The robed figure hunched over the large cauldron as he carefully stirred the bubbling contents. Steam rose high into the air, giving off a flurry of multi-coloured sparks which leaped and danced around the rafters. Peering into the swirling depths, the old man breathed in the aroma of the magical brew with a satisfied sigh, almost as if he was preparing a delicious casserole. As the simmering liquid began to settle, a blurry image started taking shape beneath the ripples and he bent his head, straining to see the vision more clearly.
‘Not now, Midnight,’ he said softly, nudging away the sleek black cat which was winding itself around his legs, purring loudly. ‘I’m busy and this is a crucial moment in the process. If I spoil it, I’ll have to start all over again from scratch.’
The cat retreated a safe distance away from the fire, but still close enough to enjoy its warmth, and sat down, grooming her whiskers as she watched her master at work, her vivid green eyes following his every move.
The sorcerer waited patiently, gazing into the cauldron until he suddenly drew a sharp intake of breath. ‘There it is,’ he murmured. ‘The sign we’ve been waiting for.’ The weeks of hunting down obscure ingredients and poring over thousands of ancient spells had finally paid off. He could now make out the three figures in greater detail, staring back up at him from just below the surface of the potion. A pretty girl with long blonde hair stood between two boys, one fair, the other dark. The two golden-haired children had clear blue eyes, but the darker boy’s eyes were hidden behind strange mirrors which seemed to reflect the light back towards the magician. ‘Where are you?’ he whispered, unable to tear his gaze away from the vision he had conjured up.
‘We’re on our way. We’ll be there soon.’ The words seemed to float upwards into the room and the old man thought he saw the girl’s lips move as her light voice echoed around the chamber.
Hearing the young girl speak, Midnight interrupted her bath and fixed her master with a cool emerald gaze, an urgent question on her lips. ‘And what about the cat? It’s vital he comes as well – you know the prophecy.’ The sorcerer spun round to face his companion. ‘The cat? Ask her about the cat,’ insisted Midnight.
‘Ah … good point, my beauty,’ he replied, before turning back to peer into the vat of liquid once more.
‘He’s right here by my side,’ announced the girl. ‘Wherever I go, he goes too.’
Sure enough, as the old man focused on the image, the outline of an enormous feline appeared beside the girl. Clad in a coat of ivory-coloured fur, topped with a mushroomy-grey face, the cat’s unblinking turquoise eyes bored into the magician’s own, causing a shiver of anticipation to run down his spine. Ah yes, this was the one. Success at last.
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