Corbin sat with his legs dangling over the crumbling wall of the crenellation that topped the remains of the ruined castle overlooking, with an ominous presence, the magical sanctuary of Hexenheim. He heard a quiet “Hi, Cory” behind him. He turned around to see who it was. “Hi, Karl,” he answered smiling, glad to see the big blond boy. Karl wasn’t that much taller than Corbin was himself, but he was bigger boned and heavier than Corbin. He was better looking than Corbin as well, with honey blond hair, a straight nose and large brown eyes, but Corbin had a charm about him that, despite his large nose and bristling black eyebrows, drew people to him more so than Karl Heinz’s handsome good looks. That, among other things, had irritated Karl Heinz, and when Corbin originally met him, they had gotten off on the wrong foot. Some of that, Corbin admitted, was his fault, but when Corbin saved Karl from being turned into rabbit stew, they patched things up between them.
Over the past few months, however, things had become strained again. Before Max sent Corbin to Hexenheim, Karl considered Lorelei to be, even though she never thought so, his girlfriend. Then Corbin came along and the two of them, Lorelei and Corbin, fell in love. They both tried very hard not to, but love, they found was not anything that could be controlled. When they told their friends, including Karl Heinz, what the situation was, Karl got miffed and quit hanging out with all of them including Rolf and Maggie, who were com- pletely unaware of what Corbin and Lorelei were up to and totally blameless.
“Lori here?” asked Karl sitting down next Corbin.
“No,” answered Corbin, “not yet anyway. I got out of classes early. The rest of them should be here soon.”
It was the last day of school before the start of the summer holiday, and the young mages of Hexenheim had only a half-day of school – no afternoon magic school session. Because Corbin was very advanced in math and science, most of his morning classes were private ones. Today neither Magus Eule nor Magus Spacek kept him long and dismissed him while his friends were still in class. It was a bright warm June day, and, not having anything else planned, he had made his way up to the broken-down old castle where they had all decided to have a picnic to celebrate the last day of school.
“You still mad at me?” Corbin finally said not look- ing at Karl Heinz, instead keeping his gaze fixed on the vista before them.
The view was sensational. A good hundred feet below them, spreading out like an open fan against the cliff that held the brooding presence of the castle, they could see the entire medieval town of Hexenheim with its red-roofed buildings, many of them half-timbered, shepherded together into a tight group, neatly separated from the outlying countryside by a completely intact protective stone wall.
Karl Heinz shook his head. “Not anymore.”
Corbin nodded and said, “Good.” He was glad. He hated to be on the bad side of anyone, and he and Karl Heinz had definitely had their history.
Again, an awkward silence settled between them this time broken by Karl Heinz. “You mad at me?”
“Mad at you?” answered Corbin continuing to stare at the town instead of the boy sitting next to him. “Why should I be mad at you?”
“For being a niggling idiot,” replied Karl Heinz his eyes also glued on the scenery before them.
Corbin shrugged. “You’re not,” he said with a quick glance over at Karl, letting bygones be bygones. “I under- stand why you were ticked off. I’m the one that stole your girlfriend.”