Missed the beginning? Check out Part 1!
“Trista, focus! You will never get this right if you don’t pay attention!” I dropped my hands, letting the blue flames I had conjured die out.
My student sighed and narrowed her brown eyes at me. “I know, Vulcarus, and I’m sorry, but I can’t help it!” She chewed her lip, and I knew she wanted to say something else.
I walked over to the stone bench that was at the edge of the small courtyard where I was trying – and, at the moment, failing – to teach the girl magic. “Come, take a rest,” I said, tapping the bench.
She strode nervously over, her youthful face turned down to the tops of her bare feet.
“I know you want to ask me something, Trista,” I prompted her. “You’ve got that look again.” I smiled at her, trying to calm her down. After so many years, we had become close. She was more of a sister than a student, and I was sure she regarded me as more than a teacher. After all, I was the only person left in her world, since her mother had died.
Trista looked up, then quickly down again. Sitting, her feet did not reach the ground and she swung her legs anxiously. “You said you would tell me about your hands,” she said finally. “About why you always wear those gloves.”
My fingers twined together as I glanced down. Black silk covered my hands, gleaming softly in the afternoon sun. Beneath the cloth, I knew, my skin would be white – as white as the dead.
I wished they were dead. Then I would not have to live in terror of what they might show me.
“Before you came to me, when I was still a student myself,” I told her, “I had a teacher who wanted to challenge me. He told me if I could make a spell that let him overhear what the other teachers were teaching their students behind closed doors I would be able to get my Master’s title that year. I would be the youngest student ever to successfully pass the tests for Mastery.
“I tried. I failed.
“The spell shattered. It didn’t just break, or die, it turned on my with a vengeance. I almost died.
“It took me a while to figure out what had happened. At first, all I knew was that I had painful, wrenching visions – images of whatever I touched – whenever I touched something. I got so terrified that I refused to touch anything. Finally, desperate, I enchanted a pair of gloves with the most powerful silencing charm I could make. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when I pulled these on and did not find myself on my knees, clutching my head and screaming from the images flaring in my eyes.”
Trista cautiously rand her fingers along a seam on my left hand. “What do you see?” Her voice was quiet.
“History.” I wasn’t sure how to explain it. “For every thing I touch, I see pieces of its history, its past, where it’s been, where it came from. I can’t control it.”
“And does it hurt?”
I shuddered. It hurt enough to make me wish I had cut off my hands. Or cut out my eyes. Or both.
I took a deep breath and tried to smile. “You shouldn’t worry. As long as you practice your lessons with me, you will be fine.” I winked. “Like what we’re supposed to be doing right now.”
Trista jumped to her feet. “Maybe, if I practice hard, I’ll get my Mastery title soon?” she asked.
“Don’t hold your breath,” I told her. “You’re only twelve, you know.”
Trista stuck out her tongue and opened her hand. There, burning softly in her open palm, was blue fire.