See Part 1 here.
Delia shivered in the cool, pre-dawn air. It was wet, too, dew soaking her boots as they quickly walked to meet the king. “What’s going on?”
“I am not the one to tell you, Princess.” The elf hurried on and Delia, fuming, could do nothing but follow.
They soon arrived at the edge of the camp where elves stood with torches and the king, with Kaepli and Sisruo next to him, in the center of the horseshoe shaped crowd. “Sire. You called for me?”
“Yes. Thank you. Mage Kaepli believes he’s found the correct protection spell.” He nodded to the mage. “Begin.”
The mage held out his hands. “I’m setting the spell around that boulder.”
Delia switched to her magical sight. As the mage concentrated, she could see yellow lines of power around his hands. As they grew brighter, she could see them flow away and surround the rock. “There,” he said as he dropped his hands, “it’s one of the more powerful spells and modified, at that.” He turned to Delia. “It was your description that helped me find the right spell. I am surprised that Iyuno or perhaps Nethene dared to modify that spell.”
“And can you break it?” the king asked.
“Now that I know the spell, yes.” The mage turned back to the boulder and raised his hands again.
Delia could see green lines of magic build, then flow to the rock, covering the yellow lines. The two merged and with a flash, disappeared. A sigh of surprise arose from the crowd.
“Well done, Mage Kaepli. Can you break the spells on the whole castle at once?”
“No sire. Unfortunately not. We’ll need elves at each entrance to work the spells. I could use Delia’s help.”
The king turned to his daughter and glanced at the bandage on her head. “Are you up to it, daughter?”
“I am well enough, Sire, to help the mage and his apprentices.”
“It’s settled, then. We will approach the castle at mid-morning.”
With that the king left and the group dispersed except for the mage, Sisruo and Delia. “How do I work the spell, Mage Kaepli?” Delia asked.
“I’ll teach both you and Sisruo at the same time.” He demonstrated again, this time telling them what he was doing. After two run-throughs, he had them practice. Delia thought it was much like casting an aura and after a try or two, managed to get the protection around the boulder. Sisruo took longer but he, too, eventually cast the magical protection around the rock. “That was hard.” He wiped the sweat from his brow.
The mage looked up. “The sun is up. We’d better get back and eat, then prepare for battle.”
Delia nodded and the three returned to the camp.
When the cohorts formed up, the mage was with Captain Neoni and Sisruo was with Mystesto. Kaya rode with Delia and the king. The other apprentices were split between Sisruo and Kaepli. “Mage Kaepli taught you the spell?” Delia asked Kaya.
“All of us.” She edged her horse next to Delia’s. “I have to say it took me awhile to get the hang of it.”
“I just hope we can destroy the spells quickly.” Delia coughed in the dust being raised by the fidgeting horses. “And that after we destroy the road barriers and the spikes.”
“The rest of the elves can handle those,” Kaya said. “We’re the only ones who can take down the protection spells.”
Delia felt better. Using magic took energy and she thought she’d need all she had to open the castle doors. Nagging at her was how Iyuno and Nethene would defend the place, especially if all of his forces were inside. She was no expert, but that didn’t seem possible. “What other traps do you think they have?” she asked Kaya.
The elf turned to her. “Other traps?” Kaya shook her head. “None?”
A frown filled Delia’s face. “I need to talk to the king.” She applied heel to her horse and moved out of line, cantering up to her father. She edged up to his horse.
“Delia?” The king looked behind, then back to his daughter. “Is everything all right?”
“I’m not sure, Father.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’ve seen no elves outside Iyuno’s castle. They have the roads blocked and spikes placed around the castle but no other defenses. I have to wonder how they plan on defending the place? Are there other traps we haven’t noticed?”
Ucheni pressed his lips together and his forehead furrowed. They trotted along like that for some time. He called the Sergeant of the Guards to him.
The elf dropped back to ride on the right of the King. “Sire?”
“Send messengers to Neoni and Mystesto. Tell them to be on the lookout for other traps. Tell the Mage in particular that we suspect we’ve missed something. You be on the lookout along our path as well. This whole thing seems too easy.”
The Sergeant nodded and prodded his horse forward, calling for messengers.
Delia sighed. “I’m sorry, Father. I feel as though I’m causing trouble.”
He shook his head. “I should have seen it sooner. Thank you. You are quite right. This is too easy. Some logs and spikes and a well-seen door protection? Too little by far.” He sighed. “Now I wonder if anyone is in the castle at all, let alone Iyuno.”
“I saw aura’s through the windows, Father.”
“True. But maybe only a few elves and Iyuno and Nethene and Ceinno and the rest are somewhere else.” He pounded a fist on his thigh. “I was too eager to end this.”
They rode together in silence, just the jingle of harness and the dust of travel surrounding them. The advance guard easily removed the logs and when they got to them, the spikes. No other trap seemed to exist except the door protections. For that Delia and Kaya rode to the front.
Time to get to work.
Thank You! Come back next week for Part 28.
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