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.