Category: Weekly


Week 3, Chapter 3

Chapter Three

“The Outain commander Ustain. Do you know him?” asked Adept Belay.

Kam nodded. “I have worked with him before.”

“Good,” said Father. He glanced at me and said, “He is here for a visit.”

What did that have to do me? “I don’t understand.”

“You and Kam will be his escort while he is here,” Father announced.

Escort? I frowned at him. “What do you mean?”

“Show him the city. Be a friend. Keep him out of trouble.” He paused. “Kam, you will be his military guide while he is here.”

I stared at Father. “I don’t understand what is so special about him.”

“Sir . . . Sire. May I?” said Adept Belay.

Father nodded permission to the Adept.

“He may be a rogue magician,” said Adept Belay.

I choked on my egg pastry.

Kam pounded on my back until it came flying out my mouth.

What? What?” I burst out. “You can’t expect me too – I am not going to – I am not a magician!” For the first time in my life, I was glad I wasn’t.

“Sir, she is just a girl. She can’t be expected to deal with -”

“Her mother dealt with magicians at a younger age,” Father said mildly.

“She was raised to it,” I snapped. “I am not.”

Mama’s family was one the premier magician families in the whole country. They had produced more natural magicians than anyone else, so mama had told me, and nearly all the rest were wand magicians. I wasn’t sure what the differences were, but mama had wanted to tread the boards and for that they had disowned her.

“That will be your best defense,” the adept said.

“I don’t understand,” I repeated.

He leaned forward. I tensed, leaning back, sensing the tight whiplash of magic rising from him. Not rising more than a few inches from his skin, but I wanted to keep at least an arms-length between us.

“He will know your ancestry and he will understand your enmity for all magicians.”

He would not; I had made no secret of how badly I wanted to be a magician.

“Your rejection from acceptance into the ranks of magician apprentices will only make that more believable. He will be open to trusting you,” the adept concluded. He stared at me expectantly.

“That doesn’t make me feel any safer,” I said.

“You are my daughter,” said Father gently. “Even if he is a rogue magician, he will not harm you. At least not in my city. Kam will make certain of it.”

“Yes, sir,” said Kam.

Why did he have to be so agreeable?

“He isn’t a magician either,” I protested. “He can’t-”

“No, he is not. He never will be because he, too, is related to his Majesty. However, he has had pre-apprentice schooling,” said Adept Belay.

Pre-apprentice schooling? Only children of nobility got to do that and only families who were willing to disinherit their children if they were accepted. It was a point of prestige for them and conveniently got rid of third and forth sons. Which, I realized, Kam was. He had three older brothers.

“He was expelled from apprentice rank when his mother married his Majesty,” continued Adept Belay. “But he learned enough to recognize a natural mage when he sees one.”

“But his family -”

“I adopted him formally,” said Father. “His mother did not.”

Oh. I supposed that would work. Father hadn’t disowned him and it was illegal to adopt a child you had disowned.

I glanced sideways at him. He looked stern and controlled. He’d wanted to be a magician, too. I wondered if he resented Father for that. I couldn’t tell. He was as magician like as most soldiers. How far had he gotten in his training?

“You can recognize other magicians?” I asked him.

“I know when someone is performing magic,” he said.

That wasn’t quite the same thing. But maybe it was good enough.

“Why me?” I asked Father. “There have to be others that can do this.”

“No one I trust as much I trust you. No one else has a reason to be unhappy with the Magicians’ Guild.”

Meaning no one else in the family had created such a public row about not being a magician apprentice.

I slumped in my chair. “How will I meet him?”

Father smiled. “In two days there is a soiree. Kam will be your escort.”

Perfect. I might get out of this yet. “I don’t have a dress and no seamstress will finish one so soon.”

“Madam Tari is waiting in your room. She will manage, I am sure.”

Hell. Who had thought of having Madam Tari waiting? Father couldn’t have. I am not sure he ever noticed clothes.

“Your mother is waiting with her,” he added. “She’s thinks you need more clothes for this season’s activities and I’ve decided to indulge her.”

“I’ve no space to put more clothes!” Not to mention Asa would tease me mercilessly if I showed up with ball gowns.

“They will stay in your room here,” Father said.

The room that mama used for storage now.

Father laughed. “Smile, Isi. I’ve yet to see a daughter so displeased with the prospect of new clothes. Go on, now. And, mind, don’t discuss this with anyone else.”

“I’m always smiling, Father.” I forced a smile, rising. “Good day, Father. Adept Belay.”

Kam rose, bowed to them both, rose again, walking backward to the door.

The door shut softly behind us and I found myself relaxing.

Kam glowered down at me. “Where is your room?”

“The Round Wing.” It was named for the large round tower and off to the side. It was really only connected to cellars; you had to go underground to get anywhere else. I’d loved playing games down there when I was younger. But it was not near the front public wing, not in the west servant wing, not close to the east diplomatic wing and nowhere near the rear family wing. I suppose that was part of why Father had installed us there. He didn’t want his Queen and mama to be too close.

“Of course you are. Where else would you be?” He held out his arm, like he had before, looking at me expectantly.

What? Did he think he was going to come into my rooms with me? “Good day, my lord.”

I tucked my hands behind my back and walked down the hall to Father’s library. The cellars were easy to get to from there.

His footsteps were loud behind me, than his fingers closed on my right wrist and jerked me around. I stumbled back and glared at him. “Let go! You have no -”

He loosened his grip, but didn’t let go. “You,” he said slowly, “will not keep me from doing my duty.”

“I am not! I don’t want to!” I jerked my wrists, but he held them tight. “You are hurting me.”

“No, I am not. Did you hear what his Majesty said?”

I scowled at him. Clearly, I wasn’t going to get free until he was good and ready. “That I am to get new clothes. Now.”

“He ordered me to be your bodyguard.”

I shook my head. “No, he didn’t, he just said that -”

“That’s what he meant,” said Kam.

“No, he -” I cut myself off. Obviously, he wouldn’t believe me. “I will go ask him. Right now.”

He studied me, than nodded and let me go. I marched back into Father’s little study. The adept was just getting up and he sat back down when he saw me.

Father looked quizzically at me. “Yes, Isi?”

“Kam thinks you ordered him to be my bodyguard,” I burst out.

After a moment, Father said, “I did.”

I took a deep breath and tried to sound reasonable. “You told him to watch over me, but that’s not the same thing as being a bodyguard. And I don’t anyone hovering over me when I am in class or rehearsing. It’s not necessary and he’ll be in the way and I will be safe enough. This rogue magician isn’t going to do anything and I’ll be safe enough.”

“You’re going to be contending with a rogue magician. Yes, contending. Isi, make no mistake, this will not be easy, and Kam will assist you as much as he can. Won’t you?” Father looked behind me to Kam.

Kam had closed the door and was leaning against it. “Yes, sir, I will. Though I wish you would reconsider. She is just a girl.”

“Another reason why he is likely to trust her,” Father said. “Go on, now.”

Kam was a large, imposing presence. He looked very out of place in mama’s living room, covered as it was by fabric and lace and bowls of shiny beads. He had insisted on being here and now looked deeply uncomfortable. I hoped he rotted in his discomfort.

Mama had roped Kam into pushing the table to the side so there would be room for me. I stood, barefoot on the slightly dusty floor and dressed only in new linen shift. My stone was safely hidden in mama’s bedroom, under a pile of clothes. The windows were open to the kitchen gardens and the scent of fresh herbs relaxed me enough to ignore Kam. Yards of bright blue lacy cotton and the lighter silk lining lay crumpled at my feet. More fabric was draped and pined about my body. Madam Tari bustled about me, making marks and sometimes snipping with a pair of small scissors. Her assistants sat in the corner, preparing lengths of silk ribbon with beads.

183 words. Below what I should have done for today. I don’t feel like doing anymore today, but I am over my weekly goal, so it’s all good. Weekly word count is 1610. It is not a good place to end a chapter, so I think I will just continue with chapter 3 tomorrow.

I haven’t really started the science fiction short yet. The little bit of snippet I wrote the other day helped me with voice, but I don’t think the character reflecting on himself is a good place to begin. I’ve a kernel of an idea, though, and I think I am going to start with him in the garage. The thing I am worried about is whether or not I will be done by the 30th. Even if I am, I likely will not have time to rewrite or submit it for critiques. So whatever I submit will probably be a first draft and all I’ll really have time for is check spelling and make sure there are no missing words.

On the other hand, even if the story is not done in time for contest, I can still finish it, edit, rewrite and submit to other magazines.

Week 1, Day 7: 267 words

I am on schedule! 267 words today! Luckily, it even seems like a good place to end a chapter.

This week’s total word count comes out to 1745. My weekly goal was around 1,400 so I am ahead. Yah for me! 🙂 Only 68000 words to go. That’s a large number and a little depressing. I am not thinking about it. I will not think about it. I will not think about it. I will not think about it.

I chose Ising for the girl’s name. Isi for short. Isi sounds vaguely Egyptian to me, which is not what I intended. But I like the name, so I am sticking with it. Ising is a combo of Lisimba and Delling. Isi from Lisimba and ing from Delling. But Isi since it does sound vaguely Egyptian to me, I suspect I will take Egypt’s landscape and modify it for my purposes. That is, to make the land fit the plot (what there is of it so far). But I don’t think I will use Egyptian culture, mostly because I know nothing of it and at present I can up make up whatever I feel will suit best. Because it is the still the beginning I am not really locked into any particular type or style of mythology. I will figure that out as I go along. I might use some modified form of Egypt’s ancient myths, though.