Guiding Darren through the streets, Leodor Sultaser ducked down an alley and positioned the boy behind him while they waited. When the elf resumed his pace, Darren tugged at the man’s sleeve. “Where are we going?”
“I’m leading you to my home.”
After a few minutes Leodor walked out of the alley and Darren swallowed as he followed the lanky man. He didn’t understand the man’s motivations and he wasn’t sure he really wanted to know. After another twenty minutes, they came to a small campus, and the man pulled the boy right next to him. “Hurry we need to get into my home, do not wander off into the rest of the campus. Is that clear?”
With a meek nod, Darren hustled to stay next to Leodor as they crossed the grassy center of the campus. Walking right up to a spartan home, Leodor deftly opened the door and escorted the young man into his home. Leodor walked through the open doorway opposite the entrance and returned carrying a simple black leather belt. “Replace your belt with this?”
“Because I can’t afford to walk with you forever.”
“You have the ability to wield magic, Darren.” Leodor stated as he folded his arms over his chest and began tapping his foot as he waited for Darren to comply with his order. But as the child stood blankly with the belt in hand Leodor sighed and explained. “By national decree, anyone capable of wielding magic is required to be turned over to the government.”
“So why not turn me over?”
“Because I do not agree with the things this government does.”
“What does the belt have to do with that?”
Rubbing the bridge of his slender nose Leodor explained. “While I’m not handing you over to the government, you do require training. But while you go through the necessary training, your nascent powers will be a beacon to the Hunters.”
“The Hunters?” Darren asked as he dropped the belt and fell to the floor. “I don’t want to deal with them.”
“Well, you are showing me that you’re intelligent at the very least,” Leodor said as he lifted the belt from the floor. “Now put this belt on.”
“How will the belt help?”
With a sigh of aggravation, Leodor showed Darren the backside of the belt and pointed to the glyphs running down the center of the leather in metalic sheets. “These glyphs will contain and focus your nascent powers, hiding you from the Hunters.”
Darren took the belt from Leodor with reverence, and he carefully switched belts. Once he buckled the new belt, Leodor sighed in relief muttering, “Thank you.”
“Putting on the belt,” Leodor snapped before he wiggled his finger, indicating that Darren should follow him. “Shielding a nascent power is far more taxing than it should be. Now follow me so I can determine just how committed you are.”
Darren ran a hand over his neck as he took a hesitant step after Leodor. But his curiosity forced his anxiety away, and he followed the elf down a flight of stairs. Leodor was walking away from a cup in the middle of the room. “Your magic has surfaced, and the belt will help you sense that magic. The first thing you need to do is grab hold of that power. Can you sense it?”
Darren closed his eyes and stood there silently for a while until his mind finally went still, and he sensed something new deep within his mind. “I feel it.”
“A slight thrumming at the base of your skull?” Leodor asked, and when Darren nodded, he went on, “Every spell or act of wizardry will start by taking hold of that sensation.”
“Picture yourself standing in front of the sensation, but picture it as a pillar of crackling lightning.”
“Okay,” Darren said meekly.
“Now grab it,” Leodor commanded. A moment later Darren yelped as he mentally took hold of the sensation. With a wry smile, the elf stared at Darren. “You will always feel the cost of a spell, but there is no other way to interact with the sensation.”
“When you shielded me you felt the shock?”
“You get used to it,” the elf replied as he pointed at the cup in the middle of the room. “Remember your mind knows how to use the power. You need to learn how to tap into it. I want you to lift that cup with your magic.”
Darren nodded and began trying to lift that cup. After hours of dedication, he fell to the floor with sweat flowing down his face. “I can’t do it.”
Leodor nodded, “Of course not. But you have tried longer than most to lift that cup.”
With a crooked smile, the elf walked to the center of the room grabbed it and then twisted the cup, and a loud click echoed off the walls. “I only bring in students who are dedicated to learning. Though be warned stubbornness is not an acceptable alternative.”
“That’s not fair!” Darren declared as he narrowed his eyes at Leodor.
“No, but then life has never been fair to anyone. Learn that lesson here when it cost you some time and a little sweat. Those who do not learn it often pay with their life.”
Darren flinched at the words but returned his eyes to the elf, “I will.
“Good,” Leodor began as he placed the cup upon the floor. “Now lift it.”
Darren nodded as he gripped the crackling pillar in his mind and instructed the unfastened cup to rise. And to his shock, it shot to the ceiling rebounding off the stone.
With another crooked smile, Leodor walked up to Darren and placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Brute force is never the answer, remember that intelligence and subtlety will always be the superior choice.”
“Yes, sir,” Darren said with a nod.