This story, in its entirety, is a prelude to a longer work. I would really appreciate feedback on it. So please, if you have the chance, leave a review! Much love to everyone, and I hope you enjoy it!


THE BROTHERS MAGIUS

- M -

Preface

Summer had come.

The snow that had coated the Far Mountains of Solun Cryslin slowly melted away, becoming nothing more than the dampness on grass or the wet feel of the air. The flowers that had carefully emerged during a frosty springtime began to blossom. Only the winding paths, surrounded by all sorts of beautiful plants and trees, retained a weary state, for summer was the time of year in which they were most trodden.

The main path carved a way through wild groves, branching off in every different direction and eventually leading down to valleys that stretched out at ground level. One obscure offshoot, however, led to a secluded, picturesque mountain home that lay about halfway between the summit and the earth. It was made completely of rich, auburn wood. The second story and roof ended below the treetops. Out in front, there was a long yard with two prosperous gardens that grew on either side of a path. The carefully-built wooden fences surrounded it in a perfectly symmetrical rectangle, and culminated in a gate that centrally crossed the trail.

On that gate, a symbol was engraved: two serpents with their tails winding into an ornate letter "M".

It was an ancient sigil, deriving from the sigil of the clan of Bierna and symbolizing the family name "Magius". The family that lived in the house went by that name, and was among the few left that still bore it. Some would have called them the picture of civility and normality, but others would have sensed that even the air around the house was tinged with the touch of magecraft. You could smell it, feel it, hear it. And on this bright summer morning, it was heard alongside childish laughter as two six-year-old little boys raced along the path that led from their home.

"I can beat you to the creek, Eric!" yelled one of them over his shoulder.

Eric was only a few feet behind his brother Cevin, and was already panting as he ran. "No! Mother says you're only a hair taller than me!"

"A hair's all I need; I always beat you!"

"Do not!"

"Do too!"

Cevin reached the gate first; the old, metal lock and hinges protested as he opened it. Eric nearly collided with his brother as caught up. From the far-off door of their house, a feminine voice called their names. The twins simultaneously turned and yelled out, "What, Mother?"

Lorah yelled again, but they still could not make out her words.

"She's probably just telling us to be careful," said Cevin flippantly. "That's what she always says." However, he lingered behind, trying to catch her intended message.

Eric, however, surged ahead, kicking dirt up behind him as he raced down the trail. "The race is still on!"

They continued running, laughing and yelling at one another in youthful merriment. The mountain vegetation rushed past them in a green blur. They would have tired sooner, but the fresh, unmarred breeze raised their spirits. The boys always began the summer with visits to the creek. They went there during the winter too, but it was always different then; it was frozen over, as was the pond it led to, and they would slip around on it, dampening their furs and pretending that they were gliding on it gracefully. But it was only the "creek" once the cold had ebbed. Only in the summertime could they splash in its crisp, clear waters and dig aimlessly in the muddy bank. The races were an unspoken tradition for the Magius twins.

Soon, Cevin, who had barely managed to pull ahead, felt the cool mud in between his bare toes. The familiar, welcome sound of flowing water met his ears. Some low tree boughs obscured the path ahead, but Cevin knew that once he brushed past those branches, he would see the surface of the creek.

Confident in his lead, he dared to cast a look back, and saw his twin's red, sweaty face. Cevin grinned. He knew that his own face was the exact mirror of what he saw behind him, but the difference was that he would get there first. Both of the brothers loved to race, but Cevin lived for running; he never felt as free as he did when his heart was pounding to the rhythm of his rapid footfalls. He always told his parents, Treon and Lorah, that he either wanted to be a warrior and a messenger someday. Both would give him freedom. Eric also said he wanted to fight and be a warrior, but he thought that being a messenger would be boring, and preferred to make things like parents did. Treon crafted wood and Lorah made tapestries. Their father had once been a soldier, in younger days, and his tales of battle were what made the boys want to be fighters someday.

Cevin pushed past the branches, and the creek was in sight. He brought himself to a halt, and smiled happily as he mopped the sweat from his forehead. "I win!" he called out.

But there was no reply.

He instantly looked back, but did not hear his brother's footsteps. "Eric?" Pushing back the branches, Cevin retraced his steps. His small heart thumped with both adrenaline and fear.

"I'm over here," somebody mumbled.

Eric's voice was coming from the right side of road, somewhere behind the cover of trees. Cevin breathed a sigh of relief; Eric sounded intrigued, not hurt. His twin was easily distracted and got caught up in observing every tiny detail when something interested him.

"What are you doing?" Cevin asked. He slid in between the vegetation, aware of how the new grass and flowers felt as he stepped on them. Eric was in a small clearing, crouched on the ground and staring at what appeared to be nothing. "Mother always tells us to stay on the trails," he scolded.

"We never do anyway," replied Eric, not bothering to look at his brother. Only when Cevin came to stand beside him did he notice what Eric was so fascinated by.

It was a perfectly round circle of dirt that cut through the grass, and an ornament was staked to the ground in the center of it. It was the exact symbol that was on their front gate.

"What is it?" asked Cevin, crouching besides Eric.

His twin shook his head. "Dunno. But I can't believe we never noticed it before. Do you think it's treasure?"

"Maybe. Or maybe it's a dead person!"

"Yeah!"

Both of them giggled, but neither made a move to dig up whatever the sigil marked.

"I guess if it's a dead person, we should leave it alone," said Eric reluctantly.

"But mother and father say that we're the only people who've lived up here for years!"

"You're the one who said it might be a body."

Cevin reached out and touched the silver. It was warm. "Well...now I say we should see what it's hiding. We can bury it again before it's time to go home."

"I dunno, Cev..."

"C'mon, Eric! You spent a million years staring at it! Don't you want to know what's down there?"

They shared a look, and then identical grins spread across their faces.

It took both their strength to pull the staked symbol out, but they managed it and unceremoniously tossed it to the side. They dug at the soil with their bare hands, and managed to penetrate roughly a foot of dirt before resting their filthy, tired fingers.

"Whatever's down there, it's too deep for us to get without a shovel," Cevin lamented.

"But we can't bring a shovel out here," Eric pointed out. "Mother and Father would know that we're up to something. They always do."

The brothers sat still for a moment, gazing at their small pit. The light that shone down through the trees was blotted out for a moment as the sun passed behind a cloud. As they again became aware of the singing of birds and passing of time, Eric realized that they had been digging for quite some time. "It must be near luncheon," he said quietly. Cevin nodded, and Eric continued. "We'd better leave."

"But don't we have to fill it back up?"

"We can come back tomorrow."

Eric rose to his feet and brushed the dirt off his knees. Then, he reached down and offered his twin a hand. Dejected and disappointed, they started to move out of the clearing, and made their way back onto the main paths. Eric knew that when they returned, it would be hard to put the dirt backā€”he wanted so badly to keep digging. He supposed they could ask their father, Treon, about the mysterious marking. But would Treon condone their attempt to unearth it? Also, there was some lingering, secretive doubt in the young boy that told him to say nothing. He wondered if Cevin felt the same thing...then again, the twins almost always had the same thoughts and feelings.

"Eric?"

Eric didn't care to turn around. He knew that their mother would already be puttering nervously around the house, waiting for them to return. "Let's go, Cev," he called out over his shoulder.

"Eric!"

This time he did turn around. Cevin was staring back into the clearing, his eyes wide with shock. His mouth was hanging open, and for a second Eric had to stifle a laugh at how ridiculous his brother looked. Then he realized exactly what it was that had Cevin so entranced.

A green light emanated from the clearing.

"Whoa..." Eric breathed. Cevin nodded. For a few more moments, the two stared in dumbfounded delight; then they bounded back in, practically pushing one another in their haste to return. The feel of the grass was cool and damp underneath their bare feet, and now that they realized that their attempts had not been in vain, the brothers were incredibly excited. Everything seemed brighter for a moment, even when the trees grew thicker and obscured some sunlight.

The hole was still as it had been, deep and messy in the middle of the small expanse. However, the twins stopped running once they reached it, because something was obviously very different now. A filmy, sparkling cover stretched over it; it was a dazzling emerald green, and the light that it produced was enough to fill everything near it.

"It's spelled! Eric, it's spelled!"

Eric merely nodded. He was far too intrigued to say anything. When Cevin started to move towards it, Eric put a hand out to bar his brother's progress.

"What is it?" asked Cevin, annoyed.

Eric's voice was earnest when he answered his twin. "What if it hurts you?"

Cevin stopped, suddenly wary. He had always been the more impetuous of the two. "We can't just leave it like that."

Eric shook his head. "No, we can't. But we can do it slowly and do it together..."

"You sound like Mother," Cevin said with a grin.

Eric simply grinned back. Then, the two reached out and held hands, taking comfort in their brotherly love as they walked to the precipice of the hole they had managed to dig. The green light grew ever more intense.

They were looking into it now. The emerald layer seethed with magic, and the "M" of the Magius household stood in the middle, sparkling in a paler shade of green. Suddenly, a surge of pure energy shot through the handhold that Eric and Cevin shared, and they both took a step back in surprise. They stared at one another with wide eyes. Eric sought to withdraw his hand, but Cevin only made his grip firmer. The two stepped forward again and stared.

The pale green lettering had re-arranged itself, and now spelled the word "Speak".

Speak.

A silky, feminine voice uttered the same word. Eric and Cevin looked around, wondering at its source. They found nothing. More and more, the brothers realized that the voice had not come from any of their surroundings; rather, it was the vocalization of the spell itself, a mental link between them and the magic that had surfaced as part of the incantation. The voice had been in their minds.

"What do we say?" whispered Cevin.

The letters began shifting and re-arranging once more.

Eric shoved his twin with his shoulder. "Way to go, stupid. It only wanted you to speak and you just did!"

"Look, Eric."

Your Name. This is the test. Only a Magius is true.

Again, the words etched into the spell-cover resounded in their thoughts and being.

Cevin nudged Eric. He was beyond words, and did not want to risk uttering the wrong thing again. His brother shifted restlessly before speaking, and when he did, his voice was small and tremulous.

"We are Eric and Cevin Magius," said Eric.

In a moment, everything around them exploded in a discharge of green light and raw power. The two brothers were knocked off their feet and grunted as they landed in the grass, torn away from each other. Translucent swirls of every color radiated from the hole in a single pillar. The pillar was encased in an emerald field, and the magic it emanated seemed to throb in beat to some unheard music. Eric and Cevin could feel the beat match the beat of their hearts. Their fear quieted as the magic swept through them, and the frantic beat became steady and calm. The pillar gracefully descended.

Once again, the voice spoke to them. Its tone was tinged with triumph and pride.

Accepted.

The light dissipated, and soon the magic was gone.

"Eric?"

"Cev?"

The twins slowly rose to their knees, instantly reaching to each others' shoulders for support. What now stood before them was much different from their feeble hole. A fissure had opened in the ground, and the clearing seemed to have grown. No trees had been touched, but they were cluttered together, and it was as though they had crowded away from the enchanted ground to make room for this new opening.

Eric and Cevin stood silently. They did not say so much as a word to one another as they looked into the hole, and their silence became unspeakable awe as they stared down in amazement.

A small marble staircase stretched a few feet into the gap, and the dirt walls rose in perfect symmetry. The stairs led to a small platform. On that platform, a glass case had been opened, and a crimson cushion lay upon it. Two weapons stood out in stark contrast to the blood-red velvet.

They were two, full-length spears, crafted of silver that glinted when touched by the radiant sunlight of noon. Without questioning, Eric and Cevin walked down to them.

Written across the length of each spear was the name Treon Magius, the name of their father. As each boy touched one, however, the letters disappeared and reformed.

Now, one read Cevin Magius and the other read Eric Magius.

The brothers Magius stared in wonder. They had uncovered the legendary Silver Spears, the weapons of their forefathers, and now possessed them by the authority of white magic itself.

- M -