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The Phoenix Ring

By:Alexander Brockman

ever seen before.

It had the same hair as Aidan, in an untidy mess, and the same expression of a troublemaker, but it was far older. Aidan knew who it was, and his green eyes shone with hate.

“Go away!” He shouted at the fire, and to his surprise it went out with a whooshing noise.

He stared at the cold ashes for a few moments, before he raised his hand and gazed at it. Then he pointed it at the fire again.

“Fire!” He shouted. “Blaze! Burn! Ignite!” Yet the ashes remained still.

“I think you’ll find,” Said a voice behind him, “That the correct word is Ingo!”

The hearth blazed to life, and Aidan spun around. An old man was standing about three feet behind Aidan. He looked just like the wizard Amilech, except for a white, glowing mark the shape of a moon on his head.

Aidan saw that the door was open behind the old man and tensed himself to run.

The wizard smiled. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he said. “Why don’t you have a seat?”

Aidan turned around and saw that there were two chairs set up around a small wooden table.

I could have sworn that there wasn’t anything there before Aidan thought as he nervously sat down.

“My name is Malachi. So tell me,” the wizard said, “what did you think of my brother Amilech?”

Aidan thought it would be better to just remain silent.

The old man rolled his eyes. “Either you can tell me what you know, or I can put a spell on you that will make you speak. Your choice.”

Aidan gripped the sides of his seat and glanced toward the open door, where he thought someone had been standing.

The wizard looked back and saw what Aidan was staring at. “Let’s fix that distraction, shall we?” he asked, waving his hand. The door slammed, and Aidan's mind went blank again.

“Now, where were we? Ah yes, you were going to tell me what you thought of Amilech.”

Aidan tried to lie, but instead of saying, “He was really nice sir,” he said, “Your brother is a jerk.”

Aidan’s eyes widened in horror, and he cringed in his seat as the wizard opened his mouth.

But instead of casting a spell that would mean certain death for the boy, the wizard began to laugh heartily.

“Yes, I always thought so too. I think it sent him over the edge when I became a warlock and he remained a wizard.” He said, gesturing towards the moon on his forehead.

Aidan had no clue what this meant, but he nodded his head as if he did.

“So how long have you known that you have magic?” The warlock asked.

“About fifteen minutes,” Aidan said, giving up on trying to lie.

The man frowned. “But surely one of your parents had magic?”

“No, my mother has no magic, and my father… well, he was a weak man.”

Malachi looked as if he saw more than what Aidan told him, but remained silent on the subject.

“So then I am assuming that you know very little about magic. I am also assuming that you want to know where you are and how you got here. Am I correct?”

Aidan nodded his head vigorously.

“Tell me, what do you know about magic?” Malachi asked.

Aidan thought for a moment, which was not easy with Malachi staring at him, the old man had the odd habit of blinking one eye at a time. “I know that everyone has magic, and that most people can’t use it or there is not enough to be considered powerful. I also know that wizards have more than most people, and I can guess that magic is inherited.”

The warlock smiled in the same way a mother smiles at a toddler trying to walk for the first time.

“Well not quite. Not everyone has magic. Let me tell you the story of how magic came to Sortiledge.

“Long ago, when dragons ruled the skies and unicorns owned the land, there were three small tribes of people. They were all the same, a strong race of creatures that looked just like us. There was another race, the Ancients. No one knows who they were or what form they took, only that they possessed magic so powerful that in their youth they could push islands out of the sea.

The Ancients told the three tribes that they could each be given one gift and one gift only, that they and their descendants would possess forever.

Each tribe met the Ancients at the appointed time, and asked for a different ability.

The first tribe acted as one and truly cared for one another. It is said that there was never a poor man in the tribe, for they all shared what they had. They said to the ancients in one voice “We ask only that what we make with our hands will be successful.”

The Ancients responded “Your wish will be granted, and since you have unified yourselves today, you will forever be unified. Alone, you will be weak, but when you stand together you will never be defeated.”

The Ancients performed their magic, and the first tribe became short, slightly rounded, and incredibly strong. They were given hammers and picks, and were transported to the western continent of Sortiledge , now known as Beganor, where the land is poor but the mountains are tall. They became the first dwarves.

The second tribe came forward. They had conferred together for many weeks, yet the group was divided. When it was time for them to decide their gift, the leaders and strongest stepped forward.

“We ask for a beauty that all creatures will envy, and for a grace unlike any other.”

However, while they were still speaking, a young boy whose sweetheart was fatally ill ran forward and fell on his knees. “We ask for the power over life and death!” He panted.

One of the rulers, who was very vain and did not want the boy’s wish to be granted over his, threw a spear that pierced the boy in the back. As the boy lay dying, the Ancients grew very angry.

“You have committed a great evil this day in our presence,” They said. “You shall be granted what you asked for, but it will come with a curse. You shall be the weakest of all the races, made for running and not for fighting. You shall be the first to pass, and will never change from the form you have asked for.”

Yet

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