Warlocks were not to be trifled with.
That’s how the saying goes. How it’s been for thousands of years, despite no one really using the word “trifled” anymore.
Because there really wasn’t any other way to put it.
Warlocks were not to be trifled with.
How stupid do you have to be to ignore a thousand-year-old saying?
Pretty stupid, I think.
So, I don’t know what that makes me. But, it probably isn’t good.
Blue flames danced out of his hands, breaking and conforming to form small balls. Tiny fires, like fireflies. They flitted up and away, engulfing his aura in flames. Casting blue shadow on his glowing red eyes, his warlock markings that ran like blue lightning across his face. The color bursted in and out of his tattoo, which was something tribal. Something old.
The flames had been following me for days. Tracking me like flies that were trained as homing devices.
I wasn’t sure who figured it out for me. All I know is:
I had no idea it was a warlock’s doing.
Not for a few days.
Not until someone told me.
And, now that I stood in front of him, I felt that this was a mistake. That maybe, just maybe, confronting a warlock wasn’t a good idea.
He grinned, showing off his fangs made of gold. The dark red hood he wore would have kept most of his face hidden if it weren’t for the flames in his hands.
And the ones in his face.
“I’m glad you finally pieced it together. Having my flames dance around you without result was getting tiring,” he remarked.
“Why have them follow me at all?” I demanded.
You know, I knew the saying. I did. Really, I’d heard it before. At least a hundreds times. If not, then, at least a thousand.
The words left my mouth without a thought. As if I were speaking to someone normal. Someone who I could hit, could punch, could touch.
As if I were speaking to a human.
Not a warlock.
His grin became more catlike. As if he were on the prowl and he’d finally found a bird. Something to hunt. To chase.
“Do you know what you are?”
It seemed like a dumb question to me.
He gave a gruff laugh. Like a lion laughing off a kitten’s paw.
“No. If my laugh didn’t give you that impression, I’ll tell you plainly. No, you’re not a human. You never have been, never will be. Never could have been.” And his voice dropped, gaining some low kind of mystic tone. As if his words were a secret that would expose the very foundation of the earth. Strip the trees of their bark. Expose the stars. Make the whole world naked.
And with that tone, he gave me a half-smile. One that was nothing like any of the expressions he wore before.
“You are so much more than human.”
The words sent chills down my spine. Lightning blue lit his facial markings, his warlock cast. That’s what the tattoos were called.
And, I must say, his cast seemed strong. Ran with thick, dark ink. That was the sign of a powerful warlock. An older, stronger being.
An unnatural being.
Apprehension lit up my body like a Christmas tree. Red flags going off in every direction, in every inch of my mind.
“What am I then?”
I shouldn’t have said anything.
I shouldn’t have gone out there.
I shouldn’t have tried to find him.
It was all a mistake.
All of it.
And none of it could be erased. Undone.
Maybe if I’d continued to hide, I wouldn’t have known. Could have hidden the truth from others. From myself. It had been working up to that point, so why not for the rest of my life, right?
But that isn’t how it works.
And not magic.
And certainly not the truth.
Because warlocks always get what they want. And magic is a free reign thing. And, as for the truth…
It can’t be stopped.
So even if I hadn’t gone out to the warlock that day, I probably would’ve found out eventually. It would have been revealed to me sometime, in some place, at some point.
The warlock simply sped the process up.
Looking at me with a new sort of gleam in his eyes like rubies, he said it.
“You’re a sleeping wolf. A cinder in a haystack. The bear at the back of the cave. You simply need some stoking. To be woken up. And then you will be what you were intended to be.”
Which, in all honesty, still didn’t answer my question.
“And what is that, exactly?”
The flames danced and then burst, exploding into a thousand tiny blue bits of ash.
And then the forest was aflame.
But before I could react, the warlock stepped forward. Was, somehow, right in front of me, grabbing me and pulling me close to him. Flush against his body.
He grinned at me, triumph glittering like gems in his eyes.
My blood ran cold.
Warlocks—creatures of magic, and of chaos, and of destruction—did not take apprentices. Couldn’t.
Unless they were bound in blood.
I could feel his teeth graze my ear as he leaned in and whispered to me.
“Yes. You will be my apprentice, and my wife. I will bind you to me, and I will foster your magic. Make it greater than my own.”
It sent another shudder down my spine.
Before I could fully comprehend, or decide if this was what I wanted or not, the warlock moved.
“Don’t think about rejecting me, little cat. Others will be out to gain your magic for themselves. Make you a tiger so they can pelt you. Allow me to help you, and you will be able to fend for yourself.”
He began walking backward, into the blue fires that ate away at the forest. His red eyes danced as he went.
“The choice is yours, of course, but, I must say, there isn’t much of a choice to make.”
And I found myself unable to argue.
Unable to resist his deal.
I won’t lie: the first few days of my training, I thought that maybe he had been lying to me. That it was a mistake. That maybe no one would really come for me. That I wasn’t really a warlock.
I found out how wrong I was.
How bad it was to trifle with a warlock.
Because, in the end, it wasn’t him that showed me.
It was me that showed them.
Don’t trifle with warlocks.
We’ll eat you alive.
Author’s note: if I made this into a whole story (which I, unfortunately, don’t have time for at the moment, or I probably would), the warlock would turn out to be a nice guy, I swear. They’d be married in name only until she was fully trained, and then she’d be allowed to go free. But, she’d make the decision to make it real. Just so everybody knows and nobody gets wigged out 😉