That's all right :)
It turns out I have the next chapter done :O
“Sorceresses!” James leaped to his feet, staring at Hazel and the necklace still in Alex’s hand. “You’re a sorceress?” he asked incredulously.
“That would explain her power,” Alex noted, turning the pendant over. It was about the size of the base of a candlestick, rounded in front but flat in the back. “Hazel, do you still have magic left?” There were eleven names on the pendant, meaning she was an eleventh generation sorceress. The highest generation he’d heard about was a tenth generation sorcerer. Then again, she was so very young it was possible.
Hazel nodded. “Why?”
“Do you know what a sorcerer or sorceress is?” Alex asked seriously.
She shook her head. “No.”
James and Kyle sighed, knowing a lecture was coming. “Long ago, there was a race now called the Lost Ones. Something happened to them, forcing them into these stones. They would make a pact with a human, enabling the human to use the power stored in the stone on the condition that they would give up their soul, and that when they died, they would join the Lost One in the stone. These stones were usually passed down through a family. My guess is that this last woman’s name – Kana Dakhir – was your mother. When she died, she must have given this to you. Did your father ever see it?”
Again, Hazel shook her head. “Nobody ever saw it. It was the only thing that was mine.”
“Well. The more souls in the stone, the greater the power the wielder holds.”
“Welder?” Kyle asked in confusion.
“Wielder. The user,” Alex explained before resuming his story. “There are eleven names in here. You’re an eleventh generation sorceress. The highest I’ve ever heard about was a tenth generation, so far. But you’re so young, it’s entirely possible. What is interesting is that sorcerers and sorceresses don’t usually have an element. It may have something to do with your magi genes.”
“Where the hell did you learn this stuff?” Kyle asked, shaking his head. “You know so much!”
Alex’s face tightened. “I’d rather not talk about it. Suffice to say that I had a good education and a good life before I was thrown out.”
Really, it had been a rhetorical question – the boys knew his story. He didn’t want Hazel to know, though. It was…shameful. He’d been so well off, and never once tried to help the street urchins whose ranks he had now joined.
Harold startled them when he spoke, he’d been so quiet. “Sorceress, eh? Aren’t women said to be weaker spellcasters than men?”
Hazel scowled. “Hey!”
“Nothin’ against ye, lass. It’s jus’ what I ‘eard,” Harold said hastily.
“It is said so, yes, but it is not always true,” Alex said thoughtfully. “And for sorcerers, the amount of power is based entirely on how many generations of sorcerers are contained in the stone.”
“Really? How’s a magi’s power determined, then?” Kyle asked, frowning.
“It depends on their parents, of course, but also creature bonds. There are some creatures that enhance magic greatly, and then some who don’t affect power very much.”
“It’s not fair that sorcerers have so much power! They could beat the magis hands down!” James exclaimed.
Alex shook his head. “Their stones hold only so much power. Once they exhaust that power, it takes a while for it to build up again.”
“So Hazel has to completely empty her store of magic before she can build it back up again?” Kyle wanted to know.
“No – she can build it up any time she doesn’t have full power. She’s recuperating right now, even.”
Hazel looked around at the four males, shrinking back against Alex.
“Don’ be scared, Hazel,” Kyle said suddenly, reaching out to squeeze her hand. “We’ll still be yer friend even if yer a sorceress. Righ’, James?”
James looked away awkwardly. “Uh…” At a kick from Kyle, he hurriedly agreed. “Of course.”
“Yeh’ve got some good friends, lass. Well, ye’d better get back t’ work or Isla’ll have my skin,” Harold announced, getting to his feet. “Ye c’n play with the minicorns if ye’d like, Hazel. They’re at the other end of the stables.”
“Thanks,” Hazel whispered, still curled up small.
Alex lifted her up and settled her on his hip – she was very small and light for her age – and got up to go to the stables. “Did you know you were a sorceress?” he asked her quietly.
She shook her head. “No. Is that…is that why Father wouldn’t let me out of the house?”
“Maybe. We may never know. Now, do you know where the minicorns are?” Alex asked, effectively changing the topic.
“Harold said they were at the end of the stables,” Hazel answered, pointing. She clung to them as they passed the elks, who smelled her fear and looked at her curiously.
“N-n-nothing,” she stammered.
Alex frowned. “Are you scared of elk?” he murmured.
Hazel nodded. “And direwolves,” she whispered.
“It’s okay. Everybody’s scared of something.”
The brown-haired boy grinned at her. “Of course.”
“What are you scared of, Alex?” Hazel asked, frowning slightly.
“Look, here are the minicorns,” Alex said, deftly avoiding the question. “I’ve got to go help the others, now, okay?”
“Stay here and don’t go hiding somewhere, all right?”
“I won’t!” Hazel exclaimed, pouting. “I’ll be right here.”
“Just checking!” Alex said, grinning. He put her down outside the stalls. “I’ll see you in a bit, okay? Holler if you need anything.”
He left her petting the nose of a light minicorn, picking up another pitchfork on the way back. “How many more?” he asked, entering one of the empty stalls and scooping up the dirty straw.
“Jus’ these three,” Kyle answered. “So’s Hazel wi’ th’ minicorns, ‘en?”
“Yes,” Alex called back. He launched a forkful of dirty straw into the wheelbarrow. “What do you guys think, of her being a sorceress?”
“It ‘splains a lo’ bout why she c’n grow so much stuff, righ’? I think it’s brilliant,” Kyle said, opening another bale of straw.
The oldest boy was silent for a long time. “I had a bad experience with magi, you both know that.”
“Bu’ she can’t mean ye any ‘arm, James!” Kyle protested. “She’s on’y six years old!”
“Never underestimate a magi!” James hissed.
“Sorry,” Kyle apologized in a small voice. “And she’s a sorceress.”
“At least don’t drive her away, James, not until we can find a place for her, if that’s what you really want,” Alex said.
“S’ok. She c’n stay, as long as she leaves me alone.” James threw in the last of his straw and strode off to put his pitchfork away.
“She’s not going to like that,” Alex murmured to himself. “Not a whit.”