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Miguela forced herself to her feet and dried her eyes the best she could before stumbling to her seat. As she sat, she noticed she felt drained, physically, mentally, and magikally. She checked her ley pool and was shocked to find it empty. Shocked, she wanted to cry again but steadied her breathing and focused her resolve on staying calm. After she spoke with the Archmage, she could cry like a hungry baby if she wanted. She was unsure how long she waited, but finally, the door to the scrying room opened, and in came the Archmage and Caecilia.

 

The Archmage rushed to her seat as soon as he saw her.

 

“What happened? You look awful,” he asked, kneeling beside her.

 

“You sure are a charmer, aren’t you?” she joked, her words bringing a relieved smile to the Archmage’s face.

 

“At least your wit is still intact,” he retorted, chuckling as he stood.

 

After Caecilia got her writing tools ready, Miguela began telling the tale of Kelbin’s memories. When she got to the part of the story where she could think and process what was happening around her, the Archmage stopped her.

 

“Wait, you could think on your own and were no longer experiencing only Kelbin’s memories?” Archmage Belvi asked.

 

“Yes, I was still in his body and had access to my thoughts, but I could not control any of the body’s movements or actions,” Miguela answered, explaining the situation as well as she could manage.

 

“Fascinating,” the Archmage replied, lost in thought.

 

“Do you know what it means?” Miguela asked.

 

“Well, no. But, one theory could be that what you were experiencing was happening in real-time. You could not disengage from the vision because you were living it,” the Archmage explained.

 

“I could have been trapped in that body until it died?” Miguela asked, feeling goosebumps on her arms.

 

“In theory, yes,” Archmage Belvi replied, and Miguela felt as if she would vomit right then. Since she started scrying the undead, becoming one of them has become her greatest fear, and she almost did to herself without her mortal self dying.

 

“Fortunately, the quick thinking of your partner was able to break the spell, so we know it is possible to stop the spell,” the Archmage added, addressing Miguela’s unsaid concerns.

 

The Archmage waited patiently for Miguela to recompose herself and nodded for her to continue.

 

Again, once Miguela got to the part about Bishop Baoro, the Archmage stopped her.

 

“Incredible. They found your conciseness in the dead body of a Grang.”

 

“What about the Bishop? He seems to be in some leadership position within the Scourge,” Miguela inquired.

 

“Indeed. I will write a report for the Consul of the Five immediately after we finish here,” Archmage Belvi replied, gesturing for her to continue.

 

She finished the rest of the memories without interruption, and before the Archmage left, he said, “Scryer Miguela, you have been courageous today. I know it is hard to do but have faith that all of the pain you are enduring will be useful to accomplishing great things. Now get a few days of rest, and hopefully, I will have some more answers for you.”

 

The Archmage took the recording papers and left them alone. They straightened the room and extinguished the flames before they left. Caecilia walked Miguela to the door of her chambers, despite Caecilia’s chambers being on the other side of the compound.

 

“Tomorrow night. My room. Wine,” Caecilia said, looking as shaken as Miguela felt from tonight’s happenings.

 

Miguela nodded in agreement and said her goodbyes. She didn’t bother to undress, falling into her bed and sleeping when her head hit the pillow.

 

Miguela woke once in the late morning to use the latrine, and after that, she returned to bed, sleeping until dusk. She felt much better after the rest. She got out of bed and stretched her back.

 

Remembering she drained her ley pool, she reached for it and was happy that it had been partially refilled. It wasn’t all the way back, but it was very close. She changed into a simple dress and headed for the canteen. Miguela knew that she had to eat before meeting Caecilia. Otherwise, the night would end prematurely with her vomiting in Caecilia’s chambers. Arriving at the canteen, Miguela caught the smell of chowder, and her stomach growled at her. She got a bowl, filled it to the brim with the delicious smelling chowder, and took half a loaf of crusty bread. She ate with the zeal of a person starving and went for seconds, getting only half a bowl on her second helping. Once content, Miguela cleared her dishes and went directly to Caecilia’s chambers.

 

Miguela could hear Henna’s high-pitched laugh from outside Caecilia’s chambers. She knocked on the door, and Caecilia opened it, smiling brightly.

 

“It is about time. I was about to go searching for you,” Caecilia quipped. Miguela noticed her face was flushed already. It looked like they started without her.

 

“I just woke up a little bit ago,” Miguela explained., walking into the chambers. Henna did not look as drunk as Caecilia, but it was difficult for Miguela to tell on Arzan skin tones. She figured Caecilia was itching to drink to help her forget what she learned yesterday, recording Miguela’s scry.

 

Henna poured her a flute of wine as she sat on the cushions on the floor. They started chatting some, Henna providing the usual gossip she had gathered. While listening, Miguela quickly drained three flutes of wine. She was beginning to feel the effects of the wine in the pit of her stomach. Henna continued talking about the rumors that she heard, but there had been something that Miguela meant to ask Henna, and now it was as good a time as she was going to find.

 

“Henna. I am really curious, and if I am out of line, just tell me, and I will never mention it again, but what is the story with you and Poe? You seemed much closer than just guard and mistress of the house,” Miguela asked. This time Miguela could tell that Henna was blushing because she became a deep shape of purple instead of her usual blue hue.

 

“It’s complicated,” Henna mumbled, busying herself with her flute.

 

“We are your friends. I would rather hear about somebody I care about rather than some cooks I hardly know,” Miguela said truthfully. Caecilia gave Henna a nod and a reassuring smile. Henna sighed loudly, drinking her flute in one swallow before speaking.

 

“There is not a lot to tell. I was just a foolish girl enamored with a rugged man almost twice her age. It turned out that he returned my feelings, but duty and loyalty prevented him from acting on them.”

 

Miguela leaned forward on her elbow. Now, this was interesting.

 

“Poe came from the humblest of beginnings. His family was in poverty when he was a child. My father took him in after Poe tried to pickpocket a guard and fought off two grown men when Poe was eleven. My father had him trained, making him into a fiercely loyal guardsman. My father often told me that if he had known that his investment would have paid off so handsomely, he would have taken in ten street children,” Henna paused, perhaps thinking of the life she left behind before joining the Academy. After a moment, she continued. “We grew close, often talking when time permitted, and one day I cornered him in a barn, unrobed in front of him, and asked him to take my virginity.”

 

Caecilia gasped, which in return received a sharp look from Henna.

 

“As I said, I was foolish. Poe politely declined and told my father. As you may imagine, my father was livid that I attempted to bed Poe like a common bar wench. After that, my father felt that he could not trust me with Poe in the house and arranged for him to join the Academy guards. When Poe found out I was going to move to the compound, he asked to be stationed here. And now, I have no idea where he is,” she said before adding, “not that I think the Archmage was anything but fair with us.”

 

“How about you, Miguela,” Henna said, locking eyes with Miguela. Miguela figured it was only fair that she asked about the Archmage. She waited for Henna to continue, “I saw how you looked at that bounty hunter. What was his name again, Koal?”

 

Miguela choked on her wine, Koal? Henna thought Miguela was interested in Koal?

 

“That is ridiculous, Henna. Miguela only had eyes for the Archmage,” Caecilia added, slurring her words slightly.

 

Henna smiled at this tidbit.

 

“I noticed that you were on good terms with the Archmage, but I did not know that you were on those terms with him,” Henna said, making the relationship seem shamefully sexual.

 

“Honestly, neither of those men do much for me. Though they are pleasing to the eye, I will admit,” Miguela replied honestly. Caecilia looked surprised, and Henna nodded sagely with understanding.

 

“Besides, men that are pretty probably come with a lifetime of baggage and secrets,” Miguela added cryptically, and the three ladies shared a good laugh. Miguela was sure that they didn’t fully understand what she meant, and for now, she preferred it that way.

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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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