Slave Elf 15: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Ancient Book by Connie Cockrell

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 14 Here.

Part 15

Nethene sat three elves away from her at dinner. As family, he rated a seat at the head table but that didn’t make her happy about it. Her venison lay cold on the plate as she worried about what her distant cousin might do.

Mage Kaepli sat beside her father. Delia could hear enough of their conversation past her mother to know they were discussing the scrying Kaepli had finished. Confusion, she’d overheard him say. That didn’t sound good to her. She wished she had more experience. It was a handicap of immense proportions that she had been separated from her people and from magic for so long. Her hand began to tingle as fire began to form. Delia squashed the urge and shook out her hand under the table.

At the rear of the hall the musicians were warming up. Dinner was nearly over and she was anxious to talk to the Mage about how to mask her aura. She saw her chance as the Mage rose to take his leave of the King and Queen. She rose as well. “If you don’t mind, Father, Mother, I’d like to retire. I’m afraid I overdid it on the practice field today.”

Her mother nodded. “Of course, Sweetheart.”

Delia leaned down to kiss her mother on the cheek. “Thank you, Mother. Enjoy the music.” She walked around her mother’s chair to the King. She kissed him on the cheek as well. “Good evening, Father.”

He patted her hand. “Sleep well, Delia.”

She saw Nethene watching and a tingle of fear ran down her spine. “Thank you, Father.” She turned to the Mage. “May I walk with you, Kaepli?”

“Of course, Princess.” He bowed and let her go first.

Delia could feel Nethene watching her until they left the hall. “I have a question.”

Kaepli nodded. “I suspected. Go on.”

“How does Nethene mask his aura?”

The mage drew a deep breath. “The books say it has to do with the control of your core. Which begs the question, of course.” He shook his head. “The text talks about your essence, which is the core, of course, and focus.” Kaepli waved a hand. “All magic requires focus, so that is less than helpful.”

“May I read the texts?”

The old mage’s eyebrow rose. “An unusual request but I don’t see why not. Come by my workshop in the morning. I’ll have the books ready for you.”

She was disappointed. She wanted to read them now. “Not tonight?”

The mage shook his head. “My apologies, Princess, but the texts are scattered. Let me and my apprentices find them all and set aside a table for you. It will go much faster that way.”

Delia swallowed her impatience. “Of course. In the morning then.”

Kaepli stopped at the hall leading to the wing where his workshops were and bowed. “In the morning. Sleep well, Princess.”

She bowed in return and continued on to her rooms. After bolting the door, she prepared for bed but was too restless to lie down. As she paced she absent-mindedly formed fireballs, tossing them from one hand to another. Then she realized she was making them in multiples, not just one at a time. That piqued her interest and at the fireplace, focused on making as many at a time as she could.

By midnight she was drained, physically and mentally. She let the fireballs expire and washed her hands and face in the basin then lay down. Her last thoughts were of auras.

In the morning she hardly spared time to eat the bread, fruit and cheese brought to her room. She hurried to the mage’s workshop and stopped just inside the door. She saw a large room, herbs hanging from the ceiling, several heavy wooden tables with stools at them. Some had apprentices already working. Books and scrolls filled the shelves that lined the walls. She cleared her throat.

An apprentice looked up from a huge tome he was reading. “Princess!” He jumped from his stool and came to her. “Welcome. Mage Kaepli directed me to assist you. I’m Sisruo. Come right this way.”

He led her to a table under a window, a stool centered on the table where six leather-bound books were stacked to one side. “We found these for you. The pages with the information you wanted are book-marked. If you have any questions, please let me know.”

Delia nodded. Everything seemed well organized. “Thank you. I won’t keep you from your work. Where is Mage Kaepli?”

“He’s gone to a glade, Princess. To try the scrying again.”

She was disappointed. She’d hoped to talk to him about what she was about to read. “Oh. Very well.”

“May I get you some water?”

“That would be nice. Yes. Thank you, Sisuro. Have you been an apprentice long?”

“Long enough. I test for my mage status soon.”

“Congratulations.” She climbed up onto the stool. “Sorry for keeping you.”

“Not a problem, Princess. I’ll let you get to your research.” He turned and left.

Delia looked at the stack of books. The largest was on the bottom with the books getting smaller as the stack grew. She pulled the smallest book to her and opened the cover. The writing was in a flowing script, the book title so elaborate it was difficult to read. Delia turned a few pages to find treatises on the essence of the core, how to force plant growth, and one on changing hair color. There didn’t seem to be any overall theme to the book, just whatever the author had decided to write about. She found the book mark and flipped to the page. This treatise was titled, Auras and Their Control. That sounded promising.

Sisruo returned and placed a tray with a pitcher of water and a glass on it. “Princess.”

She looked up from the page and smiled. “Thank you, Sisruo.”

He bowed. “Ask if you need anything.”

“I will. Thank you.”

He left and she went back to the page. With luck, she’d learn everything she needed to know from this one book.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 16.

1015 Words

 

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Slave Elf 14: Friday Flash Fiction Post

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

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 13 Here.

 

Part 14

Delia sat behind her father at the council meeting, three days after they decided to keep Nethene in place. Nethene sat two chairs down from the king on the left. Mage Kaepli was on the king’s right, Lord Enaur on his left. The Guard Captain, Neoi, sat next to Nethene and next to the Mage, the Chief of Scouts, Mysteso. Mysteso was telling the council about the movements of Iyuno’s forces. It wasn’t good.

“They’re massing, Sire, two day’s ride from here in the Diamond Point valley. I dare say there will be a challenge issued soon.”

King Ucheni nodded. “Captain Neoi, how are your forces prepared?”

“I’ve been recalling squads for the last week, Sire. Most are back. I’ve only kept a few watchers on key passes and routes. We can march in an hour, if you feel the need.”

“It seems prudent, Sire,” Nethene steepled his fingers, “to send your forces to Iyuno’s battleground immediately.”

Delia watched her uncle closely. Something about his tone of voice made the hairs on her arms stand straight up.

“Not wait for the challenge?” Mysteso asked.

Nethene shook his head. “If you arrive before the challenge, Iyuno will know that you’ve been watching him. That you’re not surprised.”

Nethene’s aura was black as night, Delia saw when she shifted her gaze to her magical sight. She clasped her hands in her lap to keep them from twisting. She didn’t trust Nethene and thought his plan to send all of her father’s soldiers to Diamond Point valley dangerous. It could be a trap, or a diversion. She nodded when Neoi said just that.

Nethene glanced at her over the king’s shoulder. She shuddered at his gaze and felt as though he knew exactly what she was thinking. Delia felt for the knife she’d taken to wearing at her waist. It slid a fraction of an inch from the sheathe easily. That made her feel a little better. If the evil elf decided to do anything, she was ready.

Mage Kaepli tapped the table in front of him. “I agree Neoi. We don’t know if these are his entire force or a diversion. Attack could come from any direction.”

“Have you done a scrying, Kaepli?” the king asked.

“Not yet, Sire.” The old mage bowed his head to the king. “But now seems the right time. I’ll prepare as soon as the council is finished.”

Ucheni nodded. “Good. I’ll await your word. That will be all for today.”

There was much scraping of chairs away from the table and bowing to the king. Delia caught Nethene glancing at her as he bowed. A look that to her meant he knew what she was thinking. A shiver ran down her spine and her left hand began forming a fireball of its own accord. She saw him restrain a smile as he turned to leave the council hall. She stood behind her father, ready to burn the elf down if needed.

Kaepli raised an eyebrow as he saw her behind the king. “Delia?”

Ucheni turned in his seat to stare at her. “What’s wrong, daughter.”

Nethene left the room. Delia breathed easier. “It was the way he looked at me, Father. My hand began to form a fireball without my conscious thought.”

Ucheni raised an eyebrow, then looked at the mage. “Is that possible?”

“Apparently. I just saw her do it. You were that afraid?”

Delia nodded. Her hands were trembling. “I don’t trust a thing he said, Father. It’s either a trap or a decoy.”

“You don’t think Iyuno will send a challenge to meet in Diamond Point valley?”

“I do think he will but I don’t think he’ll be there. He’ll be attacking the castle or ambush you on your way.”

The mage stroked his chin. “That could be true, Sire.” He took a deep breath. “Let me see what the scrying bowl says. That should guide your decision.”

The king nodded and the mage hurried off. Ucheni turned to his daughter. “Are you well?”

She took a deep breath. “A little terrified. I’ll recover.” Delia wiped her hand on her skirt.

He took her by the shoulders. “I worry that all of this is too overwhelming for you.”

“I’ll be fine, Father.” She raised her chin and looked him in the eyes. “I just found you, I don’t want to lose you just yet.”

He gave her a hug. “I’ve never had a more enthusiastic defender.”

“I’ll do my best.”

Back in her room she changed into practice clothes and went to the practice ground. She found a spot away from the others and began to throw fireballs. The other elves gathered around to watch. She practiced throwing far, then for accuracy. She answered questions about how she was forming the balls as best she could. Several of the elves began to try it. A few managed small fires in their hands but not the fire she could manage.

She was able to spar with one or two of the elves with staves, a weak weapon for her but one she felt she should at least have a basic grasp of. No one could tell what would or could go wrong in a battle. Delia was worried about that. Being the book keeper on a caravan hardly prepared her for going into a war. She wasn’t sure how she’d react. She thanked the elves for teaching her the staves and went back to her room.

As she washed in the cold water in her basin, Delia spent more time worrying about Nethene. Could he see her aura color with fear? Probably. She wondered if she could mask her aura. How to mask it was the first question. She looked in the polished silver of her mirror. Her aura was green with sparkles. Delia thought hard, pulling energy from her core, to change the color of her aura. It didn’t change at all as far as she could tell. She gave it up as a waste of time. Perhaps Kaepli would know how. She resolved to ask him at dinner. It would be handy to be able to hide what she was feeling from Nethene.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 15.

1034 Words

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Slave Elf Part 13: Flash Fiction Friday Post

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

Part 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#

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

King Ucheni motioned the mage to go ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 14.

956 Words

 

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Slave Elf: Part 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?

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 10.

1378 Words

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Slave Elf Part 8: Flash Fiction Friday Post

http://ecclytennysmithylove.deviantart.com/art/Day-3-Chesterwood-formal-garden-628684738, http://orig11.deviantart.net/5849/f/2016/229/9/1/day_3__chesterwood__formal_garden__by_ecclytennysmithylove-daeaw8y.jpg

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.”

 

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 9.

1013 Words

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A Little Magic: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Camp Fire by Kiaraz via DeviantArt.com

I just needed a little magic. Just a little. Enough to get the fire started, get the room warm, maybe to save my mother. I heard her moan from her pallet along the wall. I rearranged the wet wood in the fireplace. If I could just get the wood to burn. I could make a little soup, a cup of tea, anything to warm her up. Me too, to be honest.

She moaned again. I knew she had a fever. If the soldiers had just left any of my brothers or sisters behind I wouldn’t be in this fix. But they took all of the people with magic abilities off to fight the war. Father had been taken a year ago. Yesterday, they came for the rest. The wailing and screaming in the village had been horrific. My stomach roiled just thinking about it as I struggled to light the fire.

“Come on.” I willed my shaking hands to strike the flint against the steel but they were too cold. My sister Hilda would have just held her hand over the tiny pile of kindling and it would have burst into flame. A year younger than me she always gave me a hug when she made the fire. It was my job, but she knew I didn’t have any magic. A tear ran down my face. And now she was gone, along with my littlest sister, Maggie, and my big brothers, Todd and Edward. All gone. Dragged away to fight even though Maggie was only eight.

My hands shook more, with anger this time. How were we supposed to plow the fields or plant the crops with so many villagers gone? I glared at the tiny pile in the fireplace, gripping the flint until it cut my hand. The wood smoked then burst into flame. I rocked back from my squat and sat hard on the floor, staring. The flame began to die down and I scrambled to my feet to feed the tiny fire twigs, then sticks, then wood. I piled the wood on, uncaring if I set the house on fire or not. Mother would be warm, at least tonight. I set the kettle on the hob and put the pot on the hook, filled it with water and the jerky and vegetables I’d already prepared. I put two pinches of salt in the pot, unconcerned with where more salt would come from.

Another pot went next to the fire and I filled it with water to warm. Clean water to wipe mother’s face and hands. As I tended her, I finally allowed myself to think about the fire. The mage yesterday took one look at me and passed me by even as the soldiers were dragging my brothers and sisters out of the house. Mother cried out from her sick bed and it broke my heart. There was nothing she could do. She didn’t have any more magic than I did. But, I did have magic. I started a fire!

How had I done it? I just remembered feeling angry. So angry. Rage, that’s what it was. Rage against the king and his stupid war. Rage against the mage and the soldiers. Rage against my mother’s sickness. The water in the bowl I was dipping the rag into began to boil. I dropped the rag into the water and blinked. The water calmed but was hot.

I put the bowl on the table and wrapped my arms around myself. I’d never been so angry before in my life. I did have magic but just a little. I used both hands to wipe the tears from my eyes. So little magic I was of no use to the King but here, well, here I was of use. I wondered how many of the other villagers had tiny sparks of magic?

The next morning I went door to door and asked the remaining people. They shook their heads but I could see in their eyes that they were going to try. The priest, so old that the mage and the soldiers left him behind even though he did have magic, patted me on the shoulder.

“Child. Be careful. Don’t let that rage take over just for a bit of magic.”

He was a fool. All I had left was rage. Hadn’t the King’s men dragged off more than three quarters of our village? “Who will do the plowing and planting, priest? Me? I’m twelve. Mother is sick. The rest of the village is in the same shape I am. Too young, too old, too sick. We’ll starve.”

His eyes filled with tears as he nodded. “True, child. But rage will burn you up.”

“Maybe.” I turned and left.

Mother died not long after I found my rage. It was a hard year. I grew hard with it. We worked together, we survivors. We plowed and planted. We learned to hunt and forage. Winter killed many of us but at the next spring we that remained were stronger. I was leader, even though I was only just come into my womanhood. We gathered wood, nurtured our tiny magics, made plans.

The King lost his war. The new King’s soldiers came through and saw the pitiful remnant we were and went away. We grew stronger. We had children. We made contacts throughout the land with others like us. We hid our tiny magics until it was time. Then we attacked. The mages first, then the new king and his lords. It didn’t take long. They underestimated us. We had no great magic.

I was named Leader, I refused to be called Queen. Many wanted to kill everyone with magic. I said no. Would we kill ourselves? I set the cleverest of us to creating weapons that needed no magic. We would be ready when and if the time came, magic or not.

 

Thank You!

981 Words

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Black Dog: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Black Dog

Black Dog

The pounding rain nearly drowned out the sound. Milla stopped, rain splashing up her stockinged legs, listening. A tiny sound coming from the alley. She went in and heard it again, coming from a pile of cardboard boxes. There, huddled, wet and shivering, a puppy. Milla didn’t stop to think. She scooped up the bundle of wet fur, tucked it inside her rain coat and hurried home.

Dry, warm and fed, the black puppy with white markings slept in a box in a blanket nest. A mutt, maybe some black lab, maybe some collie, Milla raised the dog, now named, Mave, and trained her well. The only thing Milla couldn’t do was break Mave of growling at people. Not everyone, it seemed, but it was a detail that Milla didn’t like. There was no way to tell why Mave growled at some people and not others.

Two years later, Milla was walking Mave in the nearby park. She was enjoying the soft spring evening when she was knocked off of the path, the leash flying from her hand. A man, full-faced knit cap over his head, was on top of her, fumbling at her clothes. She screamed and from the left, she saw all seventy-five pounds of Mave leap onto the man, teeth at his throat and growling in a way that made Milla’s blood run cold. The man rolled off her, fighting Mave and now screaming in fear himself.

Heart racing, Milla stood up and grabbed Mave’s leash, pulling the dog from the man. Two uniformed bicycle officers rode up and took the man into custody. Shaking, Milla told the officer what happened and left her contact information. Mave stared at the attacker until the police took him away, shouting, “Keep that dog away from me!”

At home, Milla gave Mave an extra treat. “Good girl.” She gave the dog a hug. “What a good girl you are.”

The next day a police officer visited Milla to ask follow-up questions. “Your attacker said your dog’s eyes were glowing red.”

Milla laughed. She looked at the dog at the officer’s feet, on her back, tail wagging, looking for a belly rub. “I’ve never seen her eyes glow red. I think the guy is just trying to get out of confessing that he attacked me.”

The officer closed his notebook and gave Mave a belly rug. “Most likely. The dog hardly seems capable of attacking anyone.”

“I found her as a very young puppy. She’s protective but I’ve never seen her attack anything.”

The officer stood up. “There are no complaints against your dog on file so I don’t think there will be any more trouble.”

Milla walked the officer to the door. “I appreciate that Officer. Have a good day.”

“You too, Ms. Parker.”

She talked to a dog expert. “She’s protective of you. Dogs can sense things we can’t. It looks like Mave thinks some people are a threat.”

Milla stroked Mave’s big lab head. “I can’t have her growling at random people. Someone is going to call the dog catcher on us.”

The expert nodded. “Keep an eye on who she growls at. You may be able to see a pattern.”

That didn’t seem helpful but on their walks, Milla took notice of who Mave growled at. There didn’t seem to be a pattern. Men, women, children, all ages, all social strata, were all growled at. Milla did teach Mave to growl softer, so only she could hear. But it made her nervous that her beloved pet might attack someone.

One Halloween, she was giving candy out at the apartment door. The usually friendly Mave snarled, her hackles up, at a parent.

“Keep that mutt under control or I’m calling the cops.”

Milla closed the door to just a small opening. “My apologies. I don’t know why she does that.” She closed the door and looked through the peephole. She saw the man cuff the boy with him so that the boy crashed into the wall. Grabbing her phone, she called the police. Throwing on her coat and putting Mave on a leash, she followed the man and boy, now crying.

“I have a man, abusing a boy,” she told the dispatcher. “I’m following them.”

Despite pleas from the dispatcher, Milla followed, Mave growling deep in her chest. Milla provided her location at every corner. She saw the man pinch the boy, slap him, and once, knock him to the sidewalk. “Clumsy brat.” He hauled the boy up by the arm and dragged him to the corner.

A few feet back, Milla could hear the man verbally abusing the boy, crying uncontrollably. Mave strained at the leash. “Hurry,” Milla whispered into the phone. “I think the man is going to really hurt that child.”

It was too late. Milla watched in horror as the man said, “I’m sick of you,” and slapped the boy on the back. Mave launched at the man as Milla grabbed for the child. She snatched the boy out of the path of a taxi as Mave latched onto the man’s arm. She saw him spin, Mave still biting his arm, flying through the air. Bystanders screamed. The man punched Mave and slammed her into the side of the nearest building. Milla screamed, “No!” Police charged up. Mave dropped her attack as soon as the police arrived.

Holding his arm, the man pointed at Mave. “That dog attacked me! I want that dog put down.”

Milla’s stomach rolled as she cradled the boy, still sobbing. “No! She was defending the boy.”

The police officers questioned each person. Child services took the boy. Milla turned over her phone. She’d taken pictures of the man hitting the child. She never mentioned Mave’s red eyes. It took some time but both Milla and Mave were released. She gave Mave a big hug and an extra treat. “I’ll have to pay more attention, girl, won’t I?”

Mave gave her a lick and wagged her tail.

 

 

Thank You!

993 Words

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Waterfall: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Waterfall

Waterfall

Cora ran from the house, her father’s drunken rage following her with the sounds of furniture and crockery smashing. As she ran through the forest, her father’s curses faded until, gasping for breath, the only sounds were the wind in the trees and the birds and insects. She dropped to the leaf-littered forest floor and rested, arms on her knees and her forehead on her arms. Why does he do it? Raging when he comes home from the village pub only to apologize the next morning and set to work repairing whatever he’d broken. It made no sense to her.

She flopped back to stare up through the leaves of the oak providing her a dappled shade. It was a beautiful day out here in the forest. Why couldn’t she stay out here? Away from her father. Away from the drudgery. That reminded her she’d left the washtub full of Anna Reed’s washing in the back yard. Cora sighed. Anna was the new priest’s wife, dainty and of ill-health. It was easy washing, the priest and his wife didn’t do hard work so their clothing was practically clean already and the coins the wash brought in helped keep Cora and her father in food and supplies for the winter. That is when papa didn’t give it to the pub-keeper.

Another sigh escaped. By the time she got back, papa would be collapsed across his pallet, sound asleep. She could finish the wash then clean up the mess in the house. But she didn’t move. Cora stared up at the clouds, drifting across the blue sky. She could feel herself relaxing, her mind drifting as her body felt as though it were becoming one with the earth.

“Miss, don’t do that.”

Cora jerked, her mind snapping back. She sat up. A small girl stood a few feet away, staring at her. But no, not a girl, a very small woman, dressed in shades of green, her staff hardly a foot high. “Why not?”

The woman shrugged. “Well, I suppose you can if you want to, but you’d get pulled into the earth spirit realm.”

“Is that bad?”

“You wouldn’t be able to come back.”

Cora nodded. “It seemed peaceful.”

The woman took a few steps toward Cora. “It is, for humans. At least at first. Then unless you really are looking for peace, it is too slow, confining. A human spirit doesn’t usually have the temperament for being an earth spirit.”

“Oh. No, I expect not. We do like to move around. I’m Cora.”

“Nice to meet you, Cora. I’m Lavendar. Fairy.”

A fairy! “I’ve heard stories about fairies.”

“Good ones I hope.”

“Yes, though mischievous, too. But mostly nice.”

“You were feeling sad. Angry, too. I could sense you from a long distance. Is that why you were moving into the earth?”

“I was angry, and sad. But I wasn’t thinking about sinking into the ground. That was just happening. I just didn’t want to go home.”

“Why not?” Lavendar sat down beside Cora.

Cora told the fairy about her father. “So you see, I don’t know what to do about it.”

“That would be a problem.” The fairy tapped her fingers on one of the fallen oak leaves, then jumped up. “Follow me. I have an idea.”

Cora nodded and followed the fairy for several miles until they entered a small glade. A pool was at the center, the water’s surface still and reflecting the woods around it. On the north edge a small waterfall, only about three feet high, poured water into the pool. A stream on the southwest side let the water out with hardly a sound. She looked into the pool. The water was so clear she could see the sandy bottom and tiny fish swimming. “It’s lovely.”

“One of my favorite spots. But it’s the waterfall that I brought you to see.” She led Cora to the falls where a flat stone stuck up out of the water at the edge of the pool. The fairy stepped onto the rock and she motioned for Cora to do the same.

“The water as it falls is magic. Once a year you may come and cup your hands and drink from the falls. As you drink, make a wish or visualize a dream, and it will come true.”

“Oh, my.” Cora stared at the water flowing from the ledge to the pool. It was mesmerizing as the water caught the sunlight and sparkled. “What should I wish for?”

“Whatever you want. But take care. Think about the consequences of your wish.”

Cora thought about her father, reeking of ale, face distorted into something horrific, smashing the bowls and chairs. Her stomach knotted with the remembered fear. “I can make a wish now?”

Lavendar nodded. “It will be this year’s wish. You’ll get no other until next year.”

“Fair enough.” Cora held out her cupped hands and in a moment, they were full of water. She drank, her eyes closed.

“What did you wish for?”

Cora stepped back onto the bank. “For my father not to be a drunkard.”

Lavendar nodded and led Cora back to her hut marking the way so Cora could return. “Farewell, Cora,” the fairy said at the hut. “Take care.”

“I will.” Cora went into the hut.

A year later, Lavendar met Cora at the pool. “How did your wish turn out.”

Cora burst into tears. “Papa died over the winter.”

“What happened?”

“Without the drink, Papa just got sadder and sadder. One night he went out and didn’t come back. The woodcutter found him in the forest, frozen to death.”

“I am so sorry, Cora.” The fairy hugged the girl.

“The priest told me papa came to him. Papa drank to forget. Without it, the guilt of losing Mama was too much. It’s all my fault Papa is dead. Now I have no parents. You were right. I didn’t know the consequences.”

“We never do.”

 

 

Thank You!

993 Words

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Ego and Punishement: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

This is based on a Chuck Wendig prompt. FLAMBOYANT ELF DRUID FROM THE FREELANDS WHO IS QUICK TO TAKE CREDIT AND ASSIGN BLAME. Let’s see what I can do in 1000 words or less.

Picture: Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via www.deviantart.com http://www.deviantart.com/art/Skeleton-Keys-130788426

Elanda pulled her cornflower-blue robe around her against the cold winter night. It had been too hot and smoky in the pub for her, especially filled with the stench of dwarf and man. The robe sparkled in the quarter moon’s light, enough to mark her as elf to any passer-by. Not an easy target.

She headed to her room. It was obvious no messenger would reach her this night. She’d watched the guards lock the city gates hours ago after she’d sat there all day waiting, watching the endless line of humans, dwarves and the occasional elf, pay their duty and enter. A complete waste of her time. The pub’s wine and stew sat heavy on her stomach. Not the fine food and drink of her queen’s castle, certainly. Elanda wished briefly to be back with the Queen, her twice removed aunt, but shoved the thought away.

That double damned Marowal had goaded her until she’d lost her temper and the Queen sent her on this mission. She pulled a glamor over herself to further discourage any would be thieves. The tall elf with black hair braided down his back had deliberately angered her. There was nothing she could do about it now, but wait until she returned. Thoughts of revenge filled her mind as she entered the miserable inn. The owner never woke as she passed. In her room she barred the door and the window and set a fire in the tiny stove. It was enough to take the chill out of the air, at least. Not much else could be said for the room, barely wide enough to hold the cot she’d sleep in.

An elf sat on the bed. She started, why hadn’t she seen him? It was Marowal.

“Milady Elanda.”

“Marowal.” Her tone with the young prince was cold. “I waited all day.”

He stood and stepped to the stove, holding his hands above it for the little heat it generated. “I was delayed.”

“I waited at the gate all day.” She swished the skirt of her robe in frustration. “Drinking wine near to spoiling and eating the human’s dried out fruit. Where were you?”

He smiled. A grin that made her want to slap him. “As I said, delayed.”

“Did you find the key?” Would the prince never get to the point?

“I did. And information. I’ll need your help.”

“I was sent to get the key. Nothing else.” Elanda held out her hand.

Marowal shook his head. “It won’t be that easy. The key is worthless. Unless we also get the chest it unlocks.”

“The queen sent me for the key. Just that.” She tucked her hands into the sleeves of her robe. It was obvious the prince would not give her the key.

“We’ll ride to Timate and get the chest.”

“Timate! That’s five days west.”

“We’ll leave at first light.”

#

Elanda was on horseback, gloves doing little to keep her fingers warm, an hour before the winter sun rose over the city walls. Marowal had paid the night guard who’d let them out early and they were on their way. Elven horses went fast and silent and the pair covered many miles by the end of the day. They camped in the woods. Marowal brought back a rabbit as Elanda started a fire. She grumbled as she cleaned the rabbit and set it on the spit. “I had no plan to winter camp, Marowal.”

“I beg your pardon.” He bowed from his lounge on his sleeping bag. “You wouldn’t want to go back to the queen with just half the prize, would you?”

“I don’t have the key. You do. I can’t go back at all.” She detested the smirk on his face.

“We’ll go back together, then. Victorious.”

For a cousin he was less than helpful or friendly. “Why drag me along?”

“You’ll see.”

She fumed but there was little she could do about it.

#

They arrived at Timate mid-day and entered the city. He dragged her back and forth across the town, talking to men and dwarves in whispers. At nightfall, she’d had enough. “What are we doing?”

He pointed at the clock tower in the town square. “you’ll enter the tower, climb to the top, and at the stroke of nine, create a flash in the window. That’s a signal to the owner of the chest to go to a stable at the edge of town. I’ll pay him for the chest and we’ll be away through the gate before the soldiers close it for the night.”

“You trust this owner?”

Marowal shrugged. “We’ll see.”

She was in the window right on time. Fury flowed through her at the childish cloak and dagger antics of the prince. The bell, when it struck, was painful but she made the flash, child’s play, really, then hurried back down the tower to the stable where this mysterious chest would be delivered.

Once there, Marowal was nowhere to be found. She created a finding, but the magic didn’t find him.

She spent months combing the countryside in search until giving up, she went back to the queen.

The court was in full attendance when she was presented, no chance to rest or bathe. She stopped halfway across the hall and gasped. Marowal was sitting at his mother’s feet playing with a kitten. Rage propelled her across the floor. Her bow was perfunctory.

“Majesty. I beg forgiveness for my delay. I’ve been searching for the Prince.” She glared at him, getting a grin in return.

“I do understand, Elanda. But as you can see, he’s returned.”

Elanda could hear twitters of laughter behind her. She bowed her head. “Of course, Majesty. I hope you obtained the key.”

“Oh yes,” the Queen pulled it from her dress, as a necklace. “It makes a nice ornament, doesn’t it?”

She blushed as the court laughed. A punishment, she realized, at her expense. Let them laugh. She smiled at Marowal. He’d get his in time.

 

Thank You!

1000 Words

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Found: Key, Part X of X – Friday Flash Fiction Post

 

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

Skeleton Keys by Livefast_x via DeviantArt.com

Part X of X http://www.deviantart.com/art/Skeleton-Keys-130788426 by LiveFast-x

NOTE: This final installment is a little longer than the usual flash piece. Enjoy.”

 

Ying opened the door to the antique shop. “You’ll love this place.”

“I already love it. It’s where I met you!” Jason kissed her cheek as he entered.

Inside, Eleanor was at the counter cashoug out a customer. She nodded at Ying, acknowledging her presence. In the background, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played. It was a little heavy for Ying’s taste but played as softly as it was, it made for a relaxing stroll around the store. Ying inhaled the scent of lemon polish and bees was, detectable but not overwhelming. It provided her a feeling of quiet and comfort.

Jason stopped inside the door and looked around. Ying couldn’t help noticing, even with her annoyance at being manipulated, how nice he looked in his Dockers and polo shirt.

“I can see why you like it here. Lovely things surround you.” He turned and smiled. “Have you bought anything yet?”

“Not yet.” She threaded her arm through his, the one with the watch, and led him to the Chinese screen she’d noticed on her first visit. “What do you think?”

“It’s gorgeous! What are you waiting for?”

Ying shrugged. “It’s kind of pricey.”

“Nonsense. You should get it. It’s perfect.” He dropped her arm and stepped to the screen to examine it.”

Eleanor joined Ying. “Hello.”

“Eleanor. You’ve met Jason.”

Jason stepped away from the screen and held out his right hand, the watch clearly visible on his bare wrist. “Nice to meet you under better circumstances.”

“Yes. It is.” She glanced at his watch. “What a lovely watch.”

He pulled his hand back, left hand covering the watch. “Thank you. A family heirloom.”

Eleanor exchanged glances with Ying. “Would you mind if I looked at it? Professional interest, you know.”

Ying thought he looked uncomfortable. He spun the watch around his wrist several times. She was waiting for the rush of warmth but it never came. Jason was looking at Eleanor, who suddenly looked confused.

“Eleanor?” Ying put her hand on her friend’s arm.

Eleanor gave herself a little shake and smiled at Jason. “I won’t damage it, I promise.”

It was Jason’s turn to look confused. He glanced at the watch.

“Go ahead, Jason. She’s an expert.”

His eyes met hers, then back to Eleanor’s. “Umm, I suppose.” His reluctance to unclasp the ltach and hand the watch to Eleanor was obvious in his slow movements. Jason lay the watch in Eleanor’s outstretched palm.

Eleanor hefted the watch. “Gold, I presume?”

Jason nodded. “It was my great-great-great-grandfather’s.”

“The style is certainly old. Let me get my lupe.” Eleanor turned and strode to the counter.

Ying watched Jason dart after Eleanor as though she were stealing the watch. That was inconclusive proof that the watch was magic. He would do the same if it were simply what he claimed. She followed them to the counter.

Eleanor had laid the watch out on a square of black velvet. Jason’s hands hovered at the edge of the cloth. Ying had to admit it was a handsome watch. The face, also gold, had gold hands elaborately pointed and engraved. The face had what looked like diamons at 12, 3, 6 and 9 with the following numbers in ruby and the last four numbers in emeralds. Mystic symbols were engraved on the face. The antique dealer fixed her lupe to her eye and without touching it, examined the watch closely. She already had her book of artifacts open on the counter beside the watch.

“It’s a beautiful piece, late 1800’s? It must have cost a great deal. Watches for men were only just coming into style.”

Jason nodded. “No one ever said how much it cost.” His voice was tight – as though having the watch on the counter was painful.

Ying put her arm around his waist. “A wondful keepsake, Jason.”

“Hmm,” was his response. He watched Eleanor flip through her book.

“I don’t see anything like it.” She took the lupe from her eye. “It must have been custom made.”

Ying watched Jason stiffen as Eleanor flipped the watch face down. She studied the back. “a lovely sentiment is engraved on the back. ‘To my darling Husband, Love and Long Life, Mary’” She looked up. The elaborate script is right for the time frame. “Your three greats grand-mother? What was her maiden name?”

He sighed. “Mary Whitten. It was her wedding gift to him.”

Eleanor pulled another book from the shelf and began flipping pages. “Ah, here she is. An accomplished woman, your grand-mother.”

Jason picked up the watch and put it back on. “Yes, she was, in her day.”

Eleanor looked him in the eye. “You know she was considered a great Spiritualist?”

“All table knocking non-sense, of couse.”

Her eyebrow rose. “You think so?”

Ying noticed Jason begin to fidget.

“Nice to have met you again, Eleanor. Ying, I have a meeting back at the office.” He twisted his watch.

As the warm glow came over her, Ying clasped the key. The nausea and the glow fought for a moment, then they both disappeared. “I know the watch is magical, Jason.

He stopped and turned back to her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that I know the watch has magic. You twist it on your arm whenever we meet or when you want me to do something. A few minutes ago you tried to use it on Eleanor.” Ying raised an eyebrow at Eleanor. “I’m not sure why it didn’t work on you.”

“We’re trained to resist magic used on us.” She shrugged at Jason. “Your watch’s magic isn’t very powerful against trained people.”

Jason stared at both Eleanor and Ying. “You’re magicians?”

Ying shook her head. “No. but I carry a powerful artifact. I could feel it every time you used the watch.” She saw his face fall. “It wasn’t necessary, you know. You’re charming, funny, smart, I’d have gone out with you without the manipulations.”

Jason closed his eyes and sighed. “I thought so but you’re so high-powered, I didn’t think you’d take the time.” His eyes focused on the key around her neck. “You have an artifact? A magical piece?”

Her hand crept up to the key. “Yes. I found it. Or it found me. It’s good with business.”

“Wow.”

The two stood staring at each other. Ying was certain he would break up with her and she realized she wanted him to stay.

Eleanor cleared her throat. “I think, if I may be so bold, that the watch is making it possible for you two to be together.”

It was Ying’s turn to be puzzled. “How so?”

“Just a guess, really.” Eleanor glanced at Jason. “No other documented owner has had a family. So something has changed.” She made a pointed look at zjason’s watch. “The watch has to be the difference.”

Ying reached out and stroked Jason’s watch. It was warm to the touch, nothing at all like touching metal. She smiled at him as the familiar warm glow washed through her. “I think this could work.”

 

Thank You!

 

End Part X of X: 1186 Words

 

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