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Jasper Galen

"Mysteries and secrets define my past, but hope defines my future."

0 · 1,450 views · located in Vandose

a character in “Battle of the Witches”, as played by FyreT1ger

Description

Name: Jasper Galen

Image

Quote: “I see your face but I know not who you are.”
Age: 24
Gender: Male

Magic: Yes, gray
Extent of control: His magic comes naturally without much effort, but he does need more refining. In general, he can't always distinguish between what he does with magic or other means.
Special Abilities: Jasper can speed up the Healing process of both humans and animals through manipulation of life energy, but he doesn’t get sick himself. He also has visions of another like him.
Marks: none

Place of Birth: Eastleigh, Asiali, Vandose

Skills: Through training with a well-known Apothecary most of his life, Jasper can identify all presently known poisons by smell and appearance in their raw form. He can also make medicine from raw materials wherever he goes.
Weapon(s): Gnarled wooden quarterstaff used for walking and fighting if necessary.

Appearance: Jasper is about 5'8" tall and slender with callused and herb-stained hands. Frequently he has to brush shaggy blond locks out of his chiseled face and blue eyes. As an Apothecary he wears a russet robe over his normal clothes including a green tunic and brown pants.

Personality: Jasper would prefer not to fight if he can help it. Despite this, he is very skilled in using his staff to defend himself. Generally Jasper is a private person that keeps his history and his goals to himself, but he would be willing to talk to people about superficial things and teach anyone about his work. He is also pretty generous with his time and has patience for most people.

BIO: Unlike others of his kind, Jasper doesn’t remember feeling a great deal of fear or threat in his life. Because his father’s business involved making healing potions and unguents, Jasper’s ability to heal others quickly and his lack of common sicknesses was attributed to his father’s skills and teaching. The boy was named his father’s heir and as such learned his father’s trade as soon as he was able to understand it. He was close to his father and his family life was fairly comfortable, but from the age of five he had strange dreams about a boy or man that looked like him but wasn’t. In innocence, he asked his mother about the dreams and she completely freaked out. It scared the boy and he never mentioned it again, but the dreams persisted despite efforts to forget them.

As a grown man and Master Apothecary, he has left home to make his own way and seek the answers to that question he had as a boy: “Who is this other man in my dreams?”

So begins...

Jasper Galen's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Jasper could still feel the biting cold and hear the howling wind, even in his waking world. These dreams were scaring him. Sometimes he felt like he actually was the person freezing in the snow, like last night. The only thing that reminded him he was still himself was the knowledge that he had never been that far north. The somewhat scruffy looking young blond shivered at the thought.

Outside the window of his boardinghouse room, sky-blue eyes noted it was too early to sell his wares, but he couldn't sleep anymore. With shaking hands, the slim man started a fire to make tea. One of the perks of this boardinghouse was that he always had his own stack of wood, but it was getting expensive. He remained in Whitemouth for several weeks now and his savings were running out, even supplementing what he started with by selling unguents and potions on the way. It was definitely time to move on.

When the fire was ready, he put a kettle on and got dressed for the day. Noting his old traveling clothes were wearing out, he planned to get another set before leaving, among other things. He supposed his vivid dreams were a good thing in that they helped him prepare for the harsh weather in the northern wastes.

After a soothing tea and hearty breakfast, the pale sun rose over the horizon. Soon the market would be open for him to refresh his inventory of food, and clothes, and supplies for his potions. He already had the most common ingredients, but he needed a few more location-specific ones in case of injuries and sickness along the way. Even though Jasper never was sick himself, other travelers would need his skills. An apothecary's trade was always welcome and necessary, which likely saved his life since he learned he was a witch. The young man shivered again at the thought, but kept silent on the issue as he packed his bags.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elsewhere ice-blue eyes stared intently into a bowl of water. If possible they became even harder and colder, as he turned his own chiseled face into a grin. This one was definitely NOT friendly. "He's coming," the young man whispered. A heavy hand pressed on his shoulder broke his concentration, and his smile turned into a grimace and groan as nausea set in.

"What are you doing here, Hemlock?" a cruel hissing voice hovered down from above his bent head.

"Master," this other blond started in a carefully measured tone. "I was studying portents." Without stirring the hand on his shoulder, he backed away from the bowl.

"And what do your portents tell you?"

"Something is stirring nearby, that is all, Master." He lifted his head slightly to see the face of his master, an old crone that had pretty much raised him since he was left on the tundra as a child. She wasn't the warmest or most agreeable person, but she was the only family he knew most of his life. His father and brother couldn't be called family, since they left him to die.

"hmmm..." he heard her whisper. The young man noted her narrow lips pressed in a grim line and her grey eyes were blank. Even though she didn't look like it, he knew she was studying him intently. He could even feel something like thorns probing through his mind. The pale young man learned long ago how to counter that probe without fully allowing her to know his intentions.

Until two of their younger members left, the Shadow Sage trusted him completely. This was his only family and he had no reason to seek another. Now though, many were suspicious, so he must always be on his guard. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Jacob Hemlock held that thought on the surface of his mind until he saw the woman's face soften.

"Do you know where enemies are stirring?" She finally asked him.
He frowned and dropped his head again, in apparent disappointment and sadness, "I apologize, master, I can't identify the city. I just know it is very close."

The woman frowned again but released him with a smack on the back. That didn't help his nausea from the broken scrying spell, leaving him to swallow the bile burning in his throat. "Get yourself back to the library to study location runes, and you better know them before The Raven calls you. He wants to see a demonstration of your skills tonight, in case we have a mission for you," she called as he turned away.

A mission? The cold blue eyes widened at that statement. He's been waiting for a mission for some time now. How could he show his skill when he felt like this?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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She wasn't sure how time had gone by so quickly, but it had. Day became night and night meant she had to leave the keep to the woods again til morning. She didn't want to be caught slumming in the streets. Sylvana managed to trade the furs, all but the silver one in for coins. Enough to do a decent barter with the blacksmith and leave her a little left over for anything else she could need.

She and the blacksmith agreed on a price with the silver fur included, but the daggers wouldn't be ready until the next day. He'd gone ahead and given her the sharpening stone for her arrows, so she had at least had something to do while she waited.

Perched up in the trees over looking Whitemouth, she sharpened the dulled metal back into points before putting the stone away in her bag. She spent the rest of her time resting to save her strength for the upcoming journey.

Morning came quickly enough and the young woman ate a bit of her food, knowing she needed to add a bit more to it before leaving. She jumped from the tree to return the Keep. The first place she went to was the blacksmith.

"All done. I hope your Pa likes the work done."

"I'm sure he will." She responded with a smile on her face as she took them back. She would inspect them later when she wasn't under the watchful eye of the smithy. He knew a warrior's eye when he saw them and she didn't need to blow her cover now.

A hot meal would be nice... but I won't have enough coins left for everything. Oh well. She thought to herself as she went to grab a few supplies for her food sources.

She could smell the food around her and it was tempting. Opening her coin bag, she counted what was left. Only enough for a few herbs to help with the cold would be left to get, but first she had to find someone who sold them here. Because she was in Whitemouth finding what she was looking for wasn't going to be the problem. The vendors would have them, it was finding them cheaper than most that she needed. Once she was done, she would be able to leave the city and put distance between her and the humans. The sooner the better.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

A good night's sleep and a warm bath did great things for the soul. As soon as Wyatt had entered Whitemouth he'd gone in search of a cheap inn. He booked himself a room, took a bath, ate a hot meal and relaxed. He slept in a real bed for the first time in weeks and likely to be the last one in weeks.

He woke early wanting to get his things from the market and then leave. As soon as the market was opening, he was stocking up his supplies, which didn't take long. As soon as he was done, he headed back to the inn to get a fresh meal before he left. He ate slowly enjoying the warmth for what it was. That was when he thought of something.

This morning there was a young lad with stained hands... I wonder. Once he was done, he stood and went to the inn keep asking questions about the boy. That was when he learned he was right about the profession and given the room number. He just hoped he caught him before it was too late. The male would have some supplies others didn't that would be nice to take with them into the snow.

Heading up the stairs, he stopped at the door and knocked on it a few times. The raven haired male stepped backwards to try and be less imitating. When the door opened, he saw he at least was given proper information from the innkeeper. It was the same boy from this morning when he'd left.

"You're an apothecary. I saw your hands. You have any supplies to sell?" he asked, his voice low, so other patrons who were walking around the upper hall didn't have to overhear the conversation. Once he got what he needed, he was gone. The room was paid for, so all that was left was this visit and hopefully it yielded something.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Jasper set aside the money he would need for tonight's room and board before he got ready to go to market. Carefully the young man settled a few medicines in a carrying crate to sell, and arranged a second crate to take with him when he left. He was precise about his work and plans, but that shouldn't be a surprise. One always needed to be careful when lives were at stake. Too much or too little of a single ingredient could turn a healing potion into deadly poison. A child he knew when growing up nearly died from that very cause, but the child survived with Jasper's immediate intervention. A small smile carved on his face at that thought, but that smile soon turned sad as he was reminded of the situation at hand. He shook his head as he pulled himself together to go to market. Silently, he reminded himself of his mission and tossed a cloak over his apothecary's robe.

Once out and about on the bustling streets, he didn't spend too much time thinking about anything but keeping inventory of what he needed: Food, water, spare clothes, and herbs. That was all. He traded off some of his potions and sold whatever was left after he finished all his own shopping. He could use the money later to deal with traveling merchants if there were many who went to the far reaches of Vandose. He didn't really know what was out there beyond the cities except for the cold and snow. Legends of a Witches Fortress also abounded. Maybe the man in his dreams was there, or maybe it had proof of a better time for witches. Could this world be a better place for witches? It sounded like a pipe dream, but he didn't have many problems while he was growing up. Maybe...

While he was thinking these thoughts he returned to his room. Tomorrow he'd take his next step into the wasteland, because by the time he returned the sun already set. Days were short up here and nights were cold as death. It was good fortune he managed to get a fur cloak while shopping for clothes. Fur traders would likely be common once out of the city.

As he served himself another cup of tea, there was a knock on the door and he jumped at the sound. Even though he's been here a while now he hardly had any visitors. Who could this be? Jasper left his tea on the side table and straightened to a standing position. He opened the door and noted a dark man a few inches taller than himself. Everything about his guest was dark: the black hair, the somewhat brooding demeanor and... Jasper gave another start. Black eyes though he tried to explain that away. It was evening and the hall wasn't well-lit. That's why this man looked so dark.

Gathering himself together, he said, "How can I help you?" No matter what he looked like, it was Jasper's job to help people. The visitor went right to the point. He was looking for supplies, apothecary supplies. "What exactly are you looking for?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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It was a relief that the boy was still there and had opened the door at all. Now Wyatt just had to hope that he would have something helpful. He glanced at the other male, so completely opposite of himself.

While the black magic user was everything of his magic, a trait he inherited from his mother, the male in front of him was light. From his blonde hair and blue eyes. And while his clothing were simple enough, they were still colored compared to the darkness of the black he himself wore.

But there was no use in dragging this out. He needed to leave the keep before they closed the gate. He didn't want to be forced to stay another night in Whitemouth when he needed to get moving. Staying in one spot made him jittery.

"I was hoping you may have things to combat the cold. Things for exposure, frostbite, any of those numbers." He hoped the male didn't ask why. He wasn't looking forward to having to explain why he was heading into the snow.

The only other town in snow had hot springs. It was a good cover, but still, he didn't need anyone knowing that he was actually heading north.

"Coin isn't a problem. If you have something I'll pay. No one else in town has much of anything." Odd as it was because Whitemouth was the most north major city in Eliradia. Then again, they hadn't seen a real snowing in years. Which is what he believed was the problem. But maybe this stranger would have something of use. If not, his magic would have to do.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jacob Hemlock Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Jasper listened carefully to what this dark stranger had asked for. The list of requests troubled the young man. He would need those exact same things for himself, since he decided to head further north in the morning. Could he spare any? As an apothecary and healer, he couldn't forgive himself if someone died that he had an ability to save, like that child back home in Eastleigh. If he died though, how could he save anyone else?

Jasper swallowed, but said in complete honesty, "I'm actually planning to travel on the morrow and I've either traded or sold most of my stock, to lighten the burden." He hated to disappoint the fellow so he added gently, "Though if you're going my way, we could help each other out." Jasper feared making the offer, especially since he didn't know anything about his unexpected guest. What if he was Shadow Sage or a Witch Hunter? The young blond wanted nothing to do with the evils of Shadow Sage, and if it was a Hunter, could they tell he was a witch? What was he getting into? Since he already said it, he couldn't back down. It would be dishonorable to back down. No matter what anyone thought of him, he was an honorable fellow.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Jacob's day didn't go well after the interview with his master. Even though he went to the library right away, like she ordered, he couldn't focus on anything except for the pain in his gut. Surely, no one poisoned him, did they? No, there was no reason to get rid of him. The Raven wanted a demonstration, and the Raven's assistants would never go against his requests or orders. The Raven wanted him alive and whole to do whatever mission he had for the pale blond man.

Jacob always felt ill when broken from spells he cast. He just needed some rest to recover his strength, but he would not reveal anyone this weakness. Remembering a recipe for a strengthening infusion he studied early in his time with the Shadow Sage, he went to prepare it. The taste was foul, but it did its job. While in the kitchen, he also claimed a plain roll to eat with the infusion to rid himself of the awful taste on his tongue. Since he couldn't bring his small meal back to the library for fear of damaging the books he sat himself in the dining room for students. Because of the time, few others were there, and made his time unpleasant.

Another of the students, a few years his junior even, heckled Jacob for being lazy. With some energy restored, he gave an early demonstration to that insolent fool and grinned as the fool had to run to the bathroom the rest of the afternoon. Jacob himself didn't even use much of his own energy in the experiment. He simply turned his opponent's against them. Feeling a little better about his own situation, he returned to the library to finish his assignment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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The request was simple enough. The male in front of him wouldn't be able to fight off any real attacks, at least in Wyatt's opinion. He didn't look like he'd ever held a sword let alone run someone threw with it. He hadn't either, but he wasn't afraid of it. He had his magic and used it to fight with instead. Fear worked just as well as actually killing someone.

But was it safe to travel with another person? Let alone someone he knew nothing about. He'll just slow me down. He won't be able to keep my pace and schedule... But as he stared at the other male, he knew he couldn't turn him down. It wasn't in his nature. While he looked down upon the weak and had been raised to believe that only the strong should survive, he believed in giving others a chance to prove they had the worth to live.

If he didn't prove himself in the field, it wouldn't be hard to kill him and take what he needed. Finally he nodded.

"All right. Thing is, I'm leaving now and I travel at a rather fast pace. If you can't keep up I will leave you." His eyes were dark with the words, but they were the truth. He couldn't risk being slowed down any further than he was already for having stopped for supplies.

"The name's Wyatt."

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Luck didn't seem to favor her. Maybe it was the witch blood, maybe she was just rather unlucky. But she couldn't find what she was looking for within her price range. So she had purchased a small loaf of warm bread and headed out of the keep.

Sylvana looked behind her at the impressive stone work. A shiver went down her spine and she pulled her cloak tighter around her. She just couldn't shake the feeling she was having. Repressing a gulp she headed for the woods behind of Whitemouth. This was the start of her final leg of the journey. Soon she would be within reach of the Witches' Fortress and all the knowledge that it held. Then she would learn everything and bring vengeance down upon the Shadow Sage.

It's funny. I never had a problem with their orders until they found out I had white magic and kicked me out saying I wasn't worthy. But there are gray users there, they have white in them. It's so stupid... No use dwelling now though. I've got to keep going. The real truth is in those walls on which side is right. I will aid whichever side, no matter the cost.

With those thoughts in mind, she kept her eyes sharp and her hand near one of her daggers as she made her way through the woods further north.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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"Jasper," the blond healer introduced himself to his dark guest, Wyatt, to be polite, though he was growing more wary of him now. Why was he in such a rush to leave? After dark, it wasn't safe to be outside the city. There were bandits and hunters, but the worst of it this far north was the bitter and often fatal cold. Even Jasper wasn't sure the man in his dream was still alive, but if he remembered far enough back, that man was a boy when he was a boy and survived the cold long enough to become a man. Where did this man find safety? Who was he? What was he, even? The mystery haunted him for nineteen years, but not until now has he had the chance and opportunity to solve it. Would he give that up for one more night in his own safe haven? Hmmf! He should have left already. Still he was afraid of the dangers of the night. The longest journey starts with the first step. Didn't he already take that first step when he left home? He had lingered in Whitemouth longer than he should, even if no one else knew him to be a witch.

"I haven't yet finished my supper, but you may come inside and sit if you wish." Jasper stepped away from the door to let his guest inside if he wanted to, and retrieve his supper. He didn't want to leave at this hour, but he did favor the idea of having a traveling companion. Considering Wyatt's impatient and brooding manner, there did remain a possibility that he was indeed one of those bandits he feared. Did Jasper want that kind of companion? "Have you had any supper yet, Mr. Wyatt?" If he came inside, the blond healer could get an idea about what he was dealing with.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Wyatt paused at the name. Jasper. So familiar. He gave the male one final look over before it dawned on him. Jacob. He kept his face void of any emotion to give away what he'd just realized. The male in front of him was almost identical to the male he'd grown up with in the Shadow Sage.

Which means he could very well have gray magic, or he could be completely human. This could get very tricky. But with the realization he knew he wasn't backing out of this. Curiosity was his biggest downfall. Well, not really. He paid well for wondering about things, but he still loved learning things people didn't want him to know.

As the male opened his mouth to speak again, the black magic user frowned. He glanced inside of the room. It would be warmer inside than out and waiting by the gate could bring unwanted attention his way. So he caved and stepped into the room where at least they wouldn't be over heard by any passerby in the hallway.

"Thank you, but I ate before I came to find you." He replied as he stepped away so the door could be shut as well as so Jasper could get back to the food he was eating. "Though I must warn you, they will close the gate soon." And I really don't feel like busting out of here... I could transport myself sure, but I'd rather not. He thought to himself.

He wanted to bring up Jacob to the male, but he kept quiet instead. Now wasn't the time and place. Maybe while they were on the road traveling north, but not here where he could stall them from getting out of Whitemouth as soon as they could. Night offered the best cover for him as well as the less amount of traffic there was to deal with. Having Jasper along meant not traveling through the woods unless he said it was fine. He didn't want to bring any suspicions down onto himself so early into the game.

First there were things he would have to learn about his new companion. And of course make sure he never learned about his magic. But there was something that ate away at him, more than Jasper looking so much like Jacob. Something he couldn't put his finger on. That didn't sit well with him and he wanted to know what it was, but at his current position there was no way in learning anything. All he could do was wait on the male to finish eating, pack, and then they could leave the keep.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Jasper closed the door behind Wyatt when the dark, brooding fellow entered, and gave an involuntary shiver when he noted the darkness around his guest didn't fade as he came in the more cheerful interior of the room. What did he just get himself into? Who exactly was this Wyatt? He had no wish to harm this man, but he thought it might be a better idea to let himself fall behind and be forgotten. Already Wyatt admitted he didn't have the same sense of honor Jasper himself did. The healer would never leave someone who had fallen behind him. He would assume they need help and go back, because he was raised to put other people ahead of himself. Then again, he wondered why Wyatt felt that way. This was so confusing.

To cover the true reason for his shiver, Jasper stirred up and added another piece of wood to his fireplace, before he picked up his supper plate and teacup. "The cold up here cuts to the bone, even in the city. I grew up further south and have never really adjusted to it. What about you? Where did you grow up?" It wasn't the most subtle of statements, but he did want to find out as much as possible before they were tied together without any outside assistance.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Wyatt kept his eyes from narrowing at the action. It was one he knew well. While Jasper didn’t know about his black magic, something in him sensed something was off. This wouldn’t bode well for the black magic user if his companion was this perceptive. But for now there was nothing he could do, but wait it out.

Something he very much hated.

But something he was very good at. His mother had made sure he was the perfect killing machine and that was before he was allowed to do missions for the Shadow Sage.

“I wouldn’t add fire if I were you. Heading north the warmth will be greatly missed.” He, himself, wouldn’t miss the warmth. He could just wrap himself in his magic to keep his body heat in; it was his companion who would miss the warmth of this room once they left.

Where was he from? That was a good question.

He knew he grew up in the woods of Eliradia, but he didn’t know which town or major city he was closest too. He was raised in seclusion.

Finally he shrugged. “It’s not that cold right now. It gets much worse. There’s barely even snow on the ground here.”

Jasper was born further south. That explained it. Either he was born in the southern lands which were rumored to always be hot or the middle lands that saw some cold, but nothing compared to what the northern lands faced.

“I was born and raised in Eliradia, the wood land areas.” Getting the other male to trust him even a little would go a long way in this journey. The fact that he had volunteered to travel with him was saying a lot about him, but Wyatt wouldn’t put it past him to chicken out somewhere along the line. He just wished he would hurry up before the guards closed the gates.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wyatt Silas Character Portrait: Sylvana Ward Character Portrait: Jasper Galen Character Portrait: Katherine Fletcher Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Some how through good graces, the two very odd traveling pair had managed to get outside of the keep before the gates were closed for the night, much to Wyatt's relief. But with the sun already down and the night winds coming from the north, it was increasingly cold and he almost longed to be back in the warmth of the inn.

Not wanting to take the chance of using his magic to keep himself warm in front of Jasper, he pulled his black cloak around his shoulders and fastened the clasp. There at least he would be warmer for now. The further north they traveled the colder it would become.

Wyatt glanced over to where Jasper was walking. It hadn't been easy making sure they left on time and making the male understand they would be safer at night wasn't easy either. Bandits at night.... yeah, but bandits were out all of the time. Not to mention due to his dark demeanor bandits weren't likely to attack them. Unless they were stupid of course. Or had a death wish. That had happened once.

He sighed. There was nothing he could say that would lighten the mood between the two virtual strangers. They were on the main path heading north from the Keep. The only other place to travel from here was to the hot spring city, whose name had escaped him for some reason. He guessed this was where his companion was stopping at.

"Jasper, may I ask where you are traveling north to? It's rare for one such as yourself to travel alone." It was true. People who couldn't fight or defend themselves against the perils traveled with large companies that could fight off attackers.

He wanted to try and break the ice as much as he could, but something in the pit of his stomach was sitting right. Something was wrong. Maybe not directly around him, but he was hardly wrong. Something was going down somewhere. And it related directly to magic.

He missed the days where he could talk to others about the odd sensations he had. It seemed other magic users tended to have them as well. It was as if they were all connected in some way to the higher powers, at least in relation to things that would play a major part in the world.

"Look, I didn't mean to get off on the wrong foot at the inn. I apologize for rushing you, but time is of the essence when it comes to those gates. They wouldn't have opened them back up even if we paid them."

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Time had dragged on slowly, much slower than she would have liked. All the trees were blending together again as she made her way through them further north. It was cold, but luckily she was managing to stay warm with her clothes and by staying moving.

It wasn't much later that she heard something head of herself. Almost light enough to believe it was a animal, but she knew the difference having to hunt for her own food. She paused and used a very tiny amount of her magic adding it to her eyes so she could see further ahead.

It was a human. Female from the silhouette. What was another woman doing out of here on her own? Well, she might not be alone and Sylvana didn't want to take a chance.

Retracting her magic, she pulled her bow off her shoulder as the figure continued on ahead. She glanced around and found a tree branch not far behind the woman. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath before the world burred around her and her figure disappeared. She reappeared in the tree looking down at the other woman.

The young witch took a few seconds to stabilize herself before she pulled an arrow from the quiver on her back and notched it in the bow. She pulled the string to her cheek and aimed it at the figure.

"Stop where you are." She demanded raising her voice so that the woman could hear her. She had to make sure there were no hidden surprises or people waiting in the bushes for people like her. Sylvana kept to the woods for her own protection. Everyone seemed to do it only to prey on others. She wouldn't be one of their victims.

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It was lucky for him that Jasper already packed most of his supplies during the day. After his supper and tea, he just needed to get his gear, which included a white fox fur cloak and fur-lined knee high boots. The two were indeed an odd pair. Complete opposites in both appearance and personality. The only time Jasper ever rushed was when he feared for someone in danger, so naturally he wasn't happy about this arrangement, but he didn't complain or say much at all.

Wyatt asked a question, probably to reduce the tension between them. To be honest, he didn't want to answer the question. He didn't trust the darker fellow enough to tell him about these dreams he had as long as he could remember, despite all efforts to push them from his mind. That itself gave him the impression they're important, but he didn't know how or why. That's the real mystery. The only way he can think of solving it is to go to the source. Out in the middle of nowhere. To the farthest borders of Vandose. It's not much of a plan, though. "Secrets." he hissed as he stuck his walking stick in the ground in front of him. To keep his body heat in he leaned on it probably more heavily than he should. "Bribes wouldn't be necessary if we waited until it opened in the morning. There's nothing for it now, though." he said quietly with a shake of his shaggy blond head.

~~~

The Raven wasn't satisfied with the one small trick Jacob showed him already, but he knew it would be useful for the future. Still the older man put the pale young protege through his paces until he was satisfied. "That's enough. Take a seat." and he spread his broad hand to an armchair next to the desk and pulled a mirror from one of the drawers. The mirror he placed on top of the desk. "Now, do you know why I wanted to test your strengths?"

Still not making eye contact, Jacob pondered the question in his head, thinking it might be a trick. If he waited too long, the Raven might get suspicious and this close, he didn't want to risk it. "My master didn't go into details."

"And she shouldn't..." The Raven said matter-of-factly with a hint of threat that actually gave Jacob a slight shiver. "Anyway, from your performance here, I have something that I believe you are looking forward to." The Raven waved his hand over the mirror and a familiar face showed up in it.

Jacob's eyes lit up as he leaned in to see better. "That's..."

"Yes, it is. You are to bring this person directly to me, no one else. No one else is to even know. If you can do that, it would secure your position as a full member of Shadow Sage, and if not... I'm sure you know the consequences." Jacob chanced to look up to the expression on his leader's face. Through a curly brown beard, he saw what appeared to be a pleasant grin but the pale blond could almost feel the ice behind it. He mirrored the expression.

"Yes, sir, you can count on me!" Jacob struggled mightily not to jump out of his seat. This is what he wanted, and he already formed a plan to do what's necessary.

"Before you go, Jacob, I prefer the subject alive, and you need your papers, yes?"

"Yes, sir." The Raven handed over a narrow tube that was no longer than the palm of Jacob's hand.

"Remember no one else should know, so prepare yourself." The broad hand clapped the thinner fellow's shoulder and sent him off. Jacob grinned and wasted no time obeying.

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"We have all secrets," Wyatt muttered as he stared at the road ahead of them. As dark as it was, he could see perfectly in it. Some odd trait he was sure had nothing to do with his magic and more to do with his parentage. There was definitely something the other male was keeping from him. But without more information he couldn't even begin to guess at what it was. Other than maybe it had something to do with Jacob who Jasper looked so much like. Only he wasn't going to be the one to bring that up. He wasn't in the mood to be answering questions about his own past.

When Jasper's comments turned back towards their rushing to leave the keep, the black magic user finally stopped walking. He took a deep breath before turning to his traveling companion.

"Look, Jasper. There aren't many people who travel north even to Evanpool especially this time of the year. So even if that's where you were going, heading up this road in the day time would have meant death for you or at best imprisonment. Why? Because whoever the fuck governs over the Whitemouth Keep is a paranoid son of a bitch who believes the witches are forming a rebellion."

Well, he's not too far from the truth there. Because Shadow Sage is doing just that. I should know, but I've got to find out the truth first before I blindly follow the orders they give me.

"It is far safer to leave at night where no one can see which direction you are heading in and stop you to ask questions. Now I suggest that we keep moving and increase our pace because Evanpool and a nice hot, prepared meal is at least another three days walk from here. Five if we keep at your pace."

Wyatt gave the male a pointed stare before turning back around and started walking again. Let him think whatever he wanted. He knew the truth about the harshness of the world. His mother had made sure of it when she raised him to be a perfect machine for the Shadow Sage just like her and his father. Too bad they couldn't control his need to know things for himself.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Sylvana narrowed her gaze on the woman, but she kept the arrow notched and pulled back. Her arm had a slight shake to it, but she knew it wouldn't impact her shot too much if she had to fire.

"Where are the men with you?"

Part of her wanted to go ahead and kill the woman, use her magic and get the hell out of there. But the part of her that knew what the Shadow Sage did the was wrong, couldn't do it. This was another human being. Just because the witches were hunted down and murdered, didn't mean they needed to turn around and do the same thing right back to their oppressors. They had to be better than that.

Just because she wasn't going to kill her, didn't mean she wasn't going to continue to uphold her threat. No she wasn't that stupid or naive. How many other woman wandered around the woods on their own at night? Not many. She had only come across one other since she'd been kicked out of the Shadow Sage.

Right now all the white magic bearer wanted to do was find a place, a nice high tree where she could fall asleep in for the next few hours before traveling again. She couldn't do that if there was a possible threat around her.

"And don't play stupid with me. I know the tricks people like you pull." Even if this wasn't the woman's game, she had to get her talking to figure out what was. Otherwise, she could be dead.

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"Then I should thank you." Jasper still tried to be polite, but he didn't like Wyatt's accusatory tone or that glare he gave him before starting forward again. At the same time, the dark man didn't seem to care much for the lord of Whitemouth. What did that mean? Did it mean he wasn't a witch hunter? Witch hunters may pretty much like the idea of interrogating and harassing travelers on the road, no matter what time of day they travel. Hmm...How could Jasper find out more about his traveling companion?

Could he be leaving the city at night trying to find witches attempting to escape? Jasper didn't think any sane person would want to travel north at the coldest hours, but if Wyatt was correct that the town guards would throw someone in prison for mere thought of trouble, then it would be the most likely time to find someone. Wyatt didn't seem to be hunting right now. He kept his face forward and moved quickly, seeming too quickly to catch any miscreants. Jasper dared ask a question of his own, "What was your family's trade that you grew up in the woods?" It may not be enough to tell him what Wyatt's trade was now, but it was something of a distraction at least.

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Letting out the breath she'd been holding, Sylvana lowered the bow and allowed the arrow to hang loose before putting it back in the quiver on her back. She put her arm through the string and strung the bow onto her back as well.

She was safe.

Either the woman was an incredibly good actress or she was telling the truth. But she couldn't sense anyone else near her position except for the woman who happened to be going in the same direction.

Maybe...

The young woman dropped down from the tree with a soft plop into the grass. Her knees ached a bit but mostly from walking all of the time and not getting a proper rest. She stared into the distance where she could make out the retreating form before her.

No one came to jump her. There was no one around her. That didn't mean they weren't further up ahead, but if it came to it, she would simply have to take them out.

Finally, she made up her mind.

"Hey!" She called out as she started walking after the other woman. "We're both headed north."

She waited until she was closer to be heard with yelling which wasn't all that long and without using her magic to quicken herself.

"There are safety in numbers out here. Especially for women. Why don't we travel together? And I'm sorry about the arrow thing. I'd rather not take the chance."

Sylvana offered a small smile even though she knew the other woman probably wasn't too comfortable with the whole situation. Frankly, she was tired of being alone.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

At least he was still following him. Wyatt could hear the sound of his companion's boots on the ground behind him. And at least now they were making time through the night. Depending on how long he could keep Jasper going at this pace, they might be able to shave time off for getting to Evanpool.

Jasper's question almost caught him off guard in this thoughts. How had he remembered that? Sure it was only a few hours ago, but most everyone else wouldn't have cared enough to remember even if they had asked the question.

But Jasper had.

He stuffed his hands in his pockets as they walked, keeping his gaze on the road ahead of them. It didn't seem like he was very alert to what was going on, but there wasn't much that escaped Wyatt's attention.

There was something in the air, something familiar. A wave he knew well. He pushed it to the side to answer the male's question.

"We didn't have a trade. We were self sufficient. We never had a need to go anywhere. So I was taught everything on how to take care of myself and I may everything cause I was the only child. The only rule they ever had was never breaking the boundaries I was allowed to travel from the house."

He gave Jasper a cheeky grin. "I always broke the rule," he faced front again. "And they always broke my ass for it."
Though not always a beat, mental abuse, intimidation, internal abuse from magic. Not that I regret breaking the rules. I regret getting caught. Which I usually think is why Mother was always so mad.

As they moved forward, the ripple he'd felt on the air got stronger. He paused for a second to look up at the sky. Nothing was changed, so he kept going. But the further north they went the more it increased.

This was a residue of magic. Not everyone sensed them. He couldn't A few other members of Shadow Sage he knew could, but he knew a lot that couldn't. He also knew the magic hadn't been used that long ago, which is why it was still so strong. It meant only one thing - the magic user was still near by.

"Jasper," Wyatt whispered as he slowed to his companion's side. "We're moving into the woods on the other side of the road." The side opposite of where he felt the magic. Until he found the threat and knew just how much of a threat they were going to be, he wasn't taking any chances.

He lead the male into the woods, staying low and quiet as he made his way further north, taking care that Jasper didn't make any noise behind him. He was going to find the source.

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Jasper didn't know how to respond to Wyatt's attitude towards his parents only rule, but it was beyond a rare child who ALWAYS obeyed their parents so there was nothing he could say. "My trade is my family's business. It's all we do and know. I was pretty much free to go where I wanted in the city where I grew up, except when soldiers came. All children went inside when the soldiers marched through the street."

Since he wasn't thinking about the cold, he felt it less as they continued in the darkness. He also managed to nearly catch up with Wyatt until the dark fellow stopped and turned back whispering to move into the woods. "Trouble?" All at once, his fears and suspicions of bandits returned and he tightened his grip on the walking stick. His eyes panned over the ground in front of them, and he turned around to find nothing. Returning to Wyatt he asked also in a whisper, "Is something wrong?"

He may not look tough, but anyone who thought Jasper couldn't hold his own would be surprised if they had a fight on their hands. The innocent-looking walking stick could kill, but Jasper hated death. Knocking someone unconscious was far preferable. They'd have a headache when they woke up but in reality no harm is done. Even broken bones recover, and he could prevent himself from trying to heal someone who attacked him first easily enough.

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"And stay quiet." Wyatt whispered harshly. He didn't mean to be so rude to the other male, but there was no time to try and explain everything. He sat crouched in the tree line within seeing distance of the road. This was where the feeling was the strongest. Likely the magic user had moved on in any of the directions and he had to narrow down the choices quickly. Being surprised wasn't an option.

While he trusted his abilities and knew that it might mean revealing himself to Jasper, he didn't know those of the other magic user or even what magic they had used. He had to proceed carefully from here on out.

Finally, he turned back towards Jasper. "Something is off. Listen and listen carefully," He planned on getting both of them out of this unharmed, but the other male had to listen to him. "We're going to cross the road into the other woods and head up north. Move exactly as I do, but keep back a little bit in case things get bad. Stay out of sight and don't make any noise. Understand? Oh, and if you betray me. I will kill you."

He hated threatening someone who was already in a bad position, but if it came to having to use his magic, the last thing he wanted was Jasper to freak out, try to kill him, or run back and get a guard. He didn't need unnecessary blood on his hands.

The black magic user didn't wait on a response as he moved low to the ground as quickly and as quietly as he could. His footsteps didn't make a sound on the dirt beneath him showing off the training his mother had beaten into his since he could form rational thoughts.

Slowly, the two of them made their way up through the woods keeping to the bushes and shadows for protection. The ripple in the air was getting weaker, but it was now easier to pinpoint who or what it belonged to. Every now and then Wyatt would glance back towards his companion to make sure he was still following.

He stopped about ten feet back from where he could see two people talking to each other. But it was the one the source of the ripple pulled to that he kept his eyes on. They had long dark colored hair pulled back from their face and a very odd get up, but there was something that was oddly familiar about the other. But without adding magic to his eyes to see there was nothing more he could identify.

Sylvana stopped looking at Katherine for a response after the hairs on the back of her neck stood up on ends. Her arms were quickly joining them. Something was wrong. Someone else was there. Is this where she set the trap? Was I wrong... Her mind was whirling with the possibilities as she narrowed down where the source of her discomfort was coming from.

Finally she had it. She narrowed her eyes about a second before she was propelled backwards into the nearest tree. She landed with a solid thud as she lost the air in her lungs. Her eyes widened and not carrying about blowing her cover, her white magic surrounded her.

As soon as Wyatt realized he'd been found out, meaning the user was trained and had some skill, he reacted. He used his magic to propel him forward, pinning the magic user to the tree. This close he knew the person to be female and as her white magic rose around her, his black followed suit.

Their magic pushed against each other clearly visible as he held the woman pinned to the tree beneath the force of his weight. The white magic user glared up at him as he stared down at her.

Both of them gasped.

"Sylvana?"

"Wyatt?"

Both of their voices betrayed their shock and their magic died down slightly, though still present so they could react to anything deemed a threat at a moment's notice.

"What the hell are you doing here?" He demanded.

"I should say the same of you."

"You betrayed us. You left us."

"I didn't have much choice in the matter." Sylvana quickly countered against the tirade. "Besides you're here now."

"I want the truth."

"Then we want the same things."

Wyatt hesitated for a second before he let his magic fade back out and released the other magic user. He couldn't hurt the one person who meant more to him than anything else in the world. He'd always gone out of his way to protect her growing up and shield her from the worst of the Shadow Sage. He'd known about her white magic long before anyone else, though she never knew that and still he protected her.

Leaving for the Witches' Fortress was only one of his objectives. Finding her was another. He would have leveled all of Shadow Sage if they had hurt her and he had the powers to do it. His parents had been two of the strongest black magic users the organization ever had. He and Sylvana were the only two who ever rivaled and defeated their power levels.

Together they were a force to be reckoned with, even alone.

Sylvana rotated her shoulders for a few seconds and dusted herself off before turning to Katherine and where she felt another pair of eyes on her. Then she glanced back to Wyatt.

"What do we do about them?"

"What we have to." Came Wyatt's reply as he turned to where Jasper was hidden. Now he was going to find out if the male had the guts to betray him or accept the truth. The same with the other woman.

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"So what is it like, Evanpool? I heard its very cold there all year round. I couldn't imagine that. I'm not one of the cold really but then again nor the heat the south has. Never been there yet, but I want to go."

Katherine looked at Sylvanas, "I stopped noticing after a while. You just get used to the cold. The springs take the edge of the worst of it. The springtime's best in Evanpool, it's a very pretty time of the year."

Katherine realised that Sylvanas had stopped walking. She looked back at her companion. Everything about her stance screamed suspicion. Katherine looked about them, searching for any sign of an ambush when another figure slammed into Sylvanas. Katherine watched, confused at how the figure could have appeared so quickly and attack with such ferocity. The man who had slammed into Sylvanas had a similar aura to her own magic. Sylvanas clearly knew this man, the surprise in her voice giving her away. Sylvanas was a witch? That certainly explained why she was heading north. At least now she knew she could trust Sylvanas more than she had done before.

"What do we do about them?"

Katherine looked behind her, seeing a blond man standing there.

"What we have to," came the dark haired man's reply.

Katherine looked at the pair of them innocently. She summoned a fireball in her hand, "Well I suppose this makes life a little easier for us."

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"Betray you? I don't even know you." Maybe Wyatt was a bandit, but if he was, the blond wouldn't let him out of his sight. All Jasper had of value to a bandit would be his money pouch, which was well-hidden on his person. This same man did ask for some of his potions and herbs when they met, so this particular bandit would count those as valuable also. He had to be careful. Yes, he stayed close and quiet, ever tightening his grip on his walking stick in case he'd need it.

Did the shadows around Wyatt get deeper as they moved or was it a trick of his eyes? Something was indeed strange going on, and he had gone into whatever it was completely blind. What was he thinking? Was he even? There was nothing for it now. He got himself in this mess and had to get himself out. "What in the blazes?!" Again the healer shivered despite himself. Did Wyatt just fly over there and pin someone?

The two broke apart. Apparently they knew each other, as noted by the way they spoke. Jasper didn't want to eavesdrop, but the last two phrases Wyatt and friend said caught his attention. He had a feeling he heard it before, but he couldn't quite remember. Now Wyatt, his friend, and another woman who drew his attention more with the fireball in her hand other than her face, were all watching him intently. "All three of you are witches?" He didn't really expect them to answer since that question could be the death of them, or more likely him, since he's considered a greater threat having witnessed the exchange. "You have nothing to fear from me." Jasper rested his walking stick on his toes and showed them his empty palms.

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Sylvana stared at the fire in Katherine's hand as a smile spread across her face.

"Aye, it does."

Now she understood why the other woman was traveling alone. They were both witches. It was unsafe for them to travel with normal people for the fear of being found out. Of course, that didn't answer to why Wyatt was.

She frowned and glanced up at his face to see the smirk. He was pleased and amused at the situation. How very much like him. Then she frowned.

"How can she have fire? You can make fire but its black, not actually red."

Wyatt turned to face his friend before he sighed. "Everyone's magic is different. Some, like us, have magic that is more closely aligned to what was originally passed out according to the legends. Others, like her, have affinities."

His explanation made sense, but it made her wonder, which was better. Having something like the original or specializing in certain areas. It could be useful, but she preferred being able to do a little bit of everything.

"All three of you are witches?"


Then both she and Wyatt turned to face Jasper at his words.

The black magic user included his head slowly, his eyes finally having returned to normal. Luckily for him, it was too dark for the others to see his little condition of using magic. The whites of his eyes flooded with black magic turning them dark whenever he used his powers.

Though Sylvana wasn't so lucky. Because her magic was white, her entire eye became white and in the darkness was a beacon. Of course, the two of them knew about each others issues before hand and it was why they had to be very careful when it came to using magic in public.

They both believed it was because their magic was more like the older types and not like the newer ones that were popping up in witches. Both of their bloodlines were pure witch.

"That doesn't mean we can trust you." Sylvana piped off just as quickly as Jasper made his proclamation about not being a threat. She turned to look over at Wyatt, who had simply crossed his arms over his chest, laying one limb over the other, ready to spring at a moments notice.

"Leave him be. If I have I will erase his memories of what he saw, but he has been loyal. There's no need to hurt him. He's going to be good to have around should we need him. No point in killing him."

"The Masters would faint to hear you say that. They'd soon kill every human in their paths."

"Yes, well, as you can see I don't just follow orders and neither did you."

Sylvana's shoulders lowered a tad as finally nodded. "Are we all heading to the same place?" She looked around the small group. "For the Witches' Fortress? If so, I suggest to stop in Evanpool to restock supplies. We're going to need them. I've heard the snow out there kills. Even with our abilities to keep ourselves warm... it might not be enough."

Wyatt nodded his head. "That was the plan. So what do you say, Jasper? Still traveling with us?" Then he glanced to the other woman. "The name is Wyatt and yours?"