Herodius Verrus trudged slowly down the street toward the lonely tower. Surrounded as it was by buildings, one would think that the word “lonely” would not apply. The life of a wizard, however, is not easy, nor is it well understood by the common folk, even ones who have been around it most of their lives, such as the people in the coastal city of Immenor.
Looking around in the early evening dim, Herodius did not see many people. He was not surprised. Most that lived here only slept here, preferring to spend most of their time in a place that was decidedly not next to a tower where the master taught the arcane arts. It didn’t matter. Herodius knew that what he did made a difference. Between the teaching and the questing with his associates to quell threats in the surrounding lands, he went to sleep at night content. He picked up the pace as much as his aging bones would allow, wanting to get home and wash the dust and grime of the road from his body and clothes.
The well-worn wooden door creaked open for him as he approached, the minor spell he had imbued in it recognizing some of the special threads that he had woven into the arcane symbols on the fabric of his robe. He sighed slightly in relief, an intangible weight falling off of him. “Home,” he breathed, a half-smile on his face as he entered. A couple of his students were still in the common room studying. “Good evening, pupils. I trust there were no issues while I was away.”
The three that were there turned their heads, both acknowledging and welcoming their master. “No, Master. Terrik tried summoning an earth spirit again, and it escaped him… again. But Perianor was there again to re-bind it and banish it. I’m not entirely sure how we’re going to get him to perfect his circle-making, but you need to come up with something. It took hours to clean up that mess, Master.”
The rueful half-smile on Herodius’ face and his sigh told his students that he had heard and understood their concerns. It was one of the reasons that no one who studied with him understood the unease of the general population around him. To them, he was a kindly second father, sharing the knowledge that he had freely along with the responsibilities and moral code he followed as one of the kingdom’s few Greater Flames.
“I’ll get through to Terrik somehow, Garrus. As I recall, you too once had issues with a particular class of magic. That frog was quite put out with you for turning it only partially into a cauldron spoon as I recall.” Herodius’ smile never left his face as his eyes went distant momentarily in memory of the amusing incident. Well, amusing for everyone except the frog.
Garrus blushed before murmuring, “Yes, Master. Everyone struggles with something. That does not give us cause to lord over them. Thank you, Master.”
Herodius nodded in approval. “Good lad,” he said approvingly as he walked past them to the stairs and began climbing to his loft to unpack. As he neared the top, he passed his principal apprentice’s door which was cracked open. He slowly peeked inside to see Perianor Cyranthis asleep at his work table, books were strewn across it in various states of openness. The room was filled with a soft snoring as the candles flickered their cold, magical light to fill the room, shadows dancing on the wall. Herodius smiled and gently closed the door, leaving him in peace. As he climbed the last few stairs to his loft, he silently wondered how much sleep Perianor had gotten while he was gone. He would have to speak with him again. A tired teacher was not as effective as he needed to be for his students, he thought to himself as he smiled wryly again. And the future Master of the tower must be nothing if not effective at teaching the next generation of wizards how to use their gift for the benefit of all.
Passing the door to his loft he smiled at the tub, which was already full and warm for him, a side effect of the magic he had placed on his tower. It was his home, and what was magic worth if it couldn’t do some of the more important things in life such as comfort the weary? And Herodius was, he noted, most certainly weary. Clearing hill giant encampments is hard work in the best of times. In late-year, with the chill of the season turning, it was definitely not the best of times. His old bones and joints told him that summer would have been a better time indeed as he disrobed and sank into the bath, the heat from the water loosening his joints and lulling his eyes closed.