William held the amulet, tracing the gold letters etched in its casing with his fingers. What did it mean? What magic had been stored there so long ago? Even the sorcerer seemed surprised by the depth of its power. Not that the amulet’s original purpose mattered, so many hundreds of years later. What mattered now was the power he would give to it—and get from it in return.
He looked across the table at the sorcerer. It had shocked him, when the sorcerer’s hood fell back, revealing his his face, how young he appeared. Scarcely more than a child. Of course, an older, more experienced sorcerer probably wouldn’t have agreed to work on a promise. He would take what fate handed him. This child had better come through with his end of the bargain, however.
The sorcerer held his gaze. “I have no care for who rules this country. I care only for my wages. This holds powerful magic, and it is more than ideal for completing my spell, but it must be yours. There is another with equal rights to it. You must convince him to relinquish his rights, and the agreement must be in blood. The other’s blood on the amulet will seal the bargain. Can you do this?”
William nodded. “I can convince him.” He just had to determine what would be the most efficient way to convince Maury to relinquish any claim on it.
He stared at the amethyst, stared into it. In his mind, he saw the queen, her face pale, brow covered in a sheen of sweat, as she’d been the last time he’d seen her. Ada had insisted the queen stay in bed for the duration of her pregnancy after a fall had caused contractions early on.
The more he thought about it, the more convinced William was that using the queen was his best chance to convince Maury.
“I need a potion. Something that will ensure the safe delivery of a baby. Can you make something like that?”
The sorcerer nodded.
“How long will it take?”
“A few hours, with the right supplies.”
“Tell me what you need and I’ll get it for you. Let me know when it’s ready. I will have the amulet by sundown.”
“Good,” the sorcerer said. “Then I will meet you here tomorrow and we can begin our work on the creature.”
After acquiring the supplies for the potion, William wrote a note to the king and sent it with a messenger to the palace.
When the potion was ready, he made his way to the edge of the woods to wait.
Before long, his brother, the king, strode toward him, his face hidden by a cloak.
“William. You have the potion?”
“What do you want? You said you needed something from me.”
“You already took the amulet.”
“Yes. But I need you to relinquish your rights to it.”
“The why is of no importance. The how involves your oath that you relinquish the amulet to me, sealed by your blood on the Old words.”
“And in exchange you’ll give me the potion? You can guarantee she’ll be safe? The baby will be safe?”
“You have my word.”
“I’ll do it.”
“You understand the terms of the deal?”
“Yes! I already said yes. What do I do?”
William extended a knife with a jeweled hilt. “Your blood.”
Maury sliced the palm of his hand.
William held out the amulet and spoke the words the sorcerer had instructed, while Maury squeezed his blood onto the etchings in the gold that encased the jewel.
“I swear on my life and my blood to relinquish all claim to the amulet of my ancestors. It is no longer mine, but belongs solely to my brother William.”
William caught movement at the edge of the woods. He glanced up and saw a figure peering at them from behind a bush.
His old nurse. He smiled. She didn’t matter. It was too late. The deal was done.
He handed Maury the potion. “Thank you, brother. It was good to see you. Give my love to your wife and son.”
Maury clutched the potion to his chest and fled back toward the palace.
Once Maury was out of sight, he emerged from the shadows and pushed the hat back from his face.
The old woman’s face went white when she saw him. She collapsed to the ground. “You.”
He smiled. “Hello, Ada. It has been a long time.”
“What have you done?” she demanded.
William smiled. “I only took back what is rightfully mine.”
He left Ada standing there, staring after him. The old woman had some remarkable gifts, but clearly she hadn’t seen this coming.
It wouldn’t be the last surprise to come her way.
The next morning, he met the sorcerer and handed him the amulet.
The boy’s features darkened.
“What is it? Can’t you do the spell?”
The sorcerer looked up. “Oh, I can do the spell. This will work nicely for that. It’s just…the magic in this amulet. It’s older and more powerful than I dreamed.”
“Isn’t that good? Won’t more power help us?”
“Yes, if you can control it.”
“What do you mean ‘if?’ Isn’t that why I made my brother swear the oath with his blood?”
“That was enough to claim the amulet for you. For now. But the magic is linked inextricably to blood. It is yours now, but any heir to the blood can claim it.”
“You’re saying even though Maury relinquished the amulet to me, he or one of his children can still claim it.”
William nodded. “Then I’ll make sure Maury doesn’t leave an heir.”