As it tended to do, the weekend had come and gone with much fun shared by the two brothers. There had been wrestling, fishing contests, fights with mom's flour (though she didn't like that much) and other stories told while gazing up at the stars. Of course, none of the stories had as great of an impact upon Remus as the dwarf legend regarding dragons had. But today was Monday, and that put new things in mind for Remus. His brother would be leaving tomorrow and today he had his lessons.

There weren't many people in Sulanet capable of magic use that were not of higher families or actually of human birth. In that Remus was unique. The fact that he not only had magic, but knew how to use it was amazing. More amazing than that was the form of magic he carried. Most of those who did have magic either had weak elemental, or had poor control over powerful spells. Remus was talented in one of the least common magic forms there was: shifting. While he was yet to master the ability enough to perform full blown shape-shifting, he was talented enough for one his age to have absolute control of many of his features. At will the boy could change hair color, style, length, eye color, even the amount of ‘tan' he had. But, as it was with all those capable of magic in Sulanet, he had to have a tutor.

Master Sakor was everything you expected to see in an old mage who retired and was now teaching youths to control their magic. He wore robes made of the finest fabrics of Typav, had a quiet house just outside of the city with several servants, had a long white beard and bushy white hair... everything one wanted in a cliché magician. The catch was that he actually knew what he was doing, and cared more for magic and its uses than the politics that consumed the world. It was to him every Monday that Remus reported for his lessons.

Silence, something hard for Remus to exist in, filled the library where the youth awaited the mage. There had always been something about this room that had seemed to keep him from any unneeded noise. It might have been because of the rows upon rows of bookshelves against the walls filled with dusty old books in languages that Remus doubted he could even recognize. Maybe it was the various artifacts upon these shelves and various other places that all seemed to reek of ancient magic. Most likely it was the utter silence of the place before and after he arrived, and the calm it seemed to radiate. Remus wasn't very big on the whole scholar thing, but somehow he knew that given the chance he'd read as many of these old books as possible.

The amazing revere of the place wasn't even broken as Sakor entered, stealthy as ever and yet still unable to sneak up upon Remus. Once or twice the old man had affectionately teased Remus about it, saying that even his older apprentices and his servants themselves couldn't notice him when he was trying to be quiet, and yet Remus always knew. Without the slightest sound the door opened and closed and Sakor shuffled across the room to come to a rest near the chair where the youth was perched. All of this was done without either implying the knowledge that they knew of the intent observations taken of them by the other.

As Sakor shuffled to his comfortable arm chair across from Remus, he gave the youth another apprising look. "The aura around you has grown boy..."

"You always say that when I've seen my brother," the youth pointed out, running his hand through his hair, which was its natural sandy brown. Sakor always insisted that he come as plain as possible, so he might save his energy for the hours of magic that would come next.

"It is different this time boy, and you know it," the mage said, sighing as his hands came up and the fingers laced together. Deep in thought the old male rested his chin upon those hands and let himself slip deep into thought. It was often in this state that Remus would leave the man many Mondays.

Soon the silence the room bred had consumed them both and left Remus in a state he never really handled well: deep thought. Luckily for the boy, his Master quickly roused himself and made a definitive pronunciation upon what he believed had changed the youth.

"Last week your aura was all of the colors of the world. It was vibrant, constantly moving, and yet at the same time, it was weak, ready to pull itself apart at any moment and fade into oblivion, lost to the world forever more and yet still retained in the purity of who you were. This newness, it is not just you creating it, it is not just the intensifying of the colors and the energy I normally find with your contact with your brother. No, the colors are actually /stronger/ boy, holding themselves together. It is a strength, a composure I've never seen in you. Tell me, what have you done different? Have you changed any of your routine, or have some new bauble that might be some kind of charm?"

Instantly the hand of the boy flew to his shirt and clutched at the dragon claw through the material of his shirt. For what was not the first time he almost felt stronger, surer, something more than before just by focusing upon the trinket.

"What is it that you have there boy?" Sakor asked, tilting his head slightly, a gesture the boy had picked up from him in the year that he'd been training under the retired magician.

Once more Remus hesitated, something common when his attention was turned upon the thing that had become so precious to him so quickly. Even now he'd yet to tell his mother or brother of the thing, or deliver the message of the mysterious Eeil to his brother. Only he and the Unican knew of the object he wore and the rumors around it, at least, as far as Remus knew. Still, if there was one person he could trust with the secret of the item, it would be Sakor. Finally, with a sigh, the boy reached for the leather cord and pulled the claw from his shirt to rest upon his chest, visible to the Master now, and yet still not removed from its owner.

"Oh dear me," Sakor said, voice positively breathless in wonder. The man leaned forward so far in his seat that Remus was pretty sure that the man would fall flat on his face soon.

A pair of small, oval glasses were soon produced from some obscure pocket in the mage's garments and perched carefully upon the long nose of the man. "Come closer boy, let me inspect the thing. And I hardly care to assume that you'd let me handle it..."

Willing to trust his master in this venture, Remus rose from his seat and stood before him. It took a great deal of self restraint not to retreat when the man cupped the claw in his hands to inspect it better. They were like this for a while, both frozen in time. Sakor studied the runes, the shape, the natural marks on the claw while Remus did his best to not finally snap and force the old male away from the possession. Why he was so defensive about it was the real question though.

"This, my boy," Sakor said as he finally released the thing and sat back in his chair, signaling for Remus to do the same, "is the source of the change. It is helping you to center your abilities without you even noticing I assume. Yet how a youth such as yourself came upon such a priceless thing is beyond me. Did your brother give it to you?"

Remus returned to his seat, sat, and shook his head, "No. He doesn't even know about it."

"Are you aware what it is you have in your possession?"

An emphatic nod was thrown in here, "I think so Master Sakor. It's supposed to be a dragon claw. It's also supposed to protect me from evil forces and make me stronger..."

"Well, whoever gave you this was obviously knowledgeable in the subject, for that is what it seems to be. But it has a magic of its own, more potent than yours or mine. Tell me Remus, how did you come across such an artifact?"

Quickly the boy launched into a run down of the odd stand, his run in with Eeil, the message he was supposed to pass along, but most of all of the item he now wore. Through the whole thing Sakor was mainly silent, nodding at some points, pausing him at others to ask more details, especially of the wares the youth had seen. At last the tale was done and the man sat, absorbing and digesting all of the information.

"This is all very interesting Remus. I find most interesting these objects you described. All of them seem to be somehow related to great and powerful legends and the old ways of the world before the three kingdoms existed in peace. For instance, the silver choker, if I am correct in my assumptions, was woven of the hair of Unicans, with beads made of pieces of their horn. Such things were once symbols of great wealth during the Human-Unican wars. That was because one had to kill a Unican to get their horn."

"But Eeil didn't have his horn," the youth pointed out.

"Yes, and that is something I will explain to you at a later date. We are already an hour behind in your lessons for the day. Come, do your warm-ups and then we can get as much in as possible before you must be home."

Remus nodded and stood, performing the warm-ups he had done for a year now, from changing the color of his hair and eyes, to adding odd effects to them, to coaxing his nails to spring up colored patterns better than you'd find done by any manicurist. Soon the two were so absorbed within the ritual of trying to cause larger area shifting, or the shifting of other objects that their earlier conversation had almost completely faded when they were forced to bring their session to a close. Yet as the boy approached the door he paused to look back at Master Sakor. Soon the old male, having sunk once more into his deep thoughts, noticed the lingering youth and gave the boy his full attention.

"Was there something else Remus?"

It took Remus a few moments to figure out how to properly phrase the question, but when he had it refused to be unspoken. "Why are there no more dragons on Carodos?"

"We don't know if there truly are no more dragons Remus. They might just be well hidden from us. But many say that it was their dark enemies that caused them to leave..."

"And who were they? The dark enemies?"

Sakor shook his head, "That is a story for another time Remus. Now hurry home, and forget not to give your brother the message Eeil gave you for him. And hope it is not too late. Unicans are sometimes gifted with foresight you know..."

With a final bow Remus opened the door and rushed out of the library, intending to hurry home and tell his brother the message post haste.

Interlude 1
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