A few years prior, one of the old boys who spent their time drinking on the streets of his home town told Layne that 'these were the best years of his life'. He said that young Towerfall should be spending his time learning, growing, and making friends. That one day he would blink, and he'd be gnarled old man too, pining away for days of youth he'd never see again.
Layne had promptly told the drunk to suck a box of cocks. At 15, Layne felt he had much bigger fish to fry than finding friends to drink warm beer with in a barn like a regular teenager. Issues like "what will I eat tonight", "god I hope it doesn't rain and flood the house again", or "I wonder if Dad will be the angry kind of drunk or the weeping incoherently kind of drunk tonight".
Now, sequestered away in the relatively isolated halls of Marchand, Layne saw a whole world of opportunity he had scarcely realized existed. He was making friends, something that came as a surprise to him. There was a learning curve in dealing with his peers in a healthy manner, but Layne felt that he should at least get a B for effort. He hadn't broken anyone's jaw, which was much better than he'd done at any previous school. He was dating, for God's sake, how on earth had that happened? And a noble born girl no less. Boy, had his Dad flown into an apoplectic fit when he learned that his 'boy was gettin' cozy with a goddamn Norrevinter'. Layne couldn't be bothered to care what the bitter old bastard said one way or another: He loved the girl fiercely, and intended to ride the situation out to it's end.
Certainly it wasn't all sunshine and daisy field frolics: There were the inescapable issues that came from compressing a large number of volatile teens in a small space, exacerbated by the fact that said teens had the powers of the universe at their fingertips. Not to mention the distinctly unsettling machinations that seemed to happen in the shadows around them. It was nerve wracking at times, but on the whole he was rapidly growing to trust and respect their teachers. After all, it couldn't be all that dangerous, could it? While he wouldn't trust the Council as far as he could throw them, he also did not believe they'd go through all this trouble just to murder a bunch of kids.
That morning, he sat in the courtyard, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, a half cup of coffee growing cold on the bench next to him. In his lap he held a stone hand ax, that week's project. He ran his thumb slowly and methodically along the blade, muttering a constant stream of nonsense words under his breath.
Strong, he thought. Sharp. Strong. Sharp. He chanted these words like a mantra in his mind, infusing the weapon with his power. After two days of fussing with the shape to get it just right, and another day enchanting on top of that, Layne felt he was begging to get the hang of the whole process. He stopped, hefted the weapon in his right hand, and pitched it hard toward a tree across the courtyard. The axe struck true with a sharp crack of splitting wood. Layne grinned with pride. The axe had bit neatly into the bark, sinking in an inch or two and sticking there. It hadn't shattered either, which he would chalk up as a win.
A small chirp from the bench beside him caught his attention. He looked down and smiled fondly at the sleepy coil of his familiar Bobby, snoozing in the sun. The creature wasn't quite as strange as many of the other familiars he'd seen so far: Perhaps three feet long, she might have been mistaken for a sky blue snake. That would be if one missed her clawed limbs, the ruff of white fur that ran down her back, and the ferret-like structure of her furry little face. Snakes do not often speak in cryptic haiku either, another key difference from his draconic companion.
He carefully scooped her up (waking her would certainly result in another bite to his already scarred arms) and slipped her into the leather satchel he kept for that exact purpose. Like the royal creature she was, she spent most of her time snoozing and letting Layne carry her around like a dutiful servant. Satisfied with his work for the time being, he wiped his brow, slung the Bobby bag over his shoulder, and ventured out into the halls to find the others.
It wasn't long before he spotted another student, and his face split into a broad, sunny smile.
"Hey, Memoli!" He called. Dawn had not been the first friend he'd made among his classmates. On paper, it didn't make much sense for him to be as close to the clever and quiet little slip of a girl as he was. In the weeks prior, however, she had become what Layne would consider to be the best friend he'd ever had. He loved her as well, in a different sort of way, like the sibling he'd always wished he had. He had a heart as big as whale, Layne Towerfall. He jogged up to her, careful not to jostle the sleeping dragon in his bag too much.
"What's up, dude? Nice fuckin' day we're havin'. Sun's shinin', birds singin', an' I ain't even hurt myself once today." He paused, scratching his nose and considering. "Though, I'd even take fire and hail as long as we got the day off.... What're ya up to? Seen anybody else yet?"
(sorry for xbox huge post, wanted to make sure I covered everything. won't be quite so wordy all the time lol)