1: Level Zero
I am in the detention room in my school.
I am sitting and watching out of the window.
A slim tall stranger in a dark long coat, is walking into the school yard.
For a second I think that is my dad, coming to pick me up from the school.
But I think that is something I share with others who have lost a parent.
The dream of meeting my father again….
You will never be more lonely.
As when You see a parent hugging their child.
You will never feel the warmth, the protection, or the safety of the lost parent’s arms around you.
My dad died when I was around two, and now I live alone with my mother.
The nightmare is not, that my dad is dead….
The nightmare is not even seeing my mum laying over the dead body of my father.
Have You ever heard your mother cry.?
Seeing tears rolling down her cheeks.
I hear her half choked plea:
“Why did You have to die.?”
The nightmare is….
I might be the reason why he died.
Izabella sits next to me, and takes her hand over my hand.
She stops my figging with my pencil.
A bad habit I have from my training.
We are still in the detention room in school.
Who am I.?
Have You ever Read “Count Zero” by William Gibson. Well, that is me.
Just a 12 year old boy, about to turn 13.
Without any real magic, without a teacher or without any visible magic skill.
Small of height, brown hair, and with a touch of Asian descent.
In case You have not read ‘The Bridge’.
It is not a Count, like Lord or King, But counting to a number like One – Two - Three.
The Zero refers to my magic, or lack of.
My father was a powerful wizard.
He died hips deep, in a sewer in a small city in the French countryside.
I was two years old, and now I have no mentor to train me.
Of course the official story is “Killed in a car crash.”, and that he was a semi-good magician.
Not magic or Wizard, but card tricks, kids birthdays and balloon animals
If You are (Nearly) pure blood high elf, they have schools that teach You magic, but I am only one-eight Elvish.
In my world, You learn from Your father, or from the apprentice system.
If You have some skills, or money, You can get another wizard to teach You.
My mother is non-magic, but she loves martial arts.
She would use her Elfish Fighting skill, and with my fathers magic, they were a powerful Fighting team.
Then I was born, and my mum could no longer travel with him.
Sometimes I think that, that was why he died.
If I was never born, my father might still be alive.
My mother does teach me martial arts, and I used it today.
I gave a bully a bloody nose, because he was grabbing my friend Izabella's ass.
And now, Izabella and I share detention.
She is the one with magic, being a quarter Dark-elf, and she is trying to teach me some.
She is a little taller than me, and has long black hair.
When she is not shape shifted, she has the classic pointed elvish ears, Green hair and darker skin, but she uses a spell to hide that.
She taught me a Light spell, to make a little light.
A simple light spell that I can make lasts around seven seconds.
And right now I cast it twice a day.
I do have a ‘magic altar’, and using that, the spell lasts nine seconds.
When normal magic kids around six years old can make it last for more than sixty seconds, I can make it last for only seven seconds.
That is what happens, when You have no teacher, and nobody to help you.
My fathers family stopped visiting, after they found I had no magic.
Now let me paint the rest of my world:
I go to a good school, “Spring Hill School”.
I am twelve years old and in sixth grade.
The city is called “KerkenRingen”.
Kerken means Church in old Norse.
Ring means the ring of mine shafts and sinkholes that is placed around the area.
Not a year (or month) goes by, without a kid getting stuck in a cave, or an adult falling down a Mineshaft.
I am good at music and language.
Average in sport, maths and writing.
Poor in science and computers.
I love computer games, but my mother has a ‘no computer game’ policy.
At home I can only use the computer for School work.
And our connection is slower than a turtle on its back.
I sometimes go to the local library.
They have a computer that I can play a little on...
But I have found watching other gamers, playing games, a little more fun.
They are also a lot better.
Of course like any kids that has lost a parent, I also spend a lot of time looking up stuff on my dad.
I have three places where I can search.
A little local library, the major library close to the city hall, and at Izabella's home.
She is my sidekick, or maybe I am hers.?
Her mother, Fay, knows a lot of magic, Alchemy and is a powerful healer.
Fay has a job as an old doctor's assistant.
She is Half Dark Elf, but uses her skills for good.
Lots of people go into the doctor's waiting room, and never go into the doctor's office.
Sometimes they feel better after a couple of minutes in the waiting room.
Sometimes they want to try a new food recipe that they never tried before, after Fay gave them the 'right' magazine.
All are cured, after being in the doctor's waiting room.
Fay is half Dark-elves, and also uses a spell to hide her Elfish features.
When she gets mad at Izabella, the shape of her ears change, back to their normal Elvish shape.
Izabella shakes her head:
“When my mother's ears change, then You know something is wrong.”
My biggest problem in finding out about my dad is that the two libraries keep deleting your search history.
And Izabella's internet is also slow, because her mother has a strong protection ward around their house.
From time to time, I get a real piece of information, but before I can get it printed the library has to close, or the printer is broken, or even once I had the computer burn down...
Evil Magic, bad luck or something else.
We spend the detention writing magic script in Latin.
The teacher buys Izabella a story about taking Latin class.
The only other in detention is the guy with a bloody nose.
His name is Erich.
I first thought of him as a bully, but he lost a dare, and had to touch a girl's ass, to win.
Erich is about a year older than me, and is taller, and has more muscles.
Son of a soldier, and he sometimes trains and fights with them.
His father is still in the military, and is stationed in the army camp close by, and now the kid has to spend two to three years in this school.
Erich knows the drill, being the third time he has to start in a new school.
His mother is rich, but she divorced his dad, when his dad chose the military over her family's business.
She is some sort of priestess, in some local French local religion.
His dad won the kid in the divorce, and now Erich has to travel with his dad.
Erich knows four languages.
His mum speaks French, his father is American, and his father has been stationed in Japan and Israel.
Izabella also knows four written languages. English, Sanskrit, Latin and Dark-elfish.
I know English, some Elfish, and very little Latin.
Latin is the “new” language of magic.
Spells are written in Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit.
You can use English.
The reason You use an older language is to protect the magic from being used by non-Mage users or newbies, like me.
I know the Latin words for Minor, Light and Spell.
From the only spell I can cast.
Izabella tries to teach me how to write Latin words.
Erich sits on the table next to us and tries to follow, and after a couple of minutes, Izabella lets him try his hand.
He is 'of course' better than me, because the time he was in Japan, he learned to do Calligraphy.
Two years later, he was into writing Hebrew when he was in Israel.
He does have nice handwriting.
He tells us, he made pocket money, from writing people's names in Hebrew and with Calligraphy.
Yes, his mother is rich, but his dad is a poor army man, so Erich has to work to make some pocket money.
He writes Izabella’s in calligraphy and Hebrew, and they do look cool, nearly flowing.
When he writes my name, on the same paper the writing changes colour.
Red, Yellow and Green.
Not the blue colour my pencil was, when he wrote Izabella’s name.
Just my luck, Erich is also a magic user.?!?
Izabella and I look at each other, for a second.
And then we look at Erich, who acts like nothing new has happened.
I asked him: “How did You change the colour of the writing.?”
He gets a little nervous:
“The colour of the writing.?
The pen is just running a little bit low, so that is why the colour is a little lighter.?”
Izabella is a little excited: “Can't You see that the colour is changing.?”
Erich starts to get mad: “Are You making fun of me, because I am colour blind.?”
The anger is close to surface with this one.
Izabella and I looked into each other's eyes for a second.
He can't see the magic that he has made.
Izabella tries to calm him down:
“The colour of what You wrote just changed into Red, Yellow and Green.”
I am perplexed: “Have You ever had the colour of your writing change colour before.?”
Erich looks angry at me: “I am colorblind.
I can only see black, white and greyscale.
How should I know if the colour change.?”
Izabella asked him: “What were You thinking when You wrote our names.?”
Erich says: “When I wrote Your name, I was still a little angry over Al’s punch to my nose.”
His dad had taught him close quarter combat, which is military for martial arts.
And his dad will be mad at him, for getting into a fighter on the first week of a new school.
But properly most angry, that he got tricked into a fight.
Erich smiles a little shy:
“But when I wrote Al’s name….
I was starting to think I might just have found someone, who was worth being friends with.
Until You made fun of my writing.”
Izabella look at me... and after a long pause says:
“You don't know about magic.?”
Erich sounds confused: “Of Course.
I have completed Skyrim, and I am starting on the older Oblivion.
But I am a sword fighter and a tank in those games.
Leave the wand waving to the girls and homos.”
This time it is Izabella's and my turn to look bewildered.
I ask: “What is Skyrim, and Oblivion.?”
Erich gets excited, and wave his arms around:
“It is an RPG.? Role playing Games.? NO.?!?
Okay, You start as a level zero character.
You choose if You want to be a fighter, mage or thief.
Then You have to fight your way through a lot of enemies to save the day.?”
I start to understand: “Oh, a computer game, where You can be a fighter, mage or a thief.?”
Erich get more animated:
“Yes, and I always choose the fighter, because my dad is a soldier.
And I want to be one, when I grow up.”
He makes some fighting stabs with the pen.
We get Erich to write some other things, on a new piece of paper, but they don't change colour.
The detention ends, and we wave goodbye to Erich.
As we walk to the place, where I take my bus, I ask Izabella:
“Do You know anything about magic that changes colours.?”
She shakes her head:“Maybe it is an illusion or an Alteration spells.?”
My bus comes, and I walk into it.
She says: “I will ask my mother, and maybe even look it up online.”