Miguela sat in her bed, massaging her temples and thinking about that horrific experiment. As if witnessing necromancy firsthand wasn't enough, she discovered that she seemed to have some sort of talent related to the dark art. Her thoughts and emotions coiled and churned as she considered her ability and that her body seemed to be getting used to living other lives. She supposed her quicker recovery time was good because she was scheduled to scry again in three days. Miguela flopped back onto her pillow, and before she knew it, she was asleep.
Miguela woke to the sound of a knock at her door. She rubbed her eyes with the palms of her hands, then got out of bed, walked across her chambers, and opened the door. Caecilia and Henna stood in the hallway. Each with a bottle of wine tucked under one arm.
"I found out you had the next few days off, so we are drinking tonight," Caecilia announced, walking into Miguela's chambers before she could respond.
Miguela wanted to hug and kiss Caecilia. Wine and friendship were precisely what she needed right now.
"Come in, Henna," Miguela said, gesturing behind her.
Miguela grabbed three wine flutes, Henna uncorked the wine, and Caecilia set a wonderful spread of cheeses, olives, and dried fruits out on the table. After setting up, they flopped down onto cushions and began the festivities.
"Oh, tell Miguela about Scryer Maddy," Caecilia prompted Henna around a mouthful of cheese.
"I am sure Miguela does not want to hear about Scryer Maddy," Henna replied.
Scryer Maddy was one of the older scryers in the compound and was in charge of Miguela's initial training. Scryer Maddy was a nightmare as a teacher. The woman expected the sky and twin suns but became upset if one didn't bring her the five moons, as well.
"That would be factually incorrect," Miguela added, and they shared a good laugh before Henna leaned forward, eyes twinkling with excitement.
"It seems that her time here has caused the scryer to become lonely and take on a lover," Henna started.
"In the compound?" Miguela asked.
"Just so," Henna answered.
"No, even better, a guard," Henna replied.
"Not just any guard. Do you remember Pebo?" Henna retorted.
"The guard missing fingers on his left hand?" Miguela asked.
Henna nodded, an expectant look on her face
Miguela scratched her chin. "Wait, isn't she--"
"Married!" Caecilia said, bits of cheese flying out of her mouth. All three of them broke into uncontrollable laughter.
They talked until Miguela was properly caught up with the latest and juiciest gossip. At some point, Miguela tried to pour herself more wine only to discover the bottle was empty.
"Oh, this is for you," Henna said, uncorking a new bottle. After pulling the cork free, she put it on the table. A smile spread across Miguela's face when she read the label.
"Pear wine? Where did you find this?" Miguela asked. Xandran pear wine was one of her favorites, and it had been almost a year since she had any. The compound never had any in stock.
Henna glanced at Caecilia, who quickly nodded.
"Sometimes, I go to the hamlet of Arizi to get things the compound doesn't have and to take of my other needs," Henna explained. That last part brought a short giggle from Caecilia. Henna sniffed and shot Caecilia a mock warning glare. "I refuse to be the topic of some scryers' drinking session."
Caecilia and Henna broke into giggles.
"Wait. What?" Miguela said, eyes bright. "Outside the compound? That's brilliant!"
"See? I told you," Caecilia said to Henna, who nodded with relief on her face.
"It is not that I didn't trust you, Miguela. It's just that I'm putting somebody else at risk when I leave," Henna explained.
"No, it is fine. I am happy that you had enough faith in me to take the chance to tell me," Miguela replied honestly.
Henna explained that one of the guards used to work for her father as a caravan guard. She could get in and out of the compound undetected with his help.
"She said she could get us out one night," Caecilia interjected. Henna nodded, confirming that she could.
"Is it worth it?" Miguela asked, wondering what kind of amenities a small hamlet could provide.
"Indeed. I know what kind of imagery the word hamlet invokes, but this is not your run-of-the-mill hamlet. You see, before the compound came into existence, this was a satellite lecture hall for the Academy. It was mostly for the merchant class, who could afford to send their children to the Academy but could not afford to have them away from home the entire time. The compound is located roughly in-between Arzal and the Academy, making it very convenient for the merchant class. However, the last eight or nine years have seen a dip in merchant wealth, causing the satellite hall to close its doors temporarily. But the point to my tale is that the hamlet has several establishments suited for pupils of the Academy," Henna explained.
Now that Henna mentioned it, it all made perfect sense. The compound seemed to be well suited for the life of magikians. However, the scrying project did not seem popular enough for the Five Kingdoms nor the Academy to invest in it, so refitting an old facility seemed perfect.
Caecilia poured the pear wine into their flutes, and they touched stemware in a toast before drinking. Miguela knew that the pear wine was not a fine vintage, but it had been so long that it tasted heavenly. She leaned back in her cushions savoring the tartness and stealing glances at her companions. Caecilia drank with a slight grimace but did not complain, and Henna appeared to be enjoying the wine as much as Miguela.
"So what do you say? Next time we all have some time off, shall we go into town and check it out?" Caecilia asked.
"Don't see why not? If Henna has no problem with it, that is," Miguela replied.
"I would prefer the company of friends, so of course. However, we must be careful not to get caught. I would never forgive myself if we caused Maxwell any problems," Henna added.
They all agreed to be careful and to protect Maxwell's livelihood. After that was decided, they continued drinking and chatting until the night became morning. Caecilia and Henna excused themselves, and after they left, Miguela crawled into her bed, not bothering to undress. She realized that leaving the compound for even a night was something she did not know how much she wanted until now. But before she could think more about what excitement their night would have in store for them, the room started spinning, and she vomited on the floor before passing out drunk.
- 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