The old enchanter rose from his cot, his joints creaking like rusty hinges. His sleep had been troubled and thoughts of the days ahead worried him. Taking care not to wake his apprentice, Zyll went to the table in the center of the room, though his legs were so stiff that even traveling the width of his cottage required the use of a walking stick. With his free hand, he took a copper bowl down from a shelf and set it on the table. He grinned at the bucket of water on the hearth, grateful that the boy had remembered to fill it this time.
Zyll ladled water into the bowl, then peered at his reflection in it. How changed he looked, how unlike the man he used to be. His hair, once thick and dark, had thinned and grown white. The skin around his mouth had creased, but his eyes still glowed with the vibrancy of youth. One thing, at least, had remained the same.
He laid his walking stick across the table, then leaned closer to better view the image before him. The water darkened and another face replaced Zyll’'s reflection, a younger man not altogether human - a half-breed.
The image widened. Crouching in a dark corridor the half-breed crept from shadow to shadow. Slipping past two sentries, he entered a small chapel. He hurried to the altar and released a hidden latch that opened a small door near its base. Zyll watched as the half-breed removed a scroll concealed within and carefully secured it beneath his cloak.
Just then, the chapel door flew open with a tremendous shudder. There, framed in torchlight, stood a man with red hair and seven man-like beasts with hairy faces pocked with repulsive scars.
The redheaded man charged angrily into the room, his sword coming down in a wide, rapid arc. The half-breed hastily drew his sword just in time to deflect the blow, and then countered with his own. His blade tasted flesh, and the redheaded man collapsed to his knees, his hands grasping the side of his bloody face.
The half-breed spied a small object on the floor and managed to snatch it up before the beasts attacked. Though he fought them with inhuman strength, they soon drove him to the wall.
Cornered and outnumbered, the half-breed turned to the window and gazed down. The image in the bowl shifted and Zyll saw what the half-breed saw: angry ocean waves beating against the rocks far below. Suddenly the waves rushed up towards him, and Zyll realized that the half-breed had leapt from the window. Zyll watched him fall, and as he fell he twisted his body to look up to the sky. For one fleeting moment, before he plunged into the sea, his inhuman cat eyes met Zyll’'s.
The enchanter’s breath caught in his throat and he stumbled back. When he looked in the bowl again, the image had vanished.
Zyll dropped into a chair and rested his weary arms on the table. He glanced at the fair-haired boy who slept on, then in a choked whisper said, “"So it begins."”
The morning of Marcus Frye’s fourteenth birthday may have seemed ordinary to some, but for him no day had ever dawned brighter. The birds’ songs sounded sweeter. In the distance, Amethyst Peak looked more brilliant than ever before. Even Master Zyll appeared younger and more spry than usual.
From his cot in the corner of the cottage Marcus watched the enchanter arrange a pile of wood on the hearth. Zyll inspected his work through a pair of spectacles and nodded with satisfaction. “You are awake,” he said, removing his spectacles and cleaning them with the sleeve of his robe. “I was beginning to think someone had put a sleeping spell on you.”
Marcus arose and went to the table where a steaming bowl of porridge waited. A clean tunic and trousers lay across the back of a chair.
“"Why didn’t you wake me to get the wood?"” asked Marcus. “"The morning air isn’t good for you.”"
"“Nonsense,”" replied Zyll, lowering himself into a chair beside the hearth. "An old leather satchel lay in his lap. “Now, sit and eat."”
Marcus dressed in the clean clothes and sat down. He picked at his breakfast, his stomach too much in knots for food. He preferred instead to watch Zyll mend the satchel, which looked as though it could not withstand a day’s more wear. When he had finished, Zyll held the satchel by the shoulder strap and gave it a good hard shake. Its contents, which included a week’s worth of bread and dried goat’s meat, as well as a few coins and an iron pot, collided with a dull thud. Marcus winced at the thought of finding crumbs for his supper rather than bread.
“"There it is now,”" said Zyll.
Marcus eyed it disdainfully.
“"Master, the other boys have new satchels. Couldn’t we buy one as well?”"
“"What for?”" Zyll replied, handing Marcus the satchel. “"This bag holds as much as a new one."” Then he rose with some effort from his chair and began filling a kettle with vegetables.
Marcus hesitated to make any further requests. He did not want to appear greedy, but this day was special. So he spoke before his courage could leave him.
"“Master, what about the other supplies we talked about?”"
“"What sort of supplies?"” asked Zyll, not looking up from the kettle.
“"Well, I’'ll need a weapon for one thing.”"
Zyll tossed the last of the onions into the pot and added some water.
"“You’'ve no need of weapons, boy. Haven'’t I taught you well enough how to fend for yourself?”"
Marcus thought of the many lessons Zyll had taught him. He had learned the ways of the mystic, and also a bit of history, mathematics, and philosophy. Zyll disapproved of sword fighting, but had allowed him to practice with the other boys in the village.
“"I am good with a sword,” Marcus reminded him, “but I’'m a terrible magician."”
Zyll turned toward him. His face held the same pensive expression it always did. “
"Why do you doubt your abilities?"” he asked. "“You know magic is nothing more than the art of rearranging the elements that lay before you. Take the logs for instance,”" he continued. “"What is fire but heat? Heat is found in rays of sunlight and in all living things.”"
Zyll lifted his hand toward the window where a stream of light filtered into the cottage. “
"We must harvest it from the sunshine, the trees, our own bodies."” He lowered his hand drawing it across Marcus’s shoulders. “"Compress it to a fine point, direct it toward the logs, and ...”"
With a quick snap of the wrist the logs burst into flame. Zyll set the kettle over the fire. “
"This soup will be ready for my afternoon meal.”"
“"I would still prefer a sword,”" said Marcus.
Zyll’'s voice was calm, yet insistent.
"“Use your knowledge to obtain those things you need and to defend yourself and others from harm.”" Zyll doused the fire with a mumbled incantation. Then, gesturing toward the hearth he said, “"Give it a try.”"
Marcus prefered to do his chores without magic, yet he could not refuse his master’s request. Turning to the hearth he focused his attention on the wood and formed an image of brilliant orange flame in his mind.
"“Ignite!"” he commanded.
He held his breath as he waited for the flames to appear, but nothing happened.
"“I can’'t do it!"” he said with disgust. “"Maybe I shouldn’'t go on the quest. I’'m bound to fail.”"
Zyll studied his apprentice with tender, gray eyes. Marcus knew those eyes well. He had seen them every day of his life. Orphaned at birth, Marcus had been in his care as long as he could remember. Zyll was a good master, kind and generous, yet firm. They made a fine pair, he and Zyll, and Marcus imagined no one could have been a better father to him than his old master.
When the town council had agreed to let Marcus, a mere orphan, join the quest, he determined to finally prove he was destined for more than servitude. But now the thought of disappointing Zyll filled Marcus with shame.
Zyll went to his bookshelf, but he was not interested in the books. Instead he reached for a wooden chest, which he carried to the table and raised the lid. After sifting through its contents he lifted something in his hand, though what it was Marcus could not tell. Whatever it was, it was small enough to be hidden by the old man’s fingers.
Zyll turned his gaze on Marcus, though his eyes seemed to look right through him. With a shake of his head he remembered the task at hand and laid the object back inside the chest. More sifting and searching until Zyll withdrew another small object and slammed the lid shut sending a billow of dust into the air.
"“I have not yet given you a gift for your birthday.”" Zyll held out his palm. A small metal object lay across it.
“"A key?"” asked Marcus, puzzled.
“"Not just any key. It is the only one of its kind.”"
“"It looks like an ordinary key to me.”"
“"Ah, but therein lies the magic,”" replied Zyll. “"With this key you will find within yourself more power than you can now imagine. It will unlock your very destiny."”
Zyll inserted the key in the chest’s lock and turned it. Then, placing the key in Marcus’'s hand, he gestured toward the hearth.
“"Try once more.”"
The key felt heavy and cold. The tarnished iron was worn smooth in spots. Still Marcus sensed its power as he grasped it firmly in his fist. As he held the key at eye level a peculiar tingling sensation spread through his fingers and wrist.
At first only the faintest crackle could be heard. Then a small speck of orange glowed from the back of the hearth. Marcus leaned forward and blew air from his lips to fan the ember. On his first breath the glow intensified, then began to spread with the second. On the third breath there was a loud pop as the ember leapt from the hearth setting the hem of Zyll’'s robe on fire.
Marcus gasped in horror at his mistake. Without a moment’s hesitation he grabbed the kettle of soup and threw its contents at his master. The fire was put out and from the sour expression on Zyll’'s face, so was he.
Marcus'’s shoulders drooped in dismay. "“I’'m sorry,”" he said.
Zyll shook off the bits of carrot and onion that clung to his robe. "“No harm done, though I could have doused the flame myself and still had soup for my supper.”" Then, reaching for his walking stick, he announced, “"It is time to go.”"
Zyll opened the cottage door and stepped outside. Marcus followed, the satchel hanging from his shoulder as limp as a large leather blossom that had wilted in the afternoon sun.
Excerpted from "The Rock of Ivanore (The Celestine Chronicles)" by Laurisa White Reyes. Copyright © 0 by Laurisa White Reyes. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Laurisa White Reyes
Laurisa White Reyes has been writing since the age of 5 when she wrote her first poem on a scrap of poster board. After earning a degree in English at California State University at Northridge, she spent thirteen years writing for various magazines and newspapers, working as a book editor, and teaching creative writing. She gave up all that six years ago to follow her lifelong dream of writing novels. Her first book, The Rock of Ivanore, will be released in May 2012. Besides writing, Laurisa is also a voracious reader. She also loves musical theater, chocolate, sushi, ancient history, bearded dragons, and rain storms. She lives in Southern California with her husband, 5 children, 4 birds, 2 lizards, 2 turtles, 1 fish, 1 dog, and a partridge in a pear tree.
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