The next day Mhorik spoke as we were taking a short rest. “There is something I need to tell you.”

“What?” I asked slowly, not sure what was suddenly on his mind.

“Some wizards believe in true names.”

I looked at Mhorik with a puzzled look on my face.

He chuckled and explained, “They say if you know the true name of an item, you can gain control over it.”

“Like, these rocks?”

“They believe if you knew a rock’s ‘true name’, you could control it easier.”

“That’s silly,” I said, “How could you find out a rock’s name?”

Mhorik shook his head. “They also believe it applies to people.”

“Oh.”

“And some believe that using your true name as a wizard is a sign of weakness.”

“But… you don’t believe it.”

Mhorik turned to me and planted his staff on the ground. “Mhorik is the name given to me by my mother. You know it. Do you think you could cast a spell that I could not deflect?”

“No,” I chuckled. One time long ago I had cast some magic at Mhorik as a foolish prank, but he easily turned it away and it struck me instead. All my hair fell out and wouldn’t grow back for a week.

“Exactly. But, as you will learn, appearances mean a lot to wizards. So, when we meet other wizards, do not use my name. You should call me ‘master’. I will call you my apprentice.”

It seemed odd to me. Mhorik had always been just Mhorik. Now I had to call him a formal title.

“But, we won’t see any wizards for a long time now.”

Mhorik laughed. “We will see another wizard in a few days, actually. A cousin of mine that goes by the name Moonwind.”

Two days later we arrived in another village by the sea. It looked like our village, but the buildings were all in strange places.

The villagers greeted us warmly, but the whole village was abuzz with questions. “Long time, Starwise!” “What news of the world?” “Who is that girl, wizard?” Mhorik answered their questions in a friendly tone as we walked to one of the larger huts in the village. The villagers fell silent as Mhorik rapped on the door with his staff.

A tall, dark woman dressed in luxurious furs opened the door and stepped out. Her eyes blinked in the sunlight and she saw Mhorik. “Cousin!” she said as she hugged him. She took a step back and looked him over.

Mhorik smoothed his hair and smiled. “Well met, cousin Moonwind. I’ve come to visit.”

“Come in. Your beard has grown long in the years since you last visited. I would guess you are heading to the convocation?”

“Yes. It has been too long since I was last at one, and my apprentice must be presented,” Mhorik said as he stepped into the hut and motioned me to follow.

The hut was similar to our sacred hut, but much more lavishly decorated. Colorful feathers adorned the walls, matching an equally colorful set of sacred robes. Although the robes seemed to be on display rather than ready for a ceremony. The sleeping area was covered with furs stained colors I had not even seen before. A sweet smell permeated the air, perhaps from one of the flower displays around the walls. It felt less like a sacred area than a place of luxury.

The female wizard turned around and faced me. “Apprentice? Oh, a female! Good for you.”

I think I saw Mhorik grimace. But, he quickly smiled and sat down.

The two wizards chatted for a while. Mhorik acted casual, but I could tell he wasn’t completely at ease. Moonwind teased him quite a lot, taking pains to point out that he was a male and praising me for being female. It got tiresome, but I sat quietly and listened.

Later some villagers brought in food and we ate.

“Tell me about yourself, apprentice. How did Starwise find you?”

There was an awkward silence as I chewed and hastily swallowed the large bite I had just taken. “Mh…my master found me after I had tried to control some magic.”

Mhorik shot me a look as he caught my mistake.

“Oh. He didn’t detect your power before it manifested?” Moonwind asked in a sweet voice.

I gave Mhorik a questioning look.

“My apprentice didn’t show any signs, and the proper rituals did not indicate anything at the time of her birth.”

“Oh, a shame. Did you light someone on fire, then?”

My face burned as I stammered, not knowing how to respond.

“She did try to control fire, but it didn’t harm anyone,” he covered with a lie.

The wizard nodded. “You are lucky. You have a very generous master who treats you well,” Moonwind said as she smiled at me.

I mumbled some sort of thanks, not quite knowing how to take that statement. I took a slow breath to calm my nerves and realized it was going to be a trying evening.



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