This is a bonus chapter to the full-length novel The Windcaster, free on Wattpad.
2095 V.F. Mooncliffe
Tia couldn’t focus. There was the Master’s study room she must clean, as well as the used carrier hay from yesterday which needed to be removed. The kitchen was not yet tidy and there she stood, tapping her feet and squinting through the open wooden door with anticipation. Her broom lay against the wall, forgotten. The only thing she had done was practise her Windcasting, and she had completed the allocated tasks within the first few days of the Master departing. There was still so much to do.
But he was coming home today.
By the time the Master’s hooded head peeped over the top of the hill, Tia was practically wringing her hands out of their joints, hopping like a rabbit on the spot.
“Master! Master! Ma—” She stopped, spotting another hooded head behind the Master’s pale blue hood. A chilly breeze coursed past her; winter had passed not long ago and a chill remained in the air. Tia loved it: Hearing the Wind had never yielded more during cold spells and she had perhaps too much fun Singing and Casting.
Try as she might, she couldn’t see more of the mysterious stranger sitting behind the Master. Unable to stay at the door watching any longer, she sprinted down the cobbled steps, the wind streaming through her short chestnut brown hair and the wooden door swinging shut behind her. The air made her cheeks sting and her eyes water. Her chest was tight as she gasped her way until she met the Master’s disapproving look at the bottom of the next hill. His eyes barely concealed his amusement.
Tia knew she looked a sight. The half-hearted dusting had sent grey fluffballs tumbling down her tunic and she didn’t bother removing the hay out of her hair from brushing the carrier calves several hours earlier. As she neared, her look slid past her Master’s wrinkled smile onto the stranger, whose face was buried in the back of the Master’s cloak. The stranger was wearing the Master’s black travelling cloak.
“Who is that?” she blurted out.
“Good afternoon, Tiamat.” The Master’s voice was disapproving. Realising her mistake, Tia bowed at once, her gaze never leaving the newcomer. She straightened up, a bright smile on her face.
“Greetings, Master Anu.” Her eyes jumped to the other person again. She couldn’t see his face. “Who is that?”
“A new member of our family.”
She squealed; the person jumped at the sound and looked up at last. Beneath the dark hood, wary grey eyes flicked at Tia’s face before dropping. A few stray curls, a lighter shade of brown than hers, bobbed in the wind. Tia kept at their side as Master urged his carrier towards their house. The boy didn’t look at her again. He was breathing so quickly even a non-Windcaster could hear it.
A new member of the family! This was so exciting. It had been five years she’d stayed with the Master. Five long years. She wondered if he would be a fun playmate. Perhaps she could show him all her hiding spots in the area and they could play chase like she’d seen the children in Mooncliffe do. Master had never let her play with them. He said her Wind magic could scare them, possibly hurt them if she got carried away – like the first time she’d thrown a tantrum when he refused her request to accompany him on his journey.
She thought all children could play with the Wind. She was wrong, and it made her very lonely. But not any more. This boy must be special if the Master invited him. Tried as she might to capture his attention, though, he was uninterested. Disappointed, she turned to the Master, whom she hadn’t seen in almost a week. His twinkling blue eyes met hers.
“How was Westersands, Master? Did you bring back anything for me? Perhaps I may accompany you on your next journey?”
He chuckled as she babbled away. She’d scarcely finished one question before another struck her, and all the while she kept glancing back at the boy, hoping he would look up again. It seemed the thrill of catching up with Master Anu would never end.
“…and then I started Hearing the Wind properly! You have always told me to just feel it, but I can Hear the songs it sings now.” She sighed, swaying as she skipped along. “It is so beautiful, Master. I do not see why you do not just Hear all day.”
She cocked her head and grinned at him, bearing her little teeth. His eyebrows were raised and he had a familiar smile on his face. The last time he’d smiled like that was when she’d first shown him her dancing leaves. He’d then promised to get her a Windcaster staff when she was older.
She wondered if this strange boy could also make leaves dance.
The cobbled road leading up to their little house ended. Master slid off the carrier and Tia hurried to relieve him of his heavy travelling bag, but he chuckled and shook his head at her.
“When you are older, Tiamat.”
She pouted, crossing her arms and staring with baleful eyes.
“I am never big enough for any—”
At that moment, the boy lifted his head again and Tia forgot about her protest. The Master helped him off the carrier, and, as he did so, a gust of wind blew his hood back and revealed a head of bouncy light brown curls atop a thin, pallid face. The eyes were sunken and hollow, with an expression Tia had never seen before. His eyes reminded her of the sleepy old men by the harbour, who lie about in dark alleyways with bottles littered around them. Master always pulled her away whenever he caught her looking at them.
This boy looked so… pained, but he didn’t seem injured. It gave her a most uncomfortable feeling. The Master must have taken good care of him, surely. Perhaps he was hungry and tired. He certainly appeared sleepy, swaying on his feet, blinking as though he’d just woken up. Tia moved forward to grab his hand – they were cold and bony. His eyes jumped to her, but he didn’t move. His breathing sped up, his face going even whiter. Tia was a good head taller than him but she was sure they were the same age.
He exhaled again, and Tia shivered. There was a faint song in the air, and the Wind was dancing around this strange boy. Everything surrounding him was so full of life and joy. Although his terrified expression remained constant, the air swirled, whistling a sweet melody around the two of them.
He was perfect.
She looked up, a beam on her face.
“I can feel the Wind in him, Master,” she said in delight. She was right. This boy was special, just like her! She was going to have a friend – at last.
“Perhaps you should let go of Mommu’s hand before you break it,” the Master said in a gentle voice.
Tia let go. The boy’s shaking fingers became pink again.
“Mommu?” she repeated.
“Yes. His name is Mommu.”
“And he is here to stay?” she said, hopeful. A smile spread from ear to ear. Her heart was about to explode from her chest.
“Yes. He will be a Windcaster apprentice, too. And he will be your new brother.”
It was as if all the festivities and celebrations had come at once. Before she could observe proper etiquette, Tia had flung her arms around Mommu, squealing, sending the two of them flying onto the ground. He let out a weak cry of surprise as the ground crunched beneath them. Mommu was so skinny he was painful to hug, but Tia didn’t care. Her hair was all over her face so she could see nothing, but she didn’t care about that, either. A new brother! A best friend! How wonderful!
“Where do you come from, Mommu?” The questions streamed out. “What is yoru favourite food? Do you like carriers? Would you like to see me make leaves dance? Why is your hair so curly? Do you know how to play chase?”
She could have someone to play with, at last. Whenever the Master had to leave for duties, there would be someone to spend those lonely days with instead of sitting idle or pouring endlessly over the Wind tomes. He could spy on the Mooncliffe residents with her from her window in the attic. She could play chase with someone at last. She had someone to study with and they could Cast together when they get their own staffs.
The possibilities were endless!
“We will have so much fun together, Mommu,” she murmured. The boy didn’t move. She pushed herself off. “Mommu?”
The boy had fainted.
A/N: Thank you for reading this bonus chapter of The Windcaster, which will be added to the main book once the Young Writer’s Prize competition is over. This chapter is dedicated to all those amazing people who have given me shout-outs, promotions, and recommendations so I stood a chance in that competition, and also to those who gave my chapter a vote. From the very bottom of my heart, I give you my thanks and these:
And a last note: any requests for bonus chapters? What do you think of this one?