Leto was not in a good mood. Her mood was so far from good that you couldn’t throw a rock and hit good if you were the world champion rock thrower, which Leto certainly was not. She fumed as she walked into town on another useless errand for the evil, abusive man Leto’s mother had married.
“Go into town, Leto, and get me a barrel of mead from The Flagon.” She mocked him to no one in particular. “Clean out the stables, Leto. Make dinner, Leto. Stable the horses, Leto. Do the laundry, Leto.” She sneered, venom in her voice that she could never express at home. If she even so much as tried to argue with Balder she would receive a beating and a reminder that she wasn’t his daughter and that she was only there out of the goodness of his heart and she should be grateful he let her stay on and work for a roof and one square meal a day.
What made it worse was the fact that it was plainly obvious to everyone in town that Leto was an illegitimate bastard. There was no hiding the elven like features she had inherited from her real father. All of Mother and Balder’s other children were wholly human and long ago apprenticed to a respectable craft. She was the oldest and still had never been allowed to even try for an apprenticeship. Balder claimed he didn’t have the duty to make sure she was apprenticed, or even that she had a dower, because she wasn’t his own. She wanted to spit in Balder’s face.
If Leto had been able to be apprenticed, there was no doubt in her mind that she would be a great wizard by now. Her fledgling magical ability had been apparent from a very young age, also a legacy of her absent elven father. But Balder had refused to let her be apprenticed, so she had worked on her magic in secret, practicing her skills instead of sleeping, or on the road when she went into town. She had no idea how powerful she was, she had never been allowed to talk to any real wizards to find out. She knew that she had some skill in keeping the animals healthy and mending her own wounds, but she did the later very rarely. If Balder didn’t see the darkening patches of bruises from his last beating, he would beat her again. Balder was determined that she would remain an ignorant dependent of his for the rest of her life, effectively his slave.
Looking down at the scant amount of money Balder had given her to purchase a barrel of mead, she thought about running. Just taking the five coppers and running into the forest and never looking back. She was nineteen, long past the age acceptable for beginning apprentices. No one would take her without her parent’s permission anyway, not for wizardry, and she would never get Balder’s permission. Mother would never go against him either. She was too afraid of him. Thinking of the beating she would surely get at Baler’s hand if she was ever found, she decided that going to The Flagon and purchasing the barrel of mead would be the safer course of action.
Finding herself standing outside the door to The Flagon, she felt a strange pulse from within, almost like the world was being ripped apart and put back together. She shook her head and the feeling passed. She pushed to door open gently and was nearly knocked from her feet by someone barreling out into the street screaming for a Regen-Conduit. Leto knew she wasn’t a powerful wizard, and certainly not the best qualified to help in a situation like this, but her small talent could maybe stabilize someone long enough for a real wizard to get here.
“Let me in! I can help!” Leto called over the pandemonium that was taking place before her. No one seemed to pay attention to her. And why would they, she an unskilled, untrained worker not even good enough to be an apprentice? Pushing her way through the crowd, she tried to reach the figure laying on the floor. After several minutes she managed to squeeze in next to him. He was bleeding, badly. She reached out to touch him, calling on the power inside of herself that she used to cure farm animals of a lame foot or an upset stomach. Pushing that energy towards the boy on the floor, she tried to focus on making him stop bleeding, to make him get better, to live.
Almost immediately, the boy stopped bleeding and his breathing began to even out. With a sigh of relief, Leto pushed more and more energy into the boy. She was stopped abruptly by someone lifting her by the collar of her shirt.
“What are you doing, girl?” The single guardsmen employed at The Flagon was lifting her in the air so that she could hardly breath, her feet dangling several inches above the floor.
“I was t—” Leto gasped for a breath “trying to help.” She couldn’t get much more than that out because the lack of air was making her head hurt and her vision swim.
“Rat like you, trying to help? Only a Regen-Conduit can help that boy, now get out of the way!” The guard tossed Leto aside effortlessly, her small form going flying and crumpling against the wall. She fell, feeling the bruises beginning to form already.
Leto picked herself up, gasping for breath and dusting herself off. She had taken much worse at the hands of Balder, she would survive. She wanted to know if they boy was going to survive, so instead of buying the mead she had come for and returning home right away, she slipped into the corner of the room to wait and see what would happen.