The Hero's Apprentice

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Ch. 6 Falling over

Cro almost got knocked over when he felt the surge of magic that had enveloped the castle. Whatever had just happened was shaking the entire world with it. Cro concentrated and then realized he was wise not to probe at this particular moment. Cro waited, then grew impatient. Mostly because he wanted to talk to Walter almost as much as the princess. Almost, but when the couple descended down the stairs Cro noticed two changes. One, Walters’ magic had just been poured into a golden ring around the princess’ finger, and Walters’ magic was continuing to leak out at an alarming rate. Love magic? Of course you old fool. It’s the same reason you’ve been waiting all this time. I just didn’t expect this Walter to be convinced until I told him my story. Cro felt bad about ruining what was obviously the happiest moment of the late afternoon, but he had waited decades for Walter, while Drey had waited three years. Cro prayed his spells would hold Walter should his interruption prove to his magics’ disliking.

“Forgive me your highness, but I have the realm to protect and the next few minutes are crucial to victory.”

“Yes, yes, Cro. Please take Walter, but be back in a few hours.”

“What for?”

“The wedding. I’ve waited three years and will not let either of you leave this castle for your quest until the ceremony is over.”

“Don’t you want to wait for your parents?”

“Oh I wish the whole country were there, but I fear something will happen. I want this at least. Maybe an anniversary party at some future date, but please Cro, it’s just one night I ask.”

“Very well.”

Walter was the one Cro found having trouble cooperating. He didn’t want to leave Drey for a second. Eventually Cro let him hold Drey a second time, then he finally resorted to a marching chant that seemed to be working. Walter followed Cro out the castle door and then he stopped. The trail to Ryes’ cottage was fowl with stumble and trip chants that would enslave even Walters’ march through it. Cro was concerned why Rye would do this. Then Cro sensed the air and realized he had only seconds to act to keep Walter out of real trouble. Cro instructed Walter to remove the boots lent to him by Rye. Walter complied and with a wave of his staff, the boots burst into flames. Walter shuddered because his only pair of socks were slowly getting holes in them. But the joke didn’t start there.

“Cast off the tunic Walter, you are easy to track as long as you wear it.”

Walter quickly removed it, and watched Cro do something a little cooler this time. The tunic vanished into thin air. Walter was excited at the spell, but also realized that Cro was not relaxed, which meant that other magic no one liked to talk about was probably close by.

“What’s happening Cro?”

“A wizard has just broken his vows, and will not rest until he has vanquished the motivator for such an abominable act.”

“You don’t mean…?”

“I’ll explain in a minute, first we need to hide before he comes.”

Walter was curious if they would teleport the way he had appeared in Ando two days ago. But instead he saw Cro writing Ando runes in the ground. Etching them with his staff, and adding water from a gourd when the dirt was less cooperative. Soon there was a hula hoop sized circle of runes on the ground. Cro snatched Walter by his shirt and told him to stay in the circle. As Cro closed his eyes Walter wanted to ask if his magic could help the spell in any way. The thought reached Cro just in time and he responded.

“Think of the weirdest thing you possibly can.”

For Walters’ imagination this would be easy, but when you have two seconds it’s kind of hard to do. For some reason the thought of it raining fish popped in there. And sure enough the instant Cro and Walter vanished along with the runes and some of the dirt, it did indeed start raining fish. The first of the fish coincidentally hit Rye on the head as he exited his cabin. Soon he was getting whacked ridiculously hard by falling fish. Soon the ground was covered and Rye was furious that he had lost them when he had the element of surprise.

Not a half hour before the fish hit Rye on his head, he had previously been knocked over by the largest gust of magic he had ever felt. It caught him completely by surprise and he fell backwards in his chair, hitting the back of his head on the floor. Rye would’ve cursed had he not been curious as to the source of the magic. Of course Walter was the likely cause, but how could so much magic be freed like that? What was Cro doing? Rye pulled himself off the ground and assumed a seated position to meditate. Cro would be far away, but Rye was finally convinced that he was gonna lose his head start if he didn’t take action and probe everyone in the castle before Cro decided to act. Rye found Cro no problem, but to his dismay found he was just drinking his Root Beer of all things, and just tapping the table in the dinning hall. Where was the princess and Walter? Cro seemed agitated, at least that must be why he hadn’t sensed Rye poking around in his mind. He caught a faint memory of the princess leading Walter up the stairs. Rye was interested in that. He tried to find Drey but couldn’t seem to penetrate her mind. How was that possible? He finally realized that Walter was wearing his boots and tunic. They would have traces of his own aura in them, so he tried to locate those. It took some doing, cause they were neglected objects that had lost much of their magic scent. When he finally located the tunic, he attached himself to Walter because his large mass of magic was easier to connect with. Rye was not ready for what he saw. And worst of all the emotions poured into him so quickly that he had to force himself to break contact. He’d never done that before, it was humiliating that there were emotions so powerful that even he had to retreat or submit to the feelings that were hitting him like a tidal wave.

Rye didn’t try to read again, he had seen what he had sensed and hadn’t acted swiftly enough to stop. Not only was Walters’ magic now spinning with the added power of love, but the princess was willfully giving herself to him. Why? She didn’t even know him. What sort of enchantment had Walters’ magic subconsciously done to her? Rye had had enough of this. This accident of his was bringing all his nightmares to life. A rival who would surpass him, a competitor who could actually beat him at his own game. Rye had wanted this to be sure. He had just expected that he would win without much effort. No, this was a test of will. This was the line that divided a green class wizard to the next level. Rye was gonna have to do more if he wanted to even have a chance of getting things back to normal. He’d send Walter home. Erase his memories if at all possible. It’d be pointless if he didn’t, cause Walter would certainly find a way back. He had kissed her, she had let his feelings and hers circulate between them. That was the challenge wasn’t it? Rye would now have to learn three spells. One to get rid of Walter, another to get rid of his access to this place, and a third that would somehow trick Drey and Cro into thinking nothing had happened. He’d go for Cro first. He was powerful, but if he wasted an ounce of strength on Walter or Drey then he wouldn’t be at maximum performance. Even now he had six days less the magic than he was used to. One fail swoop in one night thought Rye. Then he could rest forever. He’d be number one, he might even go as far to replace Cro as castle wizard. And through it all, defeating Walter would be his supreme victory. The one that would never be tainted by time. An eternal testimony that Rye had the power to subdue any foe, and acquire any desire. The act that would convince him and anyone that anything was possible if you could defeat a natural, outwit your teacher, and get a princess all in one night.

Rye busied himself with all his most trusted commodities. His staff, and his wand should he need to double up the spell casting. A few choice potions to temporarily give him an extra boast since he was still diminished. And of course his gourd and spellbook, if he needed some heavy duty spells that would take much longer to perform and to break. It was suddenly a realization to Rye that he had wasted even more magic hexing the house and trail. Rye was really mad at how horrible this day had gone. It had started with fish, so peaceful until Walter had to make it taste better when Rye had done all the work of catching them. What had Walter done to deserve anything? The first thing Rye consented to do when he found Walter would be to put him to sleep for a week. That would convince him it had all been a dream. His kiss with the princess, thinking it was a false memory would be much worse than if he destroyed access to it. It would also give him the needed time to send him home. No interruptions, complete freedom to decipher his language. A language that so far had proved it could make a tasty beverage. So not scary. If that was what Rye was up against why was he so worked up? As if tempting fate, that was coincidentally the thought going through Ryes’ mind as a large six pound fish by the feel of it hit Rye squarely on top of the head. The six pounder was the least of Ryes’ problems. Preparing to rise, the next one was seven pounds and landed squarely between Ryes’ legs just below the waist. He didn’t get up for quite some time. And the beating continued for a long agonizing minute.

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