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That night the boy began to shudder and rock. Hunger had him dizzy; as he lay on the dirt of his chamber his walls pirouetted around him. He tossed, the earth felt strange under his side, his mouth tasted like metal. Finally, deep in the night, wetness began to leak from his ancient eyes, gently at first, then gushing like a flood until he viewed the whole world from underwater. He sobbed, a broken thing in the night, and the cold was too much for him.

Then his Master was there, all around him. His deep voice was saying unintelligible things and the rustle of his robes was enough for comfort. The heat that spilled from him loosened all the things the boy had kept safe inside himself. Again the wetness came, more violently than before, but Master Ben held him against it. There was pressure on his head and his chest.

'There, and there,' Master Ben was saying as his fingers showed the boy.

'the magic lives there and there.'

Again the taps.

'She is your mother, and I am your father; you need none but us'


They clung together until morning.


Now, as the boy began to rise, he knew he would do anything for Master Ben. In the distance, bells rang out merrily. All his preparation had been done; the boy had drunk the treated water from the well and ritually prepared himself. Already his lips were numb and the colours of the morning ran together far more beautifully than he had ever seen them before, through the mist in his eyes.

A knock at the door sounded and it swung inwards to reveal two attendants. As they stood silently regarding him, the boy allowed himself a smile.

Soon they will see my magic.

He led the party out through the corridors, weaving their way through the quarters until they entered the Magic Room. As his attendants fell silently back, the boy saw Master Ben standing as he always had. His hand rested upon the leather restraints that lay ready for the boy's outstretched arms.


'It is time'.

The End

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