He lost his family. He’s got voices in his head.
And he’s more powerful than they ever imagined…
Fifteen-year-old apprentice Kyril is sick of being bullied. And after a tragic fire leaves him orphaned with out-of-control thoughts and powers, he can’t wait to escape constant taunting at the wizard academy. So when a dicey faction entices him with companionship, he ignores the grim warning signs.
Even as Kyril’s power grows within the group, he’s left out of the crew’s dangerous plans to derail the authorities. And when being accepted comes at the expense of making questionable choices, he fears his newfound friendships aren’t worth the deadly price.
Can Kyril master his new magic before his shady companions send him to his doom?
Mark of the Medallion is the spellbinding first novel in The Wizard Academies YA fantasy series. If you like sword and sorcery, enchanted adventures, and suspenseful coming-of-age stories, then you’ll love Mike Shelton’s action-packed tale.
Targeted Age Group:: All audiences / YA
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Two things inspired me to write this book/series. One was that I love the idea of magic artifacts and the power they can hold. The second is putting a young, shy, person in a situation where they must choose between being accepted by others or doing the right thing–and the struggled that ensues. Put those two things together and you have the start to a great fantasy story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters just popped out of my head. Three main characters from three different kingdoms with three different types of wizard powers–all fighting together for one cause.
Kyril stood on top of the sturdy stone wall, spread his thin arms out wide from his sides, and jumped into the air. He thought he could fly. He closed his eyes and for a few brief moments felt the hot wind ruffling his dark hair. But gravity had a way of teaching Kyril a hard lesson, and he hit the ground with a thud.
Sprawled on the grass, he cradled his right arm in his left and winced at the pain radiating from it. Blood welled up from a scrape on his forearm. He glanced around the garden of the Gildan Wizard Academy hoping no one had noticed his failure—but wishes were not being granted that day. And worst of all, it was Bale Nabhani, the bully of the academy, who had observed his attempt and subsequent failure.
Kyril shook his head to clear his mind of the foolish thoughts of flying. He knew it didn’t make sense, but for a brief moment he really thought he could do it—fly, that is. Something or someone in his mind convinced him to at least try, but now the thought seemed reckless and irrational at best. He would definitely need to investigate this delusion of grandeur—but first he needed to have his arm tended to.
Striding up to Kyril in long, heavy steps, Bale smirked, wrinkled up his broad nose, and then threw back his head and laughed. From Kyril’s perspective on the ground, Bale loomed even larger than normal. With short black hair, a face even darker brown than his own, and deep-set brown eyes, he glared down at Kyril.
“Kyril Siravan, what in the emperor’s name did you think you were doing?” Bale sneered and shook his head. “Are you really that stupid?”
“It’s none of your business,” Kyril croaked and felt his own face heat up. He tried to turn away and stand up. As he did so, he got tangled in his burgundy wizard’s cloak, jarring his injured arm, forcing a yelp of pain from his lips. Teeth clenched against the agony, Kyril managed to get to his feet.
“You’re the fifth person I know of to try something stupid this week,” Bale said with a condescending laugh “Is everyone going crazy but me?”
Kyril scowled at Bale, but didn’t hold his eyes for long. Even though Kyril was a wizard apprentice, and Bale had no affinity for magic, he was still afraid of the school bully. Bale was of mixed heritage from a minor barony in the south of Gildan. He got his larger stature and darker skin from his father. His family’s strong ties to the emperor came from his mother’s side. Even as one of only a few non-wizards at the school, he outranked Kyril who was from a poor family, and a recent orphan at that.
“I’m not crazy, Bale,” Kyril said under his breath, more to convince himself than to cater to Bale’s accusation.
But he barely believed his own words. Only an hour before he had been studying on a bench in the gardens of Gildan’s finest Wizard Academy, when the thought came to him that maybe he could fly. And why not? Wizards could do lots of things couldn’t they?
Kyril ran a hand over his thick black hair, which hung slightly over his ears, watching as a few leaves floated to the ground in the stagnant, hot, and humid summer air. He turned toward a sizeable group of palm trees, planning to take a shortcut through the garden to get away from Bale and head to the healers. As he did so, he caught a glimpse of the myriad of domed buildings north of the Wizard Academy in the city of Gildan.
Without warning and making almost no sound, Bale jumped around the trees and intercepted him, moving faster than his size should have allowed. He weighed at least twice as much as Kyril did. But then, he always had been small and thin, and Bale—well, he surmised that Bale had never been small or thin. Kyril stifled a laugh at the thought and tried to move around Bale’s hefty frame once again.
“What’s so funny?” Bale asked. He moved closer to Kyril and planted his feet on the ground.
“Nothing.” Kyril shook his head and peered down at his feet, glancing at Bale’s as he did so. The bully’s feet were gigantic; matching the rest of his muscular stature.
Kyril really wanted to get away and see to his arm, but Bale stood his ground and loomed over him. Bringing up his meaty hand, he pushed on Kyril’s good shoulder, but the jolt still sent waves of pain through his other arm.
“Ouch!” Kyril blurted, his voice coming out in a high shriek.
“You’re not very smart, Kyril,” Bale said in a deep, mocking voice. “I’m not sure how you ever got into the academy in the first place.”
“Bale!” came a loud female voice from behind the palms. “Bale Nabhani, leave him alone.”
Bale jumped at the voice and Kyril turned to see Sylvonna Hickory marching around the trees. Her blue eyes were stern and her short blonde tresses shook around her head. While as thin as Kyril, she was many inches taller. Her lighter skin marked her as being from outside of Gildan.
“This is none of your business, Twig,” spat Bale, using the offensive insult to both her skinny frame and her last name.
“Hello, Sylvie,” Kyril said, feeling relief at the arrival of a friendly face.
However, with that relief came a bit of heat to his face. Sylvie was one of the more powerful—and in his opinion, one of the most beautiful—women at the Wizard Academy. At sixteen, she was a year older than Kyril, and upon arriving almost a year earlier as part of a student exchange program from the Wizard Conclave in the Kingdom of Arc, she had become Kyril’s friend—something that he didn’t have many of. They didn’t spend an overly large amount of time together, but she was always polite to him and treated him with respect, despite the fact that they were studying in different wizard disciplines. He was an apprentice wizard of the mind, and she was a full wizard of the earth.
“Saved by a girl again, apprentice,” Bale said. “You are pathetic.”
Sylvie ignored Bale’s taunt and moved closer to Kyril.
“What happened to your arm?” Sylvie asked.
He shook his head at his own foolishness. Maybe Bale was right. He was stupid, at least in regards to trying to fly. What had gotten into him? He knew he couldn’t fly—no wizards could, unless you counted the dragon riders down south, but they used dragons for their flying.
With thoughts of dragons in his head, the idea of flying once again overtook him, and he found himself moving backward toward the wall.
“Ky!” Sylvonna called to him. “Where are you going?”
Kyril blushed and shook the silly thoughts from his head. “Nowhere,” he said.
Maybe he was going crazy. For a moment, he felt another presence in his mind. Could someone be trying to influence his thoughts? He glanced around the gardens and saw no one suspicious in the vicinity. Surely, it wasn’t Bale. Concentrating harder to push the thoughts from his head, he began to feel his left hand grow warm. With Sylvie and Bale in a staring match, Kyril risked a quick glimpse down at his scarred palm. He could have sworn it glowed for a moment.
“The fool jumped off the wall, flapping his arms, and tried to fly.” Bale laughed loudly, pulling Kyril’s attention from his hand. “What an idiot.”
Sylvie took three quick steps to stand in front of Bale. Even though she had to look up a few inches to meet his eyes, he was the one that reluctantly backed away. Levels of power meant a lot in Gildan, and even though Sylvie was still in school, she was a full wizard, while Bale was not.
Bale put his hands up in front of him. “No need to get testy, Twig. But someone should look into all the weird things going on around here lately. Unfortunately, Kyril isn’t the only stupid apprentice who is crazy lately.”
Sylvonna glanced from Bale to Kyril, and then back again to Bale. “What are you talking about?”
Kyril was interested also, and took a few steps closer to the other two.
“Maybe you’ve been too busy being a high and mighty wizard to notice,” Bale said with contempt, “but yesterday a student thought he was a dragon and almost burned up a classroom. The day before a woman ran into a wall, thinking she could go right through it. And just this morning two students in the practice yard almost impaled each other with swords that they swore were only blunted ones.”
Sylvonna looked at Kyril and he just shrugged. He hadn’t heard about any of these events. But then he did tend to keep to himself. He had been admitted to the academy almost two years before as an act of charity after he lost his family in a fire, and didn’t have a lot of friends.
Sylvie pursed her lips then spoke matter-of-factly. “We have a problem at the school, it seems.”
“You think?” Bale blurted out.
Sylvie’s blue eyes flashed in his direction, stopping him from saying anything more.
“You are dismissed, Bale,” Sylvie said.
Bale opened his mouth wide and his eyes even wider. His fists clenched tight. “You go too far sometimes, Twig.” But without another word he turned around in a huff and began to walk away. After a dozen feet, he twisted his head back around.
“Hey Twig, make sure you don’t let the boy try to fly again.”
“What a fool,” Kyril mumbled under his breath.
Sylvonna furrowed her brows at Kyril, and he took a step back wondering what he had done. Sometimes wizards were hard to figure out—and women even harder.
“What?” Kyril said, louder. “He is.”
“He’s still from a noble house,” Sylvie said. “The house of Nabhani is a very powerful one in Gildan, is it not?”
Kyril nodded his head. Too powerful. Families like Bale’s teased poor orphaned boys like Kyril. Someday, he would get back at them. He clenched his fists, but pain stabbed out from his shoulder and down his right arm. His head suddenly felt light and he wavered on his feet a bit; Sylvie moved quickly to support him.
She grabbed his left hand to steady him. Before letting go, she turned over his hand and stared at the rounded and patterned scar that marked his palm. Her eyebrows furrowed for a moment as if thinking of something.
Kyril grabbed his hand away and put it behind his back. “Can I go and get my arm looked at now?” He didn’t want any questions about the burn mark on his hand right now. He knew Sylvie had seen it before but so far she hadn’t said anything about it.
Sylvonna recovered and smiled. “Of course. Healer Joelle from the Realm should be able to fix you up.” With one last glance down at Kyril’s hidden hand, she turned and led the way across the gardens.
Kyril tried to keep up with the young wizard, but her legs were longer than his and he had to almost run to reach her side. The white stone structures with domed roofs of the Wizard Academy sat amidst tall palm trees swaying in the afternoon breeze. The gardens were one of the jewels of Gildan, with plants imported from the southern kingdoms of the western continent in which they lived.
Kyril took a deep breath, and the fragrant perfumed flowers of the garden drifted by him. He smiled. Others stopped talking and gave nods of respect to Sylvie as they passed by. Kyril hoped that someday they would notice him too.
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