Slave Elf Part 51: Flash Fiction Friday Post


Part 51

Find Part 1 here.


When they arrived at the palace, Mage Kaepli took down the protective spell and they all entered.

Delia went to her rooms over the objection of Master Kaepli. “But Majesty, you belong in the King’s rooms.”

“Not until I talk to my mother. That will be the end of it.” She went in and closed the door. Outside she could hear two guards take their positions on either side, and sighed. They were just as tired as she was but there they were, standing guard. All she wanted was a proper bath and a huge dinner. But the few cooks the army had with them wouldn’t have had time to heat water, let alone cook anything. She remembered the state of the kitchen. Totally cleaned out. Someone would have to go hunting or something before anyone had anything other than camp rations to eat. She hoped her mother had supplies.

It was a week before her mother arrived.

Delia was in the courtyard to meet her. She gave her mother a hug and a kiss on the cheek after she’d dismounted. “Mother. I’m so sorry.” Her mother looked pale and thin in her white mourning dress.

Raele patted her daughter on the cheek. “I’m so proud of you. You defeated our enemy. There is much to be happy for.”

Delia walked with her to Raele’s rooms. “Rest, mother. May I get you anything?”

“Later, daughter. We’ll go see your father before the burial.”

Delia nodded. “Let me know when you’re ready. I’ll escort you.”

Raele nodded. “Thank you.”

That evening they went to the throne room together. Now Ucheni was in his finest robes, his crown upon his head. Candles surrounded the body and an honor guard of twelve surrounded him. Raele, put her hand on his. “He loved you. Very much.”

“I know. He showed it in every way.”

Raele sniffed and used a delicate handkerchief to wipe her eyes. “He died too young.”

“Iyuno paid for that.”

Raele turned to her daughter. “I heard stories.”

Delia shrugged. “He treated with orcs, Mother.”

Raele sighed. “True.”

They had a quiet supper in the Queen Mother’s rooms and Delia took her leave early.

Three months later, the coronation was held. Raele was still in her rooms but Delia had moved into her father’s apartment. It seemed weird, to her. She stood in front of a floor length mirror as Alia stood by and servants fussed with the coronation gown. It had been less than a year since Corpet the caravan master had given her that blue gown to wear. Slave to Queen in that short amount of time. It didn’t seem real.

Alia nodded. “You look beautiful.”

Delia studied her reflection. Her hair had been just lightly dressed, so that the crown could go on her head. Her hair mostly flowed down her back. A black river reaching to her waist. She teleported a mug of tea to her hand from a nearby table. It was a trick she’d developed one day by accident when a quill was just out of reach. Alia’s eyebrow rose. “Just in private, Ali. It seems silly to have you fetch it when I can just call it.”

Alia shook her head. “As you will, Majesty.”

Delia rolled her eyes. Alia was a stickler. Fortunately, Kaya still had a sense of humor, as did Couran, Relan and Sisruo. She needed friends and confidantes, not masters. “I’ll not do it in public. I promise.”

The ceremony lasted too long, Delia thought, but her mother looked pleased and that’s all she could hope for.

She thought about Captain Catari and poor little Gallett. Both had died in the sick tent, some poison they’d gotten from orc darts. Her thoughts turned to her mother. One day, her mother would move out of the next door apartments, replaced by a husband. That might be Sisruo. He’d passed his exams after he’d healed and was now a Master Mage himself. They would be a powerful couple, if it all worked out. She was still too young to marry, though. Another hundred years or so to get to know him, and her people, and her culture. It would pass in no time.

Thank You for Reading this Serial

670 Words

I hope you’ve enjoyed this story. It was supposed to be a simple flash fiction of 1000 words or less. It ran long the first day and I thought it’d finish up in four or five parts. Hah! Little did I know. The story took off with me and here we are, over 50,000 words later, finally come to an end.

I don’t like the title, Slave Elf, but it was all right for a working name. Here’s the thing, I’d like a new title. So I’m going to hold a contest. I’m going to get this story edited and put into novel form. Whoever suggests the winning title, will get the story as a signed paperback. Make your suggestions in the comments. I give this contest a month, closing May 18th. Get your suggestions in before then. Yes, you may make multiple suggestions. US residents only for the paperback. Overseas readers, I’ll send you an ebook if you win.

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Slave Elf Part 50: Flash Fiction Friday Post

campfire_by_kiaraz via


Part 50

Find Part 1 here.


Alia called for help and two elves Delia didn’t know took her back to the king’s tent. “No.” She pushed away from the tent. “My tent.”

“But Your Majesty,” Alia began.

“No!” Delia shook her head. “My tent.”

Alia directed them to Delia’s tent. “Get the mage,” Alia directed one of them. To the other she said, “Get hot water and cloths.”

Alia got Delia’s breastplate off and her boots. By then water arrived in a basin with cloths. She washed Delia and put her clean shirt and trousers on her then let her lie down and sleep.

When Delia woke the table had a single candle and Alia was dozing, head propped on her fist at the table. She sat up. The small noise waking Alia.

“Princess.” She leapt from the chair. What do you need?

“I need to know what’s happening.”

Alia ducked her head. Everyone is at Master Kaepli’s tent.”

Delia put on socks and boots, having to shoo Alia away. “I’ve been dressing my own feet for years, Alia. Leave me be.”

Alia complied but fidgeted in the corner of the tent while she waited.

“Is there anything to eat?” Delia asked.

“I’ll bring it to the mage’s tent.”


Alia insisted on walking her there before going to get the food. When she entered, everyone, including Master Kaepli, stood. Delia sighed to herself. So this is what is was going to be like from now on? “Reports?”

“We’re glad to see you recovered, Prin, excuse me, Majesty.” Kaepli bowed.

“Thank you. How are our forces from the passes?”

He motioned for her to come to the map table. Juner stepped aside. Kaya nodded her greeting and Delia gave her a smile. Mystesto and Neoni weren’t in the tent but Lord Enaur was. “Tell me.”

Kaepli took a deep breath. “Orcs, Majesty. We had no idea any were left.”

“There are fewer now,” Delia said. The very thought of the ugly creatures she’d had to fight made her skin crawl. “My uncle apparently made a pact with them.” She shook her head. “I’ll never understand it.”


“And Captain Catari? Neoni? Mystesto?”

“Catari took heavy losses at the south pass, Majesty. He was severely injured and lost all but one of his men and many of ours.”

A quick thought of Gallett flashed through her mind. She’d find out later. “And the north pass?”

Neoni took a wound, but not too bad.” He sighed. “Mystesto was killed. They had orcs there as well.”

She hadn’t known either of them long but still a pang of grief, sharp as a blade went through her heart. Delia swallowed back tears. She was a queen now, tears were for private times. Still, it took a moment for her to find her voice. “My uncle’s forces were stopped, though?”

“Yes, Majesty.”

“And Sisruo?”

“He took the brunt of the orc attack at the field, Majesty.”

Delia stared at him. “And?”

“He, Couran and Palen were all injured. They’re in the sick tent.”

Alive, she thought. Still alive. “I’ll have to go visit them.”

“Yes, Majesty.”

Alia came in with a plate of roast meat and vegetables. “Majesty. Your dinner.”

The aroma made Delia’s stomach growl. Apparently power from fire didn’t satisfy that need. She sat down, the plate on top of the maps and ate as though she’d not eaten in days. “Go on.”

“We’ve lost nearly a thousand elves, Majesty.”

“And where are Nethene and Ceinno?”

“Dead, Majesty.”

Delia nodded. Painfully, she thought but kept that to herself. “Has word been sent to my mother?”

“Not yet, Majesty.” Kaepli licked his lips. “We await your order.”

Of course, she thought as she ate the last bite of the roast. “Send word that father has died but that I have survived.”

“Where is father’s body?” She stood up.

“In his tent, Majesty.”

“I’ll go see him.”

Kaepli bowed.

Delia left the tent, Alia behind her. After her trailed two elven guards. I’ll have to get used to that, too, I suppose.

There were two guards outside of the king’s tent door, one on each side. They saluted as she passed and she saluted back. Alia stayed outside.

Inside she found her father, washed and dressed in the best robes he had with him, lying in state on a makeshift table, draped in long, cotton cloth. His cloak was wrapped around him and four large candles stood at the corners of the makeshift byre. Gold coins weighted his eyes and a makeshift crown of flowers was on his head.

Delia rested her fingertips on the cloth, not touching the body. It’s too soon. I didn’t get to know you. Why? Why? Tears fell as the pain in her chest grew. So much time, wasted. Damn Iyuno. Damn Nethene and Ceinno. Why? The tears fell and fell but quietly, so the elves outside couldn’t hear. She didn’t know how long she’d stood there but finally the tears stopped and she wiped her eyes with her sleeve. Delia sniffed and left.

“Sick tent,” she said when she got outside. Alia raced ahead as her two guards followed.

Once there she made the round of cots, greeting each one in turn. Finally, she reached Sisruo, Couran and Relan. “I see you survived.”

“And you, Princess.” Couran said.

Relan reached over and smacked his brother. “Majesty, you dolt.” He looked at Delia. “Exuse my brother, Majesty. He’s had the sense knocked out of him.”

“I understand. I had the sense knocked out of me today too. “I’m glad you three are all right,” she said, looking at Sisruo. “May you all heal quickly.”

She spoke to Kaya. “I’m glad you are here to help them.”

“Rest, Majesty. You’ve had a bit of a day as well.”

All of a sudden, Delia felt like an old, used up rag. “Perhaps you’re right.” She took Kaya’s hand and kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Delia went back to her tent. “Alia. I need to sleep. Unless we’re under attack, let me rest.”

“Yes, Majesty.” She bowed and backed out of the tent.

Delia sat down and pulled off her boots. That didn’t mean she was alone. There’d be someone outside the tent all the time, listening for her least command. She pulled the blanket over herself and turned on her side, asleep in a moment.


Thank You! Come back next week for Part 51.

1061 Words

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Slave Elf Part 49: Flash Fiction Friday Post



Part 49

Find Part 1 here.


Her father, Delia could see, was a formidable fighter but Iyuno, even without a fire to draw power from, was better. She found herself making tiny movements, fighting Iyuno with her father. Twice she found a fireball in her hand, ready to throw, but had to extinquish it in frustration. Ucheni was missing multiple chances to deal Iyuno a blow. In return, he was falling back, step by step. She gripped and re-gripped her sword pommel until her hand hurt.

Alia approached. “The fire is ready, Princess.”

Delia nodded, never taking her eyes from her father. “Can you tell what Iyuno is going to do, Alia?”

Alia focused on the fight in front of her. She shook her head. “No, Princess.”

Delia sighed. “What if you pretend you are the king? What then.”

Alia blinked at the Princess. “Let me try.” She took a breath and took a fighting stance.

Delia watched at Alia did what she’d been doing. The shield maiden shifted minutely, hands and arms twitching. Alia stood up. “No Princess. It doesn’t seem to work that way.”

“Thank you for trying.”

Delia took a breath and blew it out. Her hopes to use Alia’s magic sight for strikes were dashed. Besides, even if she could see a blow not meant for her, they’d never talked about whether Alia could send her thoughts to her. She didn’t even know if she could herself. Her fingers drummed against the sword’s pommel. Both Ucheni and Iyuno were using swords. Magical, Delia supposed. Iyuno was driving her father back. It was if he were getting stronger. She looked again at his soldiers. There was no smoke from a fire. Where was he getting his strength?

Suddenly, her father’s foot caught on something as he was stepping back he went to one knee. Iyuno raised his sword and before Delia could scream, he brought the sword down. Her father paused, sword half-raised. The army went silent. A gash appeared at the base of his neck. The sword, dropped, in seeming slow motion, in one direction as her father followed.

Then, she did scream. “FAAATHERRRRR!”

She ran out onto the field. Fireballs in both hands. She had flung them at Iyuno before her father had finished falling.

Iyuno swung his sword around and slid it into its scabbard as he held up a hand. Delia was knocked back, falling into the long grass. She turned on her magical sight. Now was not the time to be emotional, she thought as she rolled to her feet. She used her invisible heat force but the force bounced from Iyuno’s magical shield.

Delia made a shield for herself and glanced back at her army’s line. Her army, came the flash of thought. Alia had lit the fire. Delia pulled its strength to her then faced Iyuno.

“So, pup. You think you’re ready to face me?”

“Face you I will, evil one.” She moved into a fighting stance. “You killed my father.”

“Not much of a father, handing you over to slavers,” he said as he circled.

She watched as he moved. Where was he getting his power? She flung the sleeping spell at him. It splashed against his shield.

He threw another fireball while swinging his sword at her. She stepped outside the swing as his fireball hit her shield.

This could go on forever, she thought. Each of us is getting power from fire. How long can I pull on that and survive? His constant barrage of fireballs, force balls and other tricks she’d never seen were keeping her busy but she did her best, now that she was closer, to see where his power was coming from while still putting up some resistance.

A flash at his feet drew her attention. What sort of magic was that? She looked closer as she chanted the sleeping spell and threw a fireball. The ground? He was getting power from the earth? How could that be?

Where was Sisruo? Shouldn’t Iyuno’s hundred elves be asleep by now?

She scrambled as Iyuno pressed his attack. He was powerful, and her magical shield was taking a beating. Delia drew more heavily from the fire. He had to know what she was doing. Why didn’t he try to stop her?

She tried everything she knew, including throwing up a protection spell around him but she didn’t have the skills and training he had. He was going to kill her too if she didn’t do something.

He taunted her again. “You’ve developed some small skill, niece. Congratulations.” He delivered an invisible blow as he used his other hand to try and force her off of her feet.

Delia didn’t answer. At his feet were flashes of light. What was he drawing from?

“Die, traitor.”

He laughed and somehow, clapped his hands together, creating a gong sound.

She took a step back. Now what?

Screams from her army sounded behind her, as in front of her, behind Iyuno, the ground opened up and orcs came streaming from the holes. She stared. Orcs? Weren’t they all dead?

“You’ve broken the protocol, Uncle.”

He laughed. “Winning is winning, niece.”

She struck out, anger washing through her as orcs came racing across the field. Delia doubled her efforts as she used the anger to fuel her magic. She wasn’t sure just what she was doing, fire and lightning burst from her finger tips. Delia swatted at her uncle, a force ball like none other she’d ever done flew from her left hand, making him stagger. She pulled power from the fire. Ah, his fire was underground. That was it. Delia pulled power from that as well.

She charged as the first of the orcs reached her. They swirled around her as though she were not there. That wasn’t what she’d expected. Her army, though, were in the fight of their lives. Iyuno was not so lucky. Her charge took her right up to him. She held him, magically, with one hand as she drew her sword. “You killed my father!” She ran him through, twice, three times. Again, as he lay on the ground. She pulled her sword and began chanting the sleeping spell and swinging at orcs.

She was half way back to her own lines when she realized Alia was beside her, taking out orc after orc. The field was littered with bodies, orcs mostly but elves as well. Delia’s anger exploded and she seemed to swell, larger and larger as she charged after the orcs. When she’d finally killed the last one she found, Alia was calling to her.

“Princess! Princess! Stop! It’s over.”

Delia drew a breath and blinked. “Over?” She felt shrunken and old.

“Over, Princess. You’ve won.”

Delia removed her helmet and pushed loose sweat-soaked hair back from her face and looked around. “Over.” She sank to the ground, exhausted.


Thank You! Come back next week for Part 50.

1141 Words

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Slave Elf Part 48: Flash Fiction Friday Post



Part 48

Find Part 1 here.


Sisruo had to leave but she gave him a hug before he did. She choked down the rest of her mush and taking the bowl to the cooks, thanked them for the food.

She went back to her tent. There, laid out across her bed, was armor and a cloak in her father’s house colors. The wool of the cloak was heavy, but soft and fine. An embroidered sigil was on the right shoulder, a blue butterfly on a rose. The same sigil on the pin to close the cloak and on her helmet on the breastplate of the armor.

A knock on the tent pole made her turn. “Come.”

Her father walked into the tent, a young female elf with him. He was dressed in armor very similar to hers, but his sigil was a bluebird on a holly branch. “Ah, you found it.” He smiled. “This is Alia.” The elf bowed. “She’ll help you with the armor.”

“I’ve never worn armor, father.”

“True, but this armor is enchanted. It will help protect you.” He walked over and gave her a hug. “Masters Kaepli and Juner told me they’d talked to you.”

She nodded, looking up into his eyes. “They told me.”

He drew a deep breath. “Alia is a good shield maiden. She’ll be your right hand today. Whatever you need, tell her. She will make it happen.”

Delia smiled and nodded to the elf. “Thank you.” She looked back to her father. “What else can I do?”

Ucheni smiled. “Your mother will be proud of us today. Do your best. That’s all anyone can ask.” He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “Fight well.” With that he turned and was out of the tent before she could say anything. She was left standing, staring after him.

“Princess. Let’s get you dressed.”

Ali picked up a leg piece.

Delia shook her head. “I cannot wear all of that. I’ve never worn armor. I’ll move too slow.”

Alia nodded and touched the tip of her tongue to her upper lip. “The breastplate then. That’s where most of the protection is anyway. And the helmet and cloak. They both have magical properties as well.”

Delia sighed. “Very well. As I dress, tell me what each piece is capable of.”

Half an hour later, a horn sounded. Delia shrugged her shoulders. The armor was lighter on than she had supposed. The blue cloak, the color of her eyes, she realized, floated behind her, never in the way as she practiced her fighting moves. “I think this will work.” She smiled at Alia. “Thank you. Now.” Delia reset the sword at her hip though she didn’t think she’d use it. “I’ll need a huge bonfire at the dueling field. The biggest fire you can build. But it cannot be lit until I signal. I don’t want Iyuno to have any advantage.”

“Fire, Princess?”

“Yes. Part of my magic.” Delia blinked. “And your magic?”

“I have skill with the sword, Princess. Magical skill, though I’m very good without it. And I know where my opponent will strike before it happens.”

“Good skills. Can you tell for me?”

Alia cocked her head. “No one has ever asked, Princess. I do not know.”

“Is it just physical weapons or can you tell when a magical strike is coming?”

“I,” Alia thought. “I have no idea.” Her face was crestfallen. “I’m sorry, Princess. I’ve never thought of it.”

Delia sighed. “Well today, as I fight, see if you can tell. If I have to get into the field with Iyuno, a notice of what he intends would be helpful.”

Alia nodded. Alia’s freckles, unusual in an elf, stood out against a now pale face.

Delia patted her on the shoulder. “It’s new to all of us Alia. We’ll do what we can.” She spun around slowly. “Am I ready?”

“Yes, Princess.” Alia went to the tent flap and held it open. “We’re to assemble on the field.”

Delia nodded. “Let’s go, then.”

They worked their way through the ranks, the elves parting to let her through. When she got to the front line, her father stood about thirty feet ahead. Iyuno’s forces were on the other side. Rank after rank of black. Nothing like the bright colors of her father’s forces. She was surprised to see Lord Enaur next to her.

“Lord Enaur. I didn’t know you were here.”

He smiled. “My king and princess are in need, my lady.” He gave a small bow. “Where else would I be?”

“We are grateful, Lord.” She gave him a small bow then pointed with her chin to Iyuno’s side of the field. “An evil sight.”

Enaur chuckled. “An intimidation tactic. His army is no more powerful magically than ours. But the solid black mass makes it seem so. Iyuno and his two nephews are the power. We stop them, the rest will disappear back into the elven population.”

She hoped so. Horns sounded. Iyuno and Ucheni began their march forward. Her father’s cape was the same color as hers, and looked like a piece of sky had fallen and attached itself to him.

Ten feet in front of the line, Delia saw Alia instructing the soldiers in the building of a wooden pyre. She nodded her approval. Father was correct. She was a wonderful shield maiden.

Lord Enaur noticed. “What is she doing?”

“What I asked,” Delia said, then turned her attention back to her father. On the far side of the field, Delia searched for a pyre similar to hers. Her eyebrows drew together. She didn’t see one. Was it behind or in the middle of his force? Was he so confident in his powers that he didn’t feel the need for a fire? She shifted foot to foot, her hand tapping on her thigh. What tricks did her uncle have that she was not prepared for?

The walk to the middle seemed to take forever but finally, the two elves stopped in the middle, perhaps twenty feet apart. Too close, she thought. Way too close. Did her father know the sleeping spell? Damn for such a late arrival last night. She knew next to nothing about his skills. She found herself breathing too fast. Delia focused on taking deep, slow breaths. It wouldn’t do to hyperventilate and pass out at the front of the army.

At a signal from Kaepli, the two began with fireballs. As the fire splashed harmlessly against magical shields, Delia wondered if that was the signal for Sisruo as well. She had no time to think about it. Her father and Iyuno were circling each other. Delia held her breath.


Thank You! Come back next week for Part 49.

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Slave Elf Part 47: Flash Fiction Friday Post



Part 47

Find Part 1 here.


Delia took a stool, folding her hands in her lap. More prophesy? What now?

Kaepli cleared his throat. “We haven’t told the others, though the king knows the whole prophecy. He was much encouraged when you arrived last night. We were sure Iyuno had you.”

Master Juner took over. “We encouraged the king to make that challenge. The prophecy is quite clear. You will be the one to win against Iyuno.”

They let that sink in.

Delia blinked. “But, the duel is between the two of them. How will that work?”

Kaepli shook his head. That is still to be revealed. The prophesy says what happens, not how.”

“That seems less than helpful. It could be today or in a hundred years.” She was disgusted with the whole prophecy thing. Just because she had black hair instead of everyone else’s blonde, she was the most powerful? It was just ridiculous. Delia stood up. “I’m not going to base my life on some mystical pronouncements. Father is a strong elf and can fight his own battles.”

“Wait, Princess.” Juner held up his hand. “The line of succession falls to you. If, and I do mean if, your father falls, you must be there to take over the duel. Otherwise Iyuno’s forces will keep attacking until he’s killed you or you kill him. The line is not free for him until you are dead.”

The bluntness of his words gave Delia a shiver. Chased across the world by Iyuno because she was Ucheni’s heir? The thought was horrifying. She sat back down. “So, I must stand by while father duels?”

Both mages nodded. “The fight must end today.”

“What about Nethene and Ceinno? They’re nearly as powerful as Iyuno.”

Kaepli sighed. “It is unfortunate, but they’ve made their stance clear. They must perish as well.”

Delia rubbed an eye. More killing. More death. Wasn’t there enough already? “You have a plan?”

“We think they’ll each be leading an arm of Iyuno’s army. We mentioned last night that we have traps in all of the approaches. Iyuno’s force will be allowed into the valley with him but then all the passes will be blocked. We have men along all of the routes, ready to attack.”

Delia licked her lips. The carnage would be terrifying. Her stomach rolled, making her glad she hadn’t eaten anything yet. “This has to be done?”

Kaepli looked at her with a mix of kindness and sorrow. “Yes.”

That seemed so final a word. Yes. We must kill hundreds of elves. This is not what she imagined as a slave in the caravan. Delia stood up again. “I must eat.”

The mages rose and bowed. “Thank you, Princess.”

She bowed and left. The sunshine outside the tent belied the dark words she’d just heard. The sky was an amethyst blue. Puffy clouds drifted across the sky in a soft, warm breeze. Birds were singing in the trees and a butterfly crossed her path, searching for an untrampled flower. She walked to where the cook tent should be. There she found Sisruo, sitting at a table with a mug in front of him.

He leapt up when he saw her. Sisuro stopped as he looked into her face. “What’s wrong, Princess?”

He doesn’t know, she thought, then schooled her face into a happier one. “The mages have been telling me the plan. It seems desperate.”

“It is. But come, let me get you some food.” He walked with her to the cooks, finishing up the service. “A bowl for the Princess, please.”

The elf at the long board table nodded to the Princess and brought a bowl of mush, honey on top and a sprinkling of nuts, along with a mug of tea. He bowed as he handed it to her.

“Thank you. Very kind of you.”

“Anything we can do, Princess,” he said.

She nodded and walked to Sisruo’s table. “We haven’t had time to talk.”

He nodded and waited for her to sit before he did. “True. I wasn’t with the mage last night. I had my own preparations to complete.”

She stirred the mush around, mixing in the nuts and honey, then scooped a small spoonful and ate it. It tasted like so much sawdust in her mouth, but she knew she needed the strength, so swallowed. “Much has happened since the battle at Iyuno’s castle.”

Sisruo shrugged. “You’ve grown thinner, Princess. Great hardships have befallen you.”

Delia appreciated the look of sympathy on his face. “I have. There were some long, hungry days on the road. Kaya was a wonderful companion.”

“She’s a good elf.” Sisruo took a sip of his tea. “She says the same of you, by the way.”

Delia had to smile. “A bonding experience, you might say.” She ate more of the mush, feeling better for the kind words Kaya had said. She took a deep breath. “And your role today?”

“I am to block Iyuno’s escape. I have a small force and we’ll come in behind Iyuno. At a signal from Mage Kaepli, I’ll attack.”

Her spoon stopped just above the bowl. “Just a small force?”

Sisruo shrugged. “He is only allowed a hundred elves. We should be fine. The sleeping spell will be the primary weapon.” He tapped the sword at his hip. “But we have these as well.”

“Don’t forget the fireballs.”

He smiled. “I won’t. But I am not as good with them as you are. We’ll be fine. Couran and Pelan will be with me.” He brightened. “Your Captain Catari was a welcome guest. He’ll be leading a group at the south pass. They left very early this morning.”

Again, Delia spared a thought for young Gallett. She hoped he’d be spared today.

“Eat, Princess. We must go soon.”

She nodded and spooned more into her mouth. Too soon.



Thank You! Come back next week for Part 48.

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Slave Elf Part 46: Flash Fiction Friday Post



Part 46

Find Part 1 here.


Delia saw Master Kaepli and Master Juner leave together with Kaya. Aduello followed after greeting the king as an old friend. Neoni and Mystesto took Captain Cateri with them. Finally, she and the king were alone.

“How are you, father?”

He took her into another hug. “Better now that you are here. How did you escape?”

“A long story, father. Better left for a quiet winter’s night in front of the fire. But, one thing came of it, I found the key to Iyuno’s and his nephew’s, power. Fire.”

Ucheni looked at her. Puzzlement clear on his face. “Fire?”

“Yes.” She looked at the lamp hanging over the map table. “Look with your magical sight.”

She stared at the small flame, willing it to share its power with her. A tiny thread left the flame and came to Delia’s hand. As soon as it touched her, the soreness and weariness of the last two days left her. She stopped the call there, so she wouldn’t extinguish the lamp. “You see?”

The king looked at her, open mouthed. “How did you learn that?”

“I saw Iyuno do it in the dungeon.”

Her father started to speak.

“For another time, Father. Really. But as I realized when I was first returned to you, most elves don’t use their magical sight very often. I still do because it’s still new to me. So, one day, he was in the dungeon, gloating, and I saw what he was doing. They made a mistake. Usually they left with the torches but one night they forgot. I took advantage and got both Kaya and myself out. Then when we got to the palace, it was protected, everyone gone. I was so worried.”

“I am sorry, daughter. We needed to protect everyone. It seemed best, especially since Master Kaepli knew how to set the protection spell.”

“I thought so. Anyway, Kaya and I went to her home. We arrive half-starved and bedraggled but Aduello and his wife Phara have been wonderful. He was injured in a skirmish we had in Verda.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” He sighed. “Go, rest. Someone will take you to a tent.” He smiled. “I’m glad you are here.”

“As am I. Rest well, Father.”

“And you.”

When she left the tent, a guard walked her to a tent set aside for her. Her saddlebags and bedroll were there. The bedroll already spread out on a cot. She drank some water from a pitcher and mug left on a small table for her and some bread and cheese. That at least stopped the hunger pangs enough that she could relax.

The brief burst of energy she received from the lamp fire had gone. She was just tired. She lay down, thinking about the next day but was asleep before she could form a whole thought.

The next morning, she awoke late. She left the tent and went in search of Master Kaepli. His tent was full. Sisruo stood up when she entered, a grin spread across his face. “Princess Delia!”

Everyone turned to see her. Kaya was beaming from next to Master Kaepli. “I told you.”

The whole group gathered around her for hugs and handshakes until Master Kaepli cleared his throat. The group settled down. Beside Kaepli was Master Juner. “Kaya was telling us about your escape. Power from fire?”

“Yes, Master. I can demonstrate if you have a torch.”

Kaepli nodded to Couran who dashed out of the open tent door. “We’ve been telling Master Juner about the protection spell. Kaya tells us that you broke the one at the palace.”

“I did. With the help of what I’m going to show you. But tell me about this duel? What will happen?”

Master Kaepli sat down. “It’s hard to know. Iyuno has the more powerful magic. Your father, has his own strengths, of course. They can duel with magic, with weapons, or both. It’s their choice.”

That did not sound good to Delia. She knew what Iyuno could do. The fear must have shown on her face.

“Do not fear, child. While your father is keeping Iyuno busy, we’ll be dealing with his army.”

Her eyebrows drew together. “Doesn’t that break protocol?”

“A little,” the mage shrugged. “But Iyuno’s conceit is so huge, he decided to accept the challenge.”

“Nethene and Ceinno are very powerful. Not elves to be trifled with.” Delia had a flashback to the dungeon and shivered. She shoved the memory away.

“We know. Kaya has told us.” He looked at her with sympathy. “We have you.”

She didn’t know what to say to that. Everyone was putting entirely too much faith in her new powers as far as she was concerned. That was when Couran came back with a torch. He stood in the middle of the tent.

“Go ahead,” Kaepli said.

Delia took a breath and held out her hand. It was harder to see in the daylight but everyone in the tent gasped when a small tendril of fire power reached her fingertips. Like it did last night, she felt better, stronger, immediately. She drained the torch of power in preparation for mid-day. “That’s it. I took all the power it had.”

“And what does it do to you?” Master Kaepli asked.

She told them.

Kaepli looked at Kaya. “Have you tried this?”

She nodded. Both my father and I after we saw what she could do. “Neither of us could do it.”

Couran lit the torch. Each apprentice and Kaepli and Juner tried. They couldn’t do it. “You say you broke the protection spell by using the power of a bonfire?” Kaepli asked.

“I did.” Delia nodded. “The bigger the fire, the more power I can draw.”

“And Iyuno, Nethene, and Ceinno can all do this?”

Kaya and Delia nodded.

Kaepli stroked his beard. “How far can you draw the power?”

“I don’t know. I’ve only drawn from fires close to me.”

Juner and Kaepli traded glances. “All of you go. Eat. You’ll need your strength. Delia. If you would stay just a moment.”

The rest left. Sisruo exchanging glances with her until he was out of sight.

“Have you eaten?” Kaepli asked.

“No. I slept late. The ride was very hard.”

“We’ll let you go in a moment.” He again looked a Juner. “We think you need to know more of the prophecy.”

Delia’s heart raced. More? How much more could there be? It already put all of the weight of the kingdom on her shoulders.


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Slave Elf Part 45: Flash Fiction Friday Post


Part 45

Find Part 1 here.


The meeting at dawn at the west gate was uneventful. The night guards unbarred the town gate and let them through. They rode silently through the dawn mists. Delia pulled her cloak around her tighter. The weather was getting colder. Summer was nearly at an end and fall would arrive soon. With luck, this would be finished soon, and she could go back to the palace and learn more about being an elf than fighting.

They rode steadily, only stopping at noonday to rest the horses and eat. Then it was back in the saddle. Delia rode beside Captain Catari after they left their lunch spot. “How long until we reach the king, Captain?”

“Another day. We’ll camp tonight and begin again in the morning. It will be after dark when we arrive even riding late into the night tonight. It seems to me speed is most important right now.”

Delia agreed with him. “And Iyuno?”

“We don’t know where he is. His forces are spread throughout the mountains.” His look went hard. “He attacks anyone not pledged to him. We’ve lost many elves.”

“Gallett told me about his family. I am truly sorry, Captain.”

“Thank you.” He looked at her. “This prophesy, do you think it will come to pass?”

Delia shook her head. “I don’t know, Captain. I only heard about it when I was returned to the elves. It seems to me to be far-fetched. I’ve only practiced magic for a handful of months. I don’t see how I could be more powerful than Iyuno or his nephews. They’ve had decades or hundreds of years of practice and study.”

“I’ve heard you can do some amazing things.”

She shrugged. “I can throw fireballs, which isn’t common but not unusual. I can throw an invisible heat ball, kind of like force that pushes. Master Kaepli taught me how to put an opponent to sleep but he taught that to all of his apprentices, as well as how to build a protective wall and how to take it down. But again. He taught that to his apprentices at the same time.” Delia shook her head. “No. To be honest, I don’t feel special at all.”

“Don’t discount your abilities, Princess. I do not have those skills and neither do any of my men. Perhaps Master Juner does, but if so, he’s never told me.”

Captain Catari pulled away from the head of the small column and dropped back to check on the rear. Delia gave some thought to what he’d said. Perhaps it was true, then. Sisruo, Kaya and the others were powerful elves, as was Master Kaepli but even though Kaya and her father knew about pulling power from fire, they’d never said if they’d tried it themselves. And who knew what she herself could do if pushed. Though what else could push her after being tortured for days in Iyuno’s dungeon, she shuddered to think.

They made a quick stop at sundown, again to let the horses graze and grab a cold bite of food for themselves, then remounted and rode into the night. It was close to midnight, Delia thought, when they finally halted for the night. The horses were hobbled so they could graze or sleep. The elves didn’t set up tents. Everyone rolled into their bedrolls and slept under the stars.

The next morning came all too soon for Delia. Cold biscuits and jerky were handed around as breakfast and water from the stream was all there was to drink. Delia was stiff and cold from sleeping on the cold ground and wet from the heavy dew that had fallen. She retrieved her horse and saddled her herself, tying the damp bedroll on the back of the saddle. I’ll take it down and spread it out to dry at noon-tide, she thought. That way it will be at least a little drier when I have to sleep in it tonight.

They formed up and rode just as the sun began to brighten the eastern sky. The second day was much like the first. Delia found herself dozing in the saddle. She nearly fell off of her horse once when it stumbled. That had frightened her, but she realized as she looked around, nearly everyone else was in the same condition.

More jerky was for supper when they stopped just before sunset. She pulled out the apples and handed them around to Kaya and Aduello. Her horse whinnied her happiness when Delia presented the little mare with it, on the flat of her hand. The filly munched it messily then leaned down to lip up the pieces she’d dropped. A small kindness, Delia thought as she stroked the horse’s neck. A battle was coming, she could feel it and perhaps the little mare wouldn’t live through it.

They mounted up and Delia looked at the guards, Kaya, and Aduello. Perhaps none of them would live through it. She felt bad about Gallett, especially. He really shouldn’t be here. He was too young. Did he even have any power yet? How would he defend himself?

She dropped back one spot to talk to Master Juner. “Master, I worry about Gallett.”

The mage nodded. “Young yet, it is so. But the troop is fond of him. He’ll be protected.”

“That’s good to know.” She took a breath. “And how are you? It’s been a hard ride.”

He smiled at her. “It’s true I’m getting old, but my strength is not diminished. Tell me about the spells Master Kaepli has taught you.”

They spent many miles talking about the protective wall, the sleeping spell and much more. Delia was surprised when Captain Catari raised his hand to halt the troop.

In the dark, everyone behind her stopped because she was stopped. Was something wrong? She looked around, trying to sense trouble coming.

“We’re here,” he announced. “Stay here while I ride ahead to announce us.”

Delia breathed a sigh of relief but didn’t stop trying to sense the darkness around them. Knowing her uncle, this would be when he’d attack.

For once, she was glad to be wrong. Captain Catari returned. “Forward!”

They rode into a well-guarded camp. Defensive spikes and ditches surrounded the tents. Guards were on duty, as far as Delia could tell, every thirty feet or so with fires. Elves from the camp took the horses as the Captain, Mage Juner, Aduello, Kaya, and Delia were led to the king’s tent. Even at this late hour, he was still awake. Master Kaepli was with him as well as Mystesto and Neoni, looking at maps on a table in the middle of his tent.

King Ucheni opened his arms. “Daughter, come, let me give you a hug of welcome.”

Delia had tears in her eyes when he released her. “Father. I was so worried about you.”

“And I you, daughter.” He grinned at the others in the tent. “Look, my daughter who was lost has been returned to me!”

After grins all around, she introduced Kaya and Aduello. The king shook both of their hands. “Thank you for keeping her safe.”

“It was she who kept me safe,” Kaya told him. “She arranged our escape.”

Ucheni nodded. “A tale for another day, I’m afraid. You’ve come at a desperate time.”

Delia stepped back from the map table. “How may we help, Father?”

“Master Kaepli?” the king invited.

The mage stepped forward. “Iyuno is just about finished blocking us into this valley. But,” he nodded to the king and Delia. “It’s a trap of our own choosing.”

Delia didn’t think ‘trap’ was a good thing.

“We have set up hidden traps in the passages leading here. We’ve trained more elves in how to use the sleeping spell.” He looked at Delia. “And now, we have the Princess of prophecy.”

Delia blushed under everyone’s stare. “And the plan, Master Kaepli?”

“We draw them down here. A challenge was issued, from the king,” he nodded to the king, “to Iyuno.”

Delia’s heart sank. She knew from personal experience how powerful her uncle was. “A duel?”

The mage nodded. “We have to stop Iyuno himself. Stopping his army isn’t enough.”

Ucheni spoke. “My uncle has accepted. We know he’ll try some trickery. We’ve done what we can to defend against whatever it may be. We meet tomorrow at mid-day. So. Go. Rest. The battle starts tomorrow.”


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Slave Elf Part 44: Flash Fiction Friday Post

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Part 44

Find part 1 here.


Yarami smiled. “A good question, Princess.” He took a breath. “You want to join him? You seem to have the skills to be of use.”

Delia nodded. “We all do. Kaya is a great healer. Aduello, an old friend of the King. We can help.”

“I believe you can. I can have someone guide you to them.”

“Do you know where Iyuno and his forces are?” Aduello shifted in his chair, cradling his arm in its sling.

The mage stroked his beard. “In a canyon, playing cat and mouse with his uncle.” He shook his head. “It’s bad business. Outposts and homesteads are being destroyed. The skirmishes spill over into the dwarves’ territory and they’re none too pleased about it.”

Lord Yarmai studied Delia. “You know about the prophesy?”

“I’ve been told. But I don’t feel like a very powerful elf.”

Yarami’s eyebrow went up again. “Perhaps. But the speed with which you learn, and the number of unique powers, you’ve learned may prove otherwise.” He pushed a lock of his loose hair behind an ear. “I’ll send you.” He looked at Aduello. “You’re injured. Would you prefer to stay here?”

“My daughter is a good healer. She can tend to the wound.”

Yarami nodded. “Very well. I’ll send a small force with you.” He looked at Captain Catari. “You’ve been itching to go. Set up Lieutenant Gormaldi to be the leader of the guard. Take up to ten of your best.”

“I’d like to go as well, Lord Yarami.”

Yarami turned to stare at Master Juner. “And you? I didn’t know you had any desire to go to battle.”

“You misunderstand me, My Lord. I want to talk to Master Kaepli.” He looked at the two young elves. “He apparently has an amazing ability to create spells.”

“Ah.” Yarami smiled. “A professional curiosity.” He nodded. “Very well. I know your assistants are quite capable.”

“Thank you, My Lord.” He gave a gentle bow from the waist.

“Go with my blessings. All of you. Tell the king I’d send more elves if I had them.” He looked at Delia. “But I suspect he has all the help he needs.”

Delia and her companions rose, as did Master Juner. Captain Catari led them out of the room and down to the main entrance. “Do you have everything you need?” he asked.

“We don’t know.” Aduello adjusted the sling a little. “We abandoned everything at the inn when we realized there was trouble. Everything, including the horses, may still be there or not.”

“Gallett,” he called.

A young elf stepped forward. He’d been one of the elves in the Lord’s office. “Sir.”

“Go with them. Find out if their belongings are still intact. Bring them back if not.”

“If everything is in place, Aduello, meet me at the west gate at sunrise.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

The three turned to leave, the young guard followed. Aduello and Kaya walked side by side. Delia followed beside Gallett. She smiled to see he was distressed by that. “Where are you from, Gallett?”

He looked at her wide-eyed. “Um, nearby, Princess.” He ducked his head and touched his forehead.

“No formalities with me, Gallett. Is there a title I should use with your name? Soldier, Guard?”

“No, Princess. I’m new. I don’t have a rank yet. They just yell, Gallett!”

She smiled. “That’s what my master used to do. ‘Delia,” he’d bellow when he wanted me.”

He looked at her sideways. “I thought that just a story, Princess.”

She sighed. “No. No story. Sixty years, close enough, I was a slave on a caravan. Back and forth, up and down through the desert selling slaves and assorted goods for my Master.”

“That’s not right, Princess.”

“No. But my parents, the king and queen, were trying to hide me. But now I’m back,” she said in a more cheerful voice. “What about your parents?”

He sighed. “We had a homestead, to the south. I’m here because Iyuno’s elves destroyed it.” His voice was hard, but a tear formed and raced down his cheek. He dashed it away quickly.

“I am so sorry, Gallett. Is that why you became a guard?”

“Yes, Princess. I had no one left. So even though I’m too young, Lord Yarami let me join.”

“That was kind of him.”

“Yes. Yes it was.”

By then they were back at the inn. Everything seemed peaceful. They checked the horses first. They were in their stalls, dozing. Delia was relieved. She liked the little mare she’d been riding and had been anxious that something may have happened to her.

They went to their rooms. Nothing had been disturbed. Aduello sighed. “That’s a relief.” He looked at Gallett. “Tell your Captain that we are fine. We’ll meet him at the west gate at dawn.”

Gallett nodded, gave Delia a shy smile, and left. Aduello sat on Kaya’s bed. “Let’s spend the rest of the afternoon preparing. Kaya, could you take a look at my shoulder? It really hurts. Delia, could you arrange with the inn-keeper for trail food for the three of us. Five days-worth if possible. Then with the livery elf for provisions for the horses.

He reached into a pocket and drew out a pouch. “Take this to pay.” He held out several gold coins.

“I have some money. And I brought jewelry to sell. I can take care of it.”

“Nonsense. The king will repay me. Trust me. Keep your things. We may have need of them later.” He urged her to take the coins.

Delia didn’t want to. She felt like a burden. After shoving his hand at her again, she relented and took the coins. “Very well. I’ll get everything arranged.” She put the coins in her pocket and left.

The inn-keeper was agreeable to provide the food. They discussed what would be best, then Delia went to the livery elf. The same there. She paid the elf and told him when they wanted to go. He agreed to have the horses ready.

There were a few coins left. She went to the market, closing down, and bought six apples. Three for the horses and three for them. Delia had a feeling the horses, and the elves, would need a treat before the battle began.


Thank You! Come back next week for Part 45.

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Slave Elf Part 43: Flash Fiction Friday Post

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Part 43

Find Chapter 1 here.

Delia took a deep breath. She and Kaya could take out a large number of attackers quickly with the sleeping spell but what could Aduello do? Too late to ask. The black elves were attacking. She and Kaya raised their hands as one and one black elf after another with their horses slumped to the cobbled streets. When those facing her were down, she turned to help Aduello. He was hard at it, using some sort of lightning to fight. Arrows were whizzing past. Delia’s first job was to put them to sleep. Soon, Kaya was helping, but not before an arrow hit Aduello in the shoulder. He cried out in pain as Delia and Kaya put down the last one, at their very feet.

Kaya knelt beside her father, down on one knee his hand around the arrow. “Father. Let me see.”

That was when the castle guard arrived. The Captain was on a white charger, men before and after. “Halt!”

Delia raised her hands as the guards surrounded the three, stepping over the bodies of the black elves and horses. Kaya did the same. Aduello raised his uninjured arm.

The Captain surveyed the scene. “Explain yourselves!”

Aduello winced but replied. “I’m Aduello Herberi. I have an appointment with your lord. We were set upon by these elves and defended ourselves.”

The Captain raised an eyebrow. “You’re a formidable fighting force.”

“Not me so much as my daughter and,” he hesitated for just a moment, “her friend.”

The Captain reined in his prancing horse and sighed. “Collect all of the downed elves.” He looked at Kaya and Delia. Can you wake the horses at least?”

Kaya answered. “Yes, sir.” She looked at Delia. “But I recommend we not wake the elves until you are ready to ask them your questions. We can do that one at a time.”

The Captain’s eyebrow rose again. “Very well.” He motioned to one of the elven guards. “Go get a wagon.” The elf hurried off. “I’m going to have to secure your hands.”

“But father is injured.”

“We’ll deal with that.” He motioned to his guards.

Two guards came to each of them. Helping Kaya and her father to their feet. They tied Delia and Kaya’s hands behind them and Aduello’s to his side. They were escorted, led by the Captain, to the castle.

Delia thought this was an inauspicious way to meet the castle’s lord but there was nothing she could do about it. The guards were courteous enough but brooked no nonsense. Fair enough, she thought. They didn’t know she was on their side.

All three were taken first to the healer, an elf nearly the age of Master Kaepli. After Aduello’s wound was dealt with, they were taken to a clean, dry cell with three wooden chairs and a table. Water in a pitcher and 3 wooden mugs were on the table. The door was closed behind them and they could hear the lock turn.

Aduello sat down and Kaya poured him water. Delia studied the door. “There’s no protection spell.”

Kaya nodded. “I suspect the Captain believed us. But he’s just making sure we stay put until he talks to Yarami.” She poured a mug of water for herself and Delia, handing it to her. “The master did a good job on your shoulder, father. I should have no trouble with healing it as we go forward.” She sipped her water.

Delia sat down as well. She could sense two guards on the other side of the heavy oaken door. They would be summoned soon enough. “Well, that was a good start.” She drank about half her mug of water.

Aduello nodded. Of course, not the introduction I would have preferred.” He sighed and sipped again. “But, we’re not dead or captured, so that’s something. And, Yarami now has prisoners to interrogate. A good thing, I think.”

The two young elves nodded. They spent the rest of the time with their own thoughts.

Delia was considering whether they could have done anything else. What if they’d just stayed at the inn? No, that wouldn’t have been good. The black elves would have forced their way in. Perhaps hurt any guests and the inn-keeper and his family. That would have been a disaster. She played with the wooden mug, turning it around and around as she absently looked at the patterns in the grain.

“Aduello, you were using lightening to defend yourself. How do you…”

The key in the door lock sounded. Delia put her mug down and turned to look.

The door opened. It was the Captain of the Guard. “Come with me.”

The three rose, and followed the Captain. Four guards followed. They traveled up and up, three flights of stairs, and were ushered into a pleasant room. Books and scrolls lined shelf upon shelf on the side walls. In front of them was a large window, an elaborately-carved desk in front of it, a silver-haired elf sitting behind in a matching wooden, high-backed chair. The three walked to the front of the desk and waited as the elf finished his scroll and rolled it up.

He looked at them. “Aduello Herbei, daughter Kaya, and,” he studied Delia. “You must be Princess Delia. No one else has black hair.”

Delia was impressed. “Yes, Sire.”

“I’m not a sire. Lord would be the appropriate title.” He motioned to the three chairs in front of the desk. “Please sit.”

The three sat down on the plain wooden seats as Yarami folded his hands on the desk. The Captain of the Guard stood to the side. Delia turned to look. Two of the guards had stationed themselves on either side of the now closed door. She turned back to Yarami.

“Captain Catari told me what he found and your story. I find it disturbing that these dissidents are in Verda.” He sighed, a look of regret, then resignation crossed his face. “You suspect I know where the king is.”

Aduello nodded, wincing at the pain in his shoulder it set off. “Yes, Lord Yarami. Delia had a vision.”

Yarami’s eyebrow rose. “Weren’t you just released from human slavery?”

Delia nodded. “Yes, Lord. I was, just a few months ago. Apparently I’m a fast learner.”

A knock sounded at the door. One of the guards opened it. In came the healer.

“Master Juner, come in. We were just getting to our mysterious guest’s abilities.”

The old elf looked at Delia. “I didn’t ask in the dispensary, but you’re Delia, am I correct?”

“Yes, Master Juner.” Delia sighed. “Apparently not as inconspicuous as we’d hoped.”

One of the guards brought the mage a chair. He sat down. “No. I should think not. What did you do to the elves who attacked you?”

“A sleeping spell. Kaya and I both have learned it. Master Kaepli developed it, knowing we were going after Iyuno and his forces. It’s much better than killing them.”

The old elf nodded. “Indeed.” He looked at Yarami. “I can’t wake them.”

“We can. We can teach you the spell and how to wake them.” Kaya offered.

The lord and the mage studied Kaya, then Delia. “An interesting development.” Lord Yarami drummed his fingers on the desk. “I accept your offer.”

“Do you know where my father, the king, is?” Delia just blurt it out, then round-eyed, covered her mouth. That was too abrupt. She put her hands back in her lap, head down. She could feel a blush creep up her neck to her cheeks.


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Slave Elf: Part 42: Flash Fiction Friday Post


Part 42

Find Part 1 here.


At breakfast the next morning, Aduello sent a courier the inn-keeper recommended, off to the castle with a message. After they ate, they walked around the market. Delia told them about the desert caravan markets where there were stalls of exotic spices, silk, and slaves. Here it was different. There were no slaves at all, which she thoroughly approved of. Instead were stalls with displays of ore, money changers, woolen cloth, wood and ceramics. Both markets had grain merchants, she pointed out.

There were food vendors with foods she’d never seen. She pointed one out to Kaya. “What’s that?”

Kaya grinned. “Dwarf cake. I’ve only ever had it once and it was delicious. Honey and nuts, flaky and light. May we get one, father?”

He grinned too. “I believe so. It’s been many years since I’ve tasted any, myself.” He went up to the stall and ordered three from the dwarf woman running it.

She wrapped each in paper. “Three shillings.”

Aduello put the coins on the counter. “Thank you.” He bowed to the proprietress and handed the cakes to the young elves. They unwrapped the cakes and walked along.

“Oh my,” Delia said after the first bite. “This reminds me of the sweet cakes I had once in Encre but better, flakier.”

“Mmmm,” was Kaya’s response.

They washed sticky hands in the central fountain and sat on the edge, enjoying the day. It was cooler here in the mountains, but the sun was warm. Delia entertained herself by looking at the elves, men and dwarves that walked by with her magical sight. “Everyone has an aura!”

Kaya chuckled. “Yes. Every living thing.”

“The human ones don’t sparkle like elven ones. The dwarves,” she studied a pair of stocky ones thumping past in heavy-looking boots, “their auras, um, shimmer, I guess is the best word.”

Aduello nodded. “That’s why it’s a shame when we go to war with each other. He looked at the sun. It’s nearly mid-day. I’ll go back to the inn and see if a message has come from the castle.” He stood up and looked at Kaya. “Stay out of trouble.”

Delia could see he was telling his daughter to look out for her.

“Of course, father. No trouble at all.”

He left, and Delia and Kaya stood up. “Let’s check on the horses,” Delia said.

“Good idea.”

They went to the stable, where they said hello to the livery elf, and went to the horses. With nothing better to do, they curried the horses until their manes and tails were tangle free and their coats glistened. “We should have gotten them apples at the market,” Delia said.

“Oh, that would have been a good idea. Next time.” Kaya cleaned her curry brush and put it back where she found it.

Delia did the same. “I know we just had a snack, but let’s go inside and get some bread and cheese. I’m hungry.”

“Me, too. Days of short rations have made me famished.”

The two went in and were there, finishing a plate of bread, cheese and fruit when Aduello came in. “Glad to see you here. We have permission to see Yarami mid-afternoon.” He looked around the room. There were single elves, sitting far apart in the pub, far enough away that they couldn’t hear what was being said. Their eyes were on their mugs. “There’s a feeling about town that I didn’t notice this morning. I can’t tell what it is. How long have you two been here?

Kaya and Delia traded alarmed looks. “We left the square just after you. We spent an hour grooming the horses, then came in here to eat. We’ve been here since.” Kaya looked at her father. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know.” He glanced at the two other elves and back to his daughter. “But something is wrong.”

Delia stood up. “I’ll go look at the street.”

Aduello started to call her back but stopped and nodded. “See what you can.”

Delia walked casually to the open door of the inn and stepped just out of the door. There was still plenty of foot-traffic. A few elves and men on horseback rode past. What might be different? No one was on the bench outside the door, so she sat down and leaned back against the wall, feet out, at ease to the casual passer-by.

It took a while to spot. She went inside. “We should go to the castle now.”

Kaya and Aduello stood. He dropped some coins on the table. “Let’s go.”

They left the inn and headed to the castle. “What did you see,” Kaya asked.

“Black auras. Not on everyone, but yesterday I didn’t see any.” Delia felt for the knife at her waist.

“Should we have brought our saddle bags?” Kaya asked.

“There’s no time,” Aduello said. “It would have looked suspicious.”

Delia nodded, he was right. She did have a pang of regret for the few coins and jewelry she’d left behind. But better that than a slit throat.

They passed the market, which now seemed gray and ominous to Delia, and were not far from the castle when three elves on horseback, accompanied by four more on foot, appeared in front of them from several streets and alleys.

Aduello stopped. “Get behind me.”

Delia looked behind. “There’s more behind us.”

The three moved to stand back to back. Unbidden, a fireball formed in Delia’s hand. She had no intention of being captured by black elves again. It was no matter that none of them were wearing black, she could see their auras.

Kaya readied herself as well. “I think the sleeping spell, don’t you?”

Delia grinned as she squashed the fireball. “Yes. A much better idea than burning the town down.”


Thank You! Come back next week for Part 42.

958 Words

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