Walking through the town of Ælanor, Zanzir found it wasn’t much different than he remembered. The buildings were nearly unanimously composed of a white sleek limestone, and upon every building, over the front doors was a single yellow rune, meticulously carved to give the building structural strength. Further toward the center square, one would gaze upon multi-story buildings for the first time after entering the capitol.
I see they’re at least keeping some of my creations in use, Zanzir thought, taking in the delicately carved rune sitting in the center of the building like a crest. It was his first creation, a single large carving sat in the center, it’s intention was to unify the varying constructs of the building into a single phenomena. From there, four runes surrounded it: stability, strength, gravity counter, and resilience. It’s a bit cringy to look at my old works though. So messy. He shook his head, quietly chastising the Zanzir of three decades prior.
Minute rune marks were scattered throughout the city, all but invisible unless one was specifically looking for them. The stones of the street, the wood of the vender’s carts, the harnesses of the horses drawing carriages, the clothes of the passersby; nearly everything related to human life had some magic infused in one way or another.
“I didn’t realize how nostalgic this place would be.” His home now was the oasis, and he’d never looked back on the path that he chose. He would never regret his choice to carve the Divide to create a dimensional rift; however, that didn’t mean he’d lost his connection to his roots in Ælanor.
The cry of a young woman rose over the general murmurs of the crowd, drawing his attention backward. The sidewalk on the other side of the street hosted three notable figures: two boys, one blonde-haired and pale, the other black-haired and tan. The black-haired boy, being the taller of the two, held an object above the head of the girl.
“If you want it so bad, why don’t you come get it. Maybe your debtor of a mother would feel better if she didn’t have such an ugly mouth to feed.”
“I told you to leave me alone!” The girl began to streak her finger through the air and a glowing light trail remained behind.
“As if we’d give you the time!” the blonde boy taunted. He jumped forward, and long before the girl could complete the casting of the rune, his palm connected to her stomach. The blow, though not appearing to be heavy sent her flying off the ground toward the busy road.
“It seems as though, last I recall, roughhousing the street was forbidden.” Zanzir, not wishing to see a young girl trampled by horses on the street on his first day back, had stepped into the fray, teleporting from his previous location to the girls side.
With his right arm, he had caught her around the shoulders, preventing the blow from knocking her into the air. He drew the middle finger of his right hand behind his thumb and flicked it forward. Both boys went flying backward into the building. In the same motion, he flipped his hand over and beckoned with his forefinger. The little object that was being held captive escaped from the grasp of the larger boy and waltzed its way back to its owner.
The girl watched, dazed, as it settled into her open palm. “L-little boy, did you just do that?”
Zanzir nearly choked on his own saliva. Little boy? Well, he had wanted to go for a young and innocent look but… He looked at his reflection in the glass of a nearby shop. Perhaps I overdid it a bit? The goal was a young teenager, but looking at his rounded face and short stature he did look a bit closer to ten. The only thing giving a bit more age to his features was his long black hair, tied up at the nape of his neck with the excess draping over his shoulder. He was only a head taller than the girl’s waist, and it had only been due to her tilted angle that he could catch her the way that he had.
“Here, let’s change locations first,” he said quickly, grabbing her hand in his own and making a beeline for a nearby alley to hide in. He’d already had to deal with the city guards today and once was already above his threshold of patience.
Once they’d moved to the shadows away from prying eyes, the two sized up each other in silence. She’s… actually really pretty. Zanzir thought, rubbing a hand over his chin. Even in the shade, a portion of her chestnut brown hair glowed, highlighting her round face and chocolate eyes. She was dainty, light on her feet as they had been running, but he saw a fire in her eyes that told him she was strong-willed.
He briefly considered what she might see when she saw him. He had dressed himself neatly, in a black shirt with a high color and tan trousers, but neither were ornate. Perhaps it was already an overestimate to say that he looked like the son of a well-to-do merchant. Still, he should at least look solidly middle-class.
It wasn’t his clothes or stature that her attention lingered on though, it was his eyes. How had he fixed them up again? A golden-brown with flecks of gold and red? Undoubtedly, those eyes also had a soft glow brought on by the use of magic. Zanzir blinked and turned his head away, forcing her attention to shift as well.
“What’s your name Miss?” Zanzir questioned, breaking the silence that had suddenly turned heavier.
“L-Lyla. Lyla Lei. And yours?”
He had to scroll through his memories in a rush before the name he’d carelessly engraved on the ID card came to mind. “Zelfer Areir.”
Lyla opened and closed her mouth several times, seeming to have a multitude of questions on her mind, but the one that made it out was, “Where are your parents?”
That wasn’t the question he’d been prepared to answer, but Zanzir didn’t miss a beat as he answered. “I left the house without them knowing. I wanted to go for a walk.”
Her eyes narrowed. “A boy like yourself should be in school at this time of day.”
Interesting. It makes sense if the education requirements were more strict these days, but I can’t see the rulers of the government welcoming magic education for all so easily. “I felt sick this morning so I didn’t go.”
“You look alright to me though.”
“I felt better later on. Maybe I ate something bad last night. My tummy hurt a lot at sunrise.” He grinned up at her, playing up the young child act as much as he could. To his pleasure, she heaved a sigh. He too released a light breath. Had they actually made it through the conversation without the most obvious question being raised?
“Where did you learn that magic style Zelfer?”
He held back a laugh. No, of course she wouldn’t avoid asking the most obvious question. “It’s a secret,” he winked and held his index finger over his lips. “But I’ll tell you if you promise not to say it to anyone else. I made it up myself.”
Her jaw slackened before she clenched it and her eyes hardened. “If you don’t want to tell me, it’s okay.”
Ah, she didn’t believe me. I wonder if I should play the game a little harder. Probably not a wise choice, but… “It’s true!” He protested. “Do you wanna know another secret? My real name isn’t Zelfer. It’s Zanzir. I came from the other side of the Divide.”
The hardness in her eyes melted until it turned into a blazing fire. “I appreciate you saving me, thank you, but I’m tired of being played for a fool. I don’t know why you all think I’m so naive. First it was those boys and even a little kid. Maybe I look like an airhead to others. I don’t know, but the jokes are uncalled for. You should go home.” With that, she passed him into the deeper recesses of the alley way.
“An unfortunate backfire,” Zanzir mused as he stepped back into the sunlit street. “I suppose the next order of business then is to re-discover the education system of the mages.”