This story marked my first, and thus far I believe, only foray into the genre of fantasy. I love to read fantasy, what I wouldn't do to be one of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern, or to live in the universe of "The Rowan". Until they got tedious (to me) I really enjoyed Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" books, the early ones are still great I think. Who wouldn't one day want to wake up to find themselves a mighty wizard or the rider of a huge dragon? I'm not terribly thrilled with this story but I keep thinking about it over five years after I wrote it so I have a feeling it will resurface in my writing in one way, shape or form in the future. It was written in late January of 2000 for the AOL short story contest. The theme that week was "Changing". As usual I know I had trouble adhering to the 1000 word limit that existed at the time. One thing this contest taught me was a bit of brevity which is NOT my strong suit at ALL. (If you've ever gotten an email from me you know that lol).
Pandemonium reigned as Vaughn stepped out into the street, only to be nearly run over by a warrior on his horse, galloping to the summons. Jumping back, Vaughn heard him mutter, "Damn useless boy, out of my way!" as he swung his steed to avoid the lad. As were all the men in the village, he was drawn inexorably by the bell ringing madly at the village center, and continued on his way.
The great gates closed with a clang as Vaughn hurried by, and was stopped by Meredith and Mair. "What is it Vaughn? What's happening?" Meredith asked, her soft green eyes framed by her flaming red hair.
"It's the Gath! Their army has been spotted!" interrupted Gwalter, as he rushed past them, fastening his long sword. "This is no time for women and children in the streets, so do get yourselves inside!"
"I'm no child Gwalter, I've as many years as you have!" Vaughn shouted after him, in his usual squeaky, breaking voice. Gwalter gave no sign of having heard as he hurried on.
"Well, you're no man either, Vaughn. You can't think you compare to a strong warrior like Gwalter!" Mair said scornfully. "And don't try to tell me about being some great wizard's apprentice. Nwython is gone now, and you have no master."
Vaughn took in both Mair's mocking and Meredith's pitying looks, and slunk off to the rooms he'd shared with old Nwython for these past five years. He now lived alone there, since the wizard's passing several months ago.
The subsequent news of the raging battle did not bode well. The army of Gath was pushing on relentlessly toward the village, which would soon be under siege. So Vaughn spent the next few days studying the old volumes that Nwython had left him, thinking about all the wizard had tried to teach him. Suddenly, Vaughn slammed the last book closed, and cried out loud, "Why did you pick such a useless apprentice, Nwython? What good am I to anyone? I do all like you taught me, yet nothing works. And who would ever tremble with fear at the name of Vaughn, as they did when the wrath of Nwython was aroused?"
He was silenced by a knock on the door. And when Vaughn opened it, Meredith walked in, looking very frightened.
"Vaughn it goes badly, and I'm afraid! Our warriors have been pushed back and the village is surrounded. Is there naught you can do?"
"Me? You heard Gwalter and Mair--I'm just a child, apprentice to no master! Of what use could I possibly be?"
"Oh Vaughn, Nwython was the greatest wizard of our age, and he trained you for five years! Surely he taught you something that will allow you to take up his sword and staff, and vanquish our foes as he would have!"
"But nothing I try works, Meredith! I fear I am just a failure." At that admission, Vaughn threw himself into a chair and put his head between his hands.
Suddenly, they became aware of a glow in the room, and he heard Meredith's breath catch. They looked up and saw Nwython standing by the work table, as Vaughn had seen him so many times before. Yet now, he could also see through him, as he stood there in a blue glow.
"Nwython?!" Vaughn jumped to his feet. "Thank the gods that you're back to save us from Gath's assail!"
"Did you learn nothing, my son? This is not my time. That is past, as you well know," Nwython's specter replied. "This is YOUR time. I told you long ago that you would recognize the moment when you would come into your own, and become a wizard in your own right. Now is that time."
"But nothing I do works! I do not know enough, and I have so much more to learn!" Vaughn protested.
"You've got to believe in what I taught you--and in yourself," Nwython responded earnestly.
"But how can I? No one takes me seriously. They think I'm just a boy pretending to be a man, and can do naught to save the village!"
"I believe in you, Vaughn," Meredith said in a small voice, looking up at him.
"You...you DO?" Vaughn asked incredulously.
"Yes. I've watched you going about your lessons when I could sneak sight of them, and I've seen you do wondrous things as Nwython taught you. That's why I came to you. Now is the time we need you... I need you, Vaughn."
He took her words in, and looked over at Nwython.
Gesturing toward a side table where lay his old robe and weaponry, Nwython commanded, "Take up your raiment, your sword, and your staff, and assume the destiny for which I've prepared you!"
Vaughn turned around and saw Meredith's eyes widen, and then looked back to Nwython. If they believed so strongly in him, he felt he must also! He slipped into the robe, buckled on the sword, and took up the staff. And as he did, he felt himself growing, enlarging somehow.
"Truly you are ready now, my son. No more are you Vaughn, wizard's apprentice. Nay, there stands Kyleder, mighty wizard of village Kedesh, destined to be known as the son of Nwython, and most powerful of all time. Go forth and take up your destiny." With those words, Nwython's spirit faded.
Vaughn noted his reflection in the window glass noting the changes. He no longer saw a gangly youth, but a tall, strong wizard dressed in radiant white, the staff in his hand glowing with barely contained power. Truly he saw himself as Kyleder, and now he understood the old wizard's ramblings about this son to whom no one could point.
"I must go now, Meredith. But when I return, we have much to discuss." Then he turned and strode out the door. Drawing his sword from its sheath with a mighty ring that reverberated throughout the village, he strode toward his destiny.