Tag Archive: Nathaniel

“Are you happy?” Margery asked quietly as she snuggled next to Nathaniel. He pulled her closer but didn’t answer. “You seem so… troubled lately. Is it something I’m doing?” she persisted.

“No, Mags, I couldn’t be happier with you and I love our children,” he replied after several moments of silence.

“Then what’s wrong?” she asked softly. “Is it work? Is something wrong there?”

“You know I love my work and the boys’ studies are coming along amazingly well. They’re more than ready to start school.”

“Is it because the boys are going so far away?” she asked. “Tell me what you want, Nat.”

He kissed her forehead gently and shook his head. “Only for you, Emery and Miles to be safe and happy,” he whispered. “Only that.”


In Fur and Gold

“Go straight there, Emery,” Margery said as she handed her older son the basket of treats. “Don’t stop anywhere along the way and remember what your father said.”

“Don’t talk to strangers,” Emery dutifully repeated. He tugged the hood of his magic robe up and skipped down the walk.

“You know what he looks like when he’s dressed like that,” Margery murmured as Nathaniel came out to join her.

“Expecting the big bad wolf?” Nathaniel murmured. “He’ll be fine. I’ll keep an eye on him.”

Emery paused as he heard someone behind him. He turned back to see a man riding along the same road he was walking down. The fur-lined coat and boots and gaudy rings spoke of the man’s wealth. Emery stepped back off the road to let him pass. Somehow he wasn’t much surprised when the man drew up beside him and stopped.

“Are you heading to town, little miss?” the man asked.

“No, sir. I’m heading off to visit my granny,” Emery said, not bothering to correct the man’s misperception. “She runs the inn just down the road a piece. My dad told me before I left not to talk to strangers and you’re about as strange as they come, Mister, so I’m going now.”

Before the man could reply, Emery ran down the road toward the inn. He heard the patter of hoof beats behind him and shook his head. Tossing a glyph on the road, he stopped. He wasn’t shocked when the man rode by, chasing the illusion that Emery had created of himself. He rolled his eyes as he took the cut-off that led to the inn. The man would chase the illusion, hopefully until it faded around nightfall.

“Hey, Nat,” Clifford called. As Nathaniel joined him, he pointed across the square. “Check these guys out. They look lost.”

“They’re new in town, that’s for sure,” Michael said. “Do you know them, Nat?”

Nathaniel looked around the corner and frowned. He knew these men. They were strangers in town, that was what his neighbors said. They were not strangers to him though. He spun back around the corner with a murmured, “No, I’m late for dinner.”

“Right, the boys are heading off to school in the big city,” Michael said.

“Yes, and tonight is their farewell party,” Nathaniel replied as he dashed to the restaurant that his wife and boys were.

He stepped into the lobby and pecked Margery on the cheek. “Sorry I’m a little late, dearest,” he murmured as he ushered her towards the dining room. “Are you boys excited about heading off to school?”

“A little,” Miles said.

“We’ll miss you all though,” Emery added. “Why do we have to go away to school? Why can’t we stay here?”

“It’s the governor’s idea to standardize magical education,” Nathaniel replied. He darted a glance over his shoulder as the men from the square entered the restaurant. He settled the family in an out of the way nook and smiled as the waitress joined them.

“Is something wrong, dear?” Margery whispered.

“No, I just saw someone I thought I recognized from a nightmare,” Nathaniel replied. “We’re not here to talk about that though. We’re here to celebrate these boys leaving their apprenticeship behind and becoming journeymen.” He grinned at the boys and the dinner was underway.

Nathaniel watched his children and wife as they enjoyed the beautiful day. He was glad that he’d met Margery that day so long ago. He was even happier as he gazed on their two beautiful children. He thought back on his life, on the reasons why he’d settled so far from town and other people.

A part of him felt bad for isolating his family, but he wanted to keep them safe. If the boys developed gifts like his then the organization would be after them as well. The further from town they were, the less likely it was that the family would be discovered.

He wanted to move on with his life, but a small part of his mind warned him against complacency. “Don’t forget,” it seemed to whisper. “They’ll still want you and if they find you, they’ll get the boys too.” He pushed the dark thoughts away and jogged out into the yard to play with his boys.

“Emery, what is the first lesson of magic?” Nathaniel asked as he began sketching the symbols that they would need for the day’s spell.

“Nothing is as it seems. What is true can only be found through closer examination of all at-attributes,” the five year old said. He grinned at his brother and tugged on his skirt hem. “That’s we we dress like girls, b’cause that reminds us that… we appear to be girls but if you look close, you can see we’re boys.”

“Very good, Emery,” Nathaniel said. “Dressing and acting as a girl also teaches you balance. It is very important for mages to be balanced. Can you tell me why, Miles?”

“B’cause… if magic is unbalanced that the rebound can… unbalance your… aura and that’s… bad,” the four year old said.

“Especially for me an’ Mom b’cause our auras want to fall all to pieces, right, Dad?” Emery asked.

“Right,” Nathaniel said softly. It still pained him that he could do nothing to help his wife and oldest son, but Emery was such a happy child that his affliction was hardly a hindrance. Magic, above all, was about attitude.

“Have you both chosen your names in magic?” he asked, changing the subject. Both boys nodded and Miles looked ready to announce what he’d chosen. “Don’t tell me but write them down on a sheet of paper and fold it in threes. Then bring it here.”

“What’s today’s spell, Daddy?” Miles asked.

“Well, it has long been a practice for masters and their apprentices to create a special bond between each other using a spell of perpetual comprehension. That’s a few big words. Can you boy’s figure out what they mean?”

“Perpetual…” Emery murmured.

“Comprehension…” Miles added.

“Perpetual sounds like… “ Emery added, going to a Latin dictionary that sat on a nearby shelf. He skimmed the words and parts of words for some time. “Mi, your word’s in here too. See?” He held the book so Miles could see and the younger boy brightened as he read it.

“Understanding. Brother, what’s perpetual mean?” he said.

Emery skimmed forward into the dictionary and his eyes brightened as he found the “P” section. “Looks like it means constant or continuous. So the spell does… continual understanding between the participants?”

“Yes, is that a static spell or a kinetic one?” Nathaniel asked.

“It im-imposes a condition,” Miles said, bouncing. “So that’s means it’s a static one, right, Daddy?”

“Right, Miles,” Nathaniel said. He ruffled their hair as they began writing their names on sheets of paper. He wrote his own secret name and folded the paper in threes. The spell implied complete understanding, but he knew of it’s limitations, just as his sons would soon. True understanding could only come from listening and seeing the world from the point of view of another.

Emery sat up in his bed and giggled softly. Today he would get his first official magic robe. He stood and pulled off his nightshirt. He scampered to the washbowl and rinsed the sweat of the night off his body before pulling his blouse on. Next came the simple brown jumper. The soft cotton of the dress made it one of his favorites. The frilly pinafore topped this, protecting it from dirt and grime. Last Emery slipped his feet into the soft leather boots his mother had gotten him.

Dressed now, Emery bounded down the steps to the kitchen. “Morning Mom,” he called as he entered the room.

“You’re up early,” she said, grinning.

“Dad’s going to give me my cloak today.” He looked outside and saw the trees swaying in the wind. “It’s going to rain,” he added softly.

“Perfect weather for your first cloak,” his father said as he entered the room. Emery grinned and bounced a little in his chair. “Eat first. Then come to the workshop.”

“Yes, Dad,” Emery replied. He ate quickly but neatly, not wanting to upset his mother by wolfing down his breakfast. When he was finished, he scooped the dishes up and put them in the washtub to soak. Then he scampered out the door and over to the small shed that his father used as a workshop.

He entered the building and saw his father standing with a hooded cloak of a rich red fabric. “Wow,” he whispered. “Dad, is that it?” he asked as the sky opened up.

“Indeed it is, my dear,” his father said. He knelt down and murmured magic words of protection as he tied it around Emery’s neck. “There. Why don’t you try it out?”

Emery giggled and spun to the door. He tugged the hood on securely and ran out into the rain. Just as it was meant to do, the magic cloak kept him warm and dry, even in the driving rain. Emery laughed and spun in the rain, reveling in the freedom that magic had given him.

Emery scampered after his parents. He was excited. Today they were going on a picnic by the beach. He skidded to a stop as his parents paused at the crossroads. “Forest of Taboo,” he read one sign, slowly and carefully. “Daddy, what’s that mean?”

“That means that forest is closed to people. It’s so very dangerous that the government has forbidden people from setting foot there,” he explained. “We’re going this way, toward the beach.” He pointed in the opposite direction and smiled.

“Are we going to see the ocean?” Emery asked excitedly. “Can I play in the water?”

“If you’re careful,” Mom said. “First we’ll eat, then you can play for a while. But stay close to Daddy, alright?”

“Yes, Mommy,” Emery said. “Can Miles play too?” Miles was still small, not yet up to all the walking they were doing so Mom and Dad were taking turns carrying him.

“If you help watch him,” Daddy said seriously. “Maybe the two of you can collect sea shells.”

“That will be fun, right Mi?” Emery said. He was rewarded by a giggle from his younger brother and nodded, scampering ahead on the path toward the ocean.

Emery peered around the corner and spotted his father, reading by the soft light of a lamp. He padded over to the man and gently touched his knee. “What’re you reading, Daddy?” he asked softly.

“A book that relates to my research,” he replied. “What are you doing out of bed, Emery?”

“I woke up and couldn’t sleep,” Emery replied. “I want you to read me a story, please.” He climbed up into his father’s lap and smiled as the older man snuggled him close.

“How about we just stay here a moment and I tell you a story instead?” he asked softly.

Emery tilted his head inquisitively and asked, “Is it an exciting story?”

“No, it’s a nice quiet bedtime story that I read in a book when you were just a baby. I used to read it to you all the time, until you were old enough to tell me what books you wanted me to read. Are you ready?” Emery nodded and settled back against him as he closed his eyes and began to tell the familiar old story.

Nathaniel looked up as the librarian walked by with the book cart. She was new, he was sure. She was also pretty with her long blond hair pulled back into a braid. She paused at a shelf and, as she strained to return a book to its place, he stood and joined her.

“Where does it belong?” he asked, taking the book from her gently.

“Up there beside the blue hardcover with the gold filigree,” she said. “I’ve seen you here a lot. You must really like books.”

“I’m a research mage,” he replied. “Nathaniel Ballard.” He kissed her hand as she held it out, smiling at her nervous giggle. “Would I be remiss in asking you to tea?”

“I’d love to go to tea with you,” she said. “Don’t you want to know my name?”

“I would love to know your name,” Nathaniel replied.

“Margery Garrison. My break’s at two o’clock,” she added as she shelved a few more books.

“I shall eagerly await two o’clock then, Miss Garrison, and our tea together,” he said. He inclined his head and stepped back. “As I would not wish to cause your employer’s ire, I shall allow you to return to work.” He was rewarded by a sunny smile.

Nathaniel smiled as he looked at the baby sleeping soundly in the cradle. This was his son… his first-born son and heir. This child would live, he was sure. He would heal the hole left in his parent’s hearts by the death of his older sister.

The blue eyes opened and though all the experts had said otherwise, Nathaniel was certain the baby looked at him. “Hello, Emery Taliesin,” he greeted. “You are the most beautiful baby that I’ve ever seen, but I’m sure that’s what all new parents say.”

He lifted the baby into his arms and walked around the nursery until he reached the wide picture windows. Outside, it was just starting to snow. “Emery, it’s your first snow,” he said in a sing-song voice. “See the white stuff falling? Is that snow? Yes, it is. That is snow. It looks like cotton but it’s cold and wet.”

“Who’re you talking to, Nat?” Margery asked as she joined him in the nursery.

“Emery,” he said. He redirected his gaze to the baby and added, “Daddy is talking to Emery. Yes, he is. Should Mommy be out of bed?”

Margery chuckled and nodded. “The doctor said I could as long as I didn’t overdo it. I have to listen to my body, he said.” She looked at the baby and asked, “Is your Daddy talking to you and showing you the snow.”

Nathaniel smiled and leaned in close as they gazed at the beautiful child they had made together. “All the magic in the world pales in comparison to this.”

Monica Ferris

an author with many hats

A Land of Curiosity

From the files of Shynian Intelligence

Heather's Fancies

tales from the enchanted gardens and shadow hollow


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