A Sorcerer at Her Side
By Violet Day
Date: May 10, 2016
Ch. 88

Emonar and Shayla shared a look.
“Yes,” Emonar said. “Who might you be?”
“Oh good,” the man said. “I’m Dalien. I have been looking for you since I got the message from Rikkie. Imagine my shock when I was sitting by the fire after my evening meal and your father’s face appeared there, pleading for me to find you two. We were good friends, you know, during the Old Wars. I was a squire then. Not his, but we met after the knight I was assigned to was killed in battle. I was assigned to help him. After the wars ended we never quite got back in touch. I’m sorry, I’m talking quite a bit. I just thought I would explain why I approached you out of nowhere. Did your father tell you to expect me?”
Shayla tried to process all the information she had just heard. She decided to focus on answering the question at the end. “Not with any specifics, but yes, my father said he knew a merchant in the city who would help us find a way to the capital.”
“So you’re going to the capital? Smart move. Your father mentioned something about Sir Fane. I remember him in the Old Wars. A proud man; he thought much too highly of himself. I can see him pulling a move like this. Oh –excuse me –” Dalien seemed to have felt something in his breast pocket. He unbuttoned the pocket. The head of a little creature poked out. It had short sandy fur, floppy ears, and a pointed nose. “This is Pip. I found him abandoned by his mother in an alley. There were others in the litter, but they ran away before I could approach them. Not Pip. He was too weak. He didn’t really like me at first. But once I fed him every day for a few weeks he decided he wouldn’t leave my side. So I carry him around with me everywhere. Isn’t he precious?”
“Yes,” Shayla said, smiling. However unexpected and distracting the little creature was, she had to admit it was cute. There had been castle pets, but none that had particularly bonded to her. The idea was a warming one. “I would ask to pet him, but Dalien, we are under strict time constraints.”
“This is true,” Emonar said, his first words since Dalien had approached them. “Sir Fane’s men are searching for us. Can you get us on a ship to the capital? As soon as possible?”
Dalien frowned. Pip wriggled in his pocket, dipping his head behind the fabric, presumably to have a nap. “I actually came down here not only to look for you, but also because I have a shipment of salt coming in. The ship goes back and forth from Roon, another port town that’s basically just a suburb of the capital. You would be close enough to get to the castle within a day. I know the captain –I’ve sold him a few specialty items, if you catch my drift. He would be glad to take you on board for the journey.”
“Is the ship here?”
“It should be. Follow me.” Dalien strode off down the street. Shayla and Emonar followed him. He was easy to follow, even in the dense crowd, because of his bright red velvet coat.
They followed him for only a minute before he gestured that they go onto the nearest dock. The wood of the dock felt unsteady under Shayla’s feet. She hadn’t considered how different being on the sea was from being on land. She had read in books about how some people became “sea sick” and fell violently ill whenever they were off land. She hoped dearly that she was not one of those people.
She tried to get used to the feeling of the dock under her feet as Dalien led them to a mid sized ship with large canvas sails hanging on two masts.
“It’s a small ship compared to lots of them that come to Amiya,” he said, “but they have a few rooms down below where they take passengers if anyone asks and can pay. Mind you, the captain won’t ask for any payment from you. Wait here a moment while I go and talk to him.” Dalien ran up the gangway and onto the deck, out of view.
It was quieter out on the dock. A bird landed near them and tried to get their attention but ruffling its feathers and tilting its head.
“We don’t have any food,” Shayla said softly. The bird gave up a moment later and flew off to a different clump of people.
Dalien still hadn’t returned.
“Do you trust him?” Shayla asked Emonar, mostly to fill the silence between them.
“I am undecided,” Emonar replied. “I do not trust merchants or those whose lives revolve around the acquisition of money. But your father trusted him to help us, and your father is a good man.”
“My father makes mistakes,” Shayla said.
“Let us hope this is not one of them.”
Dalien came back down the gangway, a hop in his step.
“It went well?” Shayla asked.
“Of course. Just like I said it would. He is ready for you now, if you’re ready to board. They will leave the harbor as soon as they find more passengers. It could be an hour or two. Possibly less.”
“We’re ready,” Shayla said. She was envisioning what kind of bed and food the ship would have. “Should we just… walk up to the deck?”
“That’s exactly right. Just walk up there and someone will be there to show you to your quarters. I suppose this is goodbye, then. Well, I’m glad I could have been of service. I hope you will keep my kindness in mind at a future date.” Dalien winked.
“Tell my father we are safe, if you can find a way!” Shayla called after Dalien.
He turned back, his expression surprisingly dark; he looked like he was in a completely different mood than just a moment before. “I will.” And he continued walking, disappearing into the crowd.

Their quarters were modest and plain, but there were two beds attached to the walls and a round window that opened up to a view of sky and water just feet below.
“I think I am going to take a nap,” Shayla said. “I didn’t sleep so well last night.”
“I will stay and guard you,” Emonar replied.
“That sounds terribly boring. Don’t you want to go talk to the captain? Or watch us leave the harbor from the deck?”
Emonar shook his head. “There are many strangers upon this ship, and soon there will be many more. I will stay here and guard you. I do have a book with me that I have been meaning to finish, so I will read that.”
“What book is it?” Shayla asked as she removed her shoes and got into the bed. It was hard, but not so uncomfortable as the ground.
“A book of magic. As a sorcerer, I am perpetually a student of my craft.”
“I hope you learn something useful,” Shayla said, resting her head on the thin pillow provided. “Maybe how to create a feather bed.”
If Emonar responded –which he probably didn’t –she didn’t hear. She fell nearly instantly into a deep sleep.

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