There’s a river that flows around the town, murky and sludgy and brown. It’s as much a prison as it is a protection, for the town was once a noble’s fortress and private holdings and the polluted water had once been a moat.
But it’s still a river, and while they cannot drink from it, or safely eat anything that possibly lives in it, it is still a body of water. A body of water which they can use to transport goods around the town. A body of water which the townspeople can still enjoy with boat racing. A body of water which prevents the annual forest fires of the region from reaching their town. A body of water which wards off evil creatures, no matter how impure that water may itself be.
Sometimes, when he knows no one is around, he will try to commune with the river. It has been many decades since magic has been outlawed in their kingdom, but every so often a magician will appear and eventually be caught and executed. It is not a good thing to be a magician in this kingdom.
But regardless, he still tries. He can feel an energy buzzing beneath his skin, his cousins say that it’s just excitement; his battle prowess or his roguish charm, depending on which cousin he speaks to. But he doesn’t think that’s the case. He thinks it’s more. And he wants it to be more.
But he knows what happens to those in the family who want more than what they can have. They are disowned, forgotten, erased from the family as best as can be. He doesn’t remember her that well, his cousin that left when he was just a toddler.
He remembers that last day she was in town, the family had gathered at his fathers house. It was… a farewell party would be a too kind euphemism. It was more of a good riddance party. It’s not like she had been particularly kind, she had kept a distance from everyone in the family, especially those younger than her; but she had been different. Of course she had been, that’s why she had left for the western continent. But… she had good eyes–keen, sharp, useful for an archer–eyes that saw more than what appeared.
His cousins that remain, her siblings that were so eager to see her go, they whisper the same thing about him concernedly. They still fawn over him, banter about which class he will join, whose apprentice he will be. But they watch him, and they worry.
Perhaps they have nothing to worry about: no matter what he tries, the river stays a filthy flow of sludge. It might be too polluted to be a proper natural element, or it might just be that he simply doesn’t have magic. But he can still feel the energy writhing within him, and he wonders, and maybe that is enough.
A/N: Sort of related to the Untitled (2015-01-29) drabble except roughly a decade later when the baby cousin has grown up a bit.