This time it was Kay’s turn to look confused. “A magical staff? Of course not. Who ever heard of a magical staff?”
“Then why are you in so worried about getting it back?”
They finished digging the hole. Kay dropped the book in and covered it up. Then he pushed the heavy rock back on top. “I just need it, is all. I wouldn’t be much of a wizard if I didn’t have a staff, would I? You might as well ask me to shave my beard.”
“But you don’t have a beard,” said Sarah.
Kay jumped back defensively. “Yes I do! It’s just taking time to grow in! See?” He stuck his head forward and pointed at his chin. Sarah squinted, and only found three short brown hairs on an otherwise naked chin.
“Um…yes,” she said. “It’s quite…lovely.”
“You bet,” said Kay, going back to his energetic self. “In another few months, it will be down past my neck. Then we’ll see who’s the proper wizard, eh?”
The wizard Kay is only thirteen years old but is potentially one of the most powerful people in Greystone Valley thanks to his spellbook, which contains all the world’s magical secrets. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to read it.
Kay is one of the few people who were actually born into Greystone Valley instead of being spirited away by a spell or wayward wish. Unfortunately, just because he knows where he comes from doesn’t mean he knows who his family is. He was kidnapped by a group of evil fey when he was just a few months old. The fey replaced baby Kay with a changeling – a fey creature that looked just like the baby boy but that would grow up to be a sinister monster.
Kay himself might have met with a very dark fate at the hands of his kidnappers had it not been for the wizard Argal, who discovered the fey when they were about to do away with the baby. Using enchanted gold, Argal bought the child from the fey and took it in as his own. For the rest of Kay’s childhood, he would be raised by the white-bearded old man, who became both a father and a mentor to him. Argal taught Kay the basics of history, arithmetic, and everything else a boy needs to know as he grows up. He also taught him the ways of magic and lore. Knowing that he would soon die of old age, the wizard fancied Kay as his apprentice and heir. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a chance to finish training the young boy.
Argal had never had a good reputation with locals. The people of Greystone Valley thought he was an evil enchanter who kidnapped woman and summoned evil monsters. For years, this distrust had taken the form of rumors and stories. Shortly after Kay’s twelfth birthday, a charismatic warlord named Baelan came to the valley and turned that suspicion into violent action. Baelan hoped to steal Argal’s spellbook and learn the magical secrets of the valley himself. With a few well-placed words, he managed to convince the farmers nearest to Argal’s tower that the old wizard was a threat that needed to be dealt with immediately. Led by Baelan, the farmers stormed the wizard’s tower and set it on fire. Argal intended to defend himself, but first sought to get Kay to safety. Giving the boy his staff, some old purple robes, and his invaluable spellbook, Argal sent his surrogate son out into the world while he himself stayed behind to face the locals. Kay has not seen his father since.
Kay has found out the hard way in the year since his father’s apparent demise that just having a spellbook does not make you a wizard. He can’t read the magical writing inside the book, and knows only a few basic spells of his own. That doesn’t stop him from trying to use magic, though, and he often gets himself into trouble when his spells backfire. Despite his magical mishaps, he has managed to stay away from Baelan even as the warlord has gathered many different creatures together in an attempt to capture Kay and the spellbook.
Kay is Sarah’s first friend when she comes to Greystone Valley, and is immediately jealous of her when it turns out that she can read his spellbook. Nonetheless, the two will have to work together if they hope to defeat Baelan and get Sarah back to her home.
Image by Jessica von Braun