“Should you have need of me, I’ll be in my study.” With a quiet flurry of her robes, the sorceress turned down the gloomy corridor. The dancing candle light splashed playfully along the walls in her wake, until she disappeared into the darkness that held sway at the far end. The soft sound of the door closing behind her traveled with the final ripples of motion buffeting the light before all settled into calm.
He breathed a sigh of relief and returned to his own studies. The small slow-burning candle on his desk, sitting in a pool of congealed wax that spoke to the length of time he’d been sitting there, giving credence to the aches in his joints, caught his attention for a moment. The light remained still despite his small shuffling, as his spell had intended and he smiled at the small success.
The tome, a gift from the sorceress upon his apprenticeship, received his attention next. The silver runes in the binding sparkled in the light. The leather cover, though still soft and supple, showed signs of its ancient age. The delicate pages, with purple dragon blood ink as vibrant in its majesty as the day the words had been immaculately penned letter for letter, whispered dark secrets in the still air. He could feel the magic within calling to him, trying to catch him unprepared and trap him forever.
He would not be its first victim, its first triumph. When the sorceress had handed it over to him, she had warned him to always be on his guard when studying the spells it offered as at least three of her previous apprentices had fallen victim to its charms. With a small wink she’d added, “And that’s just the ones I know about. Who knows how many countless others had their consciousness devoured before the tome fell into my control?” Then she had laughed, and somehow he’d managed to keep from shuddering until she’d left.
Though nervous, it had only taken an hour for him to gain the courage to carefully peel back the cover and begin deciphering the spells on the first page. Curiosity has ever been the main driving force of most magicians. They have an unending desire to know the how and why of things. He’d felt the book probing him immediately and struggled to maintain control of his mind, his essence. He had succeeded, eventually, though the physical and mental toll had sent him to bed to recover before he’d even glanced at the full contents of the first page.
He returned the next day, and the day after that, and so on. Eventually making his way beyond the opening pages and into the more complex spells that he craved. Occasionally the book would sense him weakening and mount a new assault, but so far he had managed to keep it at bay, through mutual respect of power: magician for book, and book for magician.
Returning his attention to the candle, he spoke the words that released it from his enchantment and watched with delight as the flame began to waver naturally back and forth. A sigh of contentment escaped as his lips curled into a smile. Carefully closing the magical tome he stood from his desk, extinguished the candle and crossed to his bed. The two spells, and his brief encounter with the sorceress, had left him exhausted and he welcomed the prospect of recovery through rest.
To those outside of magical realm, it may not seem like much to freeze and then reanimate a flame, but the small candle was just the test to make sure the spells worked. The practical applications ranged far wider than a flame nestled between wick and wax. He could use the same incantations on all moving objects and animals. When he was powerful enough he could use it to freeze time.
Unbeknownst to the apprentice, from her study the sorceress smiled in appreciation of his advances. He was coming along nicely and would work well into her plans.