Miguela did not know what to do with all of her free time, so she did what any well-adjusted adult in the Five Kingdoms would do. She drank. Caecilia and Miguela drank every evening until the elder of twin suns started to peek over the horizon.
This evening, they made plans to drink in Caecilia’s chambers. Miguela arrived at the door of Caecilia’s room, carrying a bottle of bitter Ramon red wine under her armpit. Caecilia was fond of the bitter wine, and Miguela was starting to acquire a taste for it herself. Just before Miguela knocked on the door, she heard voices and laughter from inside. Her first thought was perhaps Caecilia landed a partner for the evening and that Miguela should return to her chambers. But she quickly disregarded the notion. She figured it was her duty as a friend to judge what her friend was doing.
A moment after Miguela knocked on the door, Caecilia opened it enough to poke her head out of the room. Miguela tried to look behind her friend without making it obvious that she was trying to look behind her friend.
“Excellent! And you remembered the wine,” Caecilia said, her voice already slurring. She grabbed Miguela by the forearm and pulled her into the room. Sitting on some cushions near a low table was a young Arzan lady that Miguela remembered seeing in the canteen from time to time.
“Where are my manners? Miguela, this is Scryer Henna. Henna, this is my partner, Scryer Miguela,” Caecilia said, taking the bottle of wine from Miguela.
“It is a pleasure,” Miguela said. It just dawned on her that she greeted other scryers but had not socialized with any besides Caecilia.
“The pleasure is mine. Caecilia speaks quite fondly of you,” Henna replied, smiling brightly.
“Henna does the recording of the scries like me. She works with a Nawahl named Scryer Hal,” Caecilia added, returning to the table with a wine flute and the uncorked bottle of Ramon red wine. Caecilia put them on the table with two other flutes and a platter of various nuts and figs. She poured all three flutes full. Miguela took her flute.
“May the future look better than the past,” Caecilia suddenly said, holding up her stemware for a toast.
“Hear, hear,” Henna added as all three touched wine flutes together. Miguela took a sip from her flute before looking at Caecilia and asking, “did you wake up early and practice that toast?”
“Was it that obvious?” Caecilia retorted, laughing. They made small talk, and Miguela found Henna to be approachable, witty, and friendly. She fit right in with Miguela and Caecilia. Miguela thought, considering at face value, they looked about as different as people could look.
Caecilia was full-bodied and full of confidence in every facet of herself. She was of average height for a Ramon woman with the olive-colored skin of her people and dark brown hair that tonight she wore in a ponytail, just stopping below the nape of her neck.
Henna was reed-thin with the outward appearance of a bookworm. She was tall for her people, making her almost a head taller than Miguela, and possessed the skin tone of a clear summer sky. She had short-cut hair that fell to the top of her ears and wore round-rimmed glasses.
Miguela thought about herself compared to her drinking companions. She had no shortage of suitors growing up. Not many of them wanted to commit to marriage, so Miguela did not believe the complaints most men told her. She had the tawny skin of the Xandran people and wavy black hair that she wore up in a single bun onto her head. She was slightly taller than Caecilia but far shorter than Henna, and her build put her in the middle of the two as well.
“So, Henna, how goes your assignments so far?” Miguela asked.
“It is terrifying to see how many ways people lose their lives. It is a shame and a waste. Scryer Hal seems to handle it better than I could,” Henna answered, deftly avoiding any details of her recordings. Miguela respected that and would not tell Henna what she had seen yet as well. Hopefully, they could trust each other enough in the future. It would be great to compare notes.
They continued to chat over drinks, and Miguela learned that Henna also came from a mercantile background. However, the difference was that her father was a retired military man who became a merchant. According to Henna, he was a strict man who wanted to up his station in life, so he put all the pressure to succeed on his only daughter. Through his connections with the military, he found out about the Scrying Project and enrolled her in it. Miguela immediately could sympathize with her story and shared a shortened version of her story. They drank until the suns began to rise, and Miguela and Henna said their goodbyes to Caecilia and left her chambers. When they came to the hallway where they would go separate ways, Henna surprised Miguela by hugging her.
“Stay strong,” she said before turning on her heel, leaving Miguela baffled by her words. She headed back to her chambers, wondering if her story was that tragic. She chuckled at the thought again as she crawled into bed, allowing the wine to pull her into a deep sleep.
Caecilia and Miguela continued to drink in the evenings, but Henna had an upcoming assignment, so they did not see her for a while. The days passed by, and before she knew it, it was the day to meet her brother. Miguela made sure not to drink the night before and got plenty of rest. The last thing she needed was her little brother fretting over her. He was overprotective at times, despite him being her junior. They met in the same room as before. This time, Jori sat cross-legged, reading a tome on his knees when she entered the room.
“Miguela,” he said, jumping to his feet. He rushed over to her and gave her a big hug.
“Jori,” she said, returning his hug and squeezing him tightly.
They stopped their embrace and sat on cushions on the floor.
“You look good, brother,” Miguela commented after settling in her cushions. She was not being facetious or dishonest. Seeing him throw himself into his studies suited him.
“Thank you. I really feel like this is what I am meant to do. Like this is how I will make my mark on the world,” Jori replied to Miguela’s compliment.
They talked about his life at the Academy, and Jori caught her up in the latest gossip. Archmage Sal Sugg was found slain after attempting to rob the Academy for ducats. It was such a strange scandal Archmage Sal’s family rediscovered the secrets of windships and was one of the richest in Cordizal, so his motives did not make any sense.
“I think there were narcotics involved, “ Jori added, and Miguela had to admit his theory made more sense than anything she could put together.
They spoke some more, and Jori mentioned that the general atmosphere of the Academy was tense.
“There are rumors of an upcoming war in the Wildlands. Archmage Marlee left his post to take command of the Arzan forces, and other Archmages and lecturers have joined their respected nation’s militaries. It has all been hush-hush about who we are facing. The only thing that the Consul and Warlord of Warlords are telling us is that we are not facing Wildlanders,” Jori explained. Miguela felt her breathing stop for a second. She had a feeling the men she saw in Kloy’s vision were who the Five Kingdoms were facing. She felt guilty that she couldn’t tell Jori what she knew, but he would eventually find out with everyone else.
“Also, don’t get mad, Miggy,” Jori started. Miguela's eyes narrowed to slits because whenever he called her Miggy and asked her not to get mad, it meant that he was meddling in her life.
“There was something not sitting right with me about Archmage Belvi, so I took the liberty of looking into his background. Discreetly, mind you.”
“Why would you do that?” She asked. Miguela was not upset. Actually, she was curious to hear what he discovered. However, she did not enjoy not being consulted by her brother before he took action.
“I think trust between pupil and lecturer is critical. I understand that the lecturer has a responsibility to pace their pupil, but Archmage Belvi not trusting you with the inner workings of the spell even at this point is suspicious to me,” Jori explained after taking a moment to think about his answer.
Miguela had been so absorbed with her work. She did not even think to look at her situation in this manner. He had a valid point.
“So, what did you find?” She asked, and Jori smiled widely, most likely relieved that Miguela was not upset.
“Not much yet. I did find out that Archmage Belvi was a rather unremarkable pupil during his time at the Academy. He showed little aptitude for the arts, and one lecturer said he felt as if Belvi was wasting his time continuing his studies at the Academy,” Jori answered.
Miguela did not see anything overly suspicious with that she was just like the Archmage before joining the Scrying Project.
“I will look into it some more. I am sure I will turn up something,” Jori added.
Miguela made him promise that he would continue to be discreet, and they went back to speaking about trivial things. After their visit finished, Miguela returned to her chambers with a lot for her to mentally digest.
- Tokyo, Japan
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
Book 2: Dogma of the Five Kingdoms