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Chapter 3 : Godric Gryffindor
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Chapter Graphic: PropMaster
Beta Read By: Arithmancy_Wiz and delta
Title: Young Godric
Rating/Warning: 15+ (mild violence)
For the Staff: Simply, for Jay.
“And at that very moment, what do you think happened? A fearsome roar was heard over the hill, and our poor Will, all a-tremble with fright, turns about on that dark path . . . the very path he had been warned by the wise old witch not to travel upon. And who should he see a coming down to him? Eh? Do you know, Hilda? How about you there, little Margery?” The youth who spoke was not much more than a handful of years out of childhood himself, perhaps six and ten, and he looked from face to face, suppressing a smile at the eager, tense little ones spread before him. A gust of wind swept through the stand of birch and hawthorn they were seated beneath, and the leaves whispered together as if conjecturing upon the answer as well.
He was a handsome youth, fair of hair and eye, and well-formed for one not yet a man, the body beginning to lose the gaunt, leggy appearance of late childhood. His shoulders pressed the seams of the linen shirt worn under the homespun tunic, and the points were straining against his chausses as he crossed his legs, slouching comfortably on the large rock next to the trees.
The dozen or so children assembled before him were a ragamuffin lot with their handed-down clothing and their tousled hair. A braver lass who had only recently left her toddlerhood behind spoke tentatively. “Godric . . . were it Jimmy Squarefoot?”
Godric smiled at her and gently chided, “Now, now, Gemma, you know as well as I that ol’ Jimmy Squarefoot is nothing to be scared of! Sure an’ he’s got the great head that looks akin to a boar and those big feet are a bit startlin’, but he’s harmless as a new-born lamb. Come on, then, who’s to take another guess?”
Their braver companion had broken the wall of silence, and the piping voices threw out a bevy of fabled creatures.
“How ‘bouts that Ogre?”
More guesses, and more rejections followed. Godric let them go on for some time, for he delighted in their active imaginations and admired their tenacity. At last, he raised his hands for silence, holding them aloft for a dramatic moment, then let them fall to his knees with a slap. The children jumped, then giggled nervously.
“Our Will, that naughty, silly man who refused to listen to any good advice, had found himself on the gloomy road with none other than . . . Jack-In-Irons!” A collective gasp. “And well you may be shocked, my good lords and ladies! Jack-In-Irons is a ter-r-rible giant, tall and hairy, with chains wound all about the neck and middle, rattlin’ away as he walks. Chink, chink! He carries a mighty spiked club as big around as a tree, and tied to the chains are the heads of the unfortunate people who have crossed his path!”
“What did Will do?” squeaked a round-eyed boy with dirty smudges on his cheeks and the sticky remains of a feast-day confection forgotten in his fist.
“I’ll tell you, young Robby, son of Coenred,” Godric said jovially, then paused. “. . . At next week’s Rest Day.”
A chorus of sighs and no few complaints rippled across the gathered children. But they were an obedient lot, and as one, arose to return to the village. Godric hefted the youngest, little Anna de Swale who had just learnt to walk, up onto his shoulders and strode after the others, adjusting his pace to theirs.
But before they had moved more than beyond the grove, a scream split through the quiet late afternoon peace. Godric and the children froze.
The scream sounded, again and again.
In one swift movement, Godric swept his young charge off his shoulders and into the startled arms of one of the older girls. He whipped about, oriented on the sound and charged after it. “GO! . . . Back to the village! Get HELP!” he threw over his shoulder.
His boots pounded on the earth and velvety grass made soft by unusually heavy spring rains. Stands of heather and cotton grass twitched at his passing, the flowered heads bobbing and weaving, but he paid them no mind. His arms pumped forward and back, urging his body after the terrified voice.
Leaping over a tall stand of bulrush, Godric’s feet slipped downward over a patch of flattened deer sedge, right to the muddy edge of a large, black pool. He slid to his knees, momentarily winded, chest heaving, eyes darting about the sight before him.
The water, normally brackish and choked with duckweed and covered with green scum, was all astir, caused by a great churning coming from the centre. A small boy, not past his eighth birthing day was clutching desperately to a half-submerged gnarled tree limb, his hair plastered to his head with water and stringy moss, his hands white on the slippery rotted wood. He struggled for purchase on the branch, but was being slowly pulled away from it by a creature half submerged in the foul water.
Jenny Greenteeth, thought Godric grimly. She was a water-hag, a river faerie, in appearance like an old woman with sickly greenish-grey skin, hair like black stringy kelp and teeth sharp and vibrant green. The water boiled between her and the boy, and one frantic kick by the lad revealed she had a tight hold on one of his ankles with her bony fingers, and she was pulling him down into the murk.
The scream sounded again but it did not come from the lad, and a glance to the left showed a young girl perhaps the same age as the boy, standing at the water’s edge, her fists to her mouth and eyes fixed on the struggle in the pool. In an instant, Godric gained his footing and flew to her side, grabbing her about the middle and yanking her from the edge.
“Kiena! Away from the water, girl!” He lifted her onto the higher embankment as if she weighed no more than a bundle of rags. “Stay here!”
Godric took two large steps into the water, sinking in the soft muddy bottom up to his thighs, and he reached into his tunic and the secret inner pocket within. But even in his haste he paused, acutely aware of the watching child behind him. With the smallest of movements and shielding the girl from view, he slipped the wand into his sleeve, clutching the end around his hand. He stepped further and now the water reached his belly. With his free hand, he slapped the surface of the pool.
“Jenny! Hey, JENNY!” He slapped the water again.
The creature whirled and became still, but from the continuing struggles of the lad, she kept a steely hand on her prize. Seeing the older youth, the water hag hissed, her teeth flashing dully in the waning sunlight. An assortment of snails and leeches mottled her skin and her free hand swept ripples slowly back and forth restlessly, as if contemplating taking on the larger prey.
“Minesssss!” she snarled.
Godric slapped the water again, hard, and Jenny’s eyes flickered for a moment, following the movement his hand created. Ahhh, he thought, I’ve got you. He took another step, but now to the side, to the creature’s back. She was forced to crane her head to keep him in view, muscles rippling on her neck.
There was a sound behind him and further up the shore. Several gasps and cries informed him that not all the children had returned to town. Unfortunate, but he couldn’t let it distract him. All his attention was on the water. He took another step to the side.
“Aye, Jenny,” he said, his voice low. “Let’s have no trouble here. Let the lad go, now there’s a good girl.” He meanwhile shuffled his feet slightly on the pond’s bottom, seeking a more solid footing should it become necessary to attack. “Too many folk here, Jenny. Look about. Too many.” He knew Jenny Greenteeth, like many solitary predators, hated and feared crowds, preferring to hunt alone. A gathering of men-folk usually meant bright torches and sharp angry weapons.
Her slit eyes flickered once more, taking in the others on the bank and she hissed again. “The brat is mines. Minesss! Disturbsss my peace. Rocks he throws in my waterssss!”
Godric shuffled sideways once more, finding a firmer patch of bottom-ground, and then inched closer to Jenny’s back. She lowered herself further in the water defensively, the pool’s surface reaching to a level just below her mouth. She gazed sullenly up at him as she sank lower, and the boy gave a wet gasp as he was pulled lower into the dark depths.
“I’m afraid I can not let you do that,” murmured Godric, and with an explosive thrust of his legs, he dove straight for the water hag, flinging his arms forward. Three things occurred almost simultaneously: his hand pushed the wand from its hiding place in his sleeve and pointed it directly at Jenny; he shouted “Opprimo!”; and a bolt of red light shot from the wand. It impacted almost immediately with the centre of Jenny’s forehead. Then his body hit the water, his ears filling with the rush of bubbly sound, and with powerful strokes he was within a handspan of the evil faerie and the boy.
An instant before he could reach out, the now-stiffened Jenny slid beneath the water, dragging the exhausted boy with her.
With a powerful kick of his legs, Godric was there and sucking in a quick breath, and he dove beneath the surface. The noise of splashing and the cries of the other children were instantly silenced, replaced by the muffled eerie whoosh of the dark water. Opening his eyes, he could see nothing but a dull green glow, and he struck out long sweeping motions with his arms. He felt a soft limb almost immediately and yanked on it, kicking his legs to the surface.
As he broke free, the breath exploding from him in a spray, he hauled the child up in front of him, supporting his head. The boy coughed and sputtered, fighting wildly, beating Godric’s strong forearm weakly with his fists.
“Shhh, lad, it’s all right. Safe . . . you’re safe now.” Godric’s voice reached him, and the boy stopped his struggles, blinking up at him, eyes white and rolling. For a moment, the boy stilled, water dripping from his open mouth, and then he burst into tears.
In moments, Godric was at the bank and up out of the water, scooping the boy up in his arms and carrying him through the reeds to the other children awaiting in a tight knot on the embankment. As he laid the boy on the ground, Godric shook his head to clear the water dripping in his eyes, sending droplets spraying outward. He glanced at the white faces around him, and he saw what he hoped he would not.
The shock. The fear. All directed not at the horror in the water, but at him.
No longer needing to hide the wand they’d all witnessed, Godric sighed heavily, and carefully slid it back into his tunic, and stood. With an intake of breath, the children took a step back, away from him.
“What are you?” said Robby, eyes round in terror.
The sound of frantic scratching whispered across the small room, as Godric, now dry and clean, hastily scribbled a note on a torn piece of parchment. He worked feverishly, sweat standing out on his upper lip, and his hand trembled. Finishing, he blew on the paper momentarily to dry the ink, then folded it into a clumsy wad. He hastened to the window, throwing open the shutter, thanking the fates that this view opened to the woods and not the centre of the village. It was night now, the insects well into their nocturnal song. A dark form fluttered immediately to him, and he shoved the small paper into the beak of the grey owl. Not a moment too soon, too, for the latch to the door rattled and the bird took off on silent wings.
The door swung open with a bang and two men stepped in. Turning from the window, Godric had already schooled his features into a pleasant expression. “Alric, Coenred, well met. How can I help you this . . .”
“You need to come with us,” said the larger man, his eyes twitching uncomfortably, not able to meet those of the younger man. He was powerfully built, with a dirty leather apron and stained hands, the mark of a smithy.
The other man was not so polite. He, too, was tall with a thick neck and bald pate, a paunch hanging over his belt, and he lunged forward grabbing Godric by the elbow. “The Council would hear from your own lips what devilry occurred by the river. If t’were up to me . . .”
“But it isn’t up to you, now is it, Alric?” snapped Coenred. “The Council . . . they do the deciding. Godric, if you will . . .?” He stood aside the door.
Godric, his heartbeat suddenly loud in his ears, exited the small dwelling that had been his home these few weeks since arriving in the village. It had been a comfortable domicile, and he idly wondered if he would ever see it again.
The largest building in town was the Gathering Hall. A small crowd gathered before it, mostly women and children, and they hastily stepped aside as he approached. But one plump woman in a careworn dress and kerchief flung herself before him, half on her knees and grabbed his hand, kissing it over and over.
“Godric! Oh, Godric . . . thank you! A thousand times thank you! My son, my Sebbi . . . if it ‘adn’t been for you . . .” she couldn’t finish, weeping openly, laying his hand along her cheek. Embarrassed, Godric reached down to her and brought her to her feet.
“Mistress Gelly, please! No tears, all’s well . . . Sebbi’s all right, then?”
“Oh yes, he’s fine, I thankee,” she sniffled, wiping her eyes with the corner of her apron, then she straightened suddenly, standing erect and looking him in the eye. “And I’ll not see yeh accused of anythin’ you’ve done in defence of . . .”
“Anna!” barked Alric. “Now’s not the time, nor the place! Boy . . . inside!”
With a last squeeze on his hands, Anna let go, and Godric stepped over the heavy lintel of the Gathering Hall.
He should have been prepared for the press of bodies within by the dearth of such on the street, but as it was he paused, momentarily startled that so many people had crowded into the tiny Hall. A heavy smell of woodsmoke, wool, and tobacco hung in the air, giving the few braziers set about the room for light a misty halo. Rough-hewn benches lined the walls, people squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder upon them, the remainder shuffling on their feet beside and behind. All conversation ceased and every head turned as he stopped before them.
A shove from behind sent Godric stumbling to the centre, but the youth regained himself, noticing with some small relief that some of those gathered sent smiles of encouragement to him, as well as scowls for the roughness of Alric. Perhaps all was not lost.
Rapping a cane loudly on the table before him, a crooked backed old man with white hair and a sour expression barked out in a reedy, nasal voice, “All Ye! All Ye! This Council is ta order!” The few murmurs that had sprung up following Godric’s entrance were silenced. Godric turned to the head table behind which the man sat, observing him and the others a-seated there.
There were four in total, he noted, and all were known to him. There was the one who had just spoken, Old Geoffrey he was called, and despite his dour face, he was an amiable enough fellow. Godric had fixed a hole in his roof only two days past. Redwald Hunter and Mistress Hunter were next, and it was their daughter, Kiena, who’d been screaming by the pool. Redwald’s face was stony, but his wife smiled and winked at Godric. It was a well-known joke in the village who held the purse-strings in that family. Lastly was Big Oswald the Tanner, his bad eye casting slightly to the right and his hands permanently stained a reddish brown from his profession folded quietly before him on the table.
“A serious matter has been brought before us, young Godric,” began Redwald, his voice vibrant and solemn. “We know what occurred today at the river . . . aye, we know it all . . . the witnesses were many, the accusations – profound. How do you plead?”
Godric took a breath, knowing every word was of utmost importance. “Plead? Kind sirs, gentle ladies, I know of nothing to plead to. What crime has occurred? I pulled Sebbi from the foul clutches of Jenny Greenteeth, it’s true, but where’s the crime in that?” He spread his hands wide, innocent, and a few murmurs followed his speech in support.
“Helped him, ‘e did!”
“No!” shouted Alric, jumping to his feet. He was surrounded by several ready men of the same age, many of them with crossed arms and dark faces turning an ugly eye on the handsome youth standing alone. “He’s unnatural, unclean! My Robert said he saw fire shoot from his hand and tha’s no lie!” He took a step into the room’s centre, pivoting about, gauging his audience. “You know what that is, don’t you? Demon power . . . magick! This lad whom we’ve taken into our village, embraced as one of our own . . . he be nothing more than a witch!” A chorus of agreement rumbled through the room, but Old Geoffrey thwacked his cane to the table again in irritation.
“Shut yer gob, Alric. We knows yer feelin’s. You aren’t on the Council, are yeh? Yeh let us abat our business, an’ you keep ta yers!” He nodded at the quiet, and glanced back at Redwald.
“As I was saying, the township stands before you, ready to hear an explanation should you have one,” said Redwald, his eyes blinking slowly.
Godric squared his shoulders. Very well, then, he thought, we are at the meat of it. Too much time has passed already. You are Gryffin’s son; you can do this. He spoke then, his voice clear and strong.
“You all know me. You know I came here two fortnights past, asking nothing more than bed and board in exchange for a good day’s labour. That I’ve given and more.” Many nodded. “I’ve chopped your wood, hunted, repaired the thatch, milled the grain, and even entertained you a time or two with my travels.” Murmurs again – yes, young Godric was well-known in folklore and story-telling.
Godric took a step forward and pivoted about slowly, trying to meet every eye in the room. “What you do not know is that I came to you with a purpose. My father sent me. He is a great man, a learned man, a noble in his part of the country, and it is his duty as it was his father’s before him to seek out isolated communities like this one, those places who have lost their way, their heritage, their magick. YES!” he shouted against the sudden rising yells of the crowd. “I AM a magick user, but so are you all!”
The response was calamitous, the people rising from the benches, yelling, raising their fists in protest. Old Geoffrey returned to pounding his cane, to no avail. But a further commotion from the back of the room interrupted the tumult.
Pushing through the crowd was a remarkable sight. Four youths shuffled forward in unison, a chair balanced between them. Seated within was an old woman, her form bent and slanted to one side of the high-backed chair as if the weight of her own body was too much for her withered frame. She was heavily wrapped in robes and shawls, even over her head and face. Once near the centre, a thump from a swaddled hand on the wooden arm and the chair was set carefully upon the dirt floor. The young men stepped deferentially aside.
Her entrance to the Council was electric. The room stilled instantly and even Alric and his mob pulled back, their eyes wide. Godric noted this with some satisfaction. So, old woman, he thought to himself, I’ve drawn you out at long last.
A dry cackle emanated from the robes, followed by a voice strong yet not belying the age of its bearer. “Yes . . . you have, young Godric, son of Gryffin.”
Godric was startled. He hadn’t expected this! He opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted again. Alric had stepped forward. “Ancient One, we have caught a witch, this man, plying his way with our children . . .”
“Rubbish!” the old lady snapped. “You are an ignorant fool, Alric. You know not of what you speak. A witch is a woman; THIS is a wizard.” She dismissed Alric with a wave of her muffled hand, and then turned her cowled head to him. He could not make out her face against the dark cloth and the shadow it created. “Tell me, young wizard, do you know the penalty for wizardry in this part of the land? Do you know it’s the gibbet or the pyre for any who dares admit to having magick?”
Godric performed a small bow, no more than a tilting of the head, but his deference to her was clear. “Do I have the pleasure of addressing Mistress Merewen at long last?” From almost the moment he’d stepped foot in the village, he had heard tell of the Ancient One Merewen, the town’s eldest member and its founder. She was reported to be wise in nearly everything, and Godric had tried to see her repeatedly. She never came out of her hut but kept a carefully controlled audience, all entirely at her leisure. No one saw her without permission.
She chuckled. “Yes, young sir, you now have my undivided attention. Would you care to explain your last remarkable statement?”
“Or would you?” Godric replied. The rest of the room and its occupants were no longer in his awareness -- it was only he and the lady. “Can you tell me why an entire community of magickal folk have denied themselves, have suppressed their natural gifts to the point of out-right fear and loathing of such abilities? Can you explain why even the children believe such talent is a thing to be terrified of, rather than nurtured for its innate power and beauty? Can you tell me that, Mistress Merewen?”
“Beauty?!” the old lady suddenly hissed. “Call this beautiful, do you?” She ripped aside the cowl over her head, and Godric recoiled in momentary horror. The nearly bare head scalded of any remnants of hair, the red and white patches of skin and scarring, the distorted features -- all spoke of horrific trauma in the woman’s past. She shook off the wrapping over her hands, revealing scarred stumps where her fingers had been, the hands curled into stiffened claws. She spoke again out of a mouth twisted and disfigured. “THIS is what your beautiful magick has wrought!”
She paused letting the impact sink in. The room was silent. No one dared speak.
“I was born in a village far to the south, one peopled by those of magick, aye, wizards and witches. Whole families. We dwelt there for generations -- peaceful, undisturbed and un-disturbing. I was a girl not three and ten when they came, the hordes with their lances and cavalries and . . . and burning torches. Over a thousand strong.” The distorted eyelids closed, remembering. “We could see them crossing, spilling over the hills, surrounding us on three sides, the other being a dense forest impenetrable by so large a force. All who were able in their magickal skill stayed to defend the town, but because I had yet to come into my full power, I was sent into the forest with the children.”
“The fighting went on for a day and a night. We could hear it rolling through the trees like a distant summer storm that never moved on. Then the noise stopped, and that’s when the fires began. The smoke drifted through the trees where we hid, putrid, stinking smoke. Aye, we could hear the screams then. It was then that I, half crazed with terror and guilt, left the children to the oldest, a boy three years my junior -- that be Old Geoffrey there -- and I returned to the village, determined to help defend my family and my people. I had no chance . . . none.”
It was as if the entire room and those in it held their breath. Godric, nausea twisting at his stomach, sank to his knees before her, one hand held slightly up as if to ward off what she would say next.
“Do you know what it is to burn, young master Godric? Burn alive? Do you know what it is to see your parents, your brothers, your neighbours . . . tied at the stake or swinging in the evening breeze, all dead and dying? That is what your beautiful magick has done for us, wizard.” Merewen clumsily shuffled her hands again, to flip the dangling cloth back over the ravaged old wounds. A woman from the crowd, face pale and solemn, moved forward and rearranged the robes so that the old lady’s face was once again shadowed.
By now Godric’s head was bowed. He raised his eyes slowly to gaze imploringly at her, tears glistening on his cheeks.
“But . . . could they do nothing to defend themselves? Wards . . . impenetrable spells . . .”
“We were few, and they were many,” said Merewen tiredly. “Even the strongest of us couldn’t hold off a thousand determined killers. We were isolated, cut-off. We had not the skill, the knowledge . . . we didn’t need it because we were a peaceful community, welcoming everyone. We’d only learned what we needed to, not the fancy spells and incantations of the High Court. We didn’t know . . . we had no idea such cruelty could exist in the world.” She sighed. “I don’t know how -- perhaps the wood was green or the soldiers too tired or drunk to build the fire properly, or the officers in charge too eager to move on but I awoke to the terrified faces of the other children who had ventured out of the forest. They found me still alive and did their best to heal me.”
She looked down again at the muffled hands. “They didn’t have the way or the knowing. Our only healer was dead. We moved north, the children and I, to more sparsely populated lands and vowed never again to use that which had brought the devil upon us and that which had taken our families from us.”
Godric dropped his head again. This was worse, far worse than anything he or his father had imagined. When Gryffin, Prime Wizard, second class, Warder of the Southern Demesne, had sent his only son out upon his man-making journey, he’d given him few details of the destination, saying only that it was a ‘lost community needing to be brought back to the light of the magickal world’. Godric had been told nothing else, but he knew that was part of his initiation, to figure things out for himself. His father had only revealed the province to him from a letter . . .
Letter . . .
Godric’s head snapped up, his eyes wide, the breath suddenly quick in his chest. He met the calm, knowing eyes of Merewen gazing steadily back at him.
“It was you who sent the letter to my father,” his voice low, almost a whisper. Many in the crowd leaned in, trying to catch the words. “That letter . . . it asked for someone to come, someone to bring word . . .”
“. . . Of the magickal world, yes, to the good people, the decent people here who’d feared it for two generations and on into a third.”
“It was you,” he said again flatly, rising to his feet and looking down at her. Her eyes followed him upward, unblinking. “You SENT for me!”
“Actually, t’was I did th’ writing.” Old Geoffrey stepped forward, shuffling with the aid of his cane. “Her hands . . . well, I did th’ writing,” he said again. His white beard twitched with his mouth and he took his place beside Merewen.
“I pressed the parchment.” An old woman, too, stepped forward and Godric struggled for the name. Avina? Yes, Avina Dodd, widow of Hugh and surprisingly, mother to Alric. Alric himself looked sick, his eyes shocked and round. Several others stepped forward as well, all elders and Godric realized this must be the remnants of that band of traumatized, heart-sick children that had carried Merewen out of the destroyed village.
“But why, mother?” Alric pleaded, his voice broken. “Why call for this . . .this . . .”
“The children, Alric, the children,” his mother said to him. “Little Hilla, Claricia, Robert, even tiny Oeric . . . it’s for them that we do this. Do you know that last winter while I tended to your hearth, Claricia caused a bowl of nutmeats to float over to her where she lay sick abed? I looked up and there they were, floating across the room as if they were a piece of dandelion fluff on a summer breeze. They reached her and she’d no more idea how they’d got there than I.”
“But why . . . why didn’t she tell . . .?” Alric began, but his mother’s sharp voice interrupted.
“Why? Your words, my son, your very own words . . . witches are evil! How many times have I heard you use those angry words, and how bitter was my realization that I . . . I your mother . . . had put them there!”
“We all did, Avina,” said Merewen quietly. She turned her eyes again to Godric. “I don’t know if one young as you can understand this, Godric, but when a person gets on in their years, they begin to see the world differently. We no longer look to what is ahead, but gaze back at what we’ve left behind. And we cared not for what we saw. This village, this community we have built grows in size but not in mind. We stagnate, fester till you see here . . .” She gestured at Alric and his men. “. . . You see what we’ve created, however unconsciously. All because of our fear.”
“We want our children, our grandchildren to learn of their past,” said Avina. “Learn from our past. We want the hatred to stop.”
“We had a traveller a-passing through in late winter,” spoke Merewen. “A wizard on a journey about the countryside, he said, a far-wanderer, not caring about the destination but the journey. He’d only made himself known to Geoffrey there, and he spoke of a great and good man, the Warder Gryffin, known for his call to unite the scattered magickal communities.” She looked pointedly at Godric, her scarred mouth twitching into its first signs of a smile. “I’d not an idea that he’d send his own son to us.”
Godric had to smile back, shaking his head ruefully. “But I kept trying to see you,” he said, “why’d you keep turning me away?”
“I’d only realized today who you were,” Merewen snorted. “Look at you! I thought the great Tor of Gryffin had sent his court page as a mockery. I’ll admit I was mightily put out and stayed in my hut out of spite. It was only after hearing of your good works about town that I began to take notice, and think that we may have someone to work with.” She smiled up at him, “Someone to work with indeed.”
“We have this magick, mother?” Alric wondered aloud. “And it’s not evil, but . . .”
“A good thing, yes,” finished his mother. “And you must learn it, Alric. For the sake of your children, and your children’s children.”
“Can you do this?” Merewen said directly to Godric. “Can you bring this community back to the magick that is their birthright? Can you teach us, Godric?”
Godric, standing tall before them, looked slowly over the crowd of young and old, and he smiled.
- - -
Honoured Father, I write most joyfully to inform that the tutors I bid you send have arrived safely and are happily installed with their charges. The children naturally learn quicker than those older, much to the chagrin of the parents, who learn at a much slower pace. The important lesson in humility seems to be doing some of the oldsters a modicum of good.
The war wizards have departed these two days past, and the shields and wards they placed remain intact. You might also be interested to know we have a budding healer on our hands. Young Kiena, daughter to Councilman Redwald has repaired a broken arm and two cracked ribs from a mishap during levitation lessons, and appears to take her vocation with extraordinary seriousness for one so young.
It has come time for me to part, and I journey on the morrow knowing the work here is well on its way. It makes me sad to leave, but I hope whatever I find over the next hill or over the far river will give me as much satisfaction as what I’ve done here.
Oh, and if it please you, inform Mother that I see her deft hand all over the sending of the Defensive tutor, Giles, who has spoken to me on a number of occasions on the superior qualities of his niece who is, as he repeatedly pointed out, is of marriageable age. Ah, yes, Mother, I see your machinations and you know my thoughts against settling at the present time. Especially to an unknown young woman named Helga, no matter her inestimable virtues!
Expect me back home at the Autumn Faire, and I shall expect to find a roaring fire in the main library and a good mulled wine to share with you while I regale you with tales of my travels.
I remain in duty and love,
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