Dran was jealous of the man riding beside him. Dragoneyes, the all-powerful mage.
Dran thought of how he had acquired his power. On the day Dranarius had turned thirteen, Phorius had taken him into a cellar. It had been largely empty. Phorius occasionally hunted, and Mauria occasionally cooked. The fruits of their labor were frozen in blocks of eternal ice.
Phorius had sat on the ground, gesturing for his son to join him. "Do you know when I first used the True Name of ice?"
"I was only a few years older than you are now. It was during the Wars of Reunification. I was in the reaches of the Empire, battling Norgad invaders. I spent the winter with Asilus, who was-"
"Your second cousin, and the treasurer to Anaxus I. He later joined Colix's uprising-"
"Correct. It seemed the Norgads had captured some Etoran seige equipment, or maybe bought it off a disgruntled general. They quickly ran out of stones to throw over the castle walls, so they lobbed ice and snow. I had been studying ice for some time, and that winter, I redoubled my efforts. I spent my days and nights in the courtyard, staring into the crystal depths. Then, one bright and frigid day, I heard it. It was beautiful." Phorius began to say the True Name of ice. Frigid spires rose from the ground. "Now it is your turn," Phorius said, as the icy spears bent into a cage around his son. "This ice will not melt. It cannot be broken. There is only one way for you to escape: the mage's way. You should be able to reach several weeks worth of food from where you are. I hope you learn the True Name of ice before then."
Dran was daunted by the task before him. "How could I do that? Learn the Name of ice in just weeks?"
"Both of your parents know it. You have been surrounded by the Name since you birth. Now, I strongly suggest you stop quibbling and start studying ice." And with that, Phorius Caesorium left his son.
At first, Dran had tried to recall the syllables his father had used when invoking the Name, but he already knew from his readings that such a thing would be impossible. So he applied himself. He looked into the crystal depths of the ice around him. Day after day, he ran his hands over the frozen bars of his prison. He began to numb, but there was an understanding in that numbness. Eventually, Dran began to see outlines. Something ancient, and powerful. He saw it when he looked into the ice. Sometimes, it burst into his mind, only to quickly recede. Eventually, he realized he was seeing the True Name of ice.
It was vast. Complicated. Far too intricate and beautiful ever to be spoken with human vocal cords. And, yet, he could say it. And after he did, he didn't remember how his lips had moved, or what sounds he had made. But he felt sure that he had just spoken the True Name.
Dran looked at his prison in new light. The ice was not as it should be. His father had changed its properties. He had ordered the ice to be stronger, to withstand the heat. He could see the ice slowly forgetting Phorius' orders. It would take years. And Phorius had made it effortlessly.
Dran tried to countermand his father's work. He couldn't. His will wasn't strong enough. Dran looked deep within himself, and deep within the ice. He called upon the Name once more. It came more easily every time he used it. Eventually, the ice began to liquify.
Dran felt elated. He create new ice. He moved it, and melted it, and froze it once more. It slowly began to dawn on him how much power he really had. He no longer needed to fear his father. With enough practice, Dran could match Phorius in power. Best him, and drive him away. So Dran did not emerge from his cavern. Instead, he strategized. He planned and practiced his father's demise. Never again would someone lock Dran in a dungeon with no regard for his safety. Phorius was a danger to Dran and his mother, and now he would be eliminated.
But Dran realized he couldn't do it. In both senses of the world. He couldn't overpower his father, and he didn't want to. As cruel as Phorius could be to Dran, and as callous as he could be to Mauria, the three of them were inextricably connected. They were alone in the frozen north. Alone together.
Or at least, they had been together. Koteph had destroyed that. And Dragoneyes would destroy Koteph. With power he received effortlessly, a gift from a dying dragon.
Jealousy is unbecoming in a sorcerer. It is unbecoming in anyone. Dran needed to focus on the positives. He had another power. Another gift. Potions. Something Dragoneyes could never do.
Dran had studied the myriad forms of mystical energy. He could bind the skin after a cut, or stay awake for a year. He could make a drop of liquid that could melt through bedrock, or a cauldron of fluid that would ignore gravity. That was his power. That was his strength.
So that night, while Dragoneyes forged his swords, Dran two began to make a weapon. Dragoneyes could hack all he wanted against Koteph's physical form. But only Dran could attack his mystical power. In a bowl left over from dinner, the Etoran brewed his concoction. A dozen different components, it would be able to break Koteph's power, and scatter the shade's immaterial form to the four winds. Dran began to grin at the power of his creation. It began to work. And then, it melted through the bowl and fell to the ground, spewing a cloud of noxious vapor. As Dran collapsed, he caught a glimpse of himself in the polished metal of one of his cauldrons. The gas had turned his eyes a sickly green.
Not bad for a first attempt.