Slave Elf Part 26: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Energy Ball 001 by ISOStock, www.DeviantArt.com

Part 26

The enemy castle was over a mile away so Delia and Sisruo saddled their horses and rode out to a hillside overlooking the small valley where the castle stood.

Delia dismounted and tied her horse to a branch. Sisruo did the same. They stood just inside the tree line, where, Delia hoped, they couldn’t be seen.

“How do you propose to see inside the castle?”

“I don’t know. Since father asked it of me, I assumed it could be done.” She could hear Sisruo draw a deep breath.

“I’ve never heard of it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. He may be relying on your magical strength.”

Delia thought so too. She switched to her magical sight. “I don’t see anyone’s aura outside of the castle except our own watchers. What do you see?”

“Not much. Not at this distance.”

She heard the disappointment color his statement. Another thing that made her different. “What I do see is…I don’t know what to call it, an aura of magic around the gate and the windows.”

“They’ve set protection spells. It makes sense. Can you tell me what they look like?”

“They’re lines of yellow, like hoops, around each opening. Over the entire castle is an aura of dark purple. At the windows, I can see some people, auras are all dark. I can’t see through the walls. I’ve failed Father.” Her shoulders slumped.

“I think not. You can see all of that when I can only see vague shimmers at best. I can’t even see our watchers. The news about the protection spells is important. It will change how the king approaches the castle.”

“I suppose you’re correct.” His comment did make her feel a little better. “We should get back and tell the council.”

Once back, she spoke to the king and his councilors, telling them what she found.

“Could you see the protection spells, Sisruo?” the mage asked.

“No, Master. I couldn’t. Nor could I see our watchers. Not at that distance.”

King Ucheni scratched at his beard. “What can we do about the protection spells?”

The mage spoke, “I’ll have to think, Sire. I’d like to work with Delia to try and identify what’s there.”

The king looked at his daughter. “Are you ready for that?”

She nodded. “I am. Whenever you’re ready, Mage Kaepli.”

“Let’s go to my tent. I’ll look in my books.” He gave the king a bow and headed for the door.

Delia and Sisruo did the same and followed the mage out. In Kaepli’s tent, they all took stools around the table. Kaepli handed Delia parchment and pen. “Draw what you saw. The patterns may help me research.”

While Delia drew, Kaepli pulled an ancient tome from a chest in the corner of the tent. He brought it to the table and sat down. “Protection spells can be tricky. A simple one could prevent anyone or thing from entering or leaving. As you add requirements, say, allowing exit, or specifying various creatures or beings, the spell can become a threat to the setter as well as anyone trying to break it.” He stroked his beard as he turned crackling pages.

Delia handed him the parchment. “I’m not a very good artist.”

Kaepli took the page. “You described them as hoops. Were the yellow lines thick or thin?”

“They varied, and as you can see, the distance between them varied as well. These aren’t identical representations. Just generalizations.”

Kaepli sighed and put the drawing down. “That’s all right. They may change constantly. But what you saw may help me pin down the spell.” He continued to turn pages.

Sisuro rose and got them all mugs of water and put them on the table. “Unless you’d prefer wine, Master?”

“No, water is fine. Thank you.”

Delia nodded her thanks and drank. She was getting a headache and wanted nothing more than to go to her own tent and sleep. Being a princess was tiring work. “What can I do to help?”

“Nothing, really, other than what you’ve done already.” The mage continued to turn pages. “I may know what they’re using but I want to be sure.” He looked up at her. “Go. Rest. When I confirm my thoughts, we made need you to help us break the spell.”

Delia nodded. “Very well.” She stood up. “I’ll leave you to it then.”

She left the tent and walked the short distance to her own. Delia didn’t bother to light the candle on her table but took off her boots and lay down on her cot, fully clothed. She wasn’t looking forward to being the spell breaker. She didn’t have the confidence in her own magic that everyone else seemed to have. It was still too new to her. Would they go to battle tomorrow? Iyuno must know that they were there. If she could see the watcher’s auras, couldn’t he? Or Nethene? She sighed and rolled over onto her side and tried to still the thoughts whirling around in her brain. Whether they went to battle tomorrow or not, she suspected it would be a full day for her. She needed her sleep.

She was woken in the dark by knocking on the tent pole. “Princess, Princess. Wake up! The king calls for you.”

Delia rolled from the cot, bleary-eyed and confused. It was still dark. “What time is it?”

“Just before dawn. Please hurry?”

“Is the king all right?” She sat on the edge of her cot and began pulling on her boots.

“Yes. But hurry.”

She couldn’t think why the king would be calling her in such a hurry unless there was something very wrong. “I’ll be right there.”

When she came out of the tent, the elf was still there. “This way Princess.”

The elf hurried away, but not in the direction of the King’s tent. She scurried after the elf. A feeling of foreboding washing through her. What could be wrong?

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 27.

990 Words

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Contest, Craft Fair: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

I had a really good Columbus Day weekend. First, on Saturday, I had tickets to the local Saluting Our Veterans benefit concert featuring the Charlie Daniels band. There were so many people there it was amazing. That’s just a section of the crowd at the top. There were twice again that many there.

Second, I went to a craft show on Sunday. There weren’t a lot of vendors but the locally made jewelry was fantastic. I saw a little cuff bracelet I really would like to have but I didn’t get it. Mostly because I never wear jewelry. I’d have bought it and it would have landed in the jewelry box, forgotten.

I’m still brainstorming my next Jean Hays story. So there’s that. Also, it’s been too long since I’ve heard from my editor so I think my mail is again giving me a hard time. None of his emails come through. I’ll have to work on that this week.

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

I continue to write my serial, Slave Elf. I’ve left my girl, Delia in quite a pickle. We’ll have to see how she gets out of it. You can find the first episode here.

Giveaways:

Would you like to win free ebooks, other prizes, or $150 in Paypal cash? Drop by http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/ and click on the Rafflecopter link for the Spooktacular Authors Halloween Giveaway. This ends after Halloween! Get it now!

This week only! A Young Adult, Instafreebie giveaway that runs only until tomorrow, October 10th. Eleven authors and 12 books to give away in mystery, SciFi, Fantasy and Thriller genres. https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/8B0D07lf5WpRswSUwjQS

Finally, I have started a contest over on my newsletter. What? You don’t get my newsletter? That’s a shame. But see below on how you can join in on the fun. I already have several people writing in to enter it. It runs to the end of October when I’ll use a random number generator to select the winner. Let me know you’ve joined the newsletter and I’ll send you the information to enter.

P.S. By the way, you can get the pictured mug at: https://www.gearbubble.com/gbstore/conniesrandomthoughts

Shout Out:

In honor of October’s everything horror, this shout out is to Joshua Robertson. He is a bestselling author in dark fantasy, and a writer for Fantasy-Faction. You may recognize him as the dude whose dragons were said to destroy George R.R. Martin’s and Christopher Paolini’s dragons in a very biased Twitter poll. His first novel, Melkorka, was released in 2015, and he has been writing fantasy fiction like clockwork ever since. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys an ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. Among other places, you can find him at http://www.robertsonwrites.com.

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

My next public appearance will be this coming weekend at the Pine Fall Festival October 14th and 15th. On both days, I’ll be in the Community Hall with a few other authors selling and signing books with the antique dealers. On Saturday besides crafters, is the annual chili cook-off. Saturday hours are 9am – 5pm and the chili cook-off starts at 11am. Be there at 11am. The chili usually runs out by noon. Buy a ticket, taste the chili, vote for your fav top three! My hubby is usually there with his version. Sunday the hours are 9am – 4pm. Lots of crafters will be there and the weather is lovely in October. Come on by and say hello.

NEW! In November the Payson library is having it first ever mini-comicon. SciFi and Fantasy fans, get ready to head to central Arizona. There’ll be costumes, SciFi and Fantasy panels. I’m excited! I’ll post the date as soon as I have it.

On December 9th I’ll be at the Mesa Book Festival. Get full details at https://mesabookfestival.com/. I’ll be in a booth with my author friend, Marsha Ward. www.MarshaWard.com. Between the two of us, we have a large number of genre’s covered. Come get your Christmas presents and stocking stuffers. The festival runs from 2pm – 8pm.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

Mystery at the Book Festival released June 1st and I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Slave Elf Part 25: Flash Fiction Friday Post

alnwick_castle_by_americamarten-dbomzh2 via DeviantArt.com. https://www.deviantart.com/art/Alnwick-Castle-706511126

Part 25

Delia was awakened by a call at the door of her tent. “Princess, breakfast is being served.”

Groggy, she responded. “Is it morning?”

“Yes, Princess. We leave as soon as we’ve eaten.”

Delia blinked, her eyes gummy from sleep. “I’ll be right there.” She heard footsteps leaving as she swung her legs around to the ground. Morning already? She was still in her clothes. At the wash stand she splashed her face and rinsed her eyes. What had happened? Was she that tired? After unbraiding her hair and combing it, she rebraided it and stuffed her personal possessions into her saddlebag. Ready, she left the tent and went to the cook tent. There, people milled around, bowls of mush in hand, chatting. She thanked the elf who handed her a bowl and walked to a tree to sit, her back against the trunk.

Sisruo found her there, eating the last of her food. “Princess. I didn’t see you at dinner last night.” He sat down beside her.

“No. I slept straight through.”

“Is your wound bothering you?”

“No. I rebandaged it this morning after I combed my hair. It’s fine.” She saw him raise an eyebrow. “Just tired, I guess.”

“Ceinno dealt you a huge blow yesterday. Could that be it?”

Delia shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t feel any different.” To herself, though, she wondered if Sisruo was right. “No matter. We leave today.” She got up and dusted off her clothes. “I’ll see you at the lineup.”

Sisruo nodded but she could tell he wasn’t happy with her explanation. After returning the bowl to the dish washers, she went to the picket line to get her horse ready. An hour later, she was in line with Sisruo and the Mage when the King rode up and the party marched off.

The march lasted three days. In that time she spoke with the Mage about the psychic blow she’d received. “It depends,” Kaepli said. “You were already wounded, so that may be all it is.” He studied her. “Your aura looks normal and you don’t seem to be suffering any other effects.”

“Thank you, Master Kaepli. I just wondered.”

“Those kinds of attacks can be fatal. I’m glad you asked.”

Delia nodded. “I didn’t want to bother you.”

He gave her a smile. “Never a bother to speak with you, Princess.”

Now they were at a castle. It was dark, and to Delia, felt evil. The moat around it was full and stakes had been placed in multiple rows all around the perimeter. Logs had been piled on all of the roads approaching the castle. Turning to her magical sight, Delia could see an aura hanging over the entire place. It was as black as Nethene’s.

“I don’t have a good feeling about this, Father,” she said as she sat beside him. Their horses didn’t seem to like the place either. They tossed their heads, snorting and danced around the dusty road.

“I don’t much like it either. But if that aura is any indication, Iyuno and his minions, Nethene, included, are all in there. I’ll send a messenger.”

Master Kaepli shook his head. “I’m afraid you’ll lose any messenger, Sire.”

Captain Neoni and Mystesto rode up. “A bad business, Sire,” Neoni began. “I expected to see his forces outside the castle.”

Mystesto nodded his agreement. “They’re up to something, Sire.”

The king nodded. “Set up camp. Out of sight of the castle. We’ll meet this evening. In the meantime, post watchers around the castle, in pairs. For safety.”

“As you will, Sire.” With that, Neoni and Mystesto rode off.

The mage stroked his beard. “I’ll use the scrying bowl. It may provide some information.”

“Very good.”

The mage rode off. Sisruo rode with him.

Delia stayed with her father and his guards. “Do you have a plan, Father?”

“No.” Ucheni shook his head. “No plan at all. Perhaps the mage will see something useful.”

Delia hoped so as well.

She was present at the council meeting that evening. They stood around the rough table, a map of the area, Iyuno’s castle, in the middle, covered the table. “Do we know what the inside of the castle looks like?”

Neoni shook his head. “We didn’t even know a castle was here, Sire. He must have had it built recently.

Mage Kaepli entered the tent. “Sire. I apologize for being late.”

“You have information?” The king looked tired, Delia thought to herself. And no wonder. The fate of the entire kingdom was on his shoulders.

“Not as much as I would like.” The mage spread a map over the table. “This is the interior of the castle as best as I could see in the scrying bowl. The aura covers most everything in darkness.”

The group huddled over the map. “There are a lot of blank spots,” the king said.

“Yes, Sire. The blackness was too thick there for me to see.”

Mystesto traced possible paths through the castle with his forefinger. “Some evil lurks in the blank spots, I’m sure.”

Everyone agreed. The king sat down on a stool. “What about the blocked roads and the stakes? Can we get rid of them?”

“I have my apprentices working on that now, Sire.” Kaepli pulled his sleeves into place. All of the materials are organic, so we may be able to pull them out of the ground to free our approach.”

The king nodded. “Mystesto, what to your scouts say?”

“They see no one outside the castle, sire. Whatever the inside is like, outside appears quiet.”

There was a commotion at the door. It was Kaya, looking to Delia as though she hadn’t slept in days.

“Sire.” She nodded to Master Kaepli and turned to the king. “The prisoners escaped. They killed all of the guards.”

A gasp escaped from each elf in the meeting. “The wounded?” the king asked.

“They’re fine. I left the most healthy in charge and rode here as directly as I could.”

Delia thought the young apprentice looked about to drop from exhaustion.

“Thank you,” the king said. He looked to Neoni. “Double the watchers. I don’t want them to sneak into the castle.”

Neoni bowed and hurried from the tent. “Master Kaepli, please take care of your apprentice. Let me know if you need anything.” Kaepli bowed and he helped Kaya from the tent.

The king looked at Delia. “Separating them didn’t seem to work. They have great power. Power I don’t want added to Iyuno’s.”

“What do you need me to do, Sire.”

“Check for aura’s. See if you can identify anyone in the castle. Or around the castle, for that matter. Keep me apprised.”

“Yes, Sire.” She bowed and left the tent.

Outside she found Sisruo, pacing back and forth. “Hello!”

“Hello. You didn’t come into the tent.”

“No, Master Kaepli had work for me. Is the meeting over?”

“For me. I’m going to look at the castle and see if I can identify individual auras.”

Sisruo gaped. “At night? From this distance?”

“From where I can. And yes, now.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“Doesn’t the Mage have work for you to do?”

“Not at the moment.” He reached out to take her arm.

Delia pulled it out of his reach. “I’m capable of doing this on my own.”

Even by the light of the torches, she could see him blush. “I know you are. But we’re outside of a deadly enemy’s fortress.”

Delia drew a deep breath. He had a point. “Very well.”

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 26.

1252 Words

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

 

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Slave Elf Part 24: Flash Fiction Friday Post

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

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?”

“Feel what?”

“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.

“Come in.”

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.”

“What happened?”

“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.”

“Yes, Father.”

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.

1184 Words

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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Slave Elf Part 18: Flash Fiction Friday Post

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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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