Tales from the Islands of the Sun: Bauren’s Lessons

A story told in Hurot, a town of the magicians:

In Zehilhn there lived a boy whose name was Bauren. He was an orphan who had approached the masters in that town to study magic, and one of them, impressed by his boldness, had asked him what he would do if he became a magician. “I do not know,” said Bauren, “but if I had magic, my parents and sisters would not have died when the savages raided our home and stole our sheep.”

So one of the masters took him as an apprentice to study the history of the art and the techniques used to create the artifacts. Bauren was clever, learning these things quickly, and although he was courteous to the other apprentices he did not make friends easily. He always had the appearance of thinking about something else, even when arguing (as he often was) with the masters about the proper duties of a magician. In those days many magicians believed that it had been pride that banished us from our home, that we were driven to these islands by our arrogant belief in our ability to summon and command demons, and it was a heavy burden we carried. Bauren was not one to submit to such a burden, and he decried the cowardice of the archon’s aldermen. “If I was an alderman,” he would say, and then go on to explain his ideas. But for all that he was kind and hard-working, rising quickly to the point where he could take the examination to become a journeyman.

Now a rich merchant’s widow came to Zehilhn with her daughter Celhrid, who was admired by all the young men of the town but paid attention to none. Bauren had shut himself up with his teacher to prepare for the examination, so for a time he did not even know of Celhrid’s being in Zehilhn. But one day he went for a walk along the shore to rest his mind, and when he came across the young woman, washing her feet and picking up stones, he was struck dumb by her beauty, which surpassed (so he thought at the time) the most intricate diagram in his studies. Words came from his mouth unbidden, and he was surprised to hear her respond in kind. So Bauren and Celhrid were in love with one another, though they hid it from her mother, fearing that in her grand hopes for an advantageous marriage she would take Celhrid away from Zehilhn, separating the two forever. Bauren’s studies languished as he became more and more fascinated with Celhrid, and she, fascinated in her turn, did nothing to keep him on the proper path.

Bauren’s master, who was no fool, could not help but notice that the boy was even more distracted than usual, and with an iris he learned of Bauren’s dalliance. He shook his head and left his house, and found the young people kissing in a hidden cave in the northern sheepfolds. Whatever he had been about to say to them, it was forestalled by the savages, who swept down from the surrounding hills with ravening dogs. “Now attend, apprentice,” said the master, and producing a silver rod he bent the minds of the savages and drove them away so that no one was harmed. Bauren saw and understood, and telling Celhrid that he would have to return to his studies for a time so he could pass his examination, departed with his master.

Celhrid waited patiently, keeping silent about Bauren until the time when he would be proclaimed a journeyman. But her mother at last found a match that pleased her, with a cousin of the archon, who was young, handsome, and not at all to the taste of Celhrid herself. Out of necessity, therefore, she found Bauren and together they went to her mother to announce their intention to wed. The worst storm on the eastern sea could not be more violent than her response, and she forbade Bauren and Celhrid to meet again. Now Bauren angrily swore that when he became a master he would make Celhrid his wife by fair or foul magic, so that Celhrid’s mother, horrified, took her away to Faron, which was then nothing more than a border outpost, but an outpost where Celhrid’s prospective husband was stationed as the archon’s representative.

Bauren took the journeyman examination, and he passed with a perfect score. The final lessons began, training his mind to take control of the Ideas of this world, but long before they were complete, he left Zehilhn for Faron, to find Celhrid. He carried with him a hooked blade imbued with a powerful Idea, for Bauren had little need for the final lessons, so far had he surpassed his teachers. He already understood the Ideas and the Forms, and was ready to break the mind of Celhrid’s mother, to drive his rival out into the rain to perish, so strong was his fury!

As he drew near the walls of Faron, Celhrid emerged and threw herself at his feet, begging him not to harm anyone. “We can flee together to another island, no matter what my mother says. Or we can go farther into the wild lands and live alone there. But magic was not given to us to violate the laws Heaven made to govern men and women. Do not let your anger overpower you, beloved, but consider the future and align your magic with the path of moderation.” Bauren was persuaded by her soft words and tearful eyes, and so they went south and founded Hurot, where Bauren started a school of magic following his new precepts: magic should be used for the good of all, never for revenge or petty quarrels. All glory be to Heaven.

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