A merchant, ten years widowed, had an affair with an exotic young woman who called herself only Wonder, which surprised when it resulted in his twelfth child.
She remained only a short time after giving birth: named the baby Chance and left forever as soon as she could. Even so, Chance was grudgingly accepted and lucky to be born into a trading, land-owning family with privileges.
It was plain from the start that he had powerful magic. No one else in his family had any near his, so it was assumed it came from his mother's side. She was not around to ask.
He was passed on to the Kehdy Schools of Magic at an early age, only mages could contain him, and learned to control his magic from teachers. Once stabilized, he was able to visit the various houses of his much older brothers and sisters on holidays and during summer.
The school masters considered him gifted and fussed over him; however, his family saw that he was kept from too much self-esteem. They also instructed him; one brother especially, Svern, taught him skills and even took his side when he argued with teachers.
As the child grew into a teenager, he was clearly talented but as clearly arrogant, liking to draw attention to himself, doing things he was not permitted and belittling lesser mages.
* * *
During a holiday visit to the main family manor at Kiping, Chance found the legendary Reading Opal. He quickly learned it and magic opened for him: he gained insight into how the spells he cast actually worked.
He decided he would not tell anyone about the gem and concealed his discovery. He did use it to excel in classes where his rude tricks of magic and scornful attitude to professors led to expulsions.
Individual masters and factions did not want the lad's magic out of their sight, which assured him forgiveness and a place in their schools. It also gave rise to suspicions about his curiously superior ability with spells.
As he entered his first manhood, he rashly went too far in defying powerful mages and had to leave quickly. That began around five years of solitary traveling during which he explored the Reading Opal, using it to understand spells.
There was a continual danger of being found, trapped and losing the magical gemstone; thus, Chance traveled all of the Kehdy region to elude bounty hunters. He adjusted without problems to a life on the road. The Opal showed him how to extract gold from streams, so he was never without the means to pay.
His time was spent in wandering without purpose and with bad company in taverns. When he could, he stayed with scholarly mages who lived far out in the country, away from Kehdy Schools.
For a year, he studied with a Recluse living in the foothills of the Barrier mountains. That led him to travel down that range to Tupello, Crossroads of the World. From there he was a time in Oosra, a rowdy seaport on the western side of the Miene sea, where he had an affair.
* * *
When that fell apart, Chance crossed the Barriers and traveled a short way into the unfamiliar far West, the Maurice. He wished to spend this Winter away from cold Oosra.
Foolishly, he displayed his skills in the city of Hu'sin and was invited to the High Ice's court. He had a reputation even here from when he was at the Schools, and Maur mages too suspected he had the Reading Opal.
Mages of the Maur Red cult were sent to fetch him. Chance did not think he would live long in such a court and fled.
A Kehd, Chance stood out among the Maur; the Red cult chased and then cornered him. They would have seized him had Svern and other brothers not arrived in time to save him.
After cult attackers were driven off, Svern told him to go to the East, across the Miene sea, where he would be safer. Chance had no options but to leave the reach of Schools, kings and cults that wanted the Reading Opal.
Many knew he had it by now and were willing to kill him to gain the Opal's power. Chance headed to the port of Oosra and escape. He hoped to contact his former lover in the seaport for help with a passage eastward.
Spring was late that year, and he first needed to cross the Barrier mountains to the city of Tupello. A friend from school lived there and would help him get to Oosra.
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