Read The Wizard's Apprentice (The Apprentice) Online
Authors: Janice Ayre
Brock had not meant to flatter Zebulon but from habit had used the familiar term of villagers when they spoke of the wizard. He was thankful that at least the wizard was in good humour.
Becoming serious again, Zebulon said. "If this is what you want, then we will beg
"When?" asked Brock.
"Now. But you will have to remain committed to the task. One thing that is not magic about magic is that it doesn't happen without effort. First, I will teach you how you can move a small rock."
"A stone!" exclaimed Brock. He spoke without thinking, but he really had hoped for something more impressive, more spectacular.
"What did you have in mind?" Zebulon asked in amusement. It was a question he didn't expect answered, so he continued. " Rocks
one of the better things to begin with because they have elements similar to our own and the magic scholar usually is able to master a relationship quickly with them. From first learning this simple skill the student can then progress to greater achievements. The properties of rocks can be used in many ways. Some have more powers than others but when that strength is understood can be used to build greater magic skills. Do not scoff at this seemingly simple task and you will eventually be rewarded."
As a means of demonstration Zebulon focused his attention on a rock and sent it bouncing over the ground, ending its journey with a plop into the water.
"Remember one thing. Never use magic for idle purposes. It is a skill to be appreciated but never abused."
That evening Brock was given the directions and words to make the spell. Zebulon was a patient teacher but Brock struggled because of his weakness in giving the task full concentration.
“Just keep practising,” was Zebulon's advi
Fierce winds lashed the farm for a week as workers huddled from the wind and rain in their huts. The mountains behind the farm offered little protection because the wind and rains came from the other direction. Most of the work was postponed and only needful things were done. Morale was low and to alleviate the discomfort of the past week, many of the worker
wanting to pick a fight. Zebulon and Brock were not immune to feelings of frustration but they
to themselves within their own hut.
Brock did his best
annoy Zebulon in any way. He used the week to practi
e his magic.
lthough he usually waited until Zebulon was away because he felt self-conscious doing it when the wizard was nearby. Brock's determination was not the greatest and when his attempts failed he was ready to give up. But the thought of impressing Amelia proved the motivation he needed. Brock also had visions of being able to use his magic to achieve his chores as well. One time Brock had ventured to question Zebulon as to why he didn't use magic to complete his work and Zebulon had explained that magic should not be used for frivolous reasons or to do mundane work. He also said it took effort and although the work could be achieved in less time, the energy expended using magic could be even more than doing the task manually. Brock could not imagine that was correct.
Brock was in the middle of chanting the words he had been taught and concentrating really hard when Zebulon came rushing through the door. Brock was sure he had been about to achieve something great. He had felt energy build within him and was sure he saw the stone quiver. He glared at Zebulon but the wizard was far more occupied with his impending task than Brock's annoyance
"We must act tonight, the river is rising," he stated.
"So what does that matter to us?"
"It has everything to do with us. I have located the second stone. If the waters rise further and reach the farm shed, the water could dislodge it and we would spend many more months looking for it." Zebulon strode back an
forth in the restricted space of the hut, giving him the look of a caged animal. He paused and swung around to face Brock. "I will need your help. It will be demanding but we can do it."
"Why do you want a stone? I have one right here."
Zebulon moved close to Brock and in a low voice said. "It is not any stone, this is a pink diamond. I have already found the first one."
Brock had heard that diamonds were precious but he had never seen one or heard of a pink one. He had no idea why this was so important to Zebulon other than it would make him rich he supposed.
"Where is the one you have found?"
"Right here," said Zebulon as he patted his pocket. "You must speak of this to no one. Do you understand?"
"Now, tonight when everyone has gone to sleep we must go to the building near the river, the one that houses the farming equipment."
"But it is raining!" complained Brock.
"It has to be tonight."
After the evening meal, Brock watched as the day turned to night. He listened to the rain and couldn't decide if it would be better if
so as to
make it impossible to go out, or if
stopped so they would not have to work in the rain. One look at the wizard's determined face and Brock knew there would be no retreat from this duty.
"You will have to drink this potion," Zebulon told Brock when the time for their task had come.
"No...no more potions," said Brock, turning his face away.
"You must. We need to communicate when you go in to retrieve the diamond. Look I will be drinking some too so that you will be able to hear my thoughts."
The thought of getting inside the wizard's head was an intriguing one, but Brock still wasn't going to give in without a fight. "Can't we just talk to each other as we are now?"
an't be done."
"It will be too dark to see," complained Brock.
"Stop your stalling, I haven't time for this!" Zebulon spoke sharply.
They both drank the potion without further discussion. The young elf felt strange and alarmed. In his mind he saw an image of a rat and wondered what freakish thoughts the wizard must entertain.
They left the warmth of the hut and with the aid of a dim light produced magically in the wizard's hand, they made their way quietly to the equipment shed. By the time they arrived, Brock had an almost complete picture of what was expected of him, and he was horrified. In the act of turning to complain to Zebulon the spell words were spoken and Brock was transformed into a grey rat.
Guided by the wizard's mind he squeezed his way through a small hole in the shed wall. There he travelled along inside crevices only a small creature could go. He had to chew his way through many layers of materials he could not ident
ify, nor did he wish to think about.
he could see the beautiful pink gem, bright and alluring, sparkling as though it had light from the sun. After what seemed an eternity, he finally saw with his own eyes, or rather with his rat eyes, the gem he
in his mind. It was not sparkling because it was so dark but he knew it was the prize sort after. He felt an energy around it, as though it carried a life force of its own.
Zebulon instructed him to take it in his mouth, being careful not to swallow it and return as quickly as possible. The return route was quicker because Brock had done all the chewing and clearing on the way in. He was almost at the point where he could enter the hole to the outside of the shed when a sight made him freeze in terror.
The large tabby farm cat was blocking his way. It couldn't quite reach him but it was working its paw, with its lethal claws, into the hole where Brock was trying to exit. Zebulon had a superior ability to read Brock's thoughts but with the elf's intense fear
Brock’s thoughts had
become incoherent even to the wizard.
Brock squeezed his eyes shut and screamed. Whether he made a sound out loud or only in his mind he did not know. His heart was
ounding so hard it felt as if it would burst through his chest. Zebulon's calm, stern voice
his consciousness as he instructed him to remain in control.
"Brock, be calm! Open your eyes so I may see what is happening," came Zebulon's voice into Brock's head.
"Make me big, make me big," was Brock's panicked response.
"You are in too limited a space, I cannot do that! Just open your eyes!"
The sharp claws felt closer, and that fact, combined with the wizard's instructions, brought Brock to the realisation that he couldn't be rescued unless he gained some fragment of sensibility. Tucking himself as close as possible to the space away from the cat, he opened his eyes. Zebulon now knew his position and acted immediately.
On hearing the harsh barking of the phantom dog, the cat arched its back. All the hairs of its body and tail stood up to their fullest extent. The cat, having the satisfaction of appearing twice its size, left off the rat hunt to pursue the antagonist.
Brock regained his senses enough to use the distraction to make a quick exit from his hiding place and through the hole to the outside of the shed. No sooner had he hurdled his small body at the wizard's boots than Zebulon transformed him to his former size and shape. Brock quickly handed the diamond to Zebulon who immediately tucked it safely in the pouch with the other one.
The cat, having found the enemy had disappeared, returned to seek the luckless rat. On discovering the rat was no longer there it made its way out of the shed. It ran after the two retreating forms with loud complaints of having lost the hunt. As comfort f
its loss the cat decided it would rub itself on Brock's legs. Although Brock was relieved to be able to view the cat from his greater height, he still did not feel very friendly towards it and ignored it. He could no longer identify this creature as the same sweet tabby cat he had taken on his lap to stroke, nor did he think he ever would be able to.
Back in the hut Zebulon took one of the objects he had used for locating the diamonds. It was the larger of the two devices, the one with the intricately formed gold and silver frame. Above the main circle were three smaller frames, the middle one being the largest of the three. Into the two frames on either side of this, he placed both pink diamonds. It took him some time to do this, as they needed to be fixed firmly in place. Once he had achieved the task, he sat back with the object in his hand and gazed at it. His mind travelled back to a scene in Saniyah's home. He saw her beautiful face contorted with anger. His own anger was equally uncontrolled, while the precious stones from the piece he now held carefully in his hand were dispersed through magical energy. That he should be removing already cut gems from the ground would be strange to a non-magical person, to him it made perfect sense. This searching and digging would continue until all gems were restored. With a sigh, full of the pain of that remembrance, Zebulon gentl
placed the piece back into the pouch.
They would be leaving the farm soon. Zebulon wanted to collect one more wage and to arrange purchases of two horses. Brock became determined to practi
e the magic harder so that he could show Amelia before they left. The rain had ceased so they would be able to go riding together as soon as the ground was drier.
Zebulon spent no more time with his magic devices but spent the evening in the study of his one crumpled book. Brock spent every available time in his magic practice and was eventually rewarded with moving the stone a short distance. At first the distance was hardly perceivable but after a few days of work he was able to move it more. He began to understand the effort needed for magic and found there was a limit to how many times he could do it in a day. He was going to tell Zebulon of his success but the wizard was so engrossed in his own thoughts and complex problems that Brock changed his mind.
A few days of sunshine gave Brock and Amelia an opportunity to go riding. Brock was excited to at last be able to show his magic trick. As they walked along the side of the river he gathered up a small stone, he would have like
to have chosen a larger one to be more impressive but he was anxious and felt he may not have the strength. With great ceremony he placed the stone on the grass.
"Now, watch the stone carefully," he told Amelia. He fixed his gaze on the intended object and mumbled the magic words under his breath.
The stone rolled and then did a little jump. Brock was overjoyed with his achievement. Amelia was so impressed she wanted him to repeat it over and over and challenging him to move bigger stones. As Brock's strength began to wane he distracted her with other things.
"I can't wait to tell my family," said Amelia.
"You can't do that!" Brock replied sharply.
Amelia looked surprised and slightly hurt. "Why not?"
"Because I want it to be our little secret. And besides, I don't want to boast." By this time Brock, having remembered Zebulon
caution about the misuse of magic, had some misgivings about having showed the human girl his ability.
Fortunately Amelia was satisfied with his reasoning and enjoyed the idea of having a secret that her brother Clinton did not know about. Clinton had a strong dislike of the elf and tried to discourage Amelia from riding with him. He had watched his sister's growing infatuation with Brock and awaited his opportunity to discredit Brock in her eyes.
That opportunity came a few days later when some of Clinton's friends from the village visited the farm.
As Brock and Amelia walked towards the house, the four youths began to speak and laugh loudly. Brock slowed his pace but as Amelia seemed unaware that the rude remarks were directed at him, she continued to walk and talk. Clinton led the way as they advanced towards them. He and his friends were all bigger and stronger than Brock so Brock felt very intimidated.
"You shouldn't be with my sister," sneered Clinton as they came closer. "You think you are her equal, but you're not, you're just a common farm hand."
Amelia, now awakened to their intentions, was furious with her brother and the two began a loud argument. While this took place the other three youths began taunting and shoving Brock.
The largest youth,
Orville, took a keener interest in Brock and apart from the other
superior strength and size,
became fearful that his origin had been exposed. At the point of deciding his pride was not worth a beating
and that he
would run away, he heard Amelia's shrill voice over the top of the shouting.
"Brock is better than all of you. He can move rocks with his mind. He can do magic," she shouted.
Everyone stood still. Not a word was uttered. Brock's face turned red and then paled. To cover his indiscretion he would have to lie.