Sisruo turned back to her. “I’m here from Master Kaepli. He wondered if you would consider joining us in suspending the enemy fighters.”
It was Delia’s turn to be surprised. “He doesn’t have enough mages to succeed?”
Sisruo’s shuffling gave away his answer. “Not really. He spoke positively at the council meeting but he feels the more elves he has available to do the work, the better off we’ll be.”
“I’ll be at my father’s side.”
“That’s perfect. You could suspend anyone who closes in on the king.”
Delia thought about it. She had it in mind to use her fireballs and heat blasts to keep the enemy from her father. But as she thought about it, wasn’t it better to hold the elves rather than kill them? “I’ll do it. Will you teach me?”
“Yes, Princess. That’s what the Master has suggested.”
Delia nodded and cleared her mind from thinking about heat blasts. “Very well. What do I do?”
They spent until sunset practicing. “How do I know I’m doing it right?”
“Tomorrow, come to the Mage’s study room. We’ll practice on the apprentices that already know how.”
Delia shook her head. “What if I make a mistake? I could kill someone!”
“That’s how we all learned. And we’ll teach you to un-suspend them too.”
Delia thought this a bad idea but couldn’t think of any other way to test her skill. “What about on an animal. A dog or a pig?”
“They aren’t the same size. They would take a lot less power to suspend. It has to be a full-grown elf.”
“Very well.” She rubbed an eye. “Tomorrow after breakfast?”
Sisruo nodded. “After breakfast then.” He looked at the sky. The first stars were already beginning to shine. “Shall I walk you to the castle?”
Delia swallowed her annoyance. He didn’t think she was helpless. He was just being polite. “Thank you.”
They walked in silence, Sisruo with his hands clasped behind him. “Master Kaepli is worried about you.”
“Why?” Again, she had to work to be polite.
“You’re new to your powers, Princess. That is all. I and Master Kaepli are both surprised and amazed at how you’ve adapted to your new position. That change could not have been easy.”
It wasn’t easy, she thought better of saying. “It has had its challenges.”
Sisruo chuckled. “Diplomacy must have been a birthright, Princess. You’re a natural.”
She had to smile at that. “Sometimes. I was hurt, you know. For years. I thought I was abandoned.”
“I cannot fathom it, Princess. And I regret it with my whole being.”
“Nothing to do with you, Sisruo. And Father and Mother have been so loving since I’ve returned. They apologize constantly.”
They arrived at the gate. The guards opened the door for her.
“In the morning, Princess.” Sisruo bowed.
“In the morning, Sisruo.”
The next day she was in the workshop where she’d first researched changing her aura. She still practiced that every day and was getting stronger and holding the aura longer. But this morning Mage Kaepli, Sisruo and three other apprentices were waiting for her. She was introduced to Couran, Pelan, and Kaya. Kaya was the youngest and female. Her blond hair was plaited into many braids and pulled back into a pony tail which hung down her back to her hips. Couran and Pelan were cousins, brawny, as though they worked with weapons. “We do!” they said when she asked. “Our uncle is Captain Neoni. He was disappointed when we chose to become mages but forgave us anyway.” The two of them laughed.
Kaepli clapped his hands. “Let us begin. Kaya, you go first.”
Delia watched as the young woman, younger than herself, suspended Pelan. He sank slowly to the floor, eyes closed, seemingly asleep.
“Try to rouse him,” Kaepli told Delia.
She walked over and crouched down. No amount of shaking or calling his name roused him. “He’s truly suspended, Mage Kaepli.”
“Kaya, wake him.”
The young elf held her hands over him and chanted. Pelan woke slowly and sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Nice little nap.”
The apprentices chuckled as Kaya gave him a hand to his feet. “Now you, Delia.”
“I’ll be your partner,” Sisruo said as he stepped into the circle. He looked at her confidently and gave a small nod of support.
Delia wiped her hands on her skirt. She had felt confident yesterday evening but now, what if she killed him? Her hands trembled.
“You can do it, Delia,” Mage Kaepli said. “Just trust your instincts.”
Her instincts were telling her this was a bad idea. But Sisruo gave her a smile and the others were speaking words of encouragement so she held out her right hand and focused, just like last evening. Sisruo sank to the floor. For a moment she panicked, thinking she’d killed him. Everyone was clapping. “Well done, Princess,” Kaya said.
“Here’s the waking spell,” Mage Kaepli said. He said the spell three times. Delia held her hand over Sisruo and took a deep breath. She chanted the words, focusing on the elf on the floor. She could feel the power running from her to him. He didn’t move. She looked in fright at Mage Kaepli.
“Wait. It takes a moment.”
It didn’t seem to take so long when Kaya brought Pelan back. Then Sisruo moved. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. He sat up. “Well done, Princess.” Everyone clapped again. Delia helped him to his feet. “That was exciting.”
“We’ll practice a bit more today. Then every day until the army leaves.” Mage Kaepli left the room.
Delia nodded. Another tool under her belt. It felt good.
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 21.