The wooden frame of the cot beneath Mec creaked as he adjusted to a new position. The sound echoed off the walls in the dark basement in which his cell resided. Through a narrow window barred with steel rods he could see that the stars above him, meaning he had nearly endured a full day of imprisonment. As the young man lay the painful memory of the events of that morning replayed in his mind, and an overwhelming weight began to crush at his heart.
The day started like most of them do. Mec arrived at the family store at the crack of dawn to prepare for the day. The shop was inspected for any trespasses, the windows were cleaned, and the inventories were recounted. The shelves were neatly organized with various household goods: kitchen tools, bags of spices and sweets from distant lands, dried herbs from local farms, as well as scented soaps and candles. Trapdoors that lined the back walls covered shallow cellars that stored an assortment of ales, liquors, and wines to keep them cold. When his morning duties were completed, the youth sat in his usual spot behind the counter, resting his head on his hands as he watched the morning pass.
The time passed quickly as Mec's mind was occupied by the thoughts of the dreams he had had most nights recently, and the events that would accompany those dreams. The setting of his dreams were always different, but there was always a constant: the calm voice of a man who identified himself simply as G. Every time Mec dreamed, G urged him to look deep in himself, to find some connection with the world around him. The young man never understood what G truly meant by this command, and it was unnerving that his dreams consistently were haunted by these visits. What was more disturbing was what he would find when he awoke. He would find flowers that have somehow grown through the floorboards, balls of flame that would roll off his bed and dissipate into smoke when he awoke, and most recently, sculptures of small animals made of ice that would move like their living counterparts. Every morning when Mec discovered these oddities he would destroy them in fear that his parents would return from their travels and see them.
The young man's thoughts were occasionally interrupted as customers would visit the shop, some regular customers and some that he didn't see often or couldn't even recall meeting. Most of the time he remained on his seat at his stool behind the counter, but he would occasionally jump over the counter to help customers find or reach particular items, and then jump back over the counter to accept their payment and continue his daydreams.
In the early afternoon, the store had a decent number of patrons wandering the shelves. The store was small enough that Mec was able to monitor the large amount of customers, but it took diligence. Although it was common to see youngsters at the store to buy sweets during their midday break from school, Mec was usually wary of them as they were prone to stealing. Usually the losses were petty, but he felt a sense of obligation to teach children the error of stealing. Most of the time he would scold them and let them have a piece of candy anyway, unless it was a repeat offender. He couldn't help but sigh as he watched a little boy hide a treat, neatly wrapped in paper, in the pocket of his pants. When the boy tried to walk out the door, Mec called to him, and immediately the boy ran for the door.
"Hey! Stop!" Mec shouted, reaching his hand forward. His response was a creak beneath the floor boards, and suddenly large branches burst through the wooden floor, knocking over shelves and sending dust scattering throughout the shop. When the dust had settled, Mec couldn't help himself but gasp at what lay before him. A tree had suddenly grown in the middle of the shop, and the boy was trapped in it's branches, which had intertwined with his clothing as if to hold him there.
When more of the shop's patrons have begun to comprehend the site before them, Mec began to feel his body temperature rise, as if the stares of the small crowd before him were roasting him alive. Some stared in horror, others just shock, and a few of contempt. "You!" barked a man about Mec's father's age. "I saw it! You used magic to make that tree grow! You're a sorcerer! This shop is run by a family of sorcerers!"
Mec's mind and body betrayed him, unable to find the words or the actions to respond. The man's outburst confirmed what he had quietly denied for weeks: Mec was a mage. The young man remained silent and surrendered until he was taken away by the town's guards. The journey to the prison and into his basement cell was only a blur in his memory. All he recalled was that the authority that had arrested him said they would warn the public of the danger of his presence, and that he would be imprisoned underneath the jail until soldiers could arrive to properly execute him. The young man was placed in the cell, chains on his wrists and ankles that were long enough to allow him to walk a few paces on either side of the cot in the center of the cell, but not to either end of the cell. Alone in the darkness of the basement, Mec had fallen asleep.