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Corruption, Part 4: Sylphine's Story

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(Read the previous entry here or refer to the Fiction Index for a full listing.)

I suppose my childhood was a normal one. Dad worked with a trading caravan, running supplies to Lakeshire and other nearby cities. Mom stayed home with Rina and I. We were happy, living in our small house in Old Town.

I'll never forget that Autumn day. It was three weeks before my fifteenth birthday, Rina would have been nine at the time. Dad's boss came to our house. Rina and I watched from upstairs. He didn't stay long, but when he left, Mom fell to the floor crying. Rina ran down, but I was too scared. I knew Mr. Sarker would not be bringing good news.

Dad's caravan was ambushed by Defias on its way to Sentinel Hill. He wouldn't be coming home.

Sylphine pauses for a moment, lost in thought.

It would only get worse. Dad was a driver, not a guard. As such, Mr. Sarker claimed we weren't entitled to monetary compensation. We had no way to feed ourselves, no way to pay our rent.

We managed on our own for a little while. Mom would bake bread to sell, or make some spare money repairing tattered dresses. I even went down to the Trade District and sold flowers to shoppers. It wasn't enough, though. We would soon be living on the streets.

At dinner one night, I asked Mom what her life was like before she met Dad. She wouldn't answer, but quickly cleared her plate and left, asking me to look after Rina. Over the next few days, we rarely saw Mom. She would come home late at night, almost early morning, sleep for a few hours, cook us some food, then disappear.

I was old enough to worry than Mom was doing something... disreputable.

After several weeks, just as our savings were running dry, Mom came home with a smile on her face for the first time in months. She found us a new place to live, and said we wouldn't have to worry about money any more.

The next day, we packed up our remaining belongings, those we hadn't sold to buy food. I was worried we would have to walk a long distance to our new home, but was surprised when we headed straight across the Trade District, instead of heading for the main gates of Stormwind.

We were living in the Mage Quarter?

Before long, we were standing in front of what was to be our new home.

"We're living in a TAVERN?" I asked.

Mom stood there for a moment, then said, "Rina? Why don't you go pick some flowers right over there. I'd like to talk to your sister for a bit. Come sit down, Syl."

Confused, I joined her on a nearby bench.

"Sylphine, it's time you learned where I've been these past nights. When I was about your age, I started learning how to use magic."

"You were training to be a MAGE?"

"No, dear. My training was not in the Arcane. I joined a... family... where I learned to use Fel Magic." I opened my mouth to respond, but Mom went on. "Let me finish, dear.

"I spent several years living with my new family, until I met your father. These recent nights, I have reconnected with my brothers and sisters. They have offered to let us live with them, below this tavern, here."

"So, we're living with Warlocks now?" I asked.

"'Living with' isn't the right phrase. I'll be lending them my power. It has grown dormant over these long years, but I have rekindled it. And you, Syl, you will be training to use it yourself."

"But, I-"

"I'm sorry, dear, but this is not open for negotiation. These are the terms I was given for our living here, and if we don't agree, we have nowhere else to go. I have asked them to leave Rina out of this, at least until she is old enough to decide for herself. Please? I know Warlocks are painted in a negative light, but am I a bad person? We are merely misunderstood. Now, go fetch your sister, it is past time I introduced you to your new family."

And so it was. I was angry that I was not given a choice, but in time I realized that there was no choice. I started my training, working with a different teacher every day. Mother was right, Fel Magic is not inherently bad. Is it dangerous? Yes. If you are not careful to exert your will over the energies, they will consume and corrupt you. Swords are used to kill people every day. Does that make the swords evil? Fel Magic is a tool.

I grew to love my studies. Apparently, I was very attuned to the forces. Within three years, I was ready to summon my first familiar. After days and weeks of failed attempts, I finally managed to conjure an imp from beyond the Void. Ecstatic, I ran to my mother's room to tell her the great news.

Mom tried to smile, but it was forced. Something was bothering her. "Sylphine, my lovely daughter, we may not see each other much after this night. I have been chosen for a very special ritual, and I will be spending a great deal of time with the Inner Circle. I am very proud of you, and all that you have done for me and your sister. Please watch over your Rina, she will need you."

Before I could respond, there was a knock on the door, and Fara, one of the lower-ranking Warlocks entered the room. Not a word was exchanged, but mother rose to leave. She embraced me and whispered in my ear, almost as if she did not want to be overheard, "Keep control. Don't let others use your power."

And then she was gone.


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