Setting off to a new world: to the glory of Riverrock

The day had finally come. The steamship you and your teacher Mr. Pilwick boarded will soon arrive to your destination. Mr. Pilwick told you a lot about this particular continent. You also heard larger-than-life tales about it by various playwriters about this land where everything is plentiful and where many people moved to start a new life. Rumors were especially wild when you were still living in Highgrove. Even though that city was the capital of Riverrock and the center of the publishing world, it was a place far away from the promised land called Foundland.

Now it was finally your turn to see this land with Mr. Pilwick. The reason why you two set off was actually pretty benign. There was not much money to be made as a mage in Highgrove as the city’s great academy pumped out many relatively competent mages every year. Many settled in the same place where they had graduated. You grumbled as you remembered some of your encounters with these kinds of people.

These wanderlust wannabes typically said that they couldn’t live without a daily adventure and bragged about their heroic escapades during their journey to Highgrove. After they took the exam and had gotten their right ear pierced and a bronze earring fitted, they frolicked around the eastern border of Riverrock not knowing the many dangers of that land. The few that made out of this whole ordeal alive, tugged their tails between their legs and settled down in the capital.

Sometimes you really had the urge to just laugh at this kind of naiveite, but you withheld yourself from doing that. You were already twenty-five. A full-grown adult shouldn’t be this immature. Furthermore, if you were to look down on their foolishness, you would accomplish nothing more than feeling like a hypocrite.

You leaned against the railing of the ship with your nose pressed against your duster, the smell of the sea had attached itself to the fabric of your duster. The continent slowly became visible through the horizon. You and your teacher actually came to Foundland, not to experience any adventurers, but to set up a potion shop. Someday Mr. Pilwick will be too old to work anymore, so he wanted to save up some money for his impending retirement. He had said that mages are highly valued in Foundland. Your stay would only be temporary, it will only be a few years of work before you two continued your previous lifestyle of train hopping and traveling.

Looking back at everything what you experienced and saw during your fifteen years of following Mr. Pilwick, you knew that your younger self would surely be surprised what kind of person you had turned out to be. Perhaps she would have said that you had grown a few inches.

One of the cabin boys tapped suddenly on your shoulder. He was carrying a heavy looking suitcase. “Little girl, can you move aside for just a moment?.”

An immediate glare seemed to have appeared on your face as the cabin boy slowly backed away. Mr. Pilwick seemed to have taken notice of your encounter. He walked towards you and ruffled your hair.

“She might not look like it, but she is actually a lot older than you think she is.”

The boy couldn’t decide if he should feel confused by your teacher’s statement or if he should feel unnerved by your lingering glare.

“So she is actually eleven?”

Mr. Pilwick’s grin seemed to have grown wider after he shot a glance at you. Sometimes your teacher’s mannerisms really got on your nerves.

“Well, you’re close. She is twenty-five, almost turning twenty-six soon.”

“Huh, a Smallfeet? So far out there? Uhm, you don’t really look like them.” He murmured.

You sighed. He probably meant that you didn’t have the red eyes and white hair combination the race was famous for. That’s what you get by travelling just a little outside of the capital. Most of them had not seen much of the outside world. At least this cabin boy knew that races like the smallfeet existed, but he probably had never met a half blood before.

Sometimes you really wished that you hadn’t inherited your mother’s brown eyes just for the sake of convenience.

You quickly forgave him as he apologized. Toddlers these days.

Your mood did improve drastically as the boat finally arrived at Foundland. Red rocks could be seen decorating the lands and the arid warm wind blew against your two braids as if they were welcoming you to this strange new continent. Birds you had never seen before were flying over the bright sun. You wondered whether these birds tasted better than the poultry you had in Highgrove. Were their thighs fattier than the doves you ate a few months ago?

To think that this place was only discovered sixty years ago by some explorers hailing from Highgrove. You couldn’t fathom that such a polished gem was left unseen for thousands of years.

This place would be your new home, at least for a few more years. A paradise and refuge for people who couldn’t find a place to belong to in the mainland. Your heart fluttered when you thought about your future here. Perhaps you would never want to leave this continent.

A few months later it turned out that your ideas of what Foundland was supposed to be contrasted with how Foundland truly was.

It was a place that could be called an absolute hellhole of a land. The climate wasn’t too bad. To be honest, the warm sea breeze and the long sunny days were rather pleasant coming from someone born in Mountfest.

Your main point of complaint was the food or the types of things that were considered “food” here.

The birds you saw at the end of your voyage tasted like rotten fish. Its meat wasn’t tender at all. To make it even bearable to eat, you had to cook it for hours in an pot. Even when it was cooked, you had to pry the meat off the bones with the sharpest knife you could find.

All the vegetables you knew and loved were either not available or were too expensive to buy on a regular basis. The loafs of bread tasted off with its grainy texture.

Mr. Pilwick didn’t seem to mind. He was too busy marveling at the atlas he had bought on a whim in a market you two had passed by. It was truly a pain to keep that book intact during your journey to the supposed outpost. That place sat at the literal frontier of civilization and was the final stop for settlers who sought out new farmland and a brand new life. To travel there from the harbor would at least take three days as no railroads were built in the continent yet. The river where the outpost resided next to was too shallow in some parts for ships to pass through.

Mr. Pilwick wasn’t too bothered by this revelation. He happily told you that the colonel who maintained the jurisdiction of that region already had prepared some building materials for you to set up your store. He heard that there was no haste in arriving there early. 

He again triumphantly showed you the sealed envelope. The first time you saw it, you had carried the same level of excitement as he had. Now you could only show a feeling of regret and resignation to your fate. You were going to miss the grilled doves from Jarcrow’s eatery.

When you finally arrived at the outpost, you were greeted by a few soldiers. They didn’t seem to be fazed by some strangers entering the town. You suspected that it was a place where many people come and go. Most visitors treated it like a temporary stop or a mere protected market square solely dedicated to trade and commerce.

However, the moment Mr. Pilwick showed the sealed envelope and took off his hat revealing his silver earring, the soldiers almost squealed out of joy.

You automatically turned your brain off to spare yourself from hearing such brabbles as this.

“The new mage we were looking for!”

“A silver one at that.” 


Mr. Pilwick stared at you with a shit-eating-grin. It almost looked like he was going to say: “Look, your teacher is pretty amazing right?” You just hoped that the soldiers wouldn’t have any alcohol with them. It would be a matter of time before he will drunkenly ramble on about his opinion of using dirt mixed in with iron ore as the base ingredient of an earth-wall potion. The last time he did that you had to pay two Url coins for damages.

After exchanging pleasantries, one of the soldiers gave you a quick tour of the outpost. 

The settlement wasn’t very large, there was only one main street with the town square placed in the middle of it. To your own relief it had a small market which mainly sold different types of food, accelerator stones and at times an odd trinket. You were almost afraid that you had to hunt and farm your supper.

On the outskirts of the town stood the army barracks and the watch tower. To your knowledge, colonel Thomas Terraeria was stationed here. The area was under his jurisdiction after all. There were rumors in the harbor that he was lauded for his victories in the western front. A man with great achievements under his belt, a person you will eventually meet, the war hero of the western provinces.

Not far from here were a few scale-men villages. You learned that information from the whispers of the soldiers. They warned you to not come too close to them as they were a very aggressive race. You never had heard of this race before. They only lived in Foundland. Thus you frowned when one soldier said that they once had seen them eating their own kin.  You sure had heard of various peculiar tribes in the mainland, but they were never described with such levels of fear and disdain as this one.

At last the soldier finally led you to your assigned plot of land. Patches of dry grass and a crooked dried out tree were found in the property. A small heap consisting of wooden planks, stone bricks and a few screws and bolts was placed next to the tree.

“I’m sorry, but supplies are running low nowadays.” He said.

You scratched your cheek while trying to hide your excitement in finally showing off your magic again.

“That’s no problem. This much material is plenty enough for us.”

You quickly opened your suitcase to reveal a whole row of bottles with various liquids inside them. Small labels of the contents were glued to each one of them, but you knew what each potion does by heart. You had made them after all.

For this project you mostly needed a multiplication potion and a stone wall one. Out of the pocket of your skirt you plucked out your trusty wand. You had kept the same one for years out of sentiment. Sure, you could afford a wand made out of higher quality wood, but this slightly cracked stick of yours had never failed you.

You unscrewed the bottles and dipped your wand in the multiplication potion. Even after having done this many times by now, you still felt that the feeling of the potion latching onto the wood was something truly magical.

You closed your eyes as you pointed your wand at the heap of supplies. While you said your chant you drew a circle in the air clockwise, activating the potion.

“The spirit of the wood, the spirit of the metal found on the screws and bolts and the spirit of the stone bricks in front of me, though I cannot call and praise you individually, please bear the brunt of my words, my prayers and multiply.”

A great flash of white light enveloped the whole area, temporarily blinding the soldier near you. You heard the abnormal creaks and snapping of wood and the sounds of clashing metal. The wooden planks grew rapidly and split themselves.

While the pile of building material grew, the contents of your bottle shrunk. Deciding this many planks was enough, you drew the same circle counterclockwise and chanted.

“Sleep now.”

 Pleased with the results you moved on to the earth wall potion. This potion was a little bit more watery than the multiplication one. The liquid latched easier onto your wand, making it easier for you to cast. In the past you might have to put some concentration into this spell, but now this act almost became a second reflex to you.

“Hear me now the ground in front of me, raise yourself. Earth wall.”

The same light appeared again, though not as harsh and strong as in the first spell. You imagined a simple floor plan of a cabin with a few holes for the door and windows in your mind. Within a second the ground beneath your feet rumbled, sinking slightly before lifting itself up with a deafening roar.

Small dust particles flew in the sky as several walls sprouted from the ground, pushing the loose earth away.

“Sleep now.”

You grinned looking at your own work as you put your wand and bottles away. Your hand slightly tipped your hat as you looked at the soldier with full smugness.

“To clarify, I made these two by myself. What do you think of my little presentation?”

The soldier blinked slowly, looking at you from top to bottom as if he wanted to be sure of your presence. He then looked at Mr. Pilwick before grabbing him by his hands.

“Your student is a child prodigy.”

You stared blankly at him. You wondered if there were still some firewall potions left.

“I’m twenty-six.” Before he could retort that this couldn’t possibly be true, you quickly added. “I’m half smallfeet and half human.”

The soldier still looked puzzled. You sighed.

“Smallfeet are one of the long-lived races.”

The soldier nodded slowly. You sensed that he still didn’t get it, but you were now too emotionally drained to argue with him. Mr. Pilwick was again extremely amused by your frustrations. He laid a hand on your head.

“Great work, Lise.”

After he had said that, your previous anger ebbed away. Mr. Pilwick did the rest of the preparations and some of the finer detail work. He was more skilled at these kind of things as he was much more experienced than you. You also preferred to build larger and rougher structures anyways so you weren’t particularly that bothered by this arrangement.

Before the sun had set, you were done with most of the building and both mentally exhausted. The heat did indeed feed on your vitality. The one who had to go to the market place for extra supplies and food was decided with a simple game of rock, paper and scissors.

Mr. Pilwick won, you lost and thus it was you who had to walk one hour back and forth. In the market place you purchased one piece of fruit. Around the outskirts of the town, you took out the multiplication potion out of your pocket.

Even though the taste would be bland, it was not like your teacher would notice it under his fatigue. It was also less weight for you to carry.

“Miss, is that a potion you are holding?”

You jumped up. A tall figure loomed over you. As a reflex, you pointed your wand at him. The man raised his two hands.  

“Look, I’m not scary at all.” He laughed nervously. “I have not seen a child with a potion for a while.”

Your face blanked. If he was talking to a real child, this would make him even sound more suspicious.

“I’m the apprentice of Mr. Pilwick, the mage of plenty. We had just arrived.”

The man’s eyes lit up in a joyous glee. He took your hands and drew you closer. You squinted your eyes. This person had no sense of personal boundaries.

“I have been waiting for this moment for ages. Can I ask you your name?”

“Lise, just Lise.”

“Are you someone with a bronze earring or just silver? No, you are still working for your bronze one?”

You brushed your hair away to reveal your bronze earring. The man’s eyes sparkled as covered his mouth. It almost looked like he had the origins of magic or something.

Within seconds he snapped out of it and fumbled through his pocket to eventually reveal his pocket watch. He cursed in his breath.

“Shit, I almost forgot, appointment.”

He shot you a quick glance.

“I’m sorry to end this so short. My name is Thomas, Thomas Terraeria. I hope to see you soon.”

Before you could say anything, he was gone from your sight. At that moment you realized that the man you had just met was the famous colonel. He hadn’t worn his uniform that day. The rumors had indeed painted him in a different light.

When you returned home, you discovered that your errands were rendered obsolete as you saw Mr. Pilwick peacefully sleeping near the tree. It was time to inspect the house again.

Some windows still needed to be placed, more bottles have to be bought and you also had to research what kinds of ingredients you will have at your disposal and what kind of herbs could be grown in this climate and soil.

Thus there were many things you had to learn from trial and error. One example were the seeds you had brought along as future ingredients for your potion shop. You struggled to find a way to grow herbs that could only survive in a cold climate. You thought about keeping them cool underground, but the amount of light potions needed to keep the plants healthy made this kind of approach too inefficient. Mr. Pilwick came up with the idea to grow them with the help of an ice wall potion.

“Sometimes you just have to think a bit simpler.”

He grinned while he conjured up a large wall of ice and a small drainage system soon afterwards.

Still, even after setting up a cooling system, you noticed that the plants weren’t growing properly. You changed the properties of the soil multiple times, but you grew frustrated with the amount of fine-tuning you had to do.

When Mr. Pilwick took a look at this, he only nodded and said that he will take it over from you. Within a day he arrived with a whole pile of sacks filled with different kinds of soil. He sheepishly said that he had figured it out by remembering the contents of an old herbology book he had read a few years ago. The ease in how he solved these problems made you a bit unsure about your own abilities.

However, every time you had felt these feelings, Mr. Pilwick swiftly struck them down. He always had acknowledged your hard work. 

Whenever you didn’t know the answer your teacher was always by your side to answer them. He stood by your side no matter what you did. Ever since that unfortunate incident fifteen years ago, he was the only person you could trust.

Therefore you couldn’t believe that the moment the potion shop was fully stocked and the house was furnished and decorated, your teacher left you behind.

He only gave you a single note before he left in the middle of the night. His smile was different than usual. There was no shit-eating grin displayed on his face. His eyes said something you couldn’t describe, a level-headedness, a harsh coldness perhaps. He said that you should open it the moment the sun rose.

You obeyed his words while you anxiously waited for the first slivers of light to reveal themselves in the horizon. You later wished you hadn’t listened to his words as the note read: 

“Take care of the store while I’m away. Don’t try to find me, I’m on an adventure now.”