Emil sat drowsing over his stew as his brothers spoke quietly with Daniel’s friend.  The friendly couple who’d helped them earlier had left hours ago but Emil had been too anxious to eat then.  Now he was too tired.  His brothers, however didn’t seem to notice how tired he was.  They continued to talk long after the common room was almost deserted.

He watched Daniel’s friend through half-lidded eyes as he tried to figure the man out.  He was a few years older than Daniel and obviously more worldly and well-traveled.  He’d brought out several maps and the three of them sat studying the maps, discussing routes and destinations.

“Brother?” he whispered when there was a short lull in the conversation.

“You haven’t touched your stew, Emil,” Daniel said seriously.  He set a hand on the younger boy’s forehead and murmured, “Are you feeling alright?”

“I’m fine.  I’m too tired to eat,” he replied.

“I’ll take him up to the room,” Lukas volunteered.  “We should all be turning in soon.  I’m sure that the proprietor would also like to be getting to bed before the dawning.  He stood and grabbed their travelling bags.  “Let’s go, Emil.  I want you to get washed up before you climb in bed.”

“Of course,” Emil said.  “I’m exhausted but I have to take a bath, it’s been over two days after all.”  He followed his brother up the sraircase out of the common room and into a long narrow corridor.

“Here’s our room.  I asked them to bring us some hot water for bathing.  You go first, little brother,” Lukas said.

Emil sighed and headed inside.  He dropped his bag beside the door and his cloak soon followed it.  Then he loosened his tie and drew it off with his sweater.  He kicked off his boots and then focused on unbuttoning his shirt.

He spun around, a protest on his lips.  The protest quickly died as he saw his older brother, held in the arms of a law-giver, his long red coat proclaiming him though Emil couldn’t see him clearly enough to distinguish his features.  He opened his mouth to call for help and the point of a sword swam into view.

“Not a word, Boy,” the man growled.  He pushed Lukas into the room and then entered himself, pushing the door shut behind him.  “Where’s the other one?”

“Not here, Lukas snapped, as he moved between the law-giver and Emil.

“It doesn’t matter.  It’s the two of you that we want,” the law-giver said.  “You, boy, get your clothes back on and then you’ll be coming with me.”

Emil shook his head, his eyes wide with fright.  He didn’t want to go anywhere with this man.  “Where are you going to take us?  What do you want with us?  We’ve done… We’re just travelling.”  He couldn’t bring himself to say he’d done nothing wrong.  Not when he’d killed people just that morning.

“You have a great deal of potential, little one.  The powers that be want to make sure that those gifts of yours are used for the betterment of all.”

“You mean for the betterment of those in power,” Lukas protested.  He darted toward the law-giver.  Emil gasped at the suddenness of the movement.  Then something gray protruded from his back and he stiffened.  With a soft groan he slumped to the ground.

Emil screamed.  Then he ran to his brother’s side.  Lukas was still and Emil couldn’t tell if he was alive or not.  He looked up at the law-giver and saw that the man was startlingly clear.  He looked as shocked as Emil felt and unlike the law-givers that morning, his soul was not monstrous, merely dark.

He looked down at his brother and saw a nimbus had surrounded Lukas.  “Don’t die, brother,” he whispered hoarsely.  He looked up as the law-giver moved toward them, bloodied sword in hand.  “Stay away from us!” he shouted.  The man was thrown back against the wall.

Then the door opened beyond him and Daniel and his friend entered.  “Luke!” Daniel cried.  he started toward his brother but his friend caught him.

“He’s locked in his magic right now, Dan,” he whispered.

“He’s my brother.  He wouldn’t hurt me.  See to the law-giver.”  He knelt down and met the youngest brother’s eyes.  “Emil, can you see me?” he asked.

“Lukas is hurt,” Emil said.  He felt far younger than his ten years suddenly.  He just wanted everything to be alright.  He closed his eyes, as he had when they’d been in the tunnel, imagining Lukas whole and well, imagining the law-giver far away from them, far away from anyone.  Then he felt a hand on his and looked up to find Lukas staring at him with a look of pure wonder on his face.

“Where did he send the red-coat?” Daniel’s friend murmured.

“Far away from anyone,” Emil said.  He threw himself into Lukas’s arms with a sob.  “I was so scared, brother.  You were so hurt and… he was going to take me away from… I don’t want to go with any of them.  I… want to stay with you.”

“There, there, little brother,” Lukas said.  Then Emil felt Daniel’s arms join his and they were all hugging one another, crying and laughing at once.

When they had regained their composure  Daniel shook his head.  “How did you do that?” he asked.

“I just imagined it,” Emil said.  “Brother’s always saying imagination and love and music are powerful magic.”

“What would happen if you combined them all?” Daniel whispered.

“That was just two of them, brother,” Lukas said softly.  “Let’s get you washed up and into bed, Emil.  All that magic is going to catch up to you.  Kurland will be here tomorrow and… we’ll see where to go from there.”

“We might be leaving this land altogether,” Daniel said.  “A lot of mages are.  My friend is helping them.  Kurland… it all depends on what he was able to learn in the capital.”