It was just past midnight when I felt it. The familiar sensation of my newest assignment washed over me. A tingle started at my ears, and traveled down to my toes, followed by a soft tug, urging me in the direction of my destination.
I sighed irritably and glared heavenward. It's something I picked up from humans when they get upset with their maker, they tend to curse the sky. Do the twinkling bastards mock them, too? Wink and laugh from where they sloth in the cozy blanket of the night with a perfect view as the lunar goddess tinkers with our fates? It'd been a while since my last charge, and I'd just begun to think I'd fulfilled my purpose and could go on with my life. I shouldn't have set myself up to let my hopes be dashed, but regrettably, I can't ignore it. I've tried. This isn't my first rodeo, and now I know not to cling to the idea that it might be my last.
I dropped from where I'd been hanging in my cave, and grudgingly set off on my flight to find my ward. The magical pull always makes the distance I travel faster, so the world moved under me in a blur, and I arrived at my objective in no time. I quickly discerned I was in the Americas, and the structure I sought was big, though it looked far from cozy.
I narrowed my eyes as I inspected the massive residence, feeling the magic lead me closer to my new ward. Dammit, where's the entrance!? Within seconds of me wondering the question, I spotted an open window. Ah-ha, there!
I swooped down, gliding gracefully as the air carried me, only to notice... Nope, not open! The window was firmly closed, and I was racing towards it at top speed. Abort! Abort!
I flapped my wings to slow my descent, but it was too late. I collided hard with the strong, sturdy glass, going splat and making a loud thunk that I'm sure woke at least one person in the entire house. I heard a yelp come from within, confirming that thought, followed by the sound of feet padding over to inspect the sound.
With gravity not doing me any favors, I slowly peeled off the window, and just as I began to think I was plummeting to my second artless landing, I felt a hand grab me and pull me inside. Oh, thank the goddess.
My body lit up again, only this time with the recognition of my ward, which felt like a cold shiver mixed with a hot flash, and my stomach rolled with nausea. Ugh. I'm up to, what, twenty charges now? Yet I still haven't gotten used to that sensation.
I heard them gasp, conveying they felt the connection slide into place, too. I opened my mouth to wish them a happy fifteenth birthday but belched instead, and the kid made a noise of disgust. Hey, at least I didn't vomit this time. Most wards would have my invertebrate dinner contents on their hands, so this one should feel lucky.
"Huh? A bat? A bat's my familiar?" I heard them ask with distinct disappointment.
I shook my head to clear my concussion (the one benefit of being a familiar is the ability to quickly heal... and travel... okay fine, quickly anything) and glared in the direction of the voice. "Oh, I'm sorry, am I not worthy enough for you?" I snapped at the ward.
They flinched with a jerk at my response (they're always initially taken off-guard that I can talk, even if they expect it), which resulted in me tumbling from their hands, and I landed with an oof on a soft surface, probably the bed. Small mercies, I guess.
"Oops, sorry. I didn't mean to drop you, little bat."
I ground my teeth. "Little bat?"
"Well... you are a little bat..."
My jaw rolled as indignation and pride licked my insides. I sat up with a snarl. "I'll have you know, I'm one of the most powerful familiar's in the world." It's true. The more turns we have as familiars, the more the lunar goddess grants us magic. If we succeed in growing our wards, that is. And I was pretty certain I'd had more charges than any other familiar in existence. I didn't understand why, I should've been done ages ago.
"I-I didn't, I mean..." the ward stammered. "I'm confused. It's just- well- aren't bats blind?"
I scoffed and quickly rose to my feet. "You know, it's rude to make assumptions about one's optic capabilities."
I noticed their hands go up in surrender. "My bad. I didn't realize bats could be familiars is all." The disappointment in their tone returned.
"Let me guess. You had your heart set on a raven or a cat? Witches. You're all the same, never satisfied with what you're given," I groused and stuck my nose in the air. It didn't slip past my notice that I was being a bit hypocritical. I was unlucky, or perhaps cursed, and always wound up with weak wards. Each time, I'd complain to the goddess about my overuse of energy and resources spent on them.
"I'm a warlock," the ward said sourly.
I looked over at him again and squinted, finally noticing his features were in fact, boyish. "Well, with your pitchy voice, anyone could've made that mistake," I muttered.
I couldn't tell for sure, but I think he rolled his eyes at me. "So you are blind," he affirmed.
I puffed my chest and jutted my chin out. "... Slightly," I said, my tone terse (we can't lie to our wards), and swiftly added, "but I make up for it with my other strengths."
He huffed in exasperation. "What strengths? You're no bigger than my thumb, you can't see, and you're about as stealthy as a sledgehammer." He gestured to the window I crashed into in emphasis. "So excuse me, little bat, for being disappointed, but it seems I'm justified in my frustrations."
This petulant child! "The name's Lasiur, you nincompoop, and never underestimate a familiar!" Feeling the need to defend myself, I went on. "In our world, being small doesn't make someone less formidable. In fact, it's the underdogs who end up the most respected. Didn't your parents teach you anything?" My own words registered something in me. I get it now; why I was always paired with someone inept. It was because I helped them realize they had the potential to do great things, regardless of their shortcomings.
The air around us changed, creating a heavy and uncomfortable silence in the room that pressed in. I could tell my speech affected him, and wasn't that my intent? Yet for some reason, it felt wrong, and I couldn't place why. "My name's Grant," he finally said, albeit reluctantly.
I sighed. "This introduction is by far the worst I've ever had," I muttered under my breath. That was as close to an apology as I'd ever get. I knew I was taking my resentment out on him. None of this was the kid's fault, and if he rejected me as his familiar, I'd be assigned a rotten one next. I learned that the hard way.
Nerves worked their way through me, and I cleared my throat. "You're fifteen now. Is it safe to assume your parents told you what that means?"
His eyes fell a fraction, and my stomach knotted again. Did I say something wrong? "I'm an orphan," he admitted softly.
Oh. OH! And I just asked him if his parents ever taught him anything. My mouth soured with shame- or maybe it was the lingering taste of stomach acid. I really hated myself at that moment. How was I going to form a relationship with him after this? I should probably mentally prepare myself for his inevitable rejection and the consequential bratty replacement.
"But," he continued, and I peered up at him, hopefully. "My dad left me his journal that he wrote in when he was my age. I've read it every night. And my mom passed me her book of spells and incantations, so I know some things."
"Like the fact you get a familiar," I noted, and he nodded.
"Though I suppose you're right. They don't teach me enough, and to make it through this world, I'll need someone to guide me. Right?"
I understood instantly that he was extending an olive branch, which I accepted eagerly, wanting to make up for my less-than-stellar behavior. "Right," I said determinedly. "And you happen to have the best familiar for the job." He does. While I might be small and partially blind, I've experienced more than any other familiar, making me more than qualified.
"Good," he said. "Then, I trust you to help me become one of the world's most respected warlocks."
"You can count on me," I assured him with a smile, and held out my wing for him to shake. When he took it, our bond solidified, giving me the final sweeping sensation of our partnership, and my eyes widened. This wave shares the ward's destiny, their impact on the world, and the magnitude of their magical capacities. Usually, my past wards had insignificant roles in life, with a mundane amount of magic. But not this time.
The sudden rush of his magic that flowed into me was unlike anything I'd ever felt before. It was followed by a voice in the back of my head, telling me that he was important, so it was vital I help him succeed in all his endeavors. He'd be a hero, and people would talk about him and his familiar for generations to come.
I glanced out the window heavenward again, this time looking straight at the lunar goddess. She'd been generous with this gift even though I knew I didn't deserve it, and I did something I'd never done before. I thanked her and vowed with every fiber of my being that I'd do everything in my power to help this kid.
About the Creator
I never believed the sky is the limit, therefore my passions are expansive. My interest in writing stemmed from poetry but my heart lead me to Sci-Fi Fantasy. Consequently, my stories are plot-driven with splashes of evocative elements.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Well, the website is being stupid because I've been trying to give you an outstanding for like 10 minutes, lol!!! These characters were wonderful, and I loved how this unfolded. Such wonderful storytelling. I would have happily kept reading (psssttt...write more please). Great work, Brin!!
This is so charming! “You know, it's rude to make assumptions about one's optic capabilities” 😍 Nice work and I loved it!
Your dialogue flows smoothly and realistically, it's easy to forget the protagonist is a bat. Great stuff!