Moving right along… and if you're just joining Mik and Sura, start with Part 1!
Accidental Sorcerers #3
Mik, not used to being served, insisted on feeding the fire while Sura poured tea. She moved another bench next to Mik’s, close to the fire, and sipped her tea while he poked the wood into place. The food tray bridged the gap between their benches.
“You said you had your own story,” he said at last, taking up his teacup.
She nodded. “It was near the end of summer,” she said, staring into the fire. “I really made a mess of things…”
“Will you please sit down?” Bailar sounded amused and exasperated at once. “You’re making me nervous.”Mik looked at the tray. “You made all this? It’s wonderful! Do you use magic to make it taste that good?”
Sura sat, watching the sorcerer eat. Hunger finally overcame nerves, and she took a roll and nibbled.
“Good,” he said. “Now that you’re still, why don’t you tell me what happened?”
She sighed. “I was about worn out carrying those buckets up from the river, and the vat was only half full. You left your staff there, and I remembered that story in the holy book about how the prophet struck the stone and water came out. So I struck the wall with your staff, and it worked! I was overjoyed at first.
“Then the vat filled up, but I didn’t know how to stop the water. I should have called for help before there was six inches of water in the basement, I know.”
Bailar nodded. “Indeed, but that was your final mistake. What was your first?”
Sura laughed. “That’s easy. I shouldn’t have done it in the first place!”
“Exactly! That’s known as the Principle of Necessity. Magic calls on powers greater than ourselves, and those powers are not to be used lightly. That’s why we have apprentices, to do the work not worthy of magic.” He grinned. “So you struck the wall and got water. Why do you think it worked?”
“Your staff. I used your staff.”
The sorcerer shook his head. “It’s only a stick. It helps me keep my balance. It worked because you have a talent for magic, like others have a talent for music or weapons.”
“Of course. That’s the Principle of Power, or some call it the Principle of Intent. Most people wouldn’t have drawn water. You wouldn’t have either, if you just struck the wall without that intent. I knew the talent was there — I saw it in you the day I found an infant girl on my doorstep. But like any other talent, you can spend a lifetime developing it. If you want, you can learn to be a sorcerer. I’ll teach you all I can.”
“But — of course — what else would I do?”
“Many things. Any sensible innkeeper would put you in charge of his kitchen. You know the old saw: A sorcerer or king may be thrown aside / but a good scribe or cook may always abide. You could be either one.”
“No, no magic. But the mentor says he’s eaten in the best houses of Exidy, and even the palace at the capital, and never dined better than any evening here at home.” Sura smiled at the floor.
“Maybe there’s other kinds of magic.”
She blushed. “Maybe. I’d like the recipe for that cake you brought though, it’s better than mine. But magic is a lot like cooking: you start by following recipes, then you learn to create your own.”
Mik laughed. “Well, I’ve eaten most of this tray. But if what matters is talent, why all the chanting? Why the robes and wands and things?”
“People expect it. And it can help you focus. The chants are good for remembering spells, too. How the spell for awakening an ice dragon became a children’s rhyme, though…” Sura tore open a roll, stuffed meat and cheese inside it, then took a bite. “But there’s one more thing…”
Bailar put down his roll. “But let’s pretend for a moment that it was necessary for you to perform that spell. What else should you have known?”Mik stifled most of his own laughter. “I can see it! I’ll bet that was a mess to clean up!”
Sura thought a minute. “Um… how to make it stop?”
“Indeed. A spell begun must be ended. That we call the Principle of Closure.”
“That makes sense.”
“Of course it does. And now you have had your first lesson in sorcery. Spells can go awry, even strictly following the Principles, but when they are ignored something nearly always goes wrong.” He began to laugh. “For example, your mentor can find you ankle-deep in water, shrieking like a banshee, desperately trying to hold back a torrent — pouring — from a wall…” He put his face on the table and shook with laughter.
“Oh, it was. I learned a lot that day. Kind of like you.”
“So, being a sorcerer… it’s something you were born with?”
“And you as well.” Bailar appeared in the doorway. “I rather hoped Sura would tell you her story — perhaps now you understand your own predicament a little better.”
“Then perhaps you can tell me how the Three Principles apply to you?”
Mik thought a moment. “I think it was necessary to awaken the ice dragon. The invaders had driven our army out of the Two Rivers district, and they were nearing our town. I wasn’t aware that I had talent, I thought anyone could have done it. As for the last, I thought — no, I didn’t think at all. I suppose I thought the dragon would go away on its own once its work was done. It would be poor thanks to let it die, so I came to you.”
“Your good heart has protected you from the wrath of the ice dragon, so far. Whether it can protect you from the world at large, I know not. I believe I know what you must do, though.”