simple lives they led, and the relationships he didn't dare form.
Until one day it was time for D'rian to move on as well. He had awoken one day, shortly after his nineteenth birthday, and instantly knew something was wrong. Moving off the small cot he used in the main room, he crept into the small bedroom his Gram and Gramps used, already fearing for what he would see. And sure enough, they were curled around each other, still in death. While D'rian knew they were old, and had lived full lives, he still grieved for the only family he had truly known. The young man had spent the next few days preparing for the burial and clearing out the house. While he was considered strange, the elderly couple had been well liked, and their friends and neighbours all stopped by to pay their respects. He, however, would not remain there afterwards, it just wouldn't feel right. During this time, he found trinkets and old journals left behind by his Gram, showing that she was in fact not human either. This only made his belief that the couple knew his secret even firmer. It also showed why his Gramps hadn't survived his wife's passing - as a mate to a lycan he wouldn't have the will to continue on without the presence of young children or another pressing need. The fact that she should have been killed made his blood boil - she may have had the ability to turn into a wolf, but she was a good woman. There wasn't a child in the neighbourhood who hadn't called her Gram or been treated to a cake or some other treat whenever they stopped by.
After the funeral, he gathered up his few belongings and mementos of his guardians, and took to wandering. Being able to pass himself off as a wizard gained him odd jobs fairly regularly, as well as keeping most dangers at bay. He wandered for two years, until he found himself unwittingly helping the King's brother who had been attacked by one of the few rebel bands that roamed the country. Truthfully he probably wouldn't have helped except he saw a young girl in the carriage as well, and he realized he couldn't sit by and let an innocent child be slaughtered. The Duke ended up actually being quite a nice man, and insisted on rewarding D'rian for the rescue. Without appearing suspicious the young man had no real reason to refuse, and accepted a position in his household. So he went with the small party to the capital city, and stayed on as the Duke's personal wizard for a year. During this time, the young girl, Saela, stuck to him like glue, even going so far as to announce that she planned on marrying the wizard once she came of age. It was a close contest as to whether D'rian's face or her father's was redder at that statement. Especially given that the girl had been betrothed to one of the royal knights nearly since birth. Luckily Duke Jalen was used to his daughter doing impulsive things and waved it off as a passing fancy.
He stayed with the Duke's family for a little over a year, and if he hadn't been so paranoid about someone discovering his secret it would have been quite a pleasant experience for him. For the first time in his life, he was accepted in society. He was regarded as odd, but most wizards were so it was easy enough to ignore. The family adored him and treated him as an adopted family member. But each day D'rian woke to wonder if this would be the day they realized he wasn't human. Thankfully this never happened, but as with all good things, this time as well came to an end. The King's Royal Wizard had passed away, and having heard from his brother what an excellent wizard D'rian was, insisted that the boy pack his things and move to the palace to take the Royal Wizard's place. Jalen, knowing his brother's temperament, had no choice but to send the young man away.
D'rian was terrified. This was the King that had ordered his family's death, who still hunted down anyone non-human, and ruled his kingdom with an iron fist. For those who did not fall on the wrong side of any of his hundreds on new laws life was very good, very few were hungry or homeless and most people lived comfortable lives. But the laws were strict, and punishment fast and generally fatal. Aside from the laws against non-humans, most perceived wrong doings were met with death, even for smaller crimes. One of his favourite punishments was conscription into the royal army. It was quite possible there were more soldiers than civilians in the capital city. Anyone seen as a threat to the crown was dealt with in the same manner, until it got to the point where people were afraid to speak about anything regarding politics, good or ill. As the years passed in the palace D'rian saw more and more laws passed, and as time went on, they became less and less rational. Although it was, of course, never spoken aloud, it became obvious that the King was dealing with an advanced case of paranoia, and his thoughts and words were less sane each day. But his guards and council continued to protect the man, keeping the rumours confined to the palace, and the making sure guests didn't actually come face to face with the King.
With the heightened fear in the castle, D'rian took to spending as much time as possible in his tower. He was ignored by the King for the most part, and this was perfectly acceptable to him as it meant less chance of his secrets being exposed. There was also the additional fear of whether or not the King would decree that wizards were a danger to the kingdom as well, and have him executed. He had been too young to know why the law against nonhumans was passed, so there was no way of knowing what would set him off. So D'rian spent his days mixing herbs for cures even most midwives knew for healing, and tried to make himself appear as non-threatening as possible. His heightened senses picked up the whispers, some saying he was as mad as the king, others saying he was simple-minded, yet others saying he was a plant by the rebels and was just biding his time before killing them all. Thankfully these whispers never made it to the King, as any would have ensured his death. However, it would most likely also have doomed whoever spoke to the same fate, so the rumours stayed just that.
Which made his audience with the King today that much more suspicious. It had been over a year since he had last been in the presence of the King, who had instructed him to put new wards around his rooms. D'rian had done this, and more, knowing if even so much as a fly had gotten in he would be to blame. The guards hated the wards, as they set off an alarm in the barracks every time someone set them off, and there were a lot of false alarms. But he could deal with the glares from them so long as he kept the king happy and his head on his shoulders. So he sat outside of the throne room, trying to control the tremors that went through his body, hoping that he was only facing another paranoid task rather than a death sentence.