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Bring on the Wonder

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Disclaimer: The show and its characters belong to their respective creators and producers. The are not mine.

 

"Bring on the Wonder" by Karrenia

The distinctive smell of jasmine and blooming nightshade permeated the air; a very distinctive mingled aroma that all three boys had come to associate with home and with their mother. Not to mention the even more welcome and powerful aroma of cooking seared lamb meat with stewed vegetables which made their mouths water.

Cyrus, as the eldest tried to keep from showing how hungry he was because as part of his responsibilities as the oldest; which included being responsible for his two younger brothers, Taj and Rafi; he also had to set a good example.

They had been out racing home-made paper-mache kites off the edge of the shallow that buttressed the edge of their village and had been so caught up in their contest that they had not noticed how late it had gotten.

Taj bit his lip worried what their mother would say about the fact that were getting back in after curfew. As the middle son, he felt he had more to prove than his siblings and consequently often got into more unprovoked fights and awkward situations than the other two.

The last time, he recalled, with painful clarity, there had been a quartet of boys in the marketplace who had taken it into their heads to begin taunting Taj for his slender frame and slightly up-and-down manner of his voice. What broke the dam of his restraint at the last was when one of the boys; a thin, rat-featured boy had called their mother a bruja, or a witch.

Neither Cyrus or Rafi had been there at the time, and he hurtled forward with all the strength that his eight-year-old frame could muster. Taj had emerged from that altercation with a black-eye and a bloody lip.
When he got home his mother had taken one look at it, taken him into a back room where she keeps her plants, herb garden, and assorted items and mixed up a pungent concoction that smelled like Cyrus's dirty socks and smothered all over his injuries.

She hadn't asked what had happened only that if he was going to get into fights he had best have a backup plan. When Taj had gone to Cryus later that night and asked if there had been any truth to that rumor Cyrus had only shrugged and said:

"Some people will believe just about anything. Taj., the problem is some of the things that they believe can be twisted and warped out of shape and turned into something terrible."

"So, she's not a witch?" asked Taj.

"Our mother is a good person, and I think she comes from a long line of herbalists and folk-healers and other things I don't have the words for," Cyrus replied, pausing to reach into the collar of his loose-fitting cotton shirt and pull out a luminescent amber amulet hung on a leather chain around his neck.

"What's that?" Taj asked.

"A protection amulet."

"What's it for?" Taj asked.

"Protection, you silly goat," replied Cyrus, fondly mussing the younger boys black hair.

"From what?" Taj asked eagerly.

"What are you talking about?" Rafi yelled as he rushed into the room, nearly running into Taj in his headlong rush. When he had caught his breath he said as seriously as he could, "You know it's not right to whisper and keep secrets from other people."

"You're right, Rafi, in most cases you'd be correct, but as I was about to explain to Taj here, is that are cases when it is better to keep some secrets, mainly when it comes to family," said Cyrus. "I don't think you're old enough, but I guess it can't be helped now."

"Yes, yes," Rafi encouraged.

"You see, these amulets are magic, and the best kind, but it's they ward off any other kinds of magic. Mother made this one for when I turned thirteen, and I suspect she'll make ones for the two of you as well.

Just then their mother came into their bedroom, clearing her throat. She had been standing just on the other side of threshold, waiting to call them for dinner.
"All right, you scamps, time to wash up for dinner, which is getting cold by the way if you wait any longer."

"Yes, Mother!" they boys sang out.

"Cyrus, wait up!" said Amara as Taj and Rafi raced out to go out to the back courtyard and to the well there.

"We need to talk," she said.

"I know," said Cyrus quietly.

"Amara took a deep breath and then said: "To them, magic is the stuff of stories and legends, and marketplace sword-swallowers and fire-eaters and sleight-of-hand., but like all things, it can cut both ways."

"Mother," Cyrus began.

"Even when you were small I thought nothing of entertaining you with harmless sparkly enchantments; the legerdemain I learned from your grandfather. He was with a traveling troupe of entertainers that traveled from village to village, never putting down deep roots." Amara sighed and reached up to brush a lock of black hair out of her dark eyes.

"What are you saying, Momma?" Cyrus asked, caution not yet turning to worry.

"What am I saying, is that type of magic is relatively harmless."

"Taj got into a fight the other day." Cyrus remarked.

"I know, I know, and he told me why. I don't want you boys getting into fights, in fact I would prefer if you limited your rough-housing to the back courtyard, but I don't suppose I can completely control that, can I?"
Cyrus smiled fondly and shrugged. "Not, not completely. What's this really about?"

"The problem with magic behaves much like the elemental forces; sometimes predictable, oftentimes very unpredictable and as such, it can cut both ways."
"Why are you telling me this?" Cyrus asked.

"Because you're getting older and so are the Taj and Rafi, and those protection amulets will only go so far."

"I, I don't understand, Cyrus. "We're family, we protect each other, that's that way it's always been even after we lost Father. I don't understand why having magic is going to change any of that."

Amara paused and rubbed the hem of her flowing sleeves over her eyes, then sighed and looked back at Cyrus again. "You're right about what you said about family, and you're a good son for remembering that.
When the time comes when it becomes necessary to protect our family, I don't want you to rely solely on magic to do so."

"I have magic, too?" Cyrus asked perhaps a touch more eagerly than was warranted under the circumstances.

"Yes, which is why I think it's time that I taught you boys something stronger than creating protection amulets and herbal remedies. If you think you're ready for that. Think about, Cyrus, very carefully. It's not a light undertaking," said Amara.

"I have thought about it, and I will do it."

"Promise me that you will be careful and do exactly as I tell you?" Amara said.

"I promise," Cyrus replied, reaching forward and grasping her hands with his own.

"Please don't worry so much, Mother," Cyrus said as earnestly as he could," We'll always have each other."

"Very well," Amara replied, stepping away from him and offering her eldest a weary but heartfelt smile, saying as she did so, "We will begin three days from now when I've had time to collect the necessary materials.
And I'll prepare your brothers."

"What should I do now?" Cyrus asked.

"Now," Amara smiled again, this one a much more open one that reached her eyes. "What I recommend that you do right now, is eat, dinner is getting cold."

"Do you think there will be any left once Taj and Rafi get to it?"

"If they have then I shall simply have to make more," Amara grinned. "You boys are growing like weeds in an oasis. "Off with you, then."