Slave Elf Part 13: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Purple by Dinky03

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.

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Slave Elf Part 12: Flash Fiction Friday Post



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.

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Slave Elf Part 11: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Energy Ball 001 by ISOStock,

Part 11

The preparations went quickly and on the morning of her departure, Delia had said good-bye to Pricilla at breakfast. “You’ve been wonderful, Pricilla. Thank you.” She handed the maid a tiny, paper-wrapped package. “Open it.”

Pricilla nodded and carefully unwrapped the gift. “Your handkerchief! I can’t.” She tried to hand it back. “You worked so hard on it.”

“You keep it. You gave me the gift of teaching me how to embroider. The least I can do is give you my first, not very good, effort.”

“It’s beautiful. You did wonderful work on it.”

“You’re nice to say so, Pricilla. Thank you. But keep it. I’m sure I can find needle and thread with the elves and make more.” With that she gave the maid a hug. “I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you as well, Princess.”

Now the Trafords were at the stables to say good-bye. Delia hugged Lady Traford and shook hands with Alexis and Lord Traford. “Thank you all for allowing me to stay so long. You’ve been lovely and gracious hosts.”

“Nonsense, Princess,” Lady Traford responded. “You are a delightful guest. We’re very happy to invite you back any time.”

Lord Enaur mounted his horse. The two other elves were already mounted. “Time to leave, Princess.” He nodded to Lord Traford. “I’ll send word when we arrive. I have your messages to the king.”

Lord Traford nodded as Delia mounted. “Thank you, Lord Enaur. You’re welcome here any time.”

The elves wheeled their horses around and waved.

“Safe travels,” Lady Traford called out.

Delia waved and followed Enaur. The other two elves followed her.

It didn’t take long to be outside of Katzin. Delia rode beside Enaur. “Do you think we’ll have trouble along the road?”

“It’s possible. Your uncle has had weeks to move his people into place to find you. Nothing is a secret for long.”

Delia turned in the saddle to the elves riding behind her. “What are your names?”

The elf on her right bowed from the saddle. “Sachi Arako, Princess.”

The elf on her left also bowed. “Kiri Dan’os, Princess.”

“Their families are loyal to your father, Princess.”

Delia nodded to the two and turned back around in her saddle. “How long to get there?”

“A week, Princess. I’ve cast a glamour on us, making us hard to see. But of course, to other elves, we are detectable. I’m planning on speed to get us there more than magic. We can hope that speed will be enough.”

Delia nodded. It had only been an hour and she was already feeling the pain begin in her thighs. It was going to be a long trip.

They’d been six days on the road without incident. Delia was looking forward to arriving at the castle today. A hot bath would be welcome. She worried about meeting her parents as she saddled the horse. What did they look like? Would they appear old or young, like Enaur? How should she greet them? Bow? Hug? She had no idea.

The morning passed uneventfully and they had dismounted at a stream to water the horses. Delia chewed on a piece of jerky as she held her horse’s reins in the middle of the shallow stream. The day was warm and the sound of the water dancing over the stones in the stream was soothing. She was half dozing when an arrow whizzed by her head and thunked into the stream bank. Her head came up and wide-eyed, she looked around.

“Mount. Mount up!” Enaur cried out as he leapt into his saddle. “Ride!”

Delia dropped the jerky and scrambled into her saddle, the horse dancing in the stream in confusion at the commotion. In the saddle finally, she wheeled the horse around as more arrows whizzed by. She kicked the beast in the sides and scrambled up the stream bank after Enaur. Sachi and Kiri were right behind her.

Kiri cried out in pain. Delia turned to look. “Run, Princess. Don’t wait. Ride! Ride!”

She saw Sachi help Kiri so she kicked the horse again. It sprang forward, nearly unseating her, after Enaur.

“We’re almost there. Ride, Princess!”

The two raced along the road, Delia glancing back for Kiri and Sachi. “Kiri was hurt!”

“Can’t be helped right now, Princess.” Arrows thudded into the ground on either side of them.

“I don’t see anyone,” she called out.

“They’ve covered themselves in a glamour. Can you throw a fire ball behind us?”

Delia had all she could do to hang on. She didn’t think she could turn around and throw a fire ball with the horse at full gallop. “I don’t know.”

“Try, Princess.”

She let go of the saddle horn with her right hand and twisted a little in the saddle. She didn’t see anyone there until another arrow flew by her head. There, in the middle of the road, a glimmer. Delia gathered her focus and in almost one motion created a ball of fire and threw it directly behind her.

A horse’s scream came then the glamour collapsed. There were six riders behind them, gaining ground. She kicked her horse again and threw another fireball and missed. The riders spread out.

“We’re almost there,” Enaur called.

Delia took a look ahead. She didn’t see anything. “Is it also cloaked?”

“Yes. They’ll be watching the fight and be coming out to us.”

She threw another fireball at the lead rider. It hit the horse in the chest. It reared, screaming and dumped the rider in the dirt.

The sound of horns came from ahead of her. She turned to look. There, a castle wall appeared and a gate opening. A column of riders came out and broke around them as they pursued the attackers. Enaur and Delia raced through the gates. The horses came to a stop, breathing heavily and covered with sweat. Elves raced to them and helped them down. Delia watched the gate, no attackers came through. She realized she was shaking.

“We’re safe, Princess.”

“What about Kiri and Sachi?”

“Our people will find them.”

Delia looked around her. This was no ordinary castle. It was made of stone but in form, it was light and delicate. A fountain was in the center of this courtyard and trees and flowers grew around the edges. “Is it all like this?”

Enaur smiled. “Better. This is a work space, so less decorated.” An elf came and took the horses’ reins. “Come, Princess. We’ll get you settled. We meet your parents before dinner.”

Delia shuddered. The thing she’d most hoped for was finally coming true. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it.


Thank You! Come back next week for Part 12.

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Slave Elf Part 10: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Energy Ball 001 by ISOStock,

Part 10

The days took on a sameness and after two months, Delia was exhausted. The magic drained her in ways she’d never thought possible. Lord Enaur was always polite but he drove her relentlessly. Today, she’d called a halt, trembling from the effort he demanded she put forth. “Enough,” she’d said, sinking to the grass in the back garden. This was the spot furthest from the mansion and screened on all sided. “Safer,” he’d said the second day they met. “For you and for the Trafords.”

“I cannot do it.”

“You can. Try again.”

She shook her head. “It’s not there.”

Enaur crossed his arms and took a breath, eyes closed. “Another approach, perhaps.”

Delia shook her head. “Why do I need to throw fire? I can repulse, shield myself, and guide my arrow to any target I can see. Isn’t that enough?”

“It’s not. Granted not every elf can throw fire. But your uncle can. He’d like nothing more than to make you a target. You can make fire, so you should be able to throw it.”

Idly, she’d held out her palm and concentrated. A small flame danced there, pale in the morning sunlight. She’d closed her hand to extinguish the flame. “It comes easily now. But throwing it seems to be beyond my skill.”

“Let’s try just gently tossing it. Making the flame a ball and lightly tossing.”

It was two hours before she could manage to create a ball of flame. She couldn’t get it to survive out of her hand. They’d stopped at mid-day and she went to her room, her whole body quivering with the morning’s effort. She wolfed down the mid-day meal Pricilla brought and once alone, tried again to create the flame ball and toss it into an ashtray she’d had Pricilla bring to the room.

She stopped at tea time when Pricilla arrived with the tea tray. “I can’t seem to do it, Pricilla. Lord Enaur seems to think it’s important, but I cannot do it.”

Pricilla nodded. “It must be very frustrating.” The young woman thought for a moment. “When I’m learning a new thing, I’m afraid I’ll fail. Then I get nervous and make a worse mess. It’s not until I relax that I can master the new task. Perhaps you have the same thoughts?”

Delia put her empty cup and saucer on the tray and picked up a tiny sandwich. This one was cucumber and cream cheese. “Possibly. The longer I try the more aggravated I am. I’ll try again tomorrow. Clear my mind of anything else and just relax.”

Pricilla put the tea things back on the tray and picked it up. “Shall we embroider when I return?”

“Yes.” Delia smiled at Pricilla. “I’ve been neglecting it for magic practice. It will help me relax, take my mind off of my failure.”

“Not failure, Princess. You’re still learning.”

The next day Dalia did what she’d promised the day before. She emptied her mind of everything but the fire. She focused on drawing the flame and shaping the ball and like a child’s ball, she tossed it. It flew three feet before winking out in the damp grass. Delia crowed with joy. “I did it. I did it!”

Enaur, grinned at her. “So I see, Princess. Well done. Let’s practice more.”

With one success, Delia was more confident and worked all morning at throwing the flame ball farther and farther. By mid-day, she could throw it thirty feet and set the target on fire.

“Well done, Princess.” Enaur snuffed the fire out with his magic and faced the princess. “I think it’s time to travel to your father.

Delia’s eyes went wide. “So soon?”

“We can practice more on the way, but yes. I’ve received word that your uncle is readying a large force. It’s time.”

She nodded. “When?”

“It will take a few days to prepare.”

“Very well.” Delia pulled herself erect. She didn’t know how she felt about leaving. The mansion was beginning to feel like home. “I suppose the Trafords will be glad to have us gone. We’ve been here a long time.”

“Lord Traford derives a great deal of status by having elves stay with him. He doesn’t mind at all.”

The two began the walk back to the house. “I’ll arrange for horses and two elf guards, and supplies, of course. You may have to have riding attire made. I know where to find an elf dress-maker who will know what to do.”

“Thank you.” Delia wondered if elf clothing was very different from human clothing. “What should I bring?”

“Anything that will fit into your saddle bags. We won’t have a baggage train.”

“Hard riding then? I’m afraid I’m not a good horsewoman. I usually rode on my wagon.”

“You’ll adapt.”

They parted ways at the conservatory. “Five days, I think, to prepare.” Lord Enaur bowed and left.

Delia went to her room and looked through the trunk Sam had brought her. It was mostly clothing, nothing fine except a scarf she’d bought at market of silk the color of her eyes. She’d keep that. Everything else could be thrown away. She picked up the handkerchief in the embroidery hoop that was on the window seat. There wouldn’t be room for fine threads and needles in her saddle bags. Delia sat down and worked on the piece. It should at least be finished before she left.

The afternoon was broken by the arrival of the elven dress-maker. Everything was moving fast, Delia thought as the woman measured and showed her sketches. Too fast.


Thank You! Come back next week for Part 11.

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Slave Elf: Part 9 Flash Fiction Friday Post

Tea Set by Connie Cockrell

Part 9

She nodded. Now that he mentioned it, she was a little tired. “When will I go to see my parents?”

“After you have full power. The king and queen want you to be able to defend yourself before you come back. They look forward to seeing you.”

Delia nodded. She wondered if they really did look forward to seeing her. There had been no contact at all since she’d been dropped at Corpet’s.

“They missed you terribly.”

The statement caught her by surprise. As though he could read her mind.

“Your aura gives you away.”

She blushed. “I hope one of the lessons is on how to control that.” What she didn’t want was for every passing elf to know what she was feeling.

“It is. I just meant that they are looking forward to meeting you and that they missed you. It was not an easy decision to hide you away. The threat from Iyuno was great enough against you to warrant it.”

“I’ll take you at your word.”

They arrived back at the conservatory. Pricilla was sitting at the table with a piece of embroidery, a tray of glasses and an ewer of water ready for them. She rose and bowed. “Princess, Lord Enaur. Water?”

“No thank you.” Enaur shook his head. “I’ll take my leave, Princess. Same time tomorrow, here?”

“Yes, Lord Enaur. Tomorrow.”

He bowed and left going into the conservatory and to the house. Delia wondered if he was going to report to Lord Traford.

“Water, Princess?”

Delia took her mind from Enaur and sat down. “Yes please.” She could see that Pricilla’s aura was a rosy pink. Sparkles danced all around her. Even the water had sparkles. Pricilla put the glass in front of her. Her hand trembled a bit as she reached for it. She wondered at the water’s sparkles, frothing up out of the glass and spilling down the sides, over her hand. Musing, she drank, wondering if she’d feel the sparkles. She didn’t and was a little disappointed.

“I hope I haven’t kept you waiting too long,” she said as she put the glass back down.

“No, Princess. I had a bit of embroidery to keep me occupied.

“May I see it?”

Pricilla took the piece in its hoop from the table and handed it to Delia.

“It’s a handkerchief.” Delia examined the stitching. It was a leaf and flower pattern, in yellows and greens, the stitches small and even. “It’s beautiful.”

“My grandmother taught me.” Pricilla took back the work and dropped it into an apron pocket.

“Would you teach me?”

The young woman’s eyes widened. “Certainly, Princess. I’ll gather the materials and find a suitable piece for you to begin learning on.”

Delia realized her trembling had stopped. “I look forward to it.” She looked around the conservatory. “Do you know all of the flower names in here?”

Pricilla shook her head. “No, Princess. Shall I arrange for the gardener to explain?”

“That would be wonderful. Yes, please. Later this afternoon, or tomorrow, perhaps, as his time is available.”

“I will arrange it, Princess.”

Delia rose. “Let’s tour the house, Pricilla. It’s foolish for me to have to be guided everywhere.”

Pricilla smiled. “Yes, Princess.”

They spent an hour and a half exploring all of the parts of the house, including the kitchens, that Pricilla had access to. They arrived back in Delia’s rooms in the early afternoon.

“Dinner is at seven, Princess. Would you like a lunch to tide you over?”

“Yes please. And tea.”

Pricilla nodded and left. Delia sat in the window seat and looked out over the wall of the estate. She was a little surprised at how extensive the grounds were here in the middle of Kismet. From her window she could see the desert beyond the town, a striking contrast to the lush gardens on the grounds.

She was lost in thought over her morning’s lesson when Pricilla returned with a tray. “I brought an assortment, Princess, until I learn your preferences.” She put the tray on the low table, then shut the room door. Delia went to one of the chairs near the table and sat down. “What did you bring me?”

Pricilla raised the cover. “A salad of greens with sliced apple, raisins and nuts, a plate of cheese and cold cuts, rolls, chutney, butter, mustard, and a bowl of mixed cut fruit.”

A knock sounded at the door. Pricilla answered it and brought in another tray. This one had hot tea service and carafes of water, iced tea, and a red and a white wine. “I know you asked for tea, Princess, but I thought you may like these to be here for the afternoon.”

“How thoughtful, Pricilla.”

She ate a little of everything. Delia seemed particularly hungry though in the caravan, she never had a mid-day meal. Perhaps it was the awakened magic. “Thank you, Pricilla.”

The young woman nodded and took the tray back to the kitchens. Delia was examining the books in the bookcase when Pricilla returned. “Princess. A young man has arrived from Master Corpet with your things.”

Delia brightened. “Is it allowed to have him bring them up?”

“Yes, Princess. I’ll bring him here.”

It didn’t take long. Pricilla opened the door after a knock and Sam came in behind her, carrying a trunk.

“Set it on the floor, Sam.” Delia hurried over and clapped him on the shoulders. Sam blushed bright red. Delia had never been so happy to see a familiar face. “How are you Sam?”

He ducked his head. “I’m fine Del… um, Princess.” He looked around the room. “The whole caravan is talking.” He blushed again.

“We’ve known each other for years, Sam. Don’t be shy. Come. Sit down and have a glass of water.”

He shuffled nervously to the nearest chair around the low table. Delia poured him a glass of water and handed it to him. “Please sit, Sam. Tell me what’s going on?”

Sam glanced at the upholstered chair, then his breeches. Pricilla moved to stand behind Delia’s chair. “Sit, Sam. Please.”

He nodded and sat, then sipped from the glass. “Uh, well news is out about you being a Princess. Master Corpet called out Emil and whipped him with his own crop then fired him for striking you against his orders. We leave tomorrow. Master is complaining that now he has no one to keep the books. He’s scouring the market for a trained slave.” His words tumbled from his lips in a torrent and in no particular order.

Delia found she was sad to hear that they were leaving. It was to be expected, Corpet had to be in Encre for the main slave sale. She was not sad to hear that Emil had received a come-uppance. “Isn’t the Master worried that Emil will cause trouble?”

Sam shrugged. “I don’t know. He doesn’t seem worried. He hired another horse master and head guard to take over for Emil.” He drank the water down, now that he was more relaxed. “Master Corpet has decided I should learn to read and write, now that you’re gone.” He beamed with pride at the announcement.

“I’m glad, Sam. You’ll do well, I’m sure.”

Sam rose. “I need to get back, Del… uh, Princess. Master will have a lot of packing for me to do.”

Delia rose as well and threaded her arm in Sam’s as she walked him to the door. “Take care, Sam, and be well. I won’t forget how good a friend you’ve been.”

He blushed again. “Thank you, Princess.” He ducked his head as Pricilla led him out of the room. “You’ve been a good friend, too.”

She waved as Pricilla shut the door. Alone, she wandered back to the window seat and stared out over the city. She’d miss Sam but not the caravan or the men that worked it. Delia worried a bit about Emil. He would be furious at the whipping and being fired. He may join a brigand band and cause trouble for Master Corpet. She also worried about the word now out on the street that she was an Elven princess. That word would spread quickly and probably back to her Uncle Iyuno. How would that affect her father’s war?


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Slave Elf Part 8: Flash Fiction Friday Post,

Part 1 here. Part 7 here.

Part 8

He dropped her hand as they strolled past flower beds and stately trees. “Your parents send both greetings and apologies. I take it you do not know much about what is going on in the Elven Kingdom?”


Delia shook her head. “I know a little, from market gossip, but Master Corpet kept news of elves to himself.” She took a breath, “Or at least away from me. I was told there’s a civil war.”


Enaur nodded. “Your uncle and father have never gotten along well. He resented being second-born of your great-grandfather, always considering himself smarter and stronger in magic than your grandfather or father.” He clasped his hands behind his back as they stopped to admire a bed of blue iris. “It’s unfortunate. King Ucheni is a just and noble King. Fair and kind-hearted. He doesn’t have your Uncle Iyuno’s magical powers, that’s true, but it doesn’t make him less of a good King.”


“And this prophesy?”


“Yes. It came to my mother, back in your great-great-grandfather’s reign. Your house and mine have a centuries old bond.” He shook his head. “A child at the time, she went into a trance in the middle of court, shouted out the prophesy and collapsed. It was three days until she regained herself and remembered what had happened. The court was in an uproar.” The pair moved on from the iris bed. “Iyuno believed he was to be the next King, but your great-grandfather promoted Ucheni instead, insisting that whatever trouble was coming would be best handled by a younger elf. That’s when Iyuno began plotting. It was your birth that set him off. By the time you were a toddler, Ucheni and Ralae agreed that you must be hidden from your uncle. They concocted the plan with the previous Lord Traford and Master Corpet’s father.”


Delia saw him wrinkle his nose. “You didn’t approve?”


Enaur shrugged. “It was against my advice. But I serve your father faithfully, so I arranged everything.” He shook his head. “I apologize. I do. It could not have been easy living amongst the humans.”


“I didn’t really know anything else. It just was, though I’d have snatches of memories of a happier time. Laughter and music.”


He grimaced. “But you were safe?”


“Safe enough.”


They reached the back wall of the estate. Delia noticed the trees planted to hide the wall. It occurred to her the Trafords lived in as much of a prison as she had. “And powers? I’ve never noticed any powers in myself.”


Enaur faced her. “It’s subtle, at first. Things happen that you don’t recognize or even realize. Most elves, growing up in homes where magic is performed all around them, manifest early, little powers, like the sight, forseeing events that will happen to them, or an ability to guide plant growth or work with metal.” He studied her. “You never noticed any of that?”


“No.” Delia shook her head. “I have an ability with numbers, accounts, languages. There really wasn’t any plant growing or metal work going on around me.”


He nodded. “You may be manifesting in the languages, since that’s what you’ve been exposed to. Let us try an experiment.”


Delia’s heart quickened. What would they find as they probed her power? She took a breath. “Very well.”


“Relax and close your eyes. Focus inward, shutting out your thoughts, your fears, the touch of the wind and the sounds around us. Empty your mind and focus inward. Relax into a nothingness.” His voice progressively softened until he could barely be heard.


Delia slowly relaxed her mind, then shut out the sounds around her. It was difficult, her mind wanted to analyze everything happening. She refocused at every stray thought, quieting that analysis, letting her arms and body relax, softening her face. It seemed she heard a humming. Not from without, but within. A soothing sound, pleasant but strong. She followed the sound into herself, allowing herself to be led, unquestioningly.


It was a light, she saw. A glow, really, at her core. Soft yet strong, her center. Delia reached out to it and as her mind touched it, it flashed. A wave of heat and light, joy and gratitude overcame her. Delia staggered and her eyes opened as Enaur caught her by her arms.


“Are you alright, Princess?”


Delia gasped. “It was so beautiful!”


Enaur smiled. “Good. Good. I’m glad your first effort was successful. You’ve unlocked your power. And well done.” He walked her to a nearby bench and they sat down. “With young elves who’ve grown up around magic, they tap into their power early, without that opening. Sometimes they get blocked and must try several times to reach their center.”


Delia trembled on the bench. The world seemed both brighter and duller than it had a moment ago. She mentioned it to Enaur.


“Your magical sight has opened. You see the world both new made yet at the same time, not as lovely as the magic at your core. That will resolve itself. You will see more in the world now than you ever have.” He looked around the garden. The world is a lovely place, the plants and animals, the beautiful and the ugly, it’s all a balance and magical in its own right. You have much to learn.”


“I look forward to it.”


On the walk back to the conservatory she realized many of the plants now had auras, or at least now she could see them. A rabbit hopped out from some bushes and froze when it saw them. She could see an aura around it as well. “I see auras sparkling around the plants and animals.”


“That’s good. It won’t be long before you stop seeing it uninvited. You’ll be able to call on that power to see a creature’s aura at will. Right now, just opened, it comes unbidden.”


Delia smiled. “Will there be another lesson today?”


Enaur shook his head. “The opening is enough for today. Tomorrow we’ll resume your lessons. I expect it won’t take long for you to gain your full powers.”



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Slave Elf, Part 7: Flash Fiction Friday Post,


Part 1 here.

Part 7

At a few minutes after nine I was led into the breakfast room. Alexis Traford was at the buffet along the right-side wall, selecting morsels from chafing dishes to put on his plate. Lady Traford came in behind me.

“Good morning, Princess Delia.” The lady stopped and gave me a peck on the cheek then took my arm in hers.

“Well enough, Lady Traford. Thank you for asking.” I nodded at Alexis as he turned from the buffet. “Good morning, Lord Traford.”

“Good morning, Princess.” He smiled as he sat down. “I’m glad you’re joining us.”

“The lady walked me to the buffet. “We keep breakfast casual. Serve yourself whatever you’d like.” She nodded in the direction of a uniformed man at the door at the back of the room. “Lors will pour tea, coffee, juice or water, as you indicate.”

I gave the man a nod which he returned. “Thank you, Lady.” I picked up a plate and studied the buffet. Bacon, sausage, and what looked like some sort of meat loaf in slices, scrambled eggs, potatoes both white and orange, then platters of fruits, rolls and sliced bread, followed by four varieties of cheese and cold cuts. Not my usual bowl of mush. I selected fruit and a roll and sat down. Lady Traford followed and sat across from me.

Lors appeared at my side. “What would the Princess, prefer?”

“Tea, please.”

“I’ll take the same, Lars,” Lady Traford added. “And a glass of juice.”

The man nodded and moved to a buffet on the other wall and prepared the drinks.

“Are you feeling well?” The Lady looked over my sparsely filled plate.

“I’m well. I had a small breakfast a few hours ago.”

She nodded and smiled as she cut into her sausage. “I suspected as much. Is Pricilla working out for you?”

“Yes. Thank you for the loan of her. A nice young woman.” I cut my melon into tiny pieces and speared a slice to eat.

Alexis joined the conversation, half of his plate of food already demolished. “Father asked me to lead you to the tutor, Princess, when you’re ready.”

“Thank you, Lord Traford.”

“Please, that’s my father. Call me Alexis.”

I glanced at his mother. She seemed to be fine with that. “And call me Delia, please. Princess seems,” I waved my hand, “too formal.”

At that I saw the Lady’s eyebrow twitch but she gave her son a small nod. “Of course, Delia. I’d be honored.”

That settled, the meal passed pleasantly until the Lady rose. “I must meet with my secretary. So much correspondence.”

Alexis rose and went to his mother. He gave her a peck on the cheek and took her arm as she walked to the door. He opened it for her. “You have a wonderful day, Mother. Shall I see you at dinner?”

“Yes, son.” She kissed him back. “You may want to go to the stables this morning. One of the stallions seems to have a problem. Talk to the stable master about it.”

His head bowed. “Of course, Mother. I’ll see to it immediately.”

“I’ll see you this evening, Princess.”

“I look forward to it.” Delia nodded her head and Lady Traford left.

I gave a small sigh of relief.

“We can delay if you’d like more to eat,” Alexis said.

“I’m finished.” I dropped my napkin on the table and rose. “It’s time to meet my tutor.”

He led me out of the small dining room. Pricilla was waiting outside of the door. “Lord Traford is taking me to the tutor, Pricilla. Thank you for waiting.”

“Yes, miss.”

“She’ll be in the conservatory, Pricilla.” Alexis held out his arm. “Shall we proceed?”

“Certainly.” I did my best to quiet the butterflies in my stomach. I was glad I hadn’t eaten much. On the way, Alexis entertained me with stories about the portraits and landscapes on the walls of ancestors and famous battles. We arrived at the conservatory relaxed.

The space was huge, walled on three sides with glass. It was lush and green and humid, a definite change from the desert environment where Katzin was located. I tried to take in all of the different flowering plants as he walked me around the central plantings to an open set of double doors on the second wall. There a small wrought-iron table and chairs sat, a tea tray in the middle, looking out to a lawn and garden outside. It was very lovely.

A man sat at the table, looking out. He turned at our approach, and rose as we neared. My breath caught in my throat. It was an elf.

He had long blond hair, pulled back on the sides to a braid that fell over the back hair. He was silver at the temples, with deep brown eyes, flecks of gold in the irises and high cheek-bones making his face seem aristocratic. A tooled leather belt at his waist, with a silver dragon buckle, set off the sage green tunic. His fawn colored breeches were tucked into knee-high brown leather boots. He wore a silver pin sigil on his left breast of a spreading tree.

“Lord Enaur, this is Delia, Princess of the house of Ucheni. Princess Delia, this is Lord Enaur, a mage of renown, from your father’s kingdom.” He bowed as he stepped back.

I could hardly take my eyes off of the elf. He studied me. “Welcome back, Princess.”

“Thank you, Lord Enaur.” My mouth was nearly too dry to speak.

“Will you have tea with me?” he asked as he indicated the tray beside us.

My knees felt like water. “Yes. Certainly.” I gripped the back of the chair next to me and controlled myself as I sat.

“I’ll take my leave, then.” Alexis bowed to the mage, then me, turned and left out of the open doors.

I clasped my hands in my lap to control the trembling.

Enaur, sat down and poured tea for us both. We were silent through the adding of cream and sugar. Once his cup was to his satisfaction and he’d replaced it in the saucer, he took a breath.

“I’ve been informed that you were told who you are just last night.” He studied my face. “It must have been a shock.”

I nodded. “It was. I still have difficulty rearranging what I thought about my life until now.”

He sipped again. “Drink your tea.” He looked around the conservatory. “Then we’ll walk around the gardens and I’ll give you more background.

I picked up my cup and sipped. This was a more robust tea than I’d had for breakfast. Fortifying. I glanced around the conservatory. Did he suspect listeners? I emptied the cup.

He rose and held out his hand. I took it and rose beside him. “I have much to share, and a message from your parents.”

We left the brick-floored conservatory and stepped out onto the green lawn. What could the message be?


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Slave Elf, Part 6: Flash Fiction Friday Post

By Randy Cockrell

Reminder: All stories on my blog are drafts. I do my best to have the spelling and puctuation clear but there will be errors. Please bear with me as I decide if this serial should be in 3rd or 1st person.

Part 6

After a restless night, I rose just as the sun began to brighten the eastern sky. The clouds were pink and blue, changing gradually to yellow, then orange as the sun came up over the city towers. I washed in the cold water left me and put on a blue dress from the wardrobe. It fit me perfectly and I idly wondered how Lady Traford knew my size. The dress had a subtle dark green design woven into the fabric and I found shoes to match. Dressed, I rang the pull next to my bed and went into the sitting room.

I opened the curtains there and watched the sun rise until a soft knock sounded at the door. “Come in.”

The door opened to reveal a young woman. She was discreetly dressed in a dove gray gown, a white apron over all, her black hair pulled back and put up in a bun at the back of her head. She stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. “You rang, Princess?”

I had to recover at the honorific. It was still too strange. “Yes.” I swallowed, unaccustomed to giving orders. “What’s your name?”

“Pricilla, Princess.” She bowed her head.

“Pricilla, I’d like breakfast served here. Something light. I’ll attend breakfast with the Lady, later.”

“Yes, Princess.” She turned to leave.


Pricilla turned back to me, hands folded in front of her. “My Lady.”

“Have you been up all night waiting for a call from me?”

“No, My Lady. I came on duty an hour ago. Lady Traford thought you might rise early, this being a new place to you. I’ll be your personal maid for the time being.”

I stared at her. She hardly looked old enough. “How old are you, Pricilla?”

“Twenty, My Lady.”

She seemed so solemn. “Thank you, Pricilla.”

The girl turned and left. I sat in the window seat and watched the city wake. When Pricilla returned, she had a tray with her. “On the window seat, Princess, or on the table?”

“The window seat, please.”

She carried the tray over and placed it at the opposite end of the cushion. “Shall I pour, Princess?”

“No, I can do it. Please, pull a chair over and sit with me.” I saw an eyebrow twitch but she nodded and carried over a small chair and placed it near the tray, facing me.

“Good. Thank you. Tell me how long you’ve been in service here?” I poured tea for myself. Then selected some cut fruit, a square of orange cheese and a roll and pulled them all over in front of me.

“Three years, Princess. My father indentured me to Lord Traford.”

“I see.” I blew across the tea cup and sipped. It was a nice dark tea, with a floral and citrus undercurrent. Perfect for breakfast. “And what do you do here?”

“I worked in the kitchen, at first, scut work. Then the House Keeper moved me to cleaning rooms. She must have liked my work because later I became Lady Traford’s, third maid. Occasionally I served visiting ladies. Now I am your maid.” She studied her hands, folded in her lap when she finished.

“You must be very clever or they wouldn’t have promoted you so quickly.”

Pricilla shrugged. “So it seems. I do my work well and keep what I hear to myself.”

I nodded. “Discretion is a valuable characteristic.” I knew from keeping Master Corbet’s counsel how much it was valued. “Would you rather not be my maid?”

“I do as I’m told, Princess.” Her eyes stayed on her hands.

“And what have you been told to do?” I wondered if she was a spy for Lord Traford. If she was, would she tell me?

She raised her head to face me. “Follow your orders for your care and well-being. Keep your apartment clean and tidy. Care for your clothing and person. Run errands for you if needed.”

I broke off a bit of cheese and bread and chewed them while I thought. “And what are you supposed to report to Lord Traford?”

“I’ve been given no instruction on that, Princess.”

Whether she had or not, sooner or later the Lord would want to know what I was thinking and saying. I nodded to her. “I don’t have any instruction for you except to come back at nine and escort me to breakfast. I don’t know my way around the house yet. After breakfast, I’m to meet a tutor. I have no idea how long that will take, or if lessons will begin immediately. In any case, if you can determine my schedule, I’d appreciate you being there at the end of the meeting or the lesson, to bring me back here. Eventually I’ll know my way around and won’t need that type of hand-holding.”

“Yes, Princess.”

“I don’t require a lot of care, Pricilla. Mostly escort until I learn my way around and caring for my apartment and clothing. I suspect I won’t have time to do those things myself.”

Her eyebrows rose at the last statement.

I chuckled. “I’ve been caring for myself for a long time, Pricilla. Trust me that I do know how.”

The girl nodded. “Yes, Princess.”

I wiped my hands on the linen napkin and placed it on the tray. “Have you eaten?”

“No, Princess.”

I waved at the tray. “Help yourself. You brought more than enough.”

Her eyes went wide. “Oh no, Princess. That’s unacceptable. I shouldn’t even be sitting in your presence.”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Of course not. Standards must be maintained. I looked her in the eyes. “I apologize, Pricilla. I won’t presume again.”

I could hear a tiny sigh of relief as she did a small bow. “Thank you, Princess.”

“I’m finished. You can take the tray away and go get your breakfast.”

She rose from the chair and put it back where it belonged. Picking up the tray she said, “I’ll return at nine.”

“That will be fine. Thank you, Pricilla.”

She bowed and left the apartment. I leaned back against the wall, staring out over the city. Sunlight touched the high points, inching its way down the walls to the streets below where early morning vendors were beginning to open shops and pull carts into the streets. I could feel my stomach knot with stress over what the morning would bring.


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Slave Elf Part 5: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Palace on the Isle by shpyo via

See Part 1 here.

Part 5

I sat, numb. The struggle to grasp the fact that I had a family and that they were at war and that they were royalty was too much to bear. Finally, a clear thought came to me. “I don’t have any powers.”

“Your parents mentioned that you would begin to see them manifest at this age.” Lord Traford tugged his lace-hemmed sleeves down inside his brocade jacket. “I have employed a tutor for you to help you through this period of learning to use them.”

I looked at Master Corpet. “You mean I’m no longer a slave?” I could feel my heart racing as my hands twisted in my lap.

“That is true, though to me, you were never a slave. A ward, would be the best way to put it.” He grinned at me as though he was pleased with himself.

A wave of anger washed over me that made me gasp. “A ward? Really?” I shot up from my seat. “Controlled like a dog for decades. Leered at by your men. Whipped by Emil. Locked in my wagon when elves were near.” My voice quavered with passion.

Surprise filled his face. “Whipped?” he stammered. “No one was to touch you. Ever.”

I snorted. “Emil thinks it’s funny to ride up to my wagon and use his quirt on me then ride off.” I folded my arms over my chest trying to contain my fury. I spun to face Lord Traford. “Why was I not educated in the life of my people? I’m to be a savior and I have no idea what or who they are!”

All three men stood up. Lord Traford placed a hand over his heart. “My Lady. Please forgive us. We followed the King’s orders. I don’t know why he gave them, only that he did.”

Corpet reached out a hand. It was meant to be a comfort but I shot him a glare that should have roasted him on the spot. I paced the length of the room and back again, stopping in front of the Lord. “What’s next then?”

He cleared his throat. “I have an apartment prepared for you, here in the palace. I’ve arranged for you to meet your tutor tomorrow after breakfast.”

I closed my eyes. My greatest dream, freedom, was coming true and all I could think about were my pitiful possessions in my wagon. “What about my things?”

“I’ll have them sent, first thing in the morning,” Corpet rushed to say. “I’m sorry, Delia, for causing you so much pain. It was never my intention.”

I started to smooth it over, as I would have as a slave. I bit back the comment. “Intention or not, it happened. My entire childhood spent making myself small and invisible. No parents, no love.” I shook with the pent up emotion. “Abused.”

He looked devastated. I didn’t care.

“Princess.” Alexis intervened.

I turned to face him.

“I’m sure Master Corpet did the best he could given the circumstances. We’re all a little out of our depths here. It must be very disconcerting for you, especially.”

That, at least, was true. My entire reality had just been shifted. I reached down and picked up my sherry, draining the glass. From slave to princess in a single sentence. I drew a deep breath. “Very well.” I put the glass back on the table. “I’d like to retire to my apartment.”

All three men began nodding and making apologetic noises. “I’ll lead you to your apartment,” Alexis said. He went to the door and held it open.

“Gentlemen.” I nodded curtly to Corpet and Lord Traford and left the room.

Alexis guided me through the palace, up another flight of stairs and down a long hall. He stopped at the last door on the right and opened the double doors. “I do hope you find everything to your liking.

We entered a sitting room. A circle of armchairs surrounded a low table, similar to the arrangement in the library I had just left but in feminine pastels, primarily greens and blues. Landscape paintings hung on the pale green walls and a bookcase filled with volumes was centered on the wall to my right. Opposite the door was a bank of windows with a window seat cushioned and pillowed to match the armchairs. To the right of the windows was a door where I found my bedroom. Again, wide windows with window seat, a bed wide enough to sleep four people was opposite the door. A dressing table was on the wall with the door. A fireplace was on the wall facing the window with two armchairs facing it.  I could fit three of my wagons in the bedroom alone.

“This is nice.”

Alexis bowed. “Mother did her best to make the rooms pleasing to you.”

“I’ll thank her when I see her.” Suddenly I was exhausted. “Thank you for showing me the apartment.”

“My pleasure.” He backed out of the room. “I shall leave you now, to your rest.”

I followed him to the door.

“There’s a bell pull next to your bed and one here.” He pointed to a long ribbon of fabric hanging by the door to the hall. “Just pull it and a servant will be here shortly if you need anything.”

“I appreciate that.”

“Breakfast is at nine but if you wish, you can have the servants bring you something earlier.”

“Very thoughtful.”

He stepped into the hall. “Good night, Princess.”

“Sleep well, Lord Traford.”

He bowed again and closed the doors. I went into the bedroom and opened the wardrobe. Several dresses hung there, along with several pairs of shoes. The dresser held undergarments, bedclothes and dressing gowns. I pulled a pair of bedclothes from the drawer and changed. As I took down my hair and brushed it out, I tried to sort out what had happened to me.

I had a family. Parents anyway. Did I have brothers or sisters? I had an uncle who was challenging my father, the king, for the throne. I was supposed to have powers. What would those be? They purposely hid me. With a slave caravan. Purposely kept me ignorant. Why?

I had very many questions and no answers.


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Slave Elf Part 4: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Nilagiri Palace in Odisha by PatraTravels via

See Part 1 here


Part 4

Dinner went as I expected. I was too nervous to eat and I had no idea how to tell these aristocrats that I was a slave. I did my best to keep my comments to how nice they looked. We had nothing else in common.

After dinner, the ladies retired to a drawing room where a young woman played soft tunes on a harp while the men assembled in the library. There was more awkward conversation to go through as each lady made the time to come over to my chair and ask me questions about my life in the caravan. Many were amazed that I kept the books. One dowager was utterly aghast. “You read, write and do math?” She gave a nervous giggle as she raised her eyebrows to her friends. “Very unseemly for a woman to be educated. Very.” Then she walked over to a group of women and whispered something that had them all turn and stare at me. I heartily wished I could be back in my wagon.

That’s when a servant arrived and went to the Lady Traford. She came over to me, a puzzled look on her face. “Lord Traford asks for you to join him and Master Corpet in the study.” She pointed to the servant. “He’ll escort you.”

All the ladies within earshot turned to stare. This was apparently something very unusual. I rose and bowed my head. “Please excuse me, Lady Traford. I’ve had a lovely evening.”

She nodded in return and I went to the servant, holding the door open. I followed him through the house to a room upstairs and over the drawing room. Here I found Lord Traford, his son, and Master Corpet in armchairs around a low table. They each had a tumbler in front of them or in hand. Sam was not in sight.

Lord Traford stood. “Delia. Thank you for joining us. Please,” he waved to an empty armchair, “join us.”

Alexis rose also and bowed. Corpet raised his glass in salute. I took the proffered chair and sat on the edge of the seat. “Sherry?” Alexis asked. “Or would you prefer to share our whiskey with us?”

“The sherry, please.” I nodded.  My mind was in complete confusion. What could I be doing here?

Alexis went to the small bar and poured a glass of sherry and returned, handing it to me with a bow and a smile. I had all I could do to keep my hands from trembling. After he returned to his seat, his father began.

“This must all seem confusing to you, Delia.” He looked at Corpet and his son. They both nodded. “We have a matter of some consequence to discuss with you.”

I placed the glass of sherry on the table and folded my hands in my lap to keep them from shaking. Lord Traford was scaring me.

“Master Corpet reminds me that you’ve been with him over sixty years now. A whole lifetime.”

My mouth went dry. Fear washed through me. And dread. What was coming?

“We believe it’s time to let you in on our secret.”

I nodded. I couldn’t trust my voice not to quaver.

He sipped his whiskey and replaced it on the table. “My father is the one who put you into Master Corpet’s care.”

Care? How was making me a slave, care?

What I was thinking must have shown on my face. Traford raised his hand. “Please, I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. Your parents gave you to my father for a reason.”

My hands twisted in my lap as a roaring filled my ears. My parents gave me up? What?

“I’m sorry. I’m making a bungle of this. What I mean is, they gave you to us to hide you.”

I stared at Corpet. He nodded. “It’s true, Delia. You were in great danger if you had stayed with your parents. I’ve done my best for you, I have.”

I thought back to Emil, who had made my life a misery since he joined the caravan. It was not uncommon for him to ride up beside my wagon and strike me on the thigh with his quirt then dash off, laughing, as I nursed the pain. That was the best Corpet could do? I clenched my teeth together and gave a brief nod. I turned back to Lord Traford. “What danger, my Lord?”

“What do you know about the Elves?”

I thought it an evasive question. “Not much. I haven’t been allowed to talk to them. I’ve had no instruction and have read no histories about them.” I’m afraid I let my voice reveal how angry I was.

The Lord merely nodded. “Were you aware the Elves, like us humans, have a King?”

I nodded.

“King Ucheni is his name. The queen is Ralae. They have been fighting for the last sixty-five years against his uncle, Iyuno, who started a civil war to claim the throne. It has been a struggle but the king’s advisors have been waiting for a prophesy to come to fruition.” Lord Traford sipped his whiskey and resettled himself in his chair.

I waited for the rest of the story. Alexis had draped his right leg over his left and seemed bored. Corpet was studying me, sitting forward, eager, almost.

The Lord continued. “The prophecy is that a savior will come to them. More powerful than any elf in a thousand years, the savior will settle all arguments and bring peace to the land.”

“How do they know the prophecy is true?”

“They had a sign, sixty-five years ago.”

I noticed that all three men were watching me. Waiting for something. “What was the sign?”

“A black-haired elf child.”

My mind spun. I blinked at him. “You mean…”

He nodded. “Yes, Delia. It’s you.”


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