The road not taken
While most spell wielders attain their ability through years of study, discipline or devotion, spellflares are unique in that they are born with the power to weave magic. Scholars have yet to deduce exactly how or where the spellflares powers derive from; most do not believe it to be hereditary and there are many hypotheses that range from god-given to mutation.
Whatever the origin, one thought is ubiquitous: spellflares are dangerous. Their powers lie dormant, usually exposing themselves in a heated moment, most often during their adolescence. It could be anything from a spat with a sibling, an intimate moment with a lover, or a fight for their life. In most cases, it usually ends with death and destruction as their new found abilities are uncontrollable at first (their short lived burst of magic coined the term spellflare). Most end up on the gallows right at the beginning, though a few who manage to escape their catalyst moment usually turn to solitary life, go insane, or become rogue spell wielders. For this, they’ve developed a black reputation that has made them feared by common men.
One in a thousand children are born a spellflare, and one in a thousand have the talent to wield terrible power. Like any art, spellflares require practice and understanding to master. Most lack the opportunity to evolve their powers and are capable of only minor spells. Some manage to learn from wizards and hone their abilities. There are a rare few, prodigies of magic, that teach themselves and quickly obtain legendary powers. Thankfully, those are extremely rare, though they tend to make a name for themselves in history when they do come about.
Spellflare: a person cursed with the ability to wield unstable magics. Also known as flares, wild mages, and blights.
A Moment In Class
“Spellflares, now there is a mystery.” The old wizard rapped his cane on the board, stirring the more listless pupils in his classroom. “But this is not a study of theoretical origins of anomalous arcana in sapiens; you can talk to Master Hanry about that.” His dismissive tone hinted at his opinion on Master Hanry’s study.
“No, we shall not be studying conjectures. We shall be studying history; the wise man’s subject.” More than a few faces sagged at the news. The old wizard ignored them, taking a stunted splint of chalk to the black board. His script was immaculate and precise.
“Not all spellflares ended at the gallows or as rogues. One recorded instance tells us of a flare who was regarded as a hero to some, though it depends on who you ask. Many here in the empire would say she was a rebel, and she was, though it’s possible to be both.”
He rapped his cane on the board again, drawing attention to the name he wrote. “Her name was Yvette Rhomena, but they called her Cinder. She was a Svorinn native who spearheaded attacks against the legions in the colonization period. Unlike most spellflares, Yvette was a true prodigy.”
The old man was pacing back and forth now. “She tamed her power and wielded it masterfully. She earned her monicker because of her affinity with flame. One account tells of how she wiped out fifty legionnaires with a single spell. Some immense eruption of fire and earth. More than her talent for destruction,” he continued, standing still again. “Yvette was renown for her charity. She was worshiped as a hero and a savior by the natives. Perhaps the only known case where a spellflare was loved by any populace. What does this tell us? That flares are not black hearted monsters, but common men placed in an extraordinarily uncommon situation. Yvette focused her ability to fight for what she, and many, believed in. A noble cause, though folly.”
He resumed his pacing once more. “She was killed, eventually, in a great battle that routed most of her followers. Legion XIII had the honor of that victory.” Again, his tone implied his true opinion on the glory of murdering such a talented mage. “But don’t think the empire didn’t try to kill her before. No, they tried many times and failed. Eventually they sent a cadre of masters to deal with her. Six masters they sent, including Grand Master Milan.”
The old wizard struck his cane against the board, causing half the class to jump. “Pay attention, you slack wits! This is your lesson. Never underestimate a spellflare. Never! Six masters they sent out to kill one flare. Six! Do you understand the force six masters wield? And Grand Master Milan was the best debilitator we’ve seen in three hundred years. They took her unawares, but it made no difference. The fight lasted mere seconds, though enough magical energy was unleashed to wipe out a quarter acre of forest. In the end, every master was a pile of ash. And Yvette? Not a scratch. The only thing they managed to do was slay her lover who’d been with her at the time.”
He shook his head and sighed. “Her retribution was fierce. Do you know why you never hear of Legion XIV? Because she killed them all. Near enough anyway. The say Yvette waded through their ranks, wreathed in flames that burned so hot it vaporized steel. The garrison they were stationed at was reduced to a smoldering crater. The few survivors were merged with Legion XIII.”
“But,” he continued, pacing once more. “That is one of the rare examples of a spellflare who was, arguably, viewed positively. Let’s take a look at the polar opposite. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the blight-lord, Caden Lavidius . . .”