A wizard who is an instructor at the White Lotus Academy came through the village where Pel lived with his family. Being a head-in-the-clouds type with a tweed jacket and leather elbow patches, he walked through a patch of dire poison ivy, mistaking it for the less dangerous kind. (What, they have dire boars but no dire poison ivy? Come on!). After taking his rest at the local inn, he fell ill and the town herbalist and her apprentice (Pel and his mother) were called in to cure him, which they did with dispatch. In gratitude, the wizard offered to give Pel a place in the academy arboretum where he could learn plantlore and further his aptitude. Secretly, the wizard sensed innate arcane power in Pel, and wanted to bring him to a place where that talent could be safely manifested, controlled, disciplined. So once Pel gets to the academy, he figures out there’s a lot more interesting things to learn than plantlore (the kindly wizard MAYBE left a book or two where Pel could find it, just to get him started) and secretly sets about learning all he can from the students and instructors, through observation and, when he can, secret lessons. He also sneaks around in the library and snoops in the classroom building and laboratories. He spends three years as a secret student, gaining knowledge of plantlore and nature skills through his work in the arboretum as well.
Pel is particularly interested in the stars and the planets, and their movement. He wonders if there is any law that guides them, but the truth of that seemed to elude even the best scholars. Surrounded by magicians, and made well aware of their abilities through frequent demonstrations, he begins to see that there is some force in the world, like a fire, fueling it all, from the wizards’ spells to the movement of the planets and stars. Knowledge has not been found to explain all the movements of man and the heavens to him, and these inconsistencies gnaw at Pel, who is at heart someone who’d very much like to be more trusting of the laws of the world, not to mention the univers. When he has juxtaposed the certainty of the stars with the uncertainty of man, he does not understand how the two can co-exist. That stars behave in the way they do, moving across the heavens and influencing man, and the small discrepancies in the night sky, the bits and piece of space that his kowledge cannot define, are proof of this internal struggle. He looks nightly to his books and the the heavens, but finds few answers there.
It was in the midst of this internal struggle with his studies that Pel finally found a mentor. Instructor Ibok instructs bards in the Hall of Amber and tends the temple. Also, he was an adventurer. Also, he is a dwarf. Win win WIN. Pel figured out how to sneak into the bard’s private laboratory, catching his attention, and through an endearing and hilarious set of hijinks he became the wizard’s assistant. Pel didn’t choose his lab necessarily—he was systematically trying to sneak into all the labs and this was the first instructor who caught him.
Ibok’s also an adventurer, and the master of duels as well as etiquette (Pel turned out extremely charismatic, diplomatic, etc. so in a sense, Ibok smoothed out the rough edges. Think: Good Will Hunting. With Magic.) Ibok has a rather rogueish nature, so he was taken with Pel’s brashness in breaking to his laboratory (he appreciated it even more that Pel had previously broken into other instructors’ laboratories but escaped detection, though he didn’t mention this to Pel until later) and decided to teach him in private. He too sensed the same innate power that the wizard who brought Pel to White Lotus had sensed, but never told Pel about this power, allowing him to believe that his skill came from study and intelligence, not natural aptitude and inborn power. (Pel is still kind of pissed off about this. Ever since he manifested as a sorcerer, he has suspected that this instructors and mentor had kept important information from him about his inborn abilities. Bastards.)
After two years of private study and secret mentorship, Ibok can no longer ignore the fact that Pel’s abilities warranted the full attention and tutelage that being a student at White Lotus offered and became an advocate for Pel to receive a scholarship, despite his being older than students usually admitted. The fact that Pel had remained at the Academy working as a gardener while secretly learning from books in the library and observing the students dueling, breaking into laboratories etc. turned out to be a mark in his favor rather than the other way around, and he was admitted as a scholarship student. Pel spent four years studying as a wizard, then he took his mentor’s lead and headed out into the world, trusty spellbook and wand in hand. It would only be natural, then, for Pel to have taken on some bardic traits, as well as to become an adventurer, out of admiration for his tutor and, he thought, friend.
After spending a few years in the world adventuring, Pel the invoker wizard was left feeling as lost and unsatisfied as he had as a secret student at the Academy. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was not on his true path. At times he would look in the mirror and swear he only saw half of his own reflection. After a particularly successful orc emcampment raid left him feeling more useless and disspirited than before, he parted ways with his companions and made his way alone to an uninhabited wooded area. Before entering the woods for a period of deep contemplation, he used his share of the treasure to purchase enough supplies for a month as well as a large quantity of highly potent natural hallucinogens (Thank Mom the Herbalist!) and proceeded to spend the next month in the woods spirit questing.
It was during this time that Pel began to understand the innate source of his power. The power he wielded did not come from books and spells and incantations and study, but from the universe itself, and it did not flow through tomes and wands and instructors, but through his very blood. He realized he could no longer live the academic and esoteric life of a wizard, and threw his books into the fire, not in order to relinquish his power, but to claim it. As the books burned, he felt certain that if he had had a mirror, he would have seen a complete reflection bathed in the glowing.
He spent this month in increasing awareness of the inherent and powerful chaos that simmers below the surface of all things, and learned, if not to control it, to channel it for his own purposes. (Though the power itself has a will of its own that sometimes will not be denied, and is seldom understood.) One evening as Pel was watching the sun set, and the forces swirl in the air between night and day, he heard a small voice that seemed to come from behind his head. It said, “It seems to me that you have several more lives to live. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly you fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for yourself.” Pel turned, and saw nothing. He heard the voice again, “I learned this, at least, by my experiment, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Pel whirled around and came nose to nose with a tiny, shimmering little creature who gave a barbarous yawp and grinned with its little rodent face. Pel knew that it was meant to go with him, as a guide, servant, friend. His familiar, the tiny spark of elemental chaos that completed him. He held out a hand, and the tiny sugar glider landed, threw both his little arms around Pel’s thumb, and asked, “Posket can has o plz? kthxbai” and scampered into Pel’s hair, which Pel only then noticed had become a massive crown of dreadlocks over the month in isolation. An isolation which had, apparently, just ended for good. (Pel has been waiting for Posket to make as much sense as he did that first day ever since, with no luck. It appears that Posket’s deep love for and bond to Pel simply robs him of all but the most semi-intelligent speech.) And then, Pel the sorcerer and his familiar Posket left the woods for as good a reason as they went there.