Slave Elf Part 17: Flash Fiction Friday Post

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Scrying-Bowl-200138951 by Vasilisamanuese

Part 17

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 16 Here.

Kaepli settled with a sigh and sipped the wine, setting the cup down before beginning. “It’s confusion in the scrying bowl. I suspect Nethene or Iyuno or both, are interfering.” He sipped more wine, as he stroked his beard. “I did see some flashes of an army massing. It could have been Diamond Point valley but the reading was too muddled. There were other quick views, a forest, but I couldn’t tell where, and a lake.” He pulled at an earlobe. “The lake could have been anywhere, but there were several large boats, suitable to carry soldiers.” Kaepli shook his head and pulled a bit of bread off of Sisruo’s leftover loaf. He chewed slowly. “No. It just wasn’t clear enough to make heads or tails of it.” He stood up. “I must tell the king.”

“Shall I accompany you?” Delia slid from her stool. “I think I’ve done all I can here today.”

Master Kaepli nodded. “I’d be honored, Princess.”

Delia blushed. It was hard to accept the title still. She turned to Sisruo. “Thank you for your help today. May I return tomorrow to practice?”

He bowed. “I’d be honored.”

The mage clapped his hands. “Good. We’ll go to the king. Sisruo, make notes about what you’ve done today. We might as well keep a good record.”

“Yes, Master Kaepli. Immediately.”

Kaepli and Delia left. She glanced behind her as she followed the mage through the door. Sisuro was watching. He smiled. She gave him a tiny wave and closed the door. Her eyes were on the ground, a smile on her face when Kaepli broke into her thoughts.

“You and Sisruo worked well together today?”

She shook her thoughts clear. “Yes, Mage Kaepli. He had everything prepared for me and made sure I didn’t die of hunger or thirst while I worked. A very thoughtful elf. He told me he’s nearly ready for his last tests.”

The old elf nodded. “He’s been ready for a while now. He just lacks the confidence. But he’ll get there.” Kaepli glanced at Delia. “And your study? How long can you hold the changed aura?”

“Not long, which is frustrating. I have to focus so hard, it’s exhausting.”

“Interesting, then, that Nethene can hold it for so long. I do wonder why you see through it and no one else can?”

“I’ve wondered that as well. The prophesy says I’m the most powerful, so that might explain it. It doesn’t explain why I can’t hold the false aura.”

“Practice.” The old elf opened the door to the hall for her. “Power is one thing, skill something else. You’ll get it.”

She nodded. Once in the king’s office, the mage told him everything he’d told her and his apprentice. King Ucheni sighed and leaned back in his chair. “We’ll have to send scouts. You have no idea where the woods or the lake are?”

“No sire. I think the council should be involved. Especially Chief of Scouts, Mysteso and Captain Neoi.”

Ucheni’s eyebrow raised. “Not Nethene?”

“I’d advise not, Sire.”

“And you, Daughter?”

Delia shook her head. “He makes the hairs on my arms rise straight up. No, Father. Lord Enaur would be a welcome addition, though.”

Ucheni rang a small bell at the edge of his desk. A young page entered the room. “Get Lord Enaur, Captain Neoi, and Chief Scout Mysteso assembled for a meeting in the meeting room in an hour.”

The boy nodded and sprinted off. “Thank you Master Kaepli. I’ll see you in an hour.”

The elf bowed and took his leave. Delia turned to follow when her father stopped her. “And what have you been doing today, Delia?”

I’ve been with the mages, learning how to change my aura.”

He leaned forward, elbows on the desk. “Show me.”

Delia cleared her mind and began drawing power from her core. She struggled to get to her soul. It was difficult, almost painful to confront her raw being but she tapped into that and thought black. Her father’s gasp felt like a reward. She held the false aura for two minutes, the longest all day, before it slipped from her mind. Delia swayed with the effort and sank into the chair in front of his desk.

“That is incredible,” he said. He poured water into a goblet and brought it around the desk to her. She drank it all and handed it back.

“Thank you. That’s the longest I’ve held it.”

He went back to his chair and dropped into it. “I wasn’t really convinced. I apologize. No one else can see Nethene’s real aura, obviously, except you. How can that be?”

“He’s a powerful elf, Father, and has years of practice. Perhaps the aura everyone sees is the one he was born with and he just projects it while his real aura has changed to black. I have no idea.”

Ucheni’s fingers drummed on the arm of his chair. “Fair enough. Will you attend the council meeting?”

“If you need me to, Father.”
“I do. You will be my left hand. Your mother,” he said with a fond smile, “is already my right.”

Delia smiled. “I accept, Father.”

His face dropped the smile. A look of sorrow took its place. “I am so sorry for sending you away. I shouldn’t have done it.”

She rose and went around the desk to him and kissed his cheek. Delia was still upset about it but it was obvious both of her parents loved and missed her. “You made a terribly hard choice that you thought would protect me.” She held out her arms and made a twirl. “Look. It worked. Think no more about it. I’m here now.”

He rose and gave her a hug. “Thank you, Daughter.” He held her by the shoulders and stood back, studying her. “Have you eaten?”

“Hours ago, it seems.”

He rang his desk bell. Another page popped in the door. “Bring some small sandwiches, water, and wine. Soon, I have a council meeting in an hour.”

The boy ran off and the king and his daughter sat in the armchairs in front of the fireplace. “Let’s talk until the food comes.”

“That will be nice, Father.” She sat in one chair as he sat in the other.

“Tell me about the caravan,” he asked.

Flashes of the bad things ran through her mind. She pushed them away. There were bright spots. She told him about those.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 18.

1074 Words

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Slave Elf Part 16: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Bread, Cheese and Pear by Connie Cockrell

Find Part 1 Here. Find Part 15 Here.

Delia rubbed her eyes then arched backwards to relieve the strain in her back from leaning over the table for hours. When she looked around, she realized that all of the apprentices were gone. She’d been so engrossed with the books that she hadn’t heard anyone come or go. The door opened and Sisruo entered with a tray. He came to her table.

“Good, you’re taking a break.” He placed the tray in an open spot on her table.

Delia’s stomach growled in reply. She blushed.

Sisruo chuckled. “Studying is hard work, Princess. No shame in that.”

“I didn’t hear anyone leave.”

“We practice moving quietly. There’s usually someone studying or doing research and we don’t want to disturb them.”

“Very polite.” Delia glanced at the tray. “There’s enough here for three people. Will you join me?”

“I’d love to.” He walked to the next table and brought over a stool while Delia moved books to one side of the table.

He pulled the tray over to sit between them. “I took the liberty of bringing some wine to have with our mid-day meal. I can get more water, if you’d prefer.”

“A little wine sounds nice.” She reached for her water cup, drained it, then put it back on the table.

Sisuro poured for her then poured a little into a second cup. He handed her a plate and a napkin then took one for himself. “You pick first, princess.”

She selected an apple, some yellow cheese and a small loaf of bread. “I’m afraid I didn’t eat much breakfast this morning.”

“Understandable.” He took a loaf, a pear and some white cheese. “I get that way myself when I have something I’m eager to study.” He ripped off a chunk of the loaf and with his belt knife, took a slice of pear and another of cheese to make a bite. “What have you discovered?” He ate his bite.

Delia used her knife to slice up her apple, then the cheese. She wiped her blade on the napkin. “Much of each article was in language so vague as to be worthless. It’s as though the author wanted brag about knowing or finding something but wasn’t willing to share the actual information.” She shook her head as she ate the apple, bread and cheese bite.

Sisruo nodded. “That happens a lot. We’ve learned to read around the flowery, bragging language and figure out what they are saying. But what did you learn that was concrete?”

“Over and over each text said it was a matter of core control.” She took a sip of wine. It was a white with a bright, fruity flavor. “As Mage Kaepli said last night, that’s pretty standard for magic. Book four,” she pointed at a medium-sized leather-bound book to her left, “had more specific instruction. Not just a matter of our core, but our essence is needed to change one’s aura.” She studied Sisruo. “Do you understand what it may mean, our essence?”

The apprentice took a deep breath and finished his mouthful. “Not the core, but who you are. Deep inside, when things go bad, when no one’s looking, the part of you that’s the most real.” He shook his head. “Your soul, perhaps is the shortest description I can give.”

Delia’s eyebrows drew together. She’d been in many a situation over the years that was bad. How had she reacted? Was she ever mean? She didn’t think so. Indifferent? Possibly, given her own situation. Probably, more like it. She instantly felt guilty and ashamed. A blush crept up her cheeks.

“Stop that.”

Startled, Delia looked up at Sisruo.

“You’re imagining great personal crimes when in reality you were just being normal.”

“How…?”

He snorted. “It’s part of our training to look into our own souls and understand who we are. We can’t become a full mage until we do.” He looked down at his plate. “I’ve been there. So I recognized it on you.”

She sighed. “There’s so much I don’t know.”

“True, but all it takes is training.” He ate another bite of bread as she nibbled an apple slice. They sat, each in their own thoughts for a few moments.

“Can you teach me?”

“You want to be an apprentice?”

“No, not that. I’m trying to change the color of my aura to other people. If knowing my own soul is what has to happen to allow me to do this, then that’s what I must do.”

Sisruo frowned at his plate. “Master Kaepli knows what you’re doing?”

“Yes.” Delia wiped her hands and put the napkin on the table. “Where do we begin?”

He took a last bite of pear then a sip of wine and put his napkin down. “Fine.” He focused on her. “Ah, green with sparkles.”

She nodded. “And your is,” she smiled, “blue with gold swirls. Pretty!”

Sisruo chuckled. “Your’s too.” The smile left his face. “Why do you want to mask your aura?”

“I don’t, necessarily. I want to know how someone else would do it. Also, it would be helpful, at times, if I could hide my true feelings from others.”

The apprentice tugged at an earlobe. He nodded, slowly. “I can see where that would be an advantage. Hide your glee, or fear, or knowledge. Yes. Useful.”

“Fine. Let’s look at your soul. Tell me what you were thinking earlier.”

Three hours later, Kaepli found them still on the stools, staring at each other. “Sisruo?”

The apprentice came out of the study first. “Master.” He blinked and took a deep breath.

Delia followed. She was dazed and overwhelmingly thirsty. She grabbed her cup and drank down the wine. A sigh escaped her lips as reality came back to her. “We were looking at my soul, Mage Kaepli.”

Kaepli’s bushy eyebrows rose. “So you found something?”

“A little something.” She poured the last of the water in the pitcher into her cup and drank it all. “It needs my core and an understanding of who I am.”

Kaepli turned to Sisruo. “And you found?”

“We can both change our auras, at least a little and for a short time. It’s very difficult to do and even harder to hold.” He slid off of his stool. “Please, Master, sit. You must be tired from the scrying.”

The old man waved his hand. “I’m not that decrepit, youngling.” He eyed the pitcher on the tray of food. “Is any wine left?”

The apprentice nodded. “Certainly.” He poured some into the third cup and handed it over. “Can you tell us your news?”

The mage sat on the vacated stool. “Yes. I should.”

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 17.

1107 Words

 

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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 12: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Glass_of_light_by_justysiak http://www.deviantart.com/art/Glass-of-light-153578187

 

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.

1070 Words

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Slave Elf Part 11: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Energy Ball 001 by ISOStock, www.DeviantArt.com

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.

1105 Words

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Slave Elf Part 10: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Energy Ball 001 by ISOStock, www.DeviantArt.com

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.

930 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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