The Phoenix Ring(5)

By: Alexander Brockman







2





Aidan woke up in a soft bed, the softest he had ever slept in.

That’s strange he thought, without opening his eyes. I don’t remember laying down. He rolled over, wondering if his mother would be calling for breakfast soon.

His eyes snapped open. He was staring at a wooden ceiling completely unlike the thatch at the orphanage. Wherever he was, his mother would not be calling for breakfast. He turned his head and saw a beautiful glass window.

Glass, the most expensive thing to cover a hole with. Where am I? Aidan thought.

He rolled out of the bed and took in a more detailed view of his surroundings. He was in a room three times as long as him that boasted two identical beds with matching chests on each side. The walls were made of stone, and the front of the room was dominated by a large door, while the back held a fireplace.

Aidan swung his legs over the side and, silently as he could, walked to the door and listened. When he heard no one he tried to open it. Locked. Aidan paced around the room for a few minutes trying to figure out where he was. He remembered the Rangers, and his lack of skill with a bow, and a wizard, what was his name?, and then…

It was blank.

He sat down on the bed that he had woken on and stared into the fire. The shapes seemed to dance. They looked like people screaming, tents on fire, a Ranger holding an unstrung bow looming over him-

Oh.

He put his hand to the back of his head and it came away sticky with blood. Yet somehow he felt no pain. He had been knocked out before, one of the older boys at the orphanage had been digging for potatoes when he had lost his grip on the shovel. It had hit Aidan on the back of the head and he had been out for an hour. He had woken understanding why the men of his village claimed they had been kicked by a horse after drinking too many cups of ale.

Right now Aidan felt better than he had in years, and for once in his life, he wasn’t angry at anything. Of course, as soon as he started thinking about it the never ending rage made itself present. And suddenly the face that dwelt in the fire was not one Aidan had ever seen before.

It had the same hair as Aidan, in an untidy mess, and the same expression of a troublemaker, but it was far older. Aidan knew who it was, and his green eyes shone with hate.

“Go away!” He shouted at the fire, and to his surprise it went out with a whooshing noise.

He stared at the cold ashes for a few moments, before he raised his hand and gazed at it. Then he pointed it at the fire again.

“Fire!” He shouted. “Blaze! Burn! Ignite!” Yet the ashes remained still.

“I think you’ll find,” Said a voice behind him, “That the correct word is Ingo!”

The hearth blazed to life, and Aidan spun around. An old man was standing about three feet behind Aidan. He looked just like the wizard Amilech, except for a white, glowing mark the shape of a moon on his head.

Aidan saw that the door was open behind the old man and tensed himself to run.

The wizard smiled. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he said. “Why don’t you have a seat?”

Aidan turned around and saw that there were two chairs set up around a small wooden table.

I could have sworn that there wasn’t anything there before Aidan thought as he nervously sat down.

“My name is Malachi. So tell me,” the wizard said, “what did you think of my brother Amilech?”

Aidan thought it would be better to just remain silent.

The old man rolled his eyes. “Either you can tell me what you know, or I can put a spell on you that will make you speak. Your choice.”

Aidan gripped the sides of his seat and glanced toward the open door, where he thought someone had been standing.

The wizard looked back and saw what Aidan was staring at. “Let’s fix that distraction, shall we?” he asked, waving his hand. The door slammed, and Aidan's mind went blank again.

“Now, where were we? Ah yes, you were going to tell me what you thought of Amilech.”

Aidan tried to lie, but instead of saying, “He was really nice sir,” he said, “Your brother is a jerk.”

Aidan’s eyes widened in horror, and he cringed in his seat as the wizard opened his mouth.

But instead of casting a spell that would mean certain death for the boy, the wizard began to laugh heartily.

Also By Alexander Brockman

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