An impotent visionary seeks purpose through his family life. An experiment in summary fiction. The youth of a blood elf magister.


2. Two

The money he had stockpiled to fund his move away finds new purpose in the purchase of a cot, clothes, bottles and blankets. Baelmyrr finds some amusement reflecting on his own enthusiasm – on the way he leads his parents through the relevant shops, the two of them trailing behind, arm in arm. Presumably they expended all their enjoyment of the material side of things preparing their home for Baelmyrr himself; he suspects his father may even be inwardly cursing his own lack of foresight in throwing all the old equipment away.


He’s happy to be the one who pushes the preparations; he finds himself enamoured with the idea that he might take on the full strain of planning and redecorating, so that all his parents’ strength can be reserved for the baby’s arrival. His mother in particular shows signs of needing the support. She is older than most expectant mothers. It wears on her health and her temper. She swears at him far more than she did during their feud, and spends time glowering through the dining room window, her arms folded behind her.


Baelmyrr’s baby brother is born in the autumn, and his parents do not have a name ready for him. Baelmyrr muses on the subject as he watches over the boy at night, and when he feeds, burps, washes and clothes him. One parent or the other instructs him in these endeavours at the start.


It’s their mother Baelmyrr wins a smile from first, when the tying of nappies proves so difficult he has to beg for further help, and watches over her shoulder with rapt attention as she demonstrates once more. Haelmyrr proves more persistently stony-faced, but in the middle of the night both men rise to soothe the squalling infant, and Baelmyrr gets there first. His father finds him rocking the boy and murmuring to him, and clasps Baelmyrr’s shoulder solidly.


‘I’m glad you’re here, Son.’


Haelmyrr smiles before he walks away.


Two months pass before the boy has a name: Daelythir. Though he puts all his effort into throwing food and bawling, Baelmyrr knows his little brother is bright and talented, destined for something special. He carries him about when he can, keeps him with him as he sketches out jewellery designs at home, explaining every projected aspect of composition. The baby burbles back some excellent constructive criticism, and likes to chew pencils.


Daelythir even provides a reason to go back to light study of magic. It might have been a painful knot of a subject before, so tangled up in a sense of disempowerment and tyranny that Baelmyrr had been on the verge of giving it up altogether, of burning his books, but there’s something about the delight of the baby at the sight of a conjured sparrow or flurry of sparks that cuts through it all. Magic has no inherent negativity when it serves as entertainment for a young child, and Baelmyrr finds himself thinking that, used safely, it really has no inherent negativity at all. It is a tool, and it is not intrinsically tied to the regime that first taught him to use it. He can apply it as he likes, and he decides that he will.


It is still awkward at home, even as Baelmyrr’s failure at school becomes steadily more distant and less relevant with each passing year. He is paying rent, now, at his own insistence, and funds Daelythir almost entirely as well. He buys the boy food and clothes and his first pair of shoes, when inelegant scooting progresses into a staggering toddle.


Perhaps, instead, it is the amount of time away that puts his father into his moods: Baelmyrr often stays late at the jewellers to keep up with a burgeoning workload; he visits the library on the weekends to research new spells; and he is back in the school time habit of biweekly outings with friends in the evenings, leaving before dinner and returning a few hours before breakfast. Haelmyrr meets him in the doorway shortly after Daelythir turns seven; it’s late in the evening, and Baelmyrr has only just found time to leave the shop after the jeweller himself stayed at home with a fever.


‘Get back sooner. Who do you think feeds that boy if not you?’


Baelmyrr is too shocked to respond, and his father never raises the point again. Daelythir shows no signs of malnourishment – he welcomes Baelmyrr home with the same running tackle every day, skips around him on their long walks around the city, demonstrates increasing acrobatic skill with his flips, handstands and rolls – and Baelmyrr is struck with shame that he even thought to check. His father’s words, indisputably, amounted to a joke that went over his head, and he resolves to put them out of mind.


But the awkwardness in the household is less easily set aside and forgotten, as it never seems to leave. Baelmyrr starts to wonder if he’s imagining it altogether: his parents talk as they always did, they inquire after his day, they have dinner, they read the paper and, to aid their dawn starts, they go to bed early, often before their sons. Baelmyrr uses this time to teach, bathe and read to his younger brother, and this too is the time when the boy comes alive inside the house, wrestling with him and doing his best to spark tickle fights he always loses. His respect for their parents is admirable. Even blue in the face, Daelythir always muffles his screeches.


The first real blow comes when the boy is nearing ten. Baelmyrr is busy at the jewellers all day and cannot accompany them, but both parents take Daelythir to the academy. When Baelmyrr gets home in the evening, his parents are at the table picking at dinner, their youngest no-where to be seen.


‘Nothing,’ says Haelmyrr, by means of explanation for the empty seat. ‘Not a hint of talent.’


Baelmyrr hangs up his cloak slowly. ‘And I suppose he’s too upset to eat?’


‘Who wouldn’t be,’ says Ollyria.


He goes through to the hallway; knocks on Daelythir’s door and is admitted immediately. The boy sprawls on his front across the bed, drawing in the margins of a schoolbook and kicking his feet in the air. He looks over at Baelmyrr as the elder brother clicks the door shut and arches a brow.


‘It doesn’t even matter,’ says Daelythir. ‘I don’t need magic. I’ll do something else.’


‘Hardly the end of the world, indeed.’


Baelmyrr moves to sit beside him on the bed, and Daelythir leans against him. He’s drawn a dragonhawk, wings stretched wide.


‘Do you want me to bring you your dinner, then, or are you going to come to it?’


‘No, neither.’ Daelythir turns his face away and digs his pencil into the page. ‘I’ve eaten already.’


Baelmyrr lies awake in the night. He cannot conceive of a life without magic. His own talent manifested before he turned five. As far as he is concerned, he has always been able to make things move, make them glow. He’s always known he can simply blink away from danger; he’s always known he can simply teleport indoors whenever he forgets his key.


The thought of his bright little brother without that great strength makes his stomach twinge with anxiety, and his parents’ response to the situation has not eased him at all. Because someone lied to him there: the parents who suggested their boy had chosen not to feed, or the boy who claimed he had already. And even if Baelmyrr puzzles out who is the culprit, why is beyond him.


He resolves to do better. He chose the mundane over the magical himself; he is prepared to support Daelythir in whatever profession he pursues. So when he finds his brother struggling to fire arrows at a Farstrider target, it makes sense to help him with his aim, gather up his arrows for him and cheer him on. What makes less sense is the way the boy initially flinches away from him, startled, and fails to relax fully even after Baelmyrr reassures him that he encourages the interest. There’s a tension between them walking home, and Daelythir grabs the cuff of his robe as they near the door.


‘Don’t tell.’


Haelmyrr and Ollyria eventually find out anyway, when footing the bill for Daelythir’s lessons with the Farstriders bands together with unexpected costs from the jewellers and leaves Baelmyrr broke, forced to beg them for a loan. He makes up an elaborate series of expenditures and pay dips to throw them off the scent, of course, but his mother has perhaps become wise to his methods. She reads through his finance ledgers while he’s out a work, and is waiting for him with them when he gets home.


‘It’s less what you’ve done as how you’ve done it. Behind our backs. Why didn’t you bring this to us?’


He doesn’t have an answer to that. Perhaps he instinctively felt they would disapprove. Perhaps he wanted to keep for himself the joy of providing Daelythir with something to work for.


‘I have to tell your father.’


‘Don’t – I’ll stop the lessons, he doesn’t have to know. There’ll be no harm done.’


Which is a ridiculous assertion. Daelythir is sixteen and growing ever stronger through his training. He’s still a foot shorter than Baelmyrr, still adolescent-lanky for all the new muscle, but he wheels about so sharply that Baelmyrr takes a reflexive step back to defend himself.


‘I know you’re enjoying yourself, but ultimately I’m just your brother, Lythir, not your guardian, so I simply don’t have the sort of rank I’d need to defy them in this.’


‘Don’t be stupid, Myrr, that didn’t stop you before, probably because it’s not true; who cares what the tyrannicals think, what do they have to do with me?’


‘Daelythir, they’re your parents and they love you-’


Daelythir had just been heading out; his whipwood bow is in his hand, and it strikes Baelmyrr’s temple with impossible speed. It’s not a hard blow, but it snaps his head to the side nonetheless, and Baelmyrr staggers back, groping for the wound clumsily with his fingertips.


Don’t lie.’


His brother is shaking, but the shock of injury has dislocated Baelmyrr from all his usual behaviours, and he simply stares at Daelythir, warm blood gushing up under his hand and running down the side of his face. That shock lasts four days: he drifts through his tasks at work, banters mechanically at dinner, concerns his friends to the point at which they send him home, insistent that he rests. He emerges from the haze on the fifth day as he leans on a fencepost in the Farstriders’ square, watching Daelythir plant every arrow in his quiver in the centre of his target.


‘We’ll pretend you’ve stopped,’ he tells his baby brother. ‘I know this is what you were meant for.’


He cannot address the rest.

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