Where Ages Meet: Ch. 3: The First Test

  • Word count: 1000 (2 to 8 minutes) | Rating: T
  • Available on Kofi and Simily
  • Note: Magic, historic elements
  • ©2022 Quillful

Reaching down for one of Rick’s hands, he put that over the Charm and stepped aside to let him open their room door.

“Now, as your first magical test, you should open the door with that handy emblem.”

Rick stared at the stone circle in his hand. The opalescent gem nested in the center had to look flat and plain in the warm, inviting light from the hallway bulbs. Another new invention that was, in fairness, much easier than candles or magic. He peered at Oliver—an odd thing since he had to look down at him to do it—and a grimace twisted his features. It made a light scar over his lips more obvious, though.

“Mr. Oliver, I don’t know if I can.”

“Obviously not. You haven’t tried.”

Oliver ushered him over to the door with a light nudge, too gentle to be a shove. This companion he scooped up really was quite endearing, once you got past his prickly and a touch indifferent nature. Even all that was lovable, in a way. It kept that uncertainty in Rick safe from hurtful folks. One he would still need encouragement to outrun in the end. Who could cheer on a hard-won friend better than Oliver Martin Lewis?

He’d been doing that for himself since he was a boy. Oliver was practically an expert in the rallying cry! Hardship uncovered talent for the resilient, as someone once said. Probably.

Rick tapped the Charm to where the key would go if there was one. When that did nothing, he pressed it there and tried scowling at it. His broad, lean shoulders drooped for a fraction of a second before he shook his head and closed his eyes to try again.

Oliver leaned over to check the Charm while Rick’s eyes were closed too, and it didn’t seem to be doing much of anything. Maybe he overshot how helpful the emblem would be…

“Are there—words? Like you did with the trunk?”

“Hm?”

Oliver snapped up to stand straight once Rick lowered the Charm, looking to him for guidance. Hopefully his aide would chalk that reaction up to—anything good, or at least not bad. The real reason for his embarrassment had to be worse than anything Rick could whip up in his imagination.

“Ah!” Some warmth came to Oliver’s cheeks, and he let out a half-laugh as he scratched at his neck. Most mages didn’t require incantation. It was considered for children, which he supposed he was in relation to some. He doubted that would spare him mockery in the trials to come. Oliver would prefer it if Rick wasn’t among the people thinking less of him so soon after meeting him. “Not—in this case.”

“Then how does it work?”

A traveler finding an oasis in the desert could not have been more relieved than Oliver in that moment. He had more time before Rick caught up with mage customs. And when he did, well, maybe he’d hidden a renegade spirit behind that weary, calloused voyager persona along with an adorable side. Maybe customs meant nothing to him. There was hope yet!

“Through focus, my good man,” Oliver proposed, guiding Rick to push the Charm back against the ‘keyhole’. “Think only of entering the room. The weight of the door as is swings open, your first steps inside. Every small feeling and observation of that and nothing more.”

Slowly, Rick opened his eyes with a renewed vigor there that was frankly contagious. There he was, shoulders squared instead of resigned, with the utmost determination proudly on display. All that from someone who doubted his ability only a minute ago.

The Charm glowed with his energy, flickered, and dimmed as if going to sleep. Rick huffed and let his arm fall limply at his side.

“Brilliant, simply brilliant,” Oliver cheered, beaming until his cheeks hurt a bit. “I hadn’t expected it to glow so brightly with you so exhausted as you are. We’ll try opening it again come morning, hm?”

He opened the door with a quick tap of the Charm and made a grand gesture for Rick to enter first. A bow and all!

The poster bed in the center was pretty sizable, and on the opposite side was a cozy-looking lounge sofa of one kind or another. They were fairly popular in Silon and clearly abroad. Most fashion and design trends came out of their peninsula, so it wasn’t a surprise to see it at a hotel in the capital of Rauthia. The beams across the ceiling were the same reddish wood as the floor, and a charming rug under the bed added some color and patterns for contrast. The hotel laid it out well to leave a good impression with newly minted mages despite having not a single window. Quite considerate of them, really.

Rick walked into the room with careful steps and eyed the poster bed as if it were only pretending to be a cozy and inviting.

“You ought to have that one,” Oliver said, pointing to it. Perhaps a night’s rest would assure him of its safety?

Meanwhile, he set the Charm down in an embedded spot in the lamp waiting on the desk. His luggage manifested beside the smaller lounge he would take to sleep on. Whether Rick jumped because of the remote teleportation from the Charm or his suggestion to take the bed, Oliver had no idea. He didn’t know his new friend that well. For now. But if it was the former, calling attention to that would be rather rude.

“No need for the theatrics. I’d be swimming in it, and you’ll hang off this one.”

“I’m not that much taller than you.” Rick shrugged his shapeless bag onto the bed anyway. Some expression that one might call a smile made an appearance as he tried to look busy opening the satchel.

“Enough that I’m right,” he answered, chipper and perhaps somewhat smug with his accomplishment of earning a happy reaction from his sullen companion. Clapping, Oliver commanded the trunk. “Let’s not dally now. Big day ahead of us.”


Read Chapter 4

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