Terra Incognita – Chapter 0

Marcus and Ayla were Warlockes on the run from the inquisition. Their son, Sorley, was also a Warlocke but the inquisition had no information on him. The family had moved into the wilderness to keep themselves hidden.

On Sorley’s eleventh birthday, in February, he and his father went on a cold and snowy trapping run. They were looping back around on the back end of the trapping line when they found their only catch of the day.

As Markus approached the trap Sorley took the knife from his father’s belt and stood in a defensive stance between him and the fox.

“Why are you defending this fox, Sorley?” Marcus questioned. “We eat foxes when we need to, and we didn’t catch any other meat today.” He had a confused look on his face with a tinge of concern.

Sorley thought for a moment, then stammered, “I-I can’t really p-put it into words dad, I-I just feel that she and I are c-connected somehow.”

“She, how do you know it’s a she?” Something in the back of Marcus’ mind seemed to stand up at attention but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

Sorley’s face screwed up as he tried to backtrack the information in his mind. “I don’t know how I know, but I know.”

An idea wormed it’s way into Marcus’ mind. She may be his familiar… “Okay. You can keep her.”

“Thanks!” Sorley handed his father the knife hilt first, turned around, and moved to release the fox from the trap. He stopped in his tracks suddenly and cocked his head to the side.

Marcus arched one of his eyebrows and gently pushed his son forward. “Go on, get her out of the trap.”

“She’s not in the trap. She’s just standing next to it.” Sorley motioned to the fox who ran up to him and climbed up onto his left shoulder. “Also, her name is Ember.”

Marcus smiled at his son and the red forest fox on his shoulder. “Well, we better take her home and introduce her to your mother. I think they’ll love each other.”

Sorley smiled back. “I know they will.”

“I don’t think we could’ve gotten you a better present for your birthday.” Marcus said, wishing that he could have gone into town to buy his son a present.

– – –

Ayla was cooking Sorley’s favorite stew using herbs from her basement garden when Marcus and Sorley got home. She quickly took the stew off of the stove to avoid burning it and rushed to the door to let them in. “Well would you look at that. My two strong men returning from their traps with naught to show for it.”

Smiling devilishly Sorley brushed the snow off of his coat and knocked the snow off of his boots then made his way into the house.

“Well,” Marcus said with a smirk on his face, “we didn’t exactly come home with nothing…”

From inside the house Sorley could just barely be made out saying, “this is my room, Ember. That one over there is mom and dad’s, and the far one is actually a garden. I’ll show that to you after you meet mom.”

With a confused look on her face Ayla turned to go towards Sorley’s voice. “What in the world?”

“Sorley found himself a birthday present.” Marcus started to follow her into the house. “A fox familiar named Ember.”

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