It’s Not Uncommon for A Wizard’s Apprentice to Be Burdened with A Terrible Destiny

It’s time for another new story! You didn’t think I was just going to have Ignatius and Gus disappear, did you?

Ao3 Link

“I can’t do this. There’s no way I can do this.”

Ronaldo put his hand on Ignatius’s shoulder, an expression meant to comfort. Ignatius wished it was actually comforting, but actually it just served to reaffirm that he was a pupil in need of comfort, and that Ronaldo was a mentor who comforted. “Don’t fret, lad. You can do it; no need to be nervous.”

“I can’t, though.” Ignatius wasn’t nervous. He was very confident. He was very confident that he was going to mess up. He was very confident that he was going to mess up and get everyone killed. “I’m not qualified, Teacher. I’m not trained enough. Surely we can find someone else…”

“We cannot, and there is no time, Ignatius. I myself can vouch for how well you’ve been trained.” Ronaldo smiled sagaciously. He was very sagacious. Ignatius had always appreciated that about him. “You are more than qualified to rescue the princess.”

After Ronaldo had taken them up north to help the mages fight the Sorcerer King—who was in the south, go figure—the queen had been deposed and her family killed, scattered and abducted. Ignatius couldn’t help but feel partially responsible, because if Ronaldo had been there, it might not have happened. But he knew it wasn’t his fault. He and Ronaldo couldn’t have known. It was the Sorcerer King’s fault for kidnapping Lord Hans and being all evil. Ignatius just wished they could have been there to help.

But now he could help by rescuing Flora DiGorre, who was being held hostage by the new king. Someone had to do it and Ronaldo was too well-known a figure. Nobody would recognize Ignatius, though. He’d get second looks for being a northerner, but nobody would assume he was a wizard there to rescue the princess.

“But…” Ignatius knew he was qualified, and he knew he was powerful. That wasn’t the problem. Or rather, it was the problem. “What if it happens again and you’re not there to help…”

“It won’t happen,” Ronaldo assured him. “You haven’t lost control of your powers in years, Ignatius.”

“But if I do it’d be dangerous,” Ignatius protested. Ronaldo wasn’t taking this seriously enough. Ignatius was very, very powerful. So much so that when his powers had manifested four years ago, he’d accidentally rewritten reality a little bit, created a few new species of tree that didn’t exist, destroyed a town and turned all its inhabitants into starlings, and then at lunchtime he’d run away to hide on top of a hill until Ronaldo had found him and taught him to control himself.

Ronaldo was right that Ignatius had had control of his magic for years now. He was safe to be around. He was safe to be around and had been for years. He was safe to be around and had been for years but Ignatius wouldn’t be once he set out, because Ronaldo had forgotten something important. “This is the first time I’ve been away from you in all that time.”

Ronaldo nodded. “I don’t keep your powers in check, Ignatius. You do and you know it. You could easily overpower me if you chose to.” He smiled. “Besides, Gus will be with you. And if nothing else, I know you won’t hurt him.”

“I…” Ronaldo was right, and Ignatius blushed, forever embarrassed that Ronaldo had found out he’d started to sleep with his attendant. “Are you sure you’ll be okay without both of us?” he asked instead of addressing that. He’d never known Ronaldo not to have Gus with him. Gus did…most things for Ronaldo.

Smiling wryly, Ronaldo tutted. “I took care of myself long before I had you two with me, Ignatius. Now, no more complaints. The prince is here and he needs to see you confident.”

Ignatius wanted to remind Ronaldo that he didn’t know how to boil water without magic, but instead he turned around to face Franz DiGorre, who looked much older than he should. “My prince,” Ignatius said, bowing as he approached.

“Ignatius,” the prince said. He was holding his baby brother Donovan—not really a baby but Ignatius wasn’t sure how old he was—in his arms, who was fussing a bit. Franz’s companion and his two young servants were with him, hanging back a bit with his awesome dog, and so was Cordelia DeThane, his mother’s companion who’d managed to escape the uprising with Prince Donovan. She’d been there when Ronaldo, Gus and Ignatius had left Hawk’s Roost, and she looked so much more tired and she had back then, only a few months ago. “Thank you for doing this,” Franz continued.

Ignatius nodded. He thought about saying it was no big deal, but it was. He also thought about telling Franz not to worry, but he would anyway. He couldn’t think of anything to say that didn’t sound inane to him. So Ignatius just nodded seriously and said, “I won’t return without the princess, my prince.”

Bouncing Donovan, who seemed to be—rather alarmingly—trying to climb somewhere that didn’t exist, Franz let out a sigh. “Don’t unnecessarily endanger your own life, Ignatius. But…save my sister. I need you to save her.”

He sounded so broken and scared. Ignatius had known Franz, not as friends, but distantly, for several years. And he’d never sounded so small. Donovan looked up at Franz. “Fora?” he asked, voice wavering.

“Yes, Ignatius is going to go get Flora for us.”

“Iggus!” Donovan cried, raising his arms. “Yay!”

Ignatius smiled at him. He’d known Donovan since he was a newborn. Someday the prince would learn Ignatius’s name. Babies liked magic tricks, so Ignatius held out his hand and made a simple little apparition appear, a butterfly made of light. He’d done a million of them for the prince. It flew off and Donovan watched it go, just like every other time.

“I will, my prince. Princes.” Ignatius said. He felt bad for him. Not for his prince, but for the person standing in front of him, the person who’d lost most of his family. And so even though Ignatius knew better, knew better than to promise anything, to make a promise he might not be able to keep, he nodded. “I’ll rescue her. I swear.”

“Thank you,” Franz whispered, lowering his head. He took a breath. “I can’t even offer you a reward. I don’t have anything.”

“I don’t need a reward,” Ignatius said, not even sure why Franz would think that. “Rewards aren’t important. Lives are important.”

Franz gave what might have been a smile on a happier person. “You’re right. Thank you, Ignatius. Good luck.”

“Thank you, my prince.” Ignatius bowed, turned back to Ronaldo, who was having a quiet word with Gus.

“Are you ready?” Ronaldo asked him. Gus looked worried, but he always did.

“Yes, sir.” Ignatius tried to stand straight. “I’m ready.”

“Go on, then. Return successful.”

Ignatius swallowed, standing firm. Ronaldo believed in him. So did the prince. “We will.”

And that was that. Ignatius gestured for Gus to follow him, and started off down the road. They were off.

Or not really. Ignatius didn’t notice Lady Cordelia walking along with them until they were a good several metres down the road and out of Ronaldo and Franz’s hearing. Then she joined them, putting a hand on Ignatius’s arm. “Ignatius.”

Ignatius made an effort not to jump. He honestly hadn’t noticed her, which considering he’d been trained to be sneaky a lifetime ago, he ought to have. “Yes, my lady?”

Cordelia looked at him a long moment. “Franz is a nice boy, even now. And he’s both traumatized and hopeful. So he won’t tell you this.”

“Tell me what, my lady?” Ignatius asked, shifting a little closer to Gus.

“Rescuing Flora is absolutely your top priority. Nothing must distract you from that.”

“I understand, my lady,” Ignatius said. He wasn’t going to get distracted.

Cordelia nodded. “But once she’s safe—once you’ve rescued Flora and assured her safety. There’s a second mission I need you to carry out before you leave Hawk’s Roost.”

Ignatius gave Gus a look before turning back to Lady Cordelia. “What mission, my lady?”

“After you’ve assured Flora’s safety, you are to kill Stephan Fyrhawk and companion, Neville.”

Ignatius blinked, feeling a stone settle into his stomach. “Kill…”

“The usurper cannot be permitted to keep sitting on the throne,” Cordelia explained. “The longer he does, the easier it will be for everyone to forget that he is not meant to be there. He must be killed, and quickly. So that order can be restored.”

Ignatius looked at her, nodding slowly. She was right. She was right that someone had to kill the usurper. She was right that someone had to kill the usurper, but he was the wrong person to ask. “I’m not a killer,” he insisted. “I’m sorry, but…”

“I’m sorry,” Cordelia interrupted, “to ask something so terrible of you, Ignatius. But It has to be done. You have to do it—for the same reason that you must rescue Flora. You’re the only one who can, Ignatius. The prince and I are counting on you. Kyaine is counting on you.”

Ignatius started to repeat himself, to insist that he couldn’t do it, that she had to ask someone else, that it wasn’t…

Gus took his hand, squeezed it.

Ignatius swallowed, tasting iron. And he nodded at Lady Cordelia. “Okay,” he told her. I’ll do it. I’ll kill the usurper.”

“And his companion,” Cordelia reminded Ignatius. “Neville is the dangerous one. He’s the one who killed the queen and king. You mustn’t forget to kill Neville as well.”

“That sounds more like revenge than justice,” Ignatius told her, quietly. She’d lost her family in the coup as well. Literally lost them—nobody knew where they were or if they were okay.

Cordelia gave Ignatius a dark smile. “There’s no reason why it can’t be both. Now get going.”

“Yes, my lady.” What else was Ignatius supposed to say?

“Good luck.” Cordelia gave a brisk nod and turned back to the gates of Three Hills, leaving them alone on the road.

“I don’t think I can do this,” Ignatius said to Gus, holding his hand.

“You don’t have to,” Gus said, tugging Ignatius to get him moving. “I’m here with you. We’ll do it together.”

That made Ignatius feel better, so he focused on that, on how Gus grounded him, stabilized him. “You’re right. It’ll be nice…this is stupid. But even with everything it’ll be nice for it to be just the two of us for a while.”

Gus nodded. “We don’t need to pretend. I think that will be good for both of us, won’t it…Iggy?” He squeezed Ignatius’s hand, a force that bordered on painful, not stopping until Ignatius winced.

Ignatius nodded. “Yes, sir,” he said, giving Gus a coy look.

“Good.” Gus smiled fondly at him, easing up. “I have your collar in my bag. We’ll put it on you once we stop to eat.”

“Okay.” Ignatius liked that idea, and it helped take his mind off the heavy purpose their trip had.

Hand in hand, the two headed south, to rescue a princess and to kill a king.


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