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The Secret Origin of Therrin Flare

While he is unaware of his background, Therrin is more unusual than at first appearance. His history is much longer than he suspects, and it begins with a father who isn't from Quelmar at all...

Part One: Sestamon[edit | edit source]

From the moment he first spotted the spire on the road to Ptolus, Sestamon knew it would be the death of him.  A premonition of doom tickled his spine from the top of his head to the tip of his tailbone.  He'd heard stories of course - everyone had heard of the Spire - but to see it looming above him, an ominous portent for the job ahead, was accompanied by a sense of both surrealism and fate.  With a dream-like drive he moved along with his company into the city and headed to the barracks that had been prepared.  

The first strikes were major successes.  Sestamon wasn't clear on the details of their enemies, he just knew they were evil and his company had been hired to eliminate them.  He battled alongside his companions against dark warriors in black armor, bolstered with fell magics that could drain the life from mortals.  He fought dread wraiths in dark corridors, driving into their insubstantial forms as companion clerics blazed forth searing light.  He protected wizards as they rained fire down on abominations in deep caverns beneath the dreaded Spire.  He went where he was told and killed who he was told and Sestamon was proud of the successes he and his brothers achieved.

Eventually the strikes against goons and monsters dwindled as the campaign focused in on the enemy leadership.  Striding through broken corridors in deep dungeons, his group came upon a final stronghold.  They engaged their assault and it was the fiercest resistance they had yet faced.  Dark magics exploded deadly energies into the ranks of the companions, decimating some.  Blinding light flashed from enchanted weaponry as mighty warriors traded blows.  Sestamon found himself face to face with a demonic creature of the pits, breathing acidic fumes in his face and slashing at him with claws like steel.  He struck down the demon but not before taking grievous wounds himself.  Looking about, he saw things were not going well for his companions.  Several of his brothers were down, dead or unconscious he couldn't tell at quick glance.  As he watched the last cleric was struck by a fiend and sent hurtling into a wall, dropping like a sack on impact and landing on the floor, unmoving.  As his final two brothers moved to engage the fiend, he saw their wizard gesturing to him.  He moved slowly over, his wounds an agony burning through his mind, but he forced his body forward to slump down next to his companion.

"We won't be able to hold much longer," the wizard wheezed.  "I've got one last spell left that might help, but I'm not sure it'll be enough.  I can transform you into a divine being, a powerful angel that can surely defeat these foes.  Will you allow it?"

Sestamon was never known for his wisdom or his wits.  He was strong and he was loyal, and he was skilled with arms, and he made his way using those abilities.  Strategems were for his superiors, he merely carried them out.  He nodded to the wizard, who began to chant a spell.

The feeling was new.  While he'd been subjected to many protective spells and used potions on occasion in his role as a soldier, this sensation of magic was entirely alien.  He felt initially as if his whole body was turned to clay, a maleable mass suffused with a tingling energy.  Then the clay began to stretch and shift.  He could feel himself growing, getting taller.  His arms and legs extended, his torso broadened, and with an indescribable twist and stretch two wings emerged from his back and unfurled into bright feathered glory.  When the transformation was complete, Sestamon now stood twelve feet tall.  His skin was a dull silver and his eyes glowed with celestial light.  He looked down at the wizard.

"Slay the fiend!" the old man implored, pointing to where the demon just finished killing off the last of his brothers.  With a cry of divine rage, the planetar formerly known as Sestamon raised his blade and tore into his enemy.  Now the demon had no chance, and Sestamon rained down devastating blows bursting with bright energy that tore through the demon's defenses.  In short order the fiend was dead, and Sestamon turned back to the wizard, the last of his companions to survive.

"We're not done," the wizard said, gesturing to a portal that had opened at the far end of the chamber in which they'd encountered the demon and its minions.  "Whoever conjured that thing still needs to be dealt with."  He looked up to Sestamon, sizing up the transformation.  "Your new form has some powers that might help us out right now.  Can you heal me a bit?"

Sestamon's brows knitted in thought, and then shot up in surprise.  "Yes, I can.  And that's not all!"  With a gasp of surprise he reached out and released healing energy into the wizard, causing wounds to knit and bruises to fade.  The wizard breathed a sigh and sat up, but Sestamon wasn't done.  Moving to the nearest cleric he stretched forth his hand and called back the soul of the fallen man.  And he answered.  Within a few minutes he was back up on his feet, looking somewhat worse for wear.  Sestamon grinned in delight.  "I can do that a couple more times today, which other of our companions should I bring back?"

The cleric and the wizard conferred briefly about Sestamon's question.  While they did, the former fighter turned angel found that he was able to follow along with their discussion.  This was new, he normally turned his thoughts to his weapons and equipment and what needed prepared while this type of discussion occurred with his superiors.  Now he found that was easily able to keep up with their logic.  They decided to raise one of the fighters and to keep the last use of the planetar's ability to raise dead in case it was needed again in their group before the end.

The four of them gathered what they could of their companions' supplies, healed up as well as they could with some potions and wands, and then entered the portal.  They arrived in a darkened room of worked stone with several exits.  Behind them was a portal similar to the one they'd just used.  The cleric cast a quick augury then lead the group towards the exit opposite the portal.  Together they began a journey through a twisting series of corridors dotted with occasional small rooms, flights of stairs leading upwards, and more enemies of a similar nature to their previous encounters.  These were weaker enemies now, and were less of a threat than a delaying tactic.

Sestamon's form was able to slice through these enemies like a hot knife through butter, obliterating them each with a single blow of his divinely infused blade.  Finally they finished a quick skirmish with five dretches and the wizard indicated they should take a moment to speak.

"Sestamon, you've done well and your effort is appreciated.  We're approaching the end of the duration of the spell that has transformed you, so you need to make a choice" he started.  "I can let the spell end and you'll return to your normal human form.  In the same state as when I cast the spell" he added with a meaningful look.  "The other option is that I can continue to concentrate on the spell and it will become permanent.  This doesn't mean it could never be ended, only that I don't need to concentrate on it and the spell would be self-sustaining.  You'd remain in the planetar form until a specific effort is made to turn you back."

Sestamon only thought for a moment. "This form is obviously far more useful than I'd be if I were to change back now.  Let it remain and we can see our way through this."  His face twisted in a wry grin.  "If we survive, then we can talk about reverting back."

That decision made they moved out again.  A few minutes later the wizard indicated that his concentration was done and the transformation to Sestamon was now permanent.  Just a minute more and they found their path ended at an imposing set of iron doors.  With effort they were able to get them open and proceeded into the room beyond.  A wide circular chamber devoid of much but a slight depression in the center, above which hovered a swirling sphere of black pulsing energy.  Next to it stood a figure that was unexpectedly unimposing.  And beyond was a broad wall that was open to the outside world.  Looking through the companions could see that they were high in the air, well above Ptolus.  They were actually in the Spire itself, and again Sestamon felt a chill down his spine, the premonition of his first day in Ptolus returning fiercely and giving him momentary pause.  But then he focused again on their goal.


It was indeed the final abode of their long hidden enemy.  Now confronting the evil in the flesh, they see not a demon or devil or abomination, but a human, a female who was clearly steeped in the necromantic arts.  With a cry the companions attacked.  Once again spells flashed, blades slashed, and energies exploded through the room.  In a desperate effort to at least take her enemies with her, the necromancer cast a powerful spell that intersected the sphere of energy, just as Sestamon was slashing at her with a blow that no doubt would have blasted her into dust with its infusion of divine power.  All of these energies came together in a sudden clash, and the result was a huge explosion that blasted Sestamon, the necromancer, and the remaining companions to edges of the chamber.  The intensity of the blast left all of them unconscious.

When he awoke, Sestamon wasn't in a circular chamber.  He wasn't inside even.  He was laying on a root that was connected to a tall tree, the likes of which he'd never seen.  Branchless and smooth, the trunk rose several tens of feet before thick, broad leaves sprouted at the top.  Rising to his feet, he saw that he was in a jungle.  Confusion overwhelmed him for a moment, but without effort his heightened intellect was able to recognize that the explosion of magical energies must have transported him somewhere else on Praemal, since there were no jungles near Ptolus.  Taking stock of his situation, he realized he needed to get back to Ptolus to help his friends.  Without any immediate options for instantaneous long range travel he turned invisible for safety, and flew straight up into the air.  

Rising into the unfamiliar sky, Sestamon saw that the jungle stretched as far as he could see.  Adding to the difficulty, the air was thick with mists that obscured even the land directly beneath him by the time he'd ascended to one hundred feet.  Undeterred, Sesatmon flew up, intent on getting a view of the night sky.  Eventually the mists above him thinned, and the sky came into view, a blanket of black void dotted with stars in their legions.  While he wasn't particularly familiar with astronomy, he could see pretty easily that this was not the night sky of Ptolus.  Again he felt confusion - he didn't really understand it before, but now he could grasp what the wizards and clerics meant when they said Praemal was locked off from other worlds.  How did he get here?

With no answers immediately apparent Sestamon considered his options.  He was in a strange place, an entirely new world perhaps.  He'd been carrying the bulk of his team's supplies when he'd been blasted to wherever he now was, since he'd been large and much stronger than anyone else.  But in this celestial form he didn't need sleep nor food and drink.  There were a few magical items that might be helpful, including a hat of disguise, an alchemy jug and an amulet of health that seemed to have been damaged in the explosion.  All were carried in a handy haversack, and he didn't see any immediate need for any of them, although he donned the hat of disguise to create the illusion that he was a rather nondescript humanoid of ogre size, but of a peaceful demeanor.  

One option which occurred to him but didn't inspire eagerness was to use his planetar spell of Commune to seek wisdom from the divine.  Still new to the expanded intellect of his celestial form, he balanced what he knew of how the spell worked, to the realization that he had no idea about the gods, and it might not be too smart to go knocking on their door.  What if they were unfriendly?  What if they decided it was simpler to just destroy him rather than risk the danger of whatever he represented - an alien invader from a hostile dimension perhaps.  No, without a bit more knowledge of what he might be getting himself into he decided to wait before he tried that avenue.

A decision of sorts being made, the only one left was to pick a direction to travel.  It was night when he arrived, and it hadn't seemed like dawn (if this place had a dawn) was any time soon.  Still, he was in no immediate hurry.  At least, no hurry he could do anything about.  In truth, the thought of the fate of the others nagged at him, and as he thought about it more fully he realized that there might be some of his companions - or his enemy - here with him.  He imedaitely began to search the area, invisible and using a spiral pattern widening out from his location.  He flew about twenty feet off the ground, close enough to clearly see the ground for some distance in front of him but high enough to avoid the tangle of the underbrush.  Although he kept on until dawn finally did start to show through the misty air, he found no sign of anyone else.  So his worry for his companions remained, but he steeled himself to the reality that it would be a long road home.

Now that he had the sun to guide him, he turned his back on it and headed west.  He flew all day and kept eyes and ears peeled for signs of civilization and intelligent life.  He didn't find any, but the breadth of flora and fauna he did see was impressive.  Whatever this world might be it was certainly different from the one whence he came.  Curious, Sestamon continued his journey and watched for any chance that he might find some help to figure out a way home.  Soon he did find signs of intelligent life, but it was of an extremely brutish nature.  A tribe of wild orcs was living among the trees, and with his spells he could tell that they were very evil.  Even if they had any power to help him they clearly would not.  Still, he watched them for a few days to learn what he could, and he found that the name of this world was Quelmar.  He learned a few more details, and then he continued on his way west.  Part of him considered attacking the orcs, stopping them from causing wanton death and misery to the people who lived in the surrounding areas.  But he realized, to his chagrin, that despite his heightened intellect he didn't know enough to know how such a change would affect the area.  Perhaps some other even worse force would arise.  With a sigh he continued on his journey.

As he flew on invisibly, although still with his image looking like a small giant and not an angel, he eventually came to the edge of the jungle.  Savannah stretched out before him now, and he flew on for several days.  It was then that he finally changed his path for a while.  He came upon a farming village on the savannah, and for the first time he found people whose goodness was truly bright in this strange world.  Watching for a time, he found that the many families here were caught in a drought, and that their meager resources included a priest whose ability was quite limited.  He could conjure barely a barrel of water a day, and that didn't go far for the ten dozen people who called the village home.  Sestamon felt the calling of his celestial nature to aid those of a goodly disposition, but as with the orcs he was uncertain of how his actions might impact this alien world.  Conflicted, he finally decided to use his commune spell to help guide his choice.  He realized it might be a drastic action resulting in his immediate destruction, but the helplessness of his situation and his desire to be useful ultimately overrode his doubts.  He withdrew from the area near the village, and settled into a comfortable position in a small copse of trees, one of the few to be found this far into the savannah.

Focusing his mind inward, Sestamon perceived a point of brilliant white energy.  Concentrating on that point drew it closer to his mind's eye, bringing greater and greater detail to what originally looked to be a uniform white blob.  Details and patterns began to appear, and suddenly Sestamon found himself face to face with a being who looked much like himself.  The true planetar looked at Sestamon curiously, and just as he was about to speak the planetar asked, "Who are you?"  

Sestamon felt a sense of surprise.  While he had never before cast this spell (nor really much in the way of any spells other than those he'd used since his transformation), he had a sense that the way it worked was that he would ask questions which could be answered in the affirmative or the negative.  The divine agent never asked questions.  But understanding the confusion he gathered his thoughts and explained.

"My name is Sestamon, and I'm a human soldier from a world called Praemal.  I was taking part in a battle against evil forces and a wizard of my acquaintance used true polymorph to transform me into a planetar.  He held the spell long enough for it to be come permanent as we were in the midst of exploration and battle.  A short time after that we found the lair of our primary enemy and combat ensued.  In the process there was a tremendous explosion which rendered me unconscious.  When I recovered I was in the jungle to the east and south of here and had no inkling how to return home.  Now I'm traveling to see if I can find anyone who might be powerful enough in magic to help me figure out how to get home."

At the conclusion of this explanation, the planetar nodded slowly.  "So it is.  Very well, ask your questions"

Sestamon looked a bit surprised for a moment, but regained his composure and began.  "Is it possible for me to return to Praemal?"

The planetar paused only a moment before responding, "Yes."

Sestamon perked up a bit at that, then asked, "If I get involved in the lives of the people I meet and help them with healing and otherwise using my spells and abilities, will I cause any problems that would concern you?"

Again the pause was slight, and the planetar replied, "No."

Sestamon smiled now, feeling like he was getting the hang of this communing thing.  "Can anyone on this world help me get home?"

This time the pause was longer, stretching out long enough to make Sestamon wonder if the planetar had heard him.  Finally though the angel spoke and said, "No."

Sestamon felt a pang of regret at that word, but with what he considered to be permission to live a life, he set back out to the savannah village to see if he could be helpful.  He already had a couple of ideas on what spells he could use to really make a difference.  He just needed to take the right approach, so that he didn't seem too offputting to the people of the village.  Still concerned an angel twice their height might be a bit too much, he opted to use his giant image and to introduce himself as a "jungle giant" from the southeast.  He pondered an explanation for his presence on the savannah, and by the time the village came in sight once again he had a pretty good idea of what he'd say.

It didn't take long before he had his chance to talk.  As he drew within a quarter mile of the village he was easily visible.  Soon the villagers noticed him, and some of the men with a more warrior demeanor gathered weapons moved towards Sestamon.  He kept his slow and steady pace, and as he moved within speaking distance there was a crowd of at least twenty warriors along with forty odd villagers gawking at the sight before them.  When Sestamon was within twenty feet of the group he stopped, looking back and forth over the crowd as they looked at him with anticipation.  Some were clearly fearful this might be their very last day in the world, shaking visibly while holding a weapon, or the hand of their neighbor.  Hoping to lower the tension, Sestamon spoke.

"Hello.  I hope you might be able to help me.  My name is Sestamon and I'm a traveller from deep in the jungles southeast of here.  I'm journeying as part of my spiritual development - I need to see more of the world to better understand my place in it.  Would you mind if I asked you some questions about the area?  I've never been this way before, and I eventually would like to see a city.  Are there any nearby?"

The villagers looked back and forth, uncertain exactly how to take this.  One of the older villagers standing immediately behind the warriors stepped forward, her pace steady even as she wobbled a bit in her step.  As she drew to ten feet from the "giant" she looked him in the eye.  "You speak our language well, for someone from deep in the jungle," she noted.

Sestamon nodded. "It's because the spiritual path I walk.  I seek to lead my people, and now I must wander the world to learn if my path is the right one.  I've learned all languages through the mystical essence of my faith."  He kept a completely straight face while saying this, helped no doubt by the hat of disguise.

"Hmm," the old woman agreed noncommitally.  "I'm Zelda and I'm the eldest of the villagers.  While we appreciate your company, we are in dire circumstances.  The last two seasons have been unusually dry and limited in production, and this season is shaping up to be worse.  Our stores are nearly depleted and we unfortunately cannot offer the hospitality we'd usually provide."  She looked abashed as she admitted this, but the rest of the villagers nodded as she spoke.

Sestamon looked over the villagers.  He saw faces thin, stressed, tired.  He also saw determination.  He wasn't surprised at that - during the time he'd spent watching these people their dedication to each other and faith in their community was inspiring.  He nodded and spoke to Zelda, "I understand.  I wouldn't think of imposing."  His gaze swept over the villagers, and then to their lands beyond.  "In fact, I may be able to help you.  I'm a shaman amongst my folk and I may be able to beseech the sky spirits to send some rain to this area.  It takes some time to work, but with your permission I'd like to try."

Murmurs trickled through the people as they heard this, and many heads turned to look at an older man near the back of the group.  He was dressed much the same as the rest of them in a simple tunic and pants, but he was also wearing a simple leather cord around his neck from which hung a bronze stylized sun.  As his neighbors turned their regard his way, he stepped through the crowd and moved up next to Zelda.  He raised his gaze to look Sestamon in the eyes and spoke.  "I am Reginald, priest of Pelor.  I have served this community for many years, and we have been very blessed with good harvests and fruitful livestock."  He looked around at his people, and at the dry land around them.  "But lately our blessings have been fewer.  I've prayed and sought counsel from the divine one, but I feared my prayers were unanswered."  He looked back up at Sestamon.  "But I feel that you are the answer to our prayers.  Yes, we would welcome any help you can give us, friend."  A sigh swept through the crowd as Reginald said this, and smiles blossomed on many faces.  

Sestamon smiled as well.  "Then I'll begin immediately."  He moved to a place in the center of the village, and the villagers stepped back to give him room.  He closed his eyes and concentrated, and began to slowly chant.  As he chanted a light breeze slowly picked up, faintly, stirring the grasses of the plain to sway gently back and forth.  This persisted for several minutes as the spell took hold.  Finally Sestamon finished and he could feel his spell permeating the sky.  He concentrated and the breeze picked up, and over the next hours clouds rolled in and by morning a gentle rain was falling, the first in months.  The villagers were amazed and overjoyed, and laughter resounded through the village.

Sestamon was immediately popular with his aid proving invaluable in controlling the weather, but his healing powers were also put to good use.  Over the next weeks he called rain as often as needed, and with care and hard work the villagers were once again able to produce a viable harvest.  His healing powers saved lives in a few dire situations, and he quickly became a favored part of the life of the village.

After a season of living with (or near - he was much too large for their homes) the villagers, Sestamon felt comfortable enough to reveal his true story to them.  He spoke with Zelda and Reginald and asked to have time to address the village during the fall harvest celebration.  Since there wouldn't have been a celebration without his assistance they readily agreed.  The continuous dedication Sestamon had shown to the calling of rain and the tending of the harvest had meant that the produce was particularly fruitful.  As the meal was shared and laughter abounded, many stories were told of the trials of the past and how the current bounty was a sign of the favor of Pelor, who had sent their new friend to aid them.  As the mirth settled into a quiet contentment as the evening wore on, Sestamon looked at the elders who both nodded, then he stood and gathered the attention of the villagers.

"My friends, I have to tell you something more about my past.  I'm afraid I owe you an apology, for I haven't been totally honest with you.  And as I've learned over these past months, you are all good people who deserve the truth."  And with that he dropped the illusion of a giant he'd worn since entering the village many months prior.  Silence fell over the crowd, along with more than one plate and cup that also hit the ground.  Sestamon sighed as he looked over the startled faces of his friends.  "I hid this form from you when I first arrived because I didn't want to influence your opinion of me as a person, which, despite my current state," he gestured to his magnificent outstretched wings, "is really all that I am.  My name is Sestamon, and I'm currently an angel for all intents and purposes, but I began my life as an ordinary human, and lived most of it that way until the weird events that brought me here to Quelmar."  And he related his tale in full, from his birth on Praemal to the first sighting of the Spire in Ptolus, to the battle and transition here and the subsequent days of wandering in a strange new world.  He talked about his hesitation to get involved in this world, and the result of his commune which lead to his approach to the village.  Finally he explained that he was in fact looking to find his way to a large city, in the hopes that he might himself learn the magic necessary to make his way home.

The villagers were shocked at this tale and turn of events, and as Sestamon finished his story the crowd burst into excited, confused, and somewhat angry conversation.  Some of the most angry comments suggested Sestamon was a spy or a trick.  Others vehemently opposed such ideas.  Most people were just surprised and amazed by Sestamon's story.  Zelda walked through the crowd, doing her best calm those whose tempers were getting the best of them.  Reginald, however, stood at the back of the crowd, not far from Sestamon, and watched the angel and the crowd.  He waited for several minutes as the conversations continued, then stepped forward and stepped up onto a table, raising himself above the crowd.  As he lifted his hands to request silence the villagers one by one acquiesced, and all turned to hear what he would say.

"For long months we suffered in our drought.  Too many seasons passed us by without succor.  We were on the brink of having to abandon our village - our homes - or die here of dehydration and starvation," he said. "We prayed to Pelor for release, for help to relieve our burden - and help was granted!"  He turned to look at Sestamon, still a bit taller than Reginald despite standing on a table.  "This man took the time to get to know us, to become part of our community, in order to help us.  I've observed, as I know a few of you have, that he hasn't taken much of anything in the way of foodstuffs in the time he's been here."  Nods from around the crowd confirmed what Reginald was saying, and he turned to Sestamon.  "Why is that?"

The image of a planetar looking abashed was one that would stick in the minds of the villagers who saw it for years to come.  "I don't need to eat or drink - or sleep, even - in this form.  So it seemed unwise to waste resources on myself, when you all actually need them..." he trailed off a bit as he saw smiles on most of the faces around him.

"Indeed," Reginald continued.  "You aided us, and you only took a bit of food to maintain the illusion that you were in fact getting something in return for your help.  But in truth, what did you really gain?"  He addressed the crowd generally now.  "What did he get out of helping us that he couldn't have gotten more easily on his own?  Nothing."  He turned back to Sestamon.  "I look at you, Sestamon, and I see the answer to our prayers, and your choice to help with no thought for yourself shows the truth of Pelor's guidance in bringing you to us - maybe even to our world."  He addressed all one last time.  "We have been blessed to have been granted such friendship.  And we'll do what we can to help you in return, and find where you can acquire the assistance you need to return home."  He gave a Sestamon a wry grin.  "Though if you could continue to help with the harvest, we'd appreciate it!"  Chuckles echoed through the crowd, and the tension which had built dissipated.  The crowd dispersed back into smaller groups celebrating, and Sestamon relaxed without deception for the first time since coming to Quelmar.

After that life settled into a more or less normal routine.  Sestamon continued to use his illusory visage on a daily basis, more out of habit than anything else, although the idea of some day encountering strangers while in the form of a planetar was in the back of his mind.  He still wanted to keep a low profile as much as possible - who knew what sort of trouble would be stirred up if rumors of an angel started to spread?

And so Sestamon stayed in the village for three more years, helping each season with rain when needed, which was an occurrence that diminished with time.  About twice a year a merchant would visit the village, and each time Sestamon would hide, listening as the villagers sought news and asked questions to help the angel learn the best place to study magic.  With his ability to discern truth he was able to grasp quite a bit more about the world at large than the merchant would reveal willingly.  Eventually he learned that the city of Galik to the northwest of the plains, across the great Scar which divided the continent, was the largest known city in the world and would certainly have the resources he would need to learn magic, and in time find a way home.

Sestamon took his leave of the village after the harvest celebration of the fourth year since his arrival in Quelmar.  There were many tears shed as he bade farewell, and Zelda and Reginald both made him promise to return when he could.  Sestamon agreed that he would, and then he shroud himself in invisibility, took to the air, and headed off in the direction of Galik.

Having spent far longer than he'd ever intended in Quelmar already, Sestamon was eager to begin his studies.  He maintained a high altitude, far enough that he'd be invisible from the ground even without his spell, and since he needed neither sleep nor nourishment, he continued on his path until his destination came into view.  From a distance he could see that Galik was a city of a size and scope to rival Ptolus back home.  With growing confidence he descended to a few miles outside of town.  He dismissed his invisibility but kept his giant illusion active as he began walking to the city gates.  His approach raised some eyebrows amongst the gate guards, and he was taken aside and questioned briefly about his intentions.  But, while unusual, beings such as a jungle giant were not unheard of in Galik, for this was the largest city on the surface of Quelmar.

Once granted access to the city and given directions to appropriate accommodations, Sestamon made his first order of business finding out where to learn magic.  A few quick questions to some curious locals (while not unheard of, giants were still a bit of a rarity) revealed that there were many wizards associated with the guild scattered throughout the city.  Each district contained a single mastery tower, along with some adept towers and several apprentice towers.  Membership within the guild was limited and only the death of a member resulted in a new opening, but most of the adepts and some of the masters took on students, many of whom went on to become members of the Free Defenders, or adventurers who travelled the world and brought honor to the guild through their deeds.  Encouraged, Sestamon took residence in a small (for a giant) shed on the property of the only inn in Galik that catered exclusively to giants.  Unfortunately for him the main rooms were designed for huge giants, and while Sestamon was large and certainly impressively sized compared to most humanoids, he was himself small in comparison to the room and furniture available to true giants.  So he was set up in a shed that was fitted with a bed of the right size, and he set out to find himself a magic instructor.

The Dominion of the Arcane, the formal name for the wizards guild in Galik, was organized in a dispersed fashion.  Towers of wizardry existed in each district, most run by apprentices, some by adepts.  Only one tower per district could be a master's tower.  These locations coordinated to run the branches of the Galik Arcane University.  The adepts and apprentices served as instructors in this University, so it was to the closest tower that Sestamon turned in his quest for an education.  He approached on a bright sunny day and was, as usual, somewhat of an oddity on the street.  But no one paid him too much heed, and as he approached the entrance to the tower he was halted by a guard, a human male who was tall for his people, but who still had to crane his head upward to address Sestamon.  

"Good day sir giant, what is your business here?  Come to get some enchanting done, or maybe buy a potion?"

Sestamon smiled at the guard and used his ability to detect evil and good to ensure there were no supernatural entities within range. Detecting none he replied, "I'd like to learn magic.  Is this the place to enroll in a course of wizardly study?"

The guard's eyebrows arched in surprise.  "Yessss, magic is taught here.  We've never had a giant as a pupil before that I can recall."  He eyed the giant, and the tower entrance which was sized for typical humans and similar humanoid creatures.  "Let me check with my boss on how to handle this.  Please wait here."  He turned to enter the tower, then stopped and faced Sestamon once again.  "Apologies, whom may I say in inquiring?"

"My name is Sestamon, I come from the great jungles to the far southeast, on the other side of the Scar."

"Sestamon. Got it."  The guard nodded again, then smiled at Sestamon and turned back and entered the tower.

After a short while the guard returned.  He was followed by an older man of serious demeanor who glanced at Sestamon with dispassionate eyes.  "So you wish to learn magic?" the man asked Sestamon.  "Why?"

Sestamon considered a moment before answering.  "I need to make a journey and the only way to do so is with magic.  I've received guidance that indicates no one on Quelmar can help me with this, so I must try on my own."  He eyed the man, wondering how much of the truth to share.  "I have some skills gained via my faith, but I don't know the first thing about arcane spellcasting."

The older man gave him an appraising look for a few moments, then he spoke again in Draconic, "Do you feel capable of adapting to new ways of thinking?"

Sestamon smirked as he replied in Draconic, "I've found that I can learn many things if I apply myself."

The old man smiled back.  "Very well.  We can't accommodate you here, but the master's tower has facilities that should work.  I'll pen a message of introduction for you.  Make your way to the large tower in the center of the district, and good luck to you."

The wizard returned to his tower, the guard following at a gesture.  A few minutes later the guard returned and handed a scroll tube to Sestamon.  Thanking him, the giant made his way into the center of the district, easily spotting the large tower within a few blocks.  As he neared he saw that the place took up two whole blocks and was surrounded on all sides by twenty foot tall walls.  Gates opened at three points on each of the four walls surrounding the compound.  Beyond, the main tower soared into the air twenty stories high.  Sestamon strode up to the closest gate and was surprised to see no guards immediately apparent.  Taking a moment to scan the area with his truesight and detecting for good and evil he saw nothing obvious.  Bolstered, he stepped to move through the gate, but was held back by an unseen force.  As he considered this, a voice sounded in his mind.

"What is your business?" the voice asked, its tenor and tone neither masculine nor feminine, resounding in perfect neutrality.

"I wish to learn magic," Sestamon thought back simply.

There was a sensation of being observed, though Sestamon saw nothing.  After a few moments the voice spoke again.

"Enter, and make your way to the tower.  Your request will be considered."

Sestamon felt the resistance vanish and moved through the gateway.  Once through he was in a short tunnel about ten feet long which opened into the compound for the master's tower.  It was large and while there were some buildings here and there within the walls, the tower itself was the main structure herein.  He approached the tower, taking in the perfectly manicured lawn and shrubs, and the gleaming walls of the compound.  Surely there was magic at work here.  As he reached the single entrance to the immense tower, the door - sized for a typical human - grew and expanded and widened until it was large enough to easily allow him admittance. The door then swung inward, and without waiting for further invitation Sestamon walked inside, ready to begin his career in magic.

He found he was a quick study - his years of training as a warrior had not required the same level of intellectual focus, but the discipline of repeatedly performing, failing, learning, and trying again was a great asset to him now.  Sestamon quickly advanced through the basics of wizardry, and within a short time was able to master spells powerful enough to be an effective spellcaster for a team.  With that in mind he began to seek out new companions, to both provide service to the community as well as challenge his abilities by taking up the mantle of adventurer.  He was able to find ready and willing partners since his inherent abilities were already a worthy inclusion in a group.  Adding his magical prowess made him formidable even in his first endeavors.  Soon he had a reputation as an able leader and fierce defender, able to take the fight to the enemy as well as bolster his allies.  Within a few years he founded his own adventuring company and started on his quest to finally find a path home.

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