The Clock Tower Guardian Chapter 4
Fenor blinked at me and cocked his head to the side.
“I’m sorry, wasn’t I clear?”
I waved my hand dismissively.
“Yes, I heard you, but apprentice what? What do you even do? What would I be doing? How do I even know I want to be your apprentice and learn whatever it is you do? Do you always make assumptions about people’s life decisions?”
I turned to look at Quir.
“Is he always like that?”
Quir blinked at me for a moment and then, hiding a smile, he nodded solemnly.
“Yes, he’s always like that.”
I looked back at Fenor.
“That’s a horrible way to be.”
Quir threw his head back and laughed loudly.
“I like her. She’ll be a match for you, for sure, if you can get her to cooperate,” he said to Fenor, still laughing.
“By the way, what are you exactly?” I asked Quir.
The creature smiled at my question. Apparently he had taken a liking to me. With a slight, flourished bow in my direction and a twinkle in his eye, he replied.
“I am a Salamander. More specifically I am Quir, Guardian of the Southern Gate.”
He winked at me, grinning, and my eyes widened as I stood up a bit straighter in surprise.
“You’re a Guardian?”
I couldn’t believe it. I was standing face-to-face with one of the Five Guardians, keepers of the peace between the human world and the magical world. Their power was legendary. They guarded the five main Gates that allowed magical creatures and humans to pass into each others worlds and kept the balance between the two. There were lesser Gates, of course, with Guardians of their own, but to be standing here talking to one of the Five was beyond my wildest dreams.
“Ah, so you have heard of us,” he said, grin widening.
“Who hasn’t heard of the Guardians?”
The Salamander laughed.
“You should visit the human world sometime. We are far less well known there.”
Quir’s red eyes were sparkling with amusement now.
“So, would you like to be a Guardian apprentice?” he asked.
“Who would pass that up?” I shot back with an excited grin.
“You almost did,” muttered Fenor sullenly.
We both looked over at him to see that he was standing to the side looking a bit childish with his arms crossed and a pout forming on his face. Hiding a smile, I looked back at Quir.
“What’s he talking about?”
Quir grinned and pointed a thumb at the pouting Cambion.
“He’s a Guardian too.”
My eyes widened a bit as I glanced over at Fenor before looking back at Quir, a bit dubiously.
“Are you sure?’
That made the Salamander laugh loudly again. As he got himself under control, he began nodding.
“Yes, sadly, I am very sure that Fenor Atan is a Guardian. Actually he’s the Guardian of the Northern Gate, where we happen to be, and he’s very much in need of an apprentice.”
The Salamander winked at me with a grin.
“Would you be willing to help him out in the department?”
I crossed my arms and looked thoughtful, glancing over at Fenor, who was still pouting.
“She almost passed up the opportunity completely,” the Cambion said to Quir. “Why did you giver her a second chance?”
“Because clearly you didn’t give a chance at all,” shot back the Salamander, putting his hands on his hips and glaring a bit. “If you had bothered telling her who you were and offering her the job instead of assuming she would take it, maybe she wouldn’t have had bucked when you suddenly announced that she was your apprentice.”
Quir punched Fenor lightly in the knee, effectively making the Cambion divert what he was saying to a painful yelp. The Salamander, wiping the evil grin off his face, turned back to me as I tried not to laugh. I was really liking Quir.
“So, would you like to apprentice to this Guardian?” he asked, gesturing with a thumb over his shoulder at Fenor, who was hugging his knee to his chest and balancing precariously on the other foot.
I glanced at Fenor and then looked back at Quir.
“I suppose you already have an apprentice, huh?” I said with a grin.
Quir’s eyes twinkled with amusement.
“I’m afraid so. This layabout’s the only Guardian among us who doesn’t have one yet.”
I glanced at Fenor again to see he was still holding his knee and looking ready to fall over, but now he was looking at me with a wounded expression on his face. Suppressing a laugh, I looked back at Quir with a sigh.
“Well I suppose, since he’s my only option, I’ll be his apprentice.”
Quir grinned at me and turned to the Cambion with a proud smile on his face.
“Hey, Fenor, I found you an apprentice.”
The Cambion, gently letting his leg down, scowled at Quir.
“I found her first,” he muttered under his breath.
Quir turned back to me.
“I know he’s your Master now, but don’t you let him push you around. He’s very used to getting his way and flitting around demanding whatever he wants and assuming everyone will just go along with it. Don’t let him. He needs someone around to keep him in check.”
“Hey!” said Fenor, looking indignant.
The Salamander looked over at his fellow Guardian.
“Well, I’ll head out now. You’re in good hands with this one, Fenor.”
He looked back at me with a fond smile.
“Good luck. If you ever need help, don’t be afraid to call.”
I grinned back.
I watched the Salamander give Cahir a pat as he passed the front door and head out toward the Garden. When Quir was out of sight in the trees, I closed Cahir and took a look around.
Standing in the entryway, straight ahead of me was a hallway with hardwood floors and blue walls. To my left I could see into the parlor and sitting room, which was probably where Fenor dealt with strangers. The walls were maroon trimmed with white and there was a polished wooden table with four matching chairs taking up the center of the room. There were several bookcases of the same wood as the table against the walls and white curtains pulled back to reveal a large window with a view of the front porch and the Garden.
I moved into the hallway and saw a staircase to my right that went up to the two levels above me and down to a basement. Fenor had already gone ahead of me into the room at the end of the hall and I followed, curious about what was there.
There was no door, just an open doorway, and I paused in it. The room was a kitchen, but that was only an assumption on my part. I assumed it because there was something cooking over what I could only guess was a stove, but it was no stove like I had ever seen. It didn’t appear to need any wood or even have a place to put any. There was a large, rectangular box with double doors on it leaning against the far wall. The countertops were beige marble and the cabinets above them were brown. The walls of the room were white and yellow and there was a door on the far wall next to the strange box-with-doors that I assumed led to the pantry.
To my right was a simple wood table with six chairs around it, all of which looked very comfortable to sit in. As I moved into the room, I saw more strange contraptions. There was a sink, but it was strangely metallic, and below and to the right of it was a metal door that looked like it opened downward and didn’t match the cabinets at all so it couldn’t be one of them.
All in all, it was a cheery, if bizarre, kitchen.
Fenor was standing next to the stove, starring at some sort of brewing contraption. I peeked around him to see a dark brown liquid dripping down into the glass container in the bottom.
The Cambion didn’t even glance at me as he muttered the reply under his breath.
I shrugged and moved toward the table. Apparently I wasn’t going to be getting a better answer than that until this “coffee” was done. So I waited and watched as Fenor, “coffee” complete, opened one of the cabinets and took out two mugs, pouring a generous amount of the liquid into each. Then he walked over to the table and joined me, sliding the second mug toward me as he took a sip from his and leaned back to enjoy it.
Well, it certainly smelled good enough so with a mental shrug, I took a sip... and nearly chocked trying not to spit it out in Fenor’s face. Instead I convulsed as I contained my gag reflex and managed to aim the vial concoction back into the mug. Setting the mug down and trying not to spit to rid myself of the awful taste left in my mouth, I looked up to see Fenor shaking and red faced with suppressed laughter.
As our eyes met, he burst out laughing, throwing his head back and pounding the table before doubling over and holding his stomach. I scowled at him until, wiping the tears from his eyes, he managed to get himself under control.
“That was a dirty trick,” I growled.
Still laughing, he waved a pacifying hand at me and stood, walking to the box-with-doors. I watched him, curious despite myself, as he opened one of the doors and pulled out a bottle. He popped the lid open and walked back over to me, pouring a generous amount into the mug and handing me a spoon.
“Stir it up and try again.”
I took the spoon, watching him suspiciously, but did as I was told. The brown liquid turned a light tan color and I glanced up at my Master, who motioned me to get on with it. With a final glare, I took a second sip... and it was delicious!
My eyes widened with surprise as I blinked down at the cup. Looking up at Fenor, I saw he was laughing quietly to himself.
“If that’s how it’s supposed to be drunk, why did you let me drink it straight?” I asked.
He smirked down at me.
“Payback for siding with Quir against me. I’m your Master now so you should remember to respect me a bit more.”
I looked away, as though contemplating the idea, and after a moment shrugged.
“Yeah, alright. I can probably do that.”
Fenor rolled his eyes and sat back down, drinking his coffee straight as I mentally shuddered.
“How can you drink it like that? It’s disgusting.”
He laughed and took another sip.
“Years of practice.”
I made a face and took another sip of mine.
“So,” I said after a moment of silence. “Where are we going to start?”
“With what?” he asked, looking at me expectantly.
“With my training. I mean, you haven’t even asked my name, but I’m suddenly your apprentice. Does that not matter?”
“Names are critical and yet completely unimportant.”
When I gave him a confused look, he sighed and elaborated.
“Alright, well, your name, the one you had before you came here, is unimportant. As soon as you become a Guardian, it will be Sealed anyway and you’ll have a new name. The fewer people who know the name, the easier it will be.”
“Why would you need to Seal a Guardian’s name?”
“Because, like I said, names are critical yet completely unimportant. You can do a lot with a person’s name. Mainly a lot that can harm them. Guardians take on a new name simply to protect themselves against mischief. So, I haven’t asked your name because I don’t care to know it. I’ll be giving you a new name.”
“And what will that be?” I asked, curious.
He waved a hand vaguely.
“Oh that’s something I’ll have to think on. For now I’ll just call you apprentice or girl.”
“That’s rather rude.”
Fenor raised an eyebrow at me a smirked.
“Would you rather I call you half-breed? Or mutt?”
My scowl darkened.
“Then you’ll live with being called girl until I decide otherwise.”
“Quir was right,” I said. “You do like flitting around deciding things and expecting everyone to go along with them.”
“I never denied it.”
“That’s a horrible way to be,” I shot back.
“Maybe so, maybe so,” he said dismissively as he stood. “But now it’s time start your education. You can’t have learned much being stuck among the Elves all your life.”
“I’ve learned plenty!” I said, sitting up indignantly.
Fenor looked at me, somewhere between amusement and superiority.
“Oh, really? What’s this called?” he asked, pointing to the box-with-doors.
My jaw tightened and I scowled silently. We both knew I didn’t know.
“Or that?” he asked, pointing to the metal door that opened downward.
When I remained silent, he nodded.
“Thought as much. As a Guardian Apprentice, you’re going to have to know practically everything about both worlds. These two things are very good examples. That,” he pointed at the box. “Is called a refrigerator. It stores food and keeps it cold. And that,” he pointed to the metal door. “Is a dishwasher. Washes dishes for you. Now, come on.”
He swept out of the room, mug in hand, and I followed, grabbing my own. My Master led me back into the hallway and took the downward spiraling staircase. As we reached the bottom, a soft glow began to fill to basement and I looked up, jaw dropping.
I had died and gone to heaven.
A/N: These chapters are taking a bit longer because of all the detailing I have to do. This is why I wrote book 3 for NaNoWriMo. Lol. And for those of you who read it, I hope you remember what's in the basement. ;)