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.
Startled, Delia looked up at Sisruo.
“You’re imagining great personal crimes when in reality you were just being normal.”
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.
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