• The king paced nervously across the marble floor of the palace throne room. Things were not going as planed. Spies were reporting sightings of Kaurlgs in the Vethnue Forests, just south of the Ethry Mountains. No one had seen Kaurlgs since the fall of the evil sorcerer Melkor almost fourteen years ago. To make things worse, Ky, the Bearer of the Rose, was not advancing as quickly as he had thought. To his dismay, Ky was falling behind, not jumping ahead, in her classes. She was the Mark Bearer. It was she who was to be the key factor in the battle of good and evil. She was to become a great warrior, but as of now, she could barely wield a staff. She was to become the greatest mage in all history, but because she had not yet come into her glow, she couldn’t perform even the simplest of spells.
    “Dilbert!” the king shouted as he collapsed into his throne.
    Dilbert hurriedly ran to his master’s side.
    “Yes my King Apgar, noblest of the race of men, fairest of the house of..”
    “Spare me your annoying babble of flattery, you were not hired as my attendant to constantly remind me of my majesty.”
    “Yes, O king,” Dilbert replied nervously
    “What services does my lord require?”
    “I ‘require’ that you drop the formalities and answer my questions,” the King raged in reply.
    “Yes King Apgar, sir.”
    “Now, to business. What news do you bring of Kyrene?” the King asked.
    “She has begun her training in the art of staff fighting, and she continues to excel only in nature study classes,”answered Dilbert.
    “Has she yet come into her glow?”
    “No sir”
    “Has she been introduced to sword fighting?”
    “No sir”
    The King sighed angrily and began to pace again. Dilbert followed shortly behind, struggling to keep up with the King’s swift strides.
    “Uh, sir,” said Dilbert nervously, but the King didn’t reply.
    “Pardon me sir, King Apgar, your majesty, but...”
    “What, my ever aggravating servant?” The King replied as he stopped pacing to glare at Dilbert.
    “Um, sir, the peasants are unhappy with your new taxation rates and what they believe to be unfair laws,” Dilbert mumbled as he fiddled with his cloak,” The council is hearing rumors of an uprising.”
    “Rumors, Dilbert, only rumors. And even if these rumors are true, who would be foolhardy enough to think a group of peasants could do anything to oppose us? They are too unorganized and have no power,” the King replied with a wave of his hand, dismissing the issue.
    “But sir..” Dilbert plucked up enough courage to add.
    “Yes,” grumbled the King, once again beginning to become angered.
    “The council, is well, you see..”
    “Go on you fool!”
    “The council is, to say the least, worried with your cutbacks on military funding.”
    “They say that, with Kaurlg sightings on the rise, you no longer have the power to protect the people.”
    “Is there more?”
    “Yes, sir, your majesty, some have even said they are in support of the peasants, sir,” Dilbert replied, shaking in fear as the king’s glare seemed to bore holes in his skull.
    “They said what !?!” the king roared.
    “They said that...”
    “ I know what they said you nitwit. Now leave me, for I tire of your intolerable insolence.”
    “Yes, O gracious King, most noble..”
    “I said leave!” the King shouted, and out of fear, or maybe common sense, Dilbert ran out the doors of the throne room and down the hall.
    The King collapsed in his chair and rubbed his temples as Dilbert’s footsteps died away. Things were definitely not going as planned.

    * * *

    Nervously, Ky wandered the palace halls. Just that morning Joe had told her that
    Mrs. Lithiun, Ky’s Magic Arts tutor, had resigned. Ky had been a bit sad upon hearing it, but not overwhelmingly. She would miss Mrs. Lithiun’s optimism and amazing stories, but she would not miss the unbelievable amount of history homework she assigned. Learning about famous Mages could be fun in moderation, but it becomes quite boring after the third straight month of reading biographies.
    Ky shivered as she continued to walk. Her footsteps echoed in the empty marble halls. The high ceilings came to a point 15 feet above Ky’s head. The large windows that dotted the thick stone walls were framed by thin red velvet drapes. The hall brimmed with majesty and strength, but to Ky it also seemed very sad, lonely, and cold.
    Ky wondered what her new Magic Arts tutor would be like. She had a bad feeling about him. For one thing, he insisted that she leave her large, comfortable room in the servants quarters and go to his cold, dingy room in the heart of the castle for her lesson. Mrs. Lithiun had always come into Ky’s room to teach. Maybe her new teacher wouldn’t make her read biographies.
    Ky looked at the piece of paper in her hand,” Ok, 223, 233....,” Ky thought to herself,” Joe told me room 223. Are these rooms even numbered?”
    Ky paused to study one of the large arches set equally between two of the windows. Each grand marble arch lead to a large wooden door. Ky expected that each door lead to a room or maybe a hallway. The question was, were the arches numbered? Ky searched for a hint at where the number 223 might be.
    “Of course the doors would be identical,”she thought in despair, “How am I supposed to find room 223 when the rooms aren’t even labeled?”
    Frustrated, Ky sat down on the cold, marble floor. She shifted, something was poking the bare skin of her leg below her jaylash. When she moved her legs to find the source of her discomfort, she smiled, for inscribed in the marble literally beneath her nose, was the number 223.
    Ky walked through the marble arch and up to the large wooden door. In accordance to most of the architecture in the castle, its curved sides came to a point far above Ky’s head. Ky walked up and touched the thick door, its surface sent chills down her spine. She wondered how she was to open the thick, heavy door. The large metal clasp on its front was unlocked, so Ky decided to try and push the door open. To her great surprise, it opened with ease. Nervously, Ky stared into the room. It was lined from floor to ceiling with books, save above the large brick fireplace to Ky’s right. Despite the immense amount of things in the room, it was quite neat. A dark green couch was set near the wall to Ky’s left. And a thick maroon rug with intricate gold designs covered most of the floor. Three low cushioned stools sat near the fireplace, and in spite of the summer heat a fire set a warm glow throughout the room. At the far end of the room a figure dressed in a long black cloak sat bent over a high desk with its back to Ky, obviously writing something down.
    A clear male voice sliced through the air, “You’re late.”
    Realizing the figure that had just spoken to her was her new teacher, Ky managed to stammer out, “I’m sorry Mr....”
    “Roklem, just Roklem.”
    “I’m sorry, Roklem, sir, I had trouble finding the room numbers,”said Ky.
    “There is no excuse for tardiness Miss Kyrene, but because this is your first class, I will grant you amnesty. In the future, you will arrive precisely on time. If you are early, you will wait outside my door, and if you are late, pray that I am in a merciful mood,”Roklem said as he stood up from his desk and faced Ky.
    The pale light from the thick glass window behind Roklem made it impossible to see his face. He was a few inches shy of six feet, and of medium build. At first glance, he seemed thin, but Ky soon realized that his cloak hid a muscular body.
    “Yes sir,” Ky replied.
    Roklem stepped closer, his worn leather boots hardly making a sound on the soft rug. He motioned for Ky to sit at one of the three stools near the fireplace, and Ky did so. Roklem sat down on the stool next to her and turned to face her. Underneath his black hooded cloak, he wore a loose brown shirt and brown pants tucked into his knee-high boots. His thin, black hair reached almost to his shoulder blades. He had piercing gray eyes and a thin nose. His broad cheekbones came to a point at his chin, and his skin tone was just on the verge of being pale. He had dark black eyebrows to mach his hair, and his thin lips bent into a smirk as he spoke to Ky.
    “Do I scare you?” Roklem asked, “You seem quite tense.”
    “No sir, it’s just that,”Ky struggled to find the right words, “I don’t like being in the castle. It’s
    so hard and cold; I feel boxed in.”
    “You might as well get used to it Miss Rose, because it isn’t going to change,”Roklem replied.
    Ky nodded her head in understanding and Roklem left his stool and walked to his desk. He grabbed a book from it, then walked back over and handed it to Ky. She received it and began to stroke its cover. The book was about ten inches tall, six inches wide, and one inch thick. Its pages were held shut by two tied leather straps and its thick black cover bore no inscription. Ky opened the book and looked inside. Handwritten in beautiful cursive on the first page was the word “Magic”.Ky looked up from the book and saw that Roklem had started to pace.
    “Miss Rose, I understand your former teacher held great emphasis on teaching the history of Magic,”said Roklem.
    “Yes sir,”Ky replied.
    “Well then, let us see what things she taught you about the basics of Magic itself. What, Miss Rose, is a ‘glow’?”
    Ky paused to situate her thoughts before she answered,”A glow is a person’s magical fingerprint. It is named a glow because when a Mage first breaks into the six sense of magic, the underside of their hands literally begin to glow. Different colored glows signal different gifts. Each Mage is born with a gift that reveals itself when they come into their glow. Without a glow you cannot preform magic, and with a glow you must learn to control your magic before it can control you.”
    “Very good, very good,” Roklem mumbled as he moved on to his next question, “What is a Reader?”
    Without hesitation Ky replied, “A reader is a person that can sense another person’s glow. Anyone can read glows if correctly taught, but only Mages can read another’s personality through their glow. Some Mages, with the gift of reading, can read another’s history, feelings, and even thoughts. It has been said that the very best Readers can even connect with another person’s soul. To read someone’s glow, you must be in contact with the other person’s palm. That is why Mages bow to each other in greeting instead of shaking hands.”
    Ky smiled, satisfied with her answer.
    “Correct,” Roklem replied as he stopped pacing to turn and look at Ky. His gaze made Ky want to sit up straighter.
    “Can you read glows, Miss Rose?” Roklem asked.
    “No sir,” Ky replied.
    “I believe we have found your first lesson,” Roklem announced with a crooked grin