Much fuss is usually made about the circumstances of the birth of a great figure. Perhaps there was a storm the night they were born, or perhaps there was a confluence of heavenly bodies to announce their birth. Them and the handful of others who were born the same day in the same country, on average. However, the metaphor for a storm very well matched the circumstances of Douglas Lynwood’s birth, even if he might not have counted as a figure of importance.
The rain pours down and the wind blows, representing chaos and uncertainty. Then it shifts, with the wailing of the wind representing the wailing of a mother. A flash of lightning punctuates a moment of excitement- a child is born. Then the wind represents the wailing of those who remain- and the rain the tears on their faces.
Of course, his actual birth had much more boring circumstances- though perhaps no less resonant. The only figures present were his father, a midwife, a sister barely old enough to understand what was happening, and of course his mother. Daylight came in a window of the cramped but comfortable room in the tower atop a hill overlooking the small town of Pendle. The midwife took the hand of Douglas’ mother Adeline. “Come on then. Just a few more pushes.” She patted Xavier on the shoulder, “Don’t worry, the birth is going well.”
Xavier’s face did not relax in the slightest as he watched his wife giving birth. Perhaps it was going well, but it was her second birth. It was already miraculous that Lucy had been born smoothly three years prior.
Adeline clutched onto Xavier’s hand with her other hand. “It’ll be alright, my dear.”
Half an hour later, the birth finished somewhat smoothly. The midwife held up the baby. “It’s a boy,” she said, handing him to his mother.
Adeline’s eyes sparkled as she looked at her new son. “A son. You be good for your father, alright?” She held him up close, kissing him on the forehead then laid back to close her eyes for the last time.
From the perspective of a normal birth, everything had gone very well. There was not too much bleeding, and the baby had been born strong and healthy. However, there was one thing special about Douglas’ birth. Both his father and mother were wizards with magic in their blood. Since they both actively practiced magic, the chance of any of their children having high magical potential was significant. There was also an equally high chance of the mother in such a situation perishing after the birth of the child.
During a pregnancy, the magic of mother and child were intertwined. During birth, they pulled apart- and while the children were usually fine, that was only because the mothers usually took the worst part of the separation. Both magic and life force were tied together, so any birth could result in damage to one, the other, or both. During his birth, Douglas took with him magic and life… but left behind something else.
Xavier and Lucy and even the midwife cried over Adeline’s death. However, even though a newborn child was expected to cry and scream, Douglas did neither. Nor did he ever do so, even as he grew.
Lucy gently pushed her brother away from touching the book on the desk in front of her. “Douglas, you’re not to touch the book.” Douglas pulled his hand away, grabbing at the corner of the table instead, pulling himself up to peer at the book, sticking his head over in front of Lucy. “Douglas, I’m trying to read this.” He nodded without looking at her. “That means I need you to move your head. Why don’t you go play with your toys?”
Douglas looked at Lucy, then gestured. All of his toys were balanced on top of each other in a tower. One might have thought he would start with the blocks, but the very first thing was a small rocking horse. On top of that was a block, and balanced off to the side of that was another block, with a third further up the stack counterbalancing the weight in the other direction. On top of that a toy knight lay, with blocks on his head and feet widening out the strange structure. Finally, the remaining blocks formed an arch where the middle two blocks precariously leaned against each other.
“So, what, you’re done? You could stack them in other ways.” Douglas shook his head, and Lucy sighed. “What do you want then? I don’t have time to play, I need to study.” Douglas nodded again, gesturing to Lucy, then the book, then himself. “What, you want me to read to you? I don’t have time for stories. This is a book about magic. I’m going to be a wizard, like father.” Douglas folded his arms and tapped his foot on the floor, frowning. Then he gestured to Lucy, himself, his eyes, and then the book. Lucy looked down at her three year old brother. It was frustrating that he couldn’t talk- for both her, and probably even more so for him. “You… want me to… teach you to read?”
Douglas nodded. “Well… father was planning to hire a tutor for you soon.” Douglas frowned harder and shook his head. “What, you want to learn from me?” Douglas tilted his head. “Not quite it then? You want to learn… now?” Douglas nodded again. “Fine. Let me go get a book.” As Lucy started to get up, he stopped her with his hand. He pointed once again to the book on the table. “You want to use this book? This one is… difficult. It’s about magic, remember?”
Douglas nodded again. Lucy sighed. “It’s quite difficult and… you can’t…” Lucy swallowed as she started to speak and saw Douglas’ eager face. “You need to be able to… oh… let me just read the beginning.” She turned back to the first page, picking up Douglas and placing him in her lap. She pointed at the words with her finger as she read. “Magic is both very… com-pli-cated,” she stumbled over a word that she was pretty sure just meant hard, a word which was rather complicated itself. “Both very complicated and very simple. Each spell only has three parts though the complex… complexity of each part varies by spell. First and most important are the… the words. Without being able to… to speak the words of power… magic cannot happen. Second is the image. The words alone are not enough, the effects of the magic must be en-vis-ioned in no small detail.”
Lucy took a breath. “Thirdly, there must be a source of power. Usually, this is the caster of the spell themself, drawing on their inborn and trained magical power. With out all three of these parts, the power, the image, and the… the words… magic simply cannot happen.” Lucy looked down at her brother. She wasn’t sure if he’d understood. He was smart, but he was also only three years old. From the look on his face… he had. Douglas was biting down on his lip in frustration, glaring at the book, then up at Lucy. “I’m sorry,” Lucy said, “It’s just… it’s just what the book says.”
Douglas looked like he might tear the book apart… but instead he walked away to his tower of toys, pulling out the piece at the bottom and sending the whole thing toppling. Then he started a new tower… this time with one of the blocks balancing on a corner as a base.