Oliver Darkh, Master of Mages, tossed the hood back from the apprentice’s face, revealing a mat of dirty brown hair and a face he immediately wanted to punch squarely.
“You!? What the FUCK have you done with my apprentice??”
“The game wasn’t over,” was this young man’s (maybe even just a boy!) impudent and unflinching response. Quick, Oliver had to give him that, quick enough to say no more, even when he leaned in over the boy’s face and flashed his fangs.
“Answer. The. Question.”
The boy’s answer was the point of a dagger pressed into Oliver’s ribs. The mage glanced down and saw blood on it, but not his own of course. Realization dawned.
“Oh you’re a determined little bastard aren’t you?”
“You said the game was over when only one contender remained. Well, only I remain.”
Oliver stepped back gave the boy a second glance. Perhaps ‘boy’ was a misnomer. Perhaps he’d misjudged this one who’d came in Second in his ‘grand competition’. Finding worthy apprentices was so damned difficult, especially when you were a vampire and the people would come throw you into the afternoon’s light if they found out. Just as he’d decided to kill this whelp for his audacity, he had a change of his dark heart.
“What’s your name again?”
“I am Tomus Konnorson, first of his name and heir to th-”
“OH do shut the fuck up, thank you,” Oliver gave a dramatic roll of his eyes and stepped away from Tomus’ knife, “Tomus is a peasant’s name. You want to be my apprentice so badly do you?”
Tomus nodded, “I’ve learned all I can on my own. This city bores me.”
“Ha! Me too as it turns out! We would be leaving this very night. Presently, actually. I had only come back to this tower to fetch my new worthless pile-of-shit-apprentice…which appears to be you. Everything you know here, kiss it goodbye.”
Tomus bent down and picked up a bristling satchel made of wolf’s hide and white fur but said nothing else. Oliver turned his back on the apprentice and began issuing silent commands to invisible servants. Books seemed to levitate from shelves, scrolls arranged themselves into bundles and all of it marched through the air like a parade into the ornate armoire along the back wall.
“Yes of course I’d imagine you’d want to leave soon,” mused Oliver, “Tomus will need to disappear from the world. The good people of Erengrad will come looking for their Master of Mages in the morning too, but find only a dusty old tower. What did you do with the body?”
“I dumped it in the Bay.”
“Were you seen?”
“Don’t you fucking look at me like I’m a moron. I’ll flog you, flay you, and feed you to imps. Were you seen!?”
Tomus shook his head slowly.
“Good,” Oliver doffed his coif of office and tossed it across the room at Tomus. “Wear that along with your new name: Oliver Darkh.”
“But my name is-”
“I know what your stupid arse-faced name is, boy, be glad I don’t call you Cow. There is power in one’s name. We don’t survive by blasting our name with trumpets and flying our sigils on gaudy banners like some… some… Von Carstein!” Not-Oliver paused and seemed to chew on his own words. He raised a finger to speak, stopped, thought a bit more, and spoke at last, “South. To Sylvania. You’ll call me Greghor. Greghor… the Surgeon. Yes, I like that. Oliver?”
Tomus/Oliver looked at him expectantly.
Greghor nodded, “A quick study. You’ll need to be. And don’t ask about my last apprentice. He wasn’t a quick study; that’s all you need to know. Sigurd!” A dull-faced man opened the door to the tower and gave a short, awkward bow. Greghor continued, “Forget the horses. Head upstairs and take the armoire with you.” With a gesture and an arcane word, the Master of Mages shrunk the entire armoire down to the size of a cigar box. Sigurd lumbered over, squatted down to pick it up and made for the stairs.
The night got darker until, hours later, the sun rose in the East and the people of Erengrad woke to find their Master of Mages had disappeared. For a few days it was quite the scandal! His tower was cleaned out from top to bottom save for a circle of runes inscribed on the top-most floor, but of course only a few selected officials would know about that…