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Eirik Ludviksra's first encounter with serious magic came during an unfortunate raid on Tortall, when his idiot chief decided the City of the Gods was a ripe plum for the taking. Only some fast action, and a half-remembered charm his grandma'd taught him, saved his life. And his axe.

Eirik's second encounter with Tortallan magic came during the very next raid, when he had the misfortune of facing down a mage-knight, who also had the high ground, damn him. A blow of his axe had disarmed him, shattering his blade and taking one finger clean off, but the knight had snatched up his broken sword and used it to channel a bolt of pure, rose-red magic; a quick whistle of the old protective charm took care of that. But Eirik, beyond pissed at the unfairness of knights who were magic, too, whistled another tune, an old childhood lullaby made eerie by his pitch, and nearly fainted in shock when a thick gray fog streamed off of him and surrounded the enemy, knocking him out cold.

(Ok, so Eirik wasn't the manliest Scanran ever. So what?)

It was his father, later, who told him he needed to study magic, if he had enough to whistle up a sleep. Eirik sort of wanted to (come on, magic was cool!), but on the other hand, he'd never hear the end of it from Lars or the others. And he'd just been getting somewhere with that overhand throw, too.

But his father was his father, and so Eirik found himself on the road through Galla, approaching the Tortallan border, Grandma's battle axe strapped securely to his back and his clothes in his mother's old battered satchel, which she'd spent the whole past week fussing over, stitching a new embroidery on it for luck.

He stopped just shy of the border as another problem presented itself. He had to go through Tortall to get to Carthak. He was tall, pale, and obviously Scanran, with the most Scanran name his parents had been able to think up, and he was carrying a battle axe. Scanran name and no axe, and he'd probably be fine. Axe and a non-Scanran name, likewise. Eirik dropped his head into his hands. What to do?

He looked at the edge of the axe over his shoulder. It was his Grandma's, like it had been her grandfather's before her. She'd entrusted it to him, so no matter how awkward it was, he couldn't just ditch it in some godforsaken Gallan marsh.

The name, then, Eirik thought. It'll be hard to remember to answer to a new one. Eirik sighed. There was nothing for it. Looking about him, he used the reedy Gallan landscape and his patchy Common to come up with a somewhat appropriate name.

Hm. He might have one. Yes, it'd work.

Pushing off the rickety sign for some godforsaken town called Lindhall, the mage formerly known as Eirik proceeded south.