noun (plural famuli ˈfamjʊlʌɪˈfamjʊliː)
An assistant or servant, especially one working for a magician or scholar.
Mid 19th century: from Latin, 'servant'.
Jason's master was famous.
"He has trained more magicians and wizards than any other master, my dear. Getting taken on by him is a sure path to success," said his mother as she shoved him up the stone steps of the townhouse. Jason's father had stayed home, but he had nodded approval from his cobbler's workbench as Jason departed.
Jason jumped right in, doing every job the master asked, removing the obvious dust, washing the dingy drapes, polishing the silver. He, of course, made accomodation for the spiders. He removed only the old, abandoned webs in the corners of the ceiling. Spiders kept pesky bugs from spying on the master. They quietly watched Jason's work, too. He did his master's bidding efficiently and was accepted as the master's famulus
by the end of only two weeks.
Jason worked through the house, gazing wistfully outside through his sparklingly cleaned windows as he swept the house for the third time of the day. He envied the situation of his fellow servant-apprentices. Their masters were also famous magicians and wizards, but younger. His own master seemed to have lost both his flare and his interest, older by centuries than his neighbors. Matti and Carlito, the servants from the houses on either side, both regaled Jason with their stories of new spells and potions whose formulae they had memorized while cleaning the rooms of their households. They didn't even come close to doing their official jobs well. Dust and cobwebs were everywhere, un-remarked by their masters.
Recently, Jason's own work also wasn't acknowledged by his master. Apprenticed and bound to the master for the minimum of three decades, Jason felt doomed to learn nothing. A wizard's apprentice had decades, sometimes centuries of service before he could branch out on his own. The luckiest started as menials as he had, but were asked to stay after their first thirty-year block of indenture, learning more of the wizard's craft at every turn.
His parents had not known the full story. The master was now more like an emeritus wizard, mainly retired from the bustle of spellcasting for the kingdom. The master's lab was neglected, though spotless because of Jason's work. After the first unremarkable weeks and then uneventufl months had passed, Jason began to understand that his chances to advance were nil. The master rose in the morning, ate the porridge Jason prepared, mumbled his thanks and then wandered out the front door, leaving Jason behind to clean the house. Sometimes the master did not return until long after dark. Other day's the master read in the library for hours or walked in the garden, contemplating the flowers, trees, scurrying squirrels, even the dirt. He spoke quietly, seeming to ask Jason to do a task rather than commanding it. Jason appreciated that. Some of his friends reported that their masters literally screeched at them.
Jason's hope settled on the library, filled with many times more books than any other wizard's abode, sure to be full of the secrets of sorcery. At the end of Jason's first month, his master had left a book open on the arm of his favorite chair. Thinking this was certainly a test, Jason dutifully put the book on the table by the chair so it would not fall from the chair's arm and be damaged, only noting the title on the first page of a chapter as he inserted the bookmark and closed the ancient volume, "The Spell of Forgetfulness."
When he returned to the library the next time, he pulled down that same book first, as he started to clean the shelf. After a quick glance over his shoulder, he flipped to that place in the book, but the page was blank. Riffling through that whole book revealed that every page was blank. Unless the master pulled one down and left it open, the books' pages were always blank when Jason pulled one from the library shelves.
Words are a game. Sometimes I play alone, but you are welcome to play, too.