It's official. My 19 month old nephew can officially "head bang". I taught him how last night to The Scorpions and I am a proud Auntie. For those of you worried about him getting brain damage (like Mr. Mock was), it was the toddler version. He was only shaking his head back and forth ;) I promise not to let him damage his brain till much later! (<---joke)
But I also introduced him to Charlotte Diamond in the same night. He loved the "4 Hugs A Day" song and now I'm listening to it on repeat to relearn the words so I can sing it to him. He's just the literal best. He didn't want me to go and I felt so bad! He's at the age where he can communicate without a ton of words, with his adorable toddler gibberish. And he'll only speak on his own terms, which is some serious Mock vibes! Ha! Anyway, I could go on and on about this guy but that's not why you're here!
Today I decided to go with a Mads and Jude chapter. I wanted you to see how magic works in this verse and this is the intro to it. Magic in this verse will be a fantasied version of Quantum Physics which is a subject near and dear to Mock. I hope I've brought it to life for you in an enchanting way!
Also, go take a look at chapters 1 + 2 again (if you want). The edited and revised versions are up.
Dragon Tamer Chapter 3
Copyrighted Material to Mock
Jude understands why Payne didn’t know where to begin. Who would? How would that even go? Soooooo, two of your parents are dead but hey, know the potions professor who has been around your whole life? Who could have been there for you this whole time? Who could have prevented you having cold, petrifying nights in a barn with spiders nipping at your flesh? He’s your … “Which one are you?”
“You’ve gone off on a rant in your head. Before your wind yourself up, allow me to explain—”
“—which one are you?” Jude’s fingers burn with magic that wants to be released. It collected easy, without conscious thought or effort. He didn’t even know he was doing it.
Mads’s eyes flick to Jude’s fingers. “I am your father. You share genes with all of us, Jude—there are potions and spells, etcetera, to make that happen—but me being your father has some legal implications we’ll need to discuss.”
It’s a lot. Tumbling at him. A downpour. Jude can’t take all of it at once. He slides his chair out from the table, standing abruptly. He tugs at his hair. He can’t—he won’t lose control. It’s happened. He would lose control. Get angry. Take out a tractor. For one whole summer, Uncle Webster lowered his food rations to four days a week, claiming the money he would have used to feed Jude on the other days would go to buying a new tractor. His uncle worked him extra hours too.
It was so awful. He was so hungry.
Jude can’t freak out like other teens do. He’s not normal even for a wizard.
And while they hadn’t cuffed him, hadn’t issued more than the standard chastisement anyone else would have gotten when he’d destroyed his dorm room in primary school, worrying for a week that he would be cuffed and barred from his gift, paired with the anxiety of wondering if the Council would get involved and do just that was enough to make him extra cautious.
Part of him wondered if he and everyone else would be better off if he was cuffed and locked away from him gift, but the idea of cuffs terrified him more. Jude and his unusual powers have a complicated relationship. He’s scared to use them and scared to be without them.
Sometimes, they’re the only thing that makes him feel safe.
He takes three calming breaths. He needs a time out. Now. “Am I staying here then, Father?”
“You are but, Jude. We have to discuss—”
“—I can’t right now. Where am I staying?” Jude’s barely holding it together. His cells strain with effort to keep more energy from pulling into him. Why the professor hasn’t reaped what he’s already got in him, he doesn’t know. Payne knows what Jude’s capable of. Jude doesn’t tell anyone. He hadn’t known how Payne knew.
Now he knows.
Payne, his father, blinks at him. He nods. “Follow me.”
He leads Jude through dark hallways that light for him when he steps forth. They walk up creaky stairs. Everything around him has the sensation of waking up. Like yawning. Like the house has been asleep for some time.
Jude takes breaths and counts to ten multiple times. He won’t lose it. He won’t. This situation is … well there’s no other word, it’s fucked up. But he’d still rather be with Payne than set foot on that farm ever again. He doesn’t want to give Mads any reason to send him back.
His … father stops at a room. It lights up to reveal a large bed—larger than Jude’s ever seen—in the center of a massive room. The décor isn’t to his tastes. It’s typical, old-fashioned wizard style. But it’s got pillows—so many pillows—and a duvet comforter that’s going to be warm. He’ll get lost under that thing. He wipes a tear.
“This is the room meant for the Prince heir. That’s you, Jude. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
Heir? He’s an heir? And Prince? Is that a family name? Wait, that would make Mads Payne not a Payne.
No. He won’t let his curiosity about that or anything else distract him from his anger. “Thank you, sir. I can take it from here.”
“You don’t want me to dust anything off for you? The house should get itself back to rights by the end of the week, but it’s been asleep for a long time. Until then we may have to do some things without the manor’s assistance.”
Fine with me.
Even at school Jude doesn’t use his gift if he can help it. He certainly doesn’t need a house doing magic for him. Other than to practice for schoolwork and to play football, he uses his gift minimally, afraid to get too used to it and do something in front of Uncle Webster.
“As your magical guardian, you have my permission to use any of the spells and skills you’ve learned at school in our home. But are you sure you don’t want me to help you out this time?”
He would insist on dusting it himself, but he’s not sure he can, and he needs it gone. Dust makes him itch. It’s already bothering him. There’s no way he’ll get enough of it out of that comforter without magic. Plus, Payne owes him. He’s not exactly sure why, just that he does. “If you wouldn’t mind, sir. And can you…? Please.”
He holds his glowing hands out.
“I thought you’d want to keep that. To feel safe.”
Jude shakes his head. “No, sir.”
Mads’s razor brow dips. He looks like he’s calculating pi in his head. He relaxes and moves toward Jude. Unlike earlier, when he burned Jude’s magic away as quickly as snuffing out a candle, his father places a calloused Potions Master hand over each of his. “You’re going to take a breath and then you’re going to exhale this into me.”
Jude panics. “But, sir, I’ll—”
“—please, Parker. I don’t have a death wish. I want to show you something so you can relax. Do it.”
Fine. If he’s blasted to smithereens, he’ll have only himself to blame. Jude pulls a breath and exhales heavily. His father catches the energy—all of it—as easily as if Jude’s only tossed him a baseball rather than enough energy to blow apart a football pitch. “How did you do that?”
Jude knows Mads is powerful, but he’s never seen anyone do that.
“Magic,” he says.
Mads smirks. “You’re going to have to get a little older if you want to harness enough energy to blow me apart.”
“Is that why I’m … because you’re…?”
“The Prince line is one of the oldest wizarding families in existence. Not far behind Merlin himself. Your mother was also a skilled and powerful wizard despite not coming from an old line, but this,” he wiggles his fingers, the massive amount of energy sprinkling out as no more than pixie dust, “you get from me.”
Jude crosses his arms and presses his hawk-like brow into a glare, unamused by his father’s display, which is clearly him showing off. Something he’s been told by Mads not to do.
“I invented that look, Parker. It’s not going to work on me. I just wanted you to know, I can handle whatever you throw at me so you can loosen up. You’re not going back to that place,” Mads assures him, speaking to his unspoken concern. “C’mon. I’ll show you how to get the dust off your bed.”
That little demonstration works. Jude relaxes. Knowing that something—someone—even more powerful than you exists is comforting. Payne is okay. Jude could be okay, too.
Payne can handle Jude.
His father shows him how to take the energy that builds in his hands and shift it into the air he holds in his mouth. “Blow gently at first until you can gauge how much you need to move the dust and hold your intent in here,” he says, placing a hand on his belly. “Magic is a least fifty percent intent.”
“Shouldn’t I hold it over my heart if that’s the case?” Some professors teach it that way, over the heart. They all argue over how much intent and this and that and everything else goes into casting.
“Only if you want to evoke more powerful magic. We’re just lightly dusting here, Parker.”
He’s teasing but it’s fond teasing. The man before him is different again. Gentle. Teaching with care, like how Myra taught him and Preston. Jude fills with warmth. He’s always wanted something like this, which only makes his heart squeeze more painfully knowing he could and should have had it at any time. He didn’t need to be an orphan because he wasn’t one.
He attempts to blow his gifted air toward the bedspread. He’s not as successful as the professor. “That was a good first try,” Mads says finishing the job in one gust of air. “You’ll get better with practice.”
Jude wants to sink into the praise, but he forces himself to maintain a frosty exterior. “I should be getting on,” he says.
“Right. All the important things you have to do.” Jude scowls. “Very well. But in the morning, we talk. I can make you, you know.”
“How do you figure?”
“Because I am your father.” Jude’s stomach swoops at the word. Is he teasing Jude? He is. He’s teasing again and it’s weird. The man isn’t supposed to have this many layers. He’s supposed to be his usual spine-chilling, one-dimensional self. “I’m sorry, Jude. I’m just happy you’re here. I’ll go. A word of caution. Don’t leave this room—too many things to wake up. I’m sure I’ll have to do some exterminating. I’ll set wards for your room so nothing can get in.”
What the hell is this place? “Yes, sir.”
He leaves. Jude doesn’t care about dust. He falls on the bed intent on sleeping and figuring this out tomorrow. The bed, the comforter, the pillows … they’re so warm and soft. A stark metamorphosis from the dank barn and prickly hay.
He’s still hungry—maybe he should have had tea before bailing on their conversation, it would have filled his belly. Payne will feed him tomorrow, won’t he?
Jude reasons that, yes, he probably will. Before he closes his eyes, he catches the moon again. Same moon, different angle. Still too cheerful and maybe a bit cheeky like she knows something he doesn’t. Like she knows everything he doesn’t.
Jude closes his eyes.
Jude can’t sleep. There are too many noises as the house wakes up. There’s too much on his mind. He absently lights and snuffs out the candle on his bedside table, repeating the action several times and allowing it to calm him. It reminds him he has control now, unlike when he was younger.
It stops him from gathering when he’s scared.
In primary school when they were learning how to light candles, Jude flopped. Such a tiny wick. How was he supposed to match its energy with what he’d gathered? It was too precise.
Gathering the energy from the field into his person and then moving it as a spark to that itty bitty wick ended with a lot of wax explosions. It was defeating and he scraped by primary school barely able to light a candle, worried he’d never be a real wizard.
When he reached high school, Professor Mads Payne had ripped him out of bed one night, furious. He dragged Jude stumbling to a large meadow on campus still in his pajamas and ordered him to sit in the cool grass. He waved a hand and the whole place bloomed with various colors of energy—the air, the grass, the flowers, the trees. Everything.
All things carry energy—have an energetic field—and that energy can be used for magic. The atmosphere was particularly affluent that night with dancing, luminescent energy ready to be plucked.
“You see that, Parker?”
Jude blinked. He was thirteen. The professor was terrifying. He knew how much power and talent it took to light up that much of the earth’s energy field so that it could be seen with the naked eye. “Y-Yes, sir.”
Professor Payne held out a candle. Jude watched the now colored threads seep into Payne as he took energy from the field and then used them to light the candle. Then he snuffed it out. “Now, you try.”
He wanted to yell at the professor. It’s not like he hadn’t tried that a million times. But he stared expectantly. Fine! Jude clambered off the ground. He reached out to the field amassed with energy. All the threads of energy sucked toward him. All of them. The color vanishing from the sky until it was black. The grass withered. Flowers wilted. His hands glowed with the orange-white light.
He gave the professor a worried glance.
“Stop,” the professor said. “If you try to light the wick with all that power, you’re going to have a wax palette.”
“But sir, it only feels like a little,” he said. He didn’t know how else to say it.
“I know.” Payne reaped the threads of energy from Jude’s glowing hands and released them back to the field. The air lit up in multi-color around them again. “Slower. Less, much less. Pretend you’re cradling an egg.”
Jude pulled the energy to him slowly. Having the threads of the energy field painted with color allowed for him to see if less energy moved toward him and into him or if he was taking too much and needed to slow down.
He catalogued the feel of taking less.
“Good,” the professor said. “It has now touched your essence—the part of you that is magic bearing—and when it’s released, the energy will contain you, have your power.” On the word power, his black eyes paused with poignancy. Like he was trying to say something without saying it. “You’ve got to let go of it with even less force than you used to pull it to you. Think of how you’d rub ointment into a bruise. At the same time, reach out to the energy of the wick—everything has an energetic aura defining its existence in the field—then join them with your intent.”
His flame was still too much flare, but he did it and no candles were harmed. “Wow. Why don’t they teach it like this?”
“Because they don’t know how to teach someone like you.”
Jude snuffed it out and then sucked more energy to him but only released just enough to light the wick gain. He caught on fast—the candle sparked to life.
He thought the professor would be proud. Instead, he scowled. “If I catch you showing off, you know what to expect, Parker.”
“Why would I show off?” he shouted.
“Because believe it or not, I was once a teenage boy myself.”
The candle was the beginning for Jude and easier than mastering the other many spells and hexes and artforms of magic. Learning how to work with the colossal amount of power within him has been tough. There have been accidents.
Returning to the simple candle flame grounds him. Centers him. It reminds him he can learn to control the wild power within him and often puts the anxiety thrumming through him to rest.
He lives in conflict. He wants to know how to use his gifts and doesn’t at the same time.
He pushes off the bed and when his feet hit the ground, the lanterns light on their own. He thought Payne had been doing that but maybe it’s the house? The ground’s cold. Would have been nice for his “father” to give him slippers or something. At least a house robe.
Jude rubs his arms. He’s crazy to leave the warmth of his new bed, but he’d rather face the cold than lay there thinking about how two of his parents are dead and the third is his unyielding potions professo