Xen let out a frustrated scream directed at the mess of flesh. His summoned elf looked over at him with concern. Xen raised a hand dismissing his mana and summons. He didn't like some of the tests that were bound to be set on his path. To him, this one felt pointless.
All he did was destroy some abomination that had been raised from the dead. The thing hadn't even fought back, just stood there as Xen destroyed it. That was supposed to get the attention of Ravgthos, and yet here Xen stood in the darkness among scattered pieces of flesh.
I hope this wasn't a mistake. thought Xen. I came here to learn about black mana and the swamps. Not to senselessly destroy for no apparent reason other than the whim of another.
Xen looked down towards the end of the room that the creature had indicated Ravgthos was in a gathering of some sort.
If he is coming then it will likely be from there.
Xen looked down at the remains of the corpse he had destroyed and shook his head as he summoned mana into the palm of his hand to help light the way. Then walking from the stench, Xen made his way further on expecting to see Ravgthos soon if the creature had been telling the truth.
Xen slowed his pace as he approached the forming figure in the dull light given off by his mana. He was eager to know if this was the person who would be his master in black mana. But he didn't want this person to know that. So slowly Xen walked until the light began to reveal the details of this figure...
Xen thought quickly for a moment trying to size up the lich at the same time.
How should I answer that? I have no idea what this being would hold value in. Knowledge? Growth? Honesty?
Xen frowned before answering, "I want you to be my master and I your student. I seek to learn and understand black mana and the swamps. I need power and I've been told by another Golgari, Anna, that you offer the quickest path to my goals."
The creature before Xen was adorned in ornate robes and several types of jewelry, all of fine quality rather than gaudy. The lich had no eyes, but he seemed to be able to flow and locate Xen without trouble.
"Hmph, Anna, Simple minded hume who knows nothing of REAL black mana."
Xen bowed his head in respect even though he wasn't sure the lich could actually perceive the motion saying, "She said you were the best master in the Golgari. That though you were the harshest of all masters you were the one who could teach me the quickest."
Xen grinned shouting, "She used the words harsh. I come before you without any judgements. I come to learn. I come to you so that you may show me exactly what it is I am seeking. I do not wish to remain ignorant of black mana!"
"No, mana is existence. I am a part of this world, a part of that existence. I am mana and mana is made up of five colors. I personally believe that I cannot understand myself without understanding the different colors of mana. I feel as though they are parts of a whole that I do not fully understand." spoke Xen as he walked a bit closer to Ravgthos saying, "Mana is the purest embodiment of philosophies and ideals. It's interaction with others colors of mana and the physical world warps it's traits and transforms the mana into everything we experience and perceive. I know the general philosophy of black mana, you need only observe what happens in a swamp where black mana is most abundant to see that. But there is more to just that basic philosophy. The actual mana, the magic of the swamps, it's an existence on it's own. A presence of power that plays a role in the entire life cycle."
Xen stopped following Ravgthos and bowed from the waist saying, "Please take me on as your student. Guide and instruct me in your ways. Without you my own preconceptions as a green and white mage will cloud my grasp of what black mana truly means."
Xen went a step further and knelt down before Ravgthos and lowered his head saying, "Teach me to harness the mana of the swamps and I will vow to learn as a student that does not know the power of the forest nor of the plains. I will use only the power of the swamps under your guidance to learn your lessons. I will not use any of my other power while under your guidance unless you tell me to otherwise."
Xen rests his head against the floor, looking down saying, "Truly I tell you, I come as a novice in magic would. Teach me!"
In a flash, Ravgthos turned on Xen, grabbed him by the throat, and pinned him against the ceiling.
"Ye are a fool. You seek black mana yet ye know nothing of what ye seek."
he pulled Xen back a bit and slammed him against the ceiling again.
"Black mana is Ambition. Black mana is Power. Black mana is Vengeance. Black mana is Destruction. Black mana is Reckoning. Black mana is rebirth. Black mana, however, is not some sniveling Selenyan spawn prattling on to something as old as this one as if it knows what it seeks."
Ravgthos finally let Xen go, seconds before he would have blacked out. "Let this be yer first lesson. This one is not your master, he is yer tool, as is every ally or enemy ye face. If ye are to cast away your previous teachings and grow, ye must act like it. Do not beg me for what ye want. Take it."
Xen remained on all four limbs as he controlled his breathing, taking in long breaths to get oxygen back into his brain. Once he could think clearly he looked up at Ravgthos. He did not rise yet as he wanted the words to sink in, this was his first lesson after all.
My first lesson, everything is a tool to be used...
All of my old teaching were tools that were used to mold me into the being I am today. My vow forbids my power from the forests and plains. They were tools used to shape me, they will only get in the way now. Set them aside so that they may free room for the lich's strikes. His lessons are the tools that will shape and guide my transformation.
Xen stood up taking off his pack and then his satchel, he didn't plan on using that power here. Then opening the pack and setting his satchel inside, Xen took off his coat and laid it on top of the pack. Taking a few steps away from the pack and closer to Ravgthos Xen stretched his neck making a few cracking sounds. His demeanor changed, Xen focused on Ravgthos and demanded, "Make yourself useful as a tool then. Show me the next lesson!"
Xen almost reflexively drew on the forests to light his way but stopped silently cursing himself. He would need to be mindful of his actions and proceed in darkness.
Xen looked back at his pack wanting to take it with him, just in case he needed the spells. He longed for that secure comfort the plains and forests could provide him against black mana.
Xen thought violently. He would leave the temptation here. He would come back and get his spells when he completed his training. Each gem was bound to him and useless to anyone else. If someone did steal his pack and satchel then he would simply track them down and take it back.
He had lessons to learn and the feeling that Ravgthos was not a patient being. Leaving the pack with his satchel and coat behind, Xen walked after Ravgthos in the dark.
He couldn't help but fight back the paranoia that built up inside of him. The small whispers of fear in the back of his skull ate away at what may rest in the darkness around him. He felt blind and open to any attack without any light. All he could rely upon was his hearing to give him any sort of warning.
Despite these thoughts clawing at the edge of his mind, Xen pressed on. He intended to learn and master everything Ravgthos could show him.
As they walked along in the dark, Ravgthos spoke, "I can tell from the way ye carry yerself and speak that ye have never experienced pain. Ye never experienced something that would allow black mana to anchor to ye and allow ye to seek vengeance. This one will rectify this."
Xen was about to speak up and tell Ravgthos about his past. But he bit down the words thinking,
Whatever I say he'll view as an excuse. I've experienced pain, known the desire for vengeance. All of that was buried under my guilt. I didn't embrace the pain. Instead I chose to lose myself in the wilds, to allow nature to guide my path. Then I let the plains redeem me in my own eyes.
Yet deep down I still remember that night. I still feel that ache. But he's right I never allowed that pain to fester and grow. I chose a different anchor, one in the forests...
A wave of guilt washed over Xen as he continued following Ravgthos. The paranoid feeling of threats in the shadows being washed away by the realization that Xen was slowly becoming calloused to his old pain.
Time is dulling my memories and pains...
Xen shook his head focusing on the present thinking,
You'll have time for contemplations later. For now all that matters is the present. Take that in stride so you can have a future in which to think about.
So Xen simply followed Ravgthos saying, "My second lesson will be one of pain then?"
Xen may have noticed that despite the dark and cold area around him, there was very little in the way of wildlife that would naturally flock to such a place. The air felt unnaturally stale and sterile.