Carthinal came out of the study in Mabryl’s house. He heard voices coming from the living room.
“I think you’re mad, Mabryl. He’s a wild kid from the streets.”
“He’s learning, Danu. He’s stayed in at night for the last two months.”
Carthinal realised that Mabryl was talking to Duke Danu, the ruler of the Duchy of Bluehaven. The duke had once been learning to be a mage, but his elder brother net with a fatal accident. This meant Danu had to leave his studies as he was now the heir to the dukedom.
He met Mabryl when they were both apprentices, and kept an interest in magic. The two men were close friends.
“I thought it was a madcap idea when you took him on as an apprentice, but to consider adopting him…”
Carthinal knew he should not be listening to a private conversation, but he could not resist. It concerned him. And what was Mabryl saying about adopting him? Carthinal crept quietly to the door in order to hear more.
“—potential. I felt it when I saw him teach himself to do a simple cantrip. He could be a great mage one day.”
“Maybe, but do you have to adopt him? He could get you into a lot of trouble.”
“Danu, I have no wife, no children. What’s going to happen to this when I leave this world?” He swept his hand around the room. “I don’t want just anyone coming in and going through my magic stuff. It could be dangerous.”
Carthinal crept away to his room. He needed to think. Do I want to be adopted? I’ve lived quite well up to now on my own.
After he heard Danu leave, Mabryl called up the stairs. “Carthinal, come down here, please. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble—for once.”
Carthinal entered the living room and Mabryl told him to sit down.
“I’ve been talking to Duke Danu. I put an idea I had in front of him. I don’t think he thought it a good one, but I still do, in spite of his arguments against it.”
Carthinal shifted in his seat and kept his eyes downcast.
Mabryl told Carthinal about his plans to adopt him. “If I die without an heir, then all my things will revert to the Crown.” He ran his hands through his hair. “You are a orphan, Carthinal. You have no one and nothing, so I thought of adopting you. This would be a help to us both. What do you think?”
Carthinal looked up. “Please may I think about this? It’s a big step.” His thoughts were in turmoil. What exactly would his adoption entail?
Mabryl nodded. “Of course. I wouldn’t expect you to decide right away, but you do need to be fully in agreement. Now, you can go and think. I need to see some people who want their boy to become my apprentice, and I need to see what kind of potential he has.”
Carthinal returned to his room. Mabryl’s words span in his head.
He wants to adopt me. That means he’ll be my father. Do I want to replace my real father? But then he’s been dead for years. I can only just remember him. And what about the gang? If I become his son, then I can hardly go around with a criminal gang, can I.
Then he remembered other words Mabryl had said.
Mabryl said I’d inherit everything he has. This house and all that’s in it. That’s worth a lot. Could we move the gang’s HQ to here? No, that’d be no good. Can’t have the Beasts in this district.
Mabryl told Duke Danu I have great potential. He said I could be a great mage. Did he mean that?
These thoughts, and many others went round and round in his head until he thought he would go mad. It was a big decision. He dropped off to sleep to dream of an important quest where he used his magic to fend off many dangers.