Since I was out of town mid-week, and Water and Chaos is with the editor, I’ll post an excerpt. This is from the second of the Accidental Sorcerers adventures. I need to get the blurb done, preferably this weekend…
The guards unlocked the door and shoved Mik inside. He staggered across the cell, and caught himself on the empty cot. The guards departed without a word.
The other occupant watched the guards leave, a curious look on his face. Finally, he turned to Mik. “Peace and harmony?” he asked. Mik thought his looks and accent strange, both perhaps a mixture of Eastern and Western origins.
Mik sat on the cot, elbows on knees, chin in hands. “All peace unto you,” he grumbled.
“I’m Rihous sim Aren. Of Woldland. You?”
“Mik sim Mikhile. Of Mosvil.” He looked up. “You’re a Wold, then?”
“Indeed! You didn’t recognize me without my loincloth and leather tassels?” Rihous laughed at Mik’s sputtering protest. “I was joking. Where is Mosvil?”
“Up the Wide River from here. Woldland’s the far side of the Gulf of Camac, no? You’re a long way from home.”
“Eh. I’ve had no home but the ocean, for some years. So I’m close to home, indeed.” Rihous lowered his voice to a whisper. “And will be home soon, I believe.”
“How do you think?”
Rihous held a raised finger to his lips: The Hand That Begs Silence. “Your friends neglected to lock the door behind them,” he whispered. “They have considered my sorcerous abilities, and chose a lock that resists magic. Yet a lock left unlocked is one that needs no magic to defeat.”
“You’re a sorcerer?” Mik warmed to his story. “I’m an apprentice.” He looked down. “Or was.”
“I know it’s rude to ask, but what brought you here?”
“My mentor came to Queensport for research. There was… a girl. At home.” He thought of Sura for a moment, anger and sorrow lending credence to his tale. “I found a book on enchantments in the Conclave library, and it discussed love potions. But they refused to let me study it. They said it was ‘too advanced.’ So, I hid it away and took it.” He sighed. “They found me out, somehow.”
“Your mentor did not speak for you? Or the girl?”
Mik spat. “My mentor turned his back on me. The girl doesn’t know I’m gone. She won’t even think twice about me.”
Rihous seemed to pick his words carefully. “What if… what if you could continue your studies?”
“Not much chance of that.” Mik managed to sound glum. “They said they were going to put my name on a list. No sorcerer will be allowed to take me as an apprentice.”
“You could always take a different name. But there’s a place where they don’t worry about such things. All that bowgnoash about serving the folk, and the greater good of Termag.” Rihous spat in turn. “What good is having Talent if it doesn’t help you?” Mik shrugged, and Rihous continued in a whisper again. “You know that already, I think. Come with me tonight. We’ll get out of this gods-forsaken place and get you to where we can make a better mage out of you than could these fools.”
“Why would you do that? Where is this place?”
“Not here.” Rihous gestured around the cell. “The walls have ears. As for why? I get… a bounty for bringing in new Talent. So do you want to rot here until they let you out, and spend the rest of your life as a roustabout, or do you want a better destiny?”
“My father is a roustabout,” Mik grumbled. “There’s no shame in honest work. And yet… it’s worth a try.”
The night guard walked by, whistling the tune to a bawdy song, off-key. Rihous counted off the seconds, then said, “Now. Let’s be on our way.” He pulled on the door; it swung open and he slipped through. Mik followed, pulling the door closed behind him without much noise. He wondered why Rihous had not suggested they conceal themselves, but remembered that concealment and silence were part of the repertoire of combat magic that only his mentor knew these days. He remembered Charn’s surprise that Mik knew these spells, and thought of his own surprise that Charn did not.
“Not too close,” Rihous whispered, and they slipped up the corridor, two shadows in the dark. Most of the other cells stood empty, but those who occupied them either slept or ignored them.
They reached the door to the antechamber, and Rihous risked a peek through the little window. “Clear,” he whispered. “Duck to the corner, and that should keep us hidden.” He tapped Mik’s chest and pointed to the left. “Go!”
They slipped through the door and rushed to the corner. “Through the window?” Mik asked, pointing to the nearby window.
“That works.” Queensport was still warm in early autumn, and the window was already open. But as they made for the window, the door behind them opened. Rihous breathed a curse and leaped for the corner, shoving Mik behind him. Mik put a hand on Rihous’s back and concealed them. He felt Rihous start, perhaps feeling Mik’s magic, but stayed quiet. The night guard, now singing snatches of his bawdy tune, ambled across the antechamber to the door beyond. Mik held his breath, willing the man to move on without lighting a lamp.
The guard stretched, scratched himself, then veered to the window. He poked his head through for a long moment, perhaps catching a few breaths of fresh air. “All is well, when I’m with my Fel,” he sang. “And what we do, I’ll never tell.” At last, he closed the window and exited.
Mik and Rihous both let out their breath, and Mik let go his concealment spell. “I thought he’d spot us for sure,” Rihous whispered. “I was so nervous, I saw double for a moment. What was that magic I felt on you?”
“I… I was going to Lift him off the floor while we went out the window.”
“He’d have raised the alarm.”
Mik shrugged. “And he wouldn’t have, the moment he spotted us?”
“Indeed.” Rihous opened the window, climbed through, then floated slowly to the ground. “It’s not far!” he rasped. “Jump, I’ll catch you!”
Mik clambered through, breathed a quick prayer to the Creator, then remembered he could Lift himself. He floated down to join Rihous, who looked pleasantly surprised. “You’re more advanced than I thought,” he said. “That’s good. It gives us a better chance.”
“We’re free,” said Mik. “What now? How do we get to—to wherever we’re going?”
What? Why is Mik in jail? And where are they going? When Water and Chaos is released in the next few weeks, you can find out!