Justin was four when he learned the way of things. Life was laid
out for him and his siblings as neatly as a pattern on a tapestry, as it
had been for generations in his family. His oldest sister Jeanetta,
the first child of King Charlie, was to dedicate her life to rule and would
secede the King when he died. She was to learn the arts of war and
diplomacy so that she could one day sit on the throne of Balmoria and conduct
wise and honest dealings with the neighbouring countries. Through
the king's tutoring she would continue the long and prosperous history
of the small northern country, and bring up her children in their rightful
His older brother Peter, the second child of the King, was to learn from
his Aunt Rebekah the life of a Cleric and the ways of the gods. He
was to become a runecaster and reader of the oracles under the guidance
of his aunt. From her he would learn all there was to know about
tracking the Solar festivals, and the lunar calendar. He would learn
to use the power of the trees to cure and prevent disease, and to divine
an image of the future from the rune stones or Ogham sticks.
Justin himself, the third and last child of the King, was to learn from
his Uncle Arthur the practice of magic and the manner of the Sorcerer.
To learn the arts required to protect the country from all manner of magic
and mystery when the time came for him to take the position of court sorcerer.
As foretold in prophecy each generation of the monarchy would have three
children and they would dedicate their lives to these disciplines.
So, at the tender age of four and a half, Justin went to spend most of
his life with his Uncle in the tower.
Justin spent many hours studying the laws of nature as apprentice to his
uncle, the court sorcerer. He learned how the trees intermingled
with the birds, how the birds visited the flowers, and how the flowers
carpeted the grass beneath the trees. Uncle Arthur would take his
apprentice up into the tower for days at a time, filling the court and
peasants with awe at the thought of their seclusion. Then, after
an hour of setting small fires burning under bowls of foul smelling liquids
and setting smoke puffs to be released every hour, Arthur and Justin would
don simple garments and creep down a hidden back stairway to spend days
in the woods, living off the land and their wits, eating only what nature
or a humble farmer or wood cutter supplied. For a young boy this
deception provided endless fun and excitement.
Justin was almost eight when he first questioned his Uncle about his education.
He had learned a lot about how nature worked, and how to change nature
through experiment, but he felt an empty something in his learning.
Something was missing, something was wrong. His Uncle took him to
the top of a nearby mountain and sat him on a rock.
"My dear nephew. I have waited so long for you to ask just this question,
and I will answer it thus. This mountain on which we stand, how is
it measured in importance?" Justin stared and thought a long time, his
Uncle waiting patiently.
"By its size, I suppose, my Uncle."
"And how did it attain this importance, where did it learn?" The question
"Learn to be a mountain? It just, IS, a mountain I guess." Justin
hazarded an answer. His Uncle answered the unasked question.
‘What do you mean?'
"A Sorcerers magic," he said, "is like the mountain in two ways.
It cannot be learned, it merely is. One cannot learn to be magic, one can
only use magic like one uses the mountain. This is the first way
in which magic is like a mountain. The other way is that, like a
mountain, magic draws its importance from the perception of others, it
is not important in and of itself. Magic is in everything, and around
everything, and through everything, yet it is nothing. Do you not
understand my child?" Arthur stood over Justin and awaited his answer.
"I think that I do not my Uncle," answered Justin. Arthur nodded
"Your eighth birth celebration is upon you. The time has indeed come.
To the east lies a larger mountain than this, and at its base stands a
building of learning. A building of Sorcerers. In this building
you will be taught all that you need to know about the magic of sorcery
and the ways of working nature. After nine years you will return,
my worthy apprentice. Show them this at the door and they will let
you enter." He placed an amulet around Justin's neck, on it was the
sign of a hawk. "Come now, we must return." Justin felt the
amulet around his neck with his fingers, then he turned and followed his
That night he was startled from a deep sleep by his Uncle gently shaking
his shoulder. He woke with a start. The Sorcerers gentle voice
calmed him at once. "My child, remember this one thing. Magic
is five parts what you do and ninety-five parts what others think you did.
Sorcery is science, witchcraft is true magic. Sleep now." When
Justin woke this was only a faint memory in his mind.
In the next few months Justin's birth celebration arrived and the time
for his departure drew near. In the spring of his eighth year, the
caravan from the southwest made its yearly journey through Balmoria on
its way east to the trading centres in Mortainine. Its arrival always
brought joy and feasting as the people of Balmoria traded with the caravan
during the day and listened to news and stories from afar around the fire
at night. After a late night of stories and food around the castle
fire, Justin packed his few belongings for the trip to the School of Sorcerers,
a days journey past Mortainine. When the morning came, and the caravan
struck camp and moved on, Justin was ready to join them on their trek.
In the company of this caravan traveled a storyteller named Bard, who fast
became friends with the young sorcerer. Justin liked him as much
for his friendly and confident manner, as for the tales he could tell as
they traveled. Five days into the journey they emerged on the eastern
side of the Forest of Jacobis and he could see the top of the mountain,
which his Uncle had told him about, on the very distant horizon.
Bard told of the many men and women who had gone before Justin into the
academy of learning. Six days later, as they entered the town of
Baltain for a much needed stop and rest, the mountain was still in the
far distance. They stayed in Baltain for two days as they traded
goods and news much like they had in Balmoria. Justin was in awe
over his first visit to the sister castle of Balmoria, and the days passed
quickly as he searched every nook and cranny of the town to see what there
was to see. They set out in the morning after their third night and
Justin's mind was once again on the mountain in the distance, and the Academy
After another sixteen days, as the caravan came to the trading centers
in Mortainine, the mountain finally drew near. After a day in the
trading center, Bard accompanied Justin on the last day of his trip.
With his friend he had come through storms and long hours of walking over
the hills and vales of the land, now they had crossed over the last river
which ran from the Elfwood in the north and past the academy. They
were standing at the door to the great institute of sorcery, and the time
had come for Justin to say goodbye. Bard shook his hand with a promise
to be there to meet him for his return at the end of his schooling, then
turned and walked away. Justin turned and used the large, heavy knocker
on the door.
A tall, robed man opened the door and asked his business. Justin
silently handed over the amulet Arthur had given him and followed at the
tall man's gesture. They entered a great hall, along the walls of
which hung dozens of amulets like the one Justin had until recently carried.
Each amulet had a different symbol emblazoned on the crest. Falcons,
crows and eagles. Wolves, foxes and weasels. Dragons, Nymphs
and Satyrs. Every manner of beast known and imagined. Justin
was to learn that each amulet belonged to a sorcerer who either had an
apprentice at the school or had died. The sorcerer walked to one
of many spots on the wall, which was empty save for a peg. Under
this peg was written the name ‘ARTHUR' in bold script. The man hung
the amulet on the peg and escorted Justin to the room that he was to call
home for the next nine years. The door closed behind him, and all