Chapter I: The Chainborn Boy [22]Mature

She twisted the wand in her pocket until it pointed skyward, and in a choked voice, said her enchantment:

          “Aense.” The tip of the wand began to glow like a cigar butt, with a light that drifted upwards into the centre of the room. It was as if she had summoned a star; burning cold and pale. Caught in its glow, Willow’s grip loosened around Anala and she was able to slip away from him, safely to her uncle’s side. His arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her in for a short embrace as the light fizzled and gave way to dark and silence. Anala looked at the boy who had held her at his mercy: he was young; too young for the Outlawed East.

Mud was smudged across him, over his cheeks and around his eyes like fading bruises; beneath it he was pale. Unkempt brown hair brushed his shoulders, and his nightclothes were faded in colour, pinstriped blue shorts and a t-shirt advertising “Fizzbib’s Fifty Flavour Soda” – a beverage Anala vaguely remembered being banned for causing excessive ear-hair growth. For his age, he was tall, but still dazed by the light, now pressed against the back wall, he looked shrunken and out-of-place with the shard of flint clenched in his hand; a child playing with older, forbidden toys.

          “M – Magi,” he said breathlessly, his eyes glinting with dazed tears, his throat dry and lost for comment. “How…how?

          “That answer is rather long-winded,” said Percival, “but if you wish, I will explain, alongside other things,”

          “What other things?” he snapped, “what is it you want?”

Anala murmured under her breath what sounded like “you”.

The End

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