“I can’t,” he said. “I’m from Vincula. I was born here and I’ll die here. I’m not an Avaric, I’m – I’m scum,”
“Well then,” said a voice behind them, “that certainly puts us in a tricky position…” He and Anala turned and saw it was Percival, sitting up on a field gate as freely as a man thrice younger. Behind him, the sunrise rimmed his body in golden light like a saintly radiance. “…because I’m not leaving here without you.”
Will’s eyes widened, then shrank accusatively at Anala. “You just said you’d leave –,”
“Such was the plan,” he said, hopping down. “Provided I was in slight doubtful about whether you were our young Avaric. As it stands, I have never been more convinced that he stands – rather non-accepting – before me.” He took his place at Anala’s side, who lit up and stood taller just being near him. “We’re taking you home with us, Will.”
Instinctively, his hand went to the front pocket of his satchel, his jaw stiffening as he realised the flint shard still led on the tea tray in the inn. His arm fell and he said curtly to them both, “I won’t be your servant.”
Percival chuckled. “I wouldn’t dream of it. I’m quite sure you’d run Anala through with a fire iron on the first evening.” Neither child made any disagreement. “We’re going to take you to a safe place, Will, one far from here and one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the magi of this world.” His eyes glinted playfully. “Of course, if you do turn out to be only “scum”, I would have no difficulty having you apprehended by the Watchmen.” Just the thought made Will sick.
He remained still as Percival stepped into the middle of the road and unclipped something from his belt – a small, silver coin carved with peculiar runes on both sides and an eyeless skull in the centre.
“What’s that?” Will asked, quickly alert.
“An obol,” said Percival plainly. “I took two from an old friend, but frankly I don’t think he deserved them.” Balancing the coin, he flipped it and let it fall to the ground, scraping soil over it with the side of his boot. It took only a few moments for the ground to begin to smoke.