It was an unspoken rule, among the many rules, in our house; we didn’t speak of my father. I wanted to please my grandfather, make him proud of me, and erase the pain my father caused. I knew the story of how I came to live with Waldor. But I didn’t know my father—beyond a hazy memory which was likely a dream and not a real memory at all. It would be fair to say I had no knowledge of him, no clue where he lived, no idea if he was even alive or dead. I knew even less of my mother. Waldor was my only parent, possibly the only person around with answers, and I couldn’t ask him any of my questions.
Thick, dusty tomes covered the scarred wooden table in the middle of the kitchen. Kurtis Warde brushed off the thick layer of grime coating one book and opened it up. The musty smell of an old book assaulted his senses as the cover opened with a reluctant creak. He doubted these ancient texts would even be applicable to modern wizardry. The days of adding “toe of frog” to “hair of dog” were long gone. Yes, incantations and spells created magic, but it evolved with the times. Kurtis considered himself to be a modern wizard. He liked technology and all the possibilities and potential that came with it. The Circle kept peace among the supernaturals and guarded the fragile barrier between the magical and human worlds. But providing magical security services and conflict resolution wasn’t exactly a glamorous job.
“How are you doing, my boy?”
Kurtis sat up straight in his chair. “Waldor, you startled me.”
“Which book are you reading?”
“Uh.” Kurtis checked the cover of the book. The History of Spell Making.
Waldor chuckled. “You might find The History of Wizardry more interesting.” He settled down into the chair next to Kurtis’. “It shows the development of the practice over the last three thousand years or so. You might be surprised to learn our ancient predecessors were actually quite advanced.”
Kurtis responded with a non-committal shrug.
“Even in the very beginning, wizards used the world, and elements around them, to create magic. Finding their strange abilities frightening, humans decided to hunt and destroy them, rather than seek understanding. We still encounter ignorance, but today’s humans see the ‘wizard’ as more of a fairy tale than a truth.”
“If you’ve already covered the book, then I guess I don’t have to read it?” Kurtis scowled and closed the book in front of him.
“You haven’t read any of these books yet, have you?” Waldor pointed to a book with a gilded cover, turning his palm up before raising his hand. The book levitated above the table and opened. The words, written in golden script, rose from the page and circled the room.
Kurtis’ head swiveled from one side of the room to the other as the words lined up into neat rows, hanging in mid-air. “What’s going on, Waldor?” he demanded.
“Magic, my boy, magic.” With a wave of his hands, Waldor released the book and set it down on the table. “Reach out and touch the words.”
Kurtis’ eyes widened. He extended his hand toward the golden words. As soon as his fingertips made contact, the words surrounded him like the funnel of a tornado. Amazingly enough, he absorbed and comprehended the entire text in a matter of minutes. Once he finished reading, the words returned to the book. Kurtis found himself speechless, although hundreds of questions ran through his mind.
“Magic, my boy.” Waldor nodded, his eyes filled with wisdom. “The answer you seek is magic.”
“But what does this,” Kurtis gestured toward the books on the table. “have to do with my training?”
“You must understand where we come from to know where we are going.”
“I get the history part—”
“Then you must continue.” Waldor stood. “And, in the meantime, be patient.”
Kurtis stared at the little particles of dust floating in the air. This is impossible. I’m more behind now than ever, like my training is running in reverse. At this rate…How will I ever get ahead? Anger welled up inside of him. He pounded one fist on the table, disturbing the books. One slid from a precariously stacked pile and landed in front of him. He read the words The Modern Wizard from the new and, surprisingly, dust-free, cover. Now we’re talking. Kurtis flipped open the book. The white, crisp pages were empty. He riffled through the rest of the book and discovered the whole book was blank.
As if by magic, a gold-tipped pen appeared on the table.
Kurtis smiled. This is the lesson. He knew what to do now. One by one, he absorbed the information from each ancient tome.