Botrytis the Shadow

As the blinding glow of the magical vortex about him faded, a dark figure found himself materialising into reality with his senses synchronised to his new location within the prime material plane. The final glints and swirls of magic subsided as he inhaled sharply. Like a babe born and taking it's first breath, he too gasped briefly like emerging from water. He felt the familiar pang of his body and mind re-melding into matter and the application of gravity and life's other pains return as he came into being after teleport. A faint breeze cooled his sweaty brow as he peered untrustingly from under the edges of his hooded cloak. His life of hardship and living on the edge had taught him to be weary and cautious, instincts which had saved his life on more than one occasion. A grunt and faint moan from behind, together with the crackling sound of another being emerging from teleport caught his attention. But he had no cause for alarm as he immediately recognised the high pitched whiny raspy tone of his half brother Elrin's windpipe, carried in the night air as he too materialised. Recognising it for what it was, he turned his attention once again to his surroundings. He again felt the chill of the fresh night as the breeze blustered through the leaves of surrounding undergrowth and bent the blades of grasses on the overgrown track on which he now stood. He adjusted his belt pouches and dagger, then pulled his dark leather cloak closer about himself to keep out the night chills as he watched. The track meandered its way down hill, like a small stream through a forest and surrounded on both sides by thick undergrowth and old growth canopy. He looked ahead at what first appeared to be fairy lights at the base of the valley. Focussing his keenly developed infravision, he realised that he was actually looking at a village, albeit in a locale completely unknown to him through neither tale, tome or adventure. As he took in the sounds of music and night life emanating from the village, his mind meandered back to his humble beginnings and how he and Elrin came to find themselves in this strange place. Reflecting back in time, he recollected his first memories of childhood in the city of Waycom and being raised by his sickly mother, a slave in the dirty waterside districts, a place called Shantytown. Shantytown was filthy and infested with all manner of vermin, including rats, snakes, spiders and lice. Scavenging the nearby forest for the bounty of mushrooms that grew in clearings between fallen trees, he was aptly called "Botrytis" after the name of a common mushroom. His hatred of the slave traders had been imbued upon him from an early age, having watched his mothers ill treatment and finally, her murder at the hands of the slave traders. He recalled his chance encounter with Elrin, an orphaned slave boy who begged for food in the street after the death of his own mother. He suspected their shared lineage after overhearing whispers from the old maids of Shantytown. Thus through knowledge of their common blood and hatred of slave traders, they came together and he cared for Elrin.

the elder walked with the vigour of youth and carried an arrogant smirk on his face. Using the skills imparted to him by the brotherhood. He took a moment to quickly throw himself under a carpet stand and out of the obvious sight of passing crowds. Although obviously aged and walking with a hunched back. Botrytis noted a large sack of coin and a cylindrical leather case hanging from a plain twine belt at his waist. making his intended business of picking pockets from wealthy merchants all the easier. The elder walked with an air of distinction and pride. . he noticed intricate carvings on the walking stick which in itself appeared to have been carved into the semblance of a striking cobra. he ran errands for the guild in exchange for coin and provided a meagre existence for he and his half-brother Elrin. he stalked the elder from a flanking position. Without another thought. Botrytis was taken secretly to chambers beneath the city streets and trained in the skills of guile and thievery. slave traders were displaying their wares calling out declarations of merit for their own produce. gained possession of both coin and case with a mere flurry of his hands. bustling from one stall to the next and totally oblivious to him and his guild brothers. Elrin secluded himself inside their hut. his mind far away in distant imaginings of vile acts. his face was often distorted in a grimace as he muttered unknown thoughts under his breath. His keen eyesight focussed on an elderly man with a long grey beard and dressed in long flowing robes of a deep crimson with archaic edging of fine gold thread. He appeared to prefer his own company and shunned the camaraderie of all except Botrytis. he began to examine his loot.It was soon after the death of his mother and whilst roaming the dark side streets of Waycom that Botrytis was approached by dark men who told tales of fantasy. using a long intricately carved walking stick as a crutch. They called themselves the brotherhood of the guild and over time. A troubled child. he turned and made haste out of the market square and down a familiar alley. With the onset of rain and the cover provided from the continual movement of merchants past his secluded shelter. Clouds from an approaching storm front darkened the sky and added depth to the shadows along the paths and narrow alleyways surrounding the market district. perhaps the beginnings of incarnate evil driven by the torment of his own mind on the brink of madness. There was gold to steal. adventure and great riches. He observed the merchants. As he approached the elder. It was a autumn afternoon as Botrytis slinked his way through the market square. Whilst Botrytis enjoyed the excitement of the streets. choosing to remain in the darkness and not be seen nor heard. Intermingled between various stalls. During his years of training. As Botrytis watched the slavers he felt the rage from past injustices surface. however he had more important things to do. dressed in their colourful loose fitted silk and cotton attires. knowing that his approach would not be noticed in the confusion of the hustle and bustle of the market. Here lay the seeds for the birth of something truly dark. Botrytis moved closer and with the time practiced methods of a rogue. Strange runes wound around the shaft from top to bottom. The storm clouds above had continued to build and the faint pitter-patter of the first gentle raindrops began to fall. enticing sales for the forthcoming gladiatorial games.

the symbols disappeared off the parchment one by one. The flicker of a slave traders lantern some five yards distant suddenly grabbed his attention and without meaning to.but there it is. He felt the symbols enter his consciousness and with a sudden surge of power several unintelligible words came to the forefront of his mind. He had done well today. He quickly closed the coin bag and deposited it down his shirt. "From your lack of finesse. At first he saw nothing. the streets were becoming dark. he now contemplated the cylindrical leather case. "Wake up you stupid oaf.At first he opened the leather bag of coin and counted roughly 100 gold pieces. However as he continued to watch. Their slaves marched in pairs. Unperturbed by the encroaching darkness.. you . As the last edge of the parchment cleared the top of the leather case. enough to feed he and Elrin for one month. The elderly man with the crimson robe was standing huddled over him as he lay on the ground under the carpet stand." Botrytis sat dazed in disbelief. He stared at the strange symbols in disbelief and as he focused his gaze. the underground marketplace of the thieves highway. strange symbols and runes similar to those which he had beheld on the old man's walking stick suddenly became visible as a wave swept over the parchment from top to bottom. You stole some things from me. Could I have cast a spell? Surely not. however he noticed that the elder had a firm grip of his right forearm. "I am the Arch Mage Nenexor. "Now get up you oaf. he uttered the unknown words under his breath whilst staring into the flame. It turns out that you successfully cast the spell and killed several slave traders in the process. Botrytis unravelled the parchment and held it open in front of himself where he could examine it from the light of the passing slave traders lanterns. The sun was now low and due to the developing storm. he dropped the case into his lap. Quickly. We've got to leave here before Kolar the Blunt and the city guard arrive" cried Nenexor in an excited tone. shackled by the ankles and connected to the guards by long chains. He had a piecing gaze and Botrytis felt an overwhelming desire to run. He pondered on what such a parchment containing sensitive information would fetch on the dark market. A resounding boom followed together with screams as the world around him began to fade to gray. Have you any concept of what you have done". I can tell you've never used magic before. he thought.. Having stowed his gold. The slaves have escaped. Perhaps it contained some important papers or information that could be sold for more coin. A pouch of gold and a scroll case containing a Fireburst spell... he now unrolled the parchment and noticed the fine smooth texture of the paper as it unravelled. He pried open the top cover and carefully pulled out a rolled parchment. It seems you're a natural at Transmutation. The writing immediately disappeared from the parchment. Some slave traders who were passing him were now carrying lanterns as they made their way from the market place in the end of day rush. Ever so carefully. Botrytis regained consciousness and opened his eyes.

The sun had set hours ago. yet he somehow felt no compulsion to retreat inside. you have no time to gather your research materials but you must leave immediately. As he flung the edge of his cloak about him and secured the clasp. stated Nenexor". Can you teach him magic too?". particularly in the field of Transmutation. "It pains me to send you away from here but I have no other option. he reached over onto a table and picked up a dagger and other assorted adornments before turning to Nenexor and proclaiming. As he lay with his eyes half closed. Word of his involvement in the great slave escape years before had reached Kolar the Blunt who through unknown means eventually discovered the location of those responsible. Botrytis noticed the obvious look of fear on his brothers face. In a state of almost disbelief. cried Botrytis. Just gather your travel attire and let me worry about that". I must send you far away for your own protection. Botrytis honed his innate ability with magic. "But my brother". But life was not to be kind to Botrytis. weather worn travel cloak and his belt. Continue to practice the dark arts that I have shown you and someday when you have reached the level of master. Kolar has found your whereabouts and is storming my tower as I breath and speak these words". you may return to reclaim your former . he quickly gathered his backpack.must come with me back to the magic school where I can keep you safe and personally oversee your formal training". "But how will we get out"?. "I am ready". He experienced a sense of comfort with the onset of darkness and none of the insecurities afforded to human kind. not only because of his background in the brotherhood but from the fact that he was of elven blood and imbued with natural infravision. "Quickly Botrytis. He lay in a hammock perched between pillars on a balcony three floors up which adjoined his chamber. however his door suddenly flung open and Nenexor followed by Elrin rushed inside his chamber. he asked. he heard some commotion in the street below. Elrin was already dressed for travel and adorned a dark coloured travel cloak and backpack. Years passed and Botrytis and Elrin remained hidden from view within the walls of the School of Magi. exclaimed Nenexor. He was at home in the dark. "His name is Elrin. At first he ignored the disturbance. Training was intense to say the least however under the tutelage of the great Arch Mage Nenexor. Botrytis was taking a moment after expelling extensive mental energies in his last magic lesson. "If he's anything like you I will seek him out. That sort of raw talent is rare indeed and one day he will be a powerful mage in his own right ". Nenexor gazed into his eyes briefly before speaking. stated Nenexor.

. he Botrytis turned to Elrin who was also casting his gaze towards the village lights at the base of the valley. adjusting several misaligned vertebrae with an unmistakable sound like cracking knucklebones. the wind blustered about him. As he took his first step towards the village. After those words. then tightened his weather worn cloak about himself. Nenexor uttered several indiscernible words under his breath and waved his right arm through the air towards Botrytis and then Elrin. he shrugged his shoulders and abruptly jerked his head to the side. He made final adjustments to his belt pouches and dagger. Here we go again". Botrytis grimaced briefly as he acknowledged the all too obvious meaning of Elrin's mood. A bright flash followed by the pang of magical energy struck him and his vision faded into greyness as his body was de-materialized and sent forth to a distant land. A faint hint of a familiar smirk with the slight presumption of arrogance had crossed Elrin's face. he turned to Elrin who followed. a reminder of your time with the dark brotherhood". As they walked along the overgrown path towards the village. You came to me from shady beginnings my friend and henceforth from this day forward you shall be known to all as Botrytis the Shadow. As his attention returned to the present. tossing the lower edges of his cloak about like waves on the ocean. "Oh well.

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