The Phoenix Ring(7)

By: Alexander Brockman

The wizard abruptly stood. "Come, let me show you around your new home, here, can you read and write?"

Rose had forced all the boys going through the orphanage to read and write, and Aidan was no different. "Yes sir." He said.

"Well then you can take this," he said, handing Aidan a leather-bound notebook from somewhere within the folds of his robes, along with a quill. "And don't worry about ink, that quill will never run dry."

The warlock opened the door, where a boy about Aidan's age was standing. He had blonde hair and blue eyes, and was a few inches shorter than Aidan.

"Timothy, I want you to take Aidan out and show him around, try to tell him as much as you can."

Timothy nodded his head eagerly as the warlock shuffled past, leaving the two boys alone.

Aidan stuck out his hand, and Timothy shook it with some vigor.

"It is so good to meet you, Aidan," he said.

"Er, it's good to meet you too," Aidan said, more than a little taken aback.

"How did you know my name?"

The boy went red. "The crack under the door is a little big, and I was standing outside, so I couldn’t help but hear a little…"

Aidan laughed, he liked this energetic boy.

"So where do you want to go?" The smaller boy asked, changing the subject quickly.

"Uh, you lead," said Aidan. Maybe there will be a chance for me to run while he isn’t looking.

Timothy promptly turned around and began to walk quickly down the hall. It was a vast structure, with many identical doors like the one Aidan had just used. Each door had a number on it, the one Aidan had just exited was number thirty-seven.

Another thing Aidan's mother had taught the boys was simple math, all out of a book given to her by a charitable noble.

"These are the boys' quarters," Timothy said. "The girls' quarters are on the other side of the camp, to keep them separated from the boys during later hours."

Aidan was shocked. His idea of a wizard was similar to Amilech or Malachi, odd, and with a long white beard. Timothy did not really strike Aidan as a powerful sorcerer, but a girl wizard had never even crossed Aidan's mind.

They crossed his mind now, and he wondered if they were as pretty as other girls. No girls lived in his village, but he had met a few his age as they had passed through. He had never had time for romance. His focus had always been on joining the Ranger’s corps, and he remembered with a pang that his dream had been forever snatched from him. That didn’t mean he wasn’t interested in courting an attractive young woman.

They exited the hall and came out into the open mountain air, which was refreshingly cool. Aidan saw that there were several odd shaped buildings scattered across a field that seemed almost too perfect. No building was the same, and many should not have been able to physically stand. There was a henhouse that seemed to be made of better quality wood than most mansions, with perfect white hens milling around outside guarded by a perfectly golden rooster. There was a cube shaped building suspended in the air by only one thin leg, with smoke pouring out of it. However, the most amazing thing was that the entire place seemed to be encased in a huge, blue tinged, transparent soap bubble.

Aidan realized that his jaw was hanging open, and Timothy laughed. "Do you want to go see the safety sphere?" he asked.

Aidan could only nod.

Timothy started jogging towards the edge of the field, where the bubble started. It was fairly easy to see through, and there appeared to be a forest on the other side.

"Go ahead, you can touch it," Timothy said.

Aidan gently reached out and stroked the bubble, half expecting it to pop. That would be two camps destroyed in twenty-four hours. To his surprise, it was as hard as steel.

He pushed a little harder, and finally gave it a good punch. And then the wall punched him back.

It wasn't really a punch, but a force slammed into Aidan that knocked him down. He hit the ground with the wind knocked out of him, Timothy doubled over laughing.

"Sorry mate," he said between gasps "I should have told you that the safety sphere fights back. It hits you with twice the force that you hit it, but I guess you know that now."

Aidan glared at him until the laughing subsided. So much for escaping, he thought.

"Are you done now?" he asked the young sorcerer.

"Just about," Timothy answered. "I think next we can take you to the mage training area. How much do you know about the levels of sorcery?"

Aidan stared at him blankly.

"Ugh, this might take a while," Timothy said. "We can talk while we walk. A sorcerer is what we call anyone who can practice magic. A mage is the first level of sorcery, a mage can do magic with a staff, which is made of some material with runes inscribed on it, and it has a gem on one end. For a mage, magic is directed out of the staff.