He woke. That in and of itself was a surprise. The excruciating pain that was tearing through his body was less surprising. Opening his eyes, he learned that he was in a bright room with glows hanging from a room with a high ceiling. He tried to move and felt pain lance through his right side. He was lying down on his wing. He turned himself over into a more comfortable position on his stomach. He let his wings spread out over the ground to alleviate the discomfort. He looked at his right wing, not knowing what to expect.
Where the light had hit him, the feathers were a little bare and it allowed him to see the pale skin underneath, but there were no signs of damage where the light hit him, excepting the missing feathers. He experimented with the new muscles, pulling them in, folding them. He tucked them under his arms and rolled onto his knees. He leaned backward, tilting onto his feet. The wings, though a decent fourteen feet from tip to tip, were almost weightless. He flexed them, extended them to their full height and flapped them once. He hit the ceiling and blacked out again.
He woke up on his stomach in a different room. He saw the white walls and recognized them as being one of the rooms in the sick wing. He leaped to his feet hoping to see the female healer but found he was alone. There was no bed. He checked the door and altered the glows to a lesser light. He sat down and took a closed his eyes, leaning against wall.
When the door opened, the boy was standing and facing the door, wings falling to the ground behind him. The magician he didn’t recognize entered with a tablet in his hand. “Follow me, please,” the magician stated, holding the door open. “We’d like to test the limits of your new… alterations.” He walked out, leaving the door open for the boy to follow. He followed the magician, noticing the man’s robe was singed on the back and shoulder. It made him wonder how much time had passed between his black outs.
How long have I been unconscious? The projected thought made the magician ahead of him jump.
A little flustered, the man turned down the hallway again. He answered, walking away. “The altercation and your alteration occurred seven days ago. You woke two days ago before losing consciousness again due to a head trauma.”
The boy tried to wrap his head around the length of time, wondering how long it had taken his wing to heal. Abruptly, a light appeared ahead of him as the magician opened a door ahead of them. The boy walked out, and waited for his eyes to adjust. They were in his training room. Magical hoops were hovering in the air. Wonderful. More tests. The boy thought bitterly, anticipating the trials ahead of him.
The magician walked to a small wooden chair by the near wall. “You may begin however you wish. If I might make a suggestion, begin with simple exercises and work your way to more complex acrobatics.”
Obviously. Looking down, his shoulders shook with silent laughter. A new ability and immediately they want to push it. Looking up, he flexed his wings and began stretching everything from his toes to the tips of his wings. He experimented momentarily with flapping his wings, first softly, feeling the strength and grace of his new muscles. With a great heave of his wings, he launched himself into the air at speed. Startled by the burst of speed, he fell painfully on his side.
Flipping to his stomach, he watched the magician record something on his tablet before walking slowly towards him. “Forget to flap?” The magician said sarcastically. Yes. The boy thought, leaping to his feet. He sprinted forward leaping a dozen feet into the air. He thrust his wings towards the ground propelling him higher. Flapping harder and harder, his speed increased as his efforts grow less labored. He attempted to turn and succeeded in dropping a dozen feet in the process. He experimented further, leaning in an effort to adjust his course when he realized the wall was approaching at an alarming rate.
Striking the wall, he fell, turning over and over in the air, vainly attempting to catch the air in his wings. Exhilaration flew through him, a claw gripping him below the abdomen. Falling, the air rippling across his clothes and hair, he saw the ground hurtling towards him. With renewed determination, he spun madly, furling and unfurling his wings. As the ground was approaching faster than ever, he desperately threw his hands to either side, trying to reawaken his power. Failing, he closed his eyes and screamed.
Calming himself, he opened his eyes and looked down. He used his arms to stabilize himself. With a tremendous flap of his wings, his fall slowed just enough for him to tumble to the ground without injury.
He closed his eyes and lay on his stomach, trying to still his heartbeat and rapid breathing. The boy lifted his eyes at the sound of footsteps nearby and looked up to see the magician looking down upon him, his blue eyes were cold and calculating. They were so different from the kind healer’s.
The rest of the exercises ran their course without overmuch difficulty. He taught himself how to turn by leaning and dipping one wing. Though he was a little shaky the first time, he managed to get through all of the hoops, clipping his wings only once or twice. The second time through he didn’t touch a single hoop. By the end of the hour, the hoops were shrinking and the boy had to clasp his wings to him to fit through. The magician clapped his hands twice and left briefly. He returned with a platter full of bread, meat, and cheese. The boy ate the food with a voracity that shocked the magician. Upon clearing the plate, he looked at the magician expectantly.
“More?” The magician asked, incredulous. The boy projected nothing, but merely watched the magician, staring into his pale blue eyes. Growing uncomfortable, the magician took the platter and walked out. The boy took the time to stretch his wings, feeling the muscles he wasn’t familiar with. The magician returned a minute or so later with another tray of food as well as a jug of water. The boy downed the water in a single draught and attacked the food with the same energy as he had before. The magician watched, his eyes wide with shock and perhaps even revulsion.
The boy smiled to himself and his shoulders shook with silent laughter. Never seen a hearty eater before? The boy was pleased to see that the magician jumped as he had earlier.
Indignant and a little flustered, the magician retorted, “In one sitting, you’ve eaten enough food to last me a week.”
Angry, the boy mentally shouted, If you recall, I haven’t eaten in over a week, so that just about evens up, now doesn’t it? The magician looked uncomfortable as his mind was invaded by the boy’s thoughts.
Suddenly, the boy felt as though his head were hit with a sledgehammer. A sound of metal clanging metal filled his ears and he saw red. He fell forward, twitching in silent agony. The magician stood over the boy, a cruel, arrogant look on his face as he intensified the pressure he was exerting on the boys mind.
Stop. The thought was more than a word. It was a command. Along with the command, he projected the image of the magician being dropped from a great height. Just leave me alone. The thought was soft, cold. With a huff, the magician raised his palm, his back to the door. His eyes glowed a little brighter and his light slowly gathered to his palm. The boy looked up at him with disgust, knowing he was showing off.
“Make me angry, boy. I’ll teach you the meaning of respect.” The magician stood over him, leering.
Shouting, the boy thought, What is it that allows you to treat me like a beast? Is it my eyes? Or maybe it’s the fact that I have no voice? My main method of communication unsettles you. But, no. The most likely reason that you treat me like an animal is arrogance! You see a boy, fourteen at the most, no hair on his face, with his strange, color-changing eyes. You test my endurance, you throw challenges in my face, hoping that I’ll lose control, that I’ll obliterate something by accident, and you want this to happen for two reasons.
The last was loud, oppressive and made the magician flinch with each idea. The next was soft, subdued, but very insistent. You fear me. You are knowledgeable, but you keep me in the dark, allow me to dabble in my own ignorance while you poke and prod me for data. You want vindication. You want me to fail because it will prove to you in your mind that I am the animal you believe me to be.
Next, the boy projected impressions, indistinct images, and ideas to the magician. In quick succession, the magician experienced what the boy felt. I have wants, needs, desires, fears, quirks, hungers, and hates. Accompanying these ideas was an overwhelming impression of confusion and loss.
The magician suddenly found himself running between white halls with countless doors. As he passed each door, they would fly open and another magician with a tablet stood, a new contraption or test devised to push his limits. The image pressed down on him with an urgency that muddled him, but suddenly, the image was gone. Like a weight was lifted from his mind. Seeing with his eyes, the magician realized he had fallen. He was looking up at the boy who stood, wings out-spread, eyes swirling with gold, purple, and red.
With a start, the magician realized that the colors in his eyes might represent emotion. As soon as he had that thought, he was alerted by the glowing of the tablet. He asked the question. “How do you feel?” The magician marveled at the speed of the tablets. No sooner had I thought a question that it asks it.
With a look of faint surprise, the boy answered. Angry. Energetic.
Prompted by the tablet, the magician asked, “Do you feel anything else?” On his own, the magician added, “Anything that would affect your normal thought processes?"
With an ironic lift of an eyebrow, the gold in his eyes deepened as he faintly projected on word.