“Do you know how many people have come to me, begging me to take them as my apprentice?”
Myra shook her head, still not meeting the mage’s eyes.
“So many that I cannot begin to count them on our fingers combined. Some have sent from halfway across the globe, learned from the finest universities that our country has to offer, or studied among the brightest minds that I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”
“I understand, Lady Faylore. I’ve never heard of you taking an apprentice, so what would ever convince you to take me? I’ve not been to school, and all that I have learned has been either from my father’s teachings or from the pages of a book.” She stood suddenly, her chair scraping noisily on the flooring. “It was a mistake for me to have come.”
Arliss held up a hand, and calmly said, “Wait. I have more to say.” Myra reluctantly and begrudgingly seated herself back down across from the mage, her eyes carrying a hint of anger now.
“I have not taken an apprentice, true, however I have never refused any student without consideration. Know that I cannot give you a definitive answer immediately, and I will need time to reflect on your request. I understand your circumstances concerning your schooling, and it,” she leaned forward an inch, smiling kindly, “is nothing to be regretful of.” Myra merely nodded once more, but Arliss could see the blacksmith fighting off a small smile.
Arliss glanced outside and saw how low the sun had descended in the sky. “Now I must be the one to apologize; forgive me, but I have other responsibilities that require my attention now that I am home. I hope you will understand.”
“Of course, Lady Faylore. Many thanks for your time,” Myra stood and bowed graciously. Arliss walked her to the door, and the blacksmith marched out into harsh sun and honey-scented air. Myra gave thanks once more and stepped from the porch.
At one last thought, Arliss called for the blacksmith to stop. When Myra obediently halted, waiting at the foot of the porch, Arliss disappeared back into the cottage, leaving the door wide open. She returned swiftly and carried with her two leather-bound tomes.
“Here,” she said, handing the books to the blacksmith.
Myra took the tomes gingerly in her hands and studied the cover of the first. “Principles and Theories of the Magic World,” she murmured, opening to the first page.
“Magic is the power to manipulate the world,” she read aloud. “It is a force that is ever-present in our world and is often found in higher concentrations depending on location. All beings and creatures in our world can sense magic to varying degrees, and only a few of those beings can control and focus the magic that they sense. Some beings can use magic, but in ways that are unpredictable and uncontrolled, unlike the way that a mage is skilled. Mages are nothing more than conduits for the omnipresence of magic around them, using the properties of the natural world to cause changes at their bidding. Nothing can be created by a mage using magic alone; only existing influences can be used to affect others into new forms.
“Even certain materials exhibit the ability to control the flow of energy. Precious gems, metals, and everyday stones show varying levels of magical tolerances. This makes them ideal as conduits for large amounts of magic that would otherwise be too dangerous for a single mage to handle alone, directing the surrounding flow of magic without the direct interference of the wielder. Conduits like these are perfect for long-term or permanent spells that require large amounts of energy.”
“So the runes and enchantments that I use are forms of conduits?” Myra asked. Her face was almost pure excitement.
“Yes,” Arliss replied, chuckling. “I want you to look over those both. I have not yet read The Lost Kingdom, so take it in confidence that we will speak again soon.”
Myra nodded fervently, said her goodbyes, and departed from the cottage. Suddenly though, she stopped in her tracks, and turned around with the books clutched tightly to her chest. “Lady Faylore, if I may ask one more thing?”
“Of course. Anything.”
“Is the emerald that you wear your own conduit?”
The abrupt question startled Arliss. “Why, yes,” she stuttered out, placing a hand over the gem at her throat. The blacksmith nodded matter-of-factly, and then continued on her way through the tall, unkempt grass.