He probably should have expected this; after spending five years locked up in his precious tower, researching magic and the Planes, he should have expected some… contamination. But who could expect it to arrive in this form?
These were Marcel Rihannsu's thoughts when he went to visit a favoured prostitute of his in the large town of Logas, and found himself presented with a crying, horned, tailed and ever so faintly green baby. The mistress of the house promptly had him and the infant chucked onto the streets, and the muddy wizard grimly trudged home.
For twenty years, Marcel had endured the rigours of being an adventuring wizard; suffering through stultifying party members, brutish fighters, ungrateful villagefolk and generally people who didn't realize that the only thing stopping a mage from blasting the world with arcane fire was the fact that he'd probably burn his books while he did it.
Finally, he had earned enough gold and gained enough knowledge and power to have created a small tower all his own; a respite from the world, nearly untouchable by arcane attempts and completely unfindable by mundane means. Apart from his brief trips to town to buy supplies, scan through the book merchant and satisfy his physiological needs, Marcel was free to indulge in hours upon hours upon months of blissful magical research.
Well, until this latest interruption.
Returning to his tower, Marcel took off his coat and arranged it on a workbench into something resembling a mattress, and placed the infant upon it. Hmm tail, horns, discoloured skin and yes eyes I haven't seen since I was trying to track down that archdemon in Falenia… I would appear to have a tiefling son.
With a sigh, Marcel took some random syllables from a favourite spell of his and named his child Lyle, then proceeded to convince some hysterically laughing demonic servants of his to try and refurnish his wardrobe into a room with a crib.
Despite the quite astounding parental ineptitude of his father, Lyle managed to grow up healthy and fit, even if he had inherited his father's incredible muscularity; that is to say, he usually required a twenty-foot run-up to get the tower's stone doors open. Despite some clumsy and *CRASH*-causing attempts in the beginning, Lyle proved a useful research partner to his father, becoming more and more adept with his tail until he could calmly slide ten jars and a box off the shelf and place it on the workbench before Marcel even realized he needed them. In return, Marcel instructed Lyle in some of his magical knowledge, and his father's proudest moment was when Lyle summoned lightning and gave a terrible, malicious smile when Marcel asked what the exact method for dealing with a recalcitrant meat-shield was.
It was some years before Marcel took Lyle into town with him. Lyle was quite surprised to find the other townspeople pointing, shouting and in some cases throwing things at him. Marcel, adventurer though he was, had spent several years in isolation from the world and so had forgotten something about tieflings. Namely, as he told his son after they returned to the tower, that they were mistrusted, feared and often despised on sight. Hesitantly, Marcel offered magical disguise as a solution to Lyle, but the latter refused; the sight of the jeering townsfolk had stung his newly-formed pride, and he resolved to attempt to befriend them.
It took the better part of the year for this to occur; oftentimes Marcel went with him and let him talk to the other children, sometimes they shared errands. Slowly, the people got more used to Lyle- aided by the fact that he was pleasant and polite, even if he did have far too great a vocabulary than was deemed healthy for a boy. The clincher was, oddly enough, his tail. The townspeople were astonished and then impressed by the ease and dexterity he displayed with his natural implement, and once convinced that he was no pickpocket they became interested in first his tail, then his other powers and finally himself.
One day, Lyle was browsing through the marketplace when he noticed something for sale in one of the traders' carts- a whip. Fascinated by its similarity with his tail, he bought it from the man- like the townspeople, Lyle was unknowing of its origin and function in the Dungeons of Falenia. He practiced with it and eventually became as adept with it as he was with his tail, with the added convenience of an increased reach; plus, this implement wasn't attached to his butt.
Lyle's life, while not joyous but certainly content, came to an end when an enemy named Danzo Marcel had inadvertently made many years ago tracked him down. Livid at the discovery that Marcel, rather than worrying and preparing and scheming for his enemy's arrival all these years, had instead been quietly getting on with his research, he stormed the castle with a small army. Most of these were taken down by the demons, traps and other enchantments the wily Marcel had set in place as a precaution over the years, but eventually Danzo and a small group of the hired thugs broke into Marcel's inner chamber. Attempting to teleport the boy away, Marcel was stopped in his casting by a rapier through the chest, sending him to his knees. The distraught Lyle ran forward to try and help him but was kicked back by Danzo easily, flinging the weak tiefling across the room, before he drove the blade through Marcel's chest once more. Shrieking with anger, Lyle summoned a charge of lightning in his palm and ran at Danzo again, only to be similarly rebuffed. Danzo ran his blade through Marcel's chest a third and final time, causing his breathing to stop after a final burst of blood from his throat, his body crashing to the ground, his eyes still.
Loudly, Danzo began to laugh and gloat over his enemy's corpse, proceeding through an itemized list of the wrongs Marcel had done to him in the past. Lyle, collapsed against the opposite wall, felt a wave of anger and sadness and pain slowly drive him along like a wave, propelling him into a small cube within his mind with walls of clear glass. The tiny spark of an idea erupting, coursing through the walls of that little cube, Lyle slowly reached for a small knife stowed in a shelf behind his back…
None of his hired thugs were quite sure if Danzo knew what had killed him. Certainly, he turned around- more due to the spasming contortions of his body than any effort of will. The question was whether his brain was still active or fried to cinders behind those astonished eyes as he watched Lyle, clutching his cut-off tail by its bloody stump, charge another ball of lightning in his free hand and, with a series of loud whi-*CRACK*s- proceed to channel it through his improvised whip and send it slicing out at each thug, downing them in a brief festival of sparks and spasms.
It was nearly two weeks before Lyle emerged from that tower; dumping the corpses of the thugs and the man who had killed his father out the door did not count. When he did, he was a man. A heavy, scroll-stuffed backpack in his hand and his tail, leathered and hardened and stringed with steel, tied at his side. Pulling a scroll from his jacket, he faced the tower and read out the words. Slowly and timorously, the tower began to descend gracefully into the ground, inch by inch foot by foot, accelerating as it slid beneath the earth.
Nodding solemnly, Lyle turned and began walking to town.
Lucky that he did, for nearly immediately after he set off an immense, deep *BANG* was heard as a small storm of fire erupted out of the ground, gold and green and red fireworks streaking into the sky as Lyle leapt back with a shocked yelp. When the spectacle was over, the ground surrounding where the tower had stood was burnt into an enormous mosaic of obsidian and glass, shining like the heart of a crystal sun in the daylight.
Lyle proceeded to swear lustily at the absent Marcel, cursing both his vanity, his disregard for innocent bystanders and "your bloody wizard's obsession with geological vandalism!"
Finally calming down, Lyle smiled faintly for the first time since Marcel had fell in that room two weeks ago my god two weeks already so long ago but it seems like it happened just now just this second watching him fall watching him stop being Lyle sighed and wiped a tiny glittering tear away from his bright eyes, and strode away over the sands. Goodbye, Marcel. Father.
Lyle inherited many things from his father; an obsession, nearly a fetish for magical research and logical rigour, a certain whimsicality linked with an enjoyment of the vagaries of grammar and vocabulary, but above all a respect for intelligence and for sentience; a detached researcher's respect, but respect nonetheless.
With one difference, thought Lyle with an inner voice colder than anything he had heard within himself before. I will not leave alive those who destroy. Gripping his whip so hard his hand turned white, he stared intently off into the horizon. I will not let them end me like they ended him. Like they would end others. He was too good, and that gave him a stupid death. This will not be my fate.
It will not.