Halfling Part 2
His Air magic first emerged when he was ten. He had accidentally made a book fly off the top shelf and hit his uncle in the head. After regaining consciousness, his uncle was thrilled that Caden would be a mage. All Caden had understood at that time was that flying books meant he got out of trouble.
It was less than a week later that Uncle Rand had brought a mage over from the Academy to measure Caden’s potential. The mage had been older, his gray robes lined with red thread and clashing with his brown beard. Caden remembered running and hiding because he thought being a mage meant he had to grow an ugly beard.
I shouldn’t have worried, Caden thought as he looked in the mirror, his hand stroking his 19-year-old hairless face. I may be the oldest in the class, but I have yet to grow a whisker.
Once Uncle Rand had coaxed young Caden out of hiding, the Fire Mage had placed his hands on Caden’s temple to get a sense of his magical strength. The mage’s hands had been cold, and Caden unwittingly used his magic to shove the man away. The Fire Mage toppled over backwards and earned a broken wrist.
Caden’s name was put on the Academy’s enrollment list immediately.
“Caden!” His roommate came bounding in, his white apprentice robe all twisted along his torso.
“Your cuffs are inside out,” Caden said as he straightened his own robe self-consciously.
Jaxon fixed the blue cuffs and said, “Are you ready yet? You take more time to get dressed than a girl.”
“At least my robe isn’t on backwards.” Caden smirked as he watched Jaxon in the mirror inspect himself.
“Very funny.” At the very least, Jaxon straightened his own robe out. “I thought you’d be more excited about finally graduating from this place, having been held back a year and all.”
“Having a second chance at First Year helped me control my magic better,” Caden said. “You weren’t at the Academy to see my disastrous entrance to this place.”
Jaxon grinned. “Story time!”
Caden chuckled and finally turned away from the mirror to find Jaxon flopped on his stomach on his unmade bed and staring at Caden expectantly. “Didn’t you ever wonder why they were refurnishing the front gates when you arrived?”
“The broken gates were your fault?” Jaxon gaped at him. “You? Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes?”
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Caden said. “But, yes, I accidentally tore down the top points of the gates when I was frustrated with a score on one of my first tests.”
“What, you were one point away from a perfect score?” Jaxon grinned unabashedly when Caden glared at him. “So, that’s what made the Academy decide to keep you back?”
“I believe that was the final straw.”
“And what’d the professors do to make you straighten up your act?” Jaxon’s grin was a bit too wide for Caden’s liking.
“If you could call staying back a year a punishment,” Caden said, “then that was all the reprimanding I got. I have never strayed from my Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes persona while at the School.”
Jaxon sighed. “I thought the idea of you taking a risk for some fun was too good to be true. Are you ready yet?”
Caden was going to run a comb through his brown hair one last time, but decided against it. “Yes, yes, let’s go.”
Jaxon jumped up from his bed with an excited whoop and cut Caden off at the door. Caden locked the door to their now-empty dorm after glancing around at it for the last time and turned to realize Jaxon was already down the hall and by the stairs.
“What are you going to do after graduation?” Caden asked as the pair descended the stairs.
Jaxon, taking two steps at a time, glanced back at him. “My father owns a construction company, and they could always use Airs to help suspend and move materials. What about you?”
Caden shrugged. “Uncle Rand wants me to join the Guardians–” He frowned when Jaxon interrupted him with a snort.
“Sorry.” The blond didn’t sound sorry at all. “We just had a conversation about you being too good, though. I just can’t see you in the army.”
“Neither can I,” Caden admitted. “Uncle Rand is willing to have me home, but I’ll probably just be entertainment for his party guests.”
“Army man or entertainer…” Jaxon used his hands as a makeshift scale, pretending to balance the two ideas. “Those are quite different careers.”
“The family of a Guardian gets good benefits,” Caden said as the pair walked through the School grounds towards the dining hall.
“At the expense of the Guardian.”
“Hey, they protect us,” Caden said. “Imagine if they weren’t at the border keeping those beasts at bay.” Jaxon winced at the mention of beasts. “It must be an honor to be a Guardian–”
“You should be a spokesman for the recruiters,” Jaxon said dryly while holding the dining hall door open for Caden. “Your riveting speech nearly made me run to the center and sign my life away.” Caden didn’t respond, but rolled his eyes when Jaxon’s back was turned.