The scent of freshly baked bread, the aromatics of herbal tea, the sweet aroma of snowberry jam, a common combination of smells in the Igneus’ household. Novus, the only child of the family smelled the breakfast from his room, right above the kitchen, and lazily stretched on his comfortable bed. His room, with wooden walls and tiled floors, was quite messy, parchments full of notes lined up in the walls, ordered chaos as he would describe it to Tiria, his mother when she chastised him about the disorder.
-No… I don’t want to get up.- Novus’ voice came out as a slothful whisper, while he fought against his pillowy covers.
The morning sun shone through his window, half-covered by elegant and heavy curtains, quite the luxury in the city of Rigel. Novus didn’t want to wake up, as he knew what would happen to him today. He planned to stretch this glorious moment before getting out of bed as long as he could, but his plan was thwarted when somebody opened his door.
Tiria Igneus, Novus’ mother, entered the room without a care in the world, humming an old Imperial song. Novus attempted to act like he was still asleep, but that performance ended quickly when Tiria opened the curtains in one fell swoop. The sunlight, which until now wasn’t getting directly to Novus hit him like a runaway carriage.
-Ugh, close the curtains, close them!- He pleaded while grunting and covering his eyes.
-You should already be up my little snowberry cake, your new job starts today, and you don’t want to be late, don’t you?- Tiria’s silhouette, cut by the light coming from the window, approached and attempted to gently remove the covers over Novus.
“Attempted” being the operative word, as Novus grabbed them, attempting to cover his whole body with them.
-No.- Novus, a bit too old for this kind of treatment, easily got on his mother’s nerves who without skipping a beat or saying a word, pulled the covers as hard as she could, putting a bit of spin to her grip. Novus, who stubbornly attempted to grab on, ended up rolling off his bed, falling on his ass.
-I think that’s enough of that Novus, you really need to get up and get going, I made your favorite breakfast.- Tiria smiled, hiding her frustration with her son’s laziness behind her smile.
Novus, still on the floor sighed. -I know… I know… just give me a minute to dress up and I’ll be right down.- Tiria crouched to help Novus stand up, with her tense smile loosening up, with a hint of gentleness.
-I know this isn’t what you wanted, but imagine how much good you can do in the long run, if you make the right connections and befriend the right people.- Tiria used a single hand to lift her son up, even if he was already 16, she dwarfed him in height and strength, Novus was always more inclined to academics than athletics and Tiria had a very labor-intensive task in the family business.
-Befriend them?- Novus snorted as he cleaned some dust from the back of his sleepwear. -I’ve spent the last 4 years meeting half of the nobility in the city, the only instinct that it left me is either to ignore them or burn the building they’re in.-
Tiria crossed her arms, her smile vanishing. -Novus, you can’t just say that.- She gently placed her hand on his cheek and crouched to get to his son’s eye level.
-Promise me you won’t talk like that in the castle.- She asked, concerned. -They might have tolerated it in school, but I don’t think any noble would take kindly to your sharp tongue.- She lowered her voice adding. -You know they have the right to kill you for such a slight, so please don’t tempt your luck, my son.-
Novus let out a small smile, but soon his wit overtook over his brain like it usually did. -That’s why I don’t want this assignment! Because of things like that!- He exclaimed, gently removing his mother’s hand from his cheek, feeling a bit self-conscious and embarrassed.
-It’s okay Novus, we know you can’t deny a request from the Academy and it’s okay to be afraid.- Tiria knew that their family couldn’t do anything against the will of the nobility no matter how well off their family economic situation was, in the Kingdom of Via, the highborn decisions were law.
-I’m not afraid of that! In fact, they can’t do that!- Novus replied frantically.
-It’s what they want you to think, the laws have changed, the whole Kingdom has changed, no matter how much they think this is still the Empire.-
The young man paced from side to side of his room picking up pieces of clothing he discarded yesterday. -What I wanted to do is start a school and use my knowledge and the benefits of my academic title to bring knowledge to the people.-
Novus haphazardly put on a shirt, after throwing away his camisole. -I wanted to help people, to teach them, and most importantly to give them access to the only thing that actually separates us from the nobles.- Talking as he wrestled with the buttons of his shirt, his tone gradually speed up, proportionally to his increasing frustration as he fumbled with his clothing.
Tiria, with infinite patience, grasped her son’s hand, moving them away from the buttons, and helped him out. -I know that teaching was what you wanted. But getting picked to be the personal assistant of the castle Paeoniis is an important honor, an honor you can use as a springboard to greater things my son.- She said, as she systematically closed each button.
-You’re smart Novus, but you should be careful, always keep your hand close to your chest and don’t let anybody see what cards you have, try to be…- Tiria closed the last button of the shirt. - I don’t want to say invisible, but try not to stand out and you’ll see that the 4 years will just fly by.-
Novus sighed. -You’re right, I promise to try.- He looped his leather belt as he raised his pants. -I’ll finish on my own, thank you, mother.- Tiria patted his head, Novus blushed, uncomfortable.
-I’m not a child mother.- He playfully moved his head away.
She smiled with newfound gentleness. -I know, sometimes I wish you still were one, at least for a couple more years.- And with that she left the room, leaving Novus to finish dressing on his own.
Five minutes later Novus walked down the stairs, carrying two large bags he packed last night. He was wearing baggy light brown pants, full of pockets and pouches held up by a couple of belts. He had knee-high black boots, the same he used as part of the uniform for the academy. His upper body had three layers, a white shirt with buttons, a blue vest, and a red coat, all parts of the Arcane Sciences Academy uniform. His right hand held one of the bags and the other hanging from a diagonal strap crossing his body. His left hand was clutched around a dark brown staff of gnarled wood that had two pale pink crystals on both extremes, with a larger one atop the staff and a smaller one at the bottom, the wood entangled around them.
He let his bags down, with gusto, in the foyer of his house, while he gently placed his staff against the wall and entered the kitchen. The same smell of food that woke him up, hit him like an anvil to the face. Tiria moved through the kitchen like a force of nature, checking that everything was ready. She enjoyed cooking, but her job, refining Cibus, a precious mineral very important for the Viani economy, always kept her out of the household, and now that Novus was about to leave for a long period of time, she took the time to cook breakfast for her son. Novus sat down and started chowing down, while Tiria kept humming that old Imperial song as she cooked.
Tiria was around 9.2 Eirus (Roughly 1.85 mts) tall. She had an impressive physique, currently hidden under a long dress and an apron. She towered over Novus, who barely scraped 8.1 Eirus (Around 1.62 mts) both in height and size. She had a well-groomed mane of copper red hair tied up in a tight ponytail and she had green eyes. Novus did share those traits with her, except that he had really short hair. There is a curious element to the length of their hair.
Both of them, for different reasons, tend to be surrounded by sparks, explosions, and other phenomena that could set their hair aflame. Tiria kept her hair long but combed and perfect, while Novus, much more pragmatic and prone to accidents in his line of work, decided to cut it short to avoid any dangers, in fact upon closer inspection he still had some charred tips from the last explosion he was around for and one of his eyebrows had a couple of bald patches for the same reason.
Because Novus was a graduate of the Royal Academy of Arcane Sciences, the only school that teaches how to understand and control the “Vis,” the energy that surrounds all things. This was more unique than it seems, as, since the times of the Empire when the territory that now composes the Kingdom of Via was only a colony, only Highborn were able to study the Arcane Sciences and lowborn, like Novus, were not just forbidden to study, but it was “common knowledge” that they lacked the ability to tap into the “Vis” to channel it through incantation and to use Cibus Crystals as catalyzing agents.
-I’m going to miss your homemade cooking.- Novus admitted as he stuffed his face with buttered bread and snowberry jam.
-I’ll try to send some whenever we can, but I don’t think delivery to the Castle is cheap.- Tiria replied. -Or even possible.- She turned around, smiling at him. -You’re going to miss me too or just my cooking?-
Novus almost choked on his food. After a couple of seconds, he managed to reply. -Of course, I’ll miss father and you, more than your cooking.-
Tiria smiled, with a tinge of sadness, thinking about the problems that her son would surely face adjusting to living among the Highborn in the King’s court. She tried to think positively, as her husband seemed to only think about the situation, but deep in her heart, she worried for her son.
Novus, trying to change topics to stop feeling so embarrassed, asked. -Where is Father? He told me he would accompany me to the Royal Ascent.-
Tiria sighed. -Well…-
Novus understood without having to listen to the rest. -He is busy working, right?-
His mother nodded. -He left early in the morning to handle a problem with one of the caravans coming from Ater Arva, but he said he would be here in time.-
Novus nodded with a half-smile. -I understand.- After all, he knew that his father was well-meaning, and much like his wife and son, he was extremely talented and passionate about his work. But that passion always ended up distracting him from other aspects of life. Novus couldn’t fault him, not after everything he did for him, providing not only food and shelter, but many useful life lessons, and most importantly being one of the reasons Novus managed to enroll in the Academy of Arcane Sciences.
-I better get going, I’m already running late, and I don’t think father will drop by.- Novus stood up and approached his mother. -I’ll do my best.-
Tiria smiled, patted his head, and embraced him. -I know you’ll do that, just try to keep your head down and don’t get involved in any trouble…- She looked him directly in his eyes. -Can you promise me that?-
Novus nodded and replied with a smirk. -I only promise I’ll try.- Tiria shook his head in fake disbelief and chuckled. Then Novus joined and both laughed, hiding their sadness behind the display of hilarity. -Take care Novus.-
He smiled, without the snark this time, and nodded. -You take care of father, without you he wouldn't know which boot goes on each which foot.-
Tiria laughed, ruffling his hair. -Go, before I change my mind.-
Tiria watched as Novus picked up his bags and left the house, closing the door behind him. She didn’t know what troubles he would end up being involved in, but if she did, she might’ve attempted to stop him.