A Sorcerer at Her Side
By Violet Day
Date: March 30, 2016
Ch. 44

Shayla’s first impression of Amiya was that it would be full of callous merchants, calling at passersby from their stalls.
As they neared the port town, the air became filled with the salty scent of the ocean. The path they were on converged with others to form a wide road through the outskirts of the woods. Several times an hour a caravan or wagon would come by, always filled with things from up and down the coast. The merchants never stopped to say hello to them or offer a ride.
She tried to imagine what the town would look like, but she couldn’t exactly. She simply didn’t know where to start her image. She thought about an illustration she had seen in a book in the castle library. It was a simple ink drawing of a hamlet nestled in a small bay along the coast. She decided that Amiya would look something like that drawing, but larger.
She was more or less right.
The trees thinned out and the road led through the coastal plains. Soon Shayla could see the end of the plains, where the infamous Graynor Cliffs dropped suddenly into grey waters that blended with the sky.
The road forked and she and Emonar took the path that led toward the ocean, down into an area where the cliffs parted and the land sloped gently toward the ocean.
Almost filling this entire slope was Amiya.
From her high vantage point, Shayla could see the entire city spread out before her. It looked like a jumble of low buildings with narrow roads winding through. There were no gates to the city, unlike every castle she had visited. Dark wooden boats with tall sails were clustered around the docks where the buildings met the ocean. There was no beach in sight: every square foot of land by the sea had a building, a road, or a dock built on it.
“Have you been to a city like this before?” Shayla asked Emonar, suddenly curious.
He laughed, softly and with a tinge of something Shalya would label as “mocking.” “I wouldn’t call Amiya a city,” he said. “It is a simple port town. And yes, I traveled to every kingdom on this continent while I was in the academy.”
He sounded very proud of his experience.
“Well, what do we do next? My father said there was a merchant here who knew him. He didn’t say that merchant’s name, or how to find him… What do we do next?”
Emonar stopped walking. A cart filled with snorting animals passed them.
“First, we should find you some food.”
“Okay. And next?” She looked up at Emonar’s green eyes. He looked away. “You have some kind of power that will allow us to find the merchant, right?” Emonar didn’t answer. “You don’t!”
“No,” he said quickly. “I just need a moment to figure out the best way to use my powers to find him.”
“You don’t know how. You don’t.” Shayla started walking again. Why hadn’t her father sent one of the older, more experienced sorcerers to protect her? He shouldn’t have had faith in Emonar’s abilities. Though Emonar was the most beautiful of their sorcerers, Shayla was realizing that he was naiive and thought too highly of himself.
She felt her heart clench a bit. She thought a bit too highly of him as well –but it wasn’t the moment to think about that.
Emonar was following her, a few steps behind. “Let us decide our next actions over plates of food,” he said finally.
Shayla wanted to say that she knew he was just buying time to figure this out, but she stayed silent. She was extremely hungry and maybe Emonar was right. Maybe she would be able to think of some way they could find this merchant her father knew that didn’t even involve Emonar’s magic.
Within minutes the road to Amiya became a road through Amiya. Little shops and stalls were crammed together on either side of them. Men and women were leaning out of windows, calling out what they were selling.
The smell of cooking fish and vegetables filled the air. Shayla’s stomach made a sound indicating her hunger, and she was glad of the noise in the street so that Emonar couldn’t hear it.
They passed a stall selling skewers loaded with chunks of sizzling meat and grilled vegetables. Shayla stopped and turned to Emonar. “I would like to eat here,” she said.
He handed her two silver coins from a small cloth bag he kept in his robes. “Have two. I need no food.”
Shayla ordered two skewers and rejoined Emonar on the road. She took a bite of one and instantly felt much better. The meat was rich and salty, tender and thick. The texture and taste of the meat reminded her of the weekly roast the castle kitchens put together at home.
“Emonar,” she said, letting the emotion she felt come through in her words. “Is there a way we can find out what is happening at my home? If my father is safe and well? Perhaps we will not even need to find this merchant, perhaps all is well at home and we may return.”
“Yes,” Emonar said after a moment. “But first let us find a quiet place for you to eat and for me to work my magic. I do not want to draw attention.”
Though he said this, he was already drawing attention simply by being a sorcerer. The moment someone saw Emonar’s braids or manner of dress their eyes stayed on him for a few moments. It marked Shayla as someone important: only royalty, lords and ladies, and friends or lovers of sorcerers were seen with them in public. No matter what Shayla meant to him, the two of them were of interest to a common person.
They searched for a quiet place for many minutes before finding a stone courtyard belonging to some rich merchant that wasn’t at their home at the time. Emonar bribed the guard with a few gold coins and the guard let them into the courtyard.
It was barely six feet by six feet. The ground was made of a smooth gray stone and benches lined the stone walls.
Shayla sat on one of the stone benches and stretched out her legs, feeling the effects of the nonstop walking of the morning and night before. She made circles with her feet, stretching her ankles. She nibbled on her food, waiting for Emonar to say something. He sat next to her.
Finally, he said something. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. He reached to his hip and took out the dagger from before; the steel one that he had used to scry. “I took this dagger from one of the bandits who attacked us. I don’t know how much you know about sorcerer power, but –”
“I know you can use steel to scry,” she said, remembering how he had scryed that they were being followed and hadn’t told her. Should she bring it up? No, she didn’t want to upset him or have anything happen before he showed her how her father and mother were doing back at the castle.
“I will use this dagger to show you your home. But know that I cannot keep the vision up for very long; perhaps thirty seconds at the most. And the sound will be very quiet. Before I call up the vision… are you sure you would like to know?”
“Yes,” Shayla said right away. But his question brought up all the doubts and fears she had about her family’s safety. She took a deep breath and held it.

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