Contest, Craft Fair: Monday Blog Post

Newest News:

I had a really good Columbus Day weekend. First, on Saturday, I had tickets to the local Saluting Our Veterans benefit concert featuring the Charlie Daniels band. There were so many people there it was amazing. That’s just a section of the crowd at the top. There were twice again that many there.

Second, I went to a craft show on Sunday. There weren’t a lot of vendors but the locally made jewelry was fantastic. I saw a little cuff bracelet I really would like to have but I didn’t get it. Mostly because I never wear jewelry. I’d have bought it and it would have landed in the jewelry box, forgotten.

I’m still brainstorming my next Jean Hays story. So there’s that. Also, it’s been too long since I’ve heard from my editor so I think my mail is again giving me a hard time. None of his emails come through. I’ll have to work on that this week.

Purple by Dinky03 http://www.deviantart.com/art/PURPLE-14567744

I continue to write my serial, Slave Elf. I’ve left my girl, Delia in quite a pickle. We’ll have to see how she gets out of it. You can find the first episode here.

Giveaways:

Would you like to win free ebooks, other prizes, or $150 in Paypal cash? Drop by https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways-and-prizes/ and click on the Rafflecopter link for the Spooktacular Authors Halloween Giveaway. This ends after Halloween! Get it now!

This week only! A Young Adult, Instafreebie giveaway that runs only until tomorrow, October 10th. Eleven authors and 12 books to give away in mystery, SciFi, Fantasy and Thriller genres. https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/8B0D07lf5WpRswSUwjQS

Finally, I have started a contest over on my newsletter. What? You don’t get my newsletter? That’s a shame. But see below on how you can join in on the fun. I already have several people writing in to enter it. It runs to the end of October when I’ll use a random number generator to select the winner. Let me know you’ve joined the newsletter and I’ll send you the information to enter.

P.S. By the way, you can get the pictured mug at: https://www.gearbubble.com/gbstore/conniesrandomthoughts

Shout Out:

In honor of October’s everything horror, this shout out is to Joshua Robertson. He is a bestselling author in dark fantasy, and a writer for Fantasy-Faction. You may recognize him as the dude whose dragons were said to destroy George R.R. Martin’s and Christopher Paolini’s dragons in a very biased Twitter poll. His first novel, Melkorka, was released in 2015, and he has been writing fantasy fiction like clockwork ever since. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys an ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. Among other places, you can find him at http://www.robertsonwrites.com.

Where Will I Be?

Check my website, https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/where-will-i-be/ for my next engagements.

My next public appearance will be this coming weekend at the Pine Fall Festival October 14th and 15th. On both days, I’ll be in the Community Hall with a few other authors selling and signing books with the antique dealers. On Saturday besides crafters, is the annual chili cook-off. Saturday hours are 9am – 5pm and the chili cook-off starts at 11am. Be there at 11am. The chili usually runs out by noon. Buy a ticket, taste the chili, vote for your fav top three! My hubby is usually there with his version. Sunday the hours are 9am – 4pm. Lots of crafters will be there and the weather is lovely in October. Come on by and say hello.

NEW! In November the Payson library is having it first ever mini-comicon. SciFi and Fantasy fans, get ready to head to central Arizona. There’ll be costumes, SciFi and Fantasy panels. I’m excited! I’ll post the date as soon as I have it.

On December 9th I’ll be at the Mesa Book Festival. Get full details at https://mesabookfestival.com/. I’ll be in a booth with my author friend, Marsha Ward. www.MarshaWard.com. Between the two of us, we have a large number of genre’s covered. Come get your Christmas presents and stocking stuffers. The festival runs from 2pm – 8pm.

Newsletter Sign Up:

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ve put sign-up gifts on both the regular and the Brown Rain newsletter sign-ups. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. Be prepared for fun and contests! Click on the video link for a short video from me. Hear what I’m working on. Join my “A” Team to be the first to read my books and hear what new books are coming.

Don’t forget to follow my blog, too. Different material goes in the blog as in the newsletter. You can share both, so spread the word!

Newest Book Release:

Mystery at the Book Festival released June 1st and I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on https://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

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Slave Elf Part 25: Flash Fiction Friday Post

alnwick_castle_by_americamarten-dbomzh2 via DeviantArt.com. https://www.deviantart.com/art/Alnwick-Castle-706511126

Part 25

Delia was awakened by a call at the door of her tent. “Princess, breakfast is being served.”

Groggy, she responded. “Is it morning?”

“Yes, Princess. We leave as soon as we’ve eaten.”

Delia blinked, her eyes gummy from sleep. “I’ll be right there.” She heard footsteps leaving as she swung her legs around to the ground. Morning already? She was still in her clothes. At the wash stand she splashed her face and rinsed her eyes. What had happened? Was she that tired? After unbraiding her hair and combing it, she rebraided it and stuffed her personal possessions into her saddlebag. Ready, she left the tent and went to the cook tent. There, people milled around, bowls of mush in hand, chatting. She thanked the elf who handed her a bowl and walked to a tree to sit, her back against the trunk.

Sisruo found her there, eating the last of her food. “Princess. I didn’t see you at dinner last night.” He sat down beside her.

“No. I slept straight through.”

“Is your wound bothering you?”

“No. I rebandaged it this morning after I combed my hair. It’s fine.” She saw him raise an eyebrow. “Just tired, I guess.”

“Ceinno dealt you a huge blow yesterday. Could that be it?”

Delia shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t feel any different.” To herself, though, she wondered if Sisruo was right. “No matter. We leave today.” She got up and dusted off her clothes. “I’ll see you at the lineup.”

Sisruo nodded but she could tell he wasn’t happy with her explanation. After returning the bowl to the dish washers, she went to the picket line to get her horse ready. An hour later, she was in line with Sisruo and the Mage when the King rode up and the party marched off.

The march lasted three days. In that time she spoke with the Mage about the psychic blow she’d received. “It depends,” Kaepli said. “You were already wounded, so that may be all it is.” He studied her. “Your aura looks normal and you don’t seem to be suffering any other effects.”

“Thank you, Master Kaepli. I just wondered.”

“Those kinds of attacks can be fatal. I’m glad you asked.”

Delia nodded. “I didn’t want to bother you.”

He gave her a smile. “Never a bother to speak with you, Princess.”

Now they were at a castle. It was dark, and to Delia, felt evil. The moat around it was full and stakes had been placed in multiple rows all around the perimeter. Logs had been piled on all of the roads approaching the castle. Turning to her magical sight, Delia could see an aura hanging over the entire place. It was as black as Nethene’s.

“I don’t have a good feeling about this, Father,” she said as she sat beside him. Their horses didn’t seem to like the place either. They tossed their heads, snorting and danced around the dusty road.

“I don’t much like it either. But if that aura is any indication, Iyuno and his minions, Nethene, included, are all in there. I’ll send a messenger.”

Master Kaepli shook his head. “I’m afraid you’ll lose any messenger, Sire.”

Captain Neoni and Mystesto rode up. “A bad business, Sire,” Neoni began. “I expected to see his forces outside the castle.”

Mystesto nodded his agreement. “They’re up to something, Sire.”

The king nodded. “Set up camp. Out of sight of the castle. We’ll meet this evening. In the meantime, post watchers around the castle, in pairs. For safety.”

“As you will, Sire.” With that, Neoni and Mystesto rode off.

The mage stroked his beard. “I’ll use the scrying bowl. It may provide some information.”

“Very good.”

The mage rode off. Sisruo rode with him.

Delia stayed with her father and his guards. “Do you have a plan, Father?”

“No.” Ucheni shook his head. “No plan at all. Perhaps the mage will see something useful.”

Delia hoped so as well.

She was present at the council meeting that evening. They stood around the rough table, a map of the area, Iyuno’s castle, in the middle, covered the table. “Do we know what the inside of the castle looks like?”

Neoni shook his head. “We didn’t even know a castle was here, Sire. He must have had it built recently.

Mage Kaepli entered the tent. “Sire. I apologize for being late.”

“You have information?” The king looked tired, Delia thought to herself. And no wonder. The fate of the entire kingdom was on his shoulders.

“Not as much as I would like.” The mage spread a map over the table. “This is the interior of the castle as best as I could see in the scrying bowl. The aura covers most everything in darkness.”

The group huddled over the map. “There are a lot of blank spots,” the king said.

“Yes, Sire. The blackness was too thick there for me to see.”

Mystesto traced possible paths through the castle with his forefinger. “Some evil lurks in the blank spots, I’m sure.”

Everyone agreed. The king sat down on a stool. “What about the blocked roads and the stakes? Can we get rid of them?”

“I have my apprentices working on that now, Sire.” Kaepli pulled his sleeves into place. All of the materials are organic, so we may be able to pull them out of the ground to free our approach.”

The king nodded. “Mystesto, what to your scouts say?”

“They see no one outside the castle, sire. Whatever the inside is like, outside appears quiet.”

There was a commotion at the door. It was Kaya, looking to Delia as though she hadn’t slept in days.

“Sire.” She nodded to Master Kaepli and turned to the king. “The prisoners escaped. They killed all of the guards.”

A gasp escaped from each elf in the meeting. “The wounded?” the king asked.

“They’re fine. I left the most healthy in charge and rode here as directly as I could.”

Delia thought the young apprentice looked about to drop from exhaustion.

“Thank you,” the king said. He looked to Neoni. “Double the watchers. I don’t want them to sneak into the castle.”

Neoni bowed and hurried from the tent. “Master Kaepli, please take care of your apprentice. Let me know if you need anything.” Kaepli bowed and he helped Kaya from the tent.

The king looked at Delia. “Separating them didn’t seem to work. They have great power. Power I don’t want added to Iyuno’s.”

“What do you need me to do, Sire.”

“Check for aura’s. See if you can identify anyone in the castle. Or around the castle, for that matter. Keep me apprised.”

“Yes, Sire.” She bowed and left the tent.

Outside she found Sisruo, pacing back and forth. “Hello!”

“Hello. You didn’t come into the tent.”

“No, Master Kaepli had work for me. Is the meeting over?”

“For me. I’m going to look at the castle and see if I can identify individual auras.”

Sisruo gaped. “At night? From this distance?”

“From where I can. And yes, now.”

“I’ll come with you.”

“Doesn’t the Mage have work for you to do?”

“Not at the moment.” He reached out to take her arm.

Delia pulled it out of his reach. “I’m capable of doing this on my own.”

Even by the light of the torches, she could see him blush. “I know you are. But we’re outside of a deadly enemy’s fortress.”

Delia drew a deep breath. He had a point. “Very well.”

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 26.

1252 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

 

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Slave Elf Part 24: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Purple by Dinky03 http://www.deviantart.com/art/PURPLE-14567744

In the morning after the mage had redressed her head, Delia went to the King’s tent. “May I come in, Father?” she asked at the open tent door.

“Of course!” He beamed up at her from his table strewn with papers. “A welcome break.”

Delia stepped inside. “Mage Kaepli told me you decided to wait here another day.”

The king nodded. “It gives the wounded time to recover. You look well.”

“The wound hurts and I still have a headache but not like yesterday. I’ll be fine.”

“Good. We will leave at first light tomorrow. Rest well.”

Delia came around his table and kissed him on the head. “Thank you.” She went back to the door. “I think I’ll stroll around a little and work the stiffness out of my legs. Then rest awhile.”

“Good idea. Take care.”

“I will, Father.” Delia left the tent and looked around the camp. Everything spiraled out from the king’s tent. She began to stroll, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. The tent was fine but as the day got warmer, it began to smell musty. She was glad to be outside. At the mage’s tent, she found all of the apprentices, gathered. “Hello.”

“Hello! We’re glad to see you up,” Kaya said. “Sisruo told us you were feeling better.” Kaya grinned at him as he blushed.

Delia saw the blush and could feel the heat rise on her cheeks as well. “Master Kaepli was most helpful.”

“Do you still have a headache?” Sisruo asked.

“A little but nothing I can’t handle.”

Sisruo leapt to his feet. “I’ll make more of the headache potion.”

“No, thank you. I’m fine. What about the other wounded?”

“They’re over in the hospital tents. Most will be able to ride tomorrow. The rest will stay here with the guards surrounding the prisoners.” Couran rose from his squat as he finished speaking. “We’re taking a quick break from the morning’s healings. Then we’ll bring them all food and more water.”

Delia nodded. “I’m just working the kinks out, then I’ll be back to my tent.”

“You’re going to keep walking?” Sisruo’s tone of voice indicated his alarm.

“Is there some reason I shouldn’t?” Delia saw Pelan swat Sisruo in the calf from where he was sitting on the ground. A grin across his face.

“Well. I, uh, no, I suppose not.” He blushed again as Kaya snickered. “I’ll walk with you.”

Delia arched an eyebrow. “Thank you. That would be nice.”

As Sisruo hurried to her side, Couran and Pelan both laughed. Delia hid a smile. “Let’s go then.”

They strolled past the Captain’s tent and then Mystesto’s. She realized she could tell who’s rank and status was higher by the tent arrangements. As they walked, she made note of the walking wounded. They nodded to her as she passed and nodded back. “So many hurt!”

Sisruo nodded. “Using the healing arts, we put many back on their feet. Some, though, were hurt too bad for the healing to do much except take away some of the pain or fix minor problems. Kaya has volunteered to stay behind when the camp breaks to look after the ones not able to travel.”

“That was nice of her.”

“Her healing gift is better than the rest of ours. It’s a good choice.”

Soon they came to the hospital tent and Delia went inside. She spoke briefly to each elf, holding their hand or laying her hand on a fevered forehead. “They’re so nice to me,” she said after they left.

“They saw you are wounded. They feel as though they share a bond with you now.”

“Perhaps so.” Delia was lost in thought about how well she was fitting in, given her upbringing when a psychic blast knocked her sideways. “What?”

“Who did that?” Sisruo gave Delia a quick look over. “Are you all right?”

Delia shakily exhaled. “Yes. I think so.”

Sisruo strode to the wooden fence holding the prisoner elves inside. “Who attacked her?”

The elves inside laughed and moved away from the fence.

Delia studied their auras. All of them were dark. One in particular though, drew her to the fence. She looked directly at the elf. “You know me?”

The elf made a mocking bow, a smirk on his face. “Who wouldn’t know the poor princess Delia, robbed of her background. Forced to live with humans.” The six other prisoners all laughed.

Delia could feel the scorn. She swallowed the insults. “You have me at a disadvantage. What’s your name?”

By now the guards were surrounding the fence, spears ready.

“Ceinno.” He made a sweeping bow.

Delia studied him. His aura was dark purple, almost black, like a fresh bruise. She wondered if that aura hurt. “You are a relative?”

“Not of a sniveling, human-raised abomination. I’m nephew to Iyuno.”

“Then you share blood with my father and myself. Why this war?”

“My uncle is the better elf. He was cheated of his throne.”

“Were you there?”

“No. But Uncle told me.”

It was obvious to Delia as she watched Ceinno’s aura bubble and flash, that she wasn’t going to change his mind. A brief thought about how her father’s conversation went passed quickly and she left it alone. “I’m sorry this has happened. We’re family.”

Ceinno spit on the ground. “No kin of mine.”

The evil permeated the stockade, rising from all seven elves. She turned to go. Sisruo took her arm. “Best to leave, Princess.”

“Do you feel it?”

“Feel what?”

“The evil. It’s thick over the stockade. I’m going to suggest to father that those seven be separated.”

“Probably a good idea, Princess.” Sisruo cut straight through the spiral camp to the King’s tent. He called out to the guard in front. “Princess Delia to see the King.”

Delia had a moment of annoyance about him speaking for her but pushed it away. This was more important.

“Come in.”

The King rose. “Are you alright, daughter?”

“Yes, Father. I am. I just came from the prisoner’s stockade.”

The King’s face clouded. “I wish you hadn’t.”

“I met Ceinno. He is almost as evil as Nethene. I advise separating those elves. The entire stockade stinks of evil.”

“What happened?”

“We were walking by. I wasn’t even aware of the stockade. That’s when a psychic blow nearly knocked me off of my feet.”

The King glared at Sisruo. “You were with her?”

“Yes, Sire. The prisoners were most disrespectful.”

Ucheni looked back to his daughter. “I’ll talk to Captain Neoni about it. You think they’re dangerous?”

“Yes, I do.”

The king sighed. “Very well. But stay away from there.”

“Yes, Father.”

She bowed and left, Sisruo behind her.

“Are you sure you’re alright? That seemed like quite the blow.”

“I’m fine. Just a little tired.” She stopped at her tent. “I’ll take a nap, I think.”

“Good. If you need more headache medicine, let me know.”

“Thank you, Sisruo.” Delia went into her tent. It was warmer inside than out. All the better to sleep, she thought.

She lay down on top of the wool blanket and closed her eyes.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 25.

1184 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

 

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Slave Elf Part 23: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Bread, Cheese and Pear by Connie Cockrell

Part 23

Delia woke in her tent with a headache that hurt even more when she opened her eyes. Her hand drifted to her head where she found a bandage. The back of her head was very tender and she winced as she gently probed the spot.

“Ah. You’re awake!” Master Kaepli entered the tent. Sisruo followed with a tray holding a pitcher and a horn cup. “I’ve brewed you some medicine for the pain.”

Sisruo put the tray on a small table and poured from the pitcher into the mug. “This should ease the headache.”

Kaepli bent over Delia and looked into her eyes. “How do you feel?”

“Like I’ve been hit in the head.”

He chuckled. “A sense of humor is a good sign.” He checked the bandage.

“What happened?”

Sisruo handed her the mug. “Drink.”

Delia did as he bid. The liquid tasted like dirt and mold. Her face scrunched up and she handed back the mug. “Can I have water?”

“Certainly.” Kaepli nodded at Sisruo, who hurried off.

“So what happened?”

“An enemy was wounded and playing dead. When you stopped near him he took advantage of your back to him and threw a rock.”

“He did a good job. What happened to him?”

“Your father’s guard killed him.”

Delia was surprised at a welling of sadness. She hadn’t felt that way while the battle was raging. “That’s a shame.”

Kaepli nodded. “It is. And all for jealousy and envy. Brother against brother.”

Sisruo returned with another pitcher. He poured some into the horn mug, rinsed it and tossed the water out of the door then poured a mug full. He handed it to her. “Something a little more palatable.”

Delia drank it all, enjoying the taste of the clean water. “Thank you. I was very thirsty.”

“I told the King you’re awake. He sends his regards.”

“Thank you, Sisruo. He’s alright?”

“Yes. The battle was over when you were hit. He’s questioning prisoners or he’d come to see you.”

“Are they telling us anything useful?”

“No. Well, yes,” Kaepli said. He pulled the stool over to the bed and sat down. “As we suspected, most of the elves were misled. They joined Iyuno because of falsehoods. Many have re-sworn to your father.” He stroked his beard. “They’re telling us everything they know about his forces and locations. There are some that hate your father and are loyal to Iyuno. Those we will have to keep prisoner.”

“What about the humans?”

“They’re being woken one at a time. The first one we woke pointed out their leader. He confirmed that they were paid by Iyono. He agreed to take his forces back to his own land. They’re no longer a threat. They’ll leave in the morning.”

“Poor Father. He must be exhausted.”

Kaepli chuckled. “He is determined. I’ll make sure he rests and gets some food into him.” The mage stood up. “And you must rest as well. Try to sleep through the headache. I’ll leave the medicine here. If you still have a headache after we bring you supper, take another mug full.”

“Thank you. I appreciate the help.”

Sisruo held open the tent flap for the mage. “Sleep well, Princess.”

“Thank you, Sisruo.”

He stepped outside and dropped the flap. Delia sighed. Much had happened while she was unconscious but nothing that she could have helped with anyway. She turned onto her side so she wasn’t lying on her wound and drifted off to sleep.

She was woken by her father’s voice. “May I come in?”

Deila struggled to sit. “Yes. Of course.”

The king entered, followed by an elf she didn’t know carrying a tray with bowls. “I’ve brought you dinner. I thought I’d have my dinner with you.”

The elf put the pitchers of water and medicine on his tray then his tray on the one on the table. He pulled the stool around for the King to sit.

“Thank you. We’ll be fine here.”

The elf bowed and left.

Ucheni handed her a bowl and a spoon. “Stew.” He grinned. “Just like every other night.”

Delia smiled back. “Indeed.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Master Kaepli’s medicine worked. I don’t have a headache any more. And I find that I’m hungry.” She stirred the stew. Steam rose and brought her a savory scent. “Do I smell rosemary?”

“Yes. I heard one of the cooks found a patch and added some to the stew. It makes it a little different, at least.”

Delia took a spoonful. It was tasty. “I was told you spent the afternoon questioning prisoners.”

The king nodded as he chewed. “Yes. A weary afternoon as I heard the stories they related about Iyono’s lies.” He stirred the stew in his bowl. “Unfortunate. More so those that joined Iyuno because they believe in him. I don’t understand it at all.”

Delia nodded. “A shame.”

“It is.” The king sighed and ate some more. When he swallowed, he said, “I’m sorry you were hurt.”

She shrugged. “It was a battle, father. No one should expect to come out unscathed.”

“Still. I regret your injury.”

“Master Kaepli has treated me well. I suspect I’ll be up and about tomorrow.” She stirred her stew around in the bowl. “When do we leave?”

“Soon. Perhaps tomorrow. We’ve learned all we can from the elves who’ve rejoined me. Later I’ll meet with my council and we’ll make a plan. I don’t want to chase Iyuno’s forces all over the countryside. If the information is correct, we’ll go straight to my uncle and finish this.”

“That would be good.”

His face was grim. “We lost too many good elves today. On both sides.”

Delia reached out and patted his hand. “It’s not your fault, Father.”

He sighed. “True. But it doesn’t make me like it.”

She nodded. They sat quietly after that and ate. He put the empty bowls on the tray when they finished. “Can I get you anything?”

“No, Father. I’m fine. I’ll probably go back to sleep.”

“Good. You rest.” He kissed her on the head and left.

Not long after, the same elf came and picked up the tray. “Shall I get you more water, Princess?”

“No thank you. The pitcher has enough.”

He bowed and left.

Delia settled into her cot and drifted off to sleep thinking about her father’s grief.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 24.

1060 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Slave Elf Part 22: Flash Fiction Friday

knight_by_jorsch-d65hbwt via DeviantArt.com

 

Part 22

The King’s force lined up on one end of the valley. Facing them, Iyuno’s force, filled the other end. She didn’t see the humans, so they might be off to one side or another, as Mystesto’s and Neoni’s forces were, hidden in the woods. At her father’s signal, a soldier blew his horn and the standard bearer dropped the flag, signaling the start of battle. The elves around her roared and kicked their horses forward. She remained in place, to the right of her father, who watched as his elves raced into the center of the valley.

Iyuno’s forces did the same. Delia switched to her magical sight. There were no black aura’s. “Father, I don’t see Nethene’s aura in the other force.”

Ucheni nodded. “He’s probably with some other force. We’ll find him eventually.”

Her horse danced and Delia had to keep pulling it into line while she watched the opposing forces close in on each other, the center of each line meeting in the middle with a crash and a roar. She could feel gooseflesh rise on her arms at the hue and cry that rose over the field in front of her.

Her father’s forces held and she could see elves dropping one by one from their saddles. Pelan must be in there somewhere, using the sleeping spell. Arrows rose and fell, elves screaming with pain as they hit. A small party of five broke away and headed for the King. Delia kicked her horse forward and of its own volition, a fireball formed in her hand. As the five grew closer, she readied the ball, hurling it as far as she could. She didn’t want them to get close to the king. The ball hit the lead rider, knocking him from his horse. The horse screamed and reared, kicking the horse next to it and causing confusion. In no time, all of the horses were screaming. The sound gave Delia chills. She threw another fireball, at the horses. Again, rearing and screaming, the elves could barely control their mounts.

The elves grew closer. One elf in particular seemed able to control his horse while shouting instructions to the others. She chanted the sleeping spell and cast it at him. She saw him shake his head. He was too far away. She threw another fireball, hitting him in the chest. He dropped from his horse and rolled on the ground, putting out the fire. Too close! Too close! She tried the spell again. He rolled across the ground, the spell missed! He grabbed his horse and leapt into the saddle. She threw ball after ball at the now four elves. Two hit, and the elves fell. Two were left.

“Daughter, be careful!”

“Yes, father.”

She tried the spell once more. One elf fell. One more to go, the calm one. She cast the spell, it hit him just fifteen feet away. The King kicked his horse to the left while Delia urged her mount right. The enemy horse raced through the middle and disappeared behind them. The elf lay asleep on the ground in front of them. Two of the King’s elves dragged the elf out of the way and remounted.

“Well done, daughter.”

“Thank you, father.”

Delia tried to still her shaking hands. That was too close. She turned her attention to the battle. There was so much dust it was hard to tell what was going on. King Ucheni kicked his horse to a walk and advanced to the battle. Delia wanted to tell him to stay back but bit her tongue. It was his place to be in the battle. She needed to keep her eyes open.

The horn blew again, and Captain Neoni’s forces came out of the woods just as a company of humans came out of hiding. They joined behind the first battle. The humans were on foot. Captain Neoni’s force formed a circle around the humans. Delia saw them dropping. Sisruo and Couran were wielding the sleeping spell with good result. It didn’t take long for all of the humans to be lying on the grass.

It was different with Captain Mystesto. The group he faced seemed to have their own spells. Elves burst into flame though Delia didn’t see any fireballs. She had to stop looking there as her father had reached the first battle. She chanted the sleeping spell non-stop, elves dropping in front of her like cord wood. Twice she had to kick her horse out of the way of swinging blades. Her father drew his sword and entered the fray. It seemed forever to Delia before the opposing force numbers were noticeably fewer. Her father wiped his blade and Delia took a breath. Was it over? She started to ask her father when something hit her in the back of the head. She could hear herself whimper and slump in the saddle. Then it went black.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 23.

820 Words

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Slave Elf Part 20: Friday Flash Fiction Post

green_subatomic_by_milaysvk-dbheqbg

Part 20

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.

946 Words

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Slave Elf Part 19: Friday Flash Fiction Post

green_subatomic_by_milaysvk-dbheqbg

http://www.deviantart.com/art/green-subatomic-694368700

 

Part 20

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 Kaeply 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.

946 Words

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Slave Elf Part 18: Flash Fiction Friday Post

fort_days_furniture_2_by_thewarriorandthegodd, http://www.deviantart.com/art/Fort-Days-furniture-2-166838482

Part 18

Delia was in the practice yard. It felt good to move after spending hours in the mage’s room and then in council with her father. There had been much gazing at maps as they tried to figure out what woods and what lake Mage Kaepli had seen. Decisions were finally made and scouts would be sent out any minute now. Main troop forces would be sent when word came back from the scouts.

The practice field was nearly empty as most of the warriors practiced in the morning. Delia was moving through the katas for the staff, moving slowly to make sure she was making each move correctly, then adding speed a bit at a time, always working to make the move perfectly. By the time she was satisfied, she was dripping with sweat and the sun was heading for the horizon.

Clapping behind her gave her a start and she turned, staff at the ready. It was Sisruo.

“Well done, Princess!”

Her blush was hidden by a face already flushed from exercise. “Thank you. Do you work with weapons?”

Sisruo walked over to her. “Alas, I do not.” He patted his flat stomach. “I fear I do too much sitting and studying and not enough weapons work.”

He looked perfectly slender and fit to Delia. “I was about to practice with my fire balls. Would you care to watch?”

“I heard that you have mastered the art. I’d love to.”

She put the staff back in the rack and motioned him to walk with her. “I don’t think I’ve mastered the art, yet, but I’m a fair marksman with them.”

At the spot she practiced this skill, she stopped. “Stay behind me.”

He gave her a small bow and stepped back.

Her first fire balls were a little sloppy. Mortified, she refocused. The next few were better and thrown about the furthest she’d ever done.

Sisruo clapped again. “How do you do it?”

As she did for the warriors, she walked him through what her process was. He was a quick learner. Probably because he’s already a mage, or near enough, she thought.

They stood side by side and made a contest of who could throw the farthest, then the biggest. She beat him, though when she demonstrated making several at a time and throwing them one at a time. He beamed at her. “I see I’ll have to practice.”

“Do mages go to war?”

He shrugged. “Sometimes. I think this time we will.”

“We?”

“Master Kaepli and myself. Perhaps a few of the more advanced apprentices.”

Delia felt a real fear for the old mage. She truly liked him. “Isn’t Mage Kaepli a bit old?”

Sisruo laughed. “Don’t let him hear you saying that.” He drew a deep breath. “He’s as sharp a mind as I’ve ever met and has forgotten more magic than I will ever know. He will be a huge advantage for your father the King against your uncle.”

Delia realized she was juggling fireballs as Sisruo spoke. She extinguished them immediately as  a blush crept up her cheeks. “Sorry. It’s become, um, natural, I guess, to make them.”

“I wondered. You didn’t seem to know you were doing it.”

“Sometimes I don’t.” She thought back to the council meeting where she’d made one in response to her fear of Nethene. “I think I should go bathe for dinner.” They began walking back to the castle. “I don’t remember seeing you there?”

“Oh no. I’m just an apprentice. That’s not the place for me. Besides,” he said quickly, “I’m usually studying one thing or another. We apprentices have a small dining room where we eat. That usually turns into another session on what we’re working on.”

“So you never stop working?”

“Oh, at mid-winter feast, we do. A lot of fun happens at mid-winter.”

A stab of regret hit Delia hard. She didn’t know any holidays of the elves. Her throat tightened with loss and regret.

“Oh. I’m sorry. I’ve hurt your feelings.” His apology was instant and sincere. Sisruo stopped and turned to her.

Delia swallowed her grief and put on a smile. “Don’t be concerned. I’ll see for myself at mid-winter.”

“Perhaps sometime you could come to the apprentice’s dining room and eat with us. Everyone would be eager to hear about your study of aura changing.”

For some reason, the invitation annoyed her. “Perhaps,” she said a little harshly.

They had reached the doors into the castle. Sisruo stopped and bowed. “I must go this way, Princess, back to work, I’m afraid.”

She bowed curtly. “So you must. Good evening.” Delia turned and went past the guards who held the door for her leaving Sisruo staring.

In her room she peeled off her dress and boots and threw them on the floor. She stomped to the basin and pitcher and after pouring water into the basin, held her hand over it. In a moment the water was steaming. A moment more and it was boiling. She snapped her hand back when it began to boil over the sides of the basin. Her heart pounding, she reached out to touch the water. She stopped just above the liquid, feeling the heat rise from it. Delia stepped back and covered her face, pressing on her eyes. She’d never done that before and hadn’t heard that anyone could.

Anger gone, she poured more water into the basin to cool it and washed the sweat away. In a dressing gown, she brushed out her hair and thought about it. Why had she done it? Anger, she decided. I was angry and it wasn’t enough to throw my boots. In the mirror, she could see the basin behind her. She got up and went to the bowl. The water was now room temperature. Delia held her hand over the water and thought about how she felt before. It took longer but the water began to steam.

Snatching her hand back she went back to her dressing table. After a deep breath, she began brushing her hair again. Another tool. A weapon, she thought. I’ll have to practice that in the yard tomorrow to see how it can be made effective.

 

Thank You! Come back next week for Part 19.

1033 Words

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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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