Archmage Tyllon sat near the fire in his study. Elrik’s books, papers and scrolls covered the thick planks. His page Merin sat across the table with a furrowed brow and squinting eyes. Her pale blonde hair swept behind her shoulders. She looked more like a child than someone vying for apprenticeship.
“And I shall call him Oko.” the girl’s voice whispered. “Master!” She shouted, though he was only a few feet away. “Master, I discovered the origins of the Falcon Oko.”
Tyllon stood, and circled the table. His knees cracked and his back ached with the sudden movement after having studied for so long. He looked at Elrik’s slanted script and read the passage.
The mage is too powerful, and he only gains in power. He continues to go to the strange world, bringing back people to breed the next Hero of the Ages. The hero will come from the canyons of glass. That is written. He kidnaps women and children in order to create one of his own training here, in Bezbran. The King wishes to kill him. I will not kill another man, it would do too much detriment to my power. Instead, I will render him unable to continue this foolish quest. I will transform him. And I shall call him Oko.”
“What does the name mean?” The girl’s voice trembled a little. “Why does that matter?”
“Nothing.” Tyllon shook his head. “The name means no-one or nothing. He took away the mage’s name. I wonder how much of the mage’s Will the old man took with it. Your name is very powerful.” He rested the book at the edge of the table.
He had known that there were women and children said to come from the parallel world thirty or forty years ago. That other world would save or kill his land. But he did not know they were brought against their will. A breeding program. It was atrocious. Unconscionable.
But to transform a man into a bird? To take away his real name and only use emptiness to replace it? Tyllon had always loved the Archmage Elrik, but he saw that perhaps there was something more sinister in the old man than he’d realized.
* * *
Oko soared over the darkened night of the other world, and watched the armour of the Hero of the Ages pass from a small boy’s hand into the large fingers of a man. The man gave the boy a white cone. The man drove a truck that was painted with images of such cones, and that sang a tune to lure the children out of their homes. The boy was happy with the exchange. The man was indifferent. Oko followed the singing truck, but the coin did not pass hands again.
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