A Magical Story
As an indentured slave to the worst magician in the land, Hawk hates his life. When he suddenly finds himself matched in a duel with the one of the most famous wizards in Aurora, Hawk is in way over his head.
In less than one match, Hawk finds his life completely changed, and he now belongs to the wizard, Brael. Regardless of the fact Hawk has adored Brael since his youth, he's now a grown man and things are different. But are they really?
When his former master, Ejada, plots to kill the king and have Brael blamed for it, Hawk must go way beyond his limits to try to save the king and mage. If he doesn't, Brael will die. And if he succeeds, he'll probably be the one to die.
Brael opened the tower door and saw Master Jakob beside a cauldron with a young boy next to him. Though the child could barely see over the edge, he carefully added the ingredients the elder man gave him.
After Brael dismissed the servant, he closed the door behind him. The instant the child, Hawk, noticed him, he tugged on Jakob’s robe. “Brael’s here, Grandpa.”
“Just in time, Brael. I’ve finished with my work already.” Jakob turned, a broad smile wreathing his features. The genial, elderly man motioned for Brael to sit as he headed to a nearby cabinet and poured them some wine.
The moment Brael sat and held out his arms, the five-year-old boy chortled and clamored into his lap. He pulled playfully at one of the blond curls, and Hawk laughed at the bright, merry green eyes staring trustingly into his.
Jakob settled into the chair beside Brael and handed him a glass. “Are you fully prepared for the coming tournament?”
As Hawk’s fingers deftly plaited his long hair, Brael answered, “Of course. I thought to try the new spell you taught me last month.”
“Look what I can do, Brael.” Hawk lifted his hand and a glass flew across the room to him.
Brael’s brow arched as he eyed the boy, then glanced at Jakob.
“It’s getting harder and harder to dampen his ability.” Jakob sighed before he took his grandson gently to task. “Hawk, you know you aren’t supposed to do that.”
“But I wanted to show Brael.” The child’s lower lip stuck out mutinously.
“I know what you can do, little bird. You don’t have to show me.” Brael tickled beneath his chin to coax a smile from him.
The stubborn jut to Hawk’s jaw relaxed, and he beamed at Brael before he buried his face against the wizard’s shoulder. His slender arms wrapped around Brael’s neck, and Hawk sighed happily.
“Hawk, it’s time for your dinner. Brael and I will come to your party after you’ve eaten.”
Only the promise of his party convinced Hawk to move. He pressed a kiss to Brael’s cheek, then scrambled off Brael’s lap to give his grandfather a kiss as well. “Brael, it’s my birthday, and you promised me a story.”
“You’ll have your story, Hawk.” He already had Hawk’s birthday gift in his pocket. “And your present, too.”
A sunny grin was his reward before Hawk left the room.
“He’s growing stronger, Jakob.” Brael had felt the distinct fluctuation of the child’s power when he’d entered the room. For most, magic was a learned practice, but for a few humans, the ability lay in their blood. In Hawk’s case, the ability already showed far stronger than normal. If it weren’t hidden, the temptation to abuse the power would come from all sides. It wouldn’t only be Hawk’s father trying to use Hawk, but every faction of magician above and below ground.
“I don’t have the time left to protect him. You’ll be the one to train him, Brael, but not before the prophesied time.”
“I know all of that, but it might not be wise to leave it until he grows up.” Brael held his own doubts regardless of the prophecy.
“Phillip would misuse Hawk if he had a clue of his potential. The boy’s father pays no attention to him now, but the servants take good care of Hawk so I’m not worried about him.”
“I’ll keep him shielded, Jakob, and stop the growth of his power as I agreed.” He didn’t like the idea, but Brael understood the necessity.
“You know the prophecy as I do. You’re the only one who can train Hawk to reach his true strength. Anything else is too frightening to contemplate.”
Hawk blew out all the candles on his cake, then beamed happily at his grandfather and Brael. As he picked the candles off the cake, he licked the sweet frosting off the ends.
“Are you going to tell me what you wished for?” Brael teasingly asked Hawk as Jakob cut the cake for them.
“If I do, it won’t come true.” He shook his head solemnly, then glanced over at the brightly colored packages on the table. “Can I open them, Grandpa?”
“When you’ve eaten your cake, Hawk.” He put a piece on the plate in front of his grandson and added a scoop of ice cream.
Hawk waited until Brael and his grandfather had their cake before he started on his own. His gaze kept drifting to the presents, intensely curious. “You remember you have to tell me a story before you leave, Brael. You won’t forget.”
He’d only forgotten once, and Hawk never let him live it down. “I’ll be up right after I’m done talking with your grandfather.”
Reassured, Hawk finished the piece of cake, then folded his hands in his lap to try to wait patiently for the other two to eat theirs. He watched each mouthful they took, and after a moment began fidgeting in his seat.
Brael lightly pinched his cheek, and Jakob chuckled. “I suppose we should let him open them.”
“Please.” He earnestly pleaded with Jakob, not sure how much longer he could wait.
“Go ahead, Hawk.”
Hawk took the nearest gift and unwrapped it before Jakob could change his mind. Inside the box, he found a small statue of a kitten. Excited, he smiled at his grandfather as he took it out. “It’s so beautiful, Grandpa. How do I wake it?”
Jakob took Hawk’s hand and held it to the smooth gray surface. “Taza tika.”
The kitten came to life beneath his hand. It blinked, then nudged its head to Hawk’s fingers. “You’ll have to name her and take care of her. She’ll be your responsibility, Hawk.”
“I will. I swear.” Hawk promised as he watched the kitten lap at the crumbs and melted cream on his plate. When Jakob touched the cat again and repeated the words, it became immobile.
Hawk reached for the small present, quickly tore off the paper, and opened the jewelry box. A beautiful, greenish-blue sunstone amulet winked in the light, and he gave Brael a delighted smile. It took him a moment to fasten the amulet around his neck. His fingers rubbed at the warm stone before he jumped out of his seat and hugged Brael.
“You have one more gift, Hawk, but you can’t use it until you’re older.”
“What is it, Grandpa?” Hawk took the box from him and lifted the lid. Inside he saw a bright purple stone, set in a very old-looking, silver setting which sparkled in the light. When he ran a finger over it, it started to glow and he laughed.
“It’s a Seer medallion, and it’s been in our family for hundreds of years. It’s very important to you.”
He put it down, then ran to Jakob, hugging the old man tightly. “Thank you so much, Grandpa. I love you.”
Jakob hugged him back, pressing a kiss against his hair. “I love you too, Hawk. Now it’s time for bed. Your father will be here early in the morning. So have your stuff ready.”
The gentle reminder earned Jakob a sour look. Without a word, Hawk picked up his presents and walked to the door, leaving them to talk. Heading upstairs, Hawk went straight to his room and put the gifts next to his bedside lamp. Contently full of cake, he undressed, then slipped a gown over his head. As he climbed into bed, he took the statue with him, whispering, “Taza tika.”
As he cuddled the fluffy animal to his cheek, he rubbed against the soft fur, listening to the tiny purring sound. The rare Taza couldn’t speak yet, but Hawk would teach her when she grew older. He glanced at the door, waiting impatiently for Brael, and fingered the sunstone. It would be his favorite amulet from now on, and he would never take it off. The Taza curled up beside his head as Hawk burrowed beneath the covers. He needed to think of a name for the kitten and wanted to give it great thought. As he contemplated possible names, Hawk became drowsy with the warmth and the quiet sound of the kitten in his ear.
“Sorry, little bird. I didn’t mean to make you wait so long.”
Hawk heard Brael and opened his eyes to see Brael sitting on the edge of his bed. The wizard hadn’t forgotten after all. He gave Brael a sleepy smile as he rolled toward Brael, curling around the man. “You promised me a story.”
“And a story you shall have.” Brael brushed a lock of Hawk’s hair from his eyes and began the story. “Once upon a time there lived a handsome, young lad.”
Snuggled up to Brael, Hawk closed his eyes, listening to the deep, soft voice.
“One day he would grow up to become the most powerful in all the land, but that day was far in the future. On this day, he walked through the woods near his house. To his surprise, he came across a silly-looking wolf. The wolf appeared far too ridiculous to be afraid of in his ugly purple and green robe. Instead of running away from him, the lad laughed at the sight of him.”
Hawk chuckled at the tale of enchantment and laughter Brael wove for him. “Was the wolf really a prince in disguise?”
“No, of course not.” Brael pinched Hawk’s cheek as Hawk wrinkled his nose. “Princes are very boring, and our young hero knows it.”
He opened his eyes, giving the wizard a doubtful look. “Are they really?”
“Yes, they really are. They sit on their thrones all day long, listening to everybody telling them their problems. It’s not much fun,” he solemnly reassured Hawk as he tapped the child’s nose lightly.
“I thought they fought wars.” Hawk grabbed the hand and tucked it under his cheek.
“Not if they can help it, little bird. Now about our wolf. He was a very nice creature, and the boy laughing at him didn’t bother him one bit. In fact, the wolf was so nice the lad decided to travel with him to see if they could find the secret castle in the woods.”
As Brael spun the rest of the adventure, Hawk remained silent, content to have the mage with him and determined to stay awake long enough to hear the full story.