Seeing myself in the snarling amber of Urias' eyes, I'm proud that I don't look intimidated. His lip curls upwards into a sneer, and my palms tingle with the wish for a blade to defend myself, but I'm not allowed to carry one so openly. My father would be unhappy if he found out I'd pulled a sword on a mage, anyway.
"Get out of the way, Kit," Urias drawls, nevertheless, it is rough with suppressed aggression. I guess he's just as miserable to come across me as I am to come across him. Though you would have thought he'd have guessed that I would be in my garden.
"Are you here to say goodbye to Kasper?" I ask, keeping my tone light. I pick the white paint off the top of the gate, still blocking his way inside. The chipped white flecks stand out brightly against my russet brown skin.
Urias opens his mouth to reply, but the door slams open behind me at that moment. Kasper, my older brother, shoves the trunk through the door. It grates against the ground with a loud screeching sound. I run over, abandoning my post at the gate, and pick it up for him. Kasper grins at me as I lift it out of his path and lay it out on the grass, ready to pack it into the carriage.
Kasper is broad and tall, a heroic-looking figure made to stand in the limelight, the wind blowing through his sandy magic-blond hair. I'm shorter than him, with a wiry strength to my slight frame, so I look up at him as he strides over to the gate and nods his head to Urias.
Urias' mouth is a thin line as he nods back.
"Come to see me off?" Kasper asks, flashing a radiant grin.
"My father sent me to pass on his regards before you left." There's an ungracious glint to Urias' eye that I don't like. I want to go over there, place my body between his and Kasper's, but that is overblown. Urias is a bully, but he's not dangerous. Besides, if Urias tried anything, I'm less than a few yards away. Kasper isn't unprotected.
"Well... That's nice of him," Kasper says, rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly and casting about for something to say.
There isn't enough around us to spark conversation. Sheep. Birds. Dry stone walls. Mountains in the distance with misty peaks, and a forest to the other end of the valley that obscures the view further inland. Our small family cottage is on the hill, away from the village proper, with an unobstructed view in all directions. Perfect for seeing anyone coming for miles.
Not so great if you're hoping to be saved from awkward conversations, though.
"Well... I won't keep you..." Kasper says finally, slapping the top of the gate and trying to give Urias another winning smile.
Urias scowls. "Aren't you even going to offer me tea or something?"
"Oh," Kasper's face colours. "Actually, we don't... I mean, it's not..."
"We allow no one inside the walls without my dad's permission," I say, voice firm. "My mother set up wards. I can get you tea, but you'll drink it out there."
Urias rolls his eyes. "Isn't that a little paranoid? I'm a Light mage. It's not like I'm going to take off my cloak and reveal Daegol riding my back up the mountain."
Kasper finds this amusing, he laughs. I don't.
"Rules are rules." I walk over to Kasper and giving in to the urge to put myself between him and Urias now. "You stay on that side of the fence, and we stay on that side."
"Oh yeah? But in a few hours, you're going to be on this side of the walls, aren't you?" Urias points out. "Not going to hide away in the mountains anymore, then. You'll be on the front lines. How are you going to act like a good little guard dog when-"
There's a soft click of fingers and heat next to my cheek. Through the corner of my eye, I see that Kasper has conjured up a blue flame. He's not doing much better than waving it around, playing with it, making it leap from finger to finger with precision that makes me a little envious. If I had magic, I wouldn't have to just watch Kasper leave for university today. I might have been able to go with him.
"Whatever," Urias huffs, folding his arms. "Good luck and all that. Kit, I'll see you around."
Urias turns, his brown cloak switching as he stomps down the mountain, blond hair gleaming in the sunlight.
"Well... I was worried about making friends when I got to the university, but now I'm thinking it might be easier than it was here..." Kasper says, laughing as he blows out the fire on his fingers.
I push his shoulder lightly so as not to cause injury. "You're the Chosen One, you worrying lump. Everyone is going to want to be your friend. You should be more worried about how you're going to manage all the friends you make."
Kasper is my opposite. Well-liked, personable, outgoing. While we share the same dark skin, his eyes are bright gold to match his hair. A mark of magic. Meanwhile, I'm just a Brown Hair, not worthy of looking at twice were it not for the peculiar throwback from my father's genetics that gave me bright blue eyes. I've read that sometimes, even in mixed-race children, it can happen. Though it is rare. Rarer still considering that I did not inherit any magic from my mage mother. No, in most things I took after my father.
"You're staring at me and it's weird," Kasper laughs, swiping as though to grab me. I jump out of the way with ease, not letting him grab me. He's much too slow to get me. Years and years of training, deep in the night when my mother and brother were already in bed, have given me fast reflexes.
"Show-off," Kasper teases, even though he gives up with an affable shrug. "What about you? When I'm gone, are you going to spend more time outside and make some friends? Maybe with Urias?"
"I'd rather pickle my own eyeballs," I reply drily. "But I'm sure I'll fill my time."
I know how I will fill my time. Unlike everyone else in this village, there is something special about me. Not by birth, but by design. I have a Purpose. A task entrusted to me by Prophecy, and one that no one else can know about. Not even Kasper. I will fight by his side, ensure that he can fulfil his destiny and overcome the evil Dark mage Daegol, even if it costs me my life. It is vital to Kasper's success, that I am the soldier that he can rely on, his shield, his assassin if need be, his advisor. His needs are my needs, his wants are my wants. Until we fulfil the Prophecy, we are one person.
So filling my time will not be a concern. In the one year or less that we will be apart, I intend to train until I am sharp, honed into a blade for him to use as effectively as his magic.
"I guess I'm just worried about you," Kasper's brows draw together. "You're my little brother and I'm allowed to be a bit anxious, you know?"
I smile, smothering the irony deep down. "I know. But we'll be together soon. I bet Dad won't even wait six months before he's sending me down to join you."
Over the top of the mountains, the sky is turning darker. Rain gathering and heading our direction. I sigh, glancing at the trunk on the grass outside and wondering if it's going to be alright outside in the wet.
"Better get back inside. I've got way more packing to do. I can't decide whether to take all my cloaks, or just my best ones, you know?" Kasper continues to babble as he heads back inside.
I glance back to the mountains, to Urias' retreating as he gets to the village, then finally back to the trunk again.
A shudder runs down my spine.