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Hard Priorities

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Morning came with a whisper in his ear. “We’ve rested enough”

 

Viren got up from his cot. He had another completely dreamless night. Considering that he used to dream frequently, this was odd, but welcome.

 

He lit the sconces again and quickly put together a potion that would quell his hunger.

 

“Aaravos”, he said and the presence came closer, “I… need to know what Soren and Claudia are doing. My children.”

 

“Mh, I see, the worry of a father. Quite understandable, I appreciate it. There’s much evil in the world at the moment. I will help gladly, having experienced it myself.”

 

Viren’s eyebrows rose. “You’re a father?”

 

“I… used to be.”, the voice sounded sad, for the first time since it had entered his mind, “It was… not meant to last. Our natures were too different, our world too judgemental.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Aaravos was quiet, now, apparently considering his reply.

 

After a long moment, he continued. His voice was unsteady.

 

“You know the mirror is a prison. I was banished because I crossed a line.”

 

“You became a grand master of magic and threatened the supremacy of the dragons.”

 

The star touch elf’s voice now shook, “While that is the truth, it is not whole. I… courted a human woman. We consummated. She bore my children.”

 

Viren’s mouth fell open.

 

“I know how it sounds, but times were different. She was… nothing short of perfect”, anger swept over Viren’s mind as his friend continued with deep pain in his voice, “Our babes were torn from my grasp. Their mother stood against the dragon guard who came to arrest me. She was murdered. My love died, so much sooner than she should have. My imprisonment is limbo, Viren, but that moment in our home… is my personal hell.”

 

Viren bristled. The pain of losing his own wife to his own ambitions was nothing compared to this.

 

“I… am sorry. I did not mean to stir a terrible memory.”

 

“We must press on”, came the voice after a moment, sounding more firm, “We shall find what has happened to your kin. Do you have personal items of theirs in your possession?”

 

Viren nodded, rummaging in his bag. There was the little puppet Soren had enjoyed so much as a child. He assumed they would still be together, so finding out what he was up to would likely also show him Claudia’s fate.

 

Aaravos guided him through the preparation for the spell. Finally, he told his student to fetch a bowl of water.

 

“Now drop the puppet inside and pour the powder. Make sure the shape of the trail is correct.”

 

Viren did and after a moment, the water began to grow opaque to show a bird’s eye view zooming through clouds towards the ground. There were lots and lots of mountains. Finally, his kids came into view. Slowly riding next to each other on a trail he did not recognize. Healthy, even looking like they were having an amusing conversation. The vision faded.

 

It wasn’t much, but Viren was deeply thankful for it, nonetheless.

 

“Now”, Aaravos said, “That looked quite peaceful. I am glad, Viren. They are growing up well. We must ensure that the dragons never destroy them as they did me and my kin.”

 

“So it is. I may have an idea.”

 

“What do you require?”

 

“My tongue and a crowd of commoners. Nothing more.”