Spells wear out

One of the first lessons Turald learned during his time at Castle Qythe was that spells wear out. They weaken, they lose their power, the more they are used. They were all taught this, he and his classmates, probably in their very first week of study. But few eight year olds take this kind of wisdom to heart. Most are keen to crack on with casting, and nobody thought to question why some of their oldest tutors never demonstrated even the simplest of enchantments.

For as long as he could remember, Turald had loved to explore dark places. He loved to see what was out of sight; to make known the unknown. When he was fifteen, he discovered a whole section of the castle's cellars that had been lost for centuries. To the delight of his wizened mentors, the expanse he found was filled with age-old liquor which had been promptly and enthusiastically excavated. It was from then that his freedom had been unofficially granted to roam and explore the castle grounds as extensively as he saw fit. Recognising his gift for discovery, Turald's studymaster, the ancient but sprightly Professor Chalmak, quietly overlooked Turald's disregard for out-of-hours and restricted-area rules that were strictly imposed upon the other students.

In a broom cupboard, Turald once found a mousehole that lead two hundred metres north and seventy four years into the past. One of the seniors had been able to use this to make peace with a long-dead, estranged father who had been in that classroom, all those years ago.

In the shadowy corner of the library marked 'secret', Turald had found the headmaster's daughter, missing for over forty years.

In a tunnel that he had found through crawling into a large oak chest, Turald uncovered a delicate glass vial containing the last breath of the first philosopher.

When Turald realised that his elders thought him special for his findings, he began to keep a diary of them. Through his diary entries, he noticed patterns in his actions. Or rather, repetitions. The shedding of light was the key. Illumination was all he needed to do to bring something once hidden out into the open. His ability to conjure just the right incandescence became his greatest gift. Thus, he practised with vigour.

Caves, caverns, abandoned ruins: Turald devoured their secrets, consumed their stories. He exhausted the castle grounds, graduated from the Qythe Academy, and ventured forth into the Olde Lande, searching without hesitation for doors to throw open. Eyes aglow with his own special kind of vision, he absorbed the mysteries of a world in shadow.

But spells wear out.

He recalled this first in a forest, under a bristling canopy so thick that the blackened foliage groping at his legs had long since found ways to sustain itself that did not rely on the land's pale sun. He could see the trinkets that had been stowed away by blind magpies in treetrunk nests; the hoards of stolen food secreted into the undergrowth by milky-eyed squirrels. And then, he couldn't.

The flicker in his vision was fleeting, but enough to panic Turald, just for a moment. Enough to make that first ever lesson come rushing back. Still young, still adventurous, Turald shook his concern aside.

Deeper in the forest, he found a well; a man-made hole into the earth, darker even than woods entombing it.

Why had man built such a thing so far into the shade? Turald could not resist.

He descended, uncovering a concealed tunnel with his brilliant sight. Time having vacated entirely, Turald followed the route that stretched before him. No magic nor mystery, nor hidden treasure presented itself, and the rhythm of his steps lulled him into a trance. He walked blind for many hours before he realised he was doing so.

A droplet of water striking the tip of his nose roused him enough for him to realise he saw nothing. Turald stopped. The sudden lack of motion was jarring, dizzying. Turald sat. Water seeped into the hem of his robes, and he sat. Years of advice, words of warning, from teachers, mentors, elders, echoed through his mind.

Spells wear out.

Spells lose their power. Lose their potency. Lose their meaning.

Save the important spells for when you need them the most. Best to leave this world with a spell in your heart, than to leave it because your spells have run out.

Turald's light had run out, so he sat.

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