The Pyres and the Burned

Chapter 1

The halls always seemed this empty. It was dark even though outside of the walls there was a full moon. Inside of the walls the only light were the torches that never went out. Brenn brushed his black hair out of his eyes so he could see a little better. He was going through the archives in the library, it was late enough where the librarians just waved him through and slept at there tiny desks.

Brenn made a sharp and sudden turn to the left. He was trying to search for a book called In The Pacifist's Own Hands, it was supposed to tell a story of how a man became dead and alive at the same time. As a young man and a young Adept on top of it he wasn't too earnest to take his teacher's word that the book was full of nonsense.

His teachers were always flustered by him and unable to break through his never ceasing ability not to take their word on anything. He believed that making his own mistakes were the best way to learn left from right and vice versa. Yet, it wasn't through malice or ignorance that he shrugged off their lectures, it was just that.. that they seemed too set in their ways. It was like that everyone was too busy looking into the past to see the future.

He had lived almost all of his life in Mountain City; it was a safe refuge for users of magic and free thinkers. It was a city that was built on the education of the arts, health, magic and tactical warfare. Mountain City's Council was fiercely isolationist and what was the law, was the law and no debate on it was expected. That also made Brenn uncomfortable, the Wizard's Guild controlled most of the magic in almost every court on this side of the Nor mountain ranges. Any Wizards that weren't inclined to work with the Guild were dealt swiftly, often times with the use of death squads.

Although starting to come into his manhood, Brenn was still young and healthy. He walked deeper and deeper into the library, into the archives that were most seldom used. As an Adept he had magic of sorts, although he insisted anyone could learn his 'magic' just by learning how people behaved. It was plain as day when people were lying to him, when they were nervous or angry. He could sense people's health and with the proper herbs, he could even fix them. As far as he was concerned, he could just read people well and there wasn't any magic involved.

Wizards called Adepts 'misfortunate' while the general population stilled feared them. Most of them dedicated their lives to being doctors and healers, but the scorn of magic couldn't escape them. Except in Mountain City, a smile came to Brenn's face. In this home his nationality and creed was nothing. Finally he reached a row that looked promising and his hand came up and touched an old dusty book. Slowly he pushed the dust off of the binding and found out it wasn't the one he was looking for.

His eyes shifted around and he could tell that this was going to take a long time without the librarians help. They were an intrusive lot, since they could always tell what people were looking into they could always use it as black mail. However, they mostly came off as a curious bunch. Brenn considered them dangerous, knowledge was power and they had a wealth of knowledge behind their dusty rubs and pale skin. As paid workers of the Ministry of Education they were in a better position to report dissidents with less of an investigation needed if they had any reason too.

Silently he thumbed more of the books as he started to feel the presence of magic coming closer. His fingers became heavier as the prickling sensation on his skin started to become irritating. Slowly he looked over his left shoulder and saw nothing. When he looked over his right shoulder he saw a librarians face two inches away. His heart raced as he turned around and gave a slight bow, "I did not know that Librarians were wizards as well."

The old man smiled, "Almost all of us are."

When the wizard was speaking he could see the way his mouth was moving see the intent in his eyes and feel the words. Brenn proclaimed quietly, "That's a lie."

"Very good, Adept," smiled the old man as he made his magic swipe the shelf clean of dust. "Now tell me Adept, what are you looking for?"

Brenn almost let the title slip out of his mouth, but held back. After a second Brenn said, "Study for Advance Health."

To Brenn's confusion the man chuckled slightly and scratched his face. "Now. Now master Adept, you don't need your powers to spot a lie a mile away. Now are you looking for some sexual health materials? An Adept at your age and your advancement in your studies always seems to get caught up on that subject. Becoming very keen in anatomy and gobbling up all of the materials there in."

"That's the truth," felt Brenn as the old librarian finished up. After trying to show hide a little bit of embarrassment he decided he had no reason too. "Sir, while I am very keen to the health aspects of procreation that is not what I am interested in. I am looking for In The Pacifist's Own Hands."

A very big look of disappointment came to the old man's face."We don't carry that kind rubbish in these archives."

A look of disappointment came to Brenn's face. "Very well, thank you anyways."

With the knowledge gained that he was looking for he started to make his way out of the library when the librarian grabbed his shoulder. "Son, perhaps you should try the bookshop by the northwestern gates."

With another slight nod Brenn started on his way again. There was something more to what the librarian wizard said, but Brenn couldn't get a feel for what and he didn't want to waste any more time as he passed through the doors. Something was tugging at him that was just a little bit more than curiosity. That bugged him as well. After a few more steps he decided that it'd gnaw at him all day long unless he asked what else was left out.

On the ball of his heel he turned around and reentered the library. After a quick glance around he couldn't spot the old man. So he shook the sleeping attending librarian. When the librarian started to come too he asked, "Where did the old wizard librarian go?"

"Sir, I am the only librarian working now."

Brenn saw the truth in those words.