Read Foundling Wizard (Book 1) Online

Authors: James Eggebeen

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Foundling Wizard (Book 1) (4 page)

BOOK: Foundling Wizard (Book 1)
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A young boy sat on a stool near the open doors. A lamp hung from a peg inside the stable to light the way for any late arriving guests. Lorit approached him, hailing him as he neared the stable. “Are you Nenddar?” he called out.

The young boy jumped up from the stool, startled by Lorit. “How may I help you, kind sir?” “Shandyl told me to ask for you. She said you’d have a place where I could sleep tonight.”

“She’s my aunt,” Nenddar declared. “I can let you sleep in the haymow if you promise not to tell the proprietor. He don’t like me letting strangers sleep in the stable. He wants everyone to pay for a room.” The boy smiled and gave Lorit an exaggerated conspiratorial wink.

“Shandyl says ‘Always do a stranger a good deed, as you never know who they may turn out to be.’” He squinted at Lorit. “Are you someone special?”

“I’m sorry Nenddar, I’m just a simple farm boy. Nothing special just yet.”

“Well, some day you may be, and then you’ll remember old Shandyl and Nenddar, won’t you?” the boy asked.

“Certainly I will,” Lorit replied. “That is, if I ever become someone.” He spotted a ladder made of boards nailed to the rear wall of the stable and pointed. “That the mow, over there?” “Sure it is,” Nenddar replied. “Go ahead and make yourself at home. I’ll be here a while yet, we often get customers late in the evening. I have to care for their horses when they do come.”

“Thanks for your hospitality, Nenddar,” Lorit said as he made his way toward the back of the stable. He easily climbed the ladder and made his way towards the side of the hay mow where several bales of hay would make a passable bed for the night.

Lorit retrieved the blanket from his pack. He carefully laid out a few things for a small meal. He was aware that the food Shyenn had packed for him was not going to last more than a few days, maybe a week at the most. He didn’t have any idea how he was going to find more. She’d pressed a few silvers into his hand before he left. Lorit knew that it was more than she could afford, but even that would not last him long if he didn’t find food and shelter somewhere.

Lorit sat on his blanket and concentrated. Maybe he could make his own food. He sat cross-legged on the blanket and tried to relax. He quieted his mind and concentrated on the apple just as he had in the meadow. He visualized the round red apple with all its juiciness and tried to recall the flavor and texture of it, just as he’d done before.

He felt the light-headedness he’d felt when he’d created the apple in the meadow. This time it was not as pronounced as before, but he did feel like everything was a little fuzzy, slowly fading back to solid reality. Sitting on the blanket in front of him was another perfect apple.

“Well, this is going to come in handy,” Lorit muttered as he picked it up. He put it in his pack and sat back for a moment. “Maybe some bread,” he thought.

He relaxed again and focused his attention, recalling the aroma that met him every morning when he rose. Bread was always baking when he woke, and the house smelled fabulous. He recreated that smell in his mind, recalling the round firm loaf of bread that Shyenn pulled from the oven and placed on the cutting board as he sat down for breakfast.

The mist overtook him again. The scent of the bread became stronger and stronger, until he finally opened his eyes to see the loaf sitting before him, steaming profusely in the chilly air of the haymow.

Lorit picked up the fresh loaf of bread and immediately put it down again. It was hot and soft as if it had just come out of the oven. “This is definitely going to come in handy,” Lorit remarked to himself.

“Now, how about some coins?” Lorit asked himself.

He sat back, relaxed, and visualized a pile of silvers. He cleared his thoughts and concentrated on a small pile of neatly stacked coins. ‘Five, no, six of them,’ he thought. He concentrated recalling the detail of the coins that his mother had handed him.

The mist formed in his mind, and the fogginess overtook him. He tried to stay focused on the coins. He thought he was making progress when, suddenly, a stabbing pain shot up behind his eyes, blinding his imagination. He gasped for air and opened his eyes. They were still fuzzy and clouded over. He could make out a nebulous cloud of mist on the blanket in front of him, but no coins.

The stabbing pain intensified to a crescendo of agony. Lorit grabbed at his temples, pressing his palms hard against his head, trying to stop the pain. He fought back the scream he wanted to let out; he was afraid that he’d be discovered if he made any noise. He suffered in silence for a while, before the pain started to wane.

Eventually, with the pain down to a simple headache, Lorit was able to slip into a troubled sleep.

 

 

It was dark, and the fog was thick. It enveloped Lorit. It squeezed him until he felt he couldn’t breathe. Lorit struggled to clear his head, but he couldn’t drive the fog away. He fought, but it made little difference. A faint light appeared far off in the darkness. He tried to focus on the light. It was vague, and Lorit couldn’t make out what it was.

The light slowly grew stronger, increasing in intensity as it drew closer. Lorit was unable to determine who or what the figure was. He couldn’t clear the fog from his head. Fear gripped him, as it had in the meadow. The fog grasped at him, smothering him in its icy grip even as the light coalesced into the shape of a man.

The figure slowly sharpened. It took the form of an old man. He was tall and thin, but straight of stature. He wore white robes that dragged along the ground as he walked.

In his left hand, he held a long staff of gnarled wood polished by wear until it gleamed. Atop the wood was a large gold gem that glowed with an eerie light. In his right hand he carried something that Lorit could not make out.

“Who are you?” Lorit asked. The words were thick in his throat.

“I am Zhimosom,” the old man replied. He solidified until he was clear and sharp, standing right in front of Lorit. He approached and bent over, leaning on his staff. He paused and examined Lorit, as he lay there helpless.

Lorit fought to get up, but was unable to move so much as a muscle. His limbs felt heavy and numb, as if he were wrapped in a blanket. He struggled ineffectively to stand, or at least sit up.

“Don’t try to move,” the old man said. “You can’t.” He waved his hand over Lorit.

Lorit felt firm hands gently lift him into a sitting position. He looked at the figure, not knowing what to expect.

Zhimosom slowly lowered himself onto the hay, until he was seated directly in front of Lorit. He placed the staff next to him and held out his right hand. It contained a shiny red apple.

“Your work?” he asked.

Lorit looked at the old man’s face. He wore a long, thick white beard, just as white as his full head of hair. Both were as pure as the winter’s snow. “I don’t know what you are talking about,” Lorit replied.

“This,” he said, shaking the apple. “Is it your work?” He looked intently into Lorit’s eyes.

Lorit kept quiet; he didn’t know who the old man was, but he wasn’t about to admit to anything.

“Come, come, boy. I am a senior Wizard. Did you think that you could conjure something like this without shields and NOT have every wizard within a hundred leagues of you instantly know it?”

He leaned in closer to Lorit and continued. “How do you think the priests find you, boys? Until you learn to control your magic, every wizard around can feel everything you do.”

He tossed the apple into the air, and it vanished. “It looks like you need more convincing,” he said.

Zhimosom folded his hands together as if in supplication. He slowly moved them apart. Between his hands, a pale blue light glowed. In the light, Lorit saw two apples, and a loaf of bread exactly like the ones he'd called up earlier.”

“That about sum it up?” Zhimosom asked. He folded his hands again and looked questioningly at Lorit.

“Come on, boy. You don’t think I’m one of them. Do you?” He stroked his long white beard. “Do I look like one of them?”

“I don’t know who you are,” Lorit replied. He struggled again, but he was still powerless.

“My boy, I am a Senior Wizard, and I am free. I am no priest of Ran, if that’s what you’re thinking.” He folded his arms in a look of defiance.

“How do I know that?” Lorit asked. He had never seen a free wizard, but he’d seen a few priests. The priests were clean shaven on both their heads and faces. They always wore black robes. This old man was not like any priest of Ran that Lorit had seen.

“I cannot prove what I am not,” Zhimosom answered. “I can, however, help you remain out of their hands.”

“How can you do that?” Lorit asked. Staying out of the hands of the priests was one of his chief concerns. Maybe the old man could help him. “Why would you do that?”

“I’m going to teach you to shield your power, just enough to keep them from sensing you.” He held out his hands palms up. “It really is a simple thing to learn.” He refolded his arms across his chest.

“Why am I going to teach this to you?” the wizard asked. “I want you to have a free choice, just like I did when I was your age. I don’t favor the priests of Ran. I don’t want to see another young man like you get caught up in their training.”

“How long will it take?”

“It should only take about two minutes, give or take a minute or two,” Zhimosom answered, laughing. “That’s unless you’re a slow learner, but I don’t think that’s the case.”

“What do I have to do?” Lorit finally stopped struggling against the bonds that held him tight.

“It is a simple matter. When you visualize something you want to materialize, you have to shield it, so that it doesn’t broadcast to every wizard around. Trust me. It’s rather annoying to the rest of us, not to mention signaling your presence to every priest in Nyhagid, and half of Southorn.”

“What do I need to do?” Lorit asked. He was eager to learn, and unless the old wizard was playing some trick on him, it would be a good thing to know.

“Let’s start with the shield, shall we?” he spoke softly. “Imagine a fence constructed in a circle, like a corral for the kine you recently left behind.” He moved his hands in a circle to demonstrate to Lorit what he meant.

“Make it about twice as high as your typical farm fence. Surround you and me. Make it about three spans in diameter.”

Lorit imagined the fence surrounding the meadow where he first conjured the apple. He created a copy of it in his mind’s eye, just as Zhimosom described it.

The wizard reached out and touched Lorit’s shoulder. “There you have it,” he said, as if he could see into Lorit’s imagination.

Lorit continued to focus on the fence, making it taller and stronger than the corral back home. When it appeared strong and solid, he heard the wizard’s voice calmly explaining the next step.

“Now imagine the apple right in the center of the fence. It’s right before you,” Zhimosom instructed. “Just like last time.”

Lorit imagined the apple sitting on the blanket before him, as instructed. It took shape and solidified, just like before. This time, there was no disorientation or fuzziness enveloping his mind as the apple appeared.

“Much better,” Zhimosom commented. “You didn’t leak much at all. I think the disorientation was a lot less this time. Am I right?”

Lorit opened his eyes to see the apple sitting on the blanket in front of him. This time there was no headache or disorientation, just the apple.

“You have just learned the first lesson every wizard must learn. You have learned how to shield yourself and others from the backlash when you exercise your power. That should keep you from the watchful eye of the priests, as long as you remember what you learned. However, if you truly want to become a free wizard, you’ll need a lot more training. More than I can give you from a distance. You need to make your way to Amedon, where I can teach you in person.”

“Amedon?” Lorit inquired. “How am I supposed to get to Amedon?”

“Consider that your first challenge. You have to figure out how to get here. I can only help you in limited form until you get proper training. Come to Amedon and find me. You will know where to look when you get here.”

The wizard stood. The mist formed around him as he turned and departed.

Zhimosom stopped, turned back to Lorit and spoke.

“By the way, you are nowhere near ready to work with coins and metals, leave them alone.” There was derision in his voice. “Not that you need to be reminded, but it will not be pleasant, should you try before you are ready.” He raised his hand in salutation once again.

“Oh. You do have a little problem with the priest in this town. He sensed you, and he’s looking for you. You can’t stay here for more than a day or two, or he’ll find you. You won’t like that at all,” he laughed as he turned once again and vanished into the mist.

Lorit just sat there for a while. The mist cleared, and the haymow returned. He felt whatever had gripped him was gone and he was able to move. It was the middle of the night, from all he could tell, so he lay down and tried to get some sleep.

 

 

Somewhere, a cock crowed insistently, heralding the dawn of the new day. Lorit woke feeling tired, sore, and disoriented. It took him a moment to remember where he was and why he wasn’t waking up in his own bed. He recalled the strangest dream, wondering what had caused it, until he rolled over something hard. It was the apple from his vision. Maybe it hadn’t been a dream after all.

Lorit rummaged through his pack and pulled out a piece of the hard white cheese. He cut several slices. He tore off a chunk of bread his mother had packed for him. He ate them quickly. He was strangely hungry. He took a swig of water from his pouch to wash it all down and stretched.

He moved quietly toward the opening that led below, and stopped.

Someone was down below talking to the stable boy. Lorit froze in place listening carefully until he could hear the conversation. He quietly crawled closer so that he could make out what was being said.

“Have you seen any strangers here this past evening?” the first voice asked.

“No one, sir,” replied the second voice. It was Nenddar answering. “No one has come here since early last evening. I stabled the horses for two gentlemen who arrived just before dusk.”

BOOK: Foundling Wizard (Book 1)
2.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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