Name: Melcari Velsai
Description: Melcari’s gnomish heritage immediately manifests itself in his height. At just under five feet, his size is approximately what one would expect to result from such a union. However, his height may not be the first thing one notices due to the fact that Melcari is most often seen levitating about a foot off the ground. While on duty, one can expect to never witness his feet hitting the earth.
While no attempt has been made to disguise his levitation, small effort was put into disguising his height. From around Melcari’s waist, a long crimson robe descends past his feet. The robe is segmented into four parts, one on each side and one on the front and back. The segments overlap, leaving Melcari’s lower body is completely invisible beneath it. While levitating, the robe gives him a ghostly appearance. The red color matches that of the battlemage’s gloves.
Besides the intimidation factor, these robes are worn with a practical purpose in mind. Melcari’s left leg is actually a wooden prosthetic from the knee down. When not wearing robes, it becomes visible. It is clearly an advanced piece of medical technology for the age, but it isn’t magical. When he isn’t using his levitation, Melcari will visibly display discomfort and limp badly.
One other aspect of his battlemage attire is highly atypical: Melcari’s helmet has no slit for the eyes. It resembles an egg-shaped steel dome with a chain neck guard. His features are completely hidden, between the helmet and the chain. Between his atypical build not correlating with any known species and his arcane oddities, an opponent’s first inclination may be that the being under the battlemage armor is more monster than man.
Historically speaking, few aberrations have found it necessary to carry a barrel carbine. It is a large weapon for one of his size, but he carries it well. It is generally slung on his back by a strap. At his waist, further proof of his mortality rests in the form of a knife and a flintlock pistol.
Off duty, or just out of his armor, Melcari is a very different man. Without the robe and helmet, one might be forgiven for assuming him to be a mortal man. He still wears a thick leather blindfold at all times, and the lack of sight plainly does not inhibit his movements. Besides that quirk, Melcari’s appearance is fairly typical. He has short, pale blonde hair which has been groomed into a short beard. Like many male gnomes, he has found that having a beard helps humans regard him with the respect due to adults. His skin is a healthy tan color and he is muscular insofar as his frame will allow, but his body is decorated by the occasional scar, some of which are old enough to predate his time in the battlemages.
Six Chambered Carbine: A short rifle with six chambers, it has a strong claim to being one of the most advanced pieces of personal gnomish weapons technology in Marn. It has been treated with the same secret techniques as guard armor, and is correspondingly durable. It is a large weapon for Melcari to carry, proportionate to his body size.
Battlemage Armor: A standard issue set of guard armor and red battlemage gloves. Modifications have been made to account for his unique abilities and afford him additional protection. His helmet has no eye slot or moveable parts. It resembles an egg-shaped steel dome with a chain neck guard, and its smooth surface has no gaps through which one could see his face. He also has a long robe which conceals his legs.
Prosthetic Leg: An advanced piece of medical technology for the time. It is not magical. It has a few moving parts, but not many. He can only walk on the leg with a severe limp, and it is plainly uncomfortable to do so.
Emergency Dagger: He carries a short military dagger in a sheath on his side. It is a fine weapon, forged from the same steel as all guard equipment is, but it has been modified to account for his unique size.
Powers or Strengths:
Fast Learner: Melcari is swift to grasp new concepts, be they technical or magical. He is capable of managing his firearm’s maintenance personally. He understands the mechanics involved in most of Marn’s artillery, though he cannot aim them. Over the course of months, he can even modify his own magical abilities: a skill which has served adequately in compensating for his numerous physical disabilities. Despite his talent in this field, however, he generally must sacrifice some other aspect of his magic to gain a new ability.
Tome Virtues: Melcari believes in Marn. He is willing to endure great personal punishment for the sake of the city and its citizens. His life has been one of constant sacrifice, but he always finds more to give. He can be found at charitable efforts with surprising regularity, to the point where veteran volunteers can recognize him. He holds himself to strict standards of conduct and —despite being objectively insane— is regarded as one of the more reliable battlemages by his superiors.
Marksman: He carries that carbine for a reason. Melcari is an impressive shot, able to easily hit stationary targets from a variety of difficult situations, ranging from “levitating upside down” to “thrown by a troll” It is likely that his sight makes it easy for him: his complete awareness of everything that goes on within a certain radius makes his aim truly exceptional. However, the disadvantage of its sight manifests itself keenly here: he is only capable of targeting opponents within thirty feet of himself.
The carbine has six total shots, and takes an exceptionally long time to reload once those are spent. If absolutely necessary, Melcari has been trained in using his carbine as a club. His preferred method of doing so is to levitate towards his opponent at high speed and swing, but his lack of traction and small size severely limits the effectiveness of this tactic.
Sight: Melcari has had his eyes permanently destroyed. He instead navigates by using a magical pseudo-sight which allows him complete awareness of everything that occurs 360 degrees around his body for thirty feet in all directions. The downsides to his sight are that he cannot distinguish colors, shades, light, anything beyond thirty feet, or even read, unless the writing has significant indentation (such as on a carved tavern sign.) He can also see magic, enabling him to see through invisibility and some illusion effects. To some degree, he can see magic in those around him, but weaker mages will usually pass as “potentials.”
To deal with these disadvantages, he usually requisitions the help of a guard or citizen for navigation and general aid.
Levitation: Melcari’s legs were also damaged beyond repair. He compensates by using magic to levitate his body. His top speed is generally slower than a typical human’s run speed, but he has fairly precise control and can very briefly accelerate with bursts of speed. In addition, his limited sight makes it difficult for him to plan ahead. He rarely uses his bursts of speed due to the risks involved.
He can only lift himself about two feet from the ground, but slopes do not hinder him and he can freely glide up all but the most extreme inclines. If necessary, he can pull himself upwards using his arms: as his ability still provides him with a substantial amount of lift while in midair, he finds it easy to climb vertical walls provided he can find handholds. Melcari will never fatally collide with the ground, no matter how great his fall.
His left leg has been amputated and replaced with a reasonably advanced wooden prosthetic. Due to his robe, this is not immediately obvious, and due to his levitation, it is likely he will be struck in the legs while fighting. While this is better than being stabbed, and he will feel no pain from such strikes, it is likely to disorient Melcari and put him at a disadvantage.
Disruption: Melcari’s distrust of magic has manifested itself in his own. Melcari can temporarily augment the Great Seal in a given area. He can generate a field from his hands, feet, and head. The field is spherical, creates a blurry effect comparable to a heat wave, has a roughly six foot maximum radius, and must be in contact with him in some way. It moves if he moves.
If a mage enters the anti-magic field, their capacity to cast is reduced greatly depending on what proportion of the mage is within the field. If they are completely engulfed in it, most magic users will find themselves completely unable to cast. It would take an abnormally powerful mage to overcome the null, and they would still find their powers very drastically lessened. An inhumanly powerful source of magic could break the null outright. It generally won’t kill magical beings, but it might shut down their movement, slow their thoughts, or cause them extensive pain depending on the particular way they rely on magic.
Melcari is not immune to his own anti-magic, and so usually creates a field using an extremity. By this method, he can hit hostile spells out of the air without limiting his vision, which cannot penetrate the anti-magic field. If an exploding fireball or similar spell requires him to be completely engulfed by the anti-magic field, he will be rendered almost completely blind and will fall to the ground.
He deliberately puts himself under the effects of this ability while praying, and he prays at the public temple. It would make an excellent time to assassinate him.
Weaknesses and Flaws:
Leashed: Like all battlemages, Melcari’s life could be ended at any moment by certain figures in power. Even if offered his unconditional freedom, a combination of brainwashing and legitimate dedication to Marn’s ideals would compel him to refuse.
Blind: As specified above, Melcari lacks the use of his eyes for mundane purposes. He is totally incapable of seeing outside the thirty foot radius. Everything is dark to him beyond that limit. This makes Melcari exceptionally vulnerable to ranged attackers, since he is effectively incapable of defending at that distance. He must rely on completely upon his armor to deflect incoming projectiles.
Melcari cannot notice differences in color, light, or minor indentation, preventing him from noticing a wide range of objects in his surroundings the average person could. He cannot take navigational directions in anything other than a step by step format and can get lost very easily when on his own, both of which stem from his inability to seek tall structures for reference.
Lightweight: He is a half-gnome and correspondingly weaker than a human. He’s easy to throw around and disable, physically speaking. His levitation leaves him with almost no traction whatsoever. If pushed, he will have no ability to resist beyond eliminating the person doing it.
Jealous of Puradynes: Melcari despises his own reliance upon magic for basic function. Upon witnessing a Puradyne espouse virtuous anti-magic sentiments, he will contrive an excuse to despise that person regardless of how logical it is. Melcari will, presented with the opportunity, undermine that person in petty ways, particularly if he has power over them. A handful of guards have been blocked for promotion due to imagined faults.
Battlemage Factionalism: Melcari, desperately seeking the family life he squandered, has created a fantasy of camaraderie with the other battlemages. He regards them all as family without thought as to their cruelty and maliciousness. Other battlemages find it easy to manipulate Melcari, and if one of them is hurt he will seek vengeance regardless of how impractical the attacker is to get at. He could even be lured out of Marn or goaded into violating direct orders, at great peril to his own health.
Voice of Teonidus: Magic has an unfortunate tendency to drive mages mad. For Melcari, this has manifested as a voice in his head he is wholeheartedly convinced conveys the judgmental words of Teonidus. “Teonidus” is inconsistent. The voice will push Melcari towards extremism and aggression when in stressful situations. Afterwards, it often scorns Melcari for following through.
The voice is both distracting and makes Melcari seem even more erratic and unpredictable than most battlemages, further isolating him from his fellow citizens and driving him to greater and greater extremes in his attempts to connect. During the rare occasions when the voice is supportive, Melcari’s faith is reaffirmed and he feels as if he was chosen for the work of battlemage. He gains a sense of spiritual superiority which prompts him towards fanaticism. When Teonidus is more contrary, Melcari usually defaults to following orders. During these periods, his marginalized efforts to maintain his ethics seem pointless.
He tries to avoid speaking to Teonidus when others are around, but Teonidus has a way of slipping under Melcari’s defenses and getting him to act emotionally. If his focus is divided on a reasonably complex task, combat being just one example, he ceases any effort to the contrary and speaks to the empty air.
Darren Florasparkle cursed his family name for the fifteenth time that day as he handed out a rifle to a chuckling guardsman. He hated it. Being a gnome already made one ripe for mockery. The name ensured that almost no one ever took him seriously. Every day he was met with a complete lack of respect. The gnome’s face, devoid of all facial hair but the shortest prematurely white mustache ever granted to a man, set alight with crimson embarrassment until the guardsman exited the room. He sighed and rubbed his temple, but the sound of both actions was drowned out under the sound of machinery and forge hammers.
He checked the clockwork watch he had set up on a small wire stand on his desk. It was a few minutes before closing time. He pulled a flask of whiskey out from under his desk and took a long swig, wondering if he should turn in early. Hell with it he concluded, It’s not like I’m supposed to be drinking on duty either.
He gave a bitter salute to the machinery as he powered each piece down, though not before making certain nobody was watching. He’d once told his friends that these machines were the true soldiers of Marn, and gotten laughed at. The salute had become a spiteful little ritual of his ever since.
He walked into his small, cramped back room. He’d heard that somebody had said that a gnome didn’t need much space, which is why he’d been stuck with this dinky little office. He was pretty sure it had once been a closet. He had made it his own, at least. A gun rack dominated one wall. Several of them bore the blatant additions of gnomish technology, but those that did had been dismantled. A human-sized table took up most of the remaining space.
Florasparkle sidled up to the tall stool and pulled himself all the way up into it. Once he got to the top he dusted himself off and looked at his latest project. Here was the real reason he was comfortable leaving a bit early: the government knew what he did in his off-time. Florasparkle had dedicated his life to the reverse engineering of gnome technology.
Unlike the rest of his flighty kin, of whom he held a very low opinion, Florasparkle was not content to let the madness take him and construct singular, fantastic equipment. Florasparkle wanted results. Repeatable, stable, non-explosive results.
He scratched his rump in frustration. Not nearly enough success to appease him. Despite his input leading directly to Marn’s plethora of stable artillery, he had developed no noteworthy breakthroughs since. The years had stretched on and on. His gnomish life felt as everlasting as it did unfulfilling. He put his head in his hands wondering if he would once again wind up sleeping here.
Several years later, he would meet Mikala Velsai. A human textile worker, they had met when the pair had watched a high-profile criminal get dragged into headquarters. She had verbally disparaged the criminal to the point where the guards had to restrain him anew. Afterwards, Florasparkle approached her with the intent of accusing her of reckless behavior. Instead he became the subject of her newest tapestry, to the objections of just about everyone else.
Strongly patriotic, she fixated on the idea of Florasparkle as the sole force propelling Marn into the future. Blinding herself to his recent lack of activity, she threw everything she had at him for the next several months. Initially unsettled by her attention, he sought to drive her away by explaining his research in great detail. Instead of the intended effect, her mania drove her to claim his vision as her own.
Unfortunately, despite her efforts her talents remained with art rather than science. But her genuine, if slightly overbearing interest nevertheless caused the two to grow closer. Florasparkle finally convinced her that she didn’t need to help him with his research by instead asking after her romantically. To his surprise, she accepted. Their relationship was passionate and rocky, but it endured long enough that in the heat of the moment, Flroasparkle asked Mikala to marry him. He hadn’t been sure at the time if he was joking or not. Once again, she surprised him by accepting.
Their union was brought about by a surprisingly supportive family, on both sides. Florasparkle’s knew full well how unhappy he was with other gnomes, and had quietly accepted this inevitability long before Florasparkle himself knew it would come. Mikala’s had not expected her to take her gnomish fling so far, assuming this to be just another one of her episodes, but they had been inactive far too long to stop anything now. Besides, those in the family that wanted to resist had already been beaten down by the relationship of Mikala’s uncle and an elf. In addition, the relatively large quantity of nonhuman staff hired by the foreign trade branch of the family headed by Mikala’s sister had given most of her family a stomach for nonhuman species and cultures.
To the surprise of nobody who knew him, Florasparkle asked to take on the Velsai family name instead of the reverse. Though all but the most tolerant of the Velsai family remained hesitant to give their family name to a gnome, the thought of their name continuing despite having sired five daughters and no sons proved enticing enough that they allowed it.
The wedding came and went, and soon the pair settled into their new lives. Many were surprised when Mikala began to bulge ever so slightly with a small half-gnome baby, and many more preferred not to think too hard about the mechanics involved.
This was Melcari’s older brother, Akaet. As one might expect, Melcari was brought into the world soon after.
With a father occupying as high a position as a gnome could hope for in Marn, Melcari was well provided for during his infancy. When he was two years old, a third brother was born into the family. Melcari would later attend school. His attendance was plagued with strife when young. He learned from an early age what it meant to be smaller than another. His possessions were stolen, he was pushed aside with ease, and relentlessly mocked. Ackaet had dealt with the same issue, and responded the only way he could. When somebody aggressed Melcari, they had to answer to Ackaet. Though Ackaet continued to endure the same punishments, he protected Melcari as best he was able. To their mutual shame, Ackaet’s size meant he didn’t always win these engagements even when they were against Melcari’s peers. Furthermore, Ackaet was not discreet nor limiting. He made mistakes, and more than once drove off those rare few who offered Melcari friendship.
The parents of the siblings were distant at best. Both greatly enjoyed working, leaving little time for their children. When they didn’t work, they pursued their own hobbies. Darren had determined that the heavy machinery he operated was too dangerous to allow children near, and worked alone in his shop. Mikala grew furious at Darren’s reclusion and wondered what had happened to the passion that had defined their early years. Mikala took the excuse Darren offered to respond to his slight in kind. While she had been a dedicated mother when the three were babies, she now seemed to have grown bored with them. She avoided the house to the point where some nights she would not come home at all. Sometimes she would take the kids away from the house back to her family home. Melcari didn’t understand why at the time, but would slowly come to realize that she was threatening Darren. Darren didn’t mind as much as she might have liked. By his measure, it meant they were being exposed to human rather than gnomish culture.
The family attended the temple frequently. All of them were dedicated Puradynes, and that faith easily rubbed off onto the kids. When together at the temple, the issues that plagued the family melted away. The laughed together and sang the songs praising Teonidus. They would read through the Tomes, and both Mikala and Darren encouraged the children to share their views on each passage. When the children were incorrect, the rebukes were gentle and nurturing. They were constructive. With all the other church-goers in attendance, the family never discussed the problems at home. The temple was a sanctuary.
Almost as soon as he could navigate to it on his own, Melcari would spend time at the temple instead of home. He would often drag his little brother along and try to teach him to read using the Tomes. His success was mixed on this matter, the tomes being decidedly complex material. He grew close to the other attendees, and the faith of Melcari and his little brother continued to grow. He was reinforced constantly by the attendant ministers.
Melcari’s pastor was an elf named Ansuran. He was a dedicated and selfless individual who spent a great deal of time with the Velsai siblings. His efforts inspired Melcari to pursue knowledge to a greater degree. As his classmates gradually matured the bullying became less frequent. To the surprise and joy of his father, Melcari was able to reconnect with school. One of the happies moments of Melcari’s young life was discreetly watching his father thank Ansuran for doing what they could not. Being aware of the family’s troubles through Melcari, Ansuran chose to take the opportunity to advise Darren. Soon after, Melcari was allowed to help his father in the shop, and even at work.
For the first time in his life, Melcari was beginning to feel like a respected member of society. His father’s influence at work was well known and established, and at church Melcari was personally known for his dedication. Melcari and his father connected like they never had before and, despite an initial awkward phase, eventually figured out how to properly show that affection. Darren’s salute to the machinery was now preformed in a line with all the staff involved, Melcari included. On the way home, they would discuss ideas for improvements and embrace over the particularly good ones.
Not all the family had been so fortunate. Ackaet had not enjoyed the benefits of Melcari’s reconnection with higher learning and thus was left without a means of connection to his parents. For brief moments, Mikala would attempt a pleasant evening by bringing the family to her parent’s house, where they would have parties. However, most of the people there were far too old for anyone but Darren and her to connect with, and eventually the kids were left behind. Darren, uncomfortable with this, attended inconsistently. This infuriated Mikala, which in turn infuriated Ackaet.
While Darren seemed to have given up and simply stayed silent whenever Mikala began to launch into a tirade, Ackaet’s fighting spirit remained strong. It was incredibly rare, but every once in a while Melcari would notice, after a night of screaming, that Ackaet had a scar or bruise which had not been there before. Melcari tried his hardest not to notice. It scared him, and brought him back to a time when he had been small. Ackaet interpreted this as a betrayal, but the brothers never fought over the matter even so. It had been the two of them against the world for long enough that this alone would not shatter them.
However, Melcari did ask for his father’s surname. He said that anything would be better than sharing a name with his mother. His father flatly refused to tell him. He denied Mikala’s faults and told his son that he wasn’t about to burden him with that ridiculous legacy.
There were times when Mikala would not even attend church with the rest of the family. These rare occasions frightened Melcari. Ackaet would always complain, loudly, about Mikala. Darren would jump to her defense, providing excuses for her behavior. Melari eventually appealed to Ansuran to help his father see the truth, but found him unwilling to do so.
“Try to see this from your mother’s perspective,” he would say, “she has tried, but doesn’t know how to connect with you. She loves all of you deeply, I promise you, Melcari. She just needs help expressing it.”
When Mikala learned of these arguments, she would only grow more embittered. As far as she was concerned, the problem was to be kept within the family. No one but them needed to see it. Melcari would never learn that some parts of her family had finally begun to push for something to be done about her gnomish husband, and had been ridiculing her. They used the news of these arguments in church as leverage.
This process continued for the rest of Melcari’s education. When he approached graduation, during the aftermath of one of Ackaet and Darren’s arguments at church, Ansuran’s coin purse fell out of his belt. Melcari had bent to pick it up when he noticed something very strange: a registration for magic ability.
Melcari said nothing and returned Ansuran’s belongings to him. Only when the two were next alone a few days later did Melcari breach the subject. Ansuran took the revelation with grace, but the shame was palpable on his face. Melcari realized that he did not know much of anything about Ansuran. For the entire course of Melcari’s life, Ansuran had always avoided telling people about his own story.
It was with great trepidation that Melcari realized he was going to be the first to hear it. Ansuran began to tell him the tale of how he had once lived in Eyropa, far in the blasphemous West. He was descended from a clan of elves which still held strong cultural ties to Darlerone.
“The elves there tell themselves that they are immune to the corruption of magic. Perhaps they are, but they do not account for something.” Ansuran paused, looking sad, “They are not immune to the corruption of power, and what is magic but the rawest form of power there is? I tell you this, Melcari, because I was once like them. When a person has power, they will use it. It does not matter what that power is, or whether or not it should be used. An imbalance of power will be abused.” Ansuran’s eyes watered. This was utterly unlike the Ansuran that Melcari was used to seeing. The tireless pastor was a source of optimism and hope unlike any other. Now, in the temple’s shadows, he seemed another man entirely. “And a mage will always makes excuses.”
Melcari was indescribably impressed. To him, this was a revelation unlike any he had ever received. Needless to say, Ansuran had been abiding by the terms of his registration and avoided the use of magic in its entirety. His tale was long and harrowing, but bloodless. A mage had employed scrying to spy upon his rivals, uncovering all the barbs he could employ for blackmail against his fellow elf. He did not tell himself that it was such a thing, of course. He had merely wanted to know more about his rival, in the interest of future peace.
That mage had been Ansuran. He had convinced himself to look into the home of another man, and uncovered a secret. Melcari asked what that secret was, but Ansuran would not tell him, “lest you think me justified in the act.” Ansuran had used this secret to destroy the reputation of his rival, but had not anticipated the damage it would cause to the unfortunate, helpless soul. Later, his own secrets were uncovered through magic. The pastor, with a smile, informed Melcari he would not repeat those, either.
Disappointed by all the mystery, but impressed by pastor Ansuran’s dedication to the Puradynic ideal of sacrifice, Melcari never told another person what he had seen.
His little brother hanged himself later that month. Nobody had known it was coming. There was no suicide note, no explanation, and no known reason why. The family didn’t know how to respond. Ackaet blamed Mikala, as he did everything. Darren’s feelings of guilt and failure would overwhelm him for months to come, leaving Melcari to comfort his grieving father. Melcari wasn’t certain why, but he felt nothing. He hadn’t been close to his little brother since childhood, teaching him to read in the temple. However, Melcari knew that he wasn’t supposed to feel nothing. And the gnawing sensation that that knowledge produced worried him greatly.
Ultimately, Melcari began to fake support for Ackaet in his crusade against their mother to alleviate that feeling. He came to believe it a little bit, himself. What Ackaet did, Melcari would never stop. Their mother was locked out of the house when she needed her tools to get to work. Her favorite tapestry was lost in the Ofriyu Mar. Her ideas were disparaged and dismissed. A thousand petty grievances were showered upon her. Darren didn’t have the energy or inclination to fight, and with Melcari’s tolerance of his actions, Ackaet came to realize that he was now in control of the house.
Melcari spent more and more time at the temple, or helped his father. Mikala spent every other night with her family. Darren numbly worked in his shop, or went out behind the house to stare at the tree that his child had hung himself from. Ackaet tried to convince himself he was happy with his reign as king of an empty castle.
A few months later, a second tragedy was thrust upon the family. While working late in the shop, his distracted father did not properly seal some of the chemicals used in Marn’s artillery. The chemicals spread outwards and entered Melcari’s eyes. The world went dark. For a brief few seconds, Melcari simply thought the lights went out. The gases hadn’t hurt badly. His father’s yelling dispelled that pleasant illusion.
When Melcari realized he was blind, and remembered what he had been holding, he understood the future that now awaited him. He could feel his father’s hands on him, pushing and pulling, getting him away from the spill. Melcari stumbled through the manufactory, struck dumb, not saying a word. Just before they reached a chemical shower, Melcari experienced a rage unlike any he had ever felt. He lashed out and thrashed wildly. He struck at the mass he assumed was his father. Three solid blows.
A guard grabbed him and dragged him into the shower. He turned it on, and though Melcari turned his face upwards he knew it wouldn’t do any good. From that day forward, Meclari was blind.
His love of learning was stifled. Needless to say, the university did not cater to the blind. Every day, Melcari sat alone in the house. He endured his father’s apologies every single day, and grew to resent them. His brother used this as evidence of their parent’s failings, but found Melcari unresponsive to his prods. Eventually Ackaet simply gave up, and left Melcari alone at the temple after guiding him there.
The pastors did their best to take care of him for the night, but he was hysterical. He screamed and thrashed. Eventually, all of them, even Ansuran, forfeited the battle and let him sleep on the church floor. He woke up in a monk’s bed. Melcari assumed Ansuran had returned to move him.
Ackaet retrieved him the next morning and led him back to their house, but not before apologizing. Melcari couldn’t see it, and Ackaet didn’t tell him, but Ackaet had been beaten the night before by Mikala.
Melcari waited, and waited. His life was now waiting, and he lived in a world of sound. He was brought to and from the church by his brother or father on a near-daily basis. When at home, he recalled the teachings of Puradynism, finding strength in his faith. He recited the tomes by memory alone, savoring every word. As the last word of the last book called itself to his mind, he heard a sound.
It was screaming. Ackaet had done something. Or Mikala had done something. It didn’t matter. But the two of them were fighting again, in the next room over. Melcari began to visualize it in his mind. He had seen this a thousand times before, and could easily call up the image again.
But when he tried, something else entirely came to mind. It was an alien sense, invading his consciousness. But he could perceive what he realized were his mother and brother, fighting, in the next room over. What’s more, he could perceive the bandages on his brother’s arms and legs. He could see inside of their very hearts, watching each beat close and constrict the gap within.
While the awe of this experience was fresh in his mind, Melcari saw what his mother was about to do. She had picked up one of the cases for her tapestries, and was waving it with violent intent. She smashed it into the desk, then slammed it again into the wall.
Still star-struck by his newfound awareness, Melcari at first did not move. It was only when Mikala brought the case down against Ackaet’s arm that Melcari stood. With an imperial march, moved by purpose, he walked into the next room. Mikala had her arms high above her head. Ackaet had fallen to the ground. As a half-gnome he stood little chance of overpowering her.
Melcari grabbed her right arm just above the shoulder. His mother turned around with a fury and hate in her eyes that Melcari could not discern. When she saw Melcari standing there, his mouth partially open with wonder, she dropped the painting, turned around, and attempted to embrace him. She only clutched his shoulders, and squeezed hard.
Ackaet misinterpreted this, and shouted for her to get off of Melcari. Mikala didn’t respond at first. Very slowly, as if she didn’t hear the yells of her oldest child, she began to walk backwards. Ackaet now saw what she had seen: Melcari’s eyes. He fell silent.
Melcari walked out of the house. After half a day of wandering, he managed to locate the Justice Hall. He found the nearest figure who looked as if he might have some kind of authority and told her the words that would then define him forever after.
“I want to be a battlemage.”
He was taken in and inspected. His power was evaluated by a government mage, and he was subjected to grueling training. His father and brother came by to visit him frequently, once they had figured out what happened to him. Every once in a great while, they would convince his mother to come as well.
Melcari was a quick student, as he had been at the university. An old battlemage tested him most days. She was swift with the stick and sparse with carrots, but Melcari accepted all the punishment. This was his fate as a mage. Sometimes, when alone and praying, he acknowledged that maybe he was doing this because he didn’t want to live his life blind and crippled. But afterwards, he always told himself that he could turn his corrupt powers to noble ends so long as he endured the punishment and became a battlemage. That would be his sacrifice.
If Ansuran’s face came up in his mind at this reasoning, he pushed it aside.
Melcari did endure. Every punch and kick, every failed attempt to discern the features of an object through a magic-inhibiting wall, every torturous scenario his teacher could devise. He beat others senseless, and was just as often beaten in turn.
When one of those who had beaten Melcari to a mass of bruises proved himself the victor, he began to toy with his magic. Melcari could see it: a small mote of light hovering between his fingertips, strengthening his assault somehow. His opponent began to play with the light, flipping it around like a toy ball.
Melcari was enraged. He started to crawl towards the human. “Stop it,” He told his peer. The young mage looked down and laughed. Melcari pressed onwards. “You are wasting your magic. It’s not for frivolous use, you—“
The other mage pushed his boot against Melcari’s face. Another power awoke within Melcari, and the room grew distorted as if by a great heat. The light on the mage’s fingertips winked out. The other mage flailed for a little while in surprise, trying to call back his magic. Melcari felt the strain push against the Great Seal, and invested more of his power into it. Untapped and untrained, Melcari began to choke against the boot.
The old battlemage ran into the field and picked Melcari up off the ground. She ordered him to stop in a barking tone he had grown familiar with. Melcari almost considered refusing. In that moment of hesitation, the battlemage began to summon up her own power. Inexperienced as he was, the augmentation he had placed upon the Great Seal crumbled before her, forcing him to cease. The old battlemage smiled. He could see every single one of her teeth, from all angles. He knew that this meant more training was going to come his way. He smiled back. He welcomed it.
The remainder of his time focused on the expansion of his ability to disrupt the magic in others. He would envelop a mage in the strange, distorted bubble. They would attempt to use magic within it until he cracked. It was more taxing than combat training had been. Under the weight of his teacher’s brutal methods, he came to bear it naturally. Eventually, even she couldn’t fully realize her power within the field.
It was this that eventually pushed Melcari into the most ideal candidate for battlemage. The day before he was sent to Kaledin Manor, his father came to him.
“You can still stop this.” His father pleaded. Melcari was unmoved.
“I can’t. I have valuable abilities. They wouldn’t let me.” He didn’t turn his head towards his father. He had gotten comfortable with not needing to look at a person to perceive them. “And I don’t want to.”
His father stood in front of him for a time. His wobbling knees did not hold his small frame aloft. He collapsed to the ground and begged. “They’d let you, you’re my son. Why do you insist on this madness? You are damning yourself willingly.”
Melcari grew furious. “Anything is better than living with you,” He said, without really meaning it. He just wanted his father to go away, “and her,” he spat. This latter part had more conviction.
“You can forgive her, son, she just doesn’t understand what happened. She married me, a gnome, and then our son he… she couldn’t have known how this was all—“
“Ackaet is right.” Melcari said. “You can’t even see her for who she really is. I should expect that from somebody so ashamed of himself he won’t tell me his last name.”
His father hardened a bit at that. Melcari felt a little thrill of relief despite himself. He tried to suppress it as best he could. Anger was the easiest emotion to deal with right now.
“I won’t go back to that.”
His father left him the carbine. It was his masterwork, the finest weapon he had ever created. The following night, Melcari was sent to Kaledin Manor. What he suffered within those walls made him choke on his words to his father and scream for mercy, but it was far too late to correct his mistake. Battlemage Velsai emerged as a broken shell of his former self.
For weeks after his release, Melcari was too traumatized to do anything but throw himself into his new role with reckless abandon. Fear drove him to be the best he could possibly be, because he hoped he would never learn the consequences for failure. Melcari did not contact his family for a month, afraid of what they might think of him.
He continued to attend the temple. It took Ansuran days to recognize the attendant battlemage as Melcari despite his plain heritage. The pastor listened to Melcari, but it was apparent to both that the elf was out of his depth. Ansuran’s efforts towards nonjudgmental reasoning ultimately hindered his ability to advise Meclari on his vocation, of which very little complimentary can be said. While the two remained close, their relationship morphed into one more akin to a friendship than that of a mentor and student. They worked together on numerous humanitarian projects whenever Melcari had the time to spare, even if Melcari’s assistance was at times limited to a role as humble as volunteer at a soup kitchen. The looks he was given during such encounters stung, but he knew that each suspicious stare at the blind man serving soup was well deserved. The reward of charity outweighed whatever feelings he had on the matter.
Ansuran did have one piece of advice that Melcari eventually followed. Recognizing the self-destructive path Melcari had been taking for what it was, the elf advised Melcari to seek out his father and brother. He made a few attempts to reconnect, to mixed success. His brother seemed concerned that being kin to a battlemage would taint his reputation and his father expressed mild fear around the battlemage that was once his son. Melcari continued to correspond with his brother and father, but these encounters remain tense and brief to this day. Having suffered their rejection, he made no attempt to reconnect with his mother.
His first trial as a battlemage was not an easy one. Within months of his release, Melcari’s conviction was put to the test during the mage riot of 141 PW. He was with another battlemage when the pair nearly walked into an ambush. Melcari’s sight revealed the two mages waiting for them around a corner. He could feel their magic pulsating within them.
Melcari aimed his carbine at the corner of the building and fired right through it. He caught one in the back, but the ball had lost its bite by going through the wooden building. The mage still tumbled to the ground. Melcari could see his every movement, from every angle. Every twitch of pain was brought to his full attention.
Melcari lamented the waste of life, then aimed for the next one. Rioters from outside of the radius of his sight, perhaps drawn by the gunshot, entered into the fray. The other battlemage began to create spikes from the earth below them, impaling most. When one managed to leap to the side, Melcari aimed at him.
As Melcari pulled the trigger, the other mage behind the corner leapt out. With a wave of his hand a bolt of red force was sent hurtling towards Melcari. It moved incredibly quickly. Melcari’s reaction time did not match it. When the bolt collided with his left knee, the flesh around it burned away like it was dry paper.
Melcari was not granted the blessing of cauterization. Before he hit cobblestone he witnessed drops of his own blood forming an ever-widening pool. Some in his situation might have been spared the knowledge of their injury, but Melcari took in every detail. An artery pumped in time with his racing heart, each pulse spewing forth another spray. He screamed and clutched the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. His sense of touch remained sharp. He could feel the liquid dribble down over his fingers, the spongey resistance of the muscle and the grotesque bulge he supposed was bone. He wondered if the blood was invisible on his crimson gloves, or if the shade was different.
Kaledin Manor had prepared him for this eventuality, however. Worse torments had been survived. The mage made another motion to hurtle his killer bolts at the other battlemage. Melcari howled and thrashed as he did so, but the seal was strengthened and the bolt winked out of existence.
Melcari reached for the knife at his belt with his free hand. His body began to lift off the ground. As a human cannonball, Melcari sailed forth over the road. He left a red mist behind him, and when he impaled the mage the blood seemed to surround him.
The other battlemage had dispatched his opponents. With a nod towards Melcari, the earth moved and surrounded the stump of his leg. The battlemage picked him up and headed for the hospital. Along the way, the battlemage expressed his apologies if the leg became infected as a result of the earth keeping his blood in. Melcari might have laughed if he wasn’t too busy screaming.
In the aftermath of the riots, Melcari looked down at his new left leg. From the knee down, his leg was now a wooden prosthetic. It was fit for walking, with a painful limp, but he no longer needed to. Melcari floated off the bed and began to pray. He strengthened the seal around him and ruminated on the two mages he’d killed.
His few prior assignments had been mild. He had encountered mages one descendant and two synevives, but he had been given authority to register and release them. He’d slain one brigand in a desperate moment. Thoughts of sparing the fallen had been ripped from him by Kaledin. But all the same, the lives lost that day stayed with him.
It was during this time that he began to hear the voice. It seemed that despite all the terrors the Lord of Kaledin had heaped upon him, mortal men could find ways to break him yet further. Melcari struggled against it for years before giving in to the truth presented to him by his own senses. One by one, his associates discovered the battlemage’s burgeoning madness.
His family were among the first to know. His brother finally dismissed Melcari outright, asking that he associate with him more sparingly. His mother hadn’t wanted anything to do with him since the start of his service. The mere sight of Melcari’s broken form and mind wracked his father with terrible remorse. Ansuran did his best to comfort the mad mage, but his uncertainty grew more apparent by the day. Each new interaction taxed the pastor until Melcari felt guilty just for speaking to him. That night Melcari considered writing letters, only to recall that the means were now beyond him.
He turned to the only group that understood the nightmares that had made him: the other battlemages. More tolerant of madness than most, Melcari clung to his fellows like a drowning man to a raft. The burning need for companionship drove him to forgive innumerable atrocities, but there was a genuine kindness to his efforts that drove a few to reciprocate. Melcari found acceptance, and was accepting in turn. It was hard for him to judge his fellows when he shared their burden.
The madness grew until it defined him. The judges became aware after enough time had passed, but the change had been gradual. In its slow growth, his masters were made complacent. Melcari was not dismissed, nor was action taken to correct this behavior. On some level, they knew that despite his burgeoning insanity he remained one of their most stable battlemages. Blasphemy it was, but a battlemage he remained.
The years passed. Every new sunrise took its toll on Melcari. Divine commandments rung through his head as he perpetuated the grim law of Marn. Yet despite it all, Melcari’s ideals remained true. He fought to defend the citizenry with unrelenting zeal. When civilians were injured he always sought after their health; even if those civilians were mages themselves. All who abided by the law were equal under his sight. He had not forgotten the lessons imparted by the Tomes, which spoke words of compassion, order, and forgiveness. Though he faltered in its practice at times, he remembered with equal vigor the words of sacrifice. Many battlemages serve Marn out of a fear of death, but Melcari would die to serve Marn.
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