The two of them traveled downstairs to the market plaza searching for a meal that would get them energized enough for the arduous task that lay ahead. Like a candy store, the air smelled of sweet, baked goods. Yet, these were not traditional desserts – everything was of bizarre, exotic colors. Sort of like those ekati pastries Mom used to make. Is this the place where they came from? But, there was one dish in particular that caught his eye.
“What about that?” He pointed to a set of spheres with a sweet scent. Rainbow colored strings wound around them, intertwining about.
“My favorite!” She exclaimed. “I haven’t had Sweet Spaghetti in forever!” Bruno reached into his coin pouch, but Eveline stopped him. “Food is free around here! The mages share everything! Just don’t be too greedy.”
“Hmmm…that’s cool.” He should have been more excited about the prospect of a free meal, but for some reason, he wasn’t.
The two of them found a nearby table, and upon sitting down, Eveline began eating right away. After a short time, she noticed Bruno hadn’t started yet, just staring at the food. A blank expression on his face.
“Oh, did you want to get something else instead?” Eveline curiously looked at him. This was not like him at all. Maybe it was something the Archmage said to him? “Bruno, you need to eat. You need your strength.”
“Eh…I’m not hungry anymore.”
“Is something wrong, Bruno? You can tell me.”
Slightly reassured by her gentle voice, he gave in and explained. “My sister Tara…She’s way too young for this whole kidnapping stuff. She barely started learning how to read, and now, her life is at stake. I should never have climbed over that wall.”
“I know the feeling,” Eveline replied. “As the Prodigy of Light, the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Everyone’s lives depend on me to keep the darkness away. But it’s so hard. One girl can only do so much.”
“Yeah…” Bruno drifted off. Moping. Depressed. All he could think about was negativity.
Eveline, seeing the face of a boy who was once very joyous immediately knew she had to do something for him. “Now eat! You wouldn’t deny a lady’s request, would you?” She smiled invoking some positivity in him.
Hesitantly, Bruno agreed and picked up the fork, scooped up some of the Sweet Spaghetti and put it in his mouth. Very weird. Incredibly sweet. Like his whole mouth was filled with desserts. He slightly cringed at the powerful taste.
“Oh…” Eveline said. “Is it too sugary? Sorry about that…” Or as she suspected, maybe he was just not in the mood.
“This is incredible!” Bruno shouted out. A total U-turn on his mood catching her completely by surprise. Before Eveline could comment, he scarfed down the entire thing within seconds. “I’m gonna need seconds! You said this is free, right?” Before Eveline could answer, he rushed up and got another plate and scarfed that down as well. And another plate, and another until he lost track of how many he had gobbled up.
“Bruno!” She called out trying to stop him. “You’re eating way too much too fast…” But it was too late. Bruno leaned forward, clutching his unsettled stomach with both hands. The excessive sugar especially didn’t cooperate with his system. As much as he enjoyed having ekati pastries, he never had eaten so many sweets in such a short time.
“Yeah…I kinda figured.” Then, he gagged, quickly covering his mouth. “Ugh…I think I’m gonna-” Then, he gagged again.
Eveline quickly pointed at the door to the restroom not too far from where they were, and he rushed off. Then, she put her palm to her face and sighed. A short time later, Bruno came back. Just as he sat down, she got him a glass of water which he slowly sipped to ease himself.
“Yeah,” Bruno said. “I guess I got too carried away. But I’m okay now!” For now, Bruno had enough. After he finished drinking his water, he found himself in total astonishment gazing at the sheer number of cleaned off plates in front of Eveline. Far outnumbering his own. “Wha… How did you?”
“Oh, yeah. Mages have to eat a lot more to replenish energy lost by casting magic. It takes a real toll on our bodies. And me especially, I cast way more magic than any other mage here. But it’s not everyday that I eat like this. I’ve just overstayed my time in the wilderness.”
Bruno scratched the back of his head. “Huh…I never thought a skinny girl like you would have such a huge appetite.” So convenient. Just to be able to eat whatever she wanted. Must be a perk of being the Prodigy of Light.
Both of them sat for a while, appetites satiated taking time to relax and make small talk. Even in the soothing atmosphere, Bruno’s thoughts still went to his sister. But he wasn’t inclined to talk about it. To get his mind off, he figured that he should get to know her more. “Eveline, can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” she calmly replied.
“How did you become the Prodigy of Light?”
“Fate chose me. When Archmage Solomon saw my gifted abilities when I was little, they knew I was the one. Thus, they bestowed me the name.”
“So it’s only a title?”
“Well…yes. A tradition since the tower’s founding. It’s been my duty since I was born to repel the shadow creatures, but you’re right. It’s a title.”
“But why do you do it? I mean, didn’t you have a choice?”
“What do you mean? I believe it’s my destiny. I have to protect the world from darkness because fate told me to. I live for that reason!”
Bruno was not sure what to think. Clearly, there was more to her, but she wasn’t talking about it. He doubted that’s what she actually thought. But surely, he would get her to say more later on down the line.
After they both finished, Eveline led Bruno to the communal sleeping area, a large chamber with hundreds of beds. Very strange for him. Back home, he had a greater sense of privacy, but here, there was none.
“No private rooms?”
“The whole community of mages lives in this tower. One place where we all study and live together. ”
Bruno and Eveline got themselves ready for bed, taking a bunk bed against a corner – Eveline climbed to the top. It was hard for him to fall asleep with the presence of all the mages. He just lay there, staring upwards.
Questions flowed through his head like a coursing stream. Though the delicious meal got his mind off the quest for a while, the concern for his sister was still there. It was enough to keep him awake for at least a while. But there was a time and place for everything. He needed to rest.