The Pariah, Episode 11 – An Audience with the King.
Nit closed his eyes and waited for the dry burn to ease. His hand remained poised above the sand tray, the stylus pinched delicately between finger tips.
"Nit. Wake up," Funglass barked at him and rushed across the creaking floorboards, his arthritic knees snapping and popping as loudly as the wood plank floor. "If I've told you a thousand time to remain alert when scribing the runes, then I must tell you a thousand times again, the slightest mistake can generate the greatest catastrophe."
Nit opened his eyes and looked up at the man leaning over him with crazed bloodshot eyes and a madman's spittle formed on his lips. He inhaled a calming breath, blinked his eyes once and said to his master, "And if I've told you a thousand times that the sage-wax candle dries my eyes I would be far from exaggerating."
The old man inflated like a toad, standing more erect with each breath as he added energy to his impending rant. Nit quickly drew "Wool Cloak" in the upper left corner of the sand tray in case his mentor became too agitated to control himself. The protective rune would prevent Funglass from so much as dropping a hair onto Nit's person.
"Relax, Old Man," Nit said in an affectionate, yet dismissive tone, "I've told you equally many times that I am instantly alert and aware of the stylus and the sand tray anytime I take the wooden piece in my hand."
"I don't like how you speak to me. I am your mentor. I have raised you, paid for your training, and could still sell you to the slave masters if you anger me too much," he said and dragged a stool closer to Nit's desk, settling on it with a wheeze like a bellows.
"I will be twelve tomorrow," Nit said, unable to keep defiance from his voice. "I will be old enough to apprentice myself to a master and you will be able to do nothing about it. With my skill at writing there isn't a scribe or accountant in the entire capitol who wouldn't apprentice me."
Nit slid the stylus into a velvet tube and folded his arms.
"And that would be the biggest waste of arcane talent our world would ever see," Funglass mumbled, pressing a closed fist to his lips. He tapped his knuckle rapidly against his lips and said, "Never mind that. We have a new task ahead of us in the morning. One you have been preparing for these many years."