A small trickle of blood oozed out of his nostril. It was a hard hit to the face, but none that wasn’t tolerable. He hated being hit in the face. A flash of lightning coursed through the sky, collecting into a ball in the palm of his weathered hand. ‘This will surely knock him off his feet,’ he thought to himself. Taking in a monstrous breath, he hurled the ball at his opponent, hoping to end the battle here and now. But the younger wizard knew the tricks of his former master and deftly dodged the ball as it exploded into uncontrolled energy, coursing this way and that.
“You need to think up some new tricks, Master.”
“And you should learn the ones I’ve taught you!”
No sooner did he finish speaking than the uncontrolled lightning meld together into a woven wall of energy that collided with the younger wizard. Letting out a pained cry, the student fell to the feet of his master. Looming over the younger, “I took you in because I saw potential in you, Cassius, and this is how you reward my efforts?” A swift kick to the face of the younger wizard sent him to his back.
Rising up to his knees, Cassius spat on the ground. “I don’t know what you saw in me, but this is your fault for thinking I was ready.”
“Enough. I won’t have that poison flowing from your tongue.” He took a step forward, bending down to one knee while lifting Cassius’ chin. “Where in my teachings have I led you astray? When did I ever think you were unworthy of the tests I’ve given you? Why have you allow the dark poison to enter you? I warned you of it. I spoke of it during each lesson. Tell me…”
Cassius dropped his eyes, unable to hold his master’s gaze any longer. “It was when you pushed me too hard. It was when there was disappointment in your eyes. It was when I no longer felt like you cared about me.”
The weight of the answers sent the older wizard to his haunches. His words came slowly and with effort, “I pushed you, because I thought you were ready. Yes, I was disappointed with you at times because I thought you were progressing with the lessons. But, I never, never stopped caring about you. You are like my own son. Never forget that.”
His words hung heavy in the air as they sat there in the gravel of the open terrain. Each of the wizards equally shocked at the others words. Cassius was the one to break the silence. “When will I be ready, Galamus?”
The older wizard was deep in thought with this question. He had dealt with a similar student before and lost. He wouldn’t make the mistake again. “There is a way, but it takes a very, very long time to achieve.”
Hope had ignited a flame in Cassius’ eyes, “Yes, what is it?”
“You will live as a mortal for ages to come, learning the ways of man and beast, until the Fates send for you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Few do, at first. It is a hard task to achieve and few have done it before. Four, to be exact.”
“Mmm…four. Three of them were my students, like you are now. Only, in the end it proved their undoing. Which is why I have tried everything I can think of to teach you the ways of the wizard through rudimentary means. I feel that you, however, will not succeed.”
“I promise that I will not rest until I have been found worthy.”
Galamus looked over at his student, “Do be careful with your words. Do not promise what you are not able to fulfill.”
“I’m sorry, Master. I just want to succeed and make you proud.”
“It is not for me that we are enduring these hardships. It is for the better of man.” Galamus slowly got to his feet, “Get up. We have lessons to learn.”
No sooner had the wizards gotten their feet under them did the sky go black with ominous clouds. A deep chuckle sounding like rolling thunder grew in intensity as the wizards stood their ground. They knew the presence that threatened them, Kratos. A deep, booming voice echoed across the landscape, “Well, well, well. What have we here? A little bonding moment between a Master and his imbecile student?”
“Cassius has learned far more than you ever did, Kratos.”
“Oh, has he now?” A finger of a cloud stretched out towards the ground and began to form a human figure. The legs and torso filled out to a daunting man with eyes that were black as his heart. His face was clean-shaven as his coal black hair draped across his shoulders. “How about a little test then? Prove to me that he is my better, oh mighty Galamus. Trainer of heroes!”
“I don’t need to see your eyes to know that you are still encased with the darkness.”
“It is your fault that I’m consumed with myself! You are the one that sent me away into the darkness to learn of its ways! I did nothing but do your bidding.” His lip quivered a hair breadth. “It is your fault. Now, test him!”
“No. He is not ready. I have already tested him and I fear that he would be consumed, just as you are.”
“Very well then. I shall test him at the due time. How long will you require?”
“Ten years, at least.”
Kratos scoffed, “You will get three. I, Kratos, hereby promise to allow Galamus to train Cassius, in the art of the wizard for three years unhindered. Upon completion of the third year, I will return to test him, personally.”
A blinding flash of light was all that they saw of Kratos.
A worried look came across Galamus’ face, “We have work to do.”
Story 1 of 30.
Your antagonist makes a promise that can’t be broken until…