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Chapter Two


I managed to make it to my room fairly quickly, even after being burdened down by the box containing my new sword. As I opened my bedroom door, the first thing I noticed was a slight pull of Mana which told me that while I was gone, there was somebody in my room... yet the energy also told me the intent wasn't malicious. Most likely it was just one of the palace servants come to gather the laundry.

That's when I saw it. A small package on my bed, wrapped in gold foil and tied up in red ribbon with a very familiar looking bow on top. I smirked and quickly made my way to my bed, having placed DragonFury down and pulled the new parcel closer. I hurriedly tugged on the ribbon to untie the bow. Once the ribbon was removed, I carefully began unwrapping the gift, wondering if the gift was from my sister, or was just wrapped by her, as the unique bow was a tell-tale sign. I lifted the now undecorated box onto my lap and slowly opened it.

I had to stop and think just what the small lump of leather was, but as I pulled it out of the box and it unfolded, I realized it was a sheathe! With a grin, I stood up and inspected the leather. It looked like the type that you wear it so your sword is strapped to your back. My family crest was branded onto it: A phoenix rising from a sand dune. I anxiously opened DragonFury's box and pulled out the sword. I felt the tingle of Mana coursing through me yet again as I carefully slid the straight blade into the sheath. It fit perfectly.

Shaking my head in disbelief, I pulled the sheath on, buckling it in what I hoped was the correct way.

I looked at myself in my full-length mirror and laughed. I scratched a finger through my short brown goatee as I looked myself over. I looked ridiculous with my cut shoe, my embroidered royal clothes, and a sword buckled rather oddly to my back. I pulled off the sword and quickly got undressed, heading to my closet for more comfortable clothes, and soon decided on the clothes I usually wear when training with Aziza. You need loose fitting clothing for all of the gestures you use for casting, so I figured they'd be best for swordplay as well.

Setting my new clothes on my bed, I went to get a un-cut pair of shoes when I caught a faint shimmer from the corner of my eye.

I quickly sapped my fingers, casting Detect Magic on the source of the shimmer - the foil wrapping. It flashed a light turquoise, and the glow slowly fading afterwards.

As I picked up the gold foil, silver letters seemed to skim the surface, as if rippling in an ocean. I stared hard at the lettering, and could feel my eyes shake, trying to match the movements of the arcane glyphs. I found it harder than normal, from trying to keep focused on the silver on gold. Trust me, it's not easy.

The figures finally came into focus and disappeared as I read each one, the ancient arcane magics infusing the knowledge of the spell into my memory. I now knew the Speed spell, the same spell Myrlinus Aidendale used in my dream...

I was interrupted before my thoughts could drift any further by a knocking on my door.

"Open up!" came Alexandria's voice.

I hurriedly pulled on some pants, then called out, "It's unlocked, Xand." I started to pull on my shirt.

She opened the door and stood there, arms crossed, hips cocked to one side, and a giant smirk on her face. I had my shirt pulled on, front still hanging open.

"Well, aren't you going to let me see how it looks?" she wasn't trying to hide her laughter as she made her way towards my bed, eyes on my odd appearance. "I thought you could use this... I overheard dad talking about it one day, and asked Issur the design of the sword." She now had DragonFury in her hands, slowly pulling it from its new resting place.

I was still slightly in shock that she'd go out of the way to do that for me. It wasn't until after my sixteenth birthday that the two of us became closer. Before that, she looked at me the same way most Warriors regard Wizards, just not as harshly. Our closeness was something I'd come to appreciate. Perhaps she's making up for lost time.

"Th-thanks," I muttered. "I think DragonFury likes it."

"Named it already? Huh..." She was holding the blade out and inspecting it, a goofy little grin on her face.

"Issur did say something about it having the fury of the Dragon forged in it," I shrugged. "It seemed to be a fitting name."

"Well, I like it," she glanced over at me and gave a slight nod, and I smiled. It was odd, but having her approval meant a lot.

"Runt," she smirked and reached out to ruffle my hair. I really wish she'd stop doing that. "I'll see you at the Guild Hall then?" she started to walk away after I nodded.

"Hey Xandy, thanks for the scroll!" I called after her.

She spun and continued to walk backwards towards the hall. "You might annoy me, but I'm still allowed to spoil you," she grinned as she closed the door behind her.

I too had a huge grin on my face as I turned back to my bed to tidy up a bit. I fixed up my shirt, pulled on my shoes, and carefully put my new sheathe back on. Last thing I gathered up was my Magic Map and coin-purse.

My map of the city had every location possible on it, including rooftops and homes. Focusing on the center of the map, I set my attention to the drawing of an eye set in a cloud. I felt the now familiar pulling sensation as my body switched locations. My hair was suddenly in my eyes from a breeze, and I stretched out, looking around the Magic Shoppe.

"Ah! Prince Erik! What a surprise!" The voice came from a rather tall Gnome, who looked up from having been rummaging in one of the many cupboards along the floor.

"Hello, Styll," I smiled at my friend as I folded up my map and tucked it neatly inside my coin-purse.

He just stood there, staring at me and blinking. "Change of hobbies?" he raised an auburn eyebrow.

I smirked. "More of a recent addition to it. My father suggested it, and I figured, well, 'Why not?'"

"Good enough for me!" he gave me a wink. "Won't be able to say the same for my brother though." He looked in the direction of the 'trick' passageway, and then back to me. "So, whatcha looking for today, Erik?"

Hmmm, I really don't know what compelled me to come here. Perhaps force of habit? "Well, I was actually wondering if you, uh, had any offensive spells, you know... for closer battles." It was better than nothing.

"Anything for an aspiring Warlock!" I could tell he was trying to get his brothers attention, as he was emphasizing certain words. After a few moments of no reaction from the unseen brother, Styll called out. "HEY KEAPON!"

"WHAT!" came the muffled reply.

"I've got a customer here that wants spells for sword fighting."

There was silence. "Tell them it's a hopeless cause. Magic is the best offense!"

I replied this time, a cheeky grin on my face, even though I knew the younger Laffin brother couldn't see it. "But Keapon, not even for your favorite customer?"

"Whoozat?" I heard him choke out, and he quickly hovered out on his magic cloud, eyes wide at the sight of me.

"Gimme a sec," Styll muttered after a few seconds. "I want to mark this on my calendar. Keapon, speechless! Oh happy day!" He shoved his head back into the cupboard.

Keapon sat there, mouth wide open in shock. "I can freeze you like that, Keapon. You seem pretty fond of staying in that position." I had a hand raised up, snowflakes dancing above my fingertips.

Styll chuckled, his head still buried in the cupboard. "Having a sword doesn't mean you can't still do magic," he flicked his hand behind him and a conjured snowball flew at Keapon, smacking him square in the back of his head.

"Alright, alright!" he shook his head to get the snow out of his hair. "Just... it's... you're the last person I expected to join the other side!"

I laughed. "Just because my father wishes me to use a sword does not mean I'm giving up magic." I cleared my throat, smirking a bit. "Besides, I'll just go along with my fathers wishes, and in a couple months, he'll deem me a hopeless cause."

"Good! I don't want to lose my best customer."

"I've seen the little posters you've put up! 'The Prince's choice for his magic needs'. You just don't want to lose me as a customer draw-in."

"How accurate." Styll was in silent giggles now. He had obviously found what he was looking for, judging from the odd goggles on his face. He waved his hand and a small rock rose from the floor, soon growing and covering itself with moss, taking the shape of a high-back chair. It leaped into the air and with a snap of his fingers, Styll now hovered beside his brother. Him on his mossy throne, Keapon on his cushion of cloud.

"So, how about those spells. Anything for an 'aspiring Warlock'?" I said, repeating what Styll said earlier.

Keapon cleared his throat nervously. "Well, we have the 'lectric spells, Zap and its big brother Electric Charge. Think ya know both those, though..." I nodded. "There's also Boomerang. No Boom with it unless you mess up. It lets you throw your weapon and catch it safely when it returns. Oh, and Blink Strike! Really great for pillow fights! It lets you strike with your weapon temporarily invisible!"

Styll nodded and snapped his fingers, two scrolls appearing in front of Keapon. "Whassis for?" Keapon turned to his brother.

Styll moved his arms in a wide, over exaggerated swooping motion towards me. "Give them to the Prince, airhead." He looked to me. "Consider those our donation to the Sultan's wishes." Keapon's jaw dropped yet again.

"G-give?" he sputtered out.

"Well, we are making a profit by using his name. Consider it remuneration." Styll had his usual mischievous smirk on his face now.

Keapon slowly turned back to me with a forced, rather maniacal looking smile on his face. He continued on sarcastically, "My Prince, it would greatly honor me if you would accept these gifts. If they help you fulfill the oh great Sultan's wishes, then they are worth every Centime we lose on them."

I snapped my fingers, the snowflakes hovering above my hand multiplying and rushing at Keapon, carried faster by the magical air around him. Styll broke out in giggles again as Keapon rushed some wind at me, inadvertently sending the spells to me, along with some of the snow. Two quick fetch spells brought them to my grasp.

"Cheater!" Keapon laughed, and I suddenly found myself looking up at the sky that was previously below me, magical hands were around my ankles, suspending me upside-down.

"Hey! Who's cheating now?" I braced myself and cast Dazzle, causing my floating Gnome friend to see spots from the flash. As hoped, he lost his concentration and I fell, but was surprised at landing on a pile of dirt..

I quickly rolled off and held up the scrolls in one hand. "You two know I'll pay for these," I waved them at Keapon, who had recovered from my spell.

Keapon nodded, then smiled at me. "Naw, keep them. Nobody would have bought them anyway."

Styll gave a chuckle as he ran a hand through his short red hair. "That's only because you talk everyone out of buying them."

Keapon rolled his eyes and gave a slight shrug as if to say 'Yeah, so?'

I shook my head to get the snow from my hair and gave them a wave. "You two are the best." I smiled as I pulled out my map.

Styll waved back and gave me his wide, Gnomish grin. Keapon, on the other hand put both his hands out and shooed me.

"Now get out before my brother becomes too generous," he teased with a wink.

With my map pulled out now, I chuckled as I focused my intent on the Fighters Plaza. The pull of magic took me from the windy Magic Shoppe to the almost quiet sound of the Plaza. I gasped as the sudden warmth of the Shapeirian sun struck me hard after having just been blasted with magical snow.