Contest Entry for "Newbies are the judge" (915 words)
| “He’s coming!” Ailsa called out. Yet, there was no response to her cry.
“Gregor!” she implored urgently. “He’s nearly on top of us!”
The time had come for her final testing. If she passed, she would no longer be a simple apprentice. She would become a journeyman class Mage, and be free to wed her teacher, and master, without further ado. They could live and love, freely and openly, without worry of harsh judgment from town or crown. Her husband could, then, continue her instructions and help her improve her skills towards the goal of becoming a Master Mage like himself. This day had been long coming, and Ailsa was all nerves.
”I heard you, love,” the Mage finally responded. “No worries,” he assured his young protégé as he came striding into the living area of their home, his amber robes swirling about his ankles. The sly smile on his face indicated his knowledge of their approaching visitor as his loving gaze met hers. It was knowledge that he chose to keep to himself, knowing that once she made the discovery, she would delight in their company as well.
”What do you mean,” the young apprentice queried with evident fear in her tones, “no worries?” She turned back to gaze out the window, her golden tresses whipping out, fanning around her head, with the quickness of the move.
The sky was roiling with dark clouds, wind tossed the treetops around as if they were naught but down from a goose, and thunder growled in the distance as Gregor crossed the room. Reaching out a hand donned with long slender fingers, he caressed the young woman’s shoulder. As she turned to gaze up at him, her violet eyes shimmering, he ran the backs of his fingers down her cheek; following the line of her jaw.
Just as Gregor’s fingers trailed off the end of Ailsa’s chin, a bolt of lightning lit up the sky. It spread its brightness throughout the dwelling and blinded the young woman for but a moment. When the blinding white was gone, an elderly man was revealed to be standing where there was none before.
With his elbow cocked, and resting upon the mantle, he posed beside the fireplace with a broad smile upon his wrinkled bearing. Long white hair, and beard, flowed down both sides of his crimson robes, appearing as the rippling of a heavy waterfall against the hues of the setting sun. His bright blue eyes sparkled, merrily, from under bushy white eyebrows. He was the epitome of Mage.
Taking a step towards the man, arms outstretched, Gregor called, “Father! It’s so good to see you!”
Eyes going wide, jaw dropping, and breath catching, Ailsa thought to herself, “Father!?!” She was too stunned to speak. Gregor had not told her that it was going to be his father conducting her final testing. For that matter, he had also failed to tell her that Agmar, an Adept class Mage, and the most powerful Mage known in their realm, was any relation to him at all; let alone his father.
As her shock wore off, and Ailsa took a moment to watch the men embrace, it dawned on her the reasons for all the sly smiles, quiet chuckles to himself, and winks with cryptic remarks that Gregor had been effecting for the last couple of weeks. He had known who the council was sending, and he was pleased.
”So this is your young lady?” Agmar asked through a wide grin.
”That she is,” Gregor affirmed. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
With the attention suddenly on her, Ailsa blushed, ducking her head and becoming as humble and timid as any other affianced maiden upon meeting the family of her betrothed. Her modesty, it seemed, amused Agmar, as was evident in the Adept’s soft chuckle. “Does she not know what a beautiful girl she is?” he inquired.
”I’ve tried to convince her,” Gregor assured, “but she still does not believe.” His smile was teasing as he beamed with pride.
Nodding with approval as he witnessed the happiness, and love, in his son’s eyes, Agmar changed the subject with, “Does she know, yet?”
Suspicion crept its way into Ailsa’s eyes as there came a rapping on the door. She wondered what else her beloved had kept from her. “Does she know what, yet?” she demanded as Gregor went to answer the knock.
Gregor deemed it unnecessary to answer this question, apparently, as he opened the front door to their home to reveal Ailsa’s own father standing within its frame. Her mother was a step behind.
”That there is going to be a wedding as soon as your testing is complete,” Agmar beamed from where he had drawn up beside the young woman.
For the second time that night, Ailsa’s eyes went round, and she had to pick her jaw up off the floor. Gregor had known all of her anxieties and worries. He was aware that, although their sleeping quarters were separate, it bothered her that they were living under the same roof unwed. He had known how much she wanted her parents’ approval and attendance. He knew that they lived far away, and that was another thing that bothered her. He had been keyed in to every nuance of her emotions, and he had seen to them all.
Heart swelling with love, and tears streaming down her face, Ailsa ran forward and gathered Gregor, along with both of her parents, in one embrace. “Thank you, my love,” she whispered through her tears. “Thank you.”
It was all she could get through the sobs of joy.