Rays from the setting sun shone through the
McAllister’s window. Drayton stepped over rotting food and curdled milk.
“This place stinks. I can’t stay here.” He went into the bedroom and found
several sleeping bags tucked in the top shelf of the closet. He pulled one
down, knocking other boxes to the floor. “Oops. I’m making a mess. I feel so
bad.” Drayton snickered. He saw a suitcase behind the hanging clothes. He
ripped the shirts and blouses off the hanger and threw them out of his way,
grabbing the case by the handle. Pulling all the drawers open, he filled the
case with John’s clothes. Another bag was crammed full of any food he could
find that hadn’t been poured onto the floor. Before he slammed the door
behind him, he looked at himself in the mirror. Four of the points of the
star he wore on a chain around his neck glowed. “Eight to go.” He headed for
Castle Athdara. By the time he reached the arched doorway, the sun lay low
below the horizon. Darkness spread its fingers across the sky.
He went in through the main entrance and dropped
the bags on the floor. “Where should I put my sleeping bag? I need fresh air
when I sleep so I’ll stay right here by the door. That way I can keep my eye
open for any uninvited guests.” He spread out the bag and ate a handful of
crackers. “I’m here, Phelan. Come and teach me.”
He heard a noise coming from another room. “Is
that you?” Hearing no answer he went to find out. Phelan stood in the middle
of a pack of wolves. “Those look real,” Drayton said, seeing the sharp teeth
and slobbering mouths.
“They are real. I could command them to tear
your throat out if I desired. These are my companions.”
Drayton put his hands to his throat. “I thought
you wanted me to come back here tonight so you could teach me spells and
“I want to teach you something. I call it fear.
I want you to know what you are getting yourself into. You think this is
some game where you antagonize a few children and old men. I assure you it
The wolves left Phelan’s side and moved in a
circle around Drayton. “What are those wolves doing? Get them away from me.”
Phelan stood silent, waiting until the circle
was complete. “Do you feel afraid?”
“I don’t like it, if that’s what you mean. I
don’t care for wild animals.”
The wolves moved closer. Drayton could hear
their deep-throated growls. “Are you afraid yet?” Phelan lifted his hands
high into the air.
The wolves ran to Drayton, grabbed him by his
limbs and throat and ripped him apart. His screams gurgled and echoed
through the castle as the wolves devoured him. The wizard’s evil laugh
drowned out Drayton’s screams. Then, in an instant, Drayton once again stood
before him. He reached down to feel his body. “The wolves! They just
attacked me.” He gaped in disbelief.
“There are no wolves, Drayton. Look around you.”
He turned in circles and saw no sign of them.
“But they ripped my throat out and pulled my arms and legs off. I can still
feel the pain still from their bites.”
“I made you think that. Nothing happened at all.
When you can accomplish this with someone, you will be a great wizard. Until
then, don’t think you are anything but dirt on my shoes. Just because you
can do a few minor tricks, that doesn’t make you worth anything. Only when
we have the orb with all the gems in our possession can I help you with any
stronger powers than the orb offers. You’re wasting my time with all these
demands to help you. I’ve told you the powers you will receive with each
gem. Learn to use them well. Stop setting fires to crofts and using your
powers like a child. You will not see me again until I feel you’re ready to
listen and have stopped with this arrogance.” The wizard disappeared in a
flame of roaring white flame.
Drayton found his sleeping bag and lay down. He
pulled it up around his neck and lay awake, watchful of wolves.