“Calm down. Let’s get some tea and record your scrying. Then we can examine the information together and get to the bottom of it all,” Archmage Belvi said. Yes, that made sense. Both of them looking over the memories would give them a greater chance to find some clues.
The Archmage snuffed out the torches and then recovered a book from behind one of the torches. Miguela waited in the hall, and the Archmage quickly joined her, closing and locking the door behind him. They walked to the canteen in silence. Once they arrived, they sat in a private booth, and the Archmage disappeared for a moment, returning with the tea, teacups, and writing tools. He poured the tea before setting up to write. While Miguela waited for the Archmage to get ready, she took a sip of the Grang tea. It was as heavenly as she remembered, maybe even better than she remembered.
“Now, explain everything. Don’t allow emotions to take over. The constable didn’t get this right because he assumed he knew the answer before conducting his investigation. Only tell me the details and do not stray or inject your theories or thoughts,” Archmage Belvi said, dipping his quill.
Miguela recalled the events she lived through the eyes of the young baker’s apprentice, making sure to relay the memory exactly as she saw it until the Archmage stopped her with a question.
“What do you mean you couldn’t remember the name of the woman the baker’s apprentice was going to rendezvous with?”
“Just as I said, every time he thought of her, the name became a muted buzz in his head. I am almost positive that it started with a W sound. I believe there was magik involved,” Miguela explained.
“I suppose that’s possible,” the Archmage said, scratching his chin. “Please continue,”
Miguela continued telling the tale of Avio’s death. The Archmage listened intently, writing every detail with precision, and when Miguela got to the part of the story where a crag spider bit Avio he stopped her story again.
“A crag spider in a cottage in a hamlet in Arza?” he asked incredulously.
“That is what he saw. I suppose he could have only believed that he saw it,” Miguela answered thoughtfully.
“I have never thought that the dead could be an unreliable narrator even of their own demise,” Archmage Belvi commented. His voice was distant, as if lost in his thoughts.
“It makes sense. How many myths were created because a person believed they saw something with all their heart and used that belief to convince others?” Miguela asked.
“You have given me a lot to think about, Scryer Miguela. Please continue,” the Archmage replied. Miguela finished telling Archmage Belvi what she saw.
“Excellent. Did you see the book’s title?” he asked.
“No, I clearly remember seeing the book, but nothing about the title. I believe that Avio didn’t notice it. Therefore, I didn’t notice it while reliving his memories,” Miguela answered after sipping the Grang tea in front of her.
“You are amazingly astute, Scryer Miguela. Your insights will put the Scrying Project years ahead,” the Archmage praised.
As much as Miguela appreciated the compliment, she felt the need to pursue the unknown woman in her scrying.
“Did you think the part when she spoke about centuries ago was figuratively or literally?” Miguela asked.
“Assuming that we can trust the memories of a poisoned, dying young man? I don’t know. It could be true. It could be a figment of Avio’s imagination or even the woman’s fantasy,” he answered.
Miguela frowned openly, not because she felt he belittled her, but because he was correct. It could be any of those things.
“I think it is worth looking into, and I know you want to be involved. However, I cannot, in good conscience, send you out to play junior Vestigare agent. So, I think it would be best to allow you to investigate during the daytime with a guard. After three days, we will alert the appropriate authorities with what we have and move on. There is one rule, you will not engage. Even if you find the woman dead-to-rights, you will get me, and then we can deal with her,” the Archmage added. Miguela was glad that he was not trying to freeze her out of the investigation, but she did not appreciate the restrictions.
“I am not a delicate creature that needs to be protected, Archmage,” Miguela retorted.
“I do not think that you are delicate, but I do know that you need to be protected,” the Archmage replied evenly. Miguela scowled at the comment.
“Fine. How much combat training have you had?” Archmage Belvi asked.
Miguela opened her mouth but shut it quickly because she did not want to give him the satisfaction of hearing her say that she had no combat training.
“How many combat spells do you know?”
Again she said nothing.
“How many times have you had to cast magik under the direst and stress of combat?”
Miguela stayed defiantly silent.
“I do not doubt your passion nor your ferociousness for a second. But the reality is that you are not equipped to handle a combat situation, especially against someone as dangerous as our mystery woman appears to be. You are the person best suited to find any hint of her whereabouts, so do that and allow me to handle the rest,” the Archmage explained. Miguela knew that he was correct but hated that she had to acknowledge that he was.
“Fair enough,” Miguela said, finally admitting that the Archmage was correct in his assessment.
“Thank you. Even though you are looking during the day, be careful and do not let your guard down,” the Archmage added, pouring fresh cups of tea.
“By the way, Archmage, what was the book behind the torch?” Miguela asked, and Archmage Belvi smiled at the question.
“The tale of the Tanner and the Princess,” he answered, chuckling and pulling the book from under his robes.
Miguela had not thought about that story for years. It was an ancient children’s story about a forbidden love between a common tanner and a beautiful princess. They decided the only way they could be together was in death, and they poisoned themselves, finding peace with one another in the afterlife.
“I wanted you to have it. I thought it was appropriate considering the line of research we have been pursuing,” The Archmage added, gingerly sliding the book across the table.
Miguela picked up the small leather-bound book and opened it carefully, finding pages of handwritten text.
“It is one of the few hand-copied versions directly translated from ancient Nawahl. Consider it a token of thanks for your selflessness,” the Archmage explained, picking up on her confusion.
It took all of her willpower to control her face. The book was worth a small fortune, and it was the sweetest gift she had ever received.
“Thank you so much for this generous and thoughtful gift. I will treasure it always,” Miguela said, feeling her cheeks heat.
“No, thank you for all the sacrifices you are making for the Five Kingdoms,” the Archmage countered.
“I better get some rest and get ready for my trip into the hamlet,” Miguela said, wanting to escape.
“Yes, a guard will be at your door just after sunrise. Good luck, Scryer Miguela,” the Archmage said, standing so she may leave.
After a few more moments of awkward farewells, Miguela finally left and returned to her chambers. She flung herself onto her bed and thought about what had happened. Her instincts told her that she should insist that their working relationship was strictly platonic, but she was unsure if that was what she wanted to do. Miguela chuckled like a primary school student at her silliness when exhaustion took her.
- 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