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The Unspeller and the Book of Days


Ungifted
Aesa stared at the box. It was a small, simple wooden box with leather hinges and no clasp. It would
hardly take any effort at all to open it, just the smallest spell. He opened his palm, getting ready to cast the
magic.
Maybe the elusive power would come now, when he needed it most. His palms grew sweaty. The gift
had never come before.
A hush settled over the classroom. He saw the big ger boys leaning forward and some of the smaller
children squirming for a better view.
No other schools gave magic exams. It certainly wasn't the kind of birthday present he wanted.
Of course, no other village had a child fourteen years of age without showing signs of magic ability
either. Every child born had magic from birth. Small children opened their hands to magic almost by instinct.
Everyone had magic, except Aesa Jereward.
He had watched others create magic all his life, seeing the delicate runes spark and spells rush out to
perform their assigned tasks. He lived in an enchanted world, but he could not be a part of it. In any other
century he might have been pitied. No one could afford that now. A half a century ago an oracle made the
devastating prediction that all magic would end. Tuatha reeled in panic, the four kingdoms alternating
between working to find a way to save magic and accusing the others of being the cause.
Then Aesa was born. He didn't have the slightest inkling of magic in him. There was no one like him
in all the four kingdoms, and the older he grew the more the word spread of the child who had no gift.
The box waited, the lid closed. Aesa imagined that the lid weighed as much as a mountain,
impervious to any spell, even if he could cast it.
Lord Wexler stood over him, his dark eyes a mystery, though Aesa guessed what the tall nobleman
might be thinking.
The time had come to reveal once and for all that Aesa had no gift, and probably never would. Even
more frightening, the time had come to decide what to do about it. Aesa's heart beat faster. All his nightmares
were coming true with this small box.
He moved his fingers and said the words in a weak voice, willing the magic to come alive. He waited
for the rush of heat and magic that his older brothers promised would come. He prayed for the rune to
spark, the sign that magic would rise. He waited and then his hand froze. The schoolroom remained still. His
face burned and he knew he would have to admit he couldn't open the box.
Suddenly the lid lifted, exposing the roughly carved interior.
Aesa's head jerked up to face Lord Wexler. The black-haired man stared back, disbelief in his eyes.
Smoothing his already slick hair, the nobleman rocked back on his heels. Anyone in the Wexler family line had
coal-black hair. Even after centuries of marriages to other family lines, the trait remained strong. The mark
of royalty could not be quenched. “Can you close it?”
Aesa knew he had not opened the box. What's more, he had not sparked a rune the first time, yet
they all believed he had cast the spell.
Someone was helping him, though he wasn't sure whether it was his twin brother and sister or Cai,
the only friend he had left.
Cai leaned forward, his coal black hair falling in his eyes. As Lord Wexler's son and Aesa's friend, he
 
 
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