HIDDEN

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By Trevor Montalto

In a dreary town, out in the middle of nowhere stood a house of old Victorian style. All of the town’s residence knew to keep clear, but few actually knew why. Kids often dared one another to see how far up the lawns they could get before chickening out. The weed infested lawn became a game for the town’s children. Not many getting more than a few paces before turning and running back to the others. When no one was around one child would often be found just staring up at the house. He was so fascinated by it. Where others saw fear, he saw wonder. He loved the rustic look of the place, the gargoyles that seemed to follow your every step and if looked upon directly, seeing directly into your soul.

“Come on Jason I triple dog dare you to knock on the door. I bet you can’t.” Taunted the boy’s school yard bully.

“Fine Scott. I will. If I do you owe me fifty bucks.” Jason responds, staring the bully down. Know he would never agree.

“Deal. Knock on the door and I’ll give you fifty bucks.” Scott laughs. Feeling Jason didn’t have the courage to do so. No one has. He watches in amazement as Jason turns and walks casually across the lawn, right up to the door and he knocks quietly, too quiet for any but one of the residence of the house. Scott stares at him slack jawed. Amazed and now worried where to get fifty dollars from. Jason walks back proudly, head held high, not noticing the pair of eyes that followed him.

Inside the house the young werewolf pup watched the boy, tail wagging behind him. Hoping he would turn and knock again. He was a white wolf wearing a necklace with an amethyst pendant. He runs to his guardian’s room and wakes the sleeping faun. The goat man gets up and looks at the pup. “What is it Nathaniel?” he ask as he steps out of the bed, looking at the empty picture frame on his bedside table.

“Farthu, there was a boy my age that knocked on the door, but he went away. If he knocks again can I play with him?” Nathaniel asked innocently.

“Pup you know the wizard has forbidden us any interaction with the outside world till his return.” Farthu responded with a sigh, picking up the only reminder of the wizard. A single quill. Sighing he begins the routine of maintaining the inside of the house.  Taking the quill and returning it to his master’s desk. The werewolf pup goes running of to play his games, he felt bad for the boy, having no one but the pet golem to play with. He wanted nothing more than to invite in some of the local boy so he would have a friend. The golem can only do as commanded; it would be good for the boy to have a friend to become close to. “Damn you master, why did you leave us so?” he shouts out at nothing.

Jason sat in class thinking about that house. Scott had paid the fifty bucks to Jason, but he couldn’t stop thinking about, he was compelled to visit after school. Luckily today was only a half day. He sat through his classes and patiently waited. The feeling he had to visit getting stronger by the day.

Little did he know of the spell the wizard cast on the house. He wanted the pup to make friends his age, so he put up two spell, one to ward away the cowardly and one on the door to compel the brave to return. He watched the boy through his crystals and smiled. Watching the boy diligently study and wait patiently. He knew he had to return home before the boy got there. This was something that needed guidance. Opening a portal he steps through to see his butler fussing about the house. “Farthu you know that goes on the other shelf.  Where is Nathaniel?” he asked the surprised goat man.

Dropping the vase he was holding he turned to see his master in the house. “Master you are home. But you said you wouldn’t return till you found a successor.” He stammers and rushes to clean up the mess. As he rushed to the laundry he passes the pup. “Pup the master wishes to speak to you.” He says as he passes. Watching the pups tail wag, getting so fast it created a draft.

Barking the boy rushes up the stairs to the wizards room. He opens the door and pounces into the wizards arms. “Daddy, you are home.” He shouts happily. Hugging him and holding on as the wizard spins him around.

“Yes pup I am home. Have you been a good boy?” the wizard asked, smiling down at the giggling pup.

“Yes sir. I have been. I still have this on too.” He says proudly as he holds up the necklace. Smiling the wizard puts him down and holds the pup’s hand, his glamour still working.

Walking the two outside the wizard gets the pup to start weeding the garden out the back as he tended to the front. Using his magic to clear the weeds and trim the plants. He continues his work slowly but carefully. “Markus, welcome back, when done could you look at my prize rose?” His neighbour shouts from over the fence.

“Sorry Agnus, I will be busy with this garden.” He answers here. Continuing to make the garden presentable.

At lunch the two outside come in for the lunch Farthu had prepared for them. Seeing the work the two had put in to make the outside presentable. “Master are you expecting company?” He asked as the two wolf down their food.

“I might be. Why do you ask Far?” Markus responds.

“No reason, you just seem to be in a very excitable mood.” He laughs and clears away the dishes.

After school Jason trotted down the path to the old house. Everyone at school surprised and amazed that he could reach the front door. He was pestered at lunch to explain how he did it. Glad to be away from the questions and remarks. The fifty dollars safe from bullies as they agreed he deserves this prize. Smiling when the house came into view. He walks up the now visible path, seeing the garden was cleared of weeds and neatly trimmed and brought under control. Knocking on the door he was surprised when a large man answered the door, never seeing the house’s occupants he wasn’t so sure. The man stood at six foot four. He was tall and well built. Jason felt instant respect. “Hi, I am sorry for bothering you, but I was wondering why everyone was so afraid of this place.” He says as he tucks a foot behind his other, looking to the ground as he does.

“So am I. tell me boy, do you like magic?” Responds Markus, seeing the boy’s hesitation. Jason looks up and smiles and nods. Wanting to see the magic the man offered to show him. Markus smiles and bows for Jason, taking out a handkerchief and placing it on his hand. Swiftly removing the handkerchief he reveals two doves in his hand. Jason smiles and claps.

“Wow. How did you do that?” He asked in wonder.

Nathaniel watches from the window, smiling and tail wagging. He rushes for the door and smiles at the boy, even if he hid partially behind Markus. “Hi my name is Nathaniel. Daddy can he come in and play?” He asked Markus, pleading almost. Laughing the wizard pats his head.

“We shall see. What was your name young man?” He asked the boy.

“Jason sir. I wouldn’t mind playing with your son, he seems to be very energetic.” Jason responds, causing the pups tail to wag vigorously behind him. He stood there bouncing on his footpads. Watching Markus smile down on him.

“Why not take your new friend to your room?”

Smiling he grabs Jason’s hand and drags him to his room. Excited to finally have a friend.

Jason lets the werewolf take him to his room, not scared by him. Also not knowing he was meant to see something else. Most of the glamour’s in the house didn’t work on Jason. He stared at all the weird and wonderful artefacts and devices. Amazed by everything. Nathaniel suddenly stopped in his tracks and turned to face Jason.

“What do you see? You see the real me don’t you?” He asked head tilted. Ears flopping to one side.

“Hehe. Yes I can see you puppy. No I am not afraid, why would I?” Jason responds as he giggles. Patting the pups head and smiling.

Not realising that Markus wasn’t far from behind. Nathaniel could see the wizard smile and nod. Running off, he causes Jason to chase him through the house and out the back, just playing and being kids.

Ten years later.

“Pup, where is my grimoire?” Jason calls from the master bedroom. Many things have changed in the ten years he stayed with the wizard Markus. He has learnt many things and has fought in many battles. Always with the werewolf Nathaniel by his side. Since the day they have meet, they became inseparable. His mother unhappy with his career choice. She felt a sixteen year old didn’t know what he wanted, that she knew best and he was going to become a doctor. No son of hers was going to practice black magic. He decided to ignore her and never looked back. She tried to have him institutionalised. Markus coming to his rescue. Being more of a parent to him then his biological. “Pup I need my grimoire now.” He shouts as he packs for his final trial, to become a full fledge wizard.

Nathaniel comes trotting up the stairs and passes him his grimoire. “You left it in the kitchen again. You know Markus hates you doing that.”

Smiling Jason takes the book and rushes down stairs. “Wish me luck pup.” He shouts as he leaves the room.

“Luck. Take care please.” He shouts back. Farthu passes and smiles.

“You two are really close friends eh?” The faun asked.

“Well a dog is man’s best friend.” He responds. Walking back to the lounge room to watch TV and play some video games till Jason returns. Markus walks in and sits by Nathaniel.

“You’re worried about him aren’t you?” he asked the werewolf.

“Yeah. He is my best friend. I want him to come back healthy.” He responds. Continuing his game, not letting anything interrupt him as he blocks out all other thoughts.

Jason walks into the main cavern of the Meet. Prepared for his final assignment. He steps into the middle of the protective circle as the grand council takes their seat.

“Jason. Your final assignment is to cast reflect.” They inform him.

“Easy…” He starts, about to shout the command.

“Without vocalising the spell. A true wizard doesn’t give anything away to his opponent.” They speak as one, interrupting him. Due to his teacher and his battles he was given an easy test. No one expected Markus’ student to fail. He has never brought a failing student in before, they trust his judgement. Jason stands there and internalizes the spell and cast it, nodding to the assessor who launches a plasma ball at him. The ball never reaches Jason, a wall appearing to throw the ball off into a different direction. Nodding the assessor holds up both hands, Jason waiting patiently for both hands to become fist. Slowly they clenched and both fist where shown to the council and then Jason. The lead council member stood and cast a spell, a single necklace appears around his neck, and on it was a single pendant in the shape of a tree, made of emerald.

“Welcome to the Meet. Jason the green.” Shouts the council. Dismissing him to his own devices.

Opening a portal he returns home, hiding the pendant and looking dejected. “Oh no, you didn’t pass….” Markus began before noticing the glint in his student’s eyes.  “Show us.” Jason releases the pendant, revealing the emerald. Markus and Nathaniel rush over and hug the new mage. Congratulating him on a job well done.

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