RE Blackfield

My name is Renaldus Everbright Blackfield Drakesun. Yeah, I know. If it had been any more pretentious, I probably wouldn’t have bothered learning it at all. You should hear my sister’s name, but you will soon enough, if you have a high enough threshold of boredom. For now, call me R.E. It sounds enough like some everyday name that it doesn’t make people look up from whatever important thing they’re doing, like maybe peeling tubers, to wonder what ponce just walked in and was going to spoil their whole day with some vacuous self-centered demands.

No, I just go by R.E. (pronounced ‘Auree’). R.E. Drakesun if necessary, and if you’re from my home town, that can still be enough to cause a pause in the aforementioned tuber peeling.

Like anyone else who wasn’t made out of a lump of clay that some god decided to use in expressing their creativity (and I’ve met one), I come from a long line of ancestors. You say you did too? Good for you. The only thing better than being proud of where and who you came from is not having to be ashamed of it, or at least not feeling like you should apologize for it at least once a week.

Family tradition has it that we had some lonely-but-enthusiastic full or partial red dragon teenager pay us a visit about 500 years ago. That’s the rationalization for why there’s a strong streak of native magic running through our family, especially the women. Yes, I mean sorcerers, everyone’s favorite loose cannon, easy targets for finger-pointing when things start to get hinky. There are worse rationalizations, so my people tend to not dispute it.

As a matter of fact, in the last few generations, my grands have really embraced the whole ‘sorcerer’ label, and that’s where our peel-halting family reputation comes in.

My maternal double-great grandmother was Bark-and-Leaf Drakesun. Don’t ask me. Supposedly her mother was a big fan of druids. I suppose that made it a good thing that she grew up in the wilderness. No child could survive a name like THAT unscathed. What that DID mean though was that she was left to herself a lot while her mother (“Sunflower” as they say she’d taken to calling herself) was off gallivanting with satyrs and centaurs in mushroom circles.

With all that time to herself, natural talent, and not a lot in the way of other frames of reference, her magic gravitated to nature-oriented tricks. She’d be very helpful, and even protective, of the plants, animals, humanoids, and even the few other humans living in the area. I don’t know if she absorbed some of the Druid habits, or Heard The Word from some Nature Goddess proselytizer, or just became a self-taught Good Cleric (it can happen), but she was ministering to the locals’ needs and infirmities. She learned about the natural resources around her on her own and became particularly good at infusions, potions, and alchemical preparations, even creating her own equipment from scratch. She’d developed quite a reputation as the go-to lady far and wide.

Then came the Orc/Goblin incursion of the Year of the Hedgehog. The forested regions were being systematically destroyed, and the inhabitants were being run off or preferably killed. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that their high watermark occurred in HER forest. Most people dismiss third hand accounts of young girls singing and dancing through forests surrounded by birds, butterflies and bees that suddenly become crazed attack forces as the ravings of superstitious primitives who were finally being turned by the king’s men. Me, not so much.

In any event, with most of the forest destroyed, the other inhabitants run off, and her late, senile mother having been put to rest near their ruined cottages, she accepted the offer of a corporal named of Everett something, not much more is known about him other than his drinking habits, from the squad who’d saved her life, to come to the city with him and be his wife. She accepted, more or less, and came here. Although, to my knowledge, she never actually entered into a marriage with him. Nevertheless, she did establish a home in a modest part of town that she shared with him until he died and continued to expand her practice of helping those around her with her infusions, potions, and preparations. She even made a small business of it to pay the bills, though she personally never asked more than her customers could afford, and often gave away her services when she knew there was hardship.

If you’ve ever been in a Drakesun’s Potions and Apothecary’s , and most people in the city have been in one of them at least one time or another, then you’ll have seen the prominently displayed portrait of the striking woman with the steely gaze and long dark hair with graying temples, surrounded by shelves of vials and flasks, bubbling retorts and coiled tubing. Most have assumed it was my mother, but no, that’s Greatly Bark-And-Leaf, in her prime, whom my mother strongly resembled. They tell me I met her. A few days after I was born, they laid me next to her, essentially on her death bed, because she slipped into a coma as they took me away, and she died a few days later, at the healthy age of 109. But they say she lay on her side, looking at me, with a big sad smile, laying her wrinkled hand on me, momentarily regaining its steadiness, whispering to me for a while, until her strength gave out and her eyelids closed for the last time.

She’d outlived most of her children, and sadly a couple of her grandchildren. According to her wishes, she’s buried in the remotest corner of the cemetery, her grave marked only with a rock carved with her name, and an oak planted over, grown impressively large and strong already.

Then there was my grandmother, Fawn Drakesun. Greatly Bark-And-Leaf had her about 15 years after she’d moved to the city, which would put her somewhere in her 50’s, as close as anyone could tell. This is actually typical of my family. We’re remarkably long-lived barring mishap, and we tend to have children late by conventional standards. She was the 3rd child of 4. Her older brothers were Hart and Hare, and there was still a younger sister, Kitten, to come. Who knows, there could have been more, but Everett died in a barroom brawl.

Granfawn became her mother’s apprentice as soon as she was able to handle a mortar and pestle. She not only took to the craft naturally but had a natural way with people, which led to a growing reputation for Drakesun’s, and considerable expansion. She helped develop her mother’s little family shop into an actual business, complete with a couple of employees, a cashbox, ledger, abacus, and like that. Her sibs helped out at first, but the boys developed their own paths in town, and Kitten barely had any knack for it at all.

It was just as well, as GranFawn said to me once. it let her do what she wanted, since Greatly had little interest in much beyond serving the local people who needed her help. Drakesun’s might have been a bigger deal decades sooner if GranFawn hadn’t had so MANY interests. She’s the one who came up with some of the key gadgets and techniques to make more product, which the business still uses to this day (and is still a trade secret, so back off).

She definitely had a talent for people. That’s probably obvious, given the Drakesun Business Council, the Drakesun Free Community Garden Collectives, and the fact that she was appointed Mayor in her 40s. By then, she’d already had my mother and her older sister, Trillia.

Family rumor has it that the father was nobility, so who knows, I might be related to the king. My younger aunt, Deycine, DID know her father and has gotten on well with him all her life. Not that any of this matters. My family is very matriarchal. Notice that the family name follows the women. Most of my cousins have still been keeping that name. Men have generally been conveniences or amusements. After my GranFawn retired from politics, she left the practical side of Drakesun’s for my mother to run, while she applied herself diligently in the laboratory. As a matter of fact, that’s what killed her.

She was in her late 80’s, having been out with her current boy-toy while searching the wild for hard-to-find alchemical components. She was racing her horse against him back to the city when her horse threw a shoe on a curve. He fell and rolled over on her. Ironically that wasn’t the problem. She was quick-witted and nimble and twisted in a hollow. She should have come out of that with little more than a broken leg and some banging around. Unfortunately, one of the specimens she must have found, a rare and highly poisonous Key snake (a NICE find for an alchemist) escaped from his crushed wicker cage and bit her. By the time her companion realized that he wasn’t simply winning (for the first time) and hurried back to find her, she was almost gone. Unfortunately the antitoxin vial in her Cleric-in-a-box kit (her invention by the way) had been jarred loose and broken. She died moments later in his arms.

My mother, Felicia, or ‘Fey’ Drakesun, was a Grand Lady, meaning a socialite. She grew up as the Mayor’s daughter and became accustomed to the company of the city’s rich and powerful. She had inherited her mother’s gifts, and for business reasons followed her grandmother’s example, learning to be some sort of chaotic neutral cleric. But she was much more interested in the status that being the effective head of a well-known business conferred. As a matter of fact, that was probably a reason she actually opened a 2nd Drakesun’s. It was surely a coincidence that it was in the upscale government district where she also located her personal office and lab.

Probably one of the least calculating things she did was take a liking to my father, a bard by the name of Tevin Treesdale, who she’d found performing in a nearby Haute Cuisine restaurant in the business district. They reportedly got on very well, but then she usually did with her paramours, of which he was only the latest in a long line. The difference was that she actually ‘allowed’ him to father a child for her, me (because, let’s be honest, an alchemist does NOT have children accidentally). Reportedly she was a bit disappointed to find I was a boy (remember, matriarchal family), which may explain why she allowed him to remain another year or two until she had my sister. Within half a year as I recall, she threw him out, having grown bored with him. (I’ve recently come into information bringing her version, and my own sparse childhood memories, into question, but that may be a case of he-said, she said).

Be that as it may, that was the last time I saw my father as a child, of whom I had…pleasant memories. At least until…well…

Anyway, in one of life’s little ironies, her female heir, my poor sister, Lupina Isica Zaathina Alexia Ruthina Drakesun (OW, Pretentious much?) kept growing up without showing any signs of the magical gift. Most families consider that a blessing, since sorcery is still considered on the dangerous/disgraceful side, but the Drakesuns are … different. I like to think that our prominence has made it a little easier on other children who experience mag-arch.

Our mother was kind enough to me, but Lupina was obviously her favorite. About until I turned 8, that is; I reached out my hand for one of my favorite wooden toys and accidentally made it leap across the room to me. Well, Mother was surprised and delighted. And from that day on, poor Lupina had to share Mother’s attention with me. I, fortunately, didn’t get ALL of it. If anything, she spent even more effort on my sister, prompting her to move this or change that or light something else. The attention paid to me was much more business-like, it seemed to me. I had shown a strong aptitude in the alchemy lab, with a strong interest in the classic ‘elements’, and that seemed to please her. I strove to do well there, using a few simple spells casually (love prestidigitation and mage hand!), which pleased her even more. I even started my own little business, to show I could, raising foxes to sell as pets (it’s a lot more work than a lemonade stand, trust me). I did pretty well at that, too. One of the pups from that venture even became my familiar, Dingaling.

Unfortunately, poor Lupie never really seemed to spark, even by the time she was a young woman and, of course, that ruled out lab work. Mother, as busy as she was, socially, professionally, and teaching me, must have had less time for my sister. I knew that would change once things eased up, time-wise, but until then I tried to make up for it by giving Lupie as much time as I could, trying to amuse her with tricks I’d been teaching myself.

I’m proud to say that my sister made her own niche though. She threw herself into Drakesun’s in a practical way. Mother didn’t interfere, being generally preoccupied, and she could see that she wasn’t losing money. As a matter of fact, Lupie was expanding the business, phenomenally, with non-alchemical products and in more locations. Under her direction, the company was becaming a major business. This is why today there are dozens of Drakesun’s in the city, and now several in other towns. My sister has a beautiful gift for guessing what customers want, what she can get from suppliers, and making herself liked by the people in charge of the city, even as a teenager. I must have only been 18 when she started making her first deals on behalf of the company.

Oh, and I have to give her credit for her family spirit too. We have dozens of 1st and 2nd cousins, some of whom mag-arched, some who haven’t. She brought them into the company as we expanded to hundreds of employees, and set them up as managers. So we’re surrounded by relatives, whichever outlet we visit. They all have the best interests of the family name at heart, and especially Lupie’s, who’s knitting them all together.

It was very comforting to see that the family business was shaping up very well in Lupie’s capable hands. It left me free to pursue my own … special interests. I was quietly doing my best to help the local community with problems any way I could with my gifts. Curing or clearing or stopping, just like dear old Greatly did. I did have to keep it quiet, because Mother found such altruism annoying, but that suited me fine. I didn’t really want any credit for helping others. She often expressed a hope that I’d grow up eventually and become a more practical person.

About a year after we lost GranFawn, tragedy struck again. I was almost 24 when it happened. Mother had been talking about making me a partner’ in the company, just a formality really and a bit of family tradition. But then there was a lab accident. Some sort of disease-escaped and killed her and every animal in the lab within minutes. A cleric had to be dragged out in the middle of the night to cleanse the area, but it was too late for every living thing inside. It was pure chance I wasn’t in there with Mother when it happened. I was feeling a bit … indisposed, probably due to the snake surprise with truffles I’d had at dinner.

Unbelievably, for some reason, the watch seemed more and more to suspect ME of having caused the accident. My wonderful sister, though, talked me into the idea of getting out of town. She actually put herself at risk by smuggling me out with enough money to get far away. And she assured me that she’d take total control of the company, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the family business being destroyed.

Since then, I’ve been moving around, helping people, getting into and out of scrapes, and having the most amazing adventures, while leaving he places I’ve visited the better for me having been there (generally). I’ve even crossed paths with my father briefly, something I’ve always hoped for. The encounter left me confused though. I suppose only the future knows what will come of this.

RE Blackfield

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