Nicholas Rasputin is a low-level history professor at Oxford University. He's also the son of Andre Rasputin, Britain's last great wizard/spy and one-time leader of MI-6's Special Section, and he's the great-grandson of Grigori Rasputin, perhaps the most powerful and infamous evil wizard in all history. However, none of that explains why two American Army officers have come to Nick's classroom to try to strong-arm him into giving them Durandel, the legendary Sword of Kings.
Now, having agreed to accompany the Americans back to their training camp, Nick is lost in memories of his father. Without thinking about it, his steps have led him to the flat of his ex-girlfriend, Amy.
“Dad’s crap, same as always. Rupert stopped by--with some Americans this time.”
“Alright, well... so? Does it have to be as bad as all that? I mean, they’re paying you, right?”
I shook my head. Amy never saw this the way I did. In a sense, when she looked at me, even she saw what eveyone else did--the son of Andre Rasputin, the great-grandson of the Man himself.
“I have a job, Amy. A career. I’m just supposed to drop that every time Rupe comes knocking on the door?”
Amy sat up and grabbed her sweater. “Dammit Nick! Then why didn’t you just say no?! If that’s how you feel--if that’s really what you want--then why didn’t you just tell Rupert to go screw himself and get over it. Tell him you’re done, end of story. And for God’s sake, why do you keep coming over here and dragging me into it?”
“Oh come on, Amy!” I said. “You know that’s not fair. My father’s dead. Who else are they gonna turn to?”
Amy stood up, looked away from me. “You’re not the only wizard in Great Britain, Nick. Rupert has a whole department working for him. The whole goddamned Special Section, and they’ve been in business without you for quite a while now.”
“And yet, I’m still the one they call every time something happens. Like it or not, I’m still the best they have.”
Amy whirled on me. “Then what the Hell is your problem? If you’re the best, then be the best! Go get the Sword of Kings, tell Rupert to get the Hell out of your chair, and do what apparently even you think you were born to do!” Amy turned back around, looked out her window at the street below. “God, I’m such an idiot. I can’t believe I let you in here tonight just so we could have this same old argument all over again.”
I stood and started to put my hand on her shoulder, but she recoiled as though she’d been burnt.
“Don’t ‘Amy’ me! Dammit Nick, I love you. But I can’t be with someone who doesn’t even know what he wants to do with his life.”
“Come on. Don’t be like that...”
“No. You’re not being fair, Nick. To me. I can’t keep going through this with you. I can’t do it, Nick. I won’t. Not again.”
“I just came over to talk.”
“Yeah?” Amy turned around and looked at me. “Well now it’s time for you to listen. Grow up, Nick. Make a decision and stick to it. No more waffling, no more games. No more sitting on the fence.”
“No, Nick! Dammit, we’re all sitting here waiting for you to make up your mind about what you want to do. Waiting for the great Nicholas Rasputin to decide what he wants to be when he grows up. Enough is enough! Decide and let us all know.”
“You think it’s that easy?”
“It could be.”
“But what about me? What about what I want?”
“What about you, Nick? Do you even know what you want?”
“Yes! Goddammit, yes! I know exactly what I want. And it sure as Hell isn’t working for Rupert.” I sighed. “I was a soldier, Amy. But I’m not one anymore. I don’t want to be one ever again. I just don’t love it the way you all seem to want me to.”
“Then say, ‘no.’ Tell Rupert to go screw himself, and let that be the end of it. He won’t ask again if you’re firm with him. Even you must realize that.”
“I do.” I shook my head. “But what if there really are Russian ultra-nationalists looking for the Sword of Kings? God-in-heaven, what if they actually find it? What if they come looking for it here?”
A dark cloud crossed Amy’s face, and suddenly she looked scared. “They’re Russians?”
“I have to confront this, Amy. There’s just no other way.”
A beat passed, and Amy seemed to come to some kind of decision. “Go get the sword, Nick. Take up your birthrite. It’s the only way.”
“What? But I thought you just said--”
Amy put her hands on my shoulders. “Forget what I said. It’s too late for that now. Go get the sword and confront this thing.”
“Wow. Really?” I pulled way. “It’s a shame that my father’s gone. He’d have found a daughter today.”
“Nick, please! This is serious.”
“I know, Amy. I know.”
I waited a beat to see if she would say anything else, but she just stood there staring at me. Finally, I pulled my keyring from my pocket and removed Amy’s key. I left it on the counter next to the bourbon and walked out.
If you came by looking for this on Tuesday, I totally forgot about it. I only realized last night that I'd forgotten that this was ready to go up.
Anyway, to read the story from the beginning, use the Sorcerer's Story keyword below.