He sat on his bed, wrapped a blanket around his shoulders, and began his story, “Every human being is born with magical potential. In some books, it’s called ‘magical chalice’ or something like that. To put it simply, it’s like a bowl, big or small, the magic trickles into throughout your whole life. If you were born with a bowl - magical potential, that is - so big that a sea can fit in it, you become a great mage or a great ‘ambasiath’. I know, I know, you haven’t heard of them. Few people have. Individuals like my parents and my sister are rare. Mage’s path and ambasiath’s path are two opposites, two choices, two ways of living. My family stayed true to ambasiath’s path for many generations. Most children in our line were born with great magical potential but they never became mages. Simple spells were allowed sometimes. Casting a Liht or two is like scooping up water from the sea with a bucket. It takes way than that more harm an ambasiath… Well, back to the point. When magic fills the ‘chalice’ to the brim, a transition from quantity to quality happens. Magic slowly morphs into ambassa that takes less space in the chalice and prevents the overflow, which would be deadly. What happens to the person the chalice belongs to? They change, they acquire special talents and become sensitive to things they had never known existed. With a good amount of ambassa inside you, you can see the patterns of Fate people walk and do things mortals usually can’t. With a sea of ambassa, you cease to be human… well, in theory; you’d have to live several centuries to accumulate that much.
“Now tell me, Kan, have you noticed something unusual in my parents? In Sylvia? Wild animals become tame in her presence. That puffer, he tore my hand to shreds when I caught him. And I bet he’d do that again if given the chance. But with her, it’s a gentle pet. Because she has a special talent.
“I used to be an ambasiath too, maybe even more powerful than my sister. My thing was falling from great heights without hurting myself. I jumped from cliffs for fun. Maybe I could learn to fly, who knows...
“When I was fifteen, I got curious about why mages were so well-known and highly respected while ambasiaths were not. I found the answer but didn’t like it. Ambasiaths are egoists, they keep magic to themselves - seas of magic! - while mages carry it to the world to fuel great deeds with it. Mages change the world. Ambasiaths just live in it. It didn’t seem right to me, that’s why I decided to become a Hunter. With a magical potential that huge, I didn’t even have to pass the exams…” Flavus sighed. “My family didn’t take it well, to put it mildly. Still, I think I did the right thing. With so much sorrow and injustice in this world, it’s selfish to keep all your magic to yourself instead of helping people.
“I no longer have any special talents, so I didn’t know you were an ambasiath until my mother told me. All they - my parents, my sister - were in awe with you, talked of your sea of magic non-stop. And then you lost it all in one night, for no good reason… You’re standing on the bank of a dead sea, my friend.
“Your magic will return soon, no worries. If you could wait for several centuries, ambassa would too. But you’re a mortal, so no chance there. The mage’s path is the only path open to you now, Kangassk. So follow it and be happy on it if you can.”
“Your father’s exact words…” said Kan, a lifeless smile trembling on his lips. A vivid picture of the dry, dead hole in the ground, so vast it touched the horizon, and a timid little spring trying to fill it hovered before his mind’s eye.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have told you about your loss since my father chose not to,” Flavus shrugged. “He’s wise. I guess if he learned what I did, he would get disappointed in me again…”
“Your father loves you,” said Kan, his voice suddenly weak and shaky for no visible reason. “He still mourns your sacrifice but he respects your choice. I barely spoke with him but, trust me, his every word, every gesture spoke volumes. If my father cared about me like that I’d be the happiest person ever.”
The last phrase Kan regretted as soon as he said it. This conversation had nothing to do with his father; letting his thoughts out like that was stupid.
“You didn’t know him, right?” said Flavus, compassionate understanding in his voice. Kan nodded. “Well, I don’t doubt he was a powerful man, a mage or an ambasiath. Unless you inherited your magical chalice from your mother, of course.”
“No,” Kangassk shook his head, “the descendants of Del and Emer are weak in magic. As to my father, people used to say he was a ‘weirdo’. Things happened around him: good and bad but never boring. So I heard.”
“Ambasiath,” concluded Flavus with confidence. “Them, you see right away wherever they go. As you said, things happen around them. Ambassa affects the Fate itself in a minor way, like a pebble thrown in a pond.”
“Maybe...” Kangassk scratched his head and took a deep breath. It suddenly seemed very stuffy in the room. He raised his eyes on Flavus and showed him the book, “Hey, did you sketch me here?”
“No.” Flavus seemed unexpectedly serious. “It was Sylvia.”
Sylvia. The little girl. For a moment, Kangassk wanted to express his doubts about that - the drawing looked too realistic for a child’s art - but changed his mind half the way. “Ambassa,” he remembered. “Special talents.”
“Stay with us today, Kan,” asked Flavus. “It’s more comfortable here in the house than in the tent. Plus, neither of us can be donors anyway. After blacking out like we did, people go through a week of recovery at least before going back to their duties.”
“Okay, I’ll stay,” agreed Kangassk. “So much for me thinking that donating magical energy was like donating blood to the wounded. I did once and was absolutely fine the next day…”
“Speaking of wounds,” Flavus raised his black brows thoughtfully, “what happened to your hand?”
“Frostbite. I squeezed a Liht…” confessed Kan. As he met his friend’s surprised eyes, he no longer felt like Kangassk Del-Emer, a warrior and a mage; he felt like little Kan-Gassy who had messed up again...