It was a yearly tradition, being chosen as the sorcerer for the kingdom, by the king and his council. But it wasn’t their choice alone: The sorcerer in power wore an amulet that shone bright red when their successor was in the room. For a while, all was peaceful: The sorcerer used their magic to help improve the lives of everyone in the kingdom.
That was until the young Prince Alastair became king. The boy did not believe in magic, not in the way that it was used in their kingdom. If magic was used in the kingdom, it should have been used strictly for the crown. When the sorcerer protested this injustice, King Alastair banned all of the magic entirely.
If it was not used for the crown, no one would use it at all. As a result, the fields grew fallow and barren, and people throughout the kingdom began to die. But it didn’t matter to the new king; what were the lives of a few peasants? He celebrated his coronation with a grand party and feast, and the ceremony was lavish and extravagant.
King Alastair, I thought bitterly, was nothing like monarchs that had ruled before him.
I was on the outskirts of my village, scavenging for food. I’d managed to find some leftovers in pantries of broken, long abandoned houses. Half-empty bags of grain, pickled fruits and vegetables. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing.
Putting my spoils in the sack on my back, I walked into a broken, crumbling hut. There was a faint, ruby shimmer coming from the dark. The hut’s only occupants were spiders and rats, but nonetheless, I tiptoed through the hut, following the light. I was spurred on by a feeling I didn’t understand.
I found the source of the light in the ashes of a fireplace: it glittered like an ember, and I knelt on the hearth, digging through the ashes. There was an amulet, made out of gold: It was so tarnished that I could barely tell what it was made out of. But the jewel it held inside of it caught my eye. It looked like something out of an old book, and when I touched it, it sparkled. The ashes fell away, and it gleamed like new.
Something about the necklace teased my memory; it was like something from a dream I could barely remember. It felt as if it were meant for me, and before I fully realized what I was doing, I put the amulet in my sack.
I began to forage through what was left of the family who’d lived here before, and there wasn’t much. There was a wedge of hard cheese, some dried fruit, and a heel of bread that had somehow evaded mold.
It would keep myself and my family fed for another couple days, at least.
My palm itched from where I had touched the amulet, and I gritted my teeth, trying not to scratch it.
When I returned home with my pack stuffed to the brim, I sat by the fire.
I scratched absently at my hand and realized that there was a bright blue streak cutting through my palm.
What did it mean?