Short Story Part 10
We walked alongside the river together. Close, but not holding hands like we did the day before when we escaped the creature’s cave. I kept my focus on our surroundings instead. The way the soft red earth crumbled into dust beneath our feet kicked up a red cloud that covered our boots. The water burbled and bubbled as it wound its way over and around the rocks in its bed. A stray branch sometimes floated by as though it were a parade participant winding its way through the crowds of the banks. The green grass beneath our feet hid its dried blades well even though we could hear them crunching beneath the soles of our feet. We passed in and out of the shade of the trees, the temperature rising with the sun on our backs and rapidly declining when a tree sheltered us from the solar rays. Everything about the morning seemed perfect.
“What do you know about the wizard?” Nimbus asked, breaking the silence. My skin crawled as I considered what I did know.
“He came as a counselor to my father. Said he would share his wisdom with our kingdom to make us stronger. And he did, while he rummaged through our library to find information on the Orb of Bhudansha.”
At this Nimbus grabbed my hand to turn me to face him. “And did he find it?”
“I don’t think he has the orb yet, otherwise we wouldn’t be walking through this canyon.” Nimbus relaxed his grip as he the reasoning hit him. “Anyway, I don’t know that we had anything that pointed to the orb specifically. We had an ancient text that talked about what it could do, but it never gave away the location. Our last wizard, Rhilenor, told me as much.”
“What happened to Rhilenor?”
“He disappeared while traveling, just a few months before Ezegron showed up. We don’t know what happened to him.” Nimbus considered this information for only a moment.
“Why would Ezegron want the Orb of Bhudansha? It’s said to have terrible power. He can’t just be an evil human, can he?”
My brows rose as I considered. He hadn’t been one of my favorite people to talk to, but I did talk to nearly everyone in the castle. “His mission is to only wipe out humans. Fae would be safe from him… I think. His chief complaint was how we spread across the landscape like an infestation, taking all the resources for ourselves. And, he has a point.” I pursed my lips as I considered the other kingdoms across the world and their exorbitant desire for riches and awful trade practices. It was almost extortion if they were allowed to get away with it, but father never let them.
“The Muneian Kingdom only ever took what they needed. Why would he target you first?”
“We prized knowledge more than anything else. Our library is the largest in the land. Whenever anyone else purged their libraries, we took everything they had to offer.”
“The library wasn’t destroyed?”
I shook my head with a smile. “Too many protection spells.”
Nimbus walked in silence with me a while before speaking again. “You seem to have empathy for this wizard.”
“Humans aren’t wholly innocent. I can see why he’s frustrated, but I think complete genocide is a little extreme.”
“Why you? Why not someone from the actual kingdoms who have affronted his senses?”
“It’s a little personal now. His blast killed everyone in court but only seared me along my side. I barely escaped him as he chased after me. His dark blasts knocking down walls around me as I skirted the outside of the palace and ran into the woods. I’m certain he killed nearly everyone who lived and worked in the castle. A few townspeople were able to evacuate before he brought their roofs down on them. I made it far into the forest before collapsing from blood loss. My friend, Freya, followed me and tended to my wound. I’m not sure how long I was out of it. Maybe a month. When I awoke, I recalled reading about a sword that can reflect magic power back to its caster.”
“The Ironsorrow,” Nimbus supplied, his eyes glued to me.
I nodded and drew the sword from its scabbard. The hilt was a fine dark green color, and the gemstone that laid in the shoulder of the blade a blue lapis in the shape of a teardrop. “Anyway, it took me a few months’ longer to find this beauty and prove my worth to wield it. That probably accounts for my six months’ delay.”
He whistled. “You never told me you had been hurt.”
“It’s a nasty-looking scar now. It hasn’t seemed important.”
“Can I see it?”
I paused walking while I sheathed the sword and shifted the saddlebag just enough to lift my tunic so he could see the side of my torso. His mouth dropped open and without thinking he reached out to touch the scar. I fought hard to hold still until he realized what he’d done.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have. It’s just—I mean—no wonder you lost so much blood.”
I nodded again. “It’s okay. You’re just curious. Anyway, that’s why it’s personal now.”
“I get it now. Let’s go punch a wizard in the face.”