The Unspeller and the Book of Days
Aesa woke up the next day to a clear morning. He could see the pale sky through the bedside window
that overlooked the sea. Turning away from the gray horizon, he closed his fist, the way he had seen his older
brothers do when they called up their magic. He imagined that his eyes could light and the power would circle
his irises. He'd done this every morning, ever since he could remember.
As always, his palm remained lifeless, no magic stirring in his hand.
He pushed his blankets away and rolled out of bed, facing the chill of early morning. His feet hit the
wood floor and the warmth seeped out of the soles of his feet. The small hearths in each bedroom were
hardly enough to warm the large Jereward home.
He still wasn't used to sleeping alone in his room. His three older brothers had returned to Na Serin
late last night and he missed them.
The rest of his family moved about the house downstairs, the twins bickering about who would get
to use which bowl. Dalynara spoke in low tones to their father, her voice carrying softly under the twins'
Aesa wasn't surprised that she'd stayed the night. She liked to be at home whenever she could.
He got dressed and walked down the creaking wooden stairs. He stopped briefly at the hearth to take
the morning chill from his hands before going to the table.
Tannon stirred her oatmeal so vigorously it spilled over the sides. She picked up the bowl and licked
off the sides, getting some of it on her chin.
Aesa touched the top of her head as he passed by. She ignored him, turning instead to Dalynara.
“Where is Dex?” she asked.
“Oh, he's here. He just isn't showing himself.” Dalynara gazed at an unseen spot across the table, one
hand twirling her dark gold hair. Her light blue eyes were vague. She once told Aesa that she could see two
worlds at once.
“I want to see him,” Tannon demanded.
The ghost suddenly appeared…taking Aesa's chair. Aesa moved to the next empty chair and scowled
at the ghost.
"Yes, haha, you have my chair,” he grumbled. “You don't even need a chair, you know.”
The spirit inclined his head in a gentlemanly bow.
“Hello Dex,” Tannon said. A gold light circled her irises, her magic bubbling up with her happiness.
She held out a slice of bread. “Have some bread.”
Tandrick, one of the twins, corrected her. “Ghosts can't eat.”
“He must eat something,” Gesta argued.
Tandrick looked at her in disgust. “They're dead. They don't eat.”
The two of them abruptly stopped speaking aloud. The dark-haired Tandrick stared at the fair-haired
Gesta, both of them intent on winning an argument no one else could hear. Their mother claimed it was her
favorite thing about the twins—silent bickering.
With the silence, Aesa realized his parents and Dalynara were watching him. He chewed thoughtfully
and looked back at them.
Dalynara cleared her throat and glanced over at Dex. “Dex knows about the test Lord Wexler gave
yesterday. And Gesta's fight. We're a little worried about the other students.”
How the ghost knew this was a mystery, but Aesa couldn't argue the truth.
“Don't worry about it,” he finally said, the food going down his throat in a tasteless lump.
“We've talked to Professor Licrae,” his mother hastily added. “He doesn't think there should be any
trouble for you.”
Aesa nodded, taking a drink instead of answering. Licrae was just like everyone else in the village—
the teacher respected Aesa's parents because the court favored the Jereward family so much, but if Aesa were
someone else's child he probably wouldn't be in school. No one wanted an ungifted child to taint the other