“Did you happen to just come from Mister Path’s class?”

Bin nodded, and ate his lunch. And continued to eat. The Season Leaves were paying, and he was making sure it was worth it.

“What did you think?”

His mother always told him to keep his mouth shut and count to thirty before badmouthing anyone of power. If he still wanted to retort, he had to count until he couldn’t count anymore. Bin was terrible at following this advice, but when he remembered, he tried to make up for it.

So Bin was eating, trying to keep his mind going after six hundred and thirty-two while enjoying some really good food.

The Season Leaves group sat around him, fascinated. Bin had such a reputation for anger, a hot head quick to shoot with both his mouth and his flames. To see him, face set, yet eating, displayed a level of control that some apprentices did not have, and many did not expect of him.

Bin cleared his plate, and sat down again. “I did. Mister Path was talking about artifacts.”

Goldmight smiled. “Exactly, artifacts. What do you think of them?”

Bin shrugged. “They’re good, I guess.”

“Would you use one?”

“Yes!” Bin said. “In a heartbeat!”

He thought about it, and his face fell. “I mean, after I studied it to make sure it was safe.”

The Leaves laughed, Goldmight loudest of all. “Relax, Bin. We’ve all been there. Wanted to be able to take advantage of the tools of the past. In fact, we just found out about one such artifact.”

“From Mister Path?”

The fairy scoffed. “Mister Path doesn’t want to believe that anything exists that the Masters don’t already know. Even any rumors in other libraries that are in Bel Haven are suspect.”

“Bel Haven?”

Pidella smiled. “Did you think that the Circle was the only place with information on magic in Bel Haven?”

Bin kept quiet. The answer was yes, but he didn’t want to say.

“Ever heard of Suffrn, the Caged?” Kleb asked. When Bin shook his head, Kleb continued. “Dwarf mage, specializing in lightning magic. Spent his entire life around his ancestral home, studying in quiet the storms that would plague the seaside mountains.”

Seaside mountains? If they were talking about mountains, then that could only mean… “You’re talking about the Glass Cliffs?”

Goldmight hugged him close. “Knew he was smart! Nutrose, didn’t I say that he was smart?”

“Can’t put anything past you, Bin.” Nutrose beamed.

“Less than a week’s journey away is a hidden cache of artifacts from one of the best mages in the country,” Goldmight said. “And we just might have been the first to hear about it in…centuries!”

“A week’s journey…” Bin shook his head, and bowed his head. “But, there are classes. And I’m already behind.”

“Bin, Bin…” Nutrose shook his head. “The Masters don’t care about attendance. The only thing they ever care about is aptitude. Just prove that you can do the work come exams, and you’re set.”

“We’ll tutor you.” The gnome sisters chorused.

Bin’s eyes bugged out. Two smart gnomes, willing to help him study? And a chance for a relic?

Goldmight smiled. “All right, all right. Let’s not crowd the boy into a decision he might regret later. Come on, shoo!”

Goldmight handed Bin a piece of paper. “We’re leaving by coach at this time tomorrow. Be at the trading post then, and we’ll be off. If not, no hard feelings.”

Goldmight tussled the ogre’s hair. “But it could be fun!”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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