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your magic

media: dungeons & dragons (personal campaign)
originally published: january 2022
word count: 1891
notes: enraptured by magic, a young reides takes matters into his own hands.


the first time you see magic, you are very young and you are hiding in a corner of the library. there is a man who wears a pendant with a pretty shell on it. you recognize that shell: it’s your family’s crest. it’s on lots of your clothes, too. the man doesn’t see you and you’re glad for it. it’s way past your bed-time and, if he were to notice you sneaking about the castle, he would probably tell your mother. or, persana forbid, your older brother. that would be awful. so you’re happy to sit quietly and watch.

the man raises one of his hands, making odd gestures and muttering words that you don’t understand. sea-water swirls into his palm, pulled in by some force that you can’t see. you’re trying to make sense of it when, suddenly, the swirling stops entirely. in the time it takes for you to blink, the water becomes a long, beautiful shard of ice. the man holds it in his hand and looks at it closely. you suppose he mustn’t want it because he lets the sea melt it away. 

you put your hand out, too. you try to pull the water in; to make your own ice. you picture the shard: as clear as glass. as sharp as bone. 

but nothing happens.


your people value family. they value blood. 

your blood, they say, is special. royal. blessed by persana.

only it’s not blessed in the way you want it to be.  

it’s not that you’re ungrateful to persana. that would be stupid. and, regardless of what viglis might say, you’re not stupid. he isn’t one to talk, anyway, because he can use magic. thankfully, viglis’ magic is different from the kind that you’re interested in - namely, the kind that the sorcerers at court use. 

viglis’ magic is bound to his oath. his persana-given oath. the sorcerers don’t have any oaths. they hail from renowned magical families who persana, himself, is said to have picked out - one by one by one. they get to go to a special place called the crystal trench, where they hone their magical power. when you asked about going there, too, you were looked at as if you were crazy.

magic flows through sorcerers. it comes to them naturally, as they are the chosen ones. 

you are no sorcerer. there is no magic in you. 

royalty is the only thing in your blood.


years later, you find something.

something from the surface. 

the older you get, the more you slip out of your father’s domain. shipwrecks are never close to aquos, but that adds to the fun in looking for them. and finding the fallen vessels - that’s even better. those hulking skeletons of wood and metal have been rotting on the ocean floor for who knows how long. you scour these man-made cadavers for fragments of the surface world.

this ship carries a multitude of things. amongst them all is a chest. a locked chest. you can’t find the key and picking it is no good. slamming a rock against it repeatedly does the trick, though. 

at first, you’re greeted by nothing but a surge of bubbles and gold. lots of gold. you have no need for any of that, so you dig past it. it’s good that you do; the real treasure is under it all. the book is under it all. 

obviously, it’s waterlogged. the elements of the sea aren’t compatible with those of land: as your people say, they’re two worlds that should never meet. however, one word on the book is perfectly clear. it’s written in common and is carved right into the book’s sturdy cover. 


spellbook. a book for spells. do sorcerers study these? they won’t let you into the crystal trench so you have no way of knowing. most of this spellbook’s pages are corroded, its ink largely washed away. the chill in the water is the only thing preserving what little remains of it.

in the remains, you see symbols. familiar symbols. it takes you a moment to recall just how they’re familiar, but everything soon shifts into place. you’ve seen them in scrolls. special scrolls - the ones tucked away in the forbidden section of the castle library. are the symbols magic? were those scrolls magic

was it so close to you, all this time? 

your hands shake as you copy the symbols into your journal. if they are magic, they are precious, and you must guard them from the deep. your copy ends up looking quite different from the original. 

it’s yours all the same. 

the surface book is practically deteriorating in your hands. the chest offered some modicum of protection from the sea, but your curiosity cast that protection away to the currents. ruined or not, you slip it into your bag. 

you won’t let its knowledge go to waste.


the symbols in the book all fit together. 

each is an arcanic sentence that weaves neatly into the next. they’re formulae. equations. whoever first transcribed them knew the ways in which they could interact. they knew how to harness their potential. how to make magic out of them. 

needless to say, you want to know how do to those things, too. you want to learn.

you can’t go to anyone in your family for help. your father would get angry; he’d call it surfacer nonsense. viglis would rip it up and tell you to never speak of it again, and dhudus wouldn’t care. your mother might be a bit more understanding, but she’s busy with baby lotlyn - who is currently in the throes of learning how to swim properly. 

you can’t trust any of the court mages to keep your findings secret, either - and you certainly can’t go anywhere near the crystal trench. endless suspicions would arise if you did so. 

you only have yourself. 

and so, you piece it together all on your own. it’s a grueling process. you hide away in the forbidden sections of the library whenever you can, scrounging up whatever information you can possibly find - parsing meaning from that which appears nonsensical. breaking equations apart to put them together again. 

you take it step by step; second by second. as time passes, you learn what each of the symbols mean. you see the ways in which they connect and you see the ways in which they combine. you see the demands that they make of you and you see their power. and you realize: they are alive. 

they have energy. an abundance of it. 

just like you.


you press your knife into the tome’s cover. it breaks through the purple material; you’re careful not to stab through it and ruin the book entirely. as slowly as you would copy down an arcanic formula, you spell out your name in primordial - the language of your people. 


you open it to a fresh page, smoothening the parchment out with one of your webbed hands. your studies began a little over a year ago, but it’s time. it’s finally time to commit to this in its entirety. different from the magic of the crystal trench sorcerers, this magic is yours. 

with your ink-needle, you write another word. this time, it’s in common - reminiscent of that surfacer book that you found so long ago, locked away and buried under bubbles and gold. 



as a child, you wondered why persana didn’t see fit to put magic in your blood. now that you are older, you understand why he didn’t. you understand entirely. 

you wouldn’t trade any of this for anything.

failures are aplenty. so many spells backfire in the oddest of ways. you try to get a shield to form in front of you; instead, you send a blast careening across the room - weak enough to be harmless, but strong enough to knock everything off your table. you try to cloak yourself in magical armor; instead, you feel the tingle of static, and your hair stands on edge despite the water that surrounds you. you keep track of your mistakes, modifying their corresponding equations symbol by painstaking symbol. though your mishaps present an added element of danger to your studies, you prefer the ones that backfire to the ones that end up doing nothing at all. true to your title as ever, you press on with a stubbornness befitting of the storm prince. it’s like a hunger that you need to sate. an itch that you need to scratch. 

it takes a while for you to establish your magical foundation - but, when you do, you begin to feel rather unstoppable. you conjure frost. you materialize light. you form illusions. considering the amount of work you’ve put into your spellcraft, the spells are all very simple - but you’re not discouraged. it’s still power in its rawest form, harnessed in a beautiful collaboration between you and all of the knowledge you have scrawled in your spellbook. 

one spell in particular haunts you, though. 

there are no scrolls regarding that magical shard of ice that you saw so many years ago. you have to piece your own spell together - a mish-mash of arcanic marks and incantations. it’s most definitely a bastardization of whatever the true spell is… an affront to whoever practices this craft, be it upon the surface or within the depths. but you don’t particularly care. again: you are the storm prince, and being an affront comes with the territory. 

you whisper words of power - words that correspond to the symbols scrawled on the page before you. your hand moves with each facet of the formula; your fingers twitch and curl, dipping into the energy that is intrinsic to all that surrounds you. that which you couldn’t understand as a child makes perfect sense to you, now. 

the water is cold in your hand - and it gets colder. colder. colder. so cold, you feel like it’s seeping right into your body. chilling your muscles. freezing your blood. you close your eyes but you can see it. as clear as glass. as sharp as bone. 

and when you open your eyes, it’s there. 

a long shard of ice, suspended in the space above your palm. 

you smile as you bring it closer to you. 

you did it. 

you put your spellbook down on your desk, grabbing an ink-needle so that you can take more notes. the shard is a bit longer than your face and is pointed on either end. you sketch it quickly, mentally recording rough measurements and properties. 

as beautiful as it is, you can do better than this, you think. 

you copy the spell down again, making slight adjustments to the symbols that you so carefully strung together. they’re just like you: they can do better than this, too. if you moved your hand like that, instead… if you placed more emphasis on this… yes, that’s it. that’s what you must do. 

you rest the ink-needle next to your book, your other hand still maintaining the shard. you nod your head towards it, giving thanks before letting the sea-water rush in to claim it. the ice melts away in your palm, leaving behind a loneliness. 

it will be short-lived. 

your eyes dart over the page. you take a deep breath.

and you begin whispering words of power all over again.