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Over Water

Title: Over Water

Series: The Destined Trilogy, 2

Author: Brittany Westerberg

ISBN: 978-1-60975-064-0

Product Code: BK0059

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 338

Release Date: February 2015

Cover Price: $21.95

Our Price: $19.95

 

 

 

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Book Jacket

Since learning she had magic, life hadn't been the kindest to Leora. She left home at fifteen in order to train as a mage. She learned her mother − who she lost at a young age − was also a mage. She faced down a master mage and rescued her teacher only a year into her training, an ordeal which left another student mage − and her friend − dead.

After spending more than three years traveling and learning about her magic, she has learned to control her abilities and learned to trust her teacher, Rafael. Now, Leora heads overseas to a country that hates magic: Morlanta, the homeland of her friend, Lia. A devastating drought in the south is causing tensions within and without the country, and some believe the drought isn't of natural causes. Leora must pretend to be a noble, gaining new allies, facing new − and old −  enemies, and making choices that could cost her more than just her life.


 

Book Excerpt

 

1

 

 I dropped down into the darkness, holding onto the rope that was anchored above. Once my feet touched bottom, I gave the rope three tugs and looked around quickly. The only light came from the square hole in the rock twenty feet up. I opened the fingers of my left hand and felt warmth flow into the palm. I held up my hand and a small ball of light shone there, illuminating the darkness.

“Move, Leora, unless you want me to stand on your shoulders,” Rafael told me.

I looked up at him and stepped aside. I pushed a stray strand of blond hair out of my face, and then I cupped my hands together and split the ball into two smaller ones before making them grow. I held up both hands and looked around.

“Loose them, Leora,” Rafael Mordican, a master mage and my teacher, told me pointedly, landing lightly on his feet. He let go of the rope and glanced at me. “You’ll need your hands.”

I frowned. The balls of light flew out of my hands and hung around me. I quickly made another and sent it to the other side of Rafael, who glanced at me. “We really need to work on you summoning those lights without the use of your hands,” he said. “You should be able to call them into existence.”

“I can,” I replied. “I just like the feeling of them in my hand, and it takes less concentration.”

“Or more.” Rafael narrowed his dark brown eyes. “Let’s go.”

He was right. I did need my hands free, as the tunnel was anything but smooth. There were times when we had to climb over obstructions or walk down steep declines. Clearly, whoever had made this tunnel had concentrated on merely getting where they wanted to go, not on how easy the trip could be made. Time had not been kind to the path, either.

We walked for more than an hour, exploring, helping each other over obstacles. Well, Rafael helped me over obstacles. Being much shorter and slighter, it was harder going for me. All the while we walked, we listened, hearing only the unsteady dripping of water and our own footsteps.

At one point, after my foot had gotten caught and I had to yank it free, my boot came unlaced. I waved Rafael on. “I’ll catch up,” I told him.

He moved on ahead of me, as I knew he would. He was more interested in these caves than I was, though I didn’t know why. I muttered a curse under my breath as I saw that the lace had been half torn, and it would need to be replaced.

I tied it up as best as I could and stood, moving forward with lights on either side of me to guide my way. I didn’t think Rafael could be that far ahead of me, but I couldn’t see his lights anymore. I sighed, thinking that it was just like him; he got caught up in something and expected me to keep up.

I came to a sudden fork in the path, which explained why I couldn’t see him. I paused for a second, wondering if I should douse my lights for a moment to see if I could see anything either way, but then I felt a familiar tug in my middle. I turned down the right fork and not long after finally saw Rafael’s lights.

“You know, you could have waited for me at the fork,” I said as I walked up to him.

“You obviously knew which way I would go,” Rafael said from where he was kneeling, examining something on the wall.

“What if I had turned down the other way?”

Rafael gave me a look, and motioned me closer. “There’s writing here,” he said, pointing. “Old writing, from more than a century ago.”

With a thought I moved one of the lights closer and saw the worn scratches on the rock as I squatted beside him, our shoulders barely touching. “I see it,” I said. “What does it say?”

“Something about being cold, I think, and… That’s strange.”

“What is?”

“The markings don’t look like they fit together. Most of the symbols slant this way, but these last two are slanted the other way.” He straightened slightly.

“How is that significant? The writer’s hand may have been getting tired.”

“The angle of the lines makes every difference in their meaning, Leora. One of the interesting things about Dedalon is that one mark, one scratch added to a symbol, can completely change what the writer is trying to say. That’s what makes it such a difficult language to learn.”

“How long did it take you to learn it?”

The corner of his mouth turned up slightly. “I never really learned this language. It was more the case of picking up things along the way. The last person I knew who could speak Dedalon fluently died three years ago, before he could teach anyone else. He didn’t even write the alphabet out so that no one else could teach themselves. Proud and arrogant.”

“Some might say stupid.”

“Agreed. My master was too proud that he was unique in this one way.”

I hesitated. “That explains how you picked things up, then.”

“I know a few words here and there, and sometimes I can work out what other symbols mean in relation to those I know, but I’m far from being fluent.”

Which meant that Rafael knew it fairly well, but not as well as he’d like. I smiled a little as he started on again.

Another fifteen minutes of walking and Rafael stopped a second time. “There’s more writing here.”

“Is this passage man made?” I asked.

“Yes, over five centuries ago.”

“Why? Was there a reason?”

“Not that anyone knows now. Parts of the tunnel have fallen in, so we do not know the extent to which the tunnel originally went.” Rafael looked back at me with a raised eyebrow. “If your next question is why we are here, Leora, the answer is that I’ve never been down here and I thought it might be interesting, for both of us.”

We walked for a ways, Rafael studying any writing we found on the walls as we went. It was interesting, for a while, but I grew bored, something I found myself doing more and more lately. I paid attention, but with one hand I conjured up another ball of light and split it into three, twirling them in a circle above my palm with a flick of a finger from my other hand.

“Stop it,” Rafael told me without looking up. “You’re making too many shadows.”

I sighed, then sent the balls upward toward the ceiling. Following their path, I inhaled quickly. “Rafael, look up.”

Rafael did so and fell quiet a moment before sending other balls of light he conjured up to mingle with my three. “Constellations,” he said.

I glanced at Rafael, startled, then back up at the ceiling. Bits of sparkling rocks glinted in strange groupings among the rock. I had thought they looked interesting, but I hadn’t thought that they represented anything. “Why?”

“Someone probably grew bored when they were building this place and hadn’t the talent to play with lights as you do.” I looked at him, but he didn’t remove his gaze from the ceiling. “Or perhaps they were underground so long, creating this tunnel, that they wished to see the sky again. This was their way of compensating.”

Rafael looked back at me. “Speaking of the sky, we’ve gone far enough to amuse our curiosity,” he said. “Let’s head back to the surface.”

We climbed out into the open sky near dusk. I smiled, closed my eyes and breathed in the fresh air. I heard one of our horses stomp its foot, and I opened my eyes again to see a cloaked person with his hood up patting my mare’s neck. My eyes narrowed, but then the person turned and the hood fell back, revealing the dark hair and slender face I knew so well.

“Greetings,” Lia said with a large smile, holding out her gloved hands to us.

“Lia!” I quickly bowed and then moved toward her, taking both her hands. “It’s good to see you.”

“As it is to see you,” she replied, her accent more pronounced than I’d ever heard it. She gave my cheek a light kiss, squeezed both my hands before she turned to Rafael. “Rafael Mordican,” she said, holding out her hands.

“Princess Carrellia,” he said, bowing slightly to her. He took both her hands briefly, let her peck him on the cheek and then stepped back. “What brings you so far from home?”

“I wanted to see old friends,” she replied. “I see you have not changed, much as any might want you to.”

“I am merely who I am,” Rafael said, though I could see the slight twinkle in his eyes that meant he was teasing. “You haven’t changed for the worse, I see.”

“But you, young Galadriel,” Lia said, turning back to me and taking both my hands again, “you have changed, without a doubt. You have matured, and are even easier on the eyes.”

I smiled. “Thank you, Lia. And I agree, you haven’t changed a bit.”

“Good of you to say. So, you two have been wandering around in caves all day?”

“Most of it,” I replied as we settled into our camp. “We were looking at some old writing.”

“Ah, those. They do not say a thing except gibberish, which some might mistake for poetry.”

I stared at her. “You know how to read them?”

“Yes.” Lia smiled at me, then turned it on Rafael. “Forgive me, dear Rafael, but your teacher was an old fool, thinking he was the only one who could read those marks.”

“I don’t disagree,” Rafael said, “and no offense taken. However, I didn’t realize that you knew how to read them.”

“Oh, I learned long ago,” Lia said, pushing some of her dark hair back. “Now, come, young Galadriel. It has been long since we’ve spoken. Tell me what you’ve been doing in our dear friend’s care.”

As we settled back in our camp, I gave her a rough, broad telling of the events of the last two years. I told of sailing down the largest river on the continent with Rafael and a few of his acquaintances on a barge and then getting onto another boat and sailing out onto the sea for a month, fishing and studying currents and weather and ocean life. Later, we’d gone south to the far reaches of the continent, experiencing the deep snows and cold winter ice, studying there.

I also told her of the desert where we’d been a few months ago. Rafael excused himself for a moment during this part of the tale, so I was able to recount to Lia how worried I had been about him. Rafael had looked sickly for most of the time we were there. There hadn’t been enough water in the air to form a droplet, even when we tried.

“Our friend is very attuned to water, as you know,” Lia told me. “More so than most attracted to that element. I am not surprised how he looked or reacted, though I am surprised you stayed out there as long as you did.”

“I doubt we would have,” I replied, “if it hadn’t suddenly stormed.” I told her about the large rainstorm that had come up quite suddenly, and we’d almost been caught in a flash flood. Luckily, we managed to get to a small rise and put up a shield – with Rafael looking remarkably better than he had been only a half hour before – to protect us.

In truth, Rafael and I had traveled all over the continent the past three years, through forests and plains and deserts and mountains. We’d only just begun exploring underground caverns and tunnels. This was the third cave we’d been in, and though I was right in the fact that they were semi-boring, there was always something Rafael thought I needed to learn or experience, so I did.

It was hard to believe it had been nearly five years since Rafael and another master mage, Mikel Sefilas, had first found me, told me I had magic, and I had left my family to pursue it. I hadn’t realized, when I first began studying as an apprentice mage, how much memorization was actually required and how much of the studying involved learning about the world. You didn’t just learn how to use your magic; you learned how magic affected things. You learned everything you could about everything and put it to use, keeping a balance, not affecting anything you didn’t have to without reason. Small things – lighting a candle, drying your clothes after swimming, directing a breeze to cool your face for a moment – didn’t affect much. I could do little feats like that whenever I wanted, though it was harder to work with breezes; they didn’t want to obey me as easily as water and fire did. Larger things, like causing it to rain in an area to put out a fire, or pulling up winds to push your boat along faster, affected more things. Energy always had to go somewhere; if you made the wind blow, you had to either transfer that energy into something else to stop the wind, or let it go, which could end up blowing up a storm or causing other problems.

When I’d finished talking, evening was well upon us, and Rafael decided it was time to eat. Lia joined us, remarking on our journeying and questioning Rafael on what I’d learned. I demonstrated a few things, and Lia nodded, evidently pleased.

“So what are you doing away from your world, Lia?” Rafael asked quietly after we’d begun eating.

Lia chuckled. “My world, Rafael? Really, it’s only across the Bendar Ocean.”

“A good long way.”

“Perhaps. Yes, of course, to someone unused to traveling as I do.” She smiled. “Things are fairly well in my part of the world, thank you for asking. There is drought in the southern plains that’s been there for several years. I’ve only just begun to suspect that magic is somehow involved.”

“Magic? In your country?”

“I know. It’s hard to believe.” She paused to drink deeply from her canteen. “Some of the kylin still practice magic, which is why they are shunned in most circles.”

Kylin?” I asked. I had been listening intently to them as I brushed out my hair, having already finished eating.

“Rogues, is the easiest translation,” Rafael replied.

Lia smiled. “Your hair is still as beautiful as ever, young Galadriel. I see that dear Rafael has yet to convince you to cut it.”

I shook my head and smiled. “And he never will,” I said firmly.

Rafael gave a quiet, “Hmph,” and Lia laughed. “Even more a match for you now than when she started. My dear Rafael, however do you cope?”

“By reminding my student that she still has much to learn,” he replied, settling back against his pack, “and promising myself that she will come around in time.”

I kept quiet, but Lia chuckled again, smiling at me. “Now, enough of catching up. The real reason I have come is that my country is more settled than it has been in past years, and I decided that this is the perfect time for a visit.”

Lia looked at us expectantly, but Rafael and I just looked back, uncomprehending. Finally, Rafael said, “Oh?”

Lia shook her head. “I am sorry. I am a touch rusty with this language. What I mean is, if Rafael will allow it, would you, young Galadriel, like to come visit my country?”

I stared at her. Rafael visibly stiffened. “You would take her back with you?” he asked.

“I would.” She glanced at me. “Young Galadriel, a bird might nest in that open mouth.” I closed it quickly, and she looked back at Rafael. “I’ve already spoken with the Council, as no regular mage – and definitely no apprentice – under their authority may leave the continent without permission, and they think it would be a good idea for your student to explore as much of the world as she can.” She leaned toward Rafael, smiling. “I think they are anticipating having another mage such as I, who is as much a diplomat.”

Rafael didn’t move a muscle. “Leora, would you please take a walk around the valley?”

I turned to stare at him. “What?”

“I would speak with Lia, without you overhearing us.”

I glanced at Lia, but she nodded, so I stood and walked away. I reached the edge of the valley and turned to make a circuit of it. A few more steps along, I reached out with my senses.

“…to Morlanta, with its superstitions and beliefs?” Rafael’s words said in my head.

“Really, Rafael, I know that my country’s customs and beliefs are not agreeable to you, and some are not agreeable to me, either, but certainly Leora should learn about them.”

“I’m not sure that learning them firsthand would be the best thing, Lia. She doesn’t have complete control over her powers yet, nor does she know everything about them. I have a feeling that she’s only just coming into her total power.”

“She seems to be in complete control to me.”

“You have not seen her get upset, or angry. The last time that happened… Well, I simply believe that she hasn’t discovered what she’s fully capable of yet.”

I bristled slightly. I had thought I had made a lot of progress in gaining full control over my magic. It had been a long time since anything had happened.

“I cannot imagine that anything is going to happen to make her upset or angry to that point in my country, Rafael. The political climate is much more stable now than it has been for several years. If you are that worried about her, perhaps you should come with us.”

“Me?”

“I mentioned it to the Council, since Leora is still an apprentice. They have given their permission. I explained to them of my suspicions about the drought, and they agreed that you would be better able to find out if magic really is involved and how to fix it than I.”

“They said that.”

“Yes. Really, Rafael, I know you don’t dislike traveling. This would be a good experience for both you and Galadriel.”

I felt a touch of magic against mine, and then Rafael’s voice came to me quietly. “No eavesdropping,” he said firmly, and I hurriedly backed off, returning to myself.


 

 

2

 

  

The next morning, Lia left us. She said she had to stop by the Council Village, and then she would move on to other things. Of course, she never specified what those other things were. I had given up wondering what she did with her days a long time ago.

Rafael and I worked in silence as we gathered up our things and prepared to ride out. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but even if it had been, I would not have said anything. Rafael had a look about him I’d only seen a few times before, but when he had that look, you did not bother him. He would talk when he was ready.

I was just finishing adjusting my tack when he spoke. “You know Carrellia is fully restored as a princess, don’t you?”

I turned my head, surprised. “What?”

“She was out of favor before,” he continued as he swung up into his saddle. “True, she was still a princess, but her father and his court considered her more of an ambassador than anything. Now her brother has fallen out of favor – nearly disowned, from what I’ve heard – though I can’t say how or why. Now, even with her background, her father has accepted her back into his court, despite the past. You know the story of her mother, don’t you?”

I shook my head. “I only know she was an herb witch who supposedly seduced her father into marrying her.”

“Did you know that she was accused of being a witch, tortured and burned alive?”

I stared up at him.

“Yes, Leora. That is what people think of mages, or anyone who has the ability to do magic, in Morlanta.”

I paused, thinking, and then climbed up onto my mare. “Then how does Lia manage?”

“By being one of the most covert and quiet mages anyone has ever known.” He sighed, then clicked his tongue at his horse and started forward. Mine quickly followed. “I’ll tell you what I do know of the woman. Lia was sent away to a small castle at the edges of Morlanta after her mother was killed, away from court, so her father would not have to deal with her. She was very young at the time, though I’m not sure how young. Somehow or other, she knew she had magic. I think she knew that her mother had magic, and so she must have it. She heard of the Council Village and how this country does not persecute its mages, at least not so much. Somehow, she convinced her father to send her over here, tricking him into thinking that the Council Village was a training center for ambassadors, where she would learn multiple languages and be trained in diplomacy. I don’t know what she told him or how she convinced him, but I think he was just glad to have her be even farther away from his court and his life. So he sent her to the Council Village. She was still young, too young to have powers, but she convinced the Council to let her stay and at least learn different languages and all the normal reading and writing that people learn until her powers manifested themselves.”

“How young was she?”

“I don’t know for sure, as this was before I came to be at the Council Village, but I believe she was younger than ten.”

I just stared at him.

He nodded at me. “So she stayed at the Council Village, learning what she could, until her powers came in, and then she learned about her powers with startling speed. True, she was older than I was when she passed her Trials, but I believe it is because she did not want to try for them yet. When she finally did pass her Trials, she was 23 years old, I believe, and wrote a letter to her father, telling him she had passed all schooling and was ready to be an ambassador, if he wished. Since the ambassador to this continent was elderly and wished to retire, he assigned her here.”

I paused. “All of it? The entire—?”

“You know very well that with all the small provinces on this continent, for its large size, it would be much too difficult to have that many ambassadors. Because so many of ours are aligned, usually, and with the same interests, it is simpler just to have one or two who travel around and meet with the different lords and ladies who rule the provinces. In the past they have had two, but Lia has proved capable enough that the King decided he didn’t need another. I daresay Lia has met every lord and lady in her many years as an ambassador.”

He turned to me. “However, after her brother fell out of favor, the King remembered his daughter, brought her back and restored her to full favor. There are a lot of politics involved, of course, but if I know anything about Morlanta, what the King says goes. You’d best remember that when we’re over there.”

I could not help it; I stared at him again. “When we’re over there?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“But I thought you’d decided against us going.”

“You thought wrong. Unless, of course, you would rather not go?”

I paused, thinking carefully. “If you feel I would do better here, I would defer to your decision, Master.”

“A very political response. As it is, you’re advanced enough that I see no problem with us going with Lia. And you will be able to continue your studies, though they would be of the more theoretical kind and not practical application.”

I stared at him. “Theoretical.”

“Yes. You will not practice magic in Morlanta, Leora. It’s not worth the risk. Nevertheless, just in case, the one thing you will practice between here and Piressa is greater control of your magic. In effect, hide it from others.”

“But Rafael…”

“I know you don’t like it, but our very lives may depend on this.” The lines of his face deepened. “I should have worked on these skills with you long ago, but we got caught up in other things. Now we are going to concentrate on this. If you do have to use magic, you must hide it as well as you can. As paranoid as they are, I’m sure they will have people who can still sense magic.”

“But, if you can sense magic, doesn’t it mean you can use it as well?”

“There are some who have such a small tie to magic, all they can do is sense it. Perhaps if they work with it for a bit, they might be able to do more, but they are never allowed to do it, and they are closely watched.”

I sighed. “I guess I should not complain, then.”

The corner of his mouth turned up. “Now, I want you to do something and do your best to hide your magic from me.”

I hesitated. “I’m not sure I know how, Rafael.”

He looked at me, then nodded to himself. “I suppose not, if you’ve never had to think about it. You are unnaturally good at hiding your pratnal.”

“My pratnal?”

Rafael looked at me. “Has this ever been explained to you?”

I hesitated. “Ronn explained it, a little. He said that it’s a feeling you get, or a vibration you feel. Some people can hear it, others can see it.”

“Right. Here, I’ll demonstrate.”

An odd odor assailed my nose as a ball of light appeared next to his horse, and I sneezed. “I get it,” I said, rubbing my nose.

The light disappeared. “Did you feel it?”

“I smelled it.”

“Really?” He studied me a moment. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Being able to smell magic isn’t common, though.” He straightened his back. “Now, this is what should happen.”

When the ball of light appeared again, I couldn’t smell it this time. “I see.”

“Can you smell anything when you do magic?”

I shook my head. “I’ve never paid too much attention, but I think I would have smelled something by now.”

“Most people can’t sense their own magic. Now, bring up a ball of light and concentrate on hiding the pratnal.

I hesitated, not sure I knew exactly what he was talking about, but I did as he said, trying to be as covert as possible. I held up my hand and a ball of light re-appeared.

A muted grin pushed on the corner of his mouth “Pretty good. This is what I feel.” He brought up his own ball of light, and a slight whiff came to my nose, so faint I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been paying attention. “Now, bring up a ball of light without your hands.”

I sighed, but did what he said.

“Now this is what I feel.” A stronger scent came to my nostrils, though not by much. This I would notice. “You need to practice. The more comfortable you are with something the less noticeable your pratnal. Try again.”

It took all three weeks of travel to Piressa before I got my overall pratnal of magic down to a level Rafael said was satisfactory. He also took great pains to annoy me along the way and made me use magic at the same time, criticizing me anytime my pratnal grew stronger with my emotions.

“I thought your emotions helped one’s magic,” I snapped at him once.

“Your emotions can make your power stronger,” he replied calmly. “They also make you more wild, less in control. You have to find a balance.”

He also made sure that nothing went awry with my magic. Only once, when I went to start a fire with my magic, did a spark get the better of me. It had been an aggravating day, with Rafael quizzing me and making me speak in Morlanese the entire time, as practice for when I would be in Morlanta. The spark almost started a second fire, and Rafael berated me for it.

“I know what I could have caused!” I told him angrily after he’d lectured me a long while, too long in my opinion.

“Then channel your emotions and don’t let them or your magic flare out of control,” he said sternly.

I was partly amazed that he didn’t yell at me. He never yelled at me, actually. Lectured vehemently sometimes, but he never raised his voice.

We were half a day’s ride from Piressa when night fell. We could have pushed on, but Rafael did not want to overtire the horses, though I knew from experience that they could withstand much harsher travel than we had been putting them through.

We settled down for the night, working in comfortable silence in a routine we’d both grown accustomed to long ago. After we’d both eaten and were lying in our blankets, Rafael spoke to me. “Are you excited to be going overseas?”

I hesitated. “Yes,” I replied after I thought about it a moment.

“You know this will not be a leisure trip. You must keep up with your studies if you ever want to pass your Trials, and there are dangers involved.”

“I’m not worried about either my studies or the dangers. There are dangers involved in everything we do.”

“This may be more trying than our normal duties.”

“Lia will be there.”

“She has never used her magic when in danger.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, she has never had cause to, nor do I think her magic is made to be so. She is definitely no traveling mage, such as you have been learning to be.”

“But you told me once she was one of the best healers alive. And she is powerful. She must be able to use her magic for defense, at least.”

“I know she could take you away from any danger in a heartbeat, if she was able to reach you, but there are things that might restrain her from doing so.”

I nodded slowly. “If there were other people around, and she used magic, it would expose her. She would lose everything, and probably both of us would lose our lives.”

“Do you know why she always wears gloves?”

I sat up. “I thought it was just a custom.”

“No. Though some ladies do wear gloves on certain occasions, they are not a custom. Lia wears hers to hide the scars on her hands.”

I stared over at him as he sat up. “Scars?”

“Yes. When her mother was tortured and convicted of being a witch, Lia was tortured as well. Some say the King didn’t want it done, that his counselors told him to make sure that her daughter had no powers, though I’m not so sure. The King of Morlanta is as superstitious as any. Though she wasn’t tortured as hard as her mother, they still did a thorough job of it. After they decided she had no powers – which she didn’t at the time, except for maybe a bit of healing magic for herself – her burns were treated, but they left behind scars.”

“Burns.”

“She had hot brands pressed on her hands, and was made to hold live coals, and other similar tortures. Quite enough to scar a young girl mentally, as well as physically. That is why she never removes her gloves. I have only seen her scars once.”

I thought this over a moment. “So what you’re telling me, basically, is that I am to use no magic over there whatsoever unless I want to risk having the same happen to me.”

“Or worse,” he replied.

I smiled slightly. “You’re worried, aren’t you?”

He shrugged. “I know you are perfectly capable of handling yourself, as you’ve demonstrated many times before.”

“But you’ll be there to make sure.”

“Yes. If it is related to your training, then as your teacher I am bound to teach it to you.” His gaze turned thoughtful. “I’m not about to send you away on your own again, even if it would be with our trusted friend.”

My smile grew. “Thank you, Rafael.”

He made a small noise in his throat, as if clearing it, and laid back down.

I eventually heard the sound of Rafael’s steady breathing, almost snoring, but not quite. Hard as I tried, I could not sleep. My brain wouldn’t let me rest. A thousand things ran through my mind, not the least of which was the fact that for the next… well, I didn’t know how long, I would be overseas. I guessed it would be at least six months, since a journey across the sea was no small thing. For that same amount of time I would also have to refrain from using magic. I might be good at hiding my pratnal, but I knew I would still refrain unless absolutely necessary.

A land that hated magic. That’s what Morlanta was. What had been done that had taught them to fear it so?

Though I didn’t want to admit it, I was a little afraid of going overseas. I was afraid of hiding part of who I was over there.

Rafael will be there, I thought to myself. I sat up on my elbow and looked over at him. For the last four years he had been a part of my life, and except for a few small periods of time, I had worked and traveled with him. He taught me about my magic, taught me about life, really, or the life I would eventually lead. Even though I was nervous about going overseas, I would have been more so had I left Rafael behind, too.

Finally I closed my eyes, but instead of trying to sleep, I slipped into reverie to calm my mind. After an hour of that, I eventually drifted off to blissful slumber.


 

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