Desmond found himself as distracted as before despite the outing. As he tried to concentrate on the book before him, Gunther categorized new acquisitions, ignoring him. Desmond stared at the page, the words turning into meaningless scribble. He rested his head on his hand.
Transformation Spell – beginner stage it read.
Beginner. Desmond felt betrayed by the word. Scanning the page, he let out a hushed sigh. How can I still be a beginner with all the studying I do? He tried to keep his frustration hidden. I should be accomplishing more.
His eyes caught the tome’s thicker half, the sight making his brow furrow with unconscious effort. The words of his mentor began to repeat in his mind, words that offered no comfort however true they were.
Some magic is buried so deep within a person it takes much more time and work to make it manifest. And when it does, it always proves to be much more powerful.
Desmond sighed, wishing he had more faith in himself.
He scanned the page again, finding it difficult to continue translating the script. Turning towards the window his vision glazed over, locking on nothingness. A sharp sting on the back of his neck woke him from his blankness. His teacher was not as occupied as he thought.
“Ouch!” Desmond hissed.
“How dare you sleep when you should be studying!” the elder wizard shouted, irritated.
“I was not sleeping,” Desmond snapped back with guilt in his voice as he tried to rub the burning pain away.
“You weren’t studying regardless.”
Gunther returned the switch to the shelf. Striding over he pointed to the page in front of Desmond, his wrinkled hand letting out a loud tap as his fingers hit the paper.
“I refuse to believe that the knowledge you need will come from that window rather than here. That girl across the river can do nothing for you except be an easy distraction.”
Desmond felt his face heat up as he tried to hide behind a fallen lock of brown hair. The stern voice never failed to embarrass him.
“I wasn’t thinking about Hannah,” he protested, realizing his teacher could see right through the veiled fib.
“Oh, Hannah is it?” Gunther let out a teasing smile, crossing his arms across his chest. “At least you’ve been studying love spells with great intensity.”
The blood rushed through the apprentice’s ears with growing intensity.
“What can you tell me about unicorns?” Feeling his face glowing, Desmond hoped the question would change the subject.
Gunther lowered his arms as surprised concern crossed his face. “Unicorns? Why are you asking about those infernal beasts?” He looked at Desmond with narrow eyes, his thick white eyebrows meeting.
Taken aback by the serious reaction, Desmond regretted asking. “Oh, just curious,” he answered, trying to change the subject yet again.
Gunther would not accept it. “No. You are asking because you have a reason, not because you are curious.”
“Well, I thought I saw a unicorn this afternoon. I must have been mistaken.” He faked trying to get back to his reading.
“How can you be mistaken? Either you saw one or you didn’t.”
Desmond looked up, not understanding his teacher’s uneasiness. “Okay, I wasn’t mistaken. I did see a unicorn, a black one. It was walking by the river. I thought it was strange because I’ve never seen one before. I mean, I’ve heard of unicorns but I’ve never…”
Gunther interrupted. “What was it doing?”
“Uh, just walking, I guess.” Desmond shrugged. “It didn’t seem to be doing anything. It looked back at me then it disappeared.”
Gunther grew silent, uncharacteristic for the wizard with always something to add. Desmond gave the book a nervous tap debating whether he should ask about the strange electric feelings the unicorn caused him to have. “What’s the big deal? I thought that they were supposed to bring good luck.”
The comment was greeted with a wet snort. “Unicorns bring luck like stepping in horse manure brings luck. People who say it’s lucky are those who’ve stepped in it.” Gunther gave a sarcastic laugh.
“Most don’t appreciate that unicorns are just glorified horses. The fact they are in league with elves doesn’t help either.” His tone grew dark. “What you witnessed is a bad omen. You’re best to avoid it at all costs. They’re not picky as to who they lure away.” The teacher slapped the book with a flat open hand. “Now, get back to learning that spell like you’re supposed to.”
Desmond was confused. “Unicorns sinister? Bad omens? That goes against every story I’ve heard.” He shifted in his chair watching his mentor turn his back on him. “I think it’s people who are bad for unicorns, not the other way around. Men were always looking for ways to get their hands on their magical horns.”
The sight of Gunther resuming his categorizing answered his comments. There was no more discussion.
Desmond sank into the chair. Hannah not seeing the unicorn played in his memory. He made a mental note to ask her about it the next time he saw her. Thanks to work however that would not be for a couple of days.
The sky slipped from orange-blue to slate black, twinkling stars appearing against the darkness. With night at last settled, Desmond glanced at the transformation spell. He didn’t have much time before the candlelight became too bothersome to read by. Tomorrow he would spend most of his time collecting vegetables from the garden and preparing them for storage.
I should have asked the unicorn to share some of its magic. When will I have magic of my own?
A quiet sigh escaped him, disappointed as he closed the oversized book for the night. What did the old sorcerer see in him that he himself missed?