Heliopath's World

Unpredictable Ildieu

Father wasn’t the sort of man who explained the orders he’d given, and he didn’t when he sent me to Ildieu with a scroll in my hand describing how to create a sanctuary using blood magic. The mages of Ildieu didn’t use blood magic, because they’d lost all knowledge of it when they’d willingly removed their own memories, in the belief it was the best thing they could do. Unfortunately we didn’t know anywhere near as much about blood magic as we once did either, after our libraries were burnt down during the war. All we’d ended up with were a few left over scrolls, most of which were no use to anyone at all.
If Father told me he didn’t have any idea how I’d be affected I might have made a different choice. I can’t be certain, because Father wasn’t just my parent – he was my leader. Some said the war was over, but we knew better. Passing down the knowledge we had from one generation to the next was our only option, while hoping the time wouldn’t come when the war was so far in the past no one believed it would affect the future. Becoming immortal wasn’t something I thought was possible, or even likely, and not something I wanted, seeing how Father was changed by the weight of being what he was. With how things ended up going I can’t help wondering if he suspected how it might work out, and believed it was the best thing for all of us.
The ritual itself was simple enough. Blood magic almost always involved some sort of ritual, and this one had to be done under the light of the full moon. As I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing until after it made everything a little easier. I was beginning to find Ildieu was a very different city to the one I expected it to be. To be honest I’m not sure why I was surprised by that. Everyone was worried, because one of the mages was close to reaching what they called their black level, and no one knew what was going to happen. It would be the first time in their written history anyone had, so I could understand why they felt the way they did. Reaching black outside the city was just as rare – we just knew what to expect. Mostly.
Magic could be unpredictable. Lack of knowledge was still a problem for us. We knew a lot more than the mages of Ildeiu, but so much was lost. The longer I spent in the city the more grateful I was for the knowledge we did have. Yes, it was incomplete, a problem we were trying to fix without much luck, but we knew so much more than the mages who walked away from the war, thinking it truly was the best choice they could make. They may well have been right, if they could have rid themselves of magic at the same time. Unfortunately for them, for their plans, that was impossible, so they found themselves learning all over again, experimenting and trying to come to terms with the abilities they found they had.
Like many of the free mages Father stayed as far away from Ildieu as possible. His Grandfather was the one who watched the city being built, heard the arguments as to why it was their best chance, and made a difference choice. He didn’t want to be dragged into the city against his will, because he didn’t believe it was going to work the way they wanted it to. When the mages made the decision to step through the city gates they hadn’t take curiosity into consideration, so he was certain the time would come when the mages who’d lost their memories would once again find their magic, even though they’d know much less than they did before.
Our family kept our distance, until Father made the decisions he did. He kept the scroll, something no one else would have had any use for, thinking of Ildieu. Of the future he talked to me about, because he thought I was the one who needed to know the most. That’s why he sent me to the city, to create the Black Hollow. That’s how I found myself in a position I never imagined could be mine. No one knew anything about me, but I created a sanctuary, and that was more than enough for them to accept me.
Ildieu was large for a city, larger than it needed to be for three hundred mages and their families, but they were thinking of the future. A future they couldn’t truly imagine, at least according to Father. They were lost in their fear, leading them down a path much more complicated than they could truly understand, which was why he sent me in from the outside. No one in the city suspected I might have come from anywhere else. They didn’t know the gates were open, which means they didn’t know they could leave, or others could enter.
As was normal there were mages and non-mages, with some of those non-mages still having magic. They chose not to use it, for whatever reason, and with how things were I could understand it. Most of the mages lived within the Grey Gardens. Some had families outside the Gardens. If their children happened to have magic then they’d be taken on as an apprentice, often by one of their mage parent’s friends. We’d put a stop to that long before Ildieu was created, seeing how it was affecting everything, but it was another one of the many things they didn’t remember. It was leading them down a similar path to the one they’d been on before.
Even though I knew Father wouldn’t be pleased to hear I planned on changing things in the city it was obvious I needed to make choices for the people I’d come to help. I was the leader of the Black Hollow. Mages were coming to me, to my sanctuary, because they didn’t feel comfortable within the Gardens, and I think some heard about the library I was slowly building. The one thing the mages here were good at was keeping journals, so I gathered them, as well as writing my own, in an attempt to make them safe from anyone who might want to destroy them. Slowly I built myself a new life, with the knowledge that Father would have argued with me more than once about the choices I made.
I didn’t always make the right decisions. No one ever did, really, as the mages who first stepped into Ildieu proved. We simply made the decisions that seemed to be right, and may find out later they actually weren’t. One of them led to something I couldn’t pretend wasn’t happening – I’d stopped ageing. The people who first joined me, the young mages who saw me as the best option, have. It didn’t notice then, but I knew it would in the future, and when it did I’d have to work out what my next step should be. All I could do then was joke with the others how I’d been lucky with my genetics. Some days it was harder than others, especially when I dreamt of the night I created the Hollow. It’s a night I will never forget, no matter how much I want to, as it’s the night that changed everything.
Blood magic could be dangerous. I knew. Father knew. He didn’t care it might mean he lost his only son, because it was Ildieu that mattered to him. He was gifted when it came to Seeing the future, so he was almost always focused on what he could do to change what was coming, even though it would be centuries before what he Saw became reality. Most couldn’t See as far, probably for their own sanity, but he knew there was another war coming, and he sent me to protect Ildieu. He never gave me details. I did what I had to do, and I had no idea if I’d ever be able to ask him if he knew how the ritual would change me. Thanks to his orders I became something more than I ever wanted to be.
The building I chose looked like it was created for me. Maybe the mages always planned for there to be more than one place for them to live, but it was something I’d never know. Anyone who’d helped to build the city was long dead, and the mages, as far as I knew, hadn’t taken anything with them to remind them of who they’d once been. I did have a couple of letters they’d written for themselves. They never once mentioned magic in them – instead they told their memory-less selves a choice was made to protect the world, which was true, and that choice meant they’d had to lose their memories. No one knew how difficult it would be for them once they stepped through the door, or how much harder it would be for the families who went with them.
Father, somehow, managed to get hold of the family trees of all the mages who’d entered Ildieu. Those families had fallen apart on the day they’d stepped into Ildieu. Parents didn’t know who their children were, children didn’t know who their parents were, and it was a mess, at least until a female mage took charge. She sorted everything out as best she could, even though she didn’t have any memories of what happened either. Maybe the building I took over is the place she used as an orphanage, until everything settled down again, because I have her journal now, and she was the first person to realise there was something unusual about some of the children she looked after.
Young mages would always show their magic early on, because they have less control. I often found myself setting fire to things, which took a lot out of me, so Father started teaching me how to control my power much earlier than he planned. What I found in Ildieu was magic affected the body of the mage who was using it in ways we didn’t see outside the city. The only difference were where those mages grew up, so I had to put it down to the city itself. The magics they used, from what I’d read, were untried. Exactly like the magic I used to create the Black Hollow, at least as far as I knew.
No one in the city knew much about the outside, in the same way we didn’t know much about Ildieu. Before I stepped into the city I couldn’t have imagined half of what I’d experienced, and Father chose not to tell me more than he believed I needed to know, so I could learn it for myself. I understood the choice. Had he told me I’m not sure I’d have believed him. Keeping my true level from the mages quickly became the most logical choice, when I saw how scared they were of what it meant. How they were closely watching the only mage close to reaching that point in their studies.
Fortunately she was female, so they didn’t have anything to fear, because black female mages had the ability to create life, the opposite of the black male mages’ ability to create death. Life and death – two opposites for the genders, although I had known males who had life magic and females who had death magic. I was tempted to talk to her about what would happen, but then I reminded myself it would tell her more about me than I was willing to reveal, especially to a stranger. She could be the sort of person to use that information for harm. I just couldn’t help thinking she’d someone to guide her.
The knock startled me. I hadn’t got used to door, because Father and I lived in separate tents from the day he realised I was a mage, in part, I believe, because he didn’t want me to be able to set fire to him as well as the tent. “Come in.” One of my new skills was hiding my emotions, especially as I so often got lost in thought. The door opened and one of the mages who’d already joined me stepped into the room, followed by the very girl I had been thinking of. “Bastian.”
“Someone here to see you, sir.” Bastian smiled. “I said you wouldn’t mind talking to her.”
Unable to stop staring at her I shook my head. She was much younger than I thought she’d be, but then I’d reached black level before I turned eighteen, and I smiled at her, doing my best to put her at ease. I couldn’t imagine what it was like for her to step into the office of someone I was certain she’d be told was a danger to her. “Of course I don’t mind. Sit down. Can we get you anything to drink or eat?”