This is a prequel to the Dark of the Night series which can be found here on protagonize. It features the character Demrin Artuna, and documents his time as an apprentice, up until when he arrives in London for the first time.
Chapter 1- Naming
The two black cloaked figures left the shadowy alleyway and began making their way up the street. The darkness pressed in on them, forever taunting them in their fight against it. A streetlight flickered up ahead, irregularly illuminating one solitary patch of the road.
Their destination lay at the end of the street, an old, two storied manor house. It was the home of Marik Ebertan, their master, and tutor. He was overseeing their apprenticeship, training them for the future. Marik was an extremely strict master, constantly looking over their shoulder, pushing them to their very limits and severe in his punishments should they step out of line. He only trained the best, he claimed.
“Are you looking forward to tonight, Sam?” one of the men asked.
“I’m nervous, I don’t know what is in store for me”.
“You will be fine. Hell, you get to choose your name tonight! I have to wait a year!”
Sam nodded, then realising the other man couldn’t see him, said “Yes, I know”.
They were returning to the house, having been ousted earlier in the day so Marik could ready the ceremony. Tonight was the night Sam would have the chance to choose his name. It was a tradition among Warlock’s, after two years as an apprentice, they selected a name from The Book of Names.
Sam pushed open the large, iron gates and they began the trek up the inclined drive. The gravel crunched beneath their feet and they soon reached the large, oak front door. Normally, they would be freely able to enter and leave, but because of the occasion, he felt it appropriate to knock. Grasping the large, eagle-head brass knocker, Sam rapped sharply three times.
The door soon swung open, revealing the butler, Mr. Jenkins. The small, portly man bowed deeply.
“Masters Jones and Scott, welcome home. Master Ebertan awaits you in his office, Master Jones”.
“I hope Master Ebertan knows I will be joining them. Sam is my best friend; he is not going in there alone”.
“I am sure Master Ebertan will make everything clear once he receives you in his office, Master Scott”.
“Come on, John”, Sam said. The two thanked Mr. Jenkins, and then headed for the wide marble staircase. They turned left on the landing, and upon reaching the third door on the left of the corridor, knocked once.
“Come” was the reply.
Sam pushed open the door and entered Marik’s office. John followed close behind. It was a large, square room lined with bookcases and cabinets full of vials, potions, and all sorts of other items. Several creatures hung in cages from the ceiling. Marik sat behind an ash desk, his chin resting on his interlocked fingers. His dark hair lay flat on his head, and his blue eyes stared at his two apprentices.
“Sit, Sam and prepare yourself”.
Sam moved forward and took a seat opposite Marik. John stayed back, waiting for Marik to command him.
“I am afraid, you will have to leave, John. This is something which can only pass between the person for whom the ceremony is intended, and their master”.
John nodded, disappointed and left, swinging the door shut behind him. Sam raised his eyes to his master’s face, who turned his attention back to him. A large book lay closed on the table between them, its cover black, its binding incredibly strong and intricately inscribed with beautiful writing. The Book Of Names.
“Are you ready for this, Sam?”
Sam took a deep breath and nodded. He would face whatever was in his way. He would not fail, after working so hard to reach this far. Should he fail this test, he would be forever banished, and never allowed train as a Warlock again.
“Place your hand on the cover of the book”.
Sam did so.
“Clear your mind”.
Sam did so, banishing all thoughts.
“Open the book”.
This was it. Would the book accept him? Would it allow him to enter its pages and find a name? Sam moved his hand to the edge of the cover, took another deep breath, and raised the cover. It came up in his hand. The book had allowed him in.
A bright light exploded, burning into Sam’s eyes. Words began spiralling through his mind, moving at an incredible pace, flying past, an indistinguishable blur. Breathing slowly and steadily, Sam attempted to reach out to his magic. He used wind to attempt to control the flow of words. Several words did not succumb, however a large number did. Marik had said it would be so; some of the names would not even consider obeying him. He had to select two from the ones that did.
The words slowed and began to circle him. Sam reached out and called to the names, enticing them. Several approached him, then moved away. Others stayed close to him, their letters completely clear. None of the names interested him. None suited him.
Another name approached. This one was more suitable. Sam reached out to it, and it came to him. The name joined with his mind, becoming one with him. Demrin Artuna.
Another name soon presented itself to him, and he joined with that one too. Shermaik Naiun.
The lights vanished and Marik was once again in front of him.
“Congratulations. You have succeeded in receiving a name. What was the first name that you joined with?”
“Well, as of this moment, you will forever be known as Demrin Artuna”.
“Do not tell me the second name you joined with. That name, is your true name”Shermaik Naiun,“And if anyone was to gain knowledge of what that name is, they could control your every action, control your mind”.
“I will never allow it”, Demrin said shakily. Imagine, someone else controlling him.
“You must tell no one, not even John”.
Demrin started; would he keep it a secret from his best friend? Even as he thought it, he knew he would. It was much too important that no one knew, not even his best friend. John would understand.
“You may leave now”.
Demrin got up and left. He made his way to the room he shared with John. They each had a single bed, and John sat on his.
“How’d it go?” John asked, sitting up as Demrin entered.
“I did it!”
“So what are your new names?”
“Well, I am to be called Demrin Artuna from now on. It is my new name”.
“And the second one?”
“I cannot tell you the second one John, however much I would want to. It is my true name, and if anyone learns it, they can control me”.
“You can tell me, I am your best friend. I will never tell anyone, or use it against you. You know that”.
“I am sorry John, I can’t”.
Demrin saw the hurt fill his friends eyes. John lay back on his bed and turned his back to Demrin. Sighing, Demrin lay down on his own bed, and fell into slumber.