The Tales of Andirick Lorac


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Chapter One: Introductions

Andirick Lorac had a difficult beginning to his life, and some might say he was still just beginning it. At age twenty-two, he still had the body of an infant. His mind was sharp, and his control of magic was beyond anything seen in the last nine hundred years, among the humans.

Dragons probably controlled more magic than Andi, but it was difficult to tell, as he'd never met one.

Thadduck Lorack, Andi's grand-father, and Mage Master, opened a portal outside the cottage where Andi spent the first twenty-two years of his life, and Grayson carried Andi through. He was fascinated by how easily Thadduck commanded the magic. Andi never had much opportunity to watch other mages perform magic, and that was one of the reasons for having a Mage Master.

The room they stepped into could be anywhere on the planet; it was quite non-descript. A simple bed stood against a smooth wall. The mattress of the bed was tied to the frame in several places, and was positioned between the wall and the frame.

"We're inside a castle," Grayson said. "At least I think we are." Grayson was a gray mouse which Andi had transformed into a man, and given him the ability to read any book in the room and remember them all perfectly. He was a walking library, completely devoted to Andi. He also served as Andi's Nanny.

He'd read about castles, but never thought about visiting one. The first twenty years of his life had been devoted to guaranteeing his freedom. Mages who appeared younger than adults were usually kept locked up in Shamballa. As the only mage who could actually see the threads of magic, instead of just feeling them, his grandfather had changed the law to keep him from spending the next two hundred years in a nursery.

Andi examined the wall more closely. "I think the wall is alive," he said.

"You're right," Thadduck said as the portal closed behind him. "We are in Gaffitta Castle, in the country of Egypt."

Andi turned to see the doorway the anchor point was tied to, and saw a dozen different anchor points, all in this same doorway. "How many mages use this room?"

Anchor points were used by mages to know where a portal would lead. More than that, they allowed a portal to be opened from anywhere on the planet, but only by the mage who cast them. Creating a portal took most mages between a week and a month of uninterrupted night and day focused effort.

"That's an interesting question," Thadduck said. "What would be your guess?"

"I can see at least twelve," he replied.

"Interesting," Thadduck replied. "I've assigned six different mages to this castle over the years, but this is a common anchor point for this continent. Most mages like to have an anchor point or two on each continent, to make travel quicker. Otherwise they have to go to Shamballa and wait for a mage who can teleport them where they need to go."

"So why are we here?" Grayson asked.

"Queen Nacktalli has requested a mage, and we've been assigned here," Thadduck said. "Let's go find her."

They left the small room and followed Thadduck as he led them through the hallways. "All castles are identical in size and layout," he said, "because they are all living creatures of the same species."

"Do they ever have babies?" Grayson asked.

"Not without encouragement, and the knowledge of how to do that has been lost for several millennia. In fact, very few people know castles are alive, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't spread it around."

They walked into the throne room, but the thrones were both empty. There was a guard posted, though.

"Where can I find the queen?" Thadduck demanded.

"Who are you?" the guard asked.

"Mage Thadduck, come as requested."

The guard whistled, and a boy, about age twelve jogged in about a minute later.

"Take Mage Thadduck to see the queen."

"Yes, sir. Follow me, gentlemen."

"And, Perri, be quicker about it next time."

"Yes, sir, sorry sir." Perry walked at a normal pace out of the room, and they followed.


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Chapter Two: The Task

It wasn't long before Perri opened a door into a large conference room with weapons mounted on the walls; swords, maces, lances, etc, all in different states of decay. Most of them were broken, and only three had no rust upon them. All of them had labels, indicating a name, a battle, and a year. One of them said 'King Barlein, 3/32/606 A.D. Battle of Taleik.' That was less than a week earlier.

"Mage Thadduck, to see Queen Nacktalli."

"Come in and take a seat," Nacktalli said. "We have much to discuss."

Thadduck took a seat and indicated for Grayson to sit next to him.

"Who are your friends?" Nacktalli asked.

"This is my apprentice, and his son."

"I've never heard of a mage's apprentice having a son before," Nacktalli said, "or allowing a member of the Mages' Council to take an apprentice."

"People can become mages at any age, and at any time," Thadduck said. "As you can see, Grayson cannot be separated from Andi at the moment. As for a Councilmember being a Master Mage, this is a new exception to the normal way of doing things. Don't get used to it."

"Of course. How nice to meet you, Grayson."

"It is an honor to meet you, Your Highness," Grayson said in the native tongue of Egypt.

"A mage, a scholar, a gentleman, and a father," Nacktalli said with a smile. "It is a pleasure to meet you. Now, on to the urgent business that called you here. The ogre population has grown out of control. King Barlein died in battle a few days ago, and his sword, Nailim, was broken."

"An ogre broke Nailim?" Thadduck said. "How is that possible?"

"I don't know," Nacktalli said. "That's one of the reasons I've called you here."

"Only one?" Thadduck asked. "What other business is there to discuss?"

"Succession," Nacktalli said, "but I hope you'll agree that can wait until the ogres are pushed back into the mountains."

"Understood," Thadduck said.

"How did you get Nailim back here so quickly?" Grayson asked.

"We will discuss that later," Thadduck replied. "For now, be quiet and listen."

"Forgive me," Grayson said.

"The question is valid," Nacktalli said. "Our court mage is already at the battle front. He sent Barlein and his broken sword back with an honor guard. Honestly, I had expected the Council to send a small army of mages to assist, as they promised in the treaty."

"I believe I'm here to determine if such an army is truly warranted," Thadduck said, "and if so, to ensure its arrival. First, let me express my condolences on the loss of your husband."

"Thank you."

"Second, I'd like to speak with your blacksmith. It's been awhile since I've gone into combat, and I don't have a sword."

"I can have a sword brought to you," Nacktalli said, "if you'll tell me what kind you need."

"I need one forged with magic, and infused with threads of Spirit."

"Ah," Nacktalli said. "Anything else?"

"Yes. Let me assure you that as soon as I have the sword, I will be going to the battlefront. I will not return until this matter is resolved, and then we can discuss succession."

"The battlefront is many days ride from here," Nacktalli said. "It will take me a few hours to collect the provisions you need, and . . ."

"I will be there by sunrise tomorrow," Thadduck said.

"As you wish," Nacktalli said. "Perri, show Mage Thadduck and his apprentice to the blacksmith shop. Will you be leaving your child here? I can have one of my nursemaids look after him. Or perhaps you'll be staying as well?"

"They are both coming with me," Thadduck said. "Grayson and Andi will be in no danger, I assure you."

"Then go, and return quickly."


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Chapter 3 The Spell Breaker

Perri bowed, and led Thadduck, Grayson, and Andi to the blacksmith's forge in the castle. The fires were hot, and the fire in the blacksmith's eyes were hotter.

"How dare you bring a babe in here while I'm working!"

"Sir, my name is Mage Thadduck, and I've come to ask for some privacy so I can use your forge undisturbed."

"Is he for real?" the blacksmith asked Perri.

"Yes, sir. He has the queen's blessing."

"Well, if the queen knows about it, I'll not be the one to complain. But if that wee lad stays in here, then so do I."

"I will be working the forge all night long," Thadduck said, "and if you stay, you'll keep everything you see and hear to yourself, understood?"

"Aye. I understand. Perri, tell the others it's quitting time, and tell them I'll be out tomorrow."

"Yes, sir."

"The name's Gronk," the blacksmith said, extending a hand to Grayson.

"I'm Grayson, and this is Andi."

Gronk smiled at Andi and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you."

When all the others were cleared from the shop, and the doors shut, Thadduck said, "Okay, Andi, let's get to work. I need you to make a flame-spout inside the forge, and make sure it's at least as hot as the fire is now."

"To make a sword, you really need the flames thirty percent hotter," Grayson said. "Especially for magic blades."

"I can do that," Andi said.

Gronk's jaw nearly hit the floor, and his hammer did.

Andi ignored him and mixed the threads of Fire, Water, and Air, as he'd done before, but this time in a much more focused area. "Do you just need the heat, or the threads of Fire as well?" he asked.

"I need the threads as well as the heat. I will be working with both."

"Of course," Andi said. The flame wasn't hot enough, so he added another layer to the weave, focusing the heat back in upon the furnace, rather than letting too much escape out into the rest of the workshop. "There you go."

"Can't be," Gronk said. "That flame's not hot enough to forge steel, let alone sword blades."

"It's hot enough," Andi said. "You just don't feel the same level of heat you expect."

"Right," Thadduck said. "Now, let's get to work."

Andi followed Thadduck's instructions on what kind of weave was needed as the iron from scraps in a bucket became the steel of a sword. He thought the weaves would be enough to melt and convert the iron, but Thadduck insisted he needed to put the metal into the forge.

As the night wore on, Andi came to see the advantage of using heat instead of Fire. The threads of magic could only enact change when their weave was complete, and once it was, the change would continue until the weave was undone. But the heat of the forge behaved in a predictable manner.

Gronk remained silent, watching everything with fascination. Andi wondered what information the blacksmith could learn from how a mage made swords, but he never moved from his spot.

When the shape of the sword was formed, and it had been hardened and cooled several times, Thadduck said, "Watch carefully, Andi. I'm going to show you the spell to sharpen the edge." He wove threads of Earth, Fire, and Water together over the edge of the sword, which forced the sword into a certain shape. "Do you see what I'm trying to do?"

"Yes," Andi said.

"Good. Then complete the spell over the entire blade."

Andi did as he was told, tightening the weave, and stretching it over the entire blade. He could see that the spell would keep the edge sharper than any ordinary blade could ever be, no matter how many hits the blade took.

"That's good," Thadduck said. "Now watch me harden the blade."

The spell was somewhat familiar. It was a tight weave of Earth, keeping the metal in place, combined with Flame, to continually remove impurities. It was similar to the spell he had used in the past to harden the carbon into diamonds, but not to the same hardness.

"I could make it much harder than that," Andi said.

"Don't," Gronk said. "Steel has to have some give to it, or the blade will shatter."

"He's right," Thadduck said. "Don't over-harden the metal, just ensure the blade holds together and repels both magic and force alike."

Andi nodded, once more tightening up Thadduck's spell and spreading it over the entire blade. "Done."

"Such speed," Thadduck said. "Very impressive. Now, let's put the finishing touches on it. These spells won't remain in place unless there are a few threads of Spirit woven in to hold them all together."

Andi nodded. "I can see what you mean. Who's Spirit threads should I use?"

"Mostly mine," Thadduck said. "I can't afford to have you fall apart right now. Weave a few of your own in, but remember that most of the threads need to be mine."

Andi did as he was told, instinctively knowing where to weave in the threads of Spirit. He wasn't sure why Thadduck wanted it to be a mixture of both, but he took most of the threads from his grandfather, and wove in a few of his own. As he put the final threads in place, the spells congealed in a way he didn't expect.

"Wow," Andi said.

"What? What happened?" Thadduck asked. "I can tell the spells are still in place."

"Yes, they're in place," Andi said, "but as soon as they were, the threads of Spirit combined in an unexpected way. There's more to this sword than a sharp edge and unbreakable blade, isn't there."

Thadduck nodded. "Yes. This isn't just a magically hardened blade, this is a Spell Breaker."

"No," Gronk exclaimed, "it can't be."

"What?" Andi asked. "Did I do it wrong?"

"No," Grayson said, "you did it perfectly. A Spell Breaker takes mastery to construct. Mages like Gronk study their whole lives trying to learn how to make one, and less than one in a century ever achieves it."

"Wait, Gronk is a mage?" Andi asked.

"Of course I am," Gronk said. "Every royal blacksmith is. I specialize in working metal, and here a young spell born has surpassed me already. Three hundred years I've studied to learn how to make what you achieved without even knowing the end. How? How did you do it? What is your innate spell?"

"I can see the threads," Andi said.

"It's more than that," Thadduck said. "You have an instinct for how the threads are supposed to fit together. I didn't even tell you how to weave the Spirit in, but you did it perfectly."

"You said to tie the spells together, so I did," Andi said. "There was no other way to tie them together. But I still don't understand. What is a Spell Breaker?"

"This blade can cut through anything," Thadduck explained. "Steel, rock, bone, spells, everything."

"You mean it can tear apart the weaves of other mages?" Andi asked.

"That's right," Grayson said, "but why do we need one for this mission?"

"You'll see," Thadduck said. "We should get going."

Grayson pulled a sling out of the magic bag and put Andi in it, then strapped it to his back. This allowed Grayson to keep his hands free, and for Andi to whisper in his ear.

"Can I come with you?" Gronk asked. "If this wunderkind works any more magic, I want to be there to see it."

"Hopefully he's already done everything I need him to do," Thadduck said. "From here on out, I will be wielding the Spell Breaker. Enough chatter. We need to go."

"What do you mean?" Gronk asked. "It's a week's journey to the battlefront."

"Unless you've been there before," Thadduck said. He focused for a moment, and a portal opened up.

Gronk laughed as he grabbed a sword and a hammer and jumped through the portal. Grayson took Andi through next, and Thadduck was close behind.


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The Battlefield

The darkness of the portal remained as they came through, for this was a stormy night, where no moon shone. Grayson had enough presence of mind to step aside and make room for Thadduck.

"Well, doesn't this just suit the occasion," Thadduck said.

An orb of light shone above Gronk's hand, and he sent it several feet in the air before Thadduck said, "Put that out! This is the battlefield."

"Don't worry," Gronk said, "This light only shines for my friends."

"Really?" Thadduck said. "How do you manage that?"

"I tie the Flame and Air together with Spirit," Gronk said.

"If it only provides light for your friends, why not make it bigger?" Andi asked.

"Because that would take too much Spirit," Gronk replied. "How long has he been your apprentice?" he asked Thadduck.

"One week," Thadduck replied, "and it's time for you to be quiet once more."

Andi felt the sting of the rebuke for a moment, but realized Thadduck was correct, and he should have seen it sooner. All that magic left him hungry, and he whispered in Grayson's ear, "I'm hungry."

Grayson reached into the bag and pulled out a bottle.

Andi wondered which pocket it came from, but decided it didn't matter, and started drinking. The warmth and sweetness of the liquid told him it was from the enchanted items pocket.

The group proceeded on foot for a short while, wondering which direction they needed to go, when Grayson said, "It's this way."

"How can you tell?" Gronk asked.

"I can hear the clashing of swords," Grayson said.

"Since when do ogres wield swords?" Gronk asked.

"Since when do they have enough power to break a magic sword?" Thadduck shot back. "There's more magic behind this, and I intend to put an end to all of it."

They walked for twenty minutes, following Grayson's guidance before Andi was able to hear the swordplay for himself. The clang of metal on metal confirmed that either the ogres were wielding swords, or there was another kind of battle going on here. Either way, the Spell Breaker would be put to good use.

It was another ten minutes of walking before they saw a single soldier, and almost as soon as they did, a voice spoke up from behind them. "Stop right there."

"We are here on the king's business," Thadduck said.

"The king is dead," the guard said.

"Which is why I'm here," Thadduck said.

"We shall see. Drop your weapons and come with me."

Thadduck spun on the spot and pulled out his sword. In two quick steps, and a thrust of his blade, he disarmed the guard, and held the blade close to his throat. "How dare you threaten a mage."

The soldier swallowed hard. "Forgive me. I didn't know who you were."

"I was trying to explain that," Thadduck said. He released the guard and sheathed his blade. "Now, perhaps you can tell me where I can find the commander of these forces and the court mage."

"This way." The guard used a torch to guide them, which told Andi that Gronk's light still didn't share its glow beyond the four of them.

Two guards barred the entrance to a tent until the first soldier said, "There is a mage here, requesting to see Commander Haab."

"No one is allowed in without removing their weapons," one of them said.

"I remove this weapon for no one," Thadduck said. "It is far too powerful and valuable to let it out of my sight. Go tell Commander Haab that Councilman Thadduck is here to speak with him, and ask if he will allow me in without disarming."

A man emerged from the tent and said, "I certainly will, my old friend." Haab had dark hair that even in this light was certainly starting to gray. "I didn't know you were taking assignments anymore."

"I have a new apprentice," Thadduck replied, "and that's part of the job."

"Well, I didn't expect to see you here, Gronk," Haab said. He shook hands with the blacksmith.

"This was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

Andi tugged on Grayson's ear, and handed the bottle back to him. Even after half an hour of sucking, the bottle still appeared full.

"Wait, are you the apprentice?" Haab asked. "Since when do apprentices bring their children?" He stretched out a hand to Grayson.

Grayson accepted the shake and started to speak, but Thadduck cut him off. "Special circumstances."

"Well, I assumed that when you said you had an apprentice," Haab replied.

"This is Grayson, and my grandson, Andi."

"Nice to meet you, Grayson, Andi."

He extended a hand to Andi, who took one of the fingers, unsure if a child his age knew how to shake.

"Cute boy."

"Thank you," Grayson said.

"Well, let's not waste anymore time. We've got quite a mess to clean up." He led the way inside the tent.

A young looking man looked up from the maps on the table, and went white for a moment. "Thadduck Lorac! What an honor."

"Thank you," Thadduck said, "We've already had enough pleasantries, Hantel, so why don't you two fill me in on what's happening."

"You mean you don't know?" Haab asked.

"I know that a group of ogres killed the king and broke his sword," Thadduck replied.

"That's only half of it," Hantel said. "About six months ago, King Barlein caught a dozen Thralls trying to steal a valuable amulet. They all had Dragonstones, which only confirmed their guilt as Thralls. He put them to death."

"Are you sure that's related?" Haab asked.

"It's my best explanation," Hantel replied. "About a month ago we received reports that a group of sword-wielding ogres destroyed the village of Tarouf. The king came with his guards to investigate, and the battle has been raging on for a week. The ogres love to attack at night, and we think they have been given night-vision."

"We don't know that either," Haab said. "We only know that they attacked, and they usually retreat at first light."

"Ogres have never been this aggressive before," Grayson said. "What's different about these?"

Haab stared at Grayson, then glanced over to Thadduck.

Thadduck said, "It's a valid question. Answer him."

"They are twice as big as before," Hantel said, "and there is some kind of spell connecting them."

"Even so," Haab added, "being twice as big doesn't make them twice as smart. What's more, we've slain enough of them that their strength should be slacking. Instead, it's as if each one we kill makes the others stronger, or smarter."

"Very well," Thadduck said. "There's not much more we can learn before we see them. Let's go Grayson, Gronk."

"Wait," Haab called out. "There is no way I'm going to let you take an infant out onto the battlefield. I don't care who you are."

Thadduck heaved a large sigh. "This isn't going to remain a secret for long at this pace."

"What?" Haab asked.

"Grayson isn't my apprentice," Thadduck said. "Andi is."

"That's impossible," Haab said. "Children aren't given the test until they're fourteen."

"He's spell born," Hantel said. "It's against the law to have them outside of Shamballa."

"Not anymore," Thadduck said. "Andi is currently the only exception to that law, Hantel. He's already more powerful than you."

"Impossible," Hantel said. "I've been a mage for two hundred years. How can a spell born be more powerful? He can't be more than fifteen years old."

Andi looked up at Thadduck, who nodded his approval. "I'm twenty-two, actually," Andi said, "and besides freeing my mother from prison and changing the law, I've performed magic previously thought impossible."

"What kind of magic?" Hantel asked.

Haab could only stare in amazement.

"Grayson, for example," Andi said. "He's actually a mouse that I transformed into a human."

"That's nothing new," Hantel said. "Other mages have done that."

"But you haven't," Thadduck said, "and I've been with Grayson for more than a week. He doesn't drink a potion, or transform back at sunset, or anything."

"Okay," Hantel said. "You've made your point."

"Haab, I hope I can trust your discretion on this," Thadduck said. "The less people there are who know about him, the better."

"Y . . . Yes, of course." Haab recovered himself and the appearance of a general came back over him. "This way."


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Love this story, felt like i was only reading for 2 second before was already the end again. XD can't wait for more


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The Broken Spell

Haab marched from the tent and right toward the sound of battle. Gronk's light now gave light to all the humans in the army, giving them an advantage on such a moonless night.

Even before Andi could see the ogres, he saw the spell which connected them all. A weave of pure Spirit connected them, intertwining all their Spirits in some way, though he couldn't tell exactly what it was doing. The purpose of the spell became apparent as Andi watched the ogres fight. Every time one of them swung their blade, a pulse went out over the web of Spirit. It traveled to every other ogre, whether they were fighting or not. The pulsing of the web was exceedingly complex, and Andi reached out to cut it.

The weave refused to budge.

"I know what we have to do," Andi said in Grayson's ear. The sounds of battle were so loud that no one else could hear him. "Tell Thadduck to cut the weave of Spirit binding the ogres."

Grayson called out the message to Thadduck, who replied, "I can't even feel the weave. How can I cut it?"

A thought came to Andi's mind as he recalled one of the Councilmember's gifts. They could know what another mage's gift was by seeing the world through that gift. Andi knew how to replicate it, and cast a quick weave.

Thadduck gasped as the spell showed him how Andi saw the world. His reaction was swift, and precise. He pulled out the Spell Breaker and charged forward toward the nearest ogre.

The beast kicked at the soldier it was already fighting so it could bring down its sword on Thadduck.

But Thadduck was too experienced a warrior to fall so easily. He brought his blade up to parry, and cut the ogre's sword in half.

Only then did Andi realize the sword itself was part of the spell. The weave of Spirit connecting all the blades broke, and it shattered every ogre's sword as well.

Confused and frightened, the ogres started to run, but Thadduck wasn't through. He cut the ogre before him in half. Instead of two halves of a dead ogre, there was an ape, a frog, and a lizard on the ground. All the other ogres disintegrated as well, leaving hundreds of apes, frogs, and lizards, scattering in every direction.

A cheer rose up from the soldiers.

Thadduck sheathed his sword.

With all the ogres gone, a man stood on the battlefield, looking around, as if lost.

"Arrest that man!" Thadduck called out, pointing to the lost stranger. "Bring him in alive!"

The man jumped at being identified, and tried to run, but he tripped and fell flat on his face.

"Be careful," Hantel called after the soldiers who approached him. "He may be a mage."

Several hours after the sun rose, back at Gaffitta Castle, once all the soldiers were transported back, the man was taken into custody, and properly restrained by Hantel and Thadduck, all the mages gathered to discuss things.

"How did you know that breaking the ogre's sword would break them all?" Hantel asked.

"I didn't," Thadduck said. "I only knew the weave of Spirit traveled from the blade and through the ogre to the others. Breaking a spell like that can have violent consequences."

"You're telling me," Gronk said. "I couldn't feel the weave of Spirit, yet you knew where it began. How did you know that?"

"That was Andi's doing," Thadduck said. "He somehow let me see the threads the way he sees them."

"I just copied a spell I saw back in Shamballa," Andi said.

"That wasn't an easy spell to duplicate," Gronk said. "I felt the weave go out. You must have had that stored in a bottle somewhere, right?"

"No," Andi said.

"Then you must have practiced it," Hantel concluded.

"No," Andi said. "I only saw it done once, and copied it once before."

"Wait," Hantel said, "you mean in the heat of battle, you copied another mage's innate magic after seeing it done only once before?"

"Yes," Andi said.

"I told you," Thadduck said, "he's already a more accomplished mage than you, Hantel. He's more accomplished than almost every mage. He only lacks experience."

"What is your innate ability?" Hantel asked.

"I can see the threads," Andi said.

"It's more than that," Grayson repeated. "You have a knack for knowing how threads weave together, what different weaves do, and you never forget how to weave a particular spell. We even proved that you can perform them in the heat of battle."

"Very true," Thadduck said.

"So where are you going from here?" Gronk asked.

"Well, I believe we'll be taking the man we caught back to Shamballa," Thadduck said, "so they can determine whether he is a mage, and what part he played in all of this. I expect someone will be bringing the heir to the throne back soon, once they can figure out where he is."

"That won't be hard," Hantel said. "The Council can reach every Master Mage with an apprentice. I expect you'll be back in less than a week. As for the prisoner, the soldiers found three Dragonstones in his pockets. He's a Thrall for sure, though whether he's a mage, or which dragon he serves is another matter entirely. "

"So his punishment will be severe," Gronk concluded. "Where will you go after that?"

"Andi's training has just begun," Thadduck said. "I have some very choice places to show him until we get our next assignment from the Council."

"I'd come with you, but I have duties here," Gronk said. "Plus, I can't wait to try and duplicate that Spell Breaker."

"Can I leave it in your hands?" Thadduck said.

"Oh, please!" Gronk said enthusiastically. "That would be wonderful."

"I may need to come and get it," Thadduck said. "So I trust you'll keep it safe till then. Don't destroy it or lend it to anyone else. And most importantly, keep it out of Shamballa."

"Why?" Hantel asked.

"Can you imagine a Spell Breaker in there?" Grayson asked. "It could level the town."

"Oh, I see what you mean," Hantel said.


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Section 3: The Prince of Egypt

Chapter 1: Shamballa
Andi Lorac returned to Shamballa on Grayson's back. His minute size in a one-year-old body did nothing to hinder his power over the elements. Grayson himself was proof of that. He was a mouse that Andi transformed into a man. The blue dress Andi wore was a question of convenience, as he still needed diapers.

Grayson also carried in his arms an unconscious man, suspected of causing the ogre riots which Thadduck had just ended. It was unclear whether all the ogres had been destroyed, or whether some of them still lived in the mountains on the edge of Egypt. They were hoping this man could give some answers.

Following right behind them was Thadduck Lorac, Andi's grandfather, and one of the leaders of the Mages' Council. The portal brought them directly into Thadduck's chambers, the only place inside the city of Shamballa where Thadduck was allowed to have a portal. No mage, no matter how powerful, was allowed more than one portal into the mages' city, and that portal, by law, must lead into their own chambers.

Every mage was assigned a room in the Mage Barracks. It wasn't easy fitting nearly one million rooms into one building, but the combined might of the most powerful mages in the last four centuries was able to accomplish such things in this city.

"We need to get that man into custody," Thadduck said. "There's no time to waste."

As if in reply, there was a knock at the door. Thadduck opened it and found Betzy, one of the servants, standing outside.

"Welcome back, Councilman Thadduck," Betzy said. "Have you come back to assemble an army?"

"No need," Thadduck said. "The army of ogres has been destroyed, and we have a prisoner. Please alert the guards that this man needs to be restrained. I have no idea how dangerous he is."

"Of course," Betzy said. She walked away, and Thadduck closed the door.

"How does she know when someone arrives and know so much about what they are doing?" Andi asked.

"There are spells on the rooms here," Grayson said. "Any time a portal is activated, the servants are alerted. Why it's always Betzy is a mystery to me."

Thadduck smiled. "Betzy is my personal servant. She does serve others, but my bidding is always her top priority."

"Is she human?" Grayson asked.

"Why would you ask that?" Thadduck protested. "How could she be anything else?"

"I am proof that it's possible," Grayson replied. "There's a hint of magic about her, and more than that, she smells like a Forest Child."

"I should have known you'd be able to sniff that out," Thadduck said. "Yes, she is a Forest Child. She stayed too long in the woods and she nearly lost herself completely. I rescued her, and she volunteered to work for me here."

The conversation was interrupted by two guards arriving and taking the unconscious man into Thadduck's bedroom. When they came out, they were carrying a sleeping baby.

"He's not going anywhere," one guard said.

"They never do," the other guard replied. "Not with this kind of restraint."

Thadduck winced as they carried the babyfied suspect away. "I've never liked those things," Thadduck said. "It's one thing for them to be used on the worst criminals, but to put them on a suspect? That seems downright cruel, and we don't even know if he's guilty."

"Well, let's not keep him waiting too long then," Grayson said. "I imagine you have some pull with the Mages' Court and can get him brought in for questioning quickly."

"That I do," Grayson said, "however, we have to find the heir to the throne of Egypt. That is our assignment now."

"Please don't leave him like that," Andi said. "Surely there's enough time to at least hear his story before we leave him to his fate."

Thadduck sighed. "You're right. I try to forget what it was like to be babyfied when that spell backfired, and seeing you is enough to remind me."

He led the trio out of the barracks and into the main administration building. It was still two hours before dawn here, but the streets were still buzzing. Mages only slept once every two weeks, so the city was always busy day and night.

On his last visit to this building Andi hadn't paid much attention to the details around him. He could see the threads of magic, but he was almost overwhelmed by how much there was here. This time his head was clearer, and he noticed the commonalities between the spells on the barracks and those on the administration building.

Both of them were bigger on the inside.

Threads of all five elements, Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit were present in abundance at every door, and Andi noticed a similarity to the teleport spell, but there was something different he couldn't understand.

They walked through three doors, each of which led to a hallway before they arrived at the room Thadduck sought. It was the private study of Perli, one of the members of the Mages' Council. Andi met her a little more than a week ago when he'd presented his bid for freedom, to avoid being put in the nursery until his body grew up, which wouldn't be for another fifteen decades.

"Back so soon?" Perli asked in greeting. "Your assignment must have gone better than expected."

"Let's just say I was the right person for the job," Thadduck said.

"No, I can't leave it at that," Perli said. "I will need both the Master Mage and the apprentice to transfer their memories to our archives."

"That's not normal procedure," Thadduck said.

"It is for this task. There are criminal charges pending, and we need to know who is responsible."

"That's why we're here," Thadduck said. "I want to question the prisoner myself."

"That's fine," Perli said. "I can schedule his trial for six months from now."

"Six months?" Andi protested. "Are you going to leave him in those restraint diapers for that long?"

"He's accused of killing a king using magic," Perli said. "I thought that's why you brought him here."

"We haven't established yet whether he's a witness, a criminal, or a victim in all this," Thadduck said. "All I'm asking is that I be allowed to question him today."

"You mean now," Perli stated.

"Yes," Thadduck said. "I do mean now."

Perli studied Thadduck's face for a moment, then wrote something on a piece of paper. "Please sit," she said.

"I'd rather go to his interrogation," Thadduck said.

"That will be right here," Perli explained.

Thadduck and Grayson sat down, and Grayson pulled Andi out of the sling and onto his lap. Andi could now see the paper Perli had written on earlier. The words vanished, and were replaced by only one word. 'Acknowledged.'

"He's on his way," Perli said. "While we wait, can we do the memory transfer? It will help me with the questioning."

Thadduck nodded.

Perli handed him a book, and Thadduck declared, "My assignment is done, let my report be given." He then handed the book to Grayson, and then to Andi, which each said the same words in turn.

Perli took the book back with a polite thank you. Then she held it and said, "Ogre wars chapter thirty-seven."

The book did not open the entire time, but Perli seemed satisfied and returned it to a stand next to her desk. There was only enough room on the stand for one book.

"Five hundred years?" Grayson asked.

"I'm sorry," Perli said. "What do you mean?"

"The ogres were created five hundred years ago," he explained.

"That's right. I forgot you can read every book in the room without touching them."

"Did either of you stop to consider," Grayson began, but a knock at the door interrupted his thought.

"Come in," Perli said.

A woman in uniform entered, carrying the small child with a pacifier in his mouth.

"Was it really necessary to gag him?" Thadduck asked.

"Yes," the woman said. "He wouldn't stop bawling. You'd think he really was a baby."

"Did you try feeding him?" Grayson asked.

The woman started to respond, but paused, looking thoughtful. "Why do you ask?"

"Experience," Grayson said.

"With what?" the woman pressed.

Grayson glanced over at Thadduck who nodded and said, "Go ahead, Andi. She might learn something."

"Andi, is it?" the woman asked Grayson.

"I'm Andi."

The woman jumped back. "What are you doing out here?" she asked once she'd recovered herself. "No one else is supposed to be outside the nursery right now. Must be a new arrival."

"Never mind that," Thadduck said. "Andi, tell her what she needs to know."

Andi nodded. "I imagine he's not accustomed to the infant body, and when the body has a need, it reacts, overriding reason."

"Why would he be hungry?" the woman asked.

"He was taken from a battlefield, shortly after a spell collapsed in on him," Andi said.

"Oh dear," Grayson said. "He's not going to be happy about that."

"About what?" Perli and the woman said together.

"That spell was made up almost entirely of Spirit," Andi said. "When it broke, the backlash hit this man. It probably almost killed him. Something like that would leave him feeling very hungry."

"Worse than that," Grayson said. "His body needs to replace the lost Spirit threads, or he still might die. Who knows how those restraint diapers might have interacted with that need."

"Interacted?" Perli repeated. "How could they interact with a broken spell?"

"Because Turkil was a spell-born as well," Grayson said.

"Who is Turkil?" the woman asked.

"No, it can't be," Perli said. "That was five hundred years ago."

There was a pause, and then Thadduck and Perli both said, "Get those diapers off him, now."

The woman set the baby on the desk and did as she was told before she said, "Are you ready to tell me what's going on?"

"He's not changing back," Grayson said.

"I don't understand," the woman said. "What's going on?"

Grayson reached into the Bag of Needs and brought out a bottle of formula. "Do you mind if I feed him?" he asked.

The woman sagged and shook her head. "Go ahead."

Grayson handed Andi over to Thadduck and picked up Turkil. "He's going to need a diaper, and not one that affects his age."

As soon as the pacifier was removed, Turkil started screaming.

Grayson held the bottle to Turkil's lips and he began to suck hungrily. "I'd say you've got about five minutes before he makes a mess."

The caretaker nodded and left the room. She was back two minutes later with a diaper, which she carefully put on Turkil as he continued to suck.

"We won't get any answers out of him for awhile," Grayson said. "Andi, can you tell me how those restraint diapers work?"

Andi stared at the discarded diaper laying on the floor. He could see the threads of magic woven together, and it wasn't hard to figure out what they did. "Nothing you haven't guessed at," he said. "They wrap the mage in a web of magic which makes it impossible to feel the four elements. But since Spirit comes from within, the diaper has to drain that from the mage himself."

"You can know all that just by looking at it?" the caretaker asked.

Andi nodded. "If you do that to a spell-born, especially when they've just been drained of Spirit by a backfiring spell, they regress in age, permanently."

"You mean he'll stay like this forever?" Perli asked.

"No," Grayson said, "but it will take him about three hundred years to become an adult again."

Andi couldn't help but stare at Turkil. That had been his own fate when he'd done too much magic at once. He'd been lost to the needs of his body for several weeks, unable to communicate.

"Who is Turkil?" the caretaker asked at last.

"It's classified," Perli said.

"If this really is Turkil," Thadduck said, "it won't stay classified for long."

"Well, is he a criminal or not?" the caretaker insisted.

"No," Thadduck said. "He was a volunteer."

"Thadduck!" Perli shouted.

"If she's going to care for the man, she deserves to know his story."

"And what if it's not him?"

They all turned to look at Turkil. Nothing had changed, except his diaper was starting to bulge.

"Anyone but a spell-born would have started returning to normal by now," Thadduck said. "If that's not Turkil, he's another spell-born, and what are the chances of that?"

Perli sighed and gave up.

"When King Cortiban first returned, there was a great war between him and the mages. Cortiban released a plague of mosquito bats on Egypt. They were sucking enough blood that many died. One of the first acts of the Mages' Council was to find a way to combat them. We couldn't undo the spell, so we fought it with one of our own. We mixed frogs, lizards and apes together.

"Turkil was supposed to control them. He was connected to them through a weave of Spirit binding them all to his will. They did their job, hunting down the mosquito bats until they were all gone. But when we searched for Turkil, he'd vanished. No one knew where."

"I became one of them," Turkil said.

Everyone turned back to Turkil, but he'd already started sucking again.

"That makes sense," Thadduck said, "though I have no idea how the theory works. All I know is that when I broke the spell on the ogre army, Turkil stood among an army of frogs, apes, and lizards fleeing in every direction."

"King Ogre, they called me," Turkil added. "Oh yes, they could think. Not the way a human does, but more than an animal is typically capable of." He turned back to the bottle once more.

"Why is his diaper expanding like that?" the caretaker asked.

"This is no ordinary endless bottle," Grayson said. "It's specifically designed to give as much milk as the recipient needs. Right now it's pouring milk down his throat faster than any man would ever normally drink."

"That's not possible," the caretaker said. "His stomach couldn't hold that much."

"It doesn't stay in his stomach," Grayson said. "It passes right through him, and his body collects only the threads of Spirit."

"You've given this a lot of thought," Perli said.

"Andi went through this more than once," Grayson replied. "I wanted to be prepared in case it happened again."

"Where did you get such a bottle?" the caretaker asked. "I've never heard of such a thing."

"It started as an ordinary bottomless bottle," Grayson said, "but I spent months learning how to modify it, based on a spell I've seen at work."

"I could have done it," Andi said.

"I know," Grayson said with a smile. "Probably could have done it in five minutes, but I needed the practice, and there was a lot of Spirit involved. I didn't want to risk you losing more age."

Andi nodded. He was grateful for Grayson's concern.

"Well, then it's a good thing I chose one with a clean diaper spell," the caretaker said.

Andi groaned as his diaper began to swell up. Water gushed from it, cleaning the diaper and his skin.

"Did I do that?" the caretaker asked.

Grayson nodded.

Andi felt his legs being pushed apart.

"I'm sorry," she said. "But why is the diaper growing so large?"

"It was modified to gather more Water threads," Grayson said, "so it could work in a desert landscape."

"Oh," she replied. "That explains it. I've never seen a clean diaper spell make a diaper grow so big."

Andi let out a long sigh as the diaper began swelling faster. His legs were quickly pushed apart at a 120 degree angle. The bottom of his dress puffed out until even it could not hide the diaper. It engulfed Andi's legs and kept going."

"I haven't seen it do this before," Thadduck said. "Is that because she said 'clean diaper' twice?"

This was too much to bear. The diaper swelled up even more, and Andi's feet were now inside the diaper, and unable to move.

"Please stop saying that phrase," Grayson said. "It gets worse every time someone says it before the spell is complete."

"I'm sorry," Thadduck said. "I didn't realize."

"Such a careless spell," the caretaker said.

But Turkil's diaper had also bulged out, and was still large enough to reach his knees. His returned to regular size in a few minutes, but Andi's took more than two hours.

The caretaker waited as Grayson fed Turkil, but after four minutes of silence she said, "Look, I have other duties to attend to. If he's not a prisoner, can I leave him here?"

"No," Perli said at once. "He may not be a prisoner anymore, but he is still a mage in need of your assistance. You will stay here until he is ready to return to the nursery. Let the record reflect that Turkil Tanmorra has been found. It is therefore believed that all ogres have been destroyed, and the Ogre Wars are now concluded."

The book on the pedestal vanished.

"That's quite a bold statement," Thadduck said. "How can you know if all the ogres were destroyed?"

"They were," Turkil said. "I could feel them all dissolve."

"But how did they grow in size?" Grayson asked. "And where did they get those swords?"

"That would be the work of the yellow dragon with red streaks," Turkil supplied. He returned to sucking as soon as he finished speaking.

"You're saying a dragon came to you in person to work the spell?" Perli asked.

"Yes," Turkil said.

Then I believe this matter is concluded," Perli said. "Turkil, I'm truly sorry about what's happened. I will do what I can to get you restored to your proper age. You may take him back to the nursery now."

"If I may," Grayson interjected, "the new volunteer in the nursery helped Andi through this before. She can help him best."

The caretaker looked at Perli for approval, then took Turkil, handed the bottle back to Grayson, and left.

"Did you need anything else?" Perli asked.

"No," Thadduck said. He turned to Andi and said, "It's time for us to go as well."


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I think this would be made in to a film.

Thank you.

I wish that it could, but films with infants as stars are few and far between.

- - - Updated - - -

Chapter 3 - Father

Thadduck led them through the maze of hallways until they came to a room filled with books. It wasn't quite a library, more of a shelf stuffed with thick books. There was no one there to assist them, but Thadduck seemed to know what he was doing. He walked up to the shelf and studied the spines for a few moments before pulling one off the middle shelf and looking through it.

"Here it is," Thadduck said. "Janro Gaffitta - Ability: animal speech, Master Mage: Pomeloy Vert, current assignment: Noriza, Lorzapa."

"Janro?" Andi repeated. "Isn't that my father?"

"Yes, it is," Thadduck confirmed. "He's also heir to the throne of Egypt."

"You mean I'm of royal blood?" Andi asked.

"Yes," Thadduck said. "As far as I know, you're next in line to the throne after Janro, and I'm not sure they're going to let him rule."

Andi tried to take that in. Prince Andi. It had a nice ring to it.

"Let's go find him," Grayson said.

Thadduck nodded and opened a portal.

Grayson carried Andi through. They stepped out onto a hillside and the first thing Andi noticed was a castle several miles away. It stood nestled in the crook of two rivers, with the surrounding city encompassing both inlets and the outflow for several miles.

"Is that Noriza?" Andi asked as Thadduck came through.

"No, that's Ozol," Thadduck explained, "capital of Lorzapa. Noriza is a small town several days walk from here."

Grayson reached into the Bag of Needs and pulled out a magic carpet. Andi was always amused when he pulled it out. The carpet was far too big to fit into the bag, but then the bag held far more than Grayson could ever carry. It used a type of portal to connect to three collections of items, each vast beyond understanding.

"What is that for?" Thadduck asked.

"Would you rather walk?" Grayson asked as he laid down the rug.

Thadduck smiled. "I was prepared to, but this looks like fun. It's been ages since I rode a magic carpet."

They all climbed aboard and Grayson piloted the carpet according to Thadduck's directions. They covered three days of travel in about three hours, landing just outside the town and walking the rest of the way. The town was awake with the activity of morning.

Thadduck didn't hesitate but led them to one of the larger homes near the center of town. He knocked on the door and a young man in mage's robes answered.

"Can I help you?"

"Hello, Janro," Thadduck said. "May we come in?"

"Who is it?" a voice called from within.

Janro swallowed hard and said, "It's Councilman Thadduck."

"Well show them in," the voice called. They entered the home, which was set up more as a shop. The man who was clearly the Master Mage sat at a table piled with books.

"Hello, Pomeloy," Thadduck said.

"Thadduck, what an honor," Pomeloy replied. "What brings you out this way? Council business?"

Thadduck nodded, a grave expression on his face. "I've come to take Janro back to Egypt."

"No!" Janro called out.

"I'm sorry, Janro," Thadduck said, "but your father died battling the ogres and you're the next in line for the throne."

"But I can't be king," Janro said. "The Council stripped me of my title when I passed the Mage's Test."

"That may be, but both your brother and your sister are dead, meaning you're the last heir of your line," Thadduck said. "The Council had to make an exception in this case. Oh, and there's one more thing." He walked over and punched Janro in the face, knocking him to the ground.

Janro stared up at him from the floor, dazed and confused. "What was that for?"

"For sleeping with my daughter!"

"But I never . . . You mean Trinkle is your daughter?"

"That's right," Thadduck said. "Oh, and by the way, you're a father." He pointed to Andi.

"That's my son?" Janro said in surprise. "And my grandson?"

Grayson shook his head. "I'm not your son. Andi is."

"Hello, Father," Andi said.

"What are you talking about?" Janro asked. "This child can't be more than a year old. I've been an apprentice for almost thirty years. I think I would know if I'd fathered a child two years ago."

Andi scowled at him. "I'm twenty-two years old, and thanks to you, I've been a baby that whole time."

"Wait a minute," Janro said. "You're twenty-two years old?"


"Then how can I be your father?"

"You got Trinkle pregnant, only two months before her mage's test," Thadduck said.

"You make it sound like it was a one-night-stand," Janro protested as he finally stood up. "I still love her and hope to get back together with her when my apprenticeship is up."

"I doubt she'll want that," Andi said.

"Why? What happened to Trinkle?" Janro asked.

"She was pregnant for more than six years. Six years! Imagine that, if you will," Thadduck said. "Plus, she spent most of the last twenty years in the Shamballa nursery, as a caregiver."

"Wait, are you saying she has six children?" Janro asked. "I'm so confused."

"Let me clarify it for you," Andi said. "When a man becomes a mage, his aging slows."

"Every mage knows that," Janro said. "I may look sixteen, but I'm actually forty-two."

"Now imagine what happens when an unborn child becomes a mage," Andi said.

"I've never heard of such a thing," Janro said.

"Well that's what happened to me," Andi said. "Six years in the womb, and twenty-two years of eating nothing but formula. I haven't even been potty-trained yet, and probably won't be for at least another twenty-eight years."

Fifty years in diapers?" Janro asked. "I guess now I can see why you're upset."

"To top all that off," Thadduck said, "Trinkle's Master Mage was punished for what you did. The Council assumed he did it, and he received the sentence you should have endured."

Janro swallowed. "What happened to him?"

"He was transformed into a baby and imprisoned in the nursery," Grayson said. "Sentenced to live the life you've forced upon poor Andi here, to ensure you won't make the same mistake again."

"This is all very unbelievable," Janro said. "People living fifty years in diapers, mages being sentenced to infancy, and you claim I'm the cause of it all?"

"Yes!" Thadduck, Andi, and Grayson said at once.

"If you were anyone other than a prince, you'd be guaranteed to serve at least fifty years in the nursery," Thadduck said.

Janro paled at this statement.

"As it is," Thadduck continued, "you are needed back in Egypt."

A portal opened up a couple feet away. Thadduck grabbed Janro and shoved him through.

"I think I'd better go with him," Pomeloy said.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," Thadduck said. "Come on Grayson, Andi. Let's go."

Grayson carried Andi through the portal and they once more found themselves in the same small room in Gaffitta Castle where they'd been only a few days earlier. Pomeloy and Janro were there as well, and the portal closed as Thadduck stepped through.

It didn't take them long to come before Queen Nacktalli once more. When they'd been properly announced, the queen said, "Thadduck, I'd begun to worry you forgot about us."

"How could I do that?" Thadduck asked. "Egypt is where I was born. It will always be home to me."

Nacktalli smiled and turned to her son. "Janro, it's good to see you again." She ran to him and pulled him into a hug.

"Is it true?" Janro asked. "Father is dead?"

Nacktalli nodded. "I'm afraid so. There was an ogre uprising and he was killed in battle."

"And Grint and Tonpli? They are dead as well?" Janro asked.

"The last thirty years has not been kind to the Gaffitta household," Nacktalli said. "I should already be a grandmother, but the yellow death took Tonpli three months after her wedding, and Grint was mortally wounded in an uprising ten years ago. We won the battle, but lost the heir to the throne only a few weeks before he was to be married."

"Then it's true," Janro said. "I'm the only living heir to the throne of Egypt."

Nackatalli nodded. "It's sad that only such dire tidings could reunite us. Still, I'm glad to have you back."

"And what of the Mages' Council?" Janro pressed. "Have they approved of me taking the throne?"

"That is our next stop," Thadduck said. "We must travel to Shamballa with your mother and a royal escort."

"A full royal escort will take months to cross the ocean," Janro said. "Can't we just use magic to get there?"

"That would be inappropriate," Nacktalli said. "I had hoped becoming a mage would teach you patience."

"He's not a mage yet," Pomeloy said. "And I'm not sure he's going to be one anytime soon."

Janro blanched at this comment, but the blood really drained from his face when his mother said, "What do you mean? What has he done?"

"He got a young woman pregnant," Pomeloy said, "a couple of months before they were tested."

"You mean while they were waiting at the camp of the Hopefuls?" Nacktalli asked.

Everyone nodded.

"But that was thirty years ago. Where is this man?" she asked.

Andi turned to Thadduck who nodded his approval before Andi said, "I'm right here."


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Part 3 Chapter 4: Back to Shamballa

Nacktalli jumped. "You can talk!"

"Yes, I can," Andi said. "I'm sorry for deceiving you earlier, but I didn't know then that I was your grandson."

"I have a grandson!" Nacktalli said. Then confusion clouded her face and she blurted out, "Wait. If you were born thirty years ago, how come you're still an infant?"

"I became a mage on the same day as my mother," Andi said. "As with all mages, her body's metabolism slowed, and so did mine. She carried me for six years before I was born."

"This is all so confusing," Nacktalli said. "I've never heard of such a thing being possible. I thought no one could be a mage before the age of fourteen."

"You know that's not true," Thadduck said. "The fourteen-year-old rule is to prevent mages from spending their first century or two looking like children. But accidents do happen, as I'm sure you're aware. There have been young mages before."

"Of course," Nacktalli said. "Now that you mention it, I remember my great-grandfather became a mage at the age of ten."

"He was lucky," Grayson said. "He was probably only confined to Shamballa for a few decades before they would have let him become a mage."

"Indeed he was," Thadduck said. "I know him well."

"There's so much for me to catch up on," Nacktalli said, and we have a very long flight ahead of us."

"Flight?" Janro asked. "You mean we're taking the flying carpet?"

Nacktalli nodded. "It's big enough for a small royal entourage. I want this matter resolved quickly before the rest of the nation has to hear about it."

After that, she refused to hear another word about it until they were all packed up and on board a giant flying carpet. It was so huge that it would never have fit into the Bag of Needs Grayson carried. In fact, it took four guards to carry it out of storage and unroll it in the castle courtyard. Even then, it looked like the rug expanded in size to accommodate everyone. There were Nacktalli and Janro, of course, accompanied by fourteen guards. Then there was Thadduck and Grayson, carrying Andi. Gronk came along as well, with the Spell Breaker strapped to his belt. There were also half a dozen women whose function Andi could only guess at. In total, they had twenty-six people aboard, but the carpet was large enough to accommodate them all and lifted into the air without hesitation.

They flew the rest of the day and all through the night as Nacktalli was filled in on the details which Thadduck allowed her to hear. She wasn't happy about the many times when he simply said, "I'm sorry but I can't discuss that without permission from the Council."

All but the mages slept as they flew, and even Andi dozed off once or twice. The second time he awoke to Grayson changing his diaper amid the pre-dawn twilight. A few minutes later the carpet touched down outside of Shamballa, and the group got off. Two of the guards stayed behind to watch the rug while the rest marched into town.

Everyone seemed to know where they were going, so Andi decided not to ask. When they arrived at the barracks, he realized he should have guessed as much.

They went in through one of the many doors and entered an elegant hallway. Andi was surprised by this as the last entrance he'd gone through led to a flight of stairs with a door leading off each step into a simple hallway filled with doors. This hallway had only ten doors, five on each side. There were also ornate fixtures on the walls, holding magical lights.

Once more, no one spoke as they marched without a misstep to a door labeled 'Egypt'. Andi looked around quickly and saw that each door held the name of a different country. As far as he knew there were only nine countries unless you counted Dragon Island.

Inside there was a large suite of rooms, unlike the small two-room apartment he'd been expecting. This was certainly designed for royalty, and Queen Nacktalli almost looked at home here. The decorations and trimmings were similar to what he'd seen in Gaffitta Castle.

Within minutes there was a knock at the door.

Thadduck rushed to open it, and Betzy stood there.

"I've alerted the Council to your arrival," Betzy said, "and they'll see you in half an hour, as they are already in session discussing another matter."

"Thank you, Betzy," Thadduck replied.

"Will there be anything else," Betzy asked.

Thadduck nodded and whispered something in her ear.

She nodded without saying a word and left to do his bidding.


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Part 3 Chapter 4: The Trial

A quick note. I looked back and realized the chapter numbering was off. Now it is back on track.

Despite the large retinue that came with them to Shamballa, only six of them followed Betzy to the Council chambers upon her return; Nacktalli, Janro, Pomeloy, Thadduck, Andi, and of course Grayson. Betzy led them through the streets past many small buildings and finally inside one of them.

The lobby was larger than the building appeared from the outside, and contained fourteen doors behind an enormous desk with three receptionists behind it. Each door had a different pattern of shapes and colors on it. Betzy bypassed the desk completely and entered through one of the doors. Behind it was a room twice as large as the lobby. It was identical to the courtroom he'd entered before, complete with the Mages' Council in their tiered seats. There wasn't anyone in the audience seats.

Unlike last time, there were two mages at the table on the right, where the prosecutors sit, and one at the defendant's table.

"Right on time," Perli said from the Council seats. "Prince Janro Gaffitta, please step inside the circle."

Janro swallowed hard and stepped into the circle of truth.

"Please state your name for the record," Hankle said. He sat at the prosecutors' table this time.

"Prince Janro Gaffitta."

"Are you the heir to the throne of Egypt?" Hankle asked.


"And you are the only surviving member of your royal family?" Hankle pressed.

"No," Janro said.

"There is another Gaffitta?" Perli asked. Clearly, Janro's revelation surprised her and many of the other members of the Council.

"Yes," Janro said. He stood there silently for a moment, but his face showed the pain was quickly becoming unbearable. "My son is Andirick Lorac," he blurted out at last.

"Then you are responsible for creating a Spell-born?" Hankle pressed.

"Yes," Janro said.

"Andirick," Perli said, "please step into the truth circle."

Andi waddled into the circle.

"In this circle of truth," Hankle said, "is there any blood relationship between these two?"

A green light filled the circle, then shrank to center on Janro and Andi. The light around Janro glowed blue, while the light around Andi glowed yellow. It was exactly the same as when he'd stood here with his mother.

"Thank you, Andi," Perli said. "You may go."

Andi waddled back to Grayson who picked him up and put him back on his lap.

"Well, this is a bit of a conundrum," Tonlay said from the top row of the Council. "We only grant mages to take the throne when they are the last of their line."

"But the only other heir to the throne is not just a mage," Janick said from the defendant's table, "he's a Spell-born that looks less than a year old."

"That's not the only problem," Tonlay said.

"Yes, there is the issue of Janro's crime," Perli said.

"A crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of fifty years in the nursery," Hankle said. "So do we grant the throne to a man who committed a crime, but would be able to marry within the year, or give the throne to an infant who won't be able to marry for about two hundred years."

"Perhaps Queen Nacktalli has something to add to this discussion," Janick said.

"I do," Nacktalli said.

"Janro, please step back," Tonlay said. "Nacktalli please enter the circle of truth."

Janro walked to the defense table while Nacktalli walked past him and into the circle.

"State your name for the record," Hankle said.

"Nacktalli Gaffitta, Queen of Egypt."

"You have seen the evidence presented," Hankle said. "What do you have to add to this?"

"I love my son," she said, "but he needs to pay for his crime before he can ever be king."

"Then it is your desire to appoint Andi as king?" Perli asked.

"It seems the less objectionable of the two choices," Nacktalli said. "I'm sure a regent can be appointed until another heir becomes available, or at least until Janro's sentence is fulfilled."

"And you wish to be that regent?" Hankle asked.

"Yes," Nacktalli said. "I do seem to be the obvious choice."

"Is your desire for power clouding your judgment on this issue?" Hankle asked.

"No," Nacktalli said right away. "I had hoped to abdicate the throne to one of my children by now, and this arrangement would leave me on the throne, most likely for the rest of my life."

"Thank you," Perli said. "That will be all."

Nacktalli bowed and returned to her seat.

"The Council will deliberate," Hankle said. "Please do not leave Shamballa."