Obstacles

[This story takes place between The Mage and The Shifter.]

“It is not working!” Cassie yelled, breaking the spell. She picked up one of the rune stones in front of her and threw it. It was part of a set Ice had given her to help her study the runes and get comfortable with them.

He looked at his pupil with a mixture of sympathy and irritation. “Do not throw them.”

She turned toward him. “I cannot feel them the way you said I would! There is no magic!”

It was an effort to stop himself from yelling back. “You are already familiar with the runes, you just need . . .”

“No, I am not!”

“Yes, you are. When we first met, you used some runes, do you remember?”

“When?”

“You put them on your parents’ pyre.”

“Those? They were just traditional symbols.”

“Do you know what they mean?”

“We just put them there so that the souls of the departed make it safely to the next world.”

“The first rune was protection. The second means journey. And the last one stands for joy. You already have a connection with . . .”

“I do not want to talk about this anymore.” She stood and ran from the room while tears streamed down her cheeks.

Ice picked up one of the stones and absentmindedly rubbed it between his fingers. He wanted to go after the girl, scold her for leaving, but he could almost hear Krina admonishing him not to, reminding him of his failures when he had taken her on as an apprentice.

Perhaps he was not meant to instruct others. The girl did have a natural talent for the runes, but the memory of her parents seemed to serve as an obstacle. There was something else, as well, some other power in her, the reason that the Terrgat had sought her in the first place. However, he had been unable to identify it. Perhaps that power, whatever it was, prevented her from touching the magic of the runes.

As much as he wanted to push her past these obstacles, the memory of his missteps with Krina gave him pause and undermined his own self-confidence. Maybe he should not teach Cassie. Yet, she needed some means to protect herself. If he could not teach her his magic, he needed to find a way to unlock her own power. If he did not, she would be vulnerable the next time the Terrgat came for her.

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