The teacher’s voice hung about the classroom like a dense fog, never once shifting from a drowsy monotone. It was Owen’s first class of a new year at a new school.
Of all the subjects it could have been, Owen wondered what sins he had committed in a past life to begin a new term with Medieval History. A new dryness entered the teacher’s voice, betraying the passion he felt for the subject.
“The Anglo-Saxon population understood these Viking raids to be divine punishment for their wicked sins.”
Owen stifled a yawn and glanced to one side. The only silver lining on the dark cloud of Medieval History was that he shared this class with the girl he had met in the common room, Maev.
At first he had thought they might share a common ancestry. Owen’s mother was from Dublin and had chosen his name. But Maev’s parents were both English. She was named after a mythological princess her father had read about in an old book.
“Maev, why did you ask if I’m a wizard?” Owen asked in a hushed whisper. “Do you believe in magic?”
“Oh, right, sorry.” She replied in hushed tones. “Wizards are what my father and his friends call each other. It sounds better than Aficionados of Arcane Antiques.”
“That’s what they used to be called before I suggested they change the name. They look for antiques with magical stories attached to them. That watch you have was supposed to have belonged to a nineteenth-century sorcerer who tried to reanimate his wife’s corpse.”
A higher-pitched voice from the front of the class cut across the teacher’s grey monologue, loud enough for the whole class to hear.
“That’s freaky. Why are you talking about corpses?”
Owen and Maeve both looked down at their desks as the teacher’s withering frown and their classmates’ revolted stares fixed on them. He could feel his whole face turning beetroot red and wanted nothing more than to run from the room.
In the deathly, accusing silence that followed, Owen realised something. The pocket watch was not ticking. It must have stopped working when the train crashed. He would have to get it fixed if he wanted to discover what magic it held.
Read the first in the Warlock sequence here.
Find another fantasy short story here.