At only 159 cm (5' 2.5") in height and weighing in at a waifish 47 kg (103.5 lbs), Aileas is small for his age by any standard, with soft features and thick, brilliantly red hair that inherited his birthmother's softness and his father's penchant for never going where it's supposed to. Overall, it is allowed to hang semi-long, with the right loose and unbound (and often consequently falling in front of his face, encouraging his sweeping it away to become a habitual tic), but the left is held out of the way of his face by virtue of the plait he wears the forward portion in, bearing a small number of variously colored beads and a purple ribbon. He has a fondness for the comfort and freedom of movement of loose clothing, but this does him no favors; his billowed sleeves and loose-fitting slacks that make up his preferred wardrobe may be fancy for dress wear, but it also makes him look even smaller than he is. At least the school uniform will be fitted to his size. He'll still look out of place, however, with his cherubic face looking as yet far too untouched by puberty to be fit for such a heroic high school.
He likes flowing clothes with a loose fit, and will feel cloistered up in a uniform. His most common clothing is a loose-sleeved dress shirt, an unadorned black belt, slacks and dress shoes. Despite his field of study, robes are actually only worn during ceremonies. Uniform, casual or ritual, however, the two constants are his plait, which is a standing record of his heretofore unnoteworthy achievements and education, and a single diamond stud worn in his right earlobe.
Introverted and shy, Aileas tends to hide in his books when around new people rather than try to get to know them. He highly values the opinions of authority figures, perhaps disproportionately so, and is still quite attached to his stepmother, who raised him almost exclusively. Still, despite a rather sheltered upbringing, he's a very intelligent boy, with a deep thirst for knowledge. He does his best to keep his magic private outside of lessons, however, as he has been taught, accurately, that the world has a poor track record with witches.
Aileas came from a normal enough family. His father works in Edinburgh and, while he tries to be there for his son, business keeps him away the great majority of the time. His mother died in a car accident when he was very little, too little to remember anything significant about her. He was raised almost exclusively by his stepmother, Cliona, and is very attached to her. It was she who, at a young age, recognized he had a gift for the arcane, and she who took to his private education of the arts, serving as his inductor and mentor into a long, ancient sisterhood of gaelic witchcraft.
The arrangement of education, in order to preserve secrecy, was entirely one-on-one, master and student. Oh, certainly, from time to time, he met other practitioners, or they would recognize his plait as a mark of the fraternity. They regularly chided his efforts as fruitless, crediting his slow gain in eldritch command to his being male, but his beautiful mother always said they were full of nonsense, that his seemingly slow growth was not due to such trifling things as gender, but due to his own low self confidence. In magic, as in all things, she would say, he could be as strong as he believed he could be, but no stronger. Until he overcame the perceived limits of mortal men, they would continue to limit him.
For his part, he never saw his mother do a great deal of magic, herself. Oh, he was certain she was doing it, of course, but she never flaunted it. Rather, things always seemed to come together just right. Not that she was afraid of hard work, rather she valued manual labor, saying that one could not truly understand something until they experienced it firsthand, but at the same time, he had seen her go from sweat-streaked and paint splattered from spending all day remodeling a room to pulling dinner out of the oven and greeting guests in the time it took him to go wash his hands. As he progressed in his studies, he even became increasingly suspicious that smaller, house type fae were regularly staying in their home, and his mother regularly, without offering explanation, left a dozen bowls of porridge and honey out at night, only to wash the empty bowls in the morning. There was the empty seat that no one ever used next to the fire place. And he always heard her talking to someone, or numerous someones, in the back garden, though he only ever saw quick flicks of light whenever he went to look.
His suspicions were confirmed the day he caught one. Though that might be a poor choice of words. He had been reading and fell asleep in the summer warmth in the arm of a large tree when a tickling sensation disturbed his slumber when he fell prey to a rather old trick ... except the trickster didn't get away in time and he found himself holding a pixie in his grip. She protested quite aggressively and he apologized and released her, but when he realized he'd been had, they thought they'd been had, too. Instead, he laughed, and when they realized his response was laughter, the pixies laughed, too.
After that, the fae in and about the house were much more open toward him, and though the brownies still did their work at night, he occasionally caught sight of the old urisk that spoke late into the night with his stepmother. However, the years passed, and despite the house feeling pleasantly fuller, his skills failed to progress beyond the basic skills of a bookbound apprentice. His stepmother attributed this as much to her teaching methods as his mortal mindset, that she had, herself, learned over a longer time frame. As a remedy to both, she convinced her husband to use his connections to put in a good word for the boy's name at the heroic Superdrops Academy on Laputa Isle.
Outside of his spellcasting, Aileas brings little to the table. He's a clever boy of above average intelligence, but due to youth and inexperience, he has few serviceable skills.
Of actual relevance is only his spellbook. Without it, his casting ability would be flattered to be called minimal, but losing it carries a much greater risk: Though their powers would be significantly less than his own without his natural gift, anyone can theoretically use his book to cast at least basic cantrips, which, while meaninglessly weak by the standards of a real witch, could cause indescribable chaos in a world unsecured against the arcane.
Aileas is a witch, capable of casting a general assortment of spells that encompass his toolset for dealing with threats and challenges. At his current skill level, however, he is limited to clever usages of cantrips and low-end incantations, all of which are contained in his spellbook and he cannot cast sufficiently without. However, he has moved beyond the need for reagents and has no need of spell components or focuses. Eventually, he will be capable of accomplishing anything he can imagine without any need for physical resources, but for now, the most he can do entirely on his own is generate some pretty glowing or light your cigarette.
His spellcasting is strictly apprentice level and dependent upon the crutch of his book. Beyond that, he's physically small and unremarkable. While calling him a weakling by normal human standards would be unfair, his below average physical specifications still mean he lacks physical options in a brawl.
Aileas' sleep was disturbed when his nose began itching. He came out of it scrunching and crinkling his nose, but as it persisted, he whipped his hand up to scratch or swat as the situation demanded.
He came up quick with a face full of whipped cream and surrounded by small, tittering laughter.
Aileas swung his legs off of the tree as he wiped the topping from his face and flicked it toward the garden floor. "Again? How long are you gonna keep pulling the same gag, Saoirse?" He raised his gaze to take in the flittering form of the ebon pixie that had been harassing him for years. His own personal pocket-sized bully, he often joked, though he didn't really mind. The antics of her and her friends never failed to lighten up the day.
She fluttered at the front of a cluster of them, grinning victoriously down at him. "As long as you keep fallin' asleep in our garden, Alice! That or you quit fallin' fer it!"
Aileas grumbled at the derogatory nickname she took to using to try to get a rise out of him. "Well, you'll have plenty of time to come up with some new ones."
"Eh?" she inquired, confused by the statement. "What're you gabbin' about, Alice? Why fix what's not broken?"
"Didn't you hear?" he asked as he finished cleaning off his face and jumped down from the limb. "Mom's sending me to a private school. Laputa Isle, where all those superhumans are. Thinks it'll make me expand my perceptions, I suppose. Doesn't seem to think much of their teachers, though. Keeps ranting on 'em."
But Saoirse's eyes lit up at that. "Ooh, isn't that Superdrops' Academy for Heroes or something like that? The school Excelsior's son goes to?"
That expression never boded well for him. Aileas' eyebrows went up in suspicious confusion. "I think so. I think I've heard something about that ..."
"Ooooooh," she trilled. Yep, definitely bad. "What's his name? Gavin or something? Aileas ..." She fluttered up next to him and leaned against his cheek. "Could you do a bonnie quine a wee wan?"
Here it was. Aileas wanted to groan, but he satisfied himself with a sigh and an eyeroll. "What're ya puttin' me up to, Saoirse?"
She grinned again, pulling back and clasping her hands. "Magic! Always knew you were a cannie loon! It's just a toaty bit!"
The fifteen year old boy crossed his arms. The longer she chattered like this, the worse it was. "Spit it out, Sao."
The sudden declaration took the boy aback. "A what?"
"A sock!" she repeated with perfect repetition. "I want one of Gavin's socks!"
He stared at her for a long moment, waiting, sure that she was going to announce a gotcha at any moment. Long moments stretched out like that, he glaring flatly at her and she grinning like a cat with the canary.
When it was finally exceedingly clear no such revelation would be forthcoming, he simply replied, "You're a right scunning ned, Sao."
"An' yer a big, numpty dobber!" she sunnily chirped back without a second's heartbeat.
The smoke wafting heavily from the old hob's pipe smelled faintly of cannabis and pine, but overwhelmingly bore the impression of deep forest loam. He had long since finished speaking with Cliona, the boy's stepmother, though what they discussed was, as always, outside Aileas' ability to guess. Now, as he often did, he merely sat next to the crackling fireplace with his cob pipe in his mouth, puffing lazily. Sometimes, he would be there for only another half hour or so. Others, especially on cold nights like this one, he would bathe in the heat for hours, until his pipe smoke hazed the air and you could still smell it the morning after.
Aileas, for his part, was belly down on the carpet, an old tome open before him and a much more modern tablet of paper and pencil that he was taking notes from it with. Something was stirring in his mind, however, and he finally turned up to look at the fae elder. "Old Man," he addressed him, for he had never been privvy to his name. He had once called the urisk Wise Old Man to try to be more respectful, but the wrinkled guest had only laughed at the boy and scolded him for confusing wizened with wisdom. The only indication now, as always, that he had the hob's attention was that the pipe dipped down. "Why do I have to go to this school, so far away?"
The corn cob pipe lifted back up and the old man was silent, his mouth opening behind his beard only to puff on the mouthpiece. This, too, was typical of him. There was the sense that he was chewing over his words, though sometimes, he wouldn't answer at all. This wouldn't be one of those times, however. Just as Aileas was beginning to suspect it would, the old man answered. "Dunno," was the rough reply, and his voice sounded like the gravelly protests of a wet, old cavern. "Why do kids ask stupid questions?"
Aileas knew better than to think the old fae was brushing him off. It was his way to turn questions around back at the asker, or at least that was how he had always been with him. He pulled his feet under him and crossed his legs so he was sitting up instead of laying on his stomach. "Because we aren't yet wise enough to always see what's right in front of us," he answered directly.
It was the right answer. He knew because the old hob let out a coughing laugh at it, slapping the arm of his chair, and actually pulled the pipe out of his mouth after taking another draw on it. He exhaled the smoke before continuing. "Quite, quite. Most never are, lad. Most never are." Another draw, like a punctuation, was made from the pipe. "What'd yer mum tell ya?"
The boy let his head lull back as if the swirls of smoke above his head would fold into the exact specifics of the conversation. "She said I needed to see what people could do. But that place is for superheroes. Costumed mutants and aliens that beat up supercriminals. If I needed to see what humanity is capable of, why couldn't she just show me?"
"'Cuz you don't see her as humanity," the old man neatly replied. "You see her as yer mum, and mums are special. Seein' her do something wouldn't mean anythin' to ya. She might as well be queen o' the banshees fer all it would mean ta yer perception of what can be done." And another deep pull and exhale. There was a slight change in the old man's eroded mein. "And what'd Saoirse tell ya?"
Even though the old hob was only by in the evening, he always seemed to know what'd been happening about the house all day. That he knew the boy had conversed on the issue with the pixie wasn't at all a surprise. He probably already knew what had been said. "She said I was a dobber and she wants a sock from someone famous there."
The urisk spared a snort for that. "Weirdo." And the two shared a grin at that. But the pipe had been too long from his lips and he took another puff. "So why don't you give credit to yer mum's word?"
The young man thought it over for a moment, then shrugged. "It just doesn't sound that productive, I guess. I mean, I suppose they have magic users, but she doesn't seem too impressed with them. She didn't sound like she had a complimentary word about anybody I'd be learning magic from there, at least."
"Mmm," the old hob gave thoughtfully as he nibbled the mouthpiece of his pipe. "Yer mum's got high standards, but she's also right. Notta speak poorly o' a man I ne'er met, I'm sure they're fine folk or yer mum wouldn't even consider it, but ye'd be hard-pressed to find a better teacher o' magic than her, short of ol' Mab, 'erself, o' course, High Queen o' the Unseelie Court and master to Merlin, himself, as she is. But on the other side o' that wooden nickel, o' course, is that most e'eryone else is gonna be a worse teacher of the subject than her."
"Then why do I have to go?"
The old goat gave the boy a bewildered look at that. "Why, a'cuz she told ya to, lad!" He mastered himself quickly, however, the question settling in for better consideration. He took three long pulls on his pipe before he dared speak again. "Obviously, lad, there's something she feels ye can learn there that she can't teach you. It'd be my suggestion ye focus on lookin' fer that."
Aileas fell into solemn silence as he considered the wisdom of the old hob's advice. After a moment, however, he set it aside and focused on something else. "Old Man, have you ever met Queen Mab?"
The urisk's face split into a wide, craggy grin. "Met 'er right thigh, I did. Finest thing ye ever saw, and don't let no one tell ye dif'rent, 'specially 'bout that twig o' her sister. E'ryone fawns o'er her jes cuz some human playwright wrote about her, but laddie, a proper woman has meat on 'er bones ..."
The pipe was almost forgotten as the old hobgoblin started in on one of his long-winded stories and Aileas settled in to listen.