Miguela ate supper in such a rush that she barely tasted the food going down her throat. After finishing, she hurried to scrying room number seven. She was pleasantly surprised to find Caecilia waiting in front of the door. There was a nervous energy about Caecilia, telling Miguela that the other woman had sensed the unwritten urgency in Miguela’s message.
“Good evening, Scryer Miguela,” Caecilia greeted, attempting a light tone that was anything but.
“Good evening, Scryer Caecilia,” Miguela said, similarly strained.
Miguela decided to get them inside the scrying room before somebody saw them awkwardly standing in the hall. They lit the torches and sat in their respective seats. Miguela was glad that the Archmage removed any signs of the other activities so she wouldn’t get into the details with Caecilia. Caecilia set up her writing utensils before speaking.
After setting out her writing utensils, Caecilia said, “Miguela, what is going on?”
Miguela told her about the scry that led her to investigate the hamlet and what she had discovered so far, carefully leaving out the parts about necromancy.
“Someone is murdering young men in the hamlet?” Caecilia asked. Miguela thought the question rhetorical but nodded in case it wasn’t.
“I believe there are dark magiks involved. The people of the hamlet cannot hope to defend against it. The Archmage has given me three days to investigate. After that, he wants to hand over what we have to the local authorities, who have proven incompetent. We have the power to help these people, and I think we owe it to them,” Miguela explained passionately.
Caecilia nodded and smiled.
“You are a good person. That is rare in the Five Kingdoms,” Caecilia said, laughing at her wit. “Let’s get started then. I would like to get some sleep tonight.”
Miguela laughed as well, thanking her friend for her help. Caecilia fetched some water in the copper pitcher while Miguela fished the bracelet the barmaid gave her out of her pouch and set it on the table.
Caecilia returned with the water, eying the bracelet as she sat across from Miguela. Caecilia poured two mugs, taking one for herself.
“Let’s begin,” Caecilia said after draining her mug in one swallow.
Miguela cast the scrying spell, feeling the rune latch onto her ley. She began focusing on the bracelet. The world lurched, a torrent of memories slammed into her skull, and Miguela became Filar Phenx, a coppersmith’s apprentice with aspirations of becoming a silversmith and goldsmith. She was from Arzal, the capital of Arza, and was the seventh child of a low-income family. A few of her brothers jumped at the chance to join the military, but Filar sought a trade skill instead, and after showing promise in a large smith in Arzal, her former mentor introduced him to Master Blay in the hamlet of Arizi.
Filar woke up and did his usual routine of stretches in the morning. He enjoyed this time because it allowed him to reflect on his life. Since moving to Arizi, Filar found the people welcoming and very kind. However, he found it hard to find a companion as a transplant from another city. Filar had dreams of finding a wife to start a large family of his own to pass down his skills and begin the Phenx legacy. His thoughts wandered a bit to his brothers. Filar hoped they were doing well but heard that the war was getting worse and worse.
His brothers were not swordsmen nor magikians, so he worried about them, but the one thing that the Phenx family knew how to do was survive.
Filar shook away the dark thoughts of his brothers and their possible deaths and refocused on his own problems. For months now, Filar had tried to catch the attention of Keli, one of the barmaids at the inn. She was a bit older than Filar, but that did not bother him. He thought she was beautiful, spirited, and wise. At least at one time, he did. That was before he met W*******, and now, he wondered if he was only settling because he was lonely. He still felt something for Keli, but he was sure he only thought of her as a friend. In many ways, her rebuffing his advances was a blessing because this way, Filar would not have to explain to her why he was leaving her.
Filar finished his routine and wiped himself down with a towel, smiling. Tonight, he would ask for W *******’s hand in marriage and start his dream. He should finish his apprenticeship in two years maximum, and after that, they could move to a bigger town, buy a home and fill it up with babies.
Life would be perfect then. Since he had a day off, Filar made his way to the public baths to get cleaned up for his big evening.
After soaking away the sweat and soot of his work, he returned home and changed into his best outfit, a white silk shirt with fine woven black trousers and a matching jacket. The outfit was not stunning or flashy, but he figured that *******a would appreciate Filar’s classic sensibilities. Filar looked out the window of his home and saw that the suns would soon be making their descent towards the horizon, which meant he should start making his way to W *******’s cottage because he had to travel there on foot.
As he walked, Filar worked scenarios out through his head about how he should ask her. Filar started to reminisce about the first time they met. But for the life of him, he could not recall where or how they met. Filar panicked. What if she asked him about the first time they met? How would he answer? He decided that if she asked, he would focus on how beautiful she was and how he could only see her before changing the subject to their recent engagements. Filar was sure that would work. It would have to work.
Filar arrived at W ******’s cottage, feeling lightheaded and not recalling the walk to her place. He gathered his wits and knocked on the door. Tonight would change his life forever.
“My lovely Filar. Come in,” W *******’s beautiful voice called from inside.
He entered the small cottage, closing the door behind him. The only light was a small candle in the far corner of the room, making it hard to see. In the middle of the room stood *******a. She was fully naked, but the shadows prevented him from seeing her naked form in detail.
Filar felt his temperature rise and his voice catch in his throat. He had to ask her now. It was the gentlemanly thing to do.
“W******, would you take my hand in marriage,” Filar said, getting down on one knee.
******a laughed her delightful laugh before speaking.
“My dear, foolish, Filar. What makes you think I would marry the likes of you? All you ever talk about is your wish for me to breed your spawn. You never once asked about any of my desires or dreams. Only how many children you wanted.”
Filar felt ecstasy at the sound of her voice, but the meaning of her words did not match the feeling. As he was trying to grasp what was happening, he noticed that W******* doubled over. It looked as if her midsection was collapsing, and suddenly four limbs shot out of her body. Filar watched in terror as a giant crag spider replaced the woman he loved.
“I only put up with your nonsense so that I may feed,” W******* explained. Her beautiful voice sounded strange coming from the giant spider. Filar opened his mouth to ask what was happening, but before getting any words out, the spider hissed and sprung at him with incredible speed. The spider struck with a clawed leg, causing the world to flash white as unconsciousness took him, and then he died.
Miguela woke with fright. Caecilia was halfway out of her chair when Miguela croaked, “It is fine. I am fine.”
Caecilia looked concerned but sat back down and started preparing her writing utensils to record the scry. Miguela took a long drink of water and worked on controlling her breathing. Once her breathing evened out, she looked at Caecilia and asked,“Can I confess something to you?”
Caecilia nodded slowly, looking confused by the sudden question.
“I really hate crag spiders now.”
Caecilia kept a straight face for as long as she could, but it was not long before they laughed like schoolchildren.
- 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