Being the son of the Mage-King of Scoubar was an honor, but not an exclusive honor. Cletus knew that very well. Otherwise he wouldn’t be heading out to the front lines, hoping to earn some merits to increase his position. He was still just in Dalgare, but he couldn’t be careless. Though the heads of the military clearly tried to suppress the information, news of The Reaper spread through the soldiers and the Sons of Scoubar.
Sure, the attacks were rare- maybe once a month. He never killed more than about a dozen soldiers… but along with them a few Sons of Scoubar had died. Cletus knew that some of the things attributed to The Reaper were other groups of discontents. While Dalgare was ‘stabilized’ clearly not everyone was content with their new position. However, there were certain marks of The Reaper’s activities… even if only reports of the number of dead came through official channels, Cletus had seen one of his former brothers back in the capital, before he was to be placed in the tomb. He hadn’t gotten to look close, but he could tell they were taking special care not to let his mouth be opened… to show the lack of tongue? Almost certainly. Cletus rather liked his tongue, so he was rather paranoid about those who came near the inn he was staying at. “You there!” he pointed to a man dressed in rags by the side of the road, “Identify yourself!”
The man kept his head down, “Please sir, I am but a beggar. Mikhail is my name.”
Cletus waved him away, “Begone from here!” Cletus looked to his men, “No one is to approach this inn.” The beggar shakily stood and scurried away, and Cletus shook his head. Even random peasants made him think of The Reaper. There was no reason he would be nearby, but certainly Cletus’ brothers had thought the same thing.
The common room was clean, but the tables were worn. That was the best that could be found here. The innkeeper himself scurried over as Cletus sat down, “What can I get for you this evening? We have a goat stew, mutton roast, or diced chicken. There is also dark or light bread, and three sorts of ale.”
“Just bring out whatever is best,” Cletus sighed. He doubted any of it would be very good, at least not compared to what he was used to- all of the Sons of Scoubar received rich treatment, even if their position wasn’t the greatest. He’d had his own personal chef… but if he wanted to go anywhere with his life, he needed to do more than just live idly. Their father was not particularly fond of those who did nothing, and he had people keeping track of all of his sons accomplishments.
At the very least, Cletus had been properly studying magic. If he didn’t, there would be little point in his existence. As expected, the diced chicken was stringy… but he had no doubt it was the best the innkeeper had. Cletus just gave a snort of displeasure. There was no point in yelling at the man, though Cletus knew several of his brothers would have done so anyway. Perhaps such brashness was why they had been sent to the front line ahead of time.
Before he went to sleep, Cletus set up wards. Perhaps half of his memorization went to these wards every day, along with his shields, but that was just how things needed to be. Cletus would never say he was the most powerful of even his immediate peers, and certainly not the bravest. However, he couldn’t help himself. Paranoia had helped him once or twice so far… and The Reaper certainly wasn’t a myth. Besides, the practice would do him good regardless.
The Reaper was a mage- that much was certain. Some said he was a ghost, but Cletus knew that proper ghosts made noise. The Reaper was silent… which made sense, if some of the other rumors were true. He cut out the tongues of those he killed, resembling what was done to male mages not of Scoubar blood. That was enough to stop them from practicing magic, because magic couldn’t be done without speaking. Perhaps their blood would one day make it back into Scoubar’s line- at least Cletus assumed that was the reasoning of the Mage-King… his father… in not killing them.
Even though everyone knew magic required speech, Cletus had his suspicions that The Reaper could do magic without speaking. That was why he had scoured the libraries for information on it. He hadn’t found anything in the vast number of books they had obtained- but he didn’t have access to quite everything. Regardless, if anyone knew it would be the Mage-King… and he certainly wouldn’t choose to let anyone live if it was possible. That was the logic everyone used. Cletus had only interacted with his father a few times… but from what he had seen, he was just a man. Even if he was constantly in the library- or his own personal library- he could not read every book they had, and thus he couldn’t know everything.
Cletus’ suspicions had only been that until he’d stumbled across a pile of handwritten notes from Bryria. He had been looking for Dalgarian texts in particular because The Reaper worked in that area… but his activities had started after they had conquered Dalgare and just started moving into Bryria. Since the texts were kept near each other, he had looked through things… and the red ink stood out on the notes. Cletus managed to scrape together all of those notes- or at least, most of them. At first, he was just curious about the strange spells… they had to be spells since they were made entirely out of magic runes. He couldn’t figure out what they were for, or the order to speak the runes in… but then he found other notes that actually explained the system. Strangely, there were two sets of notes in different handwriting from the originals. Cletus couldn’t say he really understood the originals even now, but the notes by the second and third wizards came with gave him an understanding of silent magic… that it existed, and how to cast it, even if just barely. He had considered telling his father… but then the information would be disseminated to all of his brothers, and he would only gain a short, immediate advantage. Nobody cared about the notes, so he had taken them for himself to make use of and never bothered to return them.
Cletus lay in bed, trying to fall asleep. It was alright. The Reaper was just another wizard. Cletus had wards to protect him, his shields, a couple silent spells, and a dagger just in case. Finally, he managed to fall asleep… only to be woken up by a draft. The bed was already so marginal, drafts were just unacceptable. He would have a talk with the innkeeper… is what he was thinking when he realized his ward was gone. His eyes shot open as he readied himself, looking around the room.