Brael opened the tower door and saw Master Jakob beside a
cauldron with a young boy next to him. Though the child could barely see over
the edge, he carefully added the ingredients the elder man gave him.
After Brael dismissed the servant, he closed the door behind him. The instant
the child, Hawk, noticed him, he tugged on Jakob’s robe. “Brael’s here,
“Just in time, Brael. I’ve finished with my work already.” Jakob turned, a broad
smile wreathing his features. The genial, elderly man motioned for Brael to sit
as he headed to a nearby cabinet and poured them some wine.
The moment Brael sat and held out his arms, the five-year-old boy chortled and
clamored into his lap. He pulled playfully at one of the blond curls, and Hawk
laughed at the bright, merry green eyes staring trustingly into his.
Jakob settled into the chair beside Brael and handed him a glass. “Are you fully
prepared for the coming tournament?”
As Hawk’s fingers deftly plaited his long hair, Brael answered, “Of course. I
thought to try the new spell you taught me last month.”
“Look what I can do, Brael.” Hawk lifted his hand and a glass flew across the
room to him.
Brael’s brow arched as he eyed the boy, then glanced at Jakob.
“It’s getting harder and harder to dampen his ability.” Jakob sighed before he
took his grandson gently to task. “Hawk, you know you aren’t supposed to do
“But I wanted to show Brael.” The child’s lower lip stuck out mutinously.
“I know what you can do, little bird. You don’t have to show me.” Brael tickled
beneath his chin to coax a smile from him.
The stubborn jut to Hawk’s jaw relaxed, and he beamed at Brael before he buried
his face against the wizard’s shoulder. His slender arms wrapped around Brael’s
neck, and Hawk sighed happily.
“Hawk, it’s time for your dinner. Brael and I will come to your party after
Only the promise of his party convinced Hawk to move. He pressed a kiss to
Brael’s cheek, then scrambled off Brael’s lap to give his grandfather a kiss as
well. “Brael, it’s my birthday, and you promised me a story.”
“You’ll have your story, Hawk.” He already had Hawk’s birthday gift in his
pocket. “And your present, too.”
A sunny grin was his reward before Hawk left the room.
“He’s growing stronger, Jakob.” Brael had felt the distinct fluctuation of the
child’s power when he’d entered the room. For most, magic was a learned
practice, but for a few humans, the ability lay in their blood. In Hawk’s case,
the ability already showed far stronger than normal. If it weren’t hidden, the
temptation to abuse the power would come from all sides. It wouldn’t only be
Hawk’s father trying to use Hawk, but every faction of magician above and below
“I don’t have the time left to protect him. You’ll be the one to train him,
Brael, but not before the prophesied time.”
“I know all of that, but it might not be wise to leave it until he grows up.”
Brael held his own doubts regardless of the prophecy.
“Phillip would misuse Hawk if he had a clue of his potential. The boy’s father
pays no attention to him now, but the servants take good care of Hawk so I’m not
worried about him.”
“I’ll keep him shielded, Jakob, and stop the growth of his power as I agreed.”
He didn’t like the idea, but Brael understood the necessity.
“You know the prophecy as I do. You’re the only one who can train Hawk to reach
his true strength. Anything else is too frightening to contemplate.”