The next month of my life was uneventful.
My life was good in the narrow sense that my needs were being met.
At the least, it was leaps and bounds better than the childhood I had suffered through in my past.
I was certifiably a noble child with how much care I received. I slept in a crib with the softest fabrics. My needs were tended to at any given moment, if not by Eyva, then by another one of many maids.
At the monastery, where I spent my childhood, I slept in rough straw bedding or, during times of intense training, outside in the mountains, in the dirt and filth through rain and snow and threat of monsters.
My parents, lord and lady that they were, never really saw me. They were too busy with their own duties, I assumed.
If they did pop in, it was only to briefly check whether I had developed magic yet.
Each time Eyva told them no, their visits became fewer and farther in between. At first, they came every day, then ever days, then every week, and now, I wouldn be surprised if they showed up once a month.
But I was fine with the maids taking care of me.
They were all nice people, though only Eyva showed me any real affection. The other maids simply did their job.
I also noticed that Eyva was the only one that was an elf, indicating that perhaps they were quite rare in these lands.
Which brought me to another point: my curiosity.
I desperately wanted to understand the world around me because, as it turned out, though I was safe and well fed, being a baby was its own form of torture.
It was utterly mind numbing doing literally nothing at all except eating and sleeping and shitting.
My body could not move properly, so I was essentially just chained in a prison of my own very fragile flesh and bone.
At one point, about a month in, Eyva introduced me to something that helped with the boredom a bit.
”Look at this, my little seed, ” said Eyva. She held a glowing, smoothly polished blue crystal ball, about the size of a tennis ball, over my crib.
Even a month in, and I had not received a proper name from my parents.
I had overheard that my father was hesitant to give me a name until I showed aptitude for magic, as it would be a great dishonor to christen me with one otherwise.
I was used to this, though.
I did not remember the name my parents from my old life gave me.
When I was inducted into my masters orphan culling program, I was only given the name Hatchling, or more specifically, Hatchling 3 to designate I was one out of many with the same name.
My master wanted to beat out any sense of individualism to prevent any form of attachment.
To create a uniform body of children he could train with equal cruelty for all.
Even when I grew up, successfully surviving among the last four orphans to inherit one of my masters four styles, the name I received was just South for one of the cardinal directions.
The other heirs were named North, West, and East.
In essence, we never had names our entire lives, at the least, not real ones given to us out of a sense of consideration and love.
I babbled, making a pleased noise as I reached out to the glowing orb.
Yes, please, anything to break the endless monotony of drinking milk and being unable to control my bodily functions.
I didn even get to see any naked pairs of breasts – this accursed kingdom used magic to create some form of baby formula that tasted sickeningly sweet, sweetness that got old really fast.
”So curious! ” Eyva laughed as she patted my cheek. She let go of the crystal orb above my crib, and it hovered in space.
She then put a slender, pale finger to it and closed her eyes.
An aura of red flickered around her gently before funneling into the orb.
The orbs blue glow faded as it clicked into activation.
It then projected what looked like a holographic screen in front of me, playing what looked like a video of a young boy swinging a sword in a field of flowers.
In the sky, golden words spelled out the title: The Journey of Elseus.
This was exactly like a movie. Except made by magic.
I watched intently, growing quiet.
Eyva sat beside my crib, watching with me.
The plot of the magical movie was very simple. It involved a young boy called Elseus who ascended from being a humble farmers kid into a powerful knight recognized by all.
It was a very generic plot, as far as they went: a typical rags to riches, weak to strong ordeal.
What was more interesting commentary that Eyva gave. Even though I wasn supposed to understand any of it, she talked to me regularly, wanting me to be familiar with being spoken to.
”Look at how Elseus grows so quickly. By the time he was five, he was almost as tall as a teen, ” said Eyva, pointing at the screen as Elseus, still a child, trained his swordsmanship with an adult knight.
I analyzed the swordsmanship, but I could tell it was fake. Stylized. Flashy for the sake of a movie screen. And also stripped of any real violence, obviously censored for children.
This did not at all reflect the gritty reality of combat.
Which confirmed to me that this was, like movies, made up. Or at the very least, not an accurate retelling of the actual story of Erengar, if he was indeed not just a character or piece of folklore.
”Elseus was one of four great heroes, and all of them were alike, ” continued Eyva. ”Strong from birth, blessed with bodies seemingly shaped by the gods themselves.
One of them Aife, was an Elf just like myself.
Together, they rallied to end the tyranny of the Old Gods so very long ago. ” Eyvas tone darkened for a brief moment. ”Before men razed the forests and built their steam and smoke spewing cities. Her tone resumed its usual cheeriness. ”And to this day, thousands of years later, they are remembered. ”
Eyva reached out and held my hand. ”Nowadays, however, especially in the lands of man, such natural strength is seen as brutish.
A relic of an old, old age before magic developed to what it is now.
In this Age, the Arcane is revered, and the Wild shunned. ”
I cooed at Eyvas explanation, hoping she would explain more, and she nodded, pleased at my listening. ”In my many years of seeing the birth of new life, I have not seen a child as attuned to the Wild as you, especially not from these lands.
Were you in Tir Nala, my homeland, your size and strength would have been celebrated as a sign of closeness to nature. ” She sighed and shook her head. ”But I worry for you here.
Those who live with the Wild in their hearts find it difficult to practice magic. The might of ones body draws one away from the might of the mind. I fear it will be like that for you, and without magic, you will be nothing here. ”
Eyva started to talk more to herself than to me, but I could understand her regardless.
”You will no doubt Submerge into the Swirl and develop magic. After all, you are the child of a Magic Lord; it is almost inevitable unless you are by some vanishingly small chance a Fell.
But you may not live up to expectations placed upon you.
In this land that values magic above all else, you may even end up an outcast, especially if the Lord has another child.
Life will be hard, especially as a Magic Lords heir. The expectations will be great. ”
I groaned internally.
Great. So, I definitely was not in for an easy life.
Not with an asshole father and a mother that didn love me. The only chance for me to survive here was to somehow develop magic, but from what I could tell, the capacity seemed entirely hereditary.
At the very least, I did not feel anything within myself that felt special in any way shape or form which I could identify as magic.
Honestly, the only thing I dealt with within myself were farts and growling hunger.
I did not know exactly what the Arcane and the Wild were, but I could hazard a guess that they were not compatible with each other if Eyva was saying that I wasn going to be a good magic user because of my attunement with the Wild.
And that whole thing about being a Fell, my mother had been worried about that too, back when I was freshly born. I could only deduce that was the title given to those who could not use magic at all.
I shuddered to think what would happen to me if I was one. Did the people of this land practice infanticide? It seemed entirely possible, and I had seen it happen plenty of times in my past life.
If my father wanting to hide my existence was any indicator, whatever fate was in store for me if I lacked magic was not one that was going to be any good.
But at the least, Eyva seemed to think I wasn going to be a Fell, and I deferred to her expertise.
After all, I still only had a babys worth of knowledge about this world.
”But hopefully, you will remember these tales and know that your body is nothing to be ashamed of. Once, in the age of heroes, you were to be celebrated, not reviled. No, even now, in some lands, you would be a blessed child.
I will leave this crystal ball with you when it is time for me to leave.
In the future, when I am gone and you feel yourself down, you can look back at the tales of the great heroes and see that they were just like you. Deserving of love and praise. ” Eyva patted my head and beamed down at me with an angelic smile.
All I could think was this: why couldn she be my mother?
I was realistic, though.
Eyva would have to leave me soon, and that would leave me alone. Alone in a world of magic that I was not suited for.
The realization hit me that it was looking like living in this world was not going to be as easy as I thought it was.
If I wanted to survive past being a dead baby, I needed to learn, and I needed to learn fast.