Emil woke all at once the next morning with a gasp.  He sat up, his heart pounding in his chest.  He couldn’t fathom what had woken him, certainly not so suddenly.  Was it a dream, or had he heard something?  Was the redcoat troop riding back along the road?  Had they been found.

He looked up and sighed.  The moon was moving toward its setting.  It floated, like a ghostly galleon upon cloudy seas above them.  He stood and crept toward the edge of the copse that they’d sheltered in.  He looked out over the moors and sighed.  There was nothing on the road that he could see.

“What are you doing up?” Daniel called softly from across the campsite.  “Hungry?”

Emil sat up and turned toward his brother in one fluid motion.  He sighed and plucked at his bow tie.  “Not sure,” he replied.  “I woke up like I’d had a bad dream.  I don’t remember dreaming though.”  He stood and walked across the copse to sit beside Daniel.  “Thought we were going to walk until we got there.”

“You and Lukas were too tired for that, really,” he said.  “Magic takes a lot out of you.”

Emil sighed.  “I don’t have magic.  Lukas might but, not me.”

“You have it too,” Daniel corrected.  He shook his head and sighed.  “I’m more like Papa was and you two are like Mama.”

“I don’t remember them,” Emil said.  He leaned against a tree and looked up at the slowly brightening sky through the tree branches.  “Mama died of that fever I got when I was little.  What happened to Papa?”

“Stupid,” Daniel murmured.  “He left me in charge of you two and went to find work in the neighboring town… ended up going to the big city… He wrote to us as often as he could.  He sent money… at first.  He saw to it that I was able to finish school… and Lukas… and you started.  Then the money stopped coming and a letter followed.  It was all very official.  There had been and accident in the factory that he was working in.  He was among those killed.  It was under investigation.”

“So we’re orphans,” Emil said.  He sighed and shook his head.  “I always knew it… no one ever said though and I… Papa was never there… not since I can remember.”

“You were so little when he left.  You were still in diapers when Mama died and you were hardly more than toddling around the house when he left.  I’ve been both your Mama and your Papa, I suppose… Lukas too, really.”

“Just tell me I’m not magic because of my other condition,” Emil said.  “The stories…”

“Are just that,” Lukas put in.  “We’re just magic and albinos.  The two aren’t connected.  Mama wasn’t an albino.  Her hair was the same color as Daniel’s  Papa wasn’t either for that matter.  I guess that it’s back there in the family line someplace or we wouldn’t both have it, but it’s not connected to the magic.”

“Thought you wanted to sleep,” Daniel said.

“Who can sleep with you two chattering like magpies?” Lukas asked.  He stood.  “Let’s get breakfast into us and get moving again.”

“The sun will be bright for you,” Daniel said.

“We have hats o s our eyes,” Lukas said, his tone sharp.  He sighed and spun away.  “I appreciate your concern, Daniel.  It’s not that… but we have to keep moving.  I don’t like it out in the open and… it’s too risky.”

“Because of the law-givers,” Emil said.  He stood too and sighed.  “So, what’s for breakfast?”

“Whatever Daniel packed,” Lukas said.  “Go wash up by the stream.”

“Code for older brothers have to talk and little brother doesn’t need to hear,” Emil said.  He rolled his eyes and headed off toward the stream.  He saw the white fluffy blurr that was his kitten as he walked.  “Bet you that they’re figuring that we should leave you behind someplace,” he said softly as he knelt beside the stream.

The cat chirped and batted at Emil’s hands and he chuckled.  “Never going to happen,” he said.  “You are my cat and no one else’s.”

He washed his face and hands in the stream.  He scrubed his hands dry against his pant-legs and sighed.  It was getting bright outside.  He’d need to wear a hat or risk being blinded by the sun.  He looked up at the sky, which was brightening toward a brilliant blue shade.  “You just couldn’t stay cloudy,” he said his tone sour.

He’d finished washing up so he headed back toward the camp but the sound of raised voices made him pause.  He caught his kitten in his arms and knelt down in the shrubbery that surrounded the campsite.  He could see the campsite was now full of law-givers.

“We’re doing nothing wrong,” Daniel said, his voice firm.  “Last time I checked, people could still travel freely, or is that illegal too now?”

“Daniel,” Lukas growled, his voice tense.

“No, it isn’t illegal to travel but… this is very sudden, isn’t it, Master Martson.  Where are you going?  Is it just the two of you?” the law-giver said.

“There are three travelling bags, sir,” one of the men said.

“So then… three travelers as well,” the law-giver said.  “We were told to be on the lookout for three brothers, Master Martson.  The law-bringer would like a word with at least two of them, and now I wonder if that group would be… you.”  He looked around the campsite and frowned.  “You are camped quite a distance from the road.”

“My brother has very sensitive eyes,” Daniel said softly.  “We have the third pack for a friend who will be joining us later.  I’ve been carrying it.”

“Somehow, I find myself not believing you,” the law-giver said.  He drew his sword and Emil bit back a gasp.  Then, his cat struggled free of his arms and ran toward the clearing.

Emil bit back a cry as he tried to catch the little feline.  He hesitated a moment as his kitten ran out to glare up at the law-giver and growl.  Then the law-giver leveled his sword, almost negligently at the cat.

“No!” Emil shouted.  Suddenly, the law-givers in the clearing became incredibly sharp and clear.  They hardly looked human, especially the man who was about to kill his kitten.  It was as if they were monsters instead of humans.  Then, as if they were puppets whose strings had been cut, they fell to the ground.  Something that glowed with a strangely daand Emil slumped to the ground.

His kitten chirped and bounded across the grass toward him but Daniel caught it and picked it up.  “That was very dangerous,” he started to scold.

“Wait, Dan,” Lukas said sharply.  He knelt down where he was, trying to meet Emil’s eyes, even though he couldn’t really see the other boy clearly.  “Emil, look at me,” he said, his voice incredibly gentle.

Emil raised his eyes.  The law-givers were no longer clear; nor did they look monstrous.  Tears welled in his eyes.  “I killed them,” he whispered.  “They were clear and they looked like monsters and… then they went away and then they all fell down and… I killed them.”

“Not you, the magic.  That’s what Daniel and I were discussing.  Your magic is awakening.  That’s why we have to get you… out of here.  I have a friend who knows a place where you can learn control.  When you learn control, the magic won’t do anything unless you want it to.”

“We should go,” Daniel murmured.  He started breaking down the camp and sighed as he looked up at the horses that the law-givers had ridden to their campsite.  “We can’t take these, can we?”

“No, folks would talk,” Lukas said.  “Can you stand, Emil?”

“We can’t leave them for the carrion eaters, brother,” Emil whispered.  He stood and looked over the fallen forms of the men and sighed.  “It wouldn’t be right.  The village priest said that if people don’t get a proper burial then they can’t go to heaven.”

“We’ll bury them then,” Daniel said softly.  “You… help Lukas take care of clearing the campsite.  I’ll take care of them.”

Emil nodded and followed Lukas over to their bedrolls.  He sighed as he listened to Daniel begin the task of digging a hole to bury the law-givers in.  “Magic is dangerous,” he whispered.

“It wouldn’t have been if they hadn’t frightened you,” Lukas said, his voice tense. “Your magic moved to protect you.  Without direction… it pushed their souls free of their bodies.  They couldn’t make their way back in and… they died.  Their souls went on.”

“Why did Papa leave?” Emil asked.

“Because…,” Lukas trailed off and looked up from pushing a bedroll back into its carry-sack   “Because ferral dogs scared me on my way home from the brook when I was your age and I did that to them.  The magic… he couldn’t deal with it and… he knew you would have it too because you were seeing things in the otherworld… the fairies, remember?”

Emil frowned and thought back to those simpler times, so dim in his memories.  He did remember tiny woman so delicate that they could wear flower petals dancing over his bed early in the morning.  Papa scolding him about telling tales.  “The priest says that lying is a sin,” he whispered, half-remembering what their father used to tell him.

“Magic is not, t’s neither good nor evil, magic just is – like fire is, or water,” Lukas said firmly.  “Papa didn’t know what to do.  He didn’t know how to raise two boys with magic.”

“So he left me to do it,” Daniel said, his tone sour.  “I did the best I could, even though I was only a few years older than Lukas.”  He glanced back at the mound of earth over the bodies of the law-givers.  “We need stones to put on top so nothing digs them back up,” he said.

“By the stream,” Emil said.  “I’ll get them.”

“We’ll get them,” Lukas corrected.  “This will go faster if we work together.”

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