Remembered Kisses: Interlude II: A Wizard's Staff
“Well,” he said. “Mostly, it’s because I’m not a wizard.”
“You’re not?” She asked, tilting her head curiously, her loose white-blonde hair framing her features. “Well. I know you've said that before, but I thought you were just being humble.”
Sam looked back at her. “It simply means that I’m not a wizard, I’m a mage. There’s a difference.”
“I can tell." She raised an eyebrow. "But what is it?”
“A mage taps into the otherworld. They have very little power on their own, just the ability to bring aspects from elsewhere here. It’s dangerous, and has to be done carefully, or there can be serious damage done to both worlds and the barriers in between. But almost all of the practitioners alive today are mages. Or theurges.”
“Well, what’s a wizard, then?”
“A wizard is… rarer.” Sam rubbed his forehead with his index and middle finger. “ I’ve never met one. But they are born with some of the otherworld in them. They don’t need to draw power from between the worlds. They can draw it from within themselves. Their spells are faster and more reliable. More powerful. Really they are in a completely different weight class.”
“And what does that have to do with staves?”
“Well, the staff acts as a tool for focusing that flood of power, the same as wands do for mages. It’s an extra conduit, kind of like the nozzle on the end of a hose. But a full staff is considered the mark of a wizard, and it’s pretty gauche for a simple mage to carry one, even if the harmonics and the principles are basically the same.”
Audrey nodded and set her book aside, her brow furrowed with concentration. “And what was my great-grandfather?”
“He was a necromancer. That means he had a gift for accessing the power of the underworld, which is difficult for many of us to do. It’s distant corner of the otherworld, and there are barriers; the living will pulls away from it out of instinct. Cornelius may have had the wizardly gift. He may even have been being born with some of the underworld inside of him. It would have given him an immense amount of power over things from that place. Shades, ghosts… even vampires. It would mean he could even exert his will and power over them, far more easily than any mage, or even a conventional wizard -- if there is such a thing.” He touched his chin in thought. “It would explain a lot.”
Audrey thought it over. “And what does that mean, Sam?”
“It means that he was an exceedingly dangerous man. It’s why it took a half dozen mages, as well as the last known wizard, to bring him down. It cost the Circle of Alba nearly everything. Only two of them survived that battle; your grandfather’s minions did for the rest.”
She paled. “And that’s why they’re all so interested in me.”
“It is. You’ve already shown a little of his gift. They are worried you might be as strong as him. That you are a threat to us all.”
“But I’m not, am I, Sam? I’m just a girl!”
Sam looked at her and gently put his hand on hers. “You are who you are. There’s no denying that."
"They're never going to leave me alone, are they?"
"No," he said softly. "They are not. But I see you for what you are. You are a child. Not a monster. I won’t let them hurt you. I promise.”
She nodded again, but the worry still haunted her gaze.
“Sam?” She said at last.
“I think you’re just as strong as any wizard.” She laid her head on his shoulder. “And I’m glad you’re here to look out for me. It means a lot.”
He wrapped his arms around her. “Of course, Audrey. Don’t worry. We’ll get these dreams under control.”
She nodded, and curled up with him. Eventually, when she fell asleep, he carried her quietly to her room and laid her in the bed. He closed her door behind her, a fond smile on his face. He ran his hand through his hair, and walked back to the living room to continue his studies.