Through the dark billowing smoke I tried to see what was going on, finally it was going to end. I took a step ... huh? Oh crap sorry I started at the end. This all started a few hundred years ago. Me? Oh I am Toman Wilbey yeah I know sucks right? Any way I am a mage, been one for a long time I ... what’s a mage? Hmmm how to explain? Merlin from ancient times was an extremely powerful mage. So powerful he was an elite mage that was called a wizard.
I can only hope to be that powerful one day, though from what my grandfather said I will. Compared to what Merlin was I am weak though I have a secret that I know a lot of other mages would kill to know. Looking at the smoke I nodded, as a matter of fact a few had already tried, as many had been trying for centuries.
It appears that I got a little far into my cups one night at the mage academy. You know a school for mages. I opened my mouth about an ability I had and, that was the day I started fearing for my life. It wasn’t that much of a big deal really so I could increase my power and retain almost all of the levels I achieved. At least I thought it wasn’t a big deal. Not ‘til my then only friend tried to kill me and take it for his own.
Betrayal, yup, that can be a real eye opener especially if you survive. I’m sorry to say that my friend didn’t, so I was then wanted for questioning. Then suddenly I was wanted for murder, and then I was sentenced to death, on sight! I went home started to pack, was on my way out when grandfather’s voice stopped me cold.
“Where in the hell do you think you are going?” I heard his older gruff voice call out.
“I’m leaving Pops; they will be after me soon I don’t want you killed when they come for me!” I said in a hurry as I tried to push my way out the door.
“Uh huh, and why would they do that?” His gruff voice asked.
I hung my head, I was caught, if anything grandfather would kill me mercifully. At least with him it would be quick and nearly painless. Sighing I opened up I’d never lied to him and wasn’t about to start. “I killed him Pops.” I blurted out. “He tried to power siphon me so I put up a defense but he wouldn’t stop. So I pushed back, I guess harder that I thought I would. I felt his heart slow, stop, and then explode!” Now tears were streaming down my face, “I didn’t even try, it just happened!”
“I see,” I heard Grandfather say, “You really expect me to believe that?”
Dropping everything I spread my arms leaving myself completely open to him. A moment later I felt his probe as he watched what had happened.
“You see Pops I don’t lie! You taught me that!” Kneeling on the floor I bowed my head. “I know you will make it as painless as possible pops. I’m ready.” I felt a movement next to me then I was flying backwards into the wall.
“I thought I raised you better than that,” came his bellowing voice! “Now get up! Come to the kitchen so we can plan.”
I looked up from the floor a look of disbelief on my face. He wasn’t going to kill me? Pops was an older retired member of the council. Here I thought it was his duty to take criminals in.
“Unless you want to get smacked around again I suggest you desist with the criminal thoughts!” He growled to let me know he wasn’t playing.
Nodding my head rapidly I got off the floor walking to the table. “I thought that since you were once a council member it was your duty. Sorry pops I didn’t mean to insult you. I forgot that they made you leave.”
Grandfather’s face softened a bit as he nodded. “You were always a good boy. You have always listened to the ramblings and rumblings of an old man. I just wish your father had sooner. Then I feel he’d be alive today. I have to admit he hid it for far longer than I thought him capable of.”
I could only stare at him what in the world was he on about? “Uh ok,” was all I could get out?
Pops chuckled a moment a faraway look came to his eyes. “You know your father was extremely powerful. Even Merlin had said that his power only rivaled your father’s.”
“Merlin? I thought you told me he died a hundred years ago?” I asked a look of astonishment on my face.
“Ah that’s just a story that he made up so he could enjoy life well what he’s got left. He’s very alive and living on an island. Wish I could have gone with him. Would have too had this trouble with your father hadn’t started.” Pops said a tear starting to fall from one eye. “I couldn’t leave not after your father died. Especially as suspiciously as he did. Besides I made a promise as you know we NEVER break a promise.”
I nodded as I agreed with pops as far as I knew no one from the family had ever broken a promise. Sitting at the table I waited as Pops sat also and started to outline his plan. “Alright Toman, we’ll be on the run for quite a while I am afraid. As I told you your father had a lot of power. You my boy are exactly like him, though I think after today you might develop a lot faster.”
Again all I could do was stare at Pops. I was like my father? I had no real power, no real abilities. “Ok if you say so Pops,” I replied.
Pops looked as if he was about to back hand me again. “You are, you may not feel it, but you are. Problem is there are a few on the council that don’t wish for your power to mature. It would you might say, show them in a bad light with a full investigation being started. One I know wouldn’t leave the present council in place. Hell might even call for a few extinguishings.”
My eyes flew wide! There hadn’t been one of those in a century. It was the second highest form of living punishment! To completely lose your powers, being banished to the human world. I shuddered it was a fate worse than death for a magic user! “So what are we going to do pops? I mean they will eventually find us here!” I was shaking not really knowing what pops was going to do.
“I think the best thing we can do is hide in the human world. I still have a few contacts there so we should be safe a while. Hell might even get Merlin involved; he always did have a thing for the human world. Though he’s only been resting a century might have to wait a few decades before I bother him.” Pops said as his forehead furrowed in thought. “If you’re ready we should go. Try not to use your magic ‘til I tell you, I am assuming they are keyed into your energy signature, as I am sure they will mine before too long.”
I nodded as I was at a complete loss as to what Pops was saying. I watched as he started to chant in the old language. I had just started to learn it this year so I only understood some of it. Something about a portal, the human world, old friends and I’m not sure but maybe a power shift? Shaking my head a moment later the air in front of us split, then we were standing at the edge of a forest with a bunch of conical huts in front of us.
Leaning over I whispered, “Pops where are we? Those are the strangest plants I have ever seen.”
Smiling pops shook his head, “They aren’t plants, they are made of animal skin, the people here call them Teepees.” A tall brown skinned man barely clothed walked up to us.
“Namaste mere achchhe mitr. Bahut lamba samay gujar gaya.” (Hello my good friend. It has been a long time.) The man said to Pops.
I stared at both of them I hadn’t understood a word! “Pops! I don’t understand! I will get us killed if we stay here! How in the hell...” I started, and then Pops touched my head.
“The little -- afraid.” The tall man said.
“He should -- few moments,” Pops replied to the man.
My mouth must have dropped open as the tall man smiled. “I see. You used the quick -- on him.”
Pops smiled as he nodded while looking at me, “Yes, but on one -- him it takes longer.”
I was shaking my head most of what they said was coming through but not all.
“Try not to hurt yourself Toman, just let it sink in. You also might find it helps you with the mage language; that is if you allow it.” Pops said with a huge smile as he watched me digest this newest information.
Pops moved away with the tall man as they became engaged in a discussion.
I leaned against a tree with long, green, needle like projections coming off it. The plants here were strange indeed I thought. Where in the world were the leaves? Reaching up I pulled the branch toward me, the odor was even stranger not unpleasant but very strong.
I sat and continued to watch Pops and the man when I felt a presence. Then several more I started to form a shield when I was flying across the ground into another tree! “I told you no magic!” Pops growled at me then his face softened. I looked where he was staring seeing that I had cut my arm. Then the pain set in.
I raised my hand to heal it only to have it smacked away. “I don’t think I can get used to not using my magic Pops.” I told him as he knelt beside me starting a very low power healing. Even as it started I grimaced, this was something I wasn’t used to, PAIN!
“You better get used to it ‘til I can erect a bubble you can’t use a single ounce of power!” Pops said with all seriousness.
All I could do was stare at him with my mouth hanging open. No magic!? I would die! I hadn’t gone a day in over a hundred years without using magic! “Pops! How am I going to survive? I know nothing of the non-magic skills!”
Growling a moment then shaking his head pops replied, “I’ll teach you, it might take a few years but you might actually like it. ‘Til you can shift you power signature, you are not to use any of it. To do so will be like sending a beacon to those that wish to destroy us and our family. Remember, this is real you might not think so but it is. After I erect the bubble we will start on your training. We have to get you stronger, you’re barely at mage strength right now. I intend to change that before they find us.”
Reaching out Pops hand started to glow as he touched me. It was warm as a tingling feeling shot through me. “What was that Pops?” I asked.
“I want you to make the twig float from my hand,” Pops said.
I smirked as I waved my hand at it, then to my astonishment nothing happened! Swallowing hard as tears started to run from my eyes I looked at pops. “My god Pops! I’ve no powers! What will I do?” Now I was almost in a panic, without my powers I was nothing!
“You’ll be fine,” pops said. “That’s just a dampening spell I used on you though I suspect it won’t last long.”
My mouth hung agape as I tried to reach my powers. I guess he was right, I could feel them, I could touch them; I just couldn’t use them! I felt almost defenseless how in the hell was I going to survive?
Again I was flying across the ground though not as hard. “I told you I’ll teach you. I forgot just how stubborn and thick skinned this family is!” Pops said as he helped me to stand. “We’ve been given a place. Don’t wander off, you should be fine.”
I nodded as Pops led me to a conical hut, what had he said; that it was a Teepee? Inside it was a bit homey though I was aghast that there were no beds, tables, or chairs! How in the hell were we going to live! Pops just chuckled at my thoughts I had to remember Pops could hear almost all my thoughts, especially now that my powers were near non-existent.
“As I said I’ll teach you. We’ll make a table for you to write on. As for bed, the skins are a lot softer than the mage beds we slept in. Trust me after a day or two you’ll learn to appreciate them a hell of a lot more!” Pops told me.
Again my mouth was hanging open, actual physical work? My god I would die! I had never done physical work! I looked at Pops I knew I was young only about two hundred years old, I shook my head why did I think Pops was taking advantage of me?
“It will take me a few months to set up the bubble. If I feel you use your magic I will severely punish you; do I make myself clear?” Pops told me.
I sighed then shrugged then found myself bouncing across the ground again. I had to learn to be more positive I guess or Pops was going to beat the hell out of me.
“No I won’t beat the hell out of you unless you deserve it. Now we start your first lesson, gathering wood.” Pops said as I nodded, I guessed there was no way out of it. Especially if I wanted to stay alive.
Pops told me where to go, what to pick up. Well I think he did as I was barely listening to him. I walked around gathering small sticks and branches not really paying attention to what I picked up. It was perhaps a half an hour later that when I stopped deciding I had enough. I turned around to head back. It was then I noticed I didn’t know where in the hell I was!
I dropped all the wood I had and did a standing circle my mouth hanging open. “Pops!” I yelled then listened but heard nothing. Damn it! I had been walking for over half an hour without noticing where I was going! I sunk to my knees as I buried my face in my hands I was dead! It was at that moment I heard a low giggling. The giggling got a little louder, and then a small head popped out from behind a tree in front of me. “Who are you?” I asked.
The small brown skinned head popped out as a young brown skinned child looked at me with a questioning look. “I cannot -- you are saying.” The young looking boy said.
Sighing I decided I needed to enlist the younger person’s help. “I am lost.” I told them trying to concentrate as I spoke hoping that whatever Pops had done would kick in soon.
“Oh.” The other said. “Lost! The village is right there.” He said pointing behind him. “You have been walking in circles not paying attention.
My eyes got wide as I nodded, so Pops had been looking out for me. “I have to get back. My name is...” I started
“Toman, I know, father told me that you and your grandfather would be staying with the tribe a while. I am Naci I hope we can be friends.” The young boy said as he smiled.
“Friends,” I repeated. Something I was seriously lacking at the moment. “I would like that Naci I have no friends at the moment. I just hope that being my friend doesn’t land you or your people in trouble. I never want to be the cause of that.” I told the young boy as I hung my head.
I suddenly felt a small hand on my chest as Naci had walked up to me. “I do not fear being your friend. I will enjoy having a friend also. I too find I haven’t any either at the moment as you said.” The boy smiled at me then turned to go to the village.
I had re-gathered all the wood and turned when I heard a low growl behind me. Turning I saw a huge black furry animal on all fours. Then it growled again rising up on its back legs. My eyes got large as Naci yelled for me to run. Just looking at the creature I knew that neither of us would make the village before it had the both of us.
“Go Naci! I’ll hold it off bring help!” I heard the boy start yelling as he started to dash for the village. I started to throw the pieces of branches at the furry menace. I could see that the creature was starting to get far angrier than it had been before. Finally I was almost out of the branches as the creature roared and started to rush me. Standing my ground I swung the largest limb I had at it. Problem is it broke easily over the back of the creature.
Shit I thought. I’m not going to make it but at least my friend was safe now. The creature hit me at a full run knocking me to the ground raking my side with one of its huge claws. I thought I heard shouting as I started to kick weakly at the creature, then nothing. I am dead I thought as I felt myself falling further and further into the darkness.
I opened my eyes feeling the worst pain I had in my life. My entire face was hurting, it felt like every bone in my body was broken. I found it was extremely hard to breathe, another thing I had to urinate badly but couldn’t even raise my arm let alone my hand.
I tried to turn my head but found it was tied to the bed as was the rest of my body. Looking as far over as I could I could barely see as my vision was still blurry. Then suddenly it hit me, I was in a bed? Pops had told me there were no beds here. What gives?
<So I see that the unlikely hero is alive and awake.> I heard the thoughts of Pops. <When I said to get used to not using your powers I didn’t mean for you to get killed in the first few days that we are here.>
<I’m sorry Pops, it just seemed the right thing to do for my friend. I knew we both couldn’t make it to the village so I stayed. I know you are going to punish me Pops but I would do it again.> I told Pops though even this was taxing to me also.
<How could I be mad at you? You have showed far more back bone than your father ever did at your age. I think young Naci is lucky to have as fiercely a devoted a friend as you.> I heard grandfather respond. I nodded then let the exhaustion take me again.
The next time I awoke I was still hurting but not as bad. As soon as I opened my eyes I could feel Pops’ magic around me healing me. A moment later Pops and the tall man I had seen him talking to the first day walked in.
“It is good to see that you are still alive. It would be a shame for one as fearless as you to die.” The tall man said.
“I am afraid it is in his nature Tall Bear.” Sighing Pops went on. “I am so unsure of what to do with him now. He still doesn’t realize what he has done, or become.”
I just stared at the two of them as if they were insane. What in the hell were they on about? I hadn’t done anything special, a little brave maybe but nothing special.
Pops looked over at me and shook his head looking over at me with an incredulous look. <You have done far more than you think boy, a lot more. We’ll have to discuss this later and the implications of it.> Pops thoughts came.
Implications? Again I was thinking that Pops and the one called Tall Bear were losing their minds. Pops gave me an extremely stern look then shook his head no. I was shocked when several brown skinned females came in and started to wash me removing my clothes a piece at a time. I guess I was still a little modest as I tried to knock their hands away.
“TOMAN!” Came Pops extremely loud voice to me. “They aren’t going to hurt you, allow them to clean you!”
Sighing I relented as they quickly continued, that was ‘til they reached my side. A sudden shooting pain went through me as I gasp and tried to jerk away from them. I felt a ripping sensation then the females were yelling about bleeding and pressing several pieces of cloth to my side. This of course hurt like hell as I gasped again then fell back to the bed panting.
<I’m sorry Toman I thought you were further healed than you are. I will not make this mistake again.> Came Pops thoughts as I nodded trying to not pass out again as the pain in my side started to increase.
<I thought I was better Pops here I feel I have made it worse! I can feel as if I ripped something loose inside!> I told Pops.
Pops eyes went wide as he concentrated staring at my side. Shaking his head yes, I felt a different healing start within me. <It will be alright now Toman. I see what I missed, I’m taking another look at the rest. Sleep now another few days won’t hurt.>
I felt the darkness coming up to welcome me again then I thought a few days! I had been here a few days? Then I sighed as the magic started in again.
As Pops had said it was again a few days later when my eyes opened. This time most of the pain was gone though I did have a nagging pain in my side. Slowly I brought my legs off the bed fearing that I might tear something else.
Naci appeared at the opening of the Teepee me and Pops were in. “I can’t stay long; I just wanted to thank you for saving my life. I am afraid that we won’t be allowed to be alone together again.”
I looked at him with a strange look, “I saved your life, and they are afraid that you wouldn’t be safe with me? Why in the hell would they think that?”
“Toman you don’t understand, no one told you did they?” Naci said looking around.
“Told me? Told me what?” I asked even more perplexed.
“My father is Chief Tall Bear.” Naci related to me.
“Ok, so why wouldn’t you and I be allowed to be alone together. You are safe with me Naci.” I told him.
Shaking his head Naci shivered a moment before he said. “You still don’t understand. I am the Chief’s daughter. When I am of age I have been pledged to be your wife!”
My mouth must have dropped open as she started to giggle. A girl! A freakin’ girl! Great I thought as I threw my hands up in defeat, just what I needed a female! What was I going to do with a female?