A Sorcerer at Her Side
By Violet Day
Date: March 24, 2016
Ch. 33

When Shayla woke up, her side ached.
She had slept and woke up in a huge feather bed her entire life, always a servant standing at the foot of her bed ready to bathe and dress her. Her current situation was about the farthest she could get from what she was used to.
She pushed herself up and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
The clearing was alight with pale morning sun. Bird song danced through the trees. On a morning like this, she would usually make her way to her balcony and sit and watch the forest outside the castle walls. Today she was sitting on the ground, next to a burnt out fire, probably with sticks and leaves in her hair.
Emonar was leaning against the boulder they had sought shelter under.
The events of the previous night came back to her.
Emonar had saved her, but then… that vision in the sword?
She felt like she should say something about at least one of those events. Should she ask him why he hadn’t told her that they were being pursued? Should she thank him for saving her?
As soon as the thought crossed her mind she knew she had to thank him. He really didn’t have to save her, or even take her to the capital. As she straightened and yawned, she realized that he could have taken her to Sir Fane for ransom right away, or even to the king. And yet here he was, following her father’s orders even though he had no emotional connection to the king as he had only spent a few weeks in their home.
Not to mention, no one had ever stood up for like that before.
“Thank you,” she said, her voice a little soft with sleep. “Thank you so very much for last night.”
Emonar looked up. His bright green eyes gave her a start, a burst of butterflies in her abdomen.
“Gratitude is not necessary,” he said. He stood. His braids were tight and no longer messy and his robes were free from any dust or grass from their sleeping situation. How did he do it? Magic, she reminded herself.
She stood herself. “No, I must thank you. I have rarely left the walls of my home and I always imagined doing so would be dangerous and irresponsible. It seems that I was right, but at the same time… it seems I have nothing to worry about. You could have abandoned me as soon as we left the castle, but you didn’t.”
“I still could,” he said, his voice bored. “However, I’m not going to, because this is my duty as a sorcerer. I was raised to protect you and those like you. Therefore I will not accept your thanks. If you are determined to show me gratitude, do so by staying close to my side and…” He paused, collecting his thoughts or planning his next words. “You may be afraid and worried about your future now, but that will fade, and the exhilaration of freedom will follow.”
She expected him to keep talking, but he didn’t. “I do not think freedom will intoxicate me like you are suggesting,” she said.
“Just remember to stay by my side,” he said again.
His choice of words made her heart swell. “Stay by my side” sounded like something a knight would say to a damsel in distress, not something a young sorcerer would say to the daughter of his lord as he sheltered her on her way to the capital.
But he had said it.
She sighed and followed him onto the path again.
She couldn’t deny it any longer: she was beginning to like this infuriating sorcerer. But he was making it very clear that he wasn’t interested in anything but doing his job. Maybe that was for the best. This was about the worst time possible to fall in love. She had many more worries that were more pressing.
Like Sir Fane’s men on their trail.
Maybe Emonar had been so insistent that she stay close because of what he had seen in the sword. Maybe he didn’t want to tell her because she would be needlessly afraid. They were the most likely explanations.
They walked for a few more minutes before Shayla’s stomach rumbled.
Emonar stopped in his tracks.
They were in a thick part of the woods. The sun was now shining bright in a blue sky.
He turned to her. “Are you hungry or thirsty?”
“Yes,” she said. “Of course. It’s morning. I haven’t eaten since… since dinner.” She tried not to think about the exact events of that dinner.
She wasn’t quite sure, but Emonar’s smoothly featured, usually still face almost looked… embarrassed? “Did you forget that I needed to eat in the morning?” she asked, laughing.
“Sorcerers do not eat more than once a day,” he said, not directly answering her question.
“I know that. Well yes, I would like food. Is that within your powers?”
A proud flicker in his eyes. “Of course,” he said.
He swallowed. “It may not taste like the food you are used to. I can simply create something like a thick bar of essential nutrients and energy. It will leave me rather exhausted as well.”
“It sounds like you didn’t think about this in advance, did you. I don’t want to leave you in a state too weak to keep me safe.”
“No,” he cut in. “I would never suggest something that would leave you unprotected.”
Shayla shrugged. “I would be grateful if you would create me this ‘bar’ you speak of, then,” she said.
The process almost went without her noticing. He passed one hand over the other’s palm. When his palm was uncovered, there was a small square of a milky dark color.
She took it out of his hand, their skin barely touching, and took a small bite. It tasted like leather.
“Thank you,” she struggled to say without making a face.
Emonar turned and continued walking. “We will be in Amiya before you become hungry again. Many options more suitable to a human will be available then.”
“I look forward to it,” she said almost under her breath.
Whether or not Emonar heard her, he made no indication.

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