Thursday, January 16, 2014

Werdeth: Test of the Magi

"Light the candle," said his uncle, and Werdeth reached out with his mind to touch the wick with fire.

His uncle sat unmoving, and extinguished the candle without so much as looking at it. Setting the candle aside, he picked up a thin silver chain and let it dangle from his fingers. "Make it move," he said.

Werdeth considered the chain, then released a soft breath that set it to dancing.

Exchanging the chain for a shallow wooden bowl, his uncle said: "Fill it with water."

Werdeth thought about that, then reached out with his mind to draw water from the air around them. His sinuses tingled as the first drops formed in the center of the bowl.

The older man, square-faced and square-shouldered, regarded the water forming in the bowl. "Good enough," he said, and paused to study his nephew. Werdeth waited, alert but unmoving.

"All power," said his uncle, "comes from one of the two realms. Mine has always been dark, but you are not reaching through my portals. What is it that you're using?"

Werdeth shook his head. "I don't know."

"Come now," said his uncle. "There's far less difference between them than most people believe. When you go to set fire to a candle, do you reach out to the light, or to the dark?"

Werdeth was still for a long, long moment. "Neither," he said. "I don't feel... It isn't reaching out. I reach in, into myself."

He waited, while his uncle remained still.

"I once thought my sister had married beneath her," his uncle said at last. "It was only later that I came to suspect that she married far, far above her." He blinked, then rose gracefully to his feet. "However you do this, it's time I sent you to a school." He paused, looking down while Werdeth looked up. "If anyone asks the nature of your power, tell them it's none of their business. They'll think you're dark, but that will cause you far less trouble than if you tell them you draw from yourself."

Werdeth frowned at that. He wasn't ready to go school. He wasn't ready to be around people. Come to that, he wasn't ready to be people.

He wasn't ready to argue the point, either. His uncle was already stepping out of the room, so he didn't see the small nod that his nephew offered, but it was there. If his uncle thought he was ready to go to school, Werdeth would trust his judgement.

Werdeth carried the knowledge that he could always withdraw, and it comforted him. He could return to the trees, the animals, the life of hunting and eating. He could, but he wouldn't yet: he missed the world of people, of talking, of ideas and artifice. He wasn't sure he could ever be entirely happy among people, but he wasn't sure he could ever be entirely happy away from them, either. So, while he explored that: school.

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