The boy known as Hawk neared his destination. He barely noticed how hard the climb had been in his excitement. He was almost there! Soon his new dream would be a reality! He once again marveled at the strange set of circumstances that lead to this moment. His luck had changed so much in such a short time that he could almost believe his life was guided by fate.
To think just a few months back he wasn’t sure where his next meal would come from, or even where he could safely sleep. He was just another of a growing collection of street waifs, a product of ongoing war in a society driven by greed and selfishness. He had little memory of having parents … just vague images of faces and a sense of unconditional love. Such memories were hidden deep in his core, kept safe from the harsh reality of being an unwanted child in a city that already had too many. And like so many others with similar stories, he learned to survive by being quick, smart, and basically unseen. He had a sharp eye, both for danger to himself and targets for acquisition, and a skill at getting out of scrapes that had people believing he could fly. That is how he had earned is nickname, and since he remembered no other it stuck. His fascination with heights only added to the illusion of a boy who could fly. The day he had picked a certain older gentleman as the target for supplying his next meal changed Hawk’s life in a way he could never imagine. Fate or not, that choice directly lead to this moment.
His attempt at relieving the gentleman of the unnecessary weight of so many coins failed utterly, but instead of seeing Hawk punished, the man had taken him home. Hawk was never clear what made Master Jerome choose to make Hawk his apprentice. It may have been pity, or maybe the Master just saw something within Hawk that Hawk didn’t even see in himself. Whatever the reason, Hawk found himself not only with a steady supply of food and shelter, but starting to learn skills that many believe were not even real; matters of legend. Most did not realize it, thinking he was just a man of wisdom with an undisclosed source of wealth, but Master Jerome, was , in fact, a mage. And he seemed to think that Hawk had the makings to become one as well.
Hawk had only been with the mage for a short time before it became apparent that he did have a knack for magic. He couldn’t learn it fast enough, a constant annoyance to Master Jerome, who insisted that his knowledge needed to be doled out slowly, for both Hawk’s safety and to ensure Hawk was not a threat to others. Of course, Hawk, being a self-reliant teen, knew better, and was constantly sneaking peeks where his eyes did not belong. So far there had been no major issues, other than a few scorched wall hangings and a scar or two that Hawk would not soon forget. He had not really considered trying anything THAT ambitious … until he came across a spell intended to make a man fly.
Reading it, Hawk had sensed a thrill within himself that he could not fully explain. The words of the spell seemed to trigger something inside, almost as if awakening a dormant instinct, that had Hawk pining for a chance to try the spell immediately. However, beyond being Master Jerome’s student, he was also obliged to help him with the tasks of living … tedious though some of them may be. Hawk had learned an immediate respect for the Master the moment he had caught Hawk attempting to pick his pocket, and it had only grown as he spent more time in the Master’s care. Hawk may push limits, but he really did not want to give Master Jerome any reason to be REALLY disappointed in him, so he mostly did as asked. Thus attempting a spell that Hawk shouldn’t even know existed was a matter of careful planning. The moment Master Jerome asked him to gather some of the more obscure herbs and plants needed for some of his labors was just the moment Hawk had been waiting for. It would take Hawk into the mountains for a couple of days … ALONE … just what he needed. Hawk had been so enthusiastic about the assignment it was a wonder that Master Jerome had not been suspicious.
So here Hawk was now, approaching the perfect spot for taking flight. He had worked hard to gather everything on the Master’s list quickly, so he had time to do what he truly desired. As he did his final approach to the cliff edge, the strong, brisk breeze only increased the urge to leap into the void. His need to fly was becoming a compulsion. Hawk couldn’t even understand why this was happening. It was as if he was two beings at once: a brave but often foolish boy, and his namesake; a lord of the air. This was an unnerving feeling, especially since he never had encountered such a division in himself before. He was somehow changing, and as scary as it was, it also felt right. Hawk had to use all of his will to stop from simply leaping off the cliff face before he had enacted the spell of flight. Strong though the desire to do this, some sense of sanity held him back. Barely able to focus as the strength of his desire grew, Hawk managed to get the spell performed as required, and unable to hold back any more … he jumped off into space.
For a sickening moment, Hawk simply fell. His stomach in his throat, it occurred to him that he had done the spell incorrectly, or worse yet … it was not a real spell. Panic plucked on the edges of his awareness, as the thought of a painful demise suddenly, and rather belatedly, became a reality. Just as he was sure that death was imminent, that bizarre instinct within seemed to mesh with the recurring words of the spell. The panic was washed away, as well as the sickening feeling, replaced with an unsurpassed thrill of being alive. One moment Hawk was plummeting, the next he was flying. He suddenly knew exactly HOW to move in such a way that he could be one with the wind. He could almost see the wind itself, as it swirled around in amazing patterns. Again he had the feeling of being two. He was still Hawk the boy, he could see his own body, but he was also a bird of prey, wings spread wide as he began to soar through the skies. The land below inspired him with its beauty, seeing it now in a way that others could only imagine. Hawk suddenly had a sense that he was about to start a journey that had only been waiting for him to arrive. With a shout of glee (or was it a birdlike screech?), Hawk continued his flight.
Observing from his hiding place a short distance away, Master Jerome watched the boy’s aeronautic display of gymnastics. “And so it begins,” he thought to himself.