Miguela felt much better by the time Caecilia returned with the Archmage in tow. Archmage Belvi pointedly ignored the pool of vomit beside Miguela's seat and approached her with a concerned look on his face.
"Scryer Caecilia said that you had something of the utmost importance for me to hear," he said gently.
"I saw the undead," she said, not knowing where to begin. The Archmage didn't have the look of surprise she expected when told the dead were walking in the Wildlands. Archmage Belvi sighed before speaking.
"Yes, I have seen recent reports detailing events in the Wildlands. It appears that the official name adopted for them is the Scourge."
Miguela reeled from the revelation. The Five Kingdoms were at war with an undead army? The Scourge? What else was going on in the world that she did not know about?
"Archmage, I did not only see the Scourge. I became one. I saw through the eyes of one," Miguela explained.
The Archmage's eyes widened with surprise. "You saw through one of the undead's eyes?" he asked, licking his lips.
She opened her mouth to explain, but he raised a finger to stop her. Turning his attention to Caecilia, he said, "Don't just stand there. Get ready to record every detail of this. You must miss nothing, do you understand?" There was a heat to his voice that Miguela had never heard before. Caecilia heard it as well because she nodded and scrambled to her seat, preparing to record Miguela's experience to parchment.
Miguela told the story of Mortimor, not leaving out a single detail. In the end, she felt an immense sadness that she would not be able to see her children grow into adults. Tears streamed down her cheeks before she realized that those were not her children but Mortimor's.
"Extraordinary. I have never witnessed scrying with this much detail and accuracy. You have a gift," Archmage Belvi exclaimed.
Miguela scrubbed her cheeks with the back of her hand.
"Your discovery today is nothing short of astonishing. There have been academic debates for years about what happens to a person's soul once they are resurrected. You may have just figured out the answer to that riddle," the Archmage explained excitedly.
"As exciting as an academic discovery is, Archmage, the reality of the situation is horrifying," she replied.
"Knowledge is often frightening, which is why it is so tightly controlled," the Archmage retorted not unkindly. He grinned. "Your work has opened the doors to several possibilities. Get some rest, because, in five days, we have work to do. I need to get approval from the Academy and Archmage Larz before we can begin, so take that time to relax. Great job, both of you. The Five Kingdoms is indebted to you."
The Archmage made sure to acknowledge Caecilia with a look before leaving. Miguela stood as Caecilia walked towards her. When Caecilia came close enough, Miguela threw herself at her partner, embracing her in a hug.
"I am sorry," she said, sobbing into Caecilia's shoulder.
"I am so sorry."
Caecilia said nothing, stroking Miguela's hair and comforting her. Finally, Miguela composed herself and released Caecilia.
"I understand now. Do not worry. You handled everything brilliantly. The Archmage is correct. You have a gift, and I am proud to witness you using it. Go back to your chambers, drink some wine, and sleep. I will clean up the scrying room and check on you tomorrow," Caecilia said.
Miguela opened her mouth to object, but the look on Caecilia's face told Miguela that arguing would be a pointless waste of time. So instead, she nodded and took her leave. Once Miguela arrived at her chambers, she did what Caecilia suggested. She uncorked a bottle of wine and did not bother with finding a wine flute. Miguela tipped the bottle up, taking a long drink of the bitter red wine. She did that seven more times and walked to her bed, collapsing into it. The wine aided her exhaustion and sleep came within moments.
As promised, Caecilia came by to check on her. They went to tea at the canteen, and Miguela was happy that their friendship seemed undamaged from yesterday. They made small talk and sat in comfortable silence, enjoying Ramon tea. Miguela did not have the heart to tell Caecilia that she had been thinking about the Grang tea since she drank it with the Archmage, but Ramon tea was tasty in its own right.
"What do you think the Archmage meant by you having work to do?" Caecilia asked as they waited for their second pot of tea to steep.
"I don't know, honestly. But, I believe it will involve research. Whatever it is, the Archmage had to seek permission to do it, so it piqued my interest," Miguela answered. Caecilia seemed satisfied with Miguela's answer, but her face implied she wanted to ask something more. Miguela felt that she owed her at least that much.
"What's wrong?" Miguela asked. Caecilia had the look of an internal struggle. It was as if she was debating asking her. Miguela had never seen Caecilia be cautious with words between them.
"Did the Archmage's reaction to your scrying feel off to you?" Caecilia suddenly asked.
Now that Caecilia mentioned it, the Archmage did not react in a manner that Miguela could have predicted.
"Perhaps. It is hard to judge with the academic types. The prospect of new knowledge often clouds their ability to emphasize," Miguela answered neutrally.
"That must be it. I just felt some of Archmage Belvi's focus to be a little strange," Caecilia said before changing the topic to the more mundane aspects of their life -- compound gossip. Miguela learned who was dating and what men were sleeping around. It was a pleasant distraction from thoughts of being trapped in her body, a thrall of some necromancer.
Caecilia made time for Miguela every day. Tea in the morning and wine in the evening, they did this routine for three days until it was time for Miguela to meet with the Archmage. Archmage Belvi did not leave instructions, so Miguela assumed he would send for her or come calling himself. Miguela's assumption was correct because there was a knock at her door at about the same time that Caecilia had been coming the last few days.
She opened the door to see the Archmage. Archmage Belvi was wearing elaborate red robes with gold and green slashes. Today, his robes would not have looked out of place on a Xandran orator.
"Wonderful. You are ready. Let us be off," he said excitedly without even a proper greeting.
"Good morning, Archmage Belvi," she said, and the Archmage blushed as he realized he forgot to extend common courtesies.
"Good morning, and please forgive my enthusiasm. It is not often a person gets a chance to create history," he replied. Miguela had to admit that his confidence they would discover something of use was infectious.
"Shall we?" he asked, flourishing an exaggerated leg. Miguela was having difficulty remembering who the Xandran of the two were. They walked down the halls in silence until they arrived at scrying room seven. Archmage Bevli opened the door, and the torches were already lit. The usual table was not there. In its place were two hip-high carts, covered with sheets. She could not tell what was under the sheets because of the lighting in the room, but she could tell that there was something under the sheets.
"I had to pull a lot of strings and cash in a lot of political capital to make this happen. But I believe we are on the cusp of something grand," he explained, locking the door behind him.
"What will we be doing?" She asked as he met her at the carts.
"We will simulate what you encountered earlier in a controlled environment," he started to explain.
"We are what?" Miguela asked, not following his logic.
"Well, first, allow me to introduce you to Louis Blout or, as he was better known by his peers, the mongoose," the Archmage said, pulling the sheet back with the fanfare of a street performer, revealing a corpse of Xandran underneath.
Miguela gasped at the sudden appearance of a dead body in front of her, and she eyed the other sheeted cart. The dead Xandran was fully clothed, and his neck was twisted at an unnatural angle.
"Yes, he will be the next phase of this," the Archmage explained.
"When you said simulate, what exactly did you mean?" Miguela asked.
"To understand better what we are up against, there are certain lines that must be crossed," he paused, exhaling sharply before continuing, "we will bring Louis back from the dead, kill him again and scry an object dear to him."
Miguela did not know if the Archmage lost his mind or was a genius, but at this point, it was not safe to rule out either.
- 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