Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Prompt: The Mage’s Study

Thanks to Zachary Schwartz for permission to use his lovely image, “The Mage’s Study”!

“No dinner for me, tonight,” the mage had said. “I’m dining with…company…in town.” Nathan had ducked his head to hide his smirk. The mage’s company would keep him occupied long past dinner. Good, plenty of time.

The mage kept his study locked, but Nathan had learned a thing or two before he came to the mage’s attention. It doesn’t take a spell to pick a lock. He’d been inside plenty of times, but always under the mage’s watchful eye. Tonight he planned to take advantage of the mage’s absence to take a look at some of the books the mage never let him touch.

First, a glass of the mage’s fine claret. Nathan poured the open bottle on the mage’s table, itself a masterpiece of spelled workmanship. Nathan had watched the woodsman’s tools moving on their own in the shed for months as they carefully shaped and finished the complex interleavings of the 12-sided surface. He spilled a drop of wine as he set down the bottle and carefully wiped it with his sleeve.

The afternoon light filtered in through the spelled window panes. Nathan sipped the wine and browsed the study shelves. There. Le Dragon Rouge: ou, l’art de commander les espirits celeste. The mage had practically knocked his hand aside when he once reached for the 16th century manuscript. Nathan smiled and lifted his hand, palm up, even with the grimoire. He moved his hand to the left, and the heavy leather book slid off the shelf and floated evenly to the mage’s table.

He sat in the mage’s heavy chair, and it carried him smoothly to the table’s edge. His fingers reached for the grimoire, but something held him back. Caution warred with curiosity, and he finally compromised with a wave of his fingers to sweep the front cover open to lay flat on the table. A wind riffled through the pages, and Nathan pushed away his unease. He would practice the levitation spell to turn the pages, he encouraged himself firmly.

The afternoon light turned gold and faded as he studied the ancient text. He wasn’t even sure he was reading it correctly. Sometimes the writing shimmered on the page until he wanted to rub his eyes and send the book back to the shelves. But he read on, a quick glance at the candles on the table sending the wicks flaming to life. He barely noticed, although he’d never done that spell before.

Lost in his study, he jumped when he heard the mage calling him from down the hall. How had it gotten so late? The candles were burned to stubs, and only starlight twinkled in through the windows. Nathan heard the mage’s footsteps in the hallway and knew he could never put everything away in time. He started to rise from the chair when he was gripped by a force so strong it literally stopped him in mid-motion. Knowledge.

He continued to stand, passing a hand over the grimoire. He faded from sight as the mage entered the study, a rebuke on his lips.

He faltered, looking around, but Nathan was nowhere to be seen. He glanced down at his original 16th century manuscript of Brunfels's Herbarium vivae eicones, carelessly left open on the table. He had been studying it last night, but he was sure he had put it away. The boy must have pulled it out to study while he was gone.

“He should know better than to damage the spine…”

Nathan walked in, carrying a tray of tea and biscuits. The mage waved a hand to close the book and send it back to the shelves. If he had been watching, he would have seen it shift in mid flight, dropping down and left to settle among the grimoires.

He poured a cup of tea, then another. “Sit down,” he commanded. “I’ll teach you a new spell. Something simple. Perhaps levitation. That will be useful in your work.”

Nathan ducked his head down as he sat in his usual chair. If the mage had paid attention, he would have seen the boy’s eyes glowing gold in the candlelight.

Dogs in house

Time writing:
~45 minutes, interrupted

November word count:

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