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Caecilia looked terrified as she recorded Filar’s memories. When Miguela finished the retelling, Caecilia met her eyes and said, “You were correct. There are dark magiks involved.”

 

“Yes, and it is worse than I thought,” Miguela replied.

 

“Do you think she is a Nawahl?” Caecilia asked.

 

“It makes some sense to assume that, however, from what I understand about Nawahl shapeshifters, they assume the size of the creature they mimic. She was much larger than your standard crag spider,” Miguela answered.

 

They went over the recording one more time to ensure they did not miss any details. After they were finished, Miguela asked Caecilia to deliver a message for her. Caecilia enthusiastically agreed, and they said their farewells for the night.

 

Miguela finally crawled into her bed well after midnight. She was exhausted and had to wake up in a few hours to travel back to the hamlet with Dontino.

 

Miguela woke to the sound of a heavy knock on her door. She was a disheveled mess and still wearing the same clothes from yesterday. Miguela forced herself to get out of bed, crossing her chambers. Miguela opened the door just enough to poke her out.

 

“I am going to need a moment to get ready, Dontino. Why don’t you head to the canteen and grab us some fruit for the ride to the hamlet?”

 

Dontino saluted in the Ramon fashion of crossing his arms over his chest and bowing his head before leaving to start his task. Miguela shut the door and started changing her clothes. She put on an orange riding dress and a new pair of trousers. Miguela decided that she would have to settle for the same pair of boots she wore yesterday before brushing the tangles out of her hair. There was another heavy knock on her door, and this time Miguela greeted Dontino properly.

 

“Good morning, Dontino. Thank you for running that errand for me.”

 

“Good morning, Scryer Miguela. Please think nothing of it. Shall we be on our way?”

 

She nodded in response, stepping out into the hallway and closing the door behind her. They made their way to the stables, and the stable hands produced the same steeds from yesterday. Miguela had become fond of the beautiful black horse during their short time together. After they mounted their steeds, Dontino handed her a banana and peeled one for himself. They ate in content silence as they rode to the hamlet. Now all she had to do was figure out what to do when she got to the hamlet.

 

They arrived at Arizi and hitched their steeds to the same hitching post. She led them to the inn again. After entering the inn, she made her way to the bar counter, where the innkeeper busied himself with rearranging the wooden mugs as the adventurer, Koal, sat, nursing an ale.

 

“Innkeeper, is Keli around?” Miguela asked. The innkeeper looked up, realizing that it was people from the compound asking for one of his barmaids. The innkeeper jumped to find her. Koal looked over his shoulder and sniffed loudly before turning his attention back to his mug.

 

“A little early to be drinking, no?” Miguela quipped before she could stop herself.

 

The adventurer swiveled on his stool to face her, laughing.

 

“I think I like you. A little early,” Koal said, turning back around and laughing before draining his mug. “Another!”

 

The innkeeper returned with Keli and hurried to serve Koal his next drink. Keli approached them apprehensively. The way she moved reminded Miguela of a skittish deer attempting to drink from a river.

 

“Did you find anything?” Keli asked.

 

Miguela nodded somberly, handing Keli the bracelet she loaned Miguela.

 

“I am afraid he is gone, but I will do everything in my power to find justice for him,” Miguela said. Keli had tears forming in her eyes, but she fought them off bravely.

 

“Did he ever mention meeting new people, a Nawahl in particular?” Miguela asked delicately.

 

“No, not that I can remember,” Keli answered.

 

“Have any new people moved to the hamlet in the last year?” Miguela continued her questioning.

 

“We have a few apprentices come and go, but no Nawahl I know of,” Keli replied.

 

“Well, please send for me at the compound if you think of anything. I am sorry for your loss, Keli,” Migeula said. Keli thanked her and left.

 

“Looks like you found something after all,” Koal said with his back to her. “If you have something, I can probably help.”

 

“You told me to piss off yesterday,” Miguela retorted.

 

“Respectfully,” Koal said as he turned to face her.

 

Chuckling, Miguela said, “Fair enough, I will hear what you have to say,” she said.

 

“I will not get into the particulars of it, but if you could get me something that belonged to the baker’s apprentice, I can track where it and, by extension, he has been. Could be clothes, jewelry, hair, whatever,” Koal explained.

 

“How?” Miguel asked, allowing her curiosity to get the better of her.

 

“That is not important. All you need to know is that I can. However, if I were to help you find the killer, I get the bounty in full,” Koal retorted.

 

“I am not interested in the bounty. But I have to ask if you can track in this fashion, why have you not done it yet?” Miguela inquired.

 

“That is a fair question, Scryer Miguela. The truth is I tried to find a personal effect of the baker kid, but the compound took all of his possessions. The other cases were too old, and their trails have long disappeared,” Koal answered.

 

“Why didn’t you ask me this yesterday?” She asked.

 

“I didn’t like you yesterday,” Koal replied.

 

Miguela looked over her shoulder and saw that Dontino was far enough away to make hearing every word difficult but close enough that he could leap into action if needed.

 

“I can get you what you need. Meet me here tonight,” Miguela said, leaning towards Koal in a near whisper.

 

“How fun,” Koal said, picking up on her cues to stay quiet on their arrangement. He turned back to his ale and said nothing more.

 

Miguela walked over to Dontino, who looked at her expectedly.

 

“That man is infuriating. Let’s go back to the compound. I have things to take care of there,” she said. Dontino grunted noncommittally and followed her as she led them back to their steeds.

 

They arrived at the compound just before noon and returned their steeds to the stable.

 

“I won’t be going back out today, Dontino. Take the afternoon for yourself, and I will see you tomorrow morning,” Miguela said, turning to face him.

 

“Are you sure?” Dontino asked.

 

“Yes. I have much to do here,” Miguela replied. The big man shrugged but did not argue before taking his leave.

 

Miguela made her way to Archmage Belvi’s office, and before knocking on the door, she inhaled deeply to calm her nerves. The Archmage had been lenient and generous, allowing her to pursue an interest far from her duties at the compound, and she was about to go against his wishes blatantly. She pushed any doubts out of her head and knocked on the door with conviction. Miguela made promises to the people of Arizi and planned to keep them because they had suffered enough.

 

“Enter,” the Archmage’s voice called from inside.

 

Miguela entered to see Archmage Belvi scribbling some notes in the margins of a tome that looked to be a spellbook. She wondered what fantastical spells and magikal theories were there to be found in an Archmage’s spellbook.

 

“Scryer Miguela, how are you today, and what can I do for you?” The Archmage asked, looking up from his work.

 

“Archmage Belvi, I believe I am getting closer to figuring out who was causing the people of the hamlet so much trouble,” Miguela answered. The Archmage’s face became unreadable.

 

“That is good news. I hope you will wrap up whatever it is you have to wrap up by tomorrow,” The Archmage commented neutrally.

 

“I believe so, Archmage. That does lead to why I am here. I need access to the body of the baker’s apprentice,” she said.

 

Archmage Belvi cocked his head to the side in a manner that reminded Miguela of a hound deciding if it was going to fetch the stick a person just threw or not. After a moment, he spoke.

 

“Sure, why not?”

 

The Archmage scribbled a note on a scrap of parchment and handed it to her.

 

“Show this to the charge of the infirmary, and they will take you to the morgue,” he explained.

 

She took the note before he could change his mind and made pleasant small talk before excusing herself. She stopped by her chambers to grab some shears and headed to the infirmary. Miguela found the charge, a middle-aged Arzan lady, and showed her the note. The middle-aged Arzan took them under the compound to a dark, damp, rectangular, underground room that had a door on each end of the rectangle. One door they entered, and the other door the charge disappeared behind to fetch the body.

 

Miguela pretended to examine the baker’s apprentice for new evidence, and when she had the chance, she cut a clump of hair from his head. Miguela went about her façade for a few moments longer before declaring that she was finished.

 

Miguela returned to her chambers with a clump of hair and a stomach full of fear, but she knew that she had to ignore those fears because she needed a nap before tonight.

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A note from CKJ5

If you like what you are reading, you can find more epic adventures in the Five Kingdoms universe on Amazon:

Book 1: Scourge of the Five Kingdoms

link: https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B09VK3JZ8V

Book 2: Dogma of the Five Kingdoms

link: https://www.royalroad.com/amazon/B09VKC3TRR


About the author

CKJ5

  • Tokyo, Japan

Bio: 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

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VK3JZ8V

Book 2: Dogma of the Five Kingdoms

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09VKC3TRR

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