Scarlet ribbons and emeralds
Vanfink is the second and youngest son of a Cassomir merchant making his living by the city port. Never having met his mother and his father perpetually busy, he had unparalleled freedom to explore the city around him and there are few things that define Cassomir more than trade and its port, so unsurprisingly, it ended up becoming a source of major fascination for him.
Whist for an adult trade might represent just the movement of goods and money, none of which Vanfink could afford in the first place, instead he helped himself generously to the other intangible good that was free and occasionally overflowing from the port. Ideas. Stories. Overhearing conversations about strange places far away and stranger events even further so. Collecting these stories became Vanfink’s game, his childhood spend observing the strangely dressed disembarking strangers, or the workings of the shipyards themselves. This became Vanfink’s first education. Education not so much in actually learning anything important, but in learning that there was a lot to learn indeed.
At home things were somewhat different. His father was a man of few words. Working from dawn to dusk he always seemed to spend disproportionate amounts of time with his fist born son (who had a much more hands on role in the shop), ending the day too exhausted to entertain any of Vanfink’s tales from the port or questions.
However, the few times his father silent shell opened up, usually after a good sip of something alcoholic, he had a lot to say, often going into long rants about the state of the world, the “good for nothing nobles” and how “merchants will rule the world one day”. Moments which Vanfink enjoyed immensely, although they seemed to embarrass his brother. Often both being reminded afterwards not to repeat such opinions in public (which only increased the guilty pleasure of hearing them).
As the years passed however, the few alcoholic sips became more frequent and the hearty rants fewer. The excited remarks about “the upcoming revolution” slowly turning into cynical remarks about how “nothing ever changes”. Although his (so dull) brother seemed fine with it. seeing his father’s inner fire slowly die out like this distressed Vanfink more than anything, vowing to never let the same thing happen to him.
Having seen however the results of a life of merchanthood and with him destined to start with even less than that, Vanfink head of instead after that invisible substance his childhood had trained him to chase. Learning. Knowledge. Ideas. Ideas on how to change the world and prove his father wrong. And the line between “world altering knowledge” and “magic” could be said to be very thin.
Being accepted after hard work into the Academy, was for Vanfink both the happiest moment of his life, followed by the greatest disappointment. For indeed, here was a place of knowledge. Of fully stocked alchemical labs and the sense that with so many bright persons together, surely the new was around the corner. What he actually entered was a world a lot more rigid that his previous somewhat carefree life. A world of rules, authority structures, traditions and rituals. Rather than “striking against the nobility”, it didn’t take long for Vanfik to realize that the Academy was in fact, part of it. If anything more concerned with entrenching it further. And the students were even worse. 4 out of 5 seemingly complete sociopaths, craving power, status and fantasies of grandeur. The “evil wizard” archetype, or in their case “evil wizard wannabe, currently actually being exploited for free labor by the aloof teachers, themselves a primary example of the those who can’t do, teach, saying”. An opinion he may or may not have said loudly one day.
He didn’t last long.
With his Academy dreams shattered, Vanfink now finds himself lost, but his dreams of changing the world remain as powerful as ever.