THE APPRENTICE-BOOK1-THE CALLING. CHAPTERS 5 – 6

CHAPTER FIVE.


Tayvian saw the dragon as it flew past the face of the moon and he felt the wind from its great wings as it passed over their heads. Both boys smelled the fetid odor of death that followed in the wake of the great lizard. It filled the tiny glade like a stink bomb had gone off thus removing any doubts that might have remained in their minds as to the nature of the beast.
“Move not, Master Shane,” The ominous above him voice warned in a bare whisper, “for the beast is yet about and tonight he is hunting.”

Shane nodded his head in agreement, but only slightly. Just enough to show the mysterious stranger that he understood how perilously thin the ice his life was skating on was at that moment.
Several minutes later the shadow of the dragon flew across the moon once more. This time it was further away, off in the distance. The boys could clearly see the full outline of the dragon against the night sky. It sent chills up and down their spines that felt like the icy cold finger of death and they shuddered violently at the same time.
Shane could see evil beast’s great head searching relentlessly back and forth over the forest floor below. Searching for food. It was searching for them.
The dragon flew quickly out of sight, but a minute later they head a horrific crashing noise in the trees no more than perhaps a quarter of a mile away that was followed by the shrill screaming of an animal. Screams that were quickly drowned out by a snarling beast with a great and ferocious roar before silence descended once more upon Mayrewood. The tres did not even dare to stir, and the evening breeze had vanished as though they too were frightened of the dragon.
The boys did not see the great and terrible lizard again that night, nor did they hear it. Even so neither Shane nor Tayvian dared to move a muscle. When Shane got an itch in his nose he took so long putting his face down to the grass where he could scratch it that it quit itching before he could get to it.
In the stillness of the night his own heartbeat sounded like someone was pounding on a bass drum in his ears. It sounded too loud and Shane feared it would betray him to the dragon who would then swoop down and eat him while he screamed helplessly in its jaws.

After what seemed to be a lifetime, there was a flash of brilliant white fire and just as suddenly as it had gone out, their bonfire spring to life again. Once more the tiny glade was filled with its soft warm glow.
Just a few steps away, Shane could see Tayvian’s back. He was lying in the same position as he was. He could also see that his best friend’s hands and feet were tied together in the same manner as his own. He could make out where Tayvian’s gag had been tied into a knot behind his head, just like his own.
When Shane looked down towards his knees he got his first look at their assailant. He was a very tall old man who wore a long brown robe that had long wide sleeves and a cowl. To Shane the old man looked like a monk but clearly he was not.
The robe hung on loosely upon the old man’s wiry frame , and the thick cord tied around his narrow waist showed that he was very lean. Not given to fat like many of the over-stuffed friars one typically found around the monasteries of Wales.
In his right hand, which was as bony as an old plow horses ankle and as gnarled as a dogwood tree, the man held a long highly polished staff made of the blackest iron wood.

The staff had a solid gold heel on the bottom and was topped with an oval shaped smoky white crystal the size of a large goose egg. Its surface was round and smooth but its insides caught the firelight and refracted it in streaks of rainbow colors all around the old man. Tiny nulti-colored spots danced across his face and his faded brown robe whenever he moved and Shane found himself mezmerized by it for a moment.
The stranger had his hood pulled over his head so that even in the low of the bonfire the features of his face were lost in deep dark shadows.

All Shane could see of him was his long grey beard flowing out from the bottom of his cowl like a frozen silver waterfall. A hot flush of shame rushed up into his cheeks as he realized thet they had been bested by an old man. One who had to be older than Methuselah by the looks of him at that.
Age is a relative issue, my young friend,” The old man said suddenly. “As you shall someday live to learn, age and cunning will always overcome youth and strength. You will do well to remember that.” the old man said with a chuckle that nearly froze Shane’s blood.
“Why you dirty rotten sneaking coward. Let me up this minute or as God is my witness I shall skin you alive and then feed your carcass to the dogs.” Shanetold the old man but with his gag in his mouth all that came out was, “I on any errds or we- at witnfh atest mie is at mf so I nan ear unfh.” Or something to that effect. It loses a lot in translation. 
“Really now, Master Shane, I think you are in a rather poor position to be making such threats when I could simply toss you both on the fire like two sticks of firewood and be done with you.” The old man told him softly. Looking over at Tayvian he smiled and said. “I see your friend, Tayvian has finally decided to rejoin us in the land of the living. That is well because what I have to say applies to you both.” He informed them.
“You two fools can go on acting like a pair of Jackanapes and talk tough all night if you wish to. But if you chose to do so rest assured you will spend the night bound and gagged, hand and foot. Or…, you could show a little humility and appreciation for me saving you from the jaws of the dragon which your own eyes beheld just now.”
Tayvian had rolled over onto his right side so that he was facing Shane across the fire and now he looked from Shane to the old man. Silently, with his eyes he pleaded his case. A solemn nod of Shane’s head and the decision was made.
Shane looked back at the old man who had crossed his arms and was leaning on his staff awaiting their momentous decision. Shane looked down at the grass and said through his gag, “Eur riery orry ir.” as contritely as he was able to. Beside him he could hear Tayvian echoing his muffled apologies through his own gag.
When Shane looked up again the old man had still not moved. It looked as though he was weighing the measure of their sincerity. For a moment there he was afraid that the old man had found judgment against them, but then he stood up straighter, spread his arms out shoulder-width, and held his staff’s heel just above the ground.
Shane could hear him speaking some words but he could not hear what they were. The crystal on top of the old man’s staff flashed with bright yellow lightning within for just a moment then it was gone.

As it turned back to its natural color their ropes and gags fell away from them like magic and they were free once more.
The boy’s stretched their cramped limbs and slowly got to their feet again. If ever there had been any thoughts of rushing the old man they were erased by the memories of how easily he had put out their fire and bested them both in pitch darkness. The demonstrations of other power they had seen him wield effectively sealed the deal. 
“We are very sorry for any offenses that we may have offered to you your worship.” Tayvian said giving the old man a low bow as an display of respect.
“Aye, your Lordship. The same thing goes for me as well. Shane said as he took a knee to show his humility and offer of gratitude to their captor and savior. For both of these the old man most assuredly was even though they did not yet fully realize just how much that meant to their futures, even though they did not yet fully realize it.
That realization would come in due time, but they did not need a dragon to fall on them in order to figure out that the old man must be a very powerful wizard.
“Was that really a dragon, my Lord?” Tayvian and asked the old man which mirrored Shane’s own thoughts.
“Truthfully it was Master Tayvian. That was a dragon.” the old man said. Tayvian thought he might be sick for a while.
“So , if you had not come along you did, and put out the fire…” Tayvian said letting the end of the thought trail off into silence as the inevitable conclusion of that now unwritten story occurred to him.
“Yes my foolish young friend, precisely so,” the old man agreed. “Precisely so.” This was the deciding factor for Tayvian’s upset stomach and he went off to get better acquainted with an ancient oak tree growing on the verge of the Glade.
When he returned several minutes later, Shane and the old man were still standing there in the same spot staring at each other. Just as Tayvian walked up to the fire and threw some more fuel on the flames, Shane broke the silence that lay between them.
“Who are you my Lord? I have the strangest sensation, it’s as though I know you from somewhere. Or perhaps from a very long time ago. How can that be, when I am certain I have never laid eyes upon you before, sir?” 
The old man chuckled then he reached up and pulled down his hood to reveal a countenance that wore the battle scars of ancient age, knowledge and wisdom. His was a face which spoke of great power without a word. It was both a kind and gentle face with the lines and battle scars of a fearsome warrior. 
“These days I am called Mayrethane, the Watchman, The Warden of Mayrewood, Warrior Of The Woods, Weirdo, The mean old fart with the big stick, you name it kid, I have been called it at one time or another. But many years ago, when I still roamed the halls of men and served as high counsel to the courts of King’s, I was known to all men by only one name.”
Meanwhile, Tayvian recalled what that old man had said when the fire went out. That was just sinking into his simple brain when the fire went out again.

That was more than his already sick stomach could stomach and he went off on the run to find a convenient tree to lean against while his gut did the old dry heave ho.
Shane however stood his ground and faced the grinning old wizard squarely. “So… then, you’re Choralys the White, aren’t you. he stated flatly.
“That I am, Master Shane.” The old man replied and Shane thought he could see the old man smiling at him in the dark. The fact that he knew his name was far from lost on him either.
“We have been looking for you, my lord” Shane said simply.
“Yes, so I heard,” Choralys said, gesturing towards the campfire ring. The big chunks of firewood that had been part of a great conflagration just a moment before was now a small pile of cold dead ashes. Even the smell of smoke was gone, Shane noticed. “and here I am.” Choralys said giving Shane a wink with an eye that twinkled in the baleful moonlight. For a splinter of a moment their eyes met in the dark but in the old Sorcerer’s eye Shane saw an explosion of galaxies ” Ta-Da!” he said with a wry grin.

CHAPTER SIX                                                                                               

“But why, might I ask, are you looking for me?” the wizard asked “What is important enough to bring you two all the way from Kilcairn to Mayrewood?”

“How do you know our names and where we’re from, my Lord?” Shane asked him just as Tayvian came walking back up again looking quite pale.

“I know a great many secrets my foolish young friend. Secrets that I may not reveal to anyone.” Choralys said cryptically .

“He probably heard us talking before he mugged us and tied us up.” Tayvian told Shane with certainty.

“I prefer to call tonight a lesson in humility, good manners and common sense, master Tayvian,” The old man chuckled “But truly you have discerned my methodology in this case. You two chattered incessantly. It was like listening to a pair of magpies. You were loud enough to awaken the dead, or worse yet, catch the attention of old Morloch the terrible whom you came very close to meeting earlier.”

“You do know that you could have told us there was a dragon around instead of hog tying us and all nonsense that you put us through,” Shane said to the old wizard.

“Yeah!” Tayvian agreed “I almost knocked myself silly when I ran into that tree after you put our fire out. By the way, how did you put our fire out like that?” he asked

“Ancient Chinese secret.” The old man said with a smile “But in the future may I suggest that you try sitting so that you are not looking into the fire and made blind to the night by its light?” he suggested. “An elephant could have snuck up on you two wearing castanets and playing a tambourine.”

“What’s an elephant?” Tayvian asked the wizard but the old man did not appear to have heard him and Tayvian did not bother to repeat the question.

“So what about the dragon? Morloch the Terrible you said his name was?” Shane asked, ignoring Tayvian’s question also.

“Yes, that is his name.” The old man replied.

“Will he return again tonight? Are we safe here?” Tayvian interjected “Or should we move our camp to a safer location?”

Choralys laughed softly at the boy’s questions a moment before he replied, “I have no doubt that our old friend, Morloch is deep within his hidden lair high in the jagged spires of the Thieron Mountains about 20 leagues north of here. By now he is roasting the stag that he caught tonight. So I would say no to that, but with Morloch you never can tell. Let us hasten to my house which lies not more than a few minutes hike from here. Then you shall tell me what I would know of thee and of your purpose for seeking me out.”

“And what if I don’t wish to accompany you to to your home sir wizard?” Tayvian asked belligerently, but before the ancient one could answer him Shane did. “ Then you are going to find yourself staying here alone tonight Tayvian because I am going with him. It is what we came here for isn’t it?”  

“I see your point, Shane, I’m just leery of this stranger is all.” Tayvian explained.

“Don’t worry Tay” Shane said to his friend “He could have left us to die if he wished to do so by simply watching from the shadows while Morloch swooped down and carried us off in his talons.”

“Yes I guess you’re right about that.” Tayvian admitted “But I still don’t trust him much.” He added

“Well I do trust him so lets go.” Shane said and that was the end of that.

Just as Chorlays had said, his home was close by. Everyone in Kilcairn had said that the old wizard lived in a cave but what the boys discovered was far more than that. The front part of the wizard’s house was a modest but well crafted log cabin while the back part of it was carved out of solid limestone by millions of years of geological change.

The old wizard had been quite busy since he had moved in from the looks of it. He had carved out niches in the walls for books, charts, vials, bottles and the oddest assortment odds and ends the boys had ever seen in their lives.

The cavern itself was enormous and the wizard had stuff everywhere in what best could be described as lightly organized chaos. With the exception of the section that was set aside for his laboratory. The wizard bade then to make themselves at home but sternly warned them to touch nothing. Especially not in the lab.

The place seemed like an enchanted castle to the awestruck boys as they poked their noses here and there and showedone other each new discovery or treasure. Like the glass jars he had that were full of small creatures such as moles, mice, centipedes, bats , newts, and you name it. If it was small enough to fit in it he had it preserved in a jar.

On one wall hung a large parchment map showing the boundaries and byways of all of Wales and England. It had many strange symbols and  runes drawn in the key that they could not decipher.

What fascinated them the most was a large brown crockery pot that sat upon a three legged metal stand. The stand had a hole in the middle for a candle flame to burn through it directly upon the bottom of the pot.

The pot itself was filled to the top with a thick brown liquid that appeared to be about as viscous as crude oil. It smelled about as appetizing as crude oil too. The surface of the concoction was bubbling slowly, making great bubbles and plops as they pop, pop, popped, one after the other.Both boys stood staring at it transfixed trying to imagine what it could be.

“I will bet you it’s for turning lead into gold, “Tayvian ventured. “I’ve heard that wizards can do that sort of thing these days.” he asserted.

“Nah, you’re way off you dirt clod” Shane said “I’ll bet you it’s some kind of potion for turning Princes into toads.”

“Ye would both lose those bets my young friends. I assure you it is not for turning lead into gold. Nor is it for changing Princes into bullfrogs. Although that would be a useful potion indeed.” He admitted with a chuckle.

“What manner of potion is it then?” Tayvian wondered.

“This, my young friends, is not a potion at all but rather a curative.” Chorlays said as he reached over them,picked up a long wooden spoon, and began to slowly stir the bubbling mixture with it.

”What’s a curative, sir?” Tayvian asked

“A curative means that it’s medication, Tayvian, like cod liver oil.” the wizard replied.

“Cod liver oil?” “Yuck!” Tayvian cried I’ll pass on the cod liver oil, thank you very much.”

“This is not cod liver oil master Tayvian. It is a much different type of curative.”

“Blech!” Tayvian said eyeing the pot and it’s contents with suspicion “It sure does smell like cod liver oil.” He said with a wrinkled nose

“Aye, that it most surely does.” Shane agreed “What does it cure, besides your appetite?” he snorted.

“That’s exactly what it does, master Shane, it cures your appetite.” The wizard said as he stirred the pot up some more.

“ How. by ruining it forever?” Tayvian asked

“No not at all. By satisfying it” the old man laughed, as he continued stirring the foul smelling concoction.

“What do you call it?” Shane wondered.

“I call it soup.” Chorlays said as he took a spoonful out and tasted it. “And I would say that it is done too.” He added “Would you boys care to join me?” He asked as he held out a spoonful of the ‘soup’ for them to examine.

“Well that depends.” Shane told him, flinching back, out of reach of the wooden spoon. “On what kind of soup it is.”

“Well, it’s an old family recipe handed down to me by my great- grandmother, rest her soul.” The wizard said looking skyward.

“Yes, that’s great, but what is it called?” Tayvian pressed “What kind of soup is it?”

“Bat wing soup, of course” the wizard told them with a perfectly straight face and an expression that seemed to say, don’t tell me you’ve never eaten bat wing soup before.

“Um, you know your worship, if it’s all the same to you I believe I’ll pass. I’m not really hungry. I had a piece of bread and cheese for lunch,” Shane told him, patting his growling stomach for added emphasis. “I’m good with that soup, sir.”

“Uh, yeah, me too,” Tayvian agreed.

“Nonsense. Don’t you boys know it’s considered rude to refuse to eat whatever your host offers you?” the old wizard told them “And besides, you boys don’t really believe that I would offer you bat wing soup do you?” the wizard laughed. “It’s just plain old vegetable soup with a little bit of beef stock in it. It’s the special ingredients I put in it that causes it to smell a little funny. That’s where it gets its name from.”

“Oh,” Shane said eyeing the soup with renewed interest, “I see. In that case I suppose I could stand to restock my stomach a bit.” Tayvian admitted.

“Yeah, me too. I’ll try a little of your soup, sir,” Shane said.

“Fine, that is just fine! That’s 3 heaping bowls of good old bat wing soup coming right up!” The wizard said with a hearty laugh. Both boys joking about bat wing soup as the wizard ladled out the three bowls. At one point he had to use his long wooden spoon to poke the large wing back down into the bottom of the pot so that the boys wouldn’t see it in there and refuse to eat. What they don’t know won’t hurt them he told himself with a secret smile the boys could not see.

Shane and Tayvian finished off a second helping each, then, after they had both eaten they sat down in front of the fire in the front room and Shane told the old sorcerer why they had made the trip to Mayrewood to find him. Choralys listened while he sat back in a large overstuffed chair and puffed lazily upon a long ivory stemmed pipe whose bowl was a carved human skull with an eagles talons holding it to the stem.

   “So that’s it then master Shane? That’s why you came all this way? Just to ask me for a formula for black dye?” If I hadn’t seen your signal fire when I did you would be entertaining old Morloch this very moment. Your sainted mothers and fathers would be in need of plenty of black cloth then eh?” Choralys said as he sent four perfect smoke rings racing towards the open beamed ceiling.

“Yes I’m afraid that’s it your worship. All we need is some black dye. Had we known about Morloch or any other dragon being on the prowl around here then we certainly would not have exposed ourselves to it. Again sir, we are eternally in your debt for rescuing us from certain death.” Shane said “Yes, but we shall come back to that subject in good time ,” 

Choralys said “First, pray tell, to what purpose do you two kids need black dye for that you would come all this way?”

“Only for dying wool and no other your Lordship.” Shane said. He knew this old wizard was watching him for any signs of a lie but since he actually did want the dye for dying wool like he’d said then it wasn’t really a lie. More like creative honesty.

The old man could tell that there was more to his story than he was letting on but decided to retain that knowledge rather than play it to his advantage.

Obviously the dye they sought  had to be of some greater value than just for dying wool or else the boys would not have come so far on foot to seek it out.

He had not, as he had told Shane and Tayvian, just happened to see their bonfire flickering through the trees in the night and gone to investigate its source. Choralys had foreseen their coming long before they decided to make the journey. Only their original purposes had remained hidden from him, but he knew they were not bent on doing evil within Mayrewood.

He had consulted with his brethren by way of the Orleanstone that every full fledged wizard carries with him as a symbol of his order. When a sorcerer focused all of his power and will upon his stone he could then call out to any one or all the other Orlean Stones and then their owners could join thoughts with the others. It always gave its users a terrific headache later on but boy did it to save the old wizards a lot of walking.

Choralys had asked for the Council to approve a “See,” this was a seldom used ritual during which certain rites were performed by a group of four wizards. One to represent each point of the compass. Each wizard had their own ritual to perform in his turn from north to south and then to east and west.

Once that was done an ancient diagram was drawn by the “seer,” the one who wished to see, in the center of a hexagram on the floor. Special incantations were spoken along with the words of power that would allow them to see into the future of the subjec.

The power to see was a very secret and powerful tool of the ancient ones, but it was a very taxing one both physically and mentally as well. Not to mention the huge toll that was paid spiritually. The incantations alone could last for as long as a full day and in some cases even longer.

There had to be a compelling reason before you could talk three other wizards into performing one but there were many groups that often did them together. Often enough that it was like second nature to them.

When Choralys had seen young Shane in his Orleanstone, he had seen a great aura of power surrounding the boy that was like the auras that greatest wizards themselves projected.

But those auras were like feeble candles being compared to the sun.  Shane’s aura shone so bright it nearly frazzled the old sorcerers eyes before he was forced to look away. That was why Choralys had requested to hold a see for Shane.

When he had described the aura of power around the boy all the members of Choralys inner circle wasted no time in approving and initiating the ceremony immediately.

What they saw created quite a stir in the brotherhood and it was the subject of many long discussions and debates between them. A large number of secret gatherings were held during the years that followed during the next 11 ½ years.

It had been decided by the High Council that Choralys would be given the responsibility of intercepting the boy who, it was pointed out, would come seeking him anyway.

He was charged with waiting until the boy appeared and then steering him towards the destiny revealed to them during the see. They had set Choralys up very comfortably in his forest retreat to study and wait.

So far the only drawback to it was that it was the hunting grounds of Morloch the terrible. But smart dragons go out of their way to avoid confrontations with the Brotherhood of the Old Stones, as they were known to the dragons,

Choralys had seen the dragon hunting in the moonlit sky many times but so far he had not been disturbed by the giant fire breathing lizard during his time there in Mayrewood. The boys had never really been in any danger from Morloch the Terrible because Choralys knew that treacherous old worm always hunted during the peak of the full moon.

Shane and Tayvian were safe as long as they stayed in his woods so all he had to do was shadow them unseen until the time was right to reveal himself.

All had gone according to plan right down to the timing of Morloch’s appearance. He was practically right on schedule too. Even if old Morloch had seen them, the dragon , much like wizards themselves, could see the aura of power around both Shane and
Choralys. He would never dare to tangle with what to him appeared to be a pair of very powerful wizards. One of them running around loose in Mayrewood was bad enough but to have two of them running around loose was more than bore contemplation.

At any rate the plan had worked perfectly and now the boy was in his debt. Or so he believed anyway. He would be in even deeper by the time Choralys The white was finished with him.

“Well young man, luckily for thee I just happen to know a formula for a black wool dye that is not only  of the highest quality it is also very easy to make from a few simple ingredients that you can find almost anywhere.” Choralys said as he sent a new bunch of smoke rings racing towards the ceiling. “But as you should know by now young man, nothing worth having is ever free, and nothing comes but at a price.” He added

“What do mean your worship, do I have to pay for the dye?” Shane asked the wizard

Aye, that you do boy. You both owe me for the formula, for the hospitality of my humble abode and for snatching you two simpletons from out of the jaws of death itself.” The sly old sorcerer informed the dumb struck boys

“But we have not so much as a half pence between us your worship!” Tayvian cried.

“Aye, that’s the truth, my lord!” Shane assured him “We were hoping….” He began

“Ye were hoping that some doddering old fool of a wizard would just hand over one of his secrets to you for a song. Isn’t that the truth of it?” the wizard asked the boys who of course protested their innocence.

“Those excuses interest me not one iota,” He told them.

“But then how ever shall we pay you then when we have no money nor the means of obtaining any my lord?” Tavian asked timidly. His stomach was beginning to come unsettled again at the thought of being in the wizards displeasure in his own home.

“If you don’t have any money then you must pay your debts to me by whatever means I might lay claim to. I will require a pledge from you,” The crafty old wizard told them as he closed his carefully laid trap shut on the unsuspecting prey.

“Such as what?” Shane asked.

“Such as any other items of value. Such as jewels, such as land, or such as cattle.” Choralys said “But my lord we don’t have anything!” Shane cried “We’re just two poor shepherd boys! We have only the clothes upon our backs and nothing more!”

“ Aye” Tayvian agreed, nodding emphatically.

Choralys shook his head solemnly as he blew a great cloud of blue smoke out through his nostrils. “I’m afraid I have no other choice but to turn you both into iguanas then.” He said sadly.

“Iguanas!?” Tayvian cried “But, surely there has to be another way that we can repay you?”

Choralys sat smoking his pipe in silence for several long minutes while he stared at the bed of glowing orange coals in the fireplace. He appeared to be giving some thought to turning the boys into iguanas but what he was really thinking was that he needed to clean out his firebox one day soon. He noticed that his fingernails needed clipping too.

At long last the old sorcerer spoke again “There is one way that it can be done and your life debts to me paid in full.”

“Just name it and I swear we shall do it sir!” Shane assured him.

“Actually only one of you can discharge the debt” Choralys said.

“Then pick  me” Shane and Tayvian said in unison.

“Perhaps.” Choralys said “Perhaps.” Then he asked Tayvian “Were you born in the month of July master Tayvian?”

“No your lordship I was born in February.” Tayvian replied unsure of where the wizards question was taking him.

“No, no, no. February is no good at all. You won’t be able to fulfill the oath.” The wizard said. Tayvian started to protest buy Choralys cut him off abruptly with a wave of his hand, “Were you born in the month of July master Shane?” he asked, turning his attention to Shane and ignoring Tayvian.

“Yes sir I was. In fact born on the 28th day of July your Lordship. Why do you ask?” Shane wondered what he was getting himself into but what could be worse than being turned into an iguana?

“The only way for someone to discharge a life debt to a wizard, other than paying a king’s ransom in gold or jewels or by being punished severely, is to discharge that debt through a two year period of indentured service.” Choralys explained

“Two years?” Shane asked.

“Yes two years. But since your friend here was not born in July I’m afraid he cannot discharge his blood debt through servitude. So unless someone else would be willing to discharge his debt for him then the sorcerers code states that I am obligated to turn him into an iguana immediately.” The old wizard said as he raised his head and began to chant some words in Latin that were mostly gibberish .

“No wait!” Shane cried “I’ll discharge the debt for Tayvian since it is all my fault that he’s here in the first place!”

  Choralys stopped reciting his  “incantation” and looked at Shane “ “Are ye sure of that?” he asked fixing Shane’s eyes with his own.

Shane could not see them twinkling as he said, “Yes I am sure of it my lord wizard just do not turn him into an iguana or anything else, please I beg of you!”

“As you wish then.” Choralys said as he relaxed and resumed smoking his pipe contentedly. The course of Shane’s future had been set in motion much to the wizard’s satisfaction. The Brotherhood would be happy to hear the news he said to himself as he blew red smoke rings into the fireplace.

    “When do I have to start doing this, uh, service?” Shane asked him after a few minutes of silence.

“Whenever you are called upon then you will do as you’re instructed,” The wizard said.

“Called? Called by who?”

“Not by who but by whom. Whenever you are called will know the one who calls you and you will honor your word and you will answer the call. Then you shall serve with him as he shall require of you, for the full span of four years, and not one day less.” Choralys explained “Only then shall the blood debt be satisfied and the two of you released from your obligation to me.”

“You mean I don’t have to start serving it right now?” Shane asked “No” was the answer.

“Will I serve the time with you?” Shane asked..

“Again, no.” “I am much happier her in my own company and I am not in need of an apprentice.”

“I see. Since I’m paying for it, how about some of that black dye, and a bed for the night?”

The old wizard laughed and pointed his long pipe stem at Tayvian who was propped up against the wall, fast asleep .

“I’d say your friend has beaten you to thy bed already my young friend. For the truth of the matter is that the only bed in this house is the one in which I sleep and I fear it barely fits me.” The old sorcerer said.

“I get the idea.” Shane said as he stretched out on the thick hide rug in front of the fire and closed his eyes. “What about that formula, sir?” he asked, impending slumber heavy in his voice.

“That you shalt have in your hand when you leave here on the morrow I assure you.” Choralys said in a soft voice.

“Okay” Shane said as sleep carried him away in its dark embrace.

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