Oreioth looked down at the small cat his father held in his hands. Most of the fur was missing, singed off from painful cantrips Oreioth had cast. It’s leg had been broken and healed improperly many times. In some places, there was more scar tissue than skin. Outwardly, Oreioth looked chastised, but in truth he was amused. Amused that the cat had survived this long under his cruelty, and amused that his father was so shocked by the extent of it.
“What did you think you were doing?” his father admonished. Oreioth could only look down, unable to meet his father’s gaze. Partly for fear of seeing the anger in his father’s eyes, partly afraid his father would see the amusement in his. Instead of answering, he shuffled his feet in the dirt. “You must be a devil.” His father continued, “no son of mine could be this cruel. Well, this ends today. You’re going to bury this thing as punishment, and then it’s off to school for you. You’ll no longer be staying under my roof until you learn your place in the world.”
His father nodded to the house, and a man stepped out, wearing red robes. The man walked forward. Oreioth looked at him, curiously. He had tattoos along his neck, ringing up to cover his shaven head. Oreioth wasn’t sure, but he thought he could feel power in those strange designs. “This is Zanderkab,” his father said. “He will take you on as his apprentice, and will make certain you learn the ways of magic in an honorable, noble fashion. No more of this… filth.” He looked at the cat with disgust, then threw the corpse at the boy. “Now, bury it, and the gods help you. “ His father turned and walked away.
Zanderkab watched the boy’s father leave, and then turned to the child. “Well then,” he said, his voice old and full of power. “It seems you’ve got a touch of cruelty about you. Did you enjoy yourself with that?” He nodded at the cat. Oreioth started to say no, but something stopped him. Instead, he looked at the old wizard and said that he did. “Well, good.” The wizard said, a strange smile creeping across the wrinkles of his face, and into the corners of his eyes. “But now you’ve got a problem, don’t you? Your plaything is no more. Well, come with me child, and I’ll show you how to make playthings that transcend even death itself. With that, he said a word of power, and with a gesture, the cat slowly raised its head. It looked at Oreioth, almost quizzically, with white, undead eyes. Oreioth watched in awe, as it lurched to its feet. “Would you like to learn?” asked Zanderkab. Oreioth could only nod, as excitement had taken his voice. He kicked the undead cat across the small yard, and it hit the wall with a thud. Then, after a moment, it stood again, and continued to look at the pair.
“Good, you’ll do well under my tutelage,” Zanderkab said. Let’s go teach you the ways of Necromancy. He gestured towards the villa’s gate, and Oreioth ran to the waiting carriage outside. He knew that the carriage contained his destiny. After a moment, Zanderkab started to follow, but then stopped, looked at the cat, and said, “Oh. Take care of the parents.” And with a grin, he joined the boy inside the carriage.