Slave Elf Part 23: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Bread, Cheese and Pear by Connie Cockrell

Part 23

Delia woke in her tent with a headache that hurt even more when she opened her eyes. Her hand drifted to her head where she found a bandage. The back of her head was very tender and she winced as she gently probed the spot.

“Ah. You’re awake!” Master Kaepli entered the tent. Sisruo followed with a tray holding a pitcher and a horn cup. “I’ve brewed you some medicine for the pain.”

Sisruo put the tray on a small table and poured from the pitcher into the mug. “This should ease the headache.”

Kaepli bent over Delia and looked into her eyes. “How do you feel?”

“Like I’ve been hit in the head.”

He chuckled. “A sense of humor is a good sign.” He checked the bandage.

“What happened?”

Sisruo handed her the mug. “Drink.”

Delia did as he bid. The liquid tasted like dirt and mold. Her face scrunched up and she handed back the mug. “Can I have water?”

“Certainly.” Kaepli nodded at Sisruo, who hurried off.

“So what happened?”

“An enemy was wounded and playing dead. When you stopped near him he took advantage of your back to him and threw a rock.”

“He did a good job. What happened to him?”

“Your father’s guard killed him.”

Delia was surprised at a welling of sadness. She hadn’t felt that way while the battle was raging. “That’s a shame.”

Kaepli nodded. “It is. And all for jealousy and envy. Brother against brother.”

Sisruo returned with another pitcher. He poured some into the horn mug, rinsed it and tossed the water out of the door then poured a mug full. He handed it to her. “Something a little more palatable.”

Delia drank it all, enjoying the taste of the clean water. “Thank you. I was very thirsty.”

“I told the King you’re awake. He sends his regards.”

“Thank you, Sisruo. He’s alright?”

“Yes. The battle was over when you were hit. He’s questioning prisoners or he’d come to see you.”

“Are they telling us anything useful?”

“No. Well, yes,” Kaepli said. He pulled the stool over to the bed and sat down. “As we suspected, most of the elves were misled. They joined Iyuno because of falsehoods. Many have re-sworn to your father.” He stroked his beard. “They’re telling us everything they know about his forces and locations. There are some that hate your father and are loyal to Iyuno. Those we will have to keep prisoner.”

“What about the humans?”

“They’re being woken one at a time. The first one we woke pointed out their leader. He confirmed that they were paid by Iyono. He agreed to take his forces back to his own land. They’re no longer a threat. They’ll leave in the morning.”

“Poor Father. He must be exhausted.”

Kaepli chuckled. “He is determined. I’ll make sure he rests and gets some food into him.” The mage stood up. “And you must rest as well. Try to sleep through the headache. I’ll leave the medicine here. If you still have a headache after we bring you supper, take another mug full.”

“Thank you. I appreciate the help.”

Sisruo held open the tent flap for the mage. “Sleep well, Princess.”

“Thank you, Sisruo.”

He stepped outside and dropped the flap. Delia sighed. Much had happened while she was unconscious but nothing that she could have helped with anyway. She turned onto her side so she wasn’t lying on her wound and drifted off to sleep.

She was woken by her father’s voice. “May I come in?”

Deila struggled to sit. “Yes. Of course.”

The king entered, followed by an elf she didn’t know carrying a tray with bowls. “I’ve brought you dinner. I thought I’d have my dinner with you.”

The elf put the pitchers of water and medicine on his tray then his tray on the one on the table. He pulled the stool around for the King to sit.

“Thank you. We’ll be fine here.”

The elf bowed and left.

Ucheni handed her a bowl and a spoon. “Stew.” He grinned. “Just like every other night.”

Delia smiled back. “Indeed.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Master Kaepli’s medicine worked. I don’t have a headache any more. And I find that I’m hungry.” She stirred the stew. Steam rose and brought her a savory scent. “Do I smell rosemary?”

“Yes. I heard one of the cooks found a patch and added some to the stew. It makes it a little different, at least.”

Delia took a spoonful. It was tasty. “I was told you spent the afternoon questioning prisoners.”

The king nodded as he chewed. “Yes. A weary afternoon as I heard the stories they related about Iyono’s lies.” He stirred the stew in his bowl. “Unfortunate. More so those that joined Iyuno because they believe in him. I don’t understand it at all.”

Delia nodded. “A shame.”

“It is.” The king sighed and ate some more. When he swallowed, he said, “I’m sorry you were hurt.”

She shrugged. “It was a battle, father. No one should expect to come out unscathed.”

“Still. I regret your injury.”

“Master Kaepli has treated me well. I suspect I’ll be up and about tomorrow.” She stirred her stew around in the bowl. “When do we leave?”

“Soon. Perhaps tomorrow. We’ve learned all we can from the elves who’ve rejoined me. Later I’ll meet with my council and we’ll make a plan. I don’t want to chase Iyuno’s forces all over the countryside. If the information is correct, we’ll go straight to my uncle and finish this.”

“That would be good.”

His face was grim. “We lost too many good elves today. On both sides.”

Delia reached out and patted his hand. “It’s not your fault, Father.”

He sighed. “True. But it doesn’t make me like it.”

She nodded. They sat quietly after that and ate. He put the empty bowls on the tray when they finished. “Can I get you anything?”

“No, Father. I’m fine. I’ll probably go back to sleep.”

“Good. You rest.” He kissed her on the head and left.

Not long after, the same elf came and picked up the tray. “Shall I get you more water, Princess?”

“No thank you. The pitcher has enough.”

He bowed and left.

Delia settled into her cot and drifted off to sleep thinking about her father’s grief.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 24.

1060 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Slave Elf Part 22: Flash Fiction Friday

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Part 22

The King’s force lined up on one end of the valley. Facing them, Iyuno’s force, filled the other end. She didn’t see the humans, so they might be off to one side or another, as Mystesto’s and Neoni’s forces were, hidden in the woods. At her father’s signal, a soldier blew his horn and the standard bearer dropped the flag, signaling the start of battle. The elves around her roared and kicked their horses forward. She remained in place, to the right of her father, who watched as his elves raced into the center of the valley.

Iyuno’s forces did the same. Delia switched to her magical sight. There were no black aura’s. “Father, I don’t see Nethene’s aura in the other force.”

Ucheni nodded. “He’s probably with some other force. We’ll find him eventually.”

Her horse danced and Delia had to keep pulling it into line while she watched the opposing forces close in on each other, the center of each line meeting in the middle with a crash and a roar. She could feel gooseflesh rise on her arms at the hue and cry that rose over the field in front of her.

Her father’s forces held and she could see elves dropping one by one from their saddles. Pelan must be in there somewhere, using the sleeping spell. Arrows rose and fell, elves screaming with pain as they hit. A small party of five broke away and headed for the King. Delia kicked her horse forward and of its own volition, a fireball formed in her hand. As the five grew closer, she readied the ball, hurling it as far as she could. She didn’t want them to get close to the king. The ball hit the lead rider, knocking him from his horse. The horse screamed and reared, kicking the horse next to it and causing confusion. In no time, all of the horses were screaming. The sound gave Delia chills. She threw another fireball, at the horses. Again, rearing and screaming, the elves could barely control their mounts.

The elves grew closer. One elf in particular seemed able to control his horse while shouting instructions to the others. She chanted the sleeping spell and cast it at him. She saw him shake his head. He was too far away. She threw another fireball, hitting him in the chest. He dropped from his horse and rolled on the ground, putting out the fire. Too close! Too close! She tried the spell again. He rolled across the ground, the spell missed! He grabbed his horse and leapt into the saddle. She threw ball after ball at the now four elves. Two hit, and the elves fell. Two were left.

“Daughter, be careful!”

“Yes, father.”

She tried the spell once more. One elf fell. One more to go, the calm one. She cast the spell, it hit him just fifteen feet away. The King kicked his horse to the left while Delia urged her mount right. The enemy horse raced through the middle and disappeared behind them. The elf lay asleep on the ground in front of them. Two of the King’s elves dragged the elf out of the way and remounted.

“Well done, daughter.”

“Thank you, father.”

Delia tried to still her shaking hands. That was too close. She turned her attention to the battle. There was so much dust it was hard to tell what was going on. King Ucheni kicked his horse to a walk and advanced to the battle. Delia wanted to tell him to stay back but bit her tongue. It was his place to be in the battle. She needed to keep her eyes open.

The horn blew again, and Captain Neoni’s forces came out of the woods just as a company of humans came out of hiding. They joined behind the first battle. The humans were on foot. Captain Neoni’s force formed a circle around the humans. Delia saw them dropping. Sisruo and Couran were wielding the sleeping spell with good result. It didn’t take long for all of the humans to be lying on the grass.

It was different with Captain Mystesto. The group he faced seemed to have their own spells. Elves burst into flame though Delia didn’t see any fireballs. She had to stop looking there as her father had reached the first battle. She chanted the sleeping spell non-stop, elves dropping in front of her like cord wood. Twice she had to kick her horse out of the way of swinging blades. Her father drew his sword and entered the fray. It seemed forever to Delia before the opposing force numbers were noticeably fewer. Her father wiped his blade and Delia took a breath. Was it over? She started to ask her father when something hit her in the back of the head. She could hear herself whimper and slump in the saddle. Then it went black.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 23.

820 Words

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Slave Elf Part 21: Flash Fiction Friday Post

campfire_by_kiaraz via DeviantArt.com

Part 21

The day came for them to march off to the first location her grand-uncle had set up troops. Her horse constantly bobbed head up and down and shifted left and right. Delia did her best to calm herself before trying to calm the horse. It was picking up her feelings. Finally, her father, the king, rode up. The Captain shouted out the order to proceed and she followed the rest of the elves in the king’s retinue out of the castle gates. A company of elves rode ahead of them while the rest of the force followed behind the king. Now that they were moving, she felt better. Sitting and waiting was difficult.

Sisruo rode up and moved into position beside her. He nodded toward Mage Kaepli who rode beside the King. “I was chosen to be his body servant.”

“Quite the honor,” Delia replied. She looked over him and his horse. He had dressed himself and his horse simply, as she had. There were no silver decorations on bridle or saddle. The sword at his side was plain, no fancy guard or decorations on the scabbard. A simple gray cloak hung from his shoulders over brown and green tunic, leggings and boots. Similar to her own dress.

“Yes. It is. I’m honored and hopeful I don’t make a mess of it.”

“Not likely. He seems to like you very much.”

“True. But that has only made him harder on me.” He gazed off into the distance over the heads of the king and the mage. “He’s convinced me to take my final testing when we return.”

“Good. It’s time. You seem to have an excellent grasp of magic.” She shrugged. “At least to my eye.”

Sisruo chuckled. “Kaepli said pretty much the same. Said I was just dilly-dallying. Get on with it.”

Delia had to chuckle in return. “Very direct.”

“Indeed.”

They spoke often over the next four days as they marched to battle. The sound of tack jingling and rattling covered their conversation from others in formation. What Delia found annoying was the constant dust. It filled every crevasse in skin and clothing and she was at the front. She couldn’t imagine what the dust was like at the rear of the line.

When they camped for the night the fourth day, her father called a council.

“Have we found Nethene?” the King asked as they stood around a map of the area spread across a rough table.

Captain Neoni shook his head. “No. There’s been no sign of him since four days before we left the castle. The men I had watching him had to be left behind when we rode. They still hadn’t woken from whatever spell he used on them.”

The king nodded and looked at Mage Kaepli. “And you?”

“I can see Iyuno’s forces ahead. Nothing more than that.”

Chief Scout Mystesto spoke up. “I sent scouts ahead, they’ve just returned. It looks like about a thousand elves, half on horseback. The rest on foot. There are humans, as well, sire.”

King Ucheni’s eyebrow rose. “Humans?”

Mystesto nodded. “More than likely mercenaries, Sire. Swords for hire, is my guess.”

The king rubbed his face, the beginning of a beard already growing. “That could mean that Iyuno isn’t as well supported as we thought. Humans also means less magic and more fighting.” He sighed. “And I’m sure Nethene has already joined my Uncle Iyuno.” He blew out his breath. “There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

He pointed at the map. We break our force into three parts. I’ll take the center, here,” he tapped the map at a point mid-way along the valley floor. Captain Neoni, take the right, Mystesto, take the left.” Ucheni looked to the mage. “And you, Master Kaepli. I’ve heard you have a weapon.”

“One I hope, Sire, will spare many elf lives. I and my apprentice Kaya, will be in Chief Scout Mystesto’s force. My right-hand apprentice, Sisruo and apprentice Couran will be with Captain Neoni. Apprentice Pelan will ride with you.”

“Only one mage with me, Kaepli?”

“Oh no, Sire. Your daughter is well trained in the new method. She’ll be by your side as planned.” The old elf gave Delia a quick wink.

Her father turned to her. “Well done, daughter. You seem to be a formidable force all on your own.”

A blush began to creep up her cheeks and she stared at the map. “I will do my best to protect you, Father.”

He clapped her gently on the shoulder—a smile on his face. “I couldn’t ask for a better daughter.”

“Thank you, Father.”

Ucheni drew a deep breath. “That’s all for tonight. Get your rest. We’ll need it.”

Delia returned to her tent. She was still amazed that the baggage train had one just for her. She splashed her face and took off her boots, lying down on her pallet fully clothed. The weather was still warm enough that she didn’t bother with the finely woven wool blanket provided. She stared at the top of the tent, lit in waves by the torches around her father’s tent. The light flickered and moved as the light breeze flew the flames.

After the big build-up by Mage Kaepli she hoped she could carry out her duties to protect her father. She pressed her fingertips against her eyes. Not a good horsewoman, she hurt, especially after four days in the saddle, from head to toe. That didn’t help her sleep either. Her legs would go into random spasms so even if she did drift off, the spasms jerked her back awake. She muttered the chant to awaken someone from suspension. A yawn in the middle of one iteration was so wide her jaw cracked. She worried about her father. What if he went charging ahead. Could she keep up? How long could she keep up the pace of suspending elves and throwing fireballs?

It was all a swirl in her mind until scratching at the tent door woke her. “It’s daybreak, Princess. We have mush and tea ready at the fire.”

Delia suppressed a groan. It hadn’t felt like any sleep at all. “I’ll be right there. Thank you.”

The elf left and Delia rolled from her pallet. She stretched as best she could and pulled on her boots. It was going to be a long day.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 22.

1064 Words

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Slave Elf Part 20: Friday Flash Fiction Post

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Part 20

Sisruo turned back to her. “I’m here from Master Kaepli. He wondered if you would consider joining us in suspending the enemy fighters.”

It was Delia’s turn to be surprised. “He doesn’t have enough mages to succeed?”

Sisruo’s shuffling gave away his answer. “Not really. He spoke positively at the council meeting but he feels the more elves he has available to do the work, the better off we’ll be.”

“I’ll be at my father’s side.”

“That’s perfect. You could suspend anyone who closes in on the king.”

Delia thought about it. She had it in mind to use her fireballs and heat blasts to keep the enemy from her father. But as she thought about it, wasn’t it better to hold the elves rather than kill them? “I’ll do it. Will you teach me?”

“Yes, Princess. That’s what the Master has suggested.”

Delia nodded and cleared her mind from thinking about heat blasts. “Very well. What do I do?”

They spent until sunset practicing. “How do I know I’m doing it right?”

“Tomorrow, come to the Mage’s study room. We’ll practice on the apprentices that already know how.”

Delia shook her head. “What if I make a mistake? I could kill someone!”

“That’s how we all learned. And we’ll teach you to un-suspend them too.”

Delia thought this a bad idea but couldn’t think of any other way to test her skill. “What about on an animal. A dog or a pig?”

“They aren’t the same size. They would take a lot less power to suspend. It has to be a full-grown elf.”

“Very well.” She rubbed an eye. “Tomorrow after breakfast?”

Sisruo nodded. “After breakfast then.” He looked at the sky. The first stars were already beginning to shine. “Shall I walk you to the castle?”

Delia swallowed her annoyance. He didn’t think she was helpless. He was just being polite. “Thank you.”

They walked in silence, Sisruo with his hands clasped behind him. “Master Kaepli is worried about you.”

“Why?” Again, she had to work to be polite.

“You’re new to your powers, Princess. That is all. I and Master Kaepli are both surprised and amazed at how you’ve adapted to your new position. That change could not have been easy.”

It wasn’t easy, she thought better of saying. “It has had its challenges.”

Sisruo chuckled. “Diplomacy must have been a birthright, Princess. You’re a natural.”

She had to smile at that. “Sometimes. I was hurt, you know. For years. I thought I was abandoned.”

“I cannot fathom it, Princess. And I regret it with my whole being.”

“Nothing to do with you, Sisruo. And Father and Mother have been so loving since I’ve returned. They apologize constantly.”

They arrived at the gate. The guards opened the door for her.

“In the morning, Princess.” Sisruo bowed.

“In the morning, Sisruo.”

The next day she was in the workshop where she’d first researched changing her aura. She still practiced that every day and was getting stronger and holding the aura longer. But this morning Mage Kaepli, Sisruo and three other apprentices were waiting for her. She was introduced to Couran, Pelan, and Kaya. Kaya was the youngest and female. Her blond hair was plaited into many braids and pulled back into a pony tail which hung down her back to her hips. Couran and Pelan were cousins, brawny, as though they worked with weapons. “We do!” they said when she asked. “Our uncle is Captain Neoni. He was disappointed when we chose to become mages but forgave us anyway.” The two of them laughed.

Kaepli clapped his hands. “Let us begin. Kaya, you go first.”

Delia watched as the young woman, younger than herself, suspended Pelan. He sank slowly to the floor, eyes closed, seemingly asleep.

“Try to rouse him,” Kaepli told Delia.

She walked over and crouched down. No amount of shaking or calling his name roused him.  “He’s truly suspended, Mage Kaepli.”

“Kaya, wake him.”

The young elf held her hands over him and chanted. Pelan woke slowly and sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Nice little nap.”

The apprentices chuckled as Kaya gave him a hand to his feet. “Now you, Delia.”

“I’ll be your partner,” Sisruo said as he stepped into the circle. He looked at her confidently and gave a small nod of support.

Delia wiped her hands on her skirt. She had felt confident yesterday evening but now, what if she killed him? Her hands trembled.

“You can do it, Delia,” Mage Kaepli said. “Just trust your instincts.”

Her instincts were telling her this was a bad idea. But Sisruo gave her a smile and the others were speaking words of encouragement so she held out her right hand and focused, just like last evening. Sisruo sank to the floor. For a moment she panicked, thinking she’d killed him. Everyone was clapping. “Well done, Princess,” Kaya said.

“Here’s the waking spell,” Mage Kaepli said. He said the spell three times. Delia held her hand over Sisruo and took a deep breath. She chanted the words, focusing on the elf on the floor. She could feel the power running from her to him. He didn’t move. She looked in fright at Mage Kaepli.

“Wait. It takes a moment.”

It didn’t seem to take so long when Kaya brought Pelan back. Then Sisruo moved. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. He sat up. “Well done, Princess.” Everyone clapped again. Delia helped him to his feet. “That was exciting.”

“We’ll practice a bit more today. Then every day until the army leaves.” Mage Kaepli left the room.

Delia nodded. Another tool under her belt. It felt good.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 21.

946 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Slave Elf Part 19: Friday Flash Fiction Post

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http://www.deviantart.com/art/green-subatomic-694368700

 

Part 20

Sisruo turned back to her. “I’m here from Master Kaepli. He wondered if you would consider joining us in suspending the enemy fighters.”

It was Delia’s turn to be surprised. “He doesn’t have enough mages to succeed?”

Sisruo’s shuffling gave away his answer. “Not really. He spoke positively at the council meeting but he feels the more elves he has available to do the work, the better off we’ll be.”

“I’ll be at my father’s side.”

“That’s perfect. You could suspend anyone who closes in on the king.”

Delia thought about it. She had it in mind to use her fireballs and heat blasts to keep the enemy from her father. But as she thought about it, wasn’t it better to hold the elves rather than kill them? “I’ll do it. Will you teach me?”

“Yes, Princess. That’s what the Master has suggested.”

Delia nodded and cleared her mind from thinking about heat blasts. “Very well. What do I do?”

They spent until sunset practicing. “How do I know I’m doing it right?”

“Tomorrow, come to the Mage’s study room. We’ll practice on the apprentices that already know how.”

Delia shook her head. “What if I make a mistake?” I could kill someone!”

“That’s how we all learned. And we’ll teach you to un-suspend them too.”

Delia thought this a bad idea but couldn’t think of any other way to test her skill. “What about on an animal. A dog or a pig?”

“They aren’t the same size. They would take a lot less power to suspend. It has to be a full-grown elf.”

“Very well.” She rubbed an eye. “Tomorrow after breakfast?”

Sisruo nodded. “After breakfast then.” He looked at the sky. The first stars were already beginning to shine. “Shall I walk you to the castle?”

Delia swallowed her annoyance. He didn’t think she was helpless. He was just being polite. “Thank you.”

They walked in silence, Sisruo with his hands clasped behind him. “Master Kaepli is worried about you.”

“Why?” Again, she had to work to be polite.

“You’re new to your powers, Princess. That is all. I and Master Kaepli are both surprised and amazed at how you’ve adapted to your new position. That change could not have been easy.”

It wasn’t easy, she thought better of saying. “It has had its challenges.”

Sisruo chuckled. “Diplomacy must have been a birthright, Princess. You’re a natural.”

She had to smile at that. “Sometimes. I was hurt, you know. For years. I thought I was abandoned.”

“I cannot fathom it, Princess. And I regret it with my whole being.”

“Nothing to do with you, Sisruo. And Father and Mother have been so loving since I’ve returned. They apologize constantly.”

They arrived at the gate. The guards opened the door for her.

“In the morning, Princess.” Sisruo bowed.

“In the morning, Sisruo.”

The next day she was in the workshop where she’d first researched changing her aura. She still practiced that every day and was getting stronger and holding the aura longer. But this morning Mage Kaepli, Sisruo and three other apprentices were waiting for her. She was introduced to Couran, Pelan, and Kaya. Kaya was the youngest and female. Her blond hair was plaited into many braids and pulled back into a pony tail which hung down her back to her hips. Couran and Pelan were cousins, brawny, as though they worked with weapons. “We do!” they said when she asked. “Our uncle is Captain Neoni. He was disappointed when we chose to become mages but forgave us anyway.” The two of them laughed.

Kaepli clapped his hands. “Let us begin. Kaya, you go first.”

Delia watched as the young woman, younger than herself, suspended Pelan. He sank slowly to the floor, eyes closed, seemingly asleep.

“Try to rouse him,” Kaepli told Delia.

She walked over and crouched down. No amount of shaking or calling his name roused him.  “He’s truly suspended, Mage Kaepli.”

“Kaya, wake him.”

The young elf held her hands over him and chanted. Pelan woke slowly and sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Nice little nap.”

The apprentices chuckled as Kaya gave him a hand to his feet. “Now you, Delia.”

“I’ll be your partner,” Sisruo said as he stepped into the circle. He looked at her confidently and gave a small nod of support.

Delia wiped her hands on her skirt. She had felt confident yesterday evening but now, what if she killed him? Her hands trembled.

“You can do it, Delia,” Mage Kaepli said. “Just trust your instincts.”

Her instincts were telling her this was a bad idea. But Sisruo gave her a smile and the others were speaking words of encouragement so she held out her right hand and focused, just like last evening. Sisruo sank to the floor. For a moment she panicked, thinking she’d killed him. Everyone was clapping. “Well done, Princess,” Kaya said.

“Here’s the waking spell,” Mage Kaeply said. He said the spell three times. Delia held her hand over Sisruo and took a deep breath. She chanted the words, focusing on the elf on the floor. She could feel the power running from her to him. He didn’t move. She looked in fright at Mage Kaepli.

“Wait. It takes a moment.”

It didn’t seem to take so long when Kaya brought Pelan back. Then Sisruo moved. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. He sat up. “Well done, Princess.” Everyone clapped again. Delia helped him to his feet. “That was exciting.”

“We’ll practice a bit more today. Then every day until the army leaves.” Mage Kaepli left the room.

Delia nodded. Another tool under her belt. It felt good.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 21.

946 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Slave Elf Part 18: Flash Fiction Friday Post

fort_days_furniture_2_by_thewarriorandthegodd, http://www.deviantart.com/art/Fort-Days-furniture-2-166838482

Part 18

Delia was in the practice yard. It felt good to move after spending hours in the mage’s room and then in council with her father. There had been much gazing at maps as they tried to figure out what woods and what lake Mage Kaepli had seen. Decisions were finally made and scouts would be sent out any minute now. Main troop forces would be sent when word came back from the scouts.

The practice field was nearly empty as most of the warriors practiced in the morning. Delia was moving through the katas for the staff, moving slowly to make sure she was making each move correctly, then adding speed a bit at a time, always working to make the move perfectly. By the time she was satisfied, she was dripping with sweat and the sun was heading for the horizon.

Clapping behind her gave her a start and she turned, staff at the ready. It was Sisruo.

“Well done, Princess!”

Her blush was hidden by a face already flushed from exercise. “Thank you. Do you work with weapons?”

Sisruo walked over to her. “Alas, I do not.” He patted his flat stomach. “I fear I do too much sitting and studying and not enough weapons work.”

He looked perfectly slender and fit to Delia. “I was about to practice with my fire balls. Would you care to watch?”

“I heard that you have mastered the art. I’d love to.”

She put the staff back in the rack and motioned him to walk with her. “I don’t think I’ve mastered the art, yet, but I’m a fair marksman with them.”

At the spot she practiced this skill, she stopped. “Stay behind me.”

He gave her a small bow and stepped back.

Her first fire balls were a little sloppy. Mortified, she refocused. The next few were better and thrown about the furthest she’d ever done.

Sisruo clapped again. “How do you do it?”

As she did for the warriors, she walked him through what her process was. He was a quick learner. Probably because he’s already a mage, or near enough, she thought.

They stood side by side and made a contest of who could throw the farthest, then the biggest. She beat him, though when she demonstrated making several at a time and throwing them one at a time. He beamed at her. “I see I’ll have to practice.”

“Do mages go to war?”

He shrugged. “Sometimes. I think this time we will.”

“We?”

“Master Kaepli and myself. Perhaps a few of the more advanced apprentices.”

Delia felt a real fear for the old mage. She truly liked him. “Isn’t Mage Kaepli a bit old?”

Sisruo laughed. “Don’t let him hear you saying that.” He drew a deep breath. “He’s as sharp a mind as I’ve ever met and has forgotten more magic than I will ever know. He will be a huge advantage for your father the King against your uncle.”

Delia realized she was juggling fireballs as Sisruo spoke. She extinguished them immediately as  a blush crept up her cheeks. “Sorry. It’s become, um, natural, I guess, to make them.”

“I wondered. You didn’t seem to know you were doing it.”

“Sometimes I don’t.” She thought back to the council meeting where she’d made one in response to her fear of Nethene. “I think I should go bathe for dinner.” They began walking back to the castle. “I don’t remember seeing you there?”

“Oh no. I’m just an apprentice. That’s not the place for me. Besides,” he said quickly, “I’m usually studying one thing or another. We apprentices have a small dining room where we eat. That usually turns into another session on what we’re working on.”

“So you never stop working?”

“Oh, at mid-winter feast, we do. A lot of fun happens at mid-winter.”

A stab of regret hit Delia hard. She didn’t know any holidays of the elves. Her throat tightened with loss and regret.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I’ve hurt your feelings.” His apology was instant and sincere. Sisruo stopped and turned to her.

Delia swallowed her grief and put on a smile. “Don’t be concerned. I’ll see for myself at mid-winter.”

“Perhaps sometime you could come to the apprentice’s dining room and eat with us. Everyone would be eager to hear about your study of aura changing.”

For some reason, the invitation annoyed her. “Perhaps,” she said a little harshly.

They had reached the doors into the castle. Sisruo stopped and bowed. “I must go this way, Princess, back to work, I’m afraid.”

She bowed curtly. “So you must. Good evening.” Delia turned and went past the guards who held the door for her leaving Sisruo staring.

In her room she peeled off her dress and boots and threw them on the floor. She stomped to the basin and pitcher and after pouring water into the basin, held her hand over it. In a moment the water was steaming. A moment more and it was boiling. She snapped her hand back when it began to boil over the sides of the basin. Her heart pounding, she reached out to touch the water. She stopped just above the liquid, feeling the heat rise from it. Delia stepped back and covered her face, pressing on her eyes. She’d never done that before and hadn’t heard that anyone could.

Anger gone, she poured more water into the basin to cool it and washed the sweat away. In a dressing gown, she brushed out her hair and thought about it. Why had she done it? Anger, she decided. I was angry and it wasn’t enough to throw my boots. In the mirror, she could see the basin behind her. She got up and went to the bowl. The water was now room temperature. Delia held her hand over the water and thought about how she felt before. It took longer but the water began to steam.

Snatching her hand back she went back to her dressing table. After a deep breath, she began brushing her hair again. Another tool. A weapon, she thought. I’ll have to practice that in the yard tomorrow to see how it can be made effective.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 19.

1033 Words

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Slave Elf Part 17: Flash Fiction Friday Post

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Scrying-Bowl-200138951 by Vasilisamanuese

Part 17

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 16 Here.

Kaepli settled with a sigh and sipped the wine, setting the cup down before beginning. “It’s confusion in the scrying bowl. I suspect Nethene or Iyuno or both, are interfering.” He sipped more wine, as he stroked his beard. “I did see some flashes of an army massing. It could have been Diamond Point valley but the reading was too muddled. There were other quick views, a forest, but I couldn’t tell where, and a lake.” He pulled at an earlobe. “The lake could have been anywhere, but there were several large boats, suitable to carry soldiers.” Kaepli shook his head and pulled a bit of bread off of Sisruo’s leftover loaf. He chewed slowly. “No. It just wasn’t clear enough to make heads or tails of it.” He stood up. “I must tell the king.”

“Shall I accompany you?” Delia slid from her stool. “I think I’ve done all I can here today.”

Master Kaepli nodded. “I’d be honored, Princess.”

Delia blushed. It was hard to accept the title still. She turned to Sisruo. “Thank you for your help today. May I return tomorrow to practice?”

He bowed. “I’d be honored.”

The mage clapped his hands. “Good. We’ll go to the king. Sisruo, make notes about what you’ve done today. We might as well keep a good record.”

“Yes, Master Kaepli. Immediately.”

Kaepli and Delia left. She glanced behind her as she followed the mage through the door. Sisuro was watching. He smiled. She gave him a tiny wave and closed the door. Her eyes were on the ground, a smile on her face when Kaepli broke into her thoughts.

“You and Sisruo worked well together today?”

She shook her thoughts clear. “Yes, Mage Kaepli. He had everything prepared for me and made sure I didn’t die of hunger or thirst while I worked. A very thoughtful elf. He told me he’s nearly ready for his last tests.”

The old elf nodded. “He’s been ready for a while now. He just lacks the confidence. But he’ll get there.” Kaepli glanced at Delia. “And your study? How long can you hold the changed aura?”

“Not long, which is frustrating. I have to focus so hard, it’s exhausting.”

“Interesting, then, that Nethene can hold it for so long. I do wonder why you see through it and no one else can?”

“I’ve wondered that as well. The prophesy says I’m the most powerful, so that might explain it. It doesn’t explain why I can’t hold the false aura.”

“Practice.” The old elf opened the door to the hall for her. “Power is one thing, skill something else. You’ll get it.”

She nodded. Once in the king’s office, the mage told him everything he’d told her and his apprentice. King Ucheni sighed and leaned back in his chair. “We’ll have to send scouts. You have no idea where the woods or the lake are?”

“No sire. I think the council should be involved. Especially Chief of Scouts, Mysteso and Captain Neoi.”

Ucheni’s eyebrow raised. “Not Nethene?”

“I’d advise not, Sire.”

“And you, Daughter?”

Delia shook her head. “He makes the hairs on my arms rise straight up. No, Father. Lord Enaur would be a welcome addition, though.”

Ucheni rang a small bell at the edge of his desk. A young page entered the room. “Get Lord Enaur, Captain Neoi, and Chief Scout Mysteso assembled for a meeting in the meeting room in an hour.”

The boy nodded and sprinted off. “Thank you Master Kaepli. I’ll see you in an hour.”

The elf bowed and took his leave. Delia turned to follow when her father stopped her. “And what have you been doing today, Delia?”

I’ve been with the mages, learning how to change my aura.”

He leaned forward, elbows on the desk. “Show me.”

Delia cleared her mind and began drawing power from her core. She struggled to get to her soul. It was difficult, almost painful to confront her raw being but she tapped into that and thought black. Her father’s gasp felt like a reward. She held the false aura for two minutes, the longest all day, before it slipped from her mind. Delia swayed with the effort and sank into the chair in front of his desk.

“That is incredible,” he said. He poured water into a goblet and brought it around the desk to her. She drank it all and handed it back.

“Thank you. That’s the longest I’ve held it.”

He went back to his chair and dropped into it. “I wasn’t really convinced. I apologize. No one else can see Nethene’s real aura, obviously, except you. How can that be?”

“He’s a powerful elf, Father, and has years of practice. Perhaps the aura everyone sees is the one he was born with and he just projects it while his real aura has changed to black. I have no idea.”

Ucheni’s fingers drummed on the arm of his chair. “Fair enough. Will you attend the council meeting?”

“If you need me to, Father.”
“I do. You will be my left hand. Your mother,” he said with a fond smile, “is already my right.”

Delia smiled. “I accept, Father.”

His face dropped the smile. A look of sorrow took its place. “I am so sorry for sending you away. I shouldn’t have done it.”

She rose and went around the desk to him and kissed his cheek. Delia was still upset about it but it was obvious both of her parents loved and missed her. “You made a terribly hard choice that you thought would protect me.” She held out her arms and made a twirl. “Look. It worked. Think no more about it. I’m here now.”

He rose and gave her a hug. “Thank you, Daughter.” He held her by the shoulders and stood back, studying her. “Have you eaten?”

“Hours ago, it seems.”

He rang his desk bell. Another page popped in the door. “Bring some small sandwiches, water, and wine. Soon, I have a council meeting in an hour.”

The boy ran off and the king and his daughter sat in the armchairs in front of the fireplace. “Let’s talk until the food comes.”

“That will be nice, Father.” She sat in one chair as he sat in the other.

“Tell me about the caravan,” he asked.

Flashes of the bad things ran through her mind. She pushed them away. There were bright spots. She told him about those.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 18.

1074 Words

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Slave Elf Part 16: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Bread, Cheese and Pear by Connie Cockrell

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 15 Here.

Delia rubbed her eyes then arched backwards to relieve the strain in her back from leaning over the table for hours. When she looked around, she realized that all of the apprentices were gone. She’d been so engrossed with the books that she hadn’t heard anyone come or go. The door opened and Sisruo entered with a tray. He came to her table.

“Good, you’re taking a break.” He placed the tray in an open spot on her table.

Delia’s stomach growled in reply. She blushed.

Sisruo chuckled. “Studying is hard work, Princess. No shame in that.”

“I didn’t hear anyone leave.”

“We practice moving quietly. There’s usually someone studying or doing research and we don’t want to disturb them.”

“Very polite.” Delia glanced at the tray. “There’s enough here for three people. Will you join me?”

“I’d love to.” He walked to the next table and brought over a stool while Delia moved books to one side of the table.

He pulled the tray over to sit between them. “I took the liberty of bringing some wine to have with our mid-day meal. I can get more water, if you’d prefer.”

“A little wine sounds nice.” She reached for her water cup, drained it, then put it back on the table.

Sisuro poured for her then poured a little into a second cup. He handed her a plate and a napkin then took one for himself. “You pick first, princess.”

She selected an apple, some yellow cheese and a small loaf of bread. “I’m afraid I didn’t eat much breakfast this morning.”

“Understandable.” He took a loaf, a pear and some white cheese. “I get that way myself when I have something I’m eager to study.” He ripped off a chunk of the loaf and with his belt knife, took a slice of pear and another of cheese to make a bite. “What have you discovered?” He ate his bite.

Delia used her knife to slice up her apple, then the cheese. She wiped her blade on the napkin. “Much of each article was in language so vague as to be worthless. It’s as though the author wanted brag about knowing or finding something but wasn’t willing to share the actual information.” She shook her head as she ate the apple, bread and cheese bite.

Sisruo nodded. “That happens a lot. We’ve learned to read around the flowery, bragging language and figure out what they are saying. But what did you learn that was concrete?”

“Over and over each text said it was a matter of core control.” She took a sip of wine. It was a white with a bright, fruity flavor. “As Mage Kaepli said last night, that’s pretty standard for magic. Book four,” she pointed at a medium-sized leather-bound book to her left, “had more specific instruction. Not just a matter of our core, but our essence is needed to change one’s aura.” She studied Sisruo. “Do you understand what it may mean, our essence?”

The apprentice took a deep breath and finished his mouthful. “Not the core, but who you are. Deep inside, when things go bad, when no one’s looking, the part of you that’s the most real.” He shook his head. “Your soul, perhaps is the shortest description I can give.”

Delia’s eyebrows drew together. She’d been in many a situation over the years that was bad. How had she reacted? Was she ever mean? She didn’t think so. Indifferent? Possibly, given her own situation. Probably, more like it. She instantly felt guilty and ashamed. A blush crept up her cheeks.

“Stop that.”

Startled, Delia looked up at Sisruo.

“You’re imagining great personal crimes when in reality you were just being normal.”

“How…?”

He snorted. “It’s part of our training to look into our own souls and understand who we are. We can’t become a full mage until we do.” He looked down at his plate. “I’ve been there. So I recognized it on you.”

She sighed. “There’s so much I don’t know.”

“True, but all it takes is training.” He ate another bite of bread as she nibbled an apple slice. They sat, each in their own thoughts for a few moments.

“Can you teach me?”

“You want to be an apprentice?”

“No, not that. I’m trying to change the color of my aura to other people. If knowing my own soul is what has to happen to allow me to do this, then that’s what I must do.”

Sisruo frowned at his plate. “Master Kaepli knows what you’re doing?”

“Yes.” Delia wiped her hands and put the napkin on the table. “Where do we begin?”

He took a last bite of pear then a sip of wine and put his napkin down. “Fine.” He focused on her. “Ah, green with sparkles.”

She nodded. “And your is,” she smiled, “blue with gold swirls. Pretty!”

Sisruo chuckled. “Your’s too.” The smile left his face. “Why do you want to mask your aura?”

“I don’t, necessarily. I want to know how someone else would do it. Also, it would be helpful, at times, if I could hide my true feelings from others.”

The apprentice tugged at an earlobe. He nodded, slowly. “I can see where that would be an advantage. Hide your glee, or fear, or knowledge. Yes. Useful.”

“Fine. Let’s look at your soul. Tell me what you were thinking earlier.”

Three hours later, Kaepli found them still on the stools, staring at each other. “Sisruo?”

The apprentice came out of the study first. “Master.” He blinked and took a deep breath.

Delia followed. She was dazed and overwhelmingly thirsty. She grabbed her cup and drank down the wine. A sigh escaped her lips as reality came back to her. “We were looking at my soul, Mage Kaepli.”

Kaepli’s bushy eyebrows rose. “So you found something?”

“A little something.” She poured the last of the water in the pitcher into her cup and drank it all. “It needs my core and an understanding of who I am.”

Kaepli turned to Sisruo. “And you found?”

“We can both change our auras, at least a little and for a short time. It’s very difficult to do and even harder to hold.” He slid off of his stool. “Please, Master, sit. You must be tired from the scrying.”

The old man waved his hand. “I’m not that decrepit, youngling.” He eyed the pitcher on the tray of food. “Is any wine left?”

The apprentice nodded. “Certainly.” He poured some into the third cup and handed it over. “Can you tell us your news?”

The mage sat on the vacated stool. “Yes. I should.”

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 17.

1107 Words

 

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Slave Elf Part 13: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Purple by Dinky03 http://www.deviantart.com/art/PURPLE-14567744

Part 13

She was called to the King’s office, a room off of his private bedroom, at midmorning. There she found Ucheni, Ralae, Lord Enaur and an elf stranger. He was dressed in dark purple robes, his white hair cut just to his shoulders and waving wildly around his head. They all turned as she entered.

“Mage Kaepli, this is my daughter, Delia.”

Delia stepped forward to shake his hand. “Sir. I’m so sorry we didn’t meet last night.”

“Happy to meet you at last, Princess. I was caring for your friends, Sachi and Kiri. They’re doing well. They’ll be up and around in no time.”

“That’s good to hear.” She looked to her father. “You asked him about masking auras?”

“Please, sit, everyone.” He sat down at his desk. “Kaepli, please proceed.”

Kaepli steepled his fingers. “I had to look long and hard this morning, Sire. But at the end, it is possible.” He turned to Delia, seated next to him. “You say you see his aura as black?”

She nodded. “As a moonless, cloudy night. But father says he sees Nethene’s aura as purple. Is that what you see as well?”

The old elf nodded. “Indeed.” He sighed. “It takes great power to mask your own aura and it has to be held day and night. At least to people you don’t want to know. I didn’t know Nethene had such power.”

“I felt a great evil from him.” She looked at Ucheni. “You say he’s a relative. Any indication of evil from him before? Is he a supporter of yours?”

Lord Enaur spoke first. “I’ve never heard him speak of anything but support for your father. I’ve never heard him say anything about Iyuno at all.”

“Daughter,” Queen Ralae spoke. “He’s a distant cousin whom I only saw a few times growing up. He joined us here when Iyuno declared war.” She looked at Mage Kaepli. “There was no rumor at all of him being powerful enough to mask an aura.”

“He’s always given good advice at council.” King Ucheni tapped his fingertips on the carved wooden arm of his chair. “This is very disturbing. I am thinking back over the years. Is it possible he’s informing for Iyuno?”

“That’s quite a leap, Sire.” Enaur’s eyebrows rose. “Do you have something in mind?”

The king shrugged. “I don’t know. We’d have to review every decision we’ve made while Nethene was in council and any correlating failures afterward.”

“There are records, Sire.” Kaepli stroked the skirt of his robe. “I could have two or three of my students search them.”

Ucheni drew a deep breath. “Yes. Do that. I need to be sure we don’t have a spy among us.” He stood up, then the others did as well. “Thank you for coming. Kaepli could you stay a moment?”

“Certainly.” He bowed as the others left for the door.

Out in the hall, Ralae threaded her arm through her daughters as Enaur went the other way down the hall. “Why were you looking at auras, daughter?”

Delia shrugged. “They’re new to me. They’re so pretty and so many different colors. Nethene’s was so… so violent. Evil.” She shuddered at the memory.

“Kaepli and your father will sort it all out. In the meantime, would you like a tour of the palace and the grounds?”

“That would be wonderful.” Delia broke into a grin.

#

It was two days before she was called back to her father’s office. Her mother, the king, the mage and Enaur were already there. “You found something?”

King Ucheni motioned the mage to go ahead.

“In a significant number of cases, there is a correlation between action taken by the council only to have it fail when executed. For every failure, Nethene was at the Council meeting.”

Enaur pounded the arm of his chair. “No wonder we’re not winning.”

“Calm, Lord Enaur.” The king raised his hand. “Let’s think this through. How might we use this to our advantage?”

Delia blinked. “Father. You mean to keep him here? A traitor?”

Ucheni folded his hands in front of him on the desk. “A real possibility. We could feed him false information. It would have to be handled delicately. An elf with power enough to mask his aura may very well have other powers we know nothing about.” He looked at Ralae. “Have you heard anything about his magical strength?”

“I sent word to various cousins, aunts and uncles. My mother, as well. But it will be days before the messengers can get to their homes then return.” She sighed.

“In the mean time I suggest,” the king continued, “that we not let him know we suspect him.”

“Won’t our aura’s give us away?” Delia thought this was a terrible idea.

“They will indicate we’re hiding something,” the mage said. “But except for newly fledged elves, no one really goes around studying everyone else’s auras.”

Everyone else nodded but Delia wasn’t convinced. There was nothing she could do about it though. There was a short discussion on how to work the council meetings when Nethene was present, then the meeting disbanded. Delia went to the armory.

She asked for a bow and arrows and went to the practice ground. There, other elves were target shooting. They nodded their acknowledgment of her then left her to her own practice. She stayed there two hours, her arm trembling at the end. She returned the bow and arrows to the armory then went to her room, throwing the bolt when she closed the door.

Delia paced until the sun began to set with no new ideas. She was going to have to go along with her father’s plan. But she intended to be there armed. Just in case.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 14.

956 Words

 

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Slave Elf Part 12: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Glass_of_light_by_justysiak http://www.deviantart.com/art/Glass-of-light-153578187

 

Part 12

Delia stood outside her parent’s private rooms, staring at the door. Her escort, Lord Enaur, had just knocked on it. As the door opened ahe ran her sweaty palms down the skirt of the dress she’d been given.

There stood a female elf, her golden hair braided and put up around her head like a crown. She was simply dressed in a sky-blue gown, embroidered with silver in leaves and vines. She was stunning. A wide smile spread across her face. “Delia!” She opened her arms and wrapped them around Delia in a warm embrace. “I’m so glad you’re finally home.”

Delia had never felt more welcome anywhere before. It seemed to flow from her mother like a warm blanket. “Mother.”

Ralae let Delia go and stepped back to look at her. “You look wonderful. So lovely. Come, meet your father.” She threaded her arm in her daughters and went into the room. “You as well, Enaur.”

They proceeded into the room where intricately woven carpets covered the stone floors. There was a huge fireplace on the opposite wall and a desk under a window, the elf seated there turned around and stood up. His hair was so blond it was nearly white and hung down loose over his shoulders. Dressed in a green tunic with gold embroidery, and black trousers tucked into boots to his knees, he met them half way across the floor, next to a dining table and chairs. He took Delia by the shoulders, his face solemn. “We’ve missed you terribly, Delia. Can you ever forgive us?” He embraced her.

Delia chose to look at his aura, it was silver, sparkling. She could feel his power and sadness and grief and hugged him back. “I understand it was something you felt needed to be done.”

He released her and stepped back. Looking at her, then Lord Enaur. “You arrived in a rush.”

Enaur nodded. “They ambushed us at the stream. Kiri and Satchi?”

Ucheni sighed. “They were both injured, they’re with the mage now, healing. I’m sorry about the attack. They hid well as I had ordered the approaches to be swept just this morning.”

“We’re all safe, that’s what matters,” Enaur said.

Ralae walked to the upholstered chairs in front of the fireplace. “Come, sit down. Tell us about you, Delia. We want to know everything.”

They talked for two hours, telling each other about their lives, the war, and her training.

“Delia has a gift, Sire, for languages and writing but she has the strength to throw fireballs and is very accurate with them.”

The king and his queen smiled. “That’s good to hear. We have so few with the power to do that. It will be a great help in the war.”

Ralae stood up. “It’s time for dinner. We can go down together. Everyone is eager to meet you. There will be a feast and music all night to welcome you.” She took Delia by the hand. “I never want to let you go again.”

The banquet was set up in a hall on the main floor of the palace. She’d never seen anything like it. Sconces on the wall and chandeliers hung from the ceiling were lit with glowing orbs casting a soft clear light over everything. Massive wall hangings in brilliant colors hung on the walls. Long tables filled the room and elves were standing, wine cups in hand, waiting.

They cheered when Ucheni on one side and Ralae on the other, escorted Delia between them to the head table. Delia blushed at the overwhelming wash of love and welcome that flowed in her direction. Ucheni raised his hands and the crowd quieted. “Thank you for your warm welcome to our daughter, Princess Delia. Please, let us enjoy this feast.”

Another cheer went up as everyone claimed a seat. A group of musicians played, people sang, she hardly remembered what she ate as one person after another came to the table to greet her. After the banquet, there was dancing and one young male elf after another took turns teaching her to dance. Her parents joined her on the dance floor and the hours passed so quickly she hardly realized dawn was breaking.

She stood with her parents as each elf took their leave. Delia was enjoying looking at everyone’s aura. They were in every color she’d ever heard of and all who said their good nights were full of good wishes. She was shocked, then, by one of the last elves. An elf with age etched on his face, he was dressed all in black. The only one in that color.

“Lord Nethene, my daughter, Delia.”

The blackness of his aura caused Delia to shudder as he bent over her hand. “I’m so glad you’ve finally returned home.”

Delia took her hand back as fast as she could. “Lord Nethene.”

He studied her, a smirk on his face. Was he reading her aura as well? “We all look forward to your help in this unfortunate war.”

“I’ll do what I can.” She could feel her skin crawling. Didn’t her parents feel it?

Nethene left and Delia trembled with relief. She barely heard the last of the guests speaking to her.

Alone, her mother took her arm. “I’ll lead you to your room, Sweetness. Did you have a good time?”

Ucheni walked with them.

“I did, until just now.”

Ucheni’s eyebrows rose. “Just now?”

“Yes. Couldn’t you feel Lord Nethene’s aura? It was black as a well bottom. He is evil.”

Her parents looked at each other. “His aura is purple, Delia. He’s a distant cousin on your mother’s side of the family. Are you sure?”

Her nod was emphatic. “I could hardly stand for him to touch my hand.” She shuddered. “Can an aura be masked? Hidden?”

Ralae shook her head. “I’ve never heard of that. But perhaps the mages will know.”

They reached her room. “I’ll ask in the morning,” Ucheni said.

Delia nodded. “Thank you.”

Her parents nodded. “Sleep well,” Ralae told her.

“You as well.” Delia experimented. “Mother. Father.” The words didn’t feel natural. She closed the door and leaned against it. She had a horrible feeling about Lord Nethene that just wouldn’t go away.

She splashed her face and dressed for bed, throwing the bolt on the door before she lay down. Everyone in the palace would know where she was and she didn’t want Nethene sneaking in.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 13.

1070 Words

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