Donald had been just a wee duckling when his Grandmother had first told him the legend of Cornelius Coot.
It was a tale about a great man; a sorcerer from the foreign country and a master of ancient arts that were long forgotten.
A long time ago, Cornelius had reached the shores of the then still mostly unknown world, where the different clans and tribes were constantly fighting against warlords, bandits and even each other, each of them yearning to rise above the others as the masters of the new land.
Day after day, Cornelius had wandered through this war-ridden wilderness, searching a piece of land to call his own, helping those in need on his way. Touched by his kindness and recognizing the strength the Sorcerer had on his fingertips, many decided to follow him, giving Cornelius their undying loyalty in exchange of his protection. Cornelius had done his best to take care of them all during his travels and when that burden become too heavy to carry, he decided to settle down on the hill near the ocean, creating a colony of his own.
And as he had promised, Cornelius continued as a protector of his people, he kept them safe from the war lords and famine that had tormented the realm during those troubled times. His ancient magic blessing everything he touched, form a mere peddle on the road to the wisest scholars.
The legends said that Cornelius Coot had been able to make the crops grow just by looking at the empty fields, that he had bent the thunder and lightning under his will, this way vanquishing entire armies whose leaders had been foolish enough to come and try to conquer Cornelius’ flourishing colony. He was beloved and respected by all and when the time came for him to leave the real of the living, his son stood up to continue his legacy.
But as was the law of the universe, nothing could last forever.
Donald could still see the steel like seriousness in Granny’s eyes as her words painted the arrival of the darker times, making the ducklings around her shiver and move just little bit closer to each other, searching protection from the each other even though there was no longer anything to fear.
One day, the dark magic had found its footing in the new land. The Sorcerers of the Wicked Arts and the Stealers of the Wills slithered like an infection from the Ageless Lands behind the oceans in the lives of those who had no ways of protect themselves from their greed. And with them, those corrupted users of the spells brought a chaos unlike any other.
Faster than anyone could have seen, the magic become something dangerous and feared, and suddenly those carrying the Coot’s name found themselves in the role that wasn’t exactly one of the villains, but a monster whose mere presence made people shake in fear. And from that fear, anger was born.
Without a choice and fearing for the sake of their own lives, the Coots broke their ancestor’s promise to protect the people they had called their own and abandoned their home, leaving the colony behind to seek a land where they would once again live in peace. Without the Coots’ protection though, the Wielders of the Shadows were free to torment the lives of the common mortals, bringing the new age of pain and agony upon those who had turned their backs to their guardians.
But as it always is during the ages of hopelessness, even Cornelius’ former colony managed to find its champion in the time of need. Another man, the Saviour, hailing from another far away land, fielding the mind sharper than the finest sword, the will stronger than the thickest stone and knowledge of the old lands where the darkness was an enemy well-known.
The battle between the Saviour and the Sorcerers of the Shadows was worth of singing in the songs centuries after the last drop of blood was bled. The Saviour had been the one to greet the new dawn as a winner, his wit and will turning out to be greater than any wicked spell and his victory was celebrated all over the land.
Everyone wanted to thank their saviour and it didn’t take long till the man was covered from head to toe with gold and gems, and those who had nothing to give, offered their undying loyalty. And as their final gift, the people of Cornelius’ colony gave him a crown of gold and tittle of King, begging their saviour to stay and lead them to new age of glory.
He could not say no.
The time passed, and the colony now known as Kingdom of Duckburg rebuild itself and learned to survive without magic. The times of darkness were left to the past and the legend of Cornelius Coot long forgotten.
But even if the legends are forgotten, they can never truly die. That was why, even to this day, whenever the miracles happen, it was his name the people whisper in their thanks.
It was where the story had ended, leaving the young ducklings amazed, yet unsatisfied. They wanted to learn more, but there was nothing that could open the old duck’s beak. And yet, after Della had been tugged in the bed - undoubtedly already dreaming about the battle between the King and The Evil Sorcerers – Granny had taken Donald up to the addict and in the light of a single candle, she had told him what truly had happened to the descendants of Cornelius Coot.
After all, it had been easy for the people to forget that Cornelius Coot’s granddaughter had married a Duck, a simple farmer with heart of gold, and given up her family name. The blood in her veins, though, was still the one of the Coots. The same blood her children had later carried like a blessing from the ancient gods.
The magic had been their life and their greatest secret. Still, the children had sworn to use it like their mother had taught them, helping those in need with little miracles no one could explain but simple enough not to catch the attention of those who still feared the magic of any kind.
They got all the needed protection form simplicity and hiding place from the plain sight, sneaking their presence in the lives of many but keeping themselves distant enough for anyone to remember the family’s existence outside the necessity. Just like they wanted it to be.
And then the King’s sister married the youngest son of Duck family, leading to the birth of the twins. The heirs of the throne. Boy and girl.
Donald and Della.
Donald watched in awe how the small flame to leave the candle’s heart, breaking into colourful stars lead by Granny’s dancing fingers as she told him the greatest secret of them all.
It was true that he was an heir of the clan McDuck
And Duck was the name he had inherited from his father.
But by blood, he was a Coot.
And like every Coot before him.
Donald had magic.
Magic is personal, magic is flexible, and magic is not without its price. Those were the three truths the old sorceress would repeat to her grandson since the very beginning of his training.
The first thing Granny had taught to Donald in the darkness of that very same night he had learnt the secret in his blood, was that every sorcerer had a talent towards a certain type of magic. Their own heart, as Granny had put it.
The heart’s magic was something that came out naturally and showed from the early age what kind of spells would be the easiest for the child to learn. It was their connection to the nature, their main protector and nurturer. And the most prominently, it was the main pillar of their personality.
Granny was calm and warm, like ground on the sunny day, so it wasn’t that big of surprise to anyone when she presented her gift with plants and healing, never forgetting the numerous cooking spells the woman had invented during her lifetime. Aunt Daphne and Cousin Gladstone were both carefree and maybe a bit cocky, all thanks to their natural talent to bend the odds to their favour. Uncle Eider was strong (and hard-headed) as rock and Cousin Abner was just as unyielding and persistent as the oldest trees. Donald’s dad had had a temper as uncontrolled as wildfire, yet he had had his warm and loving side, like a fireplace during the long winter night.
Later the son had inherited his father’s temper, but unlike Quackmore, Donald was nothing like a fire.
He was the storm.
Lightnings, pouring rain, howling winds… All of those forces had been swirling under the little duck’s skin ever since his birth, waiting to be released. It was dangerous magic, hard to control and even harder to master, but Granny had trusted in Donald’s skills. She had always made sure that the boy took his training seriously and worked hard until there was not even slightest chance that the duckling would reveal his magic in fit of anger.
But just because sorcerers were good at something, it didn’t mean they couldn’t learn different kind of spells as well. And from that truth came the second lesson.
“Remember Donald” Granny had once told the young duckling who had already shaken away his yellow baby downs from the way of the white, though still soft, feathers. Her warm hands guided him through a basic healing spell, strong enough to heal the small wound on Della’s knee she had gotten after falling from the top of the garden wall. “Just because you have a gift to destroy, it doesn’t mean you can’t fix things as well.”
Donald could still remember his nervous, sweating hands mimicking Granny’s rhythmic, yet complex finger motions over his sister’s red and pink stained feathers, and how Della wouldn’t stop shivering during the whole thing. Later his sister would explain it by telling that his magic had felt like the air after thunder storm; cold and fresh, leaving an aftertaste of electricity on her tongue.
“Everything is part of everything. The storm can be a disaster for many, but it’s also a necessity for the life to continue. Sometimes, you can do everything right to make your seed to flourish, yet in the end it’s the luck that makes the final decision of its survival.” Granny pointed those words towards her other grandson, who had just grinned widely behind the herbs and flowers he had been taking care of, before petting Della’s messy hair. “And never forget that the sharp mind is just as strong as any spell there has ever been”
That was one of the most sternly taught rules: Never underestimate those without magic. They are just as important as Donald was, and just as skilled. Della was a living reminder of that, just like their uncle Scrooge -or King Scrooge as they were supposed to call him on public- but he wasn’t supposed to know to in what kind of family his sister had truly married in, so no one told him that.
The third big lesson had come in form of Aunt Daphne’s death. It had forced Granny to bury the second child in few years of time, left Gladstone just as orphan as Donald and Della and unwilling to ever again practice his magic outside the natural flow their cousin couldn’t really control.
That was the day the three children finally understood what Granny had meant when she had talked about the magic’s price.
It wasn’t a cost paid by your body, but by consequences of your and other’s actions.
Those who could heal were often used by others or lost their understanding over the life and death, while the ones with power to destroy would always be feared and hated, often breaking and turning their own pain into others suffering.
Yet the ability to bend the fates was the most traitorous magic of them all. It made its blessed ones both used and hated, blind to rules of natural orders. And if it they broke under the Lady Luck’s burden… Well, there was a reason why her favourites were always among the most feared users of the corrupted magic.
Aunt Daphne hadn’t broken. Her heart had been too pure for that. She had just trusted in her magic a little too much, expecting it to safe her even during those rare moments she had tired it in to nothing but a weak spark.
Sadly, a moment was all bad luck needs to cause harm.
The last lesson Granny gave to Donald came many years later, ages after she had claimed him to know everything she could teach to him.
It happened soon after Della had left to her crusade, disappearing to unknown with a stolen horse from their uncle’s stables. Her sons had hatched mere days afterwards, leaving Donald as the lone guardian for the triplets who would hopefully never know about the “royal blood” in their veins.
She was the Matriarch of their family, giving her the right and duty to be the first one to weight the newborns’ souls. It would tell them the boys’ future nature and, even though it was very unlikely them to posses the gift of the Coots, reveal their possible heart before it had even surfaced.
“He’s mostly a Duck.” Granny told Donald while rocking sleeping Hubert on her arms. “He has their warm heart and need to keep those he loves safe. His father’s line is strong in this one too… Logical mind… Responsible… A good mix.” The old duck brushed gently the yellow feathers on the top of the boy’s head, small frown appearing in between her browns “But there is also a strong spark of McDuck. A certain stubbornness, thirst for knowledge and… the temper.”
Donald groaned while taking his eldest nephew back on his arms, not really looking forwards the unavoidable cranky duckling he would have to take care of in the future. Placing the boy onto the basket to lay next to his brother, Donald picked Dewford up, offering him to the woman sitting on the chair in front of him.
Granny laughed the moment the boy touched her arms. “He’s McDuck all right. Reckless, adventurous, stubborn… But interestingly none of that anger.” her smile fell to something longing and she pulled the boy closer to her chest. Dewford whimpered a little, his finger grabbing the edge of his blanket, but didn’t wake. “He’s So much like his mother. It’s almost like I’m holding her on my arms once again.”
Donald’s hands curled into fists on his laps. The loss of Della was still too fresh and the founds from her selfish escape she had done even after Donald had begged her to stay were barely starting to heal. Hearing that one of her sons would share the same spirit as his sister wasn’t something Donald liked to hear. Expected, sure, but luckily it wasn’t uncommon for people with similar souls to have two very different personalities. Same attributes could create different outcomes but knowing Donald’s luck; he would find himself raising a boy who could easily be Della’s reincarnation.
Cold shivers ran down his spine as Donald offered the youngest duckling for Granny to hold and he send the gods a silent brayer that this wasn’t the case.
The old sorceress fell in silence as she secured Llewellyn on her arms. She studied the boy longer than his brothers causing nervousness to creep in her grandson’s heart. Granny had usually a good grab on recognizing the person’s true colours, making it hard to imagine what was making the boy so hard to read?
Finally, Granny fully opened her half-lidded eyes and leaned to kiss the little duckling on his forehead; a blessing of the Matriarch.
“It looks like our Della had a little magic in her after all” she hummed softly, looking suddenly like her shoulders were carrying heavier weight than before. “Enough to give us this little Charmer. I don’t think we have had one of them in the family before.”
Donald swallowed, trying to progress the information that he had just gained. One of the boy’s had inherited the Coots’ magic despite the odds being against it. And it would only make things much more complicated.
“A Charmer?” the younger sorcerer repeated, letting the weight of the new, unfamiliar term roll over his tongue. It made him nervous, anxious even, yet curious to learn what kind of magic the little duckling would prefer in the future. It didn’t sound like a destructive gift, fairly harmless actually, but Donald had learned from early age not to underestimate something by its name.
The old woman nodded “A Charmer, Silver Tongue, Truth Bender. His kinds have many names, all of which tell the same story.” Granny moved the boy back to Donald’s waiting arms but left her hand rest on the baby’s chest. The light of the moon reflected from her glasses as the elder stared deep into her grandson’s eyes. As she continued to speak, Donald swore her words had a new kind of strength in them, some sort of magic that made his core shiver and his mind more focused.
“You need to be careful with teaching this one, Donald. The Charmers learn to abuse their magic so easily. It’s way too easy for them to make people believe in their lies and trick the other to do all their work without even lifting a finger.” Donald swallowed, somehow managing to find enough will to nod his head. The sad smile Granny gave him in return was nothing but understanding. “You need to make sure he learns the right molars. He needs to understand what is right and what is not. And as much as it may pain you to do so; always take his word with grain of salt. After all, mistrust is the price every Charmer is cursed to carry with them.
“But luckily your boy has a good heart. They all have.”
The old duck exhaled and closed her eyes, breaking the foreign spell she had cast over Donald and leaving the young sorcerer feel weirdly awake and energized despite the late hours and sleepless nights that had been haunting him these past weeks. Granny leaned her back against the wooden chair, looking more tired than ever before. The reading must have taken more from her than Donald had imagined and the heart break from the yet another too early loss of a loved one was without doubt making its own dent.
“That’s my final lesson to you, my dear grandson.” Granny spoke, her words already heavy from the arriving sleep while Donald lowered Llewellyn on the basket to rest with his brothers, all three completely unaware they had just gone through probably the most significant moment of their childhood. “The responsibility of a mentor. You will never be ready to start that lesson and the end is impossible to reach, but I know you will manage. In your own way.”
“Thank you, Granny” lowering his head, Donald accepted the burden his Matriarch passed to him. His act made a ghost of a smile visit on the woman’s beak, soon motioning her grandson to get up and go to sleep.
“Go now and but the boys to the bed. I’ll stay here a little longer. Stars are always on their loudest on nights like these.”
“Of course,” Donald smiled knowingly. After helping Granny to wrap her shawl tighter around her shoulders and pulling a woolly blanket over her legs he picked up the large basket that had worked as the triplet’s bed ever since their hacking and started to make his way towards the farm house where Gus continued sleeping without even suspecting that something magical had just happened under his window.
In the safety of his
(and Della’s) old room Donald studied his sister’s sons through the new information he now knew about them. He had known that raising them alone without mother and the help from nearby family would be a task worthy for a knighthood (even though he already carried the title), but figuring out how not to neglect his new duty as a mentor for the new sorcerer or worse, accidently neglecting the other two boys in favour of their younger brother, had added a complete new level in the mess he had found himself in.
A soft whine brought Donald back to present and he lifted his head to see Dewford to toss restlessly between his brothers, his tiny hands trying to reach something or hoping to gain attention of anyone in the room. Sighing, the older duck pushed himself off from the edge of the bed and reached to pick the boy up before he would wake up his brothers as well.
“It’s okay Dewey.” He muttered softly but the duckling still continued his soft cries. He wasn’t crying for hunger, Donald was pretty sure he could already recognize that, nor was diaper dirty, meaning he was just cranky. Sighing again, Donald snapped his right-hand fingers against the thumb couple times and spun the forefinger over the baby’s head and soon small clouds and water bubbles appeared to dance above him.
“Happy now?” Donald asked almost sarcastically from the boy who was already staring at the little show with wide eyes. Dewford might not have magic of his own, but he surely loved seeing it. Just like Della had.
Shaking his head to banish the thoughts once again, Donald hummed a familiar melody that the clouds started to repeat, their colours changing with each note. The duckling followed this all with all the wonder only child could possess, yet still too young to truly understand the performance just out of his hands reach.
“I’m going to spoil you rotten, aren’t I.” Donald chuckled as the Old World’s lullaby slowly tricked the boy back to the realm of dreams. And as he watched his once again sleeping nephew whose golden feathers were almost white under the silver light of the moon Donald found his doubts to disappear one by one.
Donald was the storm by his heart, a Lightning Caster and Chaos Bringer, but as Granny had always reminded him, it wasn’t always a bad thing.
And whether it was the foretelling effect of the moon or the gut feeling form his mother’s line, little chaos was exactly what these boys would need to flourish and reach their true potential.
Donald just hoped that Della’s boys wouldn’t drive him crazy before he could see that.
I try to keep this story's timeline mostly linear but I might occasionally end up doing more "time jumps" like in this chapter. I will keep them pretty clear though to avoid confusion.
The future chapters will be more plot/dialogue focused so no more heavy world building chapter in the near future.
Still, if you have questions or want talk more be free to leave comment or come to talk me via tumblr (the link is in the profile. I post mostly random things so don't be confused).
“Remember Donald. Never let anyone who isn’t like us know you have magic.”
“Not even Uncle Scrooge?”
“Especially not your Uncle Scrooge”
When Donald was a little, her never really understood why keeping his magic as a secret from Uncle Scrooge was so big deal. Of course Donald remembered the story how Uncle Scrooge had been the one to defeat the bad sorcerers. Or all those times the old King had been more than a little vocal about the importance of the Kingdom’s magic defences and the long lectures how Donald and Della should never trust in a sorcerer’s word, but based on the other adults in the city, it seemed to be a normal thing to do.
But the twins trusted that when it came anything related to magic, their Granny knew what was for the best. Besides, knowing they actually managed to hide a real secret from Uncle Scrooge felt pretty amazing. Even though it meant that Donald wasn’t allowed to practice any spells during the times they were staying in the City of Duckburg. But Donald was a big boy. He knew how to be patient.
Sometimes Donald still wanted to tell Uncle Scrooge the truth really badly. Like when his uncle had insisted taking them to a boat trip despite Donald insisting the storm was coming or that other time when the door they had found in the catacombs under the city had obviously had a locking spell on it that Donald could have opened on his own (if given enough time) instead of going all the way back up to get heavy picks and black powder. Or every time when the curses hanging over his uncle kicked in, making the King’s bones hurt more than usually or bad things to happen around him.
So yeah, Donald had many reasons to tell his secret to Uncle Scrooge. Besides they were family, and family wasn’t supposed to lie to each other.
That was until their uncle had taken the twins to The Other Vault and Donald had truly understood why it was so important to keep the magic hidden from Uncle Scrooge.
The Other Vault was one of the most secured places in the entire Kingdom, build deep underground even below the dungeons. As far as anyone knew, there was only one way in and out and the secret to open it was only known by the King himself (and maybe by his valet). Those few who knew about The Other Vault talked about it only with whispers, describing it as the holding place for the most dangerous and deadly magical artefacts that the King had come across on his travels that even the greatest sorcerers couldn’t use them without threatening the safety and balance of the existence. The Vault was supposedly a place full of horrors and corruption that only those with the strongest wills could visit without becoming mad.
To say that Donald was unimpressed was an understatement
“That’s a unicorn” the seven-year-old stated blankly as he stared at the white horse like creature through the small hole in the door. He felt kind of bad for it being forced to stay in the underground room, but it looked like Uncle Scrooge had at least tried to make its life comfortable with grass and trees. Or perhaps the unicorn had created the meadow on its own by magic. Who knows?
“Aye, but be careful lad.” the old duck lowered his nephew back on the floor and closed the small hatch. “Unicorns are proud and haughty beasts. Trust me. You don’t want to find yerself on the other end of that horn.”
“If you say so” the duckling said, still more than a little sceptical but his uncle had already hurried to close the door Della had tried to open while no one had been watching. After scowling his sister for her carelessness, the King stated to lead the twins deeper in the Vault, naming the objects behind each passed door, occasionally letting them even see the less dangerous one through the small hatches on them. But the doors did very little to block the feel of the magic oozing through them that made Donald more than a bit unease. He had never been around that many charmed objects before and he had yet to get used to their lifeless magic that was so weird compared to the living, pulsing warmth the sorcerers emitted.
It was also the first time the young duckling was around the corrupted magic. Granny had warned him about it before, so he was able to recognize the heavy, cold scent that tasted like purple, but green and made his feathers feel sticky when they passed the first doors hiding the cursed objects. And he was pretty sure that he could hear the bad magic to try and touch the curses knit on Uncle Scrooge’s skin, strengthening them in the same way as the arriving storm did to Donald.
It was then and there when Donald decided he didn’t like the corrupted magic at all.
Della and Uncle Scrooge didn’t seem to notice the presence of the magic. Which Donald decided to be a good thing. His sister still noticed his nervousness around certain doors though, often rushing ahead towards some other mystery door so they would move past those as fast as possible.
“Okay, let’s talk a little” Uncle Scrooge announced as they reached the end of the hallway, turning towards the twins and lowered down on one knee to be on same level as two of them, placing his hands on their shoulders as he started to speak them with stern voice. “I’m now going to show you two something that needs to stay secret from everyone no matter what. Only three of us will know it’s kept in this room, so no running of and telling what you see in there to anyone. Not even yer Granny or cousins, okay?”
The twins looked at each other, not sure what they should to do. On the other hand, that door obviously hid some big and super important mystery, on the other hand, it would mean hiding things from Granny, which was a big no-no.
Della shrugged. They were hiding magic from Uncle Scrooge because of Granny, so hiding something from her in return would only be fair. Right? Donald frowned a little in return, glancing towards the closed door and tried to read if it was giving any bad magic wipes, only to detect nothing. With a small nod, Donald agreed with her and the twins turned to look at their uncle again, whose serious mask was partly broken by ghost of an amused smile from following the two kids’ silent conservation.
“Okay” Donald and Della promised together, making the old duck smile properly as he gave their shoulder a gentle squeeze.
“Excellent!” Uncle Scrooge pushed himself up from the ground, his hand disappearing under his jacket to fish something from a hidden pocket. As you could assume, that something turned out to be an everyday iron key Scrooge used to open the door, the twins waiting impatiently behind him. The lock clicked and Scrooge turned his head to give the children a small, teasing smirk, before pushing the door open.
“Behold! The greatest secret of New McDuck Castle.” He stepped aside, giving his sister’s kids a perfect view on the dark room behind the door. Della was the first one to rush in, excitement clear on her face while Donald followed his sister right behind her heels but stopped almost as fast when he saw how pare the room truly was.
Honestly, Donald had kind of expected seeing a tree full of golden apples or a brood of chickens laying diamonds instead of eggs. Instead he found himself in a small room in middle of which there was only a table and a silvery mirror, not any larger than average shield. And he wasn’t the only one to be disappointed by this.
“Your greatest secret is a mirror?” Della wrinkled her nose, clearly not impressed but Donald knew his sister and knew she was probably already listing 100+ things why mirror could be seen as dangerous. Uncle Scrooge just chuckled.
“Not just an any mirror.” he pointed out knowing look in his eyes, placing his hands behind the twins back, gently pushing them deeper in the room. “It’s made out of pure iron that was quenched in the waters of forever frozen lake. And do ye know why that is so important?”
Donald nodded his head, remembering the weight of an iron chain that Granny had made him wear during thunder storms when he had been younger. “Cold iron weakens the magic.” He said, eyeing the round object and the silhouette like carvings he could now see cover its surface suspiciously while his sister moved closer to study the object, tilting her head a little. “But why is it here then?”
“Because what is a better prison for a bunch of sorcerers than one that takes away their magic!” their uncle grinned, clearly still proud of himself for coming up with the idea. The twins’ eyes widened and Della hurried to back down, holding the hand that had almost touched the mirror’s surface tightly against her chest.
“There’s no reason to worry, lass” Uncle Scrooge assured to Della, patting Donald’s head on his way to her side. “Those foul curse caster can’t hurt you while they are trapped in there.” To proof his point, the old duck knocked the carved silhouette -bearing high resemble of their Uncle Goostave- despite the protest the two ducklings voiced.
But besides the hollow sound of fist hitting metal echoing from the room’s stone walls nothing happened and Scrooge turned to smile at the two kids.
“See” he said “The trap made those witches sleep like wee babies. They don’t even know we are here.”
The sudden choir of angry voices hissed just behind Donald’s ear, making the duckling to let out a loud, scared quack that only made Della let out her own startled scream.
“Donald!” she complained angrily when she saw there was no apparent reason for her brother to be a scarety cat.
But Donald’s eyes were too busy with jumping from rock to rock trying to find the source of the inhuman sound. The air had suddenly become much heavier against his skin and reek of corrupted magic seemed to drip from the hallway to the room with no reason, making the duckling breath faster every passing second.
“Di- did you hear that?” he finally managed to stutter out and look at his sister who was now giving him a worried look while Uncle Scrooge just waved his hand dismissively. But around them, the shadows gasped.
“Probably just a rat. Cats hate coming down here for some reason so those little pest have more than several nest around. I’ll ask Duckworth to get more traps when I see him next time.” He said before turning back towards the mirror, starting to explain its secrets to Della who was immediately suck into their uncle’s tale.
But Donald was barely able to hear his voice when the new wave of whispers, barely louder than a falling feather but somehow managed to drown all other sounds under them, reached his ears. There was shock in their voices, curiosity, fear, anger… Donald could even hear some of them coo at him like he was a little baby they wanted to hug.
“Sorcerer?” “Here?” “But he’s just a child!” “So tiny” “Little sorcerer.”
Donald shivered, trying not to cover his ears when the voiced gathered together in the last scream that could have as well shook the mountains with the force it hit him. And yet, somehow the other two ducks were completely unaware of their presence or how the shadows around them seemed to stretch and twist ever so slightly, like a water hiding best just under its surface.
Swallowing back his panic so his uncle wouldn’t hear him, Donald moved closer the shadows, squatting down at the edge of their touch. Granny had always told him to help those in need -as it was the way of the Coot’s- but he didn’t like or trust in these scary voices or darkness that the corrupted magic seemed to like so much.
“How?” he whispered as quietly as he could, and the shadows vibrated with excitement. “What happened to you?”
“Beaten!” “Can’t leave!” “The miser just left us here!” “Trapped!” “Can’t even sleep!” “Break the mirror!”
“LET US OUT!”
His ears ringing, Donald glanced towards the mirror that was still captivating his family’s full interest then returned to look at the twisting shadows with deepening frown.
“But the mirror is where the Corrupted Sorcerers are locked in.” The shadows hissed like angry lizards at his words, while other voices hurried to silence them.
“The Usurper lies.” “Locked us here without mercy” “Left us in agony!” “All Sorcerers are monsters to him” “You’ll be next if he finds you” “We’ll keep you safe”
“Granny said you were bad people too.” he argued back but couldn’t help looking nervously towards at his Uncle. He wouldn’t lock him in the mirror if he found out Donald could do magic, right? And surely, he didn’t know that the Sorcerers of Shadows were still awake in there. He would have done something otherwise to help them.
The shadows were starting to get impatient hissing and growling like a swarm of angry beasts.
“We can teach you.” “Give you power” “Do as we say or suffer” “No, don’t listen him” “Whatever you want” “Sweet little sorcerer” “Don’t make us hurt you” “Idiot” “You’ll be safe with us” “Don’t scare him away”
“What are ya doing Donald?” Uncle Scrooge’s hand appeared on Donald’s shoulder, making the boy quack loudly and fall on his but, away from the shadows that had started to creep closer his feet without the boy’s notice. “Still going after those rats?”
“Uncle Scrooge” the boy laughed nervously and tried to look innocent under his uncle's confused eyes while pulling his leg further away from the shadows that loomed over them.
The scream was louder than anything the boy had heard before. Even the creatures on other champers started to howl and growl, making the entire vault shake when they tried to break out.
“What in…” The old duck rushed back to the hallway, giving Donald a change finally grimace and cover his poor ears that felt like starting to bleed any second now. And like always, Della was soon on his side, helping his brother back on his feet with worried eyes and hiding him behind her back when their Uncle returned.
“Well, that was yer que to leave.” he stated, his eyes stopping to glare at the lone mirror just a moment too long for it to be a conscience. It was just a little thing, but more than enough to fill Donald’s stomach with dread.
Uncle Scrooge knew that Shadow Sorcerers weren’t sleeping.
He just didn’t care.
Around him the voices had calmed down enough for the duckling to build up his mask to hide his emotions and ability to hear things others couldn’t. But it didn’t mean that the shadows were any less angry. He could hear them curse him just as much as they cursed Uncle Scrooge’s name. But some of them seemed to find Donald’s fate funny. Calling it irony that the man’s own blood had been tainted by the magic he hated so much and congratulating themselves from the curses whose fault they claimed Donald’s birth to be. For once, Donald managed to keep his anger in check and not to shout at the hurting words the corrupted magic users kept throwing at him as he walked past his Uncle who was keeping the door open for them.
But just before Scrooge managed to close it, blocking the duckling’s ears from the poisonous lies they kept spitting at him. But not fast enough to prevent the final damage from happening.
“You will be next, Little Sorcerer. Just wait and see. You’ll share our fate the moment your dear Uncle finds out what you truly are.”
And Donald believed them.
Before you ask. Scrooge doesn't know that the "Sorcerers of Shadows" are awake an conscious all the time. He honestly thinks they are unconscious 99% of the time since he can't hear them nor see anything weird in the shadows.
Though honestly, I don't think Scrooge as the type of person who would have cared that much even if he knew.
In the brighter note. Did you spot The Legend of Three Cabballeros reference?
3-hours-later-EDIT: Some fact notes I had at the end of the chapter but forgot to add:
Unicorn is apparently the symbol of Scotland. Scrooge having one in his Other Bin suddenly makes much more sense.
Chalkboard was invented in Scotland in 1801 (I originally started the chapter with Donald doing school work and Della coming to ask him to do some magic "for good of the Kingdom", Scrooge overhearing them and then showing the Mirror. It didn't work so I left it out, But yeah, that's why I looked up when chalkboards were created.)