Navihm entered the tent where the prisoner was being held. Sachem Ahmet followed him. The Somali man was tied to the thick wooden beam supporting the center of the triangular tent. He didn’t make eye contact with the two men, ignoring them completely. He just stared had the floor, his blond hair hanging in front oh his face.

The Sachem pulled out some papers, offering them to Navihm.

“This is everything he has told us,” said the Sachem.

“I thought you hadn’t been able to get any information out of him,” said Navihm, scanning the papers.

“The opposite problem is true; we have too much information. He talks quite willingly but he gives us conflicting information and multiple dates. We’ve no way of knowing what is true.”

“I see the problem.” Navihm addressed the prisoner. “I assume you speak Nomad. You wouldn't be much use as a spy if you didn’t.”

“I see you share my proficiency in languages, Genti.” The prisoner replied in Genti, still staring at the tent floor.

“You are are a talented fellow, spy, but I think we should keep our conversation to Nomadic for the benefit of our visitor.” Navihm nodded towards the Sachem. “When is the invasion?” The prisoner laughed.

“You have it right there in your hand; it is in three weeks time.”

“It also says here that it is starting at sunrise today and dusk three days ago.” Navihm tugged on a strand of his elemental magic, directing his concentration to the pump of his blood through his neck. It took a little concentration, but he was able to sense the water in his blood as it pumped through his veins.

“There is no invasion,” the prisoner said. The pump of his heart increased as he said the words. Navihm smiled, he realised his eyes had slid shut in concentration so he opened them and stared intently at the bound man.

“When is the invasion?” he asked again, menacingly.

“In three weeks time,” the Somali man repeated, grinning. Lie.

“I don’t like liers,” Navihm said.

“I’ve already told you what you wanted to know.” Curiously, this was the truth. “If there is nothing else, I would like to have a nap, it is going to be a long three weeks until I am rescued.” Navihm scanned the the papers he held. If he’d already given them the information, it would be here. There were four dates; this morning, three days ago, in three weeks time and in eight days.

“So the invasion is in eight days.”

The prisoner didn’t reply, only smiled calmly. This was a problem. Navihm needed a verbal reply for his new found lie detection skills to work. He let go of his elemental magic and drew from the well of magic in his mind. He concentrated on the man’s aura, something he’d only been successful at a few times before he’d started training in elemental magic.

The colourful cloud of magic surrounding the man snapped into focus quicker than Navihm had ever been able to achieve. He could sense the anxiety in the man, masked by his calm facade. Navihm was confident that he was correct in assuming the invasion would start in little over than a week.

“Or perhaps it is in three weeks, like you said.” Navihm watched as his anxiety leached out of his cloud of aura. Navihm switched back to his elemental magic, it took him longer than he would have liked.

“According to this,” Navihm consulted the paper, “there could be anywhere from two hundred to five thousand men attacking the Ninth.”

“Who ever said we were attacking the Ninth?” said the Somali prisoner. Navihm wasn’t able to sense if this was a deceit due to the way the man phrased the statement. Navihm exchanged his elemental magic for his empathy once more but by the time he was able to get a clear view of his aura, all signs of nervousness had been repressed.

This was not going to work. Instead of immediately releasing his empathy, Navihm reached for another strand of magic. The auras surrounding the prisoner and Sachem Ahmet flickered as Navihm honed in on the spy’s pulse once more. Navihm’s sensitivity of the man’s feelings faded to the background as he funneled more of his concentration into his elemental magic. Holding the two strands of magic at the same time was relatively simple, it was balancing his awareness of the two which proved difficult for Navihm.

“You are attacking the Ninth,” Navihm said with false confidence. He watched as a flash of irritation and a stirring of anxiousness pulsed through his aura.

“Wherever we attack, we will outnumber you ten to one,” laughed the spy. Navihm tugged quickly on his elemental magic, scrambling to sense the lie. He must have drawn too much energy as his head was filled with the whoosh of three dozen heartbeats, all belonging to nearby Nomads. Navihm was so overwhelmed with the sudden sensation, he dropped all his magic, letting it flow back into his body. He knew that he would probably get better at balancing his magics with practice. Unfortunately, he needed to be good at it now.

Navihm thought for a moment. He had first sensed a heartbeat when Ira had touched him skin to skin. He pulled on his magics again, but instead of sending tendrils of them out across the space between them, Navihm placed a finger under the prisoner’s chin and channeled his magic through that contact. Navihm nudged the Somali’s head up using his finger, forcing them to make eye contact. Navihm tightened his focus.

“How many people are attacking?” Navihm asked.

Almost half an hour later, Navihm and Sachem Ahmet were talking back at the Sachem’s tent. This time Navihm was also seated.

“They will attack in eight days time with six hundred men,” Navihm was saying. “I’ve marked the accurate details on that paper you gave me and added anything else I picked up too. He’d told you most of the correct information already, mixed in with twice as many lies. I suppose he thought he was clever.”

The Sachem scanned the paper.

“Thank you, Enfeitar,” he said. “I will have a copy of this made and sent to your tents.”

“And the alliance?” Navihm enquired.

“I will consider it and send you my decision with the invasion details.”

“Thank you, Sachem.”

About the author


  • Australia


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