Bothelm of Steadcester looked out over the water from the shore of the lake. Really it was an inland sea, bigger than any lake he'd seen. It was a calm summer evening, full of the scents of exotic herbs and flowers and resin – he would often recall this night, in later years, and always it was the scents which caught him.

Bothelm was a mage, trained by his uncle from an early age. He'd lived a life of comparative luxury, at least by the village standards. He'd never had to toil in the fields, though he'd often thought the hours of study and the mana draining experiments with magic were just as bad. Of course he'd gone out to help during harvest along with everyone else, but his task was to use his magic to support the field workers. Even his fat uncle was out there, sweating in the midday sun, an amusing sight to Bothelm.

He was here because he'd been 'loaned out' to a caravan. His uncle had told him it was time he saw the world and learned what it was like to practice magic for one's livelihood instead of sitting around all day being supported by family. He'd thought it was because the old glutton just wanted to eat Bothlem's share of meals too, but he'd actually found the trip enjoyable. His job was to use his magic to grant endurance, speed, and strength to the animals. And he was greatly appreciated by the merchants as this trip was evidently moving faster and with bigger loads than usual.

Bothelm was trained in Creature Enchantment, and also Item Enchantment which hadn't been any use on this trip. Most of his time was spent sitting by the driver or in the back of a wagon watching the changing scenery, rehearsing the fantastical tales he planned to relate to those back home. He cast his helpful spells every morning as the caravan started off, and recast them every 30 minutes or so – which is how long their effects lasted. He'd had to similarly support the more delicate travelers after they entered the arid and scorching lands of the A'mun Desert, but still his days were leisurely. He was doing maybe 2 hours of work every day, and was being treated with the respect and deference he'd always thought he deserved. Especially nice was not having his taskmaster uncle around, nor his constant nagging or scoldings to study and practice more.

The caravan had stopped at Yaraq, a major trading city for the Gharu'ndim. They had been here 2 days and were planning to stay 2 more before continuing on. On the way here, they had passed Tufa, once a thriving city but which now lay in ruins due to Shadow Spire attacks. From here the caravan was headed to Al-Arqas, and then to an underground city of the Empyreans! Bothlem could hardly imagine what wonders he might see there. The fabled Empyreans, masters of magic, beings of wonder.

Bothelm knew that just entering such a place would ensure his fame at home, and the neighboring towns and villages. If he could somehow learn some of their magic...even his uncle would have to acknowledge Bothelm's worthiness then!

Bothelm breathed in deep, savoring the scents and even the moisture from the lake. He hadn't understood dryness until they entered the desert. The land was green and cold and often rainy back home. Now, the moisture in the air was like a luxury.

The exotic people and lands and foods, the new scents and sensations, traveling with people who properly appreciated his skills and abilities, and who were properly grateful for his help. These all added up to the happiest he'd ever been.

He scratched his belly as he turned back to the caravan camp. He was starting to put on weight. Ah well, maybe that was what happened to all mages.

CHARACTER STATS: Bothelm of Steadcester

Character Level: 1
Total Experience (XP): 0
XP for next level: 1,000

Attributes: [normal starting minimum is 10, maximum is 100]
Strength...,..: 16...,...,..., [very weak]
Endurance...: 16...,...,..., [very weak constitution]
Coordination: 66...,...,..., [a bit more dextrous and agile than average]
Quickness...,: 66...,...,...,. [a bit faster and better reflexes than average]
Focus...,...,...: 66...,...,...,. [a bit more aware and attentive than average]
Self...,...,...,..: 100...,...,... [highly willful, many say stubborn]
Health...,...,..: 8/8...,...,... (current/total) [seen as sickly]
Stamina...,...,: 16/16...,... (current/total) [easily tired, can hardly look after himself]
Mana...,...,...,: 100/100... (current/total) [high spell-casting capacity]

Specialized Skills:
none [he has skated by on his innate talent, has not pushed himself]

Trained Skills:
Creature Enchantment: 47... [able to cast Level 1 spells with 97% success]
Item Enchantment...,...: 47... [able to cast Level 1 spells with 97% success]
Mana Conversion...,...,.: 41... [reduces the mana consumed by spells or magic items]
Other minor skills

Untrained Skills:
Finesse Weapons: 44
Melee Defense...,.: 44
Shield...,...,...,...,...: 41
Other minor skills