That made sense. There was a lot of discrimination against Aukari in this world, especially in Rynmere, where he came from. The Aukari weren't seen as worth anything. In fact, just a season ago, Alistair only perpetuated this intolerance of them himself. He remembered it clearly - Lady Reimen Solange, saying that she only fancied Aukari. And of course, Alistair being a proper Lord, chastised her for that. He told her that an Aukari would never be a proper husband for a Lady.
It wasn't even a thought. He didn't even know why he said it - what the logic was. What made an Aukari so unsuitable. He only said it because he was conditioned to, for a long time. Alistair recalled thinking about it that night, and he determined that such a ridiculous claim was against him. That someone should be determined by who they are, rather than what they are. That was something Ellasin had helped him learn, as one of the woman's singular good qualities in an array of bad. She had come from Augiery, where the Naerikk reigned; she was one herself. She witnessed constant discrimination against men - all men. The Naer abused them, utilized them as objects, treated them with scorn.
And she questioned . . . why? What was it about them that the Naer could not tolerate? Why act as such when they, in fact, needed men to carry on their race? She explained to Alistair that their pointless intolerance was their greatest weakness, just as many people in positions of authority had shown pointless intolerance towards mages. They weakened themselves. They made themselves vulnerable. Secretly, they even relied on mages without knowing it - without good mages like the Seekers to hold back the Coven, Ellasin likely would have razed cities to the ground. All because they couldn't incorporate mages into their guards, or their army. They were too intolerant, and it crippled them.
And Avrae wasn't intolerant of Alistair; he didn't make a single comment about the fact that Ali possessed magic, and even utilized it in his presence. This made the mage feel . . . unkind. Even though Avrae was a stubborn ass, he had judged Alistair for the traits of personality he presented, rather than merely the fact that he was a mage. In truth, he followed the nobleman's own line of thinking, and for that reason he knew they could be friends.
"You have a mage's soul, Avrae," he told him. Alistair's eyes seemed passionate in those words - and understanding. "Let me tell you a story," the Venora began. "This is a story known well to those within my circle - that of Rupturing, the magic that defies space and reason. It's a story of our true founder, Reyard Seymour, who was born a hundred years past. A man I look up to immensely. He was actually the one to initiate Ellasin into Rupturing, who initiated me into the same craft. So I almost consider him like my grandfather," he chuckled.
"Reyard was always an ambitious man. He had one goal that no one else could stand still with after hearing; everyone always laughed. Laughed and laughed and laughed. He, a young astrologer and astronomer, wanted to go to the moon. It was at some point in his youth, when pursuing this goal, that he came upon Rupturing. He and the magic were immediate companions, as even though the magic never spoke to him, he always felt a comfort at the spark lit inside. Rupturing was his most beloved thing, and in his passion he developed new forms of it that radically modernized the art. Full-length compression portals, the heart and soul of Rupturing. Sundials, which allow inter-city, or massive distance travel. He invented the ability Rending, a massive rift that can consume whole city blocks around it. He was an amazing man - the true founder of the art. And all for that same goal he'd formed as a child: going into space. Walking on the moon."
The man's eyes seemed genuinely pleased as he told this story, as if it were the most beautiful story he'd ever known. Speaking it made it come to life, in his eyes; he could remember the Transcendence, his visit into space. The initiation to Rupturing, where one viewed the stars and galaxies not from a distance, but from right beside them... in an astral, ethereal form. Reyard, he thought, must have fallen in love with that sight. He pursued it for all of his life.
"One day, he did leave for the moon. He made a unique variant of the sundial from pure onyx, a momentously expensive and laborious task. He made it specifically for aiming into the sky, so that he could direct its trajectory at the moon. This was difficult, of course, as the moon seems to darken or . . . I don't know, move? I'm not sure the science on that yet; no one really knows. But he determined where the center was in its exact, channeled as much energy as he could, opened a portal and left." He could imagine now what a terrifying thing that might have been; it was a mission of near certain death. Surely, everyone must have been advising him against it. Not to mention his loved ones.
"Many people, especially the astronomers and astrologers without magical talent, say he died on that journey. That he would have been suspended into empty space and that he'd float for thousands of years, unable to decay or find peace in the afterlife. But we mages know what really happened. For those who initiate others into Rupturing, a strong bond is formed. A bond of distance; the ability to know where one is, always, no matter how far away. One that shuts down when someone has died. And for those who had that bond with him, like Ellasin and his other students, all have unanimously said that they still feel his presence. Above them - somewhere. He found something, and he decided to never come back."
Finishing his long story, the man winded down. He didn't want to prattle on too much. There was a reason for that whole explanation - it was to tell Avrae something that Alistair meant, and believed, from the bottom of his heart.
"The laughs and mocks of others mean nothing. Their predetermined judgments as to who you are and what you are capable of... it's all hogwash, every single bit of it. You're right to be ambitious, and to strive, regardless of their intolerance of what you are. I have known this same intolerance, because of what I am. A mage, hated universally in Rynmere. An emotional cripple, stared at and mocked before they know of my noble status. A man who loves men, when everyone else in my social class is expected and demanded to marry another of the opposite sex. Yet now, look at me. I'm successful. I'm powerful. And I am in love with a man, and will likely marry one overseas, and there's not one thing the moralizing influences of the nobility can do about any of that."
He smiled. Genuinely. He was happy to talk about this - to talk about it to someone who understands.
"But," he said firmly, "there's no point in killing yourself over a true impossibility. Let's start with the basics, Avrae," the man told him. Alistair stood up, with light brown slacks seeming to just appear in place of the black aura that covered his lower body. The nudity from before was tied to his fear. Of the shadows, of the creature, of that corridor. He wasn't afraid right now. He was excited. He wanted to teach Avrae what it meant to be strong, ambitious. Worth something.
"How about this, for the basics - how about I help you prove all of those fools wrong? That an Aukari can burn hotter than any flame, and not just literally. But in wit, and wisdom, and integrity. I can become your guide, Avrae. I can help you kill Gorgolas, I can help you find a base to begin a new life, and I can walk with you on the path: a journey of enlightenment, one that we can both walk."