Accidental Sorcerers #2
Mik and Piet flanked Robi, walking to school on the snowy street.
“Can you believe it?” Robi asked them, her hand in Piet’s. “Spring’s only a month away. No more school, forever!”
“If you don’t count being ’prenticed as school,” Piet laughed.
“I hope Mattu takes me on,” said Mik. “At least a merchant gets to travel —”
A gust of wind whipped Mik’s hood back, and he pulled it up. “And maybe I’ll have my own place somewhere warmer.” He laughed, then stopped and turned. “Hey, what —”
Piet looked terrified, trying to pull Robi out of the street. She stood her ground, but pointed. “Mik! It’s back!” He had mistook the ice dragon for a huge snowdrift, but now it stood watching them in silent regard.
“Is something wrong?” Mik asked it at last.
The enemy has departed your lands, it said in its frigid voice.
I have done your bidding. Dispel me.
“I told you!” Robi gave Piet a playful punch.
You awakened me and yet you are so ignorant? The dragon seemed surprised. I will melt with the coming of spring, like a human burned alive.
Mik shuddered. “I’ll find out how to dispel you. I promise.”
The whole town was in an uproar, everyone asking Mik questions as he asked his. It was the school librarian who told him of a sorcerer — a hundred miles away, but the dragon assured him that he could fly that far before sunset. His parents were dubious, but saw no other way. His mother gave him a thick cloak and filled his pack with cakes: “Even a wizard has to eat, and it isn’t right to seek aid empty-handed.” She had more to say, but her lecture was tempered knowing he had saved the town. All was ready in an hour, and Mik shouldered his pack.
Everyone turned out, gawping at the dragon or getting a new glimpse of Mik. Girls, who hadn’t noticed him yesterday, waved to him and wished him a speedy return — reminding him of what Robi had said a week ago.
You are ready. Mik nodded and the dragon allowed him to mount, seating himself in a sheltered spot where neck and body met. Below his left leg were large faint pink spots, but Mik barely noticed. The dragon leaped skyward to cheers and shrieks, and they were aloft.
“East to the Wide River, then follow it north.” Mik was frightened and excited to be airborne. He found his perch surprisingly comfortable; only stray gusts of wind touched him. Land, sky, dragon — all were white, and they might be skimming the snow for all he knew. He closed his eyes —
Is that it?
High above the river, Mik saw a toylike town and fought back nausea. “Maybe. Let me down outside of town so you don’t panic everyone. I’ll ask.”
Mik stopped a townsman. “Is this Exidy Town?”
“Of course, boy,” he sneered.
“Thank you, sir. I seek the sorcerer, Bailar the Blue.”
The man looked puzzled, then looked beyond Mik, perhaps seeking companions. “Across the river, on the bluff overlooking,” he said at last, pointing.
Mik and the dragon circled the sorcerer’s keep. It was unimposing: a house against a low tower, about three stories high. A steep but walkable drop led to the river below. The dragon alit near the front door of the house. This door opened, revealing a girl about Mik’s age, wearing a blue robe and carrying a staff. She gave them a wary look, then struck the stone with her staff.
“The Sorcerer of Exidy, Bailar the Blue!” Smoke billowed from the threshold, then dissipated, revealing the sorcerer. He looked a little older than Mik’s parents, and wore a robe similar to his apprentice’s.
Mik sketched a bow from atop the dragon. “Sir,” he said, “I am honored, but a personal greeting is above my station.”
The sorcerer looked amused. “A dragonrider always merits a personal greeting. Come in, warm yourself, then we can talk.” He turned carefully and went inside.
The dragon curled up in the snow as Mik dismounted. The apprentice ushered him inside. They followed the sorcerer through a mud room and into a hallway beyond.
“You’re no older than me,” the apprentice whispered. “I don’t see many people our age here. Are you already a sorcerer?”
Mik shook his head as his host turned and entered a cozy parlor. A warm fire and benches awaited. “Please, seat yourself. Would you like some tea? Yes? Sura, bring the pot and cups for the three of us.” Mik was given the bench closest to the fire; he soon shed his outerwear.
“Oh, I brought cakes,” said Mik, removing them from his pack. “Maybe they’ll go well with the tea.”
“Indeed. And here’s Sura with the tea.”
With a cup warming his hands, Mik and his hosts faced each other around a low table, Mik’s back to the fire. Sura unwrapped and tasted a cake, then smiled. “Very good!”
“Excellent. Now, young dragonrider, why don’t you tell us your story?”
Mik told them everything, and found the reactions interesting: the sorcerer looked solemn, while the apprentice openly grinned. She had a pretty smile though.
“Very fortunate,” said Bailar at last. “Awakening an ice dragon, and living to tell about it. One wrong word, and it would have crushed you before wreaking havoc on both armies.
“But know this: you brought it awake, and thus you can dispel it. I may be able to help.” He stood. “I will consult my grimories. Sura can show you your guest room and the more important part of the house: the kitchen!”
Mik and Sura looked at each other. “Come on,” she said, “I’ll show you around.” She led him first to the guest room, then the kitchen, where she constructed a plate of bread, meats, and cheeses with easy familiarity.
“Got in over your head?” she said at last, carrying the tray and another pot of tea.
“I’m glad someone finds it amusing.”
“I’m sorry, Mik. It’s just that… you’re not the only one that’s happened to.” She gave him a serious look. “Let me tell you my story.”