I stood in the castle courtyard with the bright golden sun high in the sky. I felt sweat dripping down my brow and my back, my robes were thick, making the heat almost unbearable. I stared at the young boy, my apprentice, in front of me. I felt glad his robes were made of a lighter material, I doubted he could stand this heat. His robes matched mine, red and gold. The boy looked nervous; I noticed his eyes wandering to the dozens of other people in the courtyard with us, each tending to their own business. I tried to talked to him about his nerves earlier that day.
“When we’re out there, just ignore everyone else. They all have their own things to focus on, just like you,” I told him in private before we came outside. I knew most of his insecurities were due to his youth, but he tried to keep his focus on me. I was proud of him for that. I decided to start his lesson before the distraction of the others became too much for him to ignore.
“Osdore, listen,” I said firmly. The name captured his attention, he focused on me and nodded his head eagerly. “Magic is not what you think.” I touched my hand to his chest. The material of his robe scraped against my hand like sandpaper. Though it was a more breathable fabric than my robe, it must have been itching him like crazy. He was a tough kid, I knew he would go far. “It’s what you feel. It’s an art, not a science. You can’t learn how to tap into the Ether by reading books all day, you need to live. You need experience,” I said. I placed a hand on his shoulder, then I saw tears begin to form at the corners of his eyes as if on cue.
“Now, now,” I said. I patted his back and smiled at him. “I’ll give you a few more tries today. Should you fail, just remember you can always come back and try again next year. I chose you to be my apprentice because I see your potential. It has only been a week, and I can’t teach you anything if you can’t commune with the Ether, but I see greatness growing inside of you.” I squeezed his shoulder. “It may not be ready to bloom yet, but I know it will.” That seemed to ease his frustrations a bit. He looked up at me and smiled, while using the sleeves of his robe to wipe away his tears. I saw him flinch away slightly from the harsh material. I suddenly felt bad for rubbing his back and squeezing his shoulder, but he did not complain once.
“Are you ready to try again?” I asked. I held my staff out in front of him. He nodded and took the tall, thin piece of wood from my hands. I didn’t know what kind of wood it was, but that detail was unimportant. Someone put a lot of work into decorating it with intricate lines carved into it. The lines ran up and down the length of the staff, and they were filled with what looked like gold.
He extended his arms and held the staff horizontally in front of him. His green eyes met mine and I nodded at him.
“I know you can do this,” I said with a friendly smile. “Focus on your emotions, don’t over think.”
He took a deep breath, then spoke the words he needed to say.
“Tak Dhina Dhin,” he said. Internally I cringed at his delivery. I expected him to yell the words out full of emotion, not just say them louder than usual.
“CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTT!!!!!” The director yelled. I sighed.
”No, it won’t work like that. You have to really mean it,” I said. The crew around us went about resetting the shot. I put my arm around his shoulder protectively as the director stormed toward us. This particular director had little patience for child actors, but this kid definitely had talent. He just needed more practice, and I planned to make sure he got that practice.
“Sorry.” The boy stared at the ground.
“No problem, buddy. No one gets the first take, we’ll try again.”