In the morning after the mage had redressed her head, Delia went to the King’s tent. “May I come in, Father?” she asked at the open tent door.
“Of course!” He beamed up at her from his table strewn with papers. “A welcome break.”
Delia stepped inside. “Mage Kaepli told me you decided to wait here another day.”
The king nodded. “It gives the wounded time to recover. You look well.”
“The wound hurts and I still have a headache but not like yesterday. I’ll be fine.”
“Good. We will leave at first light tomorrow. Rest well.”
Delia came around his table and kissed him on the head. “Thank you.” She went back to the door. “I think I’ll stroll around a little and work the stiffness out of my legs. Then rest awhile.”
“Good idea. Take care.”
“I will, Father.” Delia left the tent and looked around the camp. Everything spiraled out from the king’s tent. She began to stroll, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. The tent was fine but as the day got warmer, it began to smell musty. She was glad to be outside. At the mage’s tent, she found all of the apprentices, gathered. “Hello.”
“Hello! We’re glad to see you up,” Kaya said. “Sisruo told us you were feeling better.” Kaya grinned at him as he blushed.
Delia saw the blush and could feel the heat rise on her cheeks as well. “Master Kaepli was most helpful.”
“Do you still have a headache?” Sisruo asked.
“A little but nothing I can’t handle.”
Sisruo leapt to his feet. “I’ll make more of the headache potion.”
“No, thank you. I’m fine. What about the other wounded?”
“They’re over in the hospital tents. Most will be able to ride tomorrow. The rest will stay here with the guards surrounding the prisoners.” Couran rose from his squat as he finished speaking. “We’re taking a quick break from the morning’s healings. Then we’ll bring them all food and more water.”
Delia nodded. “I’m just working the kinks out, then I’ll be back to my tent.”
“You’re going to keep walking?” Sisruo’s tone of voice indicated his alarm.
“Is there some reason I shouldn’t?” Delia saw Pelan swat Sisruo in the calf from where he was sitting on the ground. A grin across his face.
“Well. I, uh, no, I suppose not.” He blushed again as Kaya snickered. “I’ll walk with you.”
Delia arched an eyebrow. “Thank you. That would be nice.”
As Sisruo hurried to her side, Couran and Pelan both laughed. Delia hid a smile. “Let’s go then.”
They strolled past the Captain’s tent and then Mystesto’s. She realized she could tell who’s rank and status was higher by the tent arrangements. As they walked, she made note of the walking wounded. They nodded to her as she passed and nodded back. “So many hurt!”
Sisruo nodded. “Using the healing arts, we put many back on their feet. Some, though, were hurt too bad for the healing to do much except take away some of the pain or fix minor problems. Kaya has volunteered to stay behind when the camp breaks to look after the ones not able to travel.”
“That was nice of her.”
“Her healing gift is better than the rest of ours. It’s a good choice.”
Soon they came to the hospital tent and Delia went inside. She spoke briefly to each elf, holding their hand or laying her hand on a fevered forehead. “They’re so nice to me,” she said after they left.
“They saw you are wounded. They feel as though they share a bond with you now.”
“Perhaps so.” Delia was lost in thought about how well she was fitting in, given her upbringing when a psychic blast knocked her sideways. “What?”
“Who did that?” Sisruo gave Delia a quick look over. “Are you all right?”
Delia shakily exhaled. “Yes. I think so.”
Sisruo strode to the wooden fence holding the prisoner elves inside. “Who attacked her?”
The elves inside laughed and moved away from the fence.
Delia studied their auras. All of them were dark. One in particular though, drew her to the fence. She looked directly at the elf. “You know me?”
The elf made a mocking bow, a smirk on his face. “Who wouldn’t know the poor princess Delia, robbed of her background. Forced to live with humans.” The six other prisoners all laughed.
Delia could feel the scorn. She swallowed the insults. “You have me at a disadvantage. What’s your name?”
By now the guards were surrounding the fence, spears ready.
“Ceinno.” He made a sweeping bow.
Delia studied him. His aura was dark purple, almost black, like a fresh bruise. She wondered if that aura hurt. “You are a relative?”
“Not of a sniveling, human-raised abomination. I’m nephew to Iyuno.”
“Then you share blood with my father and myself. Why this war?”
“My uncle is the better elf. He was cheated of his throne.”
“Were you there?”
“No. But Uncle told me.”
It was obvious to Delia as she watched Ceinno’s aura bubble and flash, that she wasn’t going to change his mind. A brief thought about how her father’s conversation went passed quickly and she left it alone. “I’m sorry this has happened. We’re family.”
Ceinno spit on the ground. “No kin of mine.”
The evil permeated the stockade, rising from all seven elves. She turned to go. Sisruo took her arm. “Best to leave, Princess.”
“Do you feel it?”
“The evil. It’s thick over the stockade. I’m going to suggest to father that those seven be separated.”
“Probably a good idea, Princess.” Sisruo cut straight through the spiral camp to the King’s tent. He called out to the guard in front. “Princess Delia to see the King.”
Delia had a moment of annoyance about him speaking for her but pushed it away. This was more important.
The King rose. “Are you alright, daughter?”
“Yes, Father. I am. I just came from the prisoner’s stockade.”
The King’s face clouded. “I wish you hadn’t.”
“I met Ceinno. He is almost as evil as Nethene. I advise separating those elves. The entire stockade stinks of evil.”
“We were walking by. I wasn’t even aware of the stockade. That’s when a psychic blow nearly knocked me off of my feet.”
The King glared at Sisruo. “You were with her?”
“Yes, Sire. The prisoners were most disrespectful.”
Ucheni looked back to his daughter. “I’ll talk to Captain Neoni about it. You think they’re dangerous?”
“Yes, I do.”
The king sighed. “Very well. But stay away from there.”
She bowed and left, Sisruo behind her.
“Are you sure you’re alright? That seemed like quite the blow.”
“I’m fine. Just a little tired.” She stopped at her tent. “I’ll take a nap, I think.”
“Good. If you need more headache medicine, let me know.”
“Thank you, Sisruo.” Delia went into her tent. It was warmer inside than out. All the better to sleep, she thought.
She lay down on top of the wool blanket and closed her eyes.
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 25.
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