“Who’d you get?”
Meck Bakerson spun around at the sound of his best friend’s voice. He’d been caught up in his thoughts and hadn’t heard anyone approaching. “Hey, Vedder how’s it going?”
Vedder Spark’s green eyes darkened. “Don’t try to distract me. If they gave you a crap assignment I’ll take care of it. They can’t get away with that bullshit just because you’re a domestic wizard.”
Vedder would do it too. In the four years they’d gone to the academy together his roommate Vedder had made himself Meck’s personal champion. Vedder epitomized what the magic academy looked for in their recruits—strong abilities with an almost limitless power base. He’d never seen Vedder tire from too much magic, his friend practically collected energy by breathing.
For some reason he’d never been able to decipher, Vedder appreciated Meck’s small magics and often mocked the school for discounting what they considered the lesser arts. Meck didn’t mind as long as he found a job that used his skills he’d be happy. Other people’s perception of his magic had never bothered him a fraction how much it did Vedder.
Where Vedder could call lightning bolts from the sky, Meck could warm a room to the perfect temperature. Vedder fire balls destroyed all enemies in his path while Meck could coax an almost dead plant to bear fruit. Vedder always insisted Meck’s abilities were from the ancient gods and some day those school board bastards who looked down on Meck would learn the error of their ways.
Meck didn’t care. He enjoyed his abilities and bringing comfort to others. So many people had lives of pain and suffering, if he could bring them solace he had done his job.
Unlike many at the academy Meck didn’t hunger for power or limitless magic. He wanted to work in an old soldiers’ home or find an elderly wizard who needed care. He had what people called ‘comfort or domestic magics’ the ability to ease troubled souls. He didn’t need the glory of becoming a battle mage and standing in the front lines to smite the enemy. He longed for a peaceful cabin and someone to coddle. His nurturing personality had him happier seeing to others than seeking his own glory.
“I don’t have an assignment yet.” Meck braced for the explosion and didn’t have to wait long.
“What do you mean? They didn’t toss you out did they? I’ll challenge the board for their short-sightedness!” Lightning crackled through the air and Vedder’s dark hair glowed white along the tips as if all the magic inside him could explode out at any moment.
People passing them in the hall giving them wide berth, careful not to touch the powerful wizard. Meck grabbed Vedder’s arm, unafraid and immediately snuffing out Vedder’s magic when his calming influence wiped away his friend’s ire.
“You need to calm down before you bring the building down on us. They haven’t given me an assignment yet. They said they needed further consideration to find me a proper position.”
Personally he thought they were stalling but he could hardly complain, not yet. Maybe they just didn’t know what to do with him. He didn’t fall into any of their perfect slots. Domestic wizards weren’t valued. Most wizards with Meck’s skills never applied to the academy because they thought their talents were wasted in the hallowed halls. Meck would’ve agreed but he had nowhere else to go. The orphanage that raised him kicked him out when he reached his majority. He could either go to the academy or live on the streets. With no other skills, Meck had taken the lesser of the two evils and had been happily housed, clothed and fed for the past four years. Whatever assignment they gave him would no doubt be better than some of the horrible jobs the orphanage leaders would give to the little kids.
“They’d best not try to shut you out because they don’t understand your skills properly. I’ll set them on fire.” Vedder continued to grumble, brushing back his dark hair from his face as he paced and muttered about the horrible things he’d do to anyone who downplayed Meck’s skill.
Meck smiled. Vedder’s ranting on his behalf never failed to warm Meck’s soul. “I appreciate your support but let’s not get angry until we have reason. They said they wanted me to come back this morning. I’m heading there now.”
His stomach gurgled uneasily and anxiety had his hands trembling while moisture beaded along his skin in a cold sweat. What could they want him to do that would require a special session to meet with him?
“Always the sensible one. I don’t know what I’ll do when you aren’t around to keep me in line. We’ll get this straightened out and you’ll have an awesome start to your career, you’ll see.” Vedder kissed Meck on the forehead like a little kid.
“Easy for you to say.” Vedder epitomized everything a mage should be. Tall, powerful and his magic could slam anyone on their asses if they messed with him. “Who did you get?” In his own distress he forgot to ask.
Vedder trained to be a battle mage, using his abilities to assist a soldier in battle. The first partnership between wizard and his knight could set up a wizard for life. If a wizard started low on the power system then it would take twice as long to rise up ing the wizard ranks. Meck had never cared about ranking but he knew Vedder had bigger plans. He had no doubts his friend would reach all his goals.
“I hope they put me in a retirement home.” The dream of having multiple people to care for sat like an unattainable wish in his heart.
“You would do well there, but I bet they have something better for you lined up. You might not have elemental skills but your magic is strong.”
Meck nodded absently. Still he bit his lip and worried what if they decided his abilities weren’t worthy of an assignment. “You don’t think they’ve just decided to kick me out, do you?” He finally dared to ask.
Vedder shook his head. “Don’t be foolish Meck. They would be idiots to throw your skills away. If they even try that I’ll make sure they reconsider.”
The grim tone in Vedder’s voice had Meck hoping his friend didn’t have to talk to the board. Vedder had a brutal temper and especially didn’t like bullies. If he thought the board hadn’t given Meck a fair assignment the fallout could damage the academy.
“It’ll be all right Vedder.” Meck patted his friend’s hand.
“Hmm, maybe I’ll just keep you to myself. You can help keep me from killing my assignment.”
Meck eyes widened. “Uh oh, who did you get? Sorry I didn’t ask before.”
“No. It’s all right. I got General Brackel.”
“Oh dear.” Brackel was a bear shifter and had mauled his last wizard to death. Only his reputation as the king’s toughest general kept him out of the prison cells. “I’m guessing they figure you’re strong enough to keep him under control and help him at the same time. It’s a good assignment.”
He tried to add some enthusiasm to his voice but from Vedder’s scowl he must not have been successful.
Vedder shrugged. “Maybe. I hear he’s kind of an ass. It’s only for two years though. I’m hoping I can make it for that long.”
“I’m sure you can.” Meck encouraged, while sending tendrils of confidence toward him.
Vedder laughed. “You know I can feel that, right?”
“I wasn’t trying to be subtle.” Meck smiled. “You just needed a little boost.”
“And that’s why if they don’t give you a proper assignment I’m kicking their asses. You’re a good guy Meck and you have awesome instincts. You’ll make somebody an amazing wizard partner.”
Meck didn’t know about that but he definitely would try his hardest. He always tried but he had mixed results of success.