Semmian and the Palace of the Winds
The tale of the first Aeromancer
Long ago, at the birth of the new kingdom, stood the first wizards. The champions of the Mage War, guardians of magic throughout the land, the wizards were known and respected by all much as they are today. In those days, when the city of Otzia was still rising from the mountains to the north, the Orders of Wizardry were still young and found themselves amid a land in need of healing. The Wise Morrowhin, first and greatest of the wizards, decreed that all wizards were to undertake a journey. A pilgrimage of the world to bring the true nature of magic to the people and to bring back the wisdom to be found there.
Among the first of the wizards to make the Journey was Wise Semmian, the Scholar of the Sky, who sought the secrets of the very air we breathe. In his journey south through the heartlands of Asamor he faced many trials. The Brutes of Chaem, the Blight of Hyvell, the Dark Mage Loscren, these are all tales for another time. As he wandered through the realm of Artellathwaine, where the law forbids all magic, he lent his wisdom to the masons of Roth’s Hovel and cured the Knight of Pestercomb Bay.
He ventured forth into the ever-living forest, where he faced dragons and beasts that made meals of lesser men, until one day he found himself at the tips of Elven arrows. He had strayed into the Elven lands and now faced the Forest Guard, three score elves ready to unleash arrows of deadly poison. Wise Semmian knew that any fight was his to lose, so he surrendered to them in Elven tongue and invoked the ancient forest law so that they, bound by their oaths, could do him no harm. They cast bindings of living vines around him and brought him before Lord Alron of the Elmroot.
“What does a man of Asamor seek within these forests?” Alron asked.
“I seek only truth.” Semmian answered.
“Truth is found only by truth.” The Elf Lord replied. “Tell me, what of Asamor, how does it fare?”
A test, Semmian knew. The Elven Lord was a Psychic, who would be fooled by no deception or trickery. “The kingdom is healing.”
Lord Alron smiled. “These trees have heard stories of war most terrible. Tell me, for whom did you fight?”
“I thought for Oscarion, rightful King, and the common cause.”
“There are many amongst the Forest Lords who called the Nobles of Asamor their allies.” Alron replied. “Many who would call Oscarion usurper and his kin traitors. Yet you admit to this allegiance?”
“It is the truth, my Lord.”
“Did you kill? Did you slay your fellow man in the name of your King?”
“And was it right?”
“It was not.” Semmian answered from his heart. “My deeds were terrible, the scars I have wrought over both my fellow man and the land I fought for may never heal. It was wrong, by every measure of spirit and soul. But it was necessary, and I would do it again without hesitation.”
“Why do you damn yourself with your own words?” Alron asked.
“It is not my words that damn me, my Lord, but the actions that preceded them. Only truth finds truth, it is only truth I seek and only truth I offer.”
“My kin are distrusting of this new age of man. Tell me, is there anything to fear?”
“Only the fears the lie within all men. As to the fate of the new kingdom, I can offer only hopes, not truths.”
“You are magic are you not?”
“I possess the magic blood.”
“Why did you rise against your own kind?”
“I believe in my heart that magic is a gift to be used for the good of my kin.”
Lord Alron pondered his answers for three days and three nights until at last he brought Semmian back to his chambers.
“I have looked into your heart.” Alron proclaimed. “And I have seen that you speak the truth. You are a good man, Wise Semmian, and if these wizards are like you there is indeed hope for your kingdom.”
And Lord Alron released him, whereon he entered his service. He shared with them his knowledge of magic and the kingdom of Asamor, and in return he learned their ancient magic of the air and sky. For six years he served as advisor and ambassador to Alron and the Elmroot family before he was finally granted passage through the heart of the forest to continue his Journey.
He crossed the Desert of Skulls and bartered for passage across the Sea of Jalcarthin before he found himself standing upon the foothills of the great mountains of Gerranoth. The throne of the world, the mythical home of the Gods themselves, his destination was in sight. With nought but the strength in his own back he scaled those treacherous peaks. For eleven days and eleven nights he survived alone amidst the frozen stones with but his wit and magic to aid him. On the twelfth day he came upon the dreaded Kellekor, the great dragon of stone and fire, guardian of Gerranoth. Truly a creation of the Gods themselves, Kellekor had claws that could fell the strongest castle, a back that could bear a mountain upon it and a mouth that could swallow a ship whole. These are not the dragons that are told of in the slayers’ tales, these are the dragons that were born with the world and will live beyond its end. And the beast unleashed a breath of flame as hot as the fires in which Banthos himself forged the world. Wise Semmian knew the great dragon would send him to the next world so he fled. He summoned his power and the air lifted him, he soared across the great stone valley but the dragon followed, scaling the peaks with a single step. In his haste to escape Wise Semmian reached the greatest of all the mountains and rose up above its cliffs. With his power almost spent he landed upon a ledge and looked down in fear. The great dragon had stopped at the base of the great mountain and watched him with ancient patience. Knowing what fate awaited him should he fall, Wise Semmian pressed on. After three days scaling the mountain he found himself above the clouds that shrouded the peak. He reached the top and found a great dome of rock carved by the endless winds. He scaled the dome and gazed down through a hole into the soul of the mountain. A great wind caught him and he tumbled down into the heart of the giant stone beast!
He landed in the heart of a great circle, the stone around him carved into murals and statues of the Gods and their champions. He looked around and saw the mighty Aeryn, the wind spirits, sat around him. And sat above them on a throne of air and cloud was Azrual, the Lord of all Winds.
Azrual rose and spoke.
“Who is this mortal?”
“I am a scholar.” Wise Semmian replied. “A humble seeker of truth.”
“You are an intruder!” Azrual screamed and Semmian felt the air grip him and lift him above the floor. He fought for breath but none came to him. “You are not welcome in these halls! You are a mortal, who seeks our secrets. You are arrogant, you are unworthy!”
Semmian summoned all of his power to attain a single breath. He had a single breath with which to beg for his life. But Semmian was a wizard, and a wizard trusts in knowledge above all. He knew of spirits and their ways.
“I demand a test!” He cried and Azrual released him.
“A test, is it?” Azrual said.
“A chance to prove my worthiness.” Semmian replied, for he knew Azrual was the most powerful, cunning and, above all, wisest of the Aeryn. The Lord of all Winds sat back upon his throne and stared at the wizard in thought. Eventually he spoke.
“Very well, a test of your worthiness! You proclaim yourself a scholar? Then surely you are acquainted with me and my kin.” Azrual brought his arms out wide as if to embrace the other Aeryn and addressed them all in a voice that shook the sky.
“Do any of you know this scholar? Who here would speak for him?”
Semmian stood alone in the silence as his life was decided. But he did not fear.
“I shall speak for him.” Another Aeryn stood as he spoke.
“And I.” Said another as they, too, stood above the rest.
“Aye.” Another two said, so that four of the wind spirits spoke up in all.
“Very well!” Azrual spoke. “A test of your worthiness, mortal. Tell me the names of these spirits that speak for you!”
“What is my name?” The first spirit asked, and Semmian did not know his name. But a wizard has the strength of mind, and a strong mind does not fail. He thought upon the voice of the first spirit, a voice that was ice and frost, the cold air of winter.
“I know you.” Semmian spoke at last. “As the North Wind.”
“And what is my name?” The second spirit asked in a voice of dawning warmth, the blossoming of spring.
“I know you as the South Wind.”
“And I?” The third spirit asked with a voice of heat and drought. “What is my name?”
“I know you as the East Wind.”
“And I?” The final spirit asked in a voice of salt and storm. “What is mine?”
“I know you as the West Wind.”
And Azrual laughed. It was a laughter that bore upon it the greatest of storms. And all the Winds of the World laughed with him.
“You are true.” Azrual announced. “You do know my kin. And you are no longer an intruder within these halls. Sit, eat and drink as our honoured guest!”
And the finest foods of all the lands appeared upon the great stone tables and there was a great feast. As the spirits celebrated, the mighty Azrual asked Semmian. “What manner of scholar is it who listens to the truths of the world around him?”
“I am a Wizard of Otzia.” Wise Semmian replied.
And Wise Semmian remained with the Aeryn upon that mountain for many moons, he became a friend to all the Winds of the World and they taught him their secret magic, the Great Magic of Aeromancy.
When it came time for Semmian to return to the Towers of Otzia, he did so with the blessing of Azrual and all the Aeryn, and he returned to Asamor riding the very wind itself. When he landed upon the Tower of the Veil the great Morrowhin met him.
“The tales of your deeds have reached our ears long ago.” The First Wizard announced. “But no word since. We feared you lost.”
“I was merely seeking.” Semmian replied.
“And did you find what you sought?” Morrowhin asked.
“I did.” Semmian said in triumph.
“What wisdom do you bring to us?” The First Wizard asked.
“I bring the knowledge of Aeromancy.” Wise Semmian proclaimed, and at his word a great wind storm rose up around them and threatened to rend the towers from the earth, and at his word the winds faded to stillness. And Morrowhin looked upon this feat of great magic and said:
“This knowledge is power indeed. You will take students and teach them.”
And Semmian did just that, and from his teachings the School of Aeromancy were passed down through the generations to this very day.