A Sorcerer at Her Side
By Violet Day
Date: April 17, 2016
Ch. 66

And what a physique he had.
In the few seconds left in which Emonar could hold the vision, Shayla drank in his features. Tousled dark hair, dark eyes, tan skin, a strong jaw, a strong brow, strength in his gait as he walked back toward his men… Shayla swallowed.
She held an innate hatred for this man, but she could never convince herself he wasn’t incredibly attractive.
As the vision faded she looked back up to Emonar. The contrast in their looks was shocking. Emonar had even darker hair, a true black, but it was braided and held back. His features were elven and perfectly shaped but again, there was something restrained and unattainable about his look, whereas Leon looked open and warm and powerful.
Emonar tilted his head. “You are looking at me,” he said, somewhat carefully.
Shayla broke herself from her thoughts, looking down at the stone ground. A little flowering weed was growing from between two stones near her feat. Now was not the time.
“They were right near the merchant we bought lunch from,” Shayla said, not explaining her earlier lingering gaze on Emonar’s features. “It’s only a matter of time before someone around there points them in the right direction. What do we do?”
He gripped her wrist. “This will be difficult to maintain, but it is necessary. I will put a cloaking spell on us and we will make our way to the docks. We will find a boat that is going to the capital and we will get on it however possible. We must leave.”
They slipped out of the courtyard through the metal gate. The guard glanced their way, looking at the moving gate with surprise on his face, but he did not comment. He couldn’t see them. The cloaking spell was working.
Emonar’s hand on her wrist was firm and felt comforting. She knew that as long as that hand was there, and Emonar was strong enough, she would be safe from anyone trying to find her.
The merchant district, though it had been seemingly endless, now gave way to an equally busy residential district. The streets smelled like waste and children sat in the dirt and played with dogs and marbles. Everything was worn, skeletons showing on all the living things. It was a vision of poverty that Shayla had never had any contact with, and she didn’t have the mental capacity to contemplate the plight of the people now. She just focused on not tripping and giving away their position.
And finally the residential area became industrial, great buildings of stone and fire on all sides, before they reached the docks at last.
Emonar dropped his hand from her wrist. He wobbled a bit. Shayla put a hand on his shoulder to steady him. “Do you need to rest?”
“No,” he said simply. “I can rest when we are safely en route to the capital.”
Shayla turned to face the ocean. Boats clogged the harbor, men in loose tank tops and shorts crowding their decks and hauling cargo on and off the larger ships.
“Where do we start?” she said, not really expecting there to be an answer. “Will any of these ships take on two strangers without any proof of identity or even much money?”
“We need to find out,” Emonar said. “And if none will, I can attempt to mind control.”
“Mind control? You can do that spell? Even Yorden couldn’t!” Yorden was their eldest and most advanced sorcerer. He had been sent to protect her mother the night before… but she hadn’t seen him in the brief vision of her home. She hoped dearly that he was alive and well.
“I…” Emonar looked away. “I have never been able to execute the spell, but I would attempt again for the sake of your safety.”
“That is too dangerous,” Shayla said. “You’re not going to kill yourself trying to do a spell that is beyond your skill set. We can figure out a different way if it comes to that. Let us choose a ship to begin with.”
They stepped out from the shadow of the industrial building they were next to and into the full sunlight of the busy harbor.
Shayla was about to approach the nearest sailor when Emonar stepped in front of her to approach him instead. She understood the gesture, and that Emonar believed he was keeping her safe, but she also wished he would trust her to be able to safely speak to a man in broad daylight, only a few feet from him and his powers.
“Excuse me,” Emonar said.
The sailor turned toward them. He was carrying a canvas sack over his shoulder. He had hair so blonde it was almost white and deeply tanned skin. “How can I help you?” he said. His tone was friendly, but wary.
“Is there a passenger ship nearby?”
The sailor thought for a moment. “There aren’t many ships ‘round here that make all their profit from taking on passengers. Most are a mix of cargo and travelers. Where are you lookin’ to go?”
“The capital,” Emonar said.
“Sorry, I can’t help you out then.” The sailor started walking away, toward a large ship laden with crates. “I’m signed on to a ship that’s going to the southlands.”
“Thank you anyway,” Shayla called after him. He nodded in their direction and then was lost in the crowd.
“It seems that many of the ships will be willing to take on passengers,” she said, trying to be positive.
“They will expect us to pay a rich man’s price, and I am not a rich man. If only your father would have had the time to give us sufficient money for the crossing.”
“Well, he did not. Let us keep asking. We cannot waste time.” Shayla pushed through the crowd toward where another ship was harbored. This one was smaller. Only a handful of sailors were waiting around gangway connecting the ship to the dock.
They walked toward the group. The men were laughing about something. When Emonar approached them, they fell silent.
“Excuse me. Are you headed toward the Capital?”
“We are,” said a muscled man with thickly curled hair. “Are you two looking for passage?” His tone was gruff, but he seemed sincerely interested.
“Are you paying customers?”
“We are.”
“What are you offering?”
Emonar took three gold pieces out of his cloak.
“I’m sorry, pretties, but that’s what we would charge for each of you.”
Emonar didn’t move for a moment. He clearly didn’t know what to do.
Shayla stepped forward. She was wearing two rings and earrings, each embedded with real jewels. She slipped one of the rings off her finger. “Would you be interested in taking one of these as payment for one of us?”
The man who had spoken for the group turned back to the others. They talked for a few moments, then turned. “We will take you on as passengers for both your rings and everything in your purse, sorcerer. And we will expect to share the pretty lady’s company whenever we wish.”
Shayla blinked. What did that mean?
Emonar put a hand on her shoulder. “I am afraid that is not an option. We will find passage elsewhere, thank you very much.” He steered her away from the ship and they walked back into the crowd. He dropped his hand from her.
“Perhaps we should wait a spell before trying again,” he said under his breath.
“I don’t mind, but why?” Then Shayla looked up at Emonar’s expression and she knew why. His lips were pressed tightly together and he was pushing through the crowd toward a free bench by the water. “They might have been joking,” Shayla offered. “Or perhaps they have simply not shared their ship with a lady in so long they were looking for one who would spend time with them and nothing more.”
Emonar kept walking until they reached the bench. He sat down, not looking at her. They didn’t speak for a good minute or two.
The bench was at the edge of the water. A few feet in front of them was a sudden drop off into the bay, manufactured and held up with a wall of stone against the earth.
Sea birds were sitting around a fallen piece of food a few feet away, pecking at it.
“I do not believe my reaction was uncalled for,” Emonar said finally. “Any group of men that believes it is permissible to treat a lady of your rank as something to… to buy… will not take us to the capital.”
“I believe my gratitude is called for once again, but I won’t thank you, because I know you will simply reject me.”
Emonar looked at her. Shayla could have sworn he was smiling, just the faintest bit.
“You would be correct. It is my sworn duty to protect you from men like that, nothing more –”
Shayla was about to interrupt him and tell him that of course, she understood that, he had said it about thousands of times since they had left the castle, but somebody else interrupted him before she did.
A middle aged man with a wide face and a goatee in an elaborate velvet coat had just tapped Emonar on the shoulder.
“Sorry to bother you,” he said under his breath. “But are you Sir Nian’s sorcerer and daughter?”

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