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Miguela dried herself with a plush bath towel. It was her eighth bath in three days, but the stench of human waste from the latrine ditch lingered in her nostrils. She tried everything, from scrubbing her body with a coconut brush to scented oils, but the smell still haunted her. Miguela was making her way back to her chambers when she ran into Archmage Belvi in the halls.

"Scryer Miguela, just the person I wanted to see," Archmage Belvi said, flashing a brilliant smile as he approached.

"Archmage," she returned formally.

"Please join me for some tea," he said, turning on his heel and ambling the other way. Miguela just wanted to go back to her room and rest, but she didn't have a choice now. Frowning, she fell into step behind the Archmage. He led them to the canteen and then to a private booth. Miguela settled into the booth while the Archmage gathered the tea. He returned with a simple-looking teapot and two teacups.

"How are you holding up?" he asked, pouring two cups of tea.

"I am hanging in there," she answered. She took one of the cups and held it with both hands, feeling its warmth.

He chuckled at her response and took a sip from his cup. "I understand that the experiences are borderline traumatizing, and there is no shame about admitting when you need help."

It was good to know that she could ask for a break if she needed one. Archmage Belvi nodded, apparently satisfied that she understood. She took a sip of the now cooled-down tea and felt her eyes widen with amazement before she could stop herself. The tea was exquisite. Miguela had never tasted anything like it before.

"It is quite good, isn't it? This is a well-kept secret, but I'll let you in on it. Even mighty Archmages allow themselves an indulgence or two every now and then. Grang tea is one of mine," he explained, a small smile on his face.

Miguela had heard that Grang tea was delicious, but until now, she was skeptical that the Grang could create fine delicacies such as this.

"The Grang are masters of the process of tea. Today, we are drinking Grang black tea," he added, refilling his teacup. They made pleasant small talk until Miguela worked up the nerve to ask the question that had been bothering her since she finished her scrying report.

"Archmage, what happens now?"

Archmage Belvi arched an eyebrow.

"To those murderers."

"Ahh, yes. I wish I had an answer that would put your mind at ease. Unfortunately, I do not. I reported your findings to both Maximus Cato and Maximus Kravious. However, both agreed to keep this incident quiet for the time being."

Miguela couldn't believe her ears. What good was being able to see the past when even then, no justice was to be found?

"Yes, I know. From that expression on your face, I know what you're thinking," Archmage Belvi said, running a hand through his hair. He looked directly into Miguela's eyes, an earnest expression on his face. "Look, Scryer Miguela, you're still young and new to this, so I'll try to impart as much of my knowledge and experience as possible. You're just going to have to accept that nobles dance to a different tune than the rest of us. That said, I promise that your work will change the world for the better. Just give me a chance to put us in the right position."

Miguela wasn't a stranger to the world of politics, but the difference between having intellectual awareness of a thing and having first-hand experience of a specific instance of said thing continued to trip her up. This talk of nobles dancing to a different tune simply didn't sit well with her. Regardless of how she felt, she decided that the canteen was not the proper venue to debate this subject. She nodded and tried to soften her expression to encourage him to change the subject.

Archmage Belvi gave her a long look, seemed to find whatever he was looking for, then smiled. "Your family will be visiting this week, won't they?" he asked.

"Uh, yes, my brother will be coming."

"Now, do you see why these visits are so crucial?"

Miguela blinked. She was surprised that he remembered her questioning the visits during her training. "Yes, I understand now. Having the lingering memories of dead people floating around in your skull is stressful. I can see how spending time with close family will help alleviate any confusion."

"Excellent. You are an amazing pupil when you apply yourself."

They continued to make small talk, and after some time, Miguela excused herself. Archmage Belvi graciously accepted her leave, and if he had any hard feelings about her sudden departure, he did not show it in his features. Miguela did not leave because of anything he did. She was enjoying his company, but even talking about her scrying drained her mentally, and all she wanted to do was rest.

Miguela made to stand up to leave, and Archmage Belvi held up a finger. "Scryer Miguela, just a quick reminder. You can talk to your brother about the nature of your work, but revealing any details about your scrying is a serious offense. It will be your first meeting with your family since becoming a scryer, so I thought it would be best to remind you."

Miguela assured him that she understood the difference and left, returning to her room to retire for the evening. In her bed, she thought about her conversation before drifting into sleep.

 


 

The days went by, and the time for her appointed visit came. Miguela was excited to see her younger brother, Jori. Jori was the youngest child in her family. He and Miguela were almost two years apart in age. Miguela could not help but feel envious of his situation. Her father groomed her two older brothers to take over the family business, and he promised her to the orators, which left Jori with the freedom to do as he pleased. Presently, he was a student at the Academy, showing excellent proficiency with all things magikal.

Miguela briskly walked down the hallway to the visiting rooms. The Archmage ensured there were private rooms for visits from loved ones and family. She found the door to her room and entered. Jori was already there, lying on his side in a pile of cushions. He lazily smoked from a water pipe that sat on a low table in front of him. He brightly smiled as he saw her before springing to his feet, almost knocking the pipe over in the process. "Miguela!" He exclaimed, rushing forward to embrace her in a hug.

"Jori, it is so good to see you," she said after he released her from his nearly suffocating embrace.

Jori was a large, thick Xandran. He was half a head taller than Miguela and wore his black hair slicked back, giving him the look of a Xandran trade member. Miguela figured he was popular with the ladies these days but was afraid to ask.

The room was a modest size and plain. The walls were barren of any art. There were two piles of cushions, a water pipe, and a copper pitcher with mugs. They settled into the pillows and started reminiscing about their lives when they were children. Miguela felt a fog lift off of her mind as the memories of her life were reconfirmed. Their conversation changed from their childhoods to Jori's life at the Academy.

"Who did you take advanced magikal theory with?" Miguela asked.

"Archmage Marlee. His lectures were quite fascinating and thought-provoking," Jori answered. Miguela was impressed. Jori never dedicated himself to anything, but hearing him speak about the Academy and magik with such passion made her think he finally found his calling in life.

"That's wonderful, Jori. Do you know what practical field you want to focus on?" She asked.

"I was leaning towards aeromancy at first, but I find the eldritch arts to be too fascinating and believe that will be my field. I know that demand for an eldritch wizard, especially a Xandran, is not particularly high," he answered with his voice trailing off at the end.

"No, no! I think it is a great choice as long as you are happy. You are the only DeStrella child in control of their own destiny, so you better make choices for yourself and your happiness," she said. Her words made his face light up with a brilliant smile.

"Thank you, sis. But I think you sell yourself short. You went from the life of an orator to working for the Five Kingdoms in a secret magikal department," Jori replied. Miguela had never looked at her situation like that before. She supposed she had claimed control of her life and set herself on a new path.

"Tell me, sis. What do you do here?" Jori asked, leaning forward with the question. He was smitten with magik and magikal knowledge, it seemed.

Miguela explained her work, carefully leaving out the details of her visions. She also explained how she felt after scrying.

"That is quite interesting. I know you cannot tell me, but I cannot help but wonder what the fundamental aspects of the spell are," Jori commented after she finished explaining. It was a good thing she could not tell him about the spell because she did not know. The Archmage trained her how to cast the spell without allowing her to see the formula behind it. She assumed it was so it would be hard to reproduce his work.

They continued to chat for hours, and it was finally time for her brother to leave. Jori said his farewells, promising to bring some Xandran sweets the next time he visited. Miguela walked him to the windship docks and embraced him before he left.

Miguela felt much better after the visit and returned to her chambers. When she arrived at her chambers, she saw a missive hanging from her door. Miguela took it and entered her room. After changing into her nightwear, she opened the missive and read the contents. Tomorrow she had an assignment. She sighed loudly. Miguela was hoping for a day or two of knowing what memories were hers or not, but duty called.

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A note from CKJ5

If you like what you are reading, you can find more epic adventures in the Five Kingdoms universe on Amazon:

Book 1: Scourge of the Five Kingdoms

link: https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B09VK3JZ8V

Book 2: Dogma of the Five Kingdoms

link: https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B09VKC3TRR


About the author

CKJ5

  • Tokyo, Japan

Bio: Charles K. Jordan was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He attended university in his home state, as well, where he studied Information Technology. After graduating, he decided to move abroad to experience more than what he had seen in the United States. He found his way to Japan in 2003, and since then, he has called Japan home.

Charles K. Jordan was always drawn to fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure. When he was a young child, the first novel he read was Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe, and from that point, he was hooked. Since then, he has found inspiration and heroes from various writers in all forms of media. Some of his heroes include Robert Jordan, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Quentin Tarantino, Terence Winter, Garth Ennis, and Glen Cook, just to name a few. Ever since that fateful day that led him to pick up Bunnicula, he knew his calling in life would be to create and hopefully contribute to someone’s growth and dreams.

Charles K. Jordan vowed to himself that no matter what happened in his life. He would never stop dreaming, writing, and creating.

The Five Kingdoms of Cordizal series available on Amazon:

Book 1: Scourge of the Five Kingdoms

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VK3JZ8V

Book 2: Dogma of the Five Kingdoms

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VKC3TRR

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