The Apprentice, Issue #1-Dorian The Beardless

To allow people to sample The Apprentice, we are publishing this story online for the first time.  Enjoy!


Dorian the Beardless

Girls aren’t allowed to be Wizards. That’s the law. In fact, any female caught studying magic beyond the healing arts could be put to death. Then how did I manage to get an apprenticeship to one of the greatest wizards of my parent’s time? Simple. My uncle is Alvar the Indirectly Prolific, Chief of Wizards. He first noticed my gift when I was a kid, about four years old. During a family reunion, one of my brothers pulled on my pigtail and magically ended up in a tree. The following year Uncle Alvar showed up on our doorstep and laid claim to me. With 11 children, my parents didn’t mind letting me go. I vaguely remember the day he brought me to my master, Sandar the 45th Genius Wizard-Smith.

“Now, Doreen,” he says to me, after cutting off my long, red hair and dressing me in boy’s clothing. “You aren’t a girl anymore. Remember that.”
“Why?” I asked. I was at that phase where I always asked why.
“Because girls aren’t supposed to be wizards.” He informed me. “But you are going to be the most powerful wizard of all time. And my successor. So you can’t be a girl anymore. Now you are a boy. Your new name is Dorian. And you are going to study with my dear friend Sandar.”
Funny, I didn’t feel like a boy. “Why?” I asked again.
“Wizards can’t teach their kin.” Uncle Alvar was patience itself. “But don’t worry, Sandar is very great and wise and will teach you well.”

So my apprenticeship started. Sandar was indeed wise and powerful and great. He was also a million years old and a touch senile. I suppose that’s a good thing, considering it appears to have kept him from noticing that his student was lacking in some areas and expanding quickly in others. He tended to exist mostly in the past, often calling me by the names of his previous students. Fortunately, despite this, his skills never diminished even though the rest of his mind was fading. I’m also a quick study and love to read, so my own skills grew fast. Before my 16th year, Sandar declared me fit to end my apprenticeship. As soon as my beard grew.

That’s one of many stupid wizard rules. An apprentice can’t graduate to full wizardhood until their beard grows to one inch. They are made to shave if they don’t measure up. What that has to do with the price of bread, I have no idea. But those are the rules and naturally this presented a problem for Uncle Alvar. He still intended for me to succeed him.

Personally, I would rather just remain an apprentice.
Master wizards get posted to courts, serving kings and nobles and the like. There’s cushy money to be made, but your beard has to be at least half grey to gain master level. At that point you also get a title, and each title is completely unique. After a thousand years of master wizards, you can tell they are running out of titles. Still, the “title” is what really makes the higher ups gravitate to the masters. Other wizards find work in villages. The work is hard; the pay sucks and you have to put up with snotty aristocrats. Of course, masters have to put up with them too, but at least they are paid well for it. Apprentices, however, live off their masters, work odd jobs for extra cash and they don’t have to deal with the stupid people in charge. Senior apprentices waiting for their beards, like me, get to go out on the really dangerous assignments their masters didn’t want to bother with or are too chicken to take on. That was the part I really liked, running around, having adventures and performing feats. Uncle Alvar was determined though and I spent a long time wondering how he intended to get around the small detail of my beard. On my 16th birthday I found out. Uncle Alvar showed up to celebrate and brought me a present.

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