On the edge of a small town, which is itself on the edge of a larger town, lived a boy who was in many ways average, but would soon discover that he was destined for adventure in the epic tradition.
As he had every day for years, Cyril Fenwick biked to the old ash tree up the hill from his house. Somehow doing homework seemed easier under its boughs. Cyril noted that the ivy’s growth he had observed over time meant the tree’s trunk was now nearly eclipsed by green leaves.
Lost in a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Cyril failed to detect the approach of a man in a long coat till his voice snapped, “You and I must speak.”
Jolted from reading reverie, Cyril noticed the man’s thick beard first. Then his heavy leather gloves, which stretched well past his wrist, as gloves rarely do anymore.
“About what?” asked Cyril, pushing his book in his backpack and preparing to bolt the moment this stranger proved threatening.
“Your destiny,” the man replied. Cyril found it impossible not to laugh at his lack of irony, which seemed to confuse the cloaked figure. “This is no joke, boy. You are meant for greatness.”
“To join the most prestigious of societies. The Order of the Vine.”
“You named yourselves after weeds?” laughed Cyril again.
“We took our name from that which covers history, its leaves made shields both protecting and disguising ancient secrets.”
“And you do what, exactly?”
“We serve as the last stronghold of magical warriors ready to protect the world against evils it cannot know exist.”
Cyril shook his head. “Magic, huh?”
The stranger reached inside his coat, producing an ornate rapier seemingly from nowhere. He flicked its point toward the tree, and the ivy unwrapped itself from the ash, gathering underneath Cyril to hoist him in the air.
Cyril’s eyes widened. “That’s… a thing. Is moving plants all you guys do?”
Swinging his sword floated the man two feet off the ground. “We can do all manner of things,” he smiled.
“Do I get a sword?” asked Cyril.
“What do you think?” the man replied.
Cyril was smiling now. “I think I’m in.”