At this the young elf wavered, almost slipping back into his body. The shock he felt, he was interested to note, caused small ripples of bright red to expand in circles into the ether.
The Master continued, as though oblivious to his young charge's state. " You must be always aware, always, that most everyone you meet will fear the Art, and those who use it are always distrusted. And that's not if the local Lord hasn't declared 'witches' fair game. Crowds with scythes and pitchforks, burning manuscripts.." The old man tailed off into what seemed unpleasant memories with his last words petering out into a distant mutter.
The elf looked at his Master in utter disbelief.
" Sending me? Where in buggery are you off to then?"
" Don't curse. It's unbecoming of someone your age. It's time m'boy. Time to get on with the Game, that's all. And if you used the wits the gods gave you, you'd realise that I will never leave you I never have!"
The old man looked the elf directly in the eye, something the elf found exceedingly disconcerting. " Recall, when I went off ten years ago, and was gone for over a year. Well, truth be told m'boy, my body never did come back that Spring eight and a half years ago. Just what you've wanted to see, what you've thought you needed to see. Yet never have I truly been away either."
Once again the elf felt the slip of the ether, and again noticed the waves of colours coming from himself, a confusing cacophony of colours. This was just a tad too much here!
"What happened all those years ago then? What took you away? What brought you back?"
This time it was the Old man who wavered, and an explosion of riotous hues radiated from his form.
"It seems like such a long while ago, but in the great scheme of things, it was only a moment. I took you North from the ruins of Daffyd's Shire, to keep you from the members of the City Guard. Those buggers are bound to find and kill you. I think an oath to that effect is still part of their initiation ceremonies.
You are a Swamp Elf, at least on your mothers side, and to the Guard, it has become a sacred mission to wipe out your race. Tell you boy, some of these buggers are utterly unbelievable! So, it might be wise to avoid them. Don't go near the City of the Bridge, at least not for the time being. There will come a time when you will have to go there, but not for a while. I think."
The elf made as though to ask a question, and the Old Man raised his hand, forestalling him.
"While you may not have any clear idea as to what it is you must do, or who you'll be doing it with, be assured that these things, most of them anyway, are already written. You can't screw up too much unless you really try."
Here the Old Man paused, but uncharacteristically, the elf remained silent, waiting. The Master shook himself, and continued in a softer voice.
"What is not foretold, is how this will all come out in the end. We know that having got this far alive, you will be given the tools, the companions, and the direction to complete the cycle. But whether or not you really do it, is beyond us. A blot. Bugger anyway."
"Nine years ago I was captured by the guard, and am, as far as I know, still locked in a cell somewhere under the City of the Bridge. Under the buggering river itself if seepage was any indication. Now before you go ripping off there, it's been so long since I've been in that old shell, I sincerely doubt it would fit me anymore."
"Now, I exist because you exist. I am a part of you. Something like symbiosis, without the nasty parasitic overtones."