Title: The Reluctant Apprentice
Genre: YA High Fantasy
16 year old Marcus is an apprentice Mage on the run. After years of submitting to someone else's rules, he only wants freedom. Unfortunately, he has managed to attract other Mages bent on gaining control of his magick just like the Master. Trying to stay one step ahead of these greedy men is exhausting. But, the offers being thrown at him are just the start of his problems now that Marcus is on his own.
Inside the forest, it was hard to tell when day ended and night began. The animals inside made the same noises no matter the hour as far as Marcus could tell. Huffing every breath, his teeth chattering as the wind moved through his ragged clothes, Marcus slipped on the damp leaves beneath his feet. He caught himself against a low hanging branch, but just barely. Looking up through small breaks in the trees above him, Marcus could see the stars and the thin sliver of the moon. I could be walking in circles for all I know.
Pushing off the branch, Marcus stepped forward and tripped over a root. He tumbled to the ground, rolling a few feet before another root stopped him. With a groan, Marcus lay on his back staring at the darkness above him. His entire body hurt or itched. There was no part of him without a cut or scrape. At least, that’s what it felt like.
He wished he could sleep. The ground beneath him was actually more comfortable than his so called bed. But if he slept, he would only get caught. Angry voices startled Marcus. He lifted himself up on his elbows to see torch light drifting closer and stiffened. They were too close for him to try and run for it. With the torch light, they would be able to see much better than he could. What was he going to do?
Use the tree roots and the leaves to hide yourself. Those idiots won’t think to look underneath the tree.
Marcus straightened up. The voice was in his head. What? He thought back.
Use the leaves. It was male, but much younger than anyone Marcus had encountered back in the castle. How was this possible?
The guards’ voices and torchlight moved closer. Slipping into the roots next to him, Marcus covered as much of his body as he could with the leaves. As the light and voices moved closer, Marcus tried to keep his breathing silent and even. He watched as the guards stopped, studying the ground carefully. His body stiffened as they moved closer.
Magick that did not belong to him flowed effortlessly around him, helping him to relax. A thump sounded somewhere in the distance. Marcus watched as the guards looked away from the roots hiding him and went off into the darkness. He did not dare move in case they came back.
You’ll be safe now. The voice returned. In the morning, I would suggest you use the higher road. They won’t be able to track your footprints as easily that way.
Stifling a yawn, Marcus asked, Higher road? He fell asleep waiting for an answer.
A loud obnoxious bird call startled Marcus awake. He hit his head against the root of the tree above him and groaned. Rubbing away the pain, Marcus blinked the sleep away and moved from underneath his bed of leaves. He stared around him, squinting to see in the dimness.