The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon
It was two days before the master and his apprentice were to leave Draconos and three days before the circus. There was another visiting arcane dignitary staying at the compound and Bell had to change rooms. It was not to her liking. It was too warm- not hot just warm.
The little miss went down for breakfast. She sat at the table but did not eat. This really wasn’t out of the ordinary for a child to not eat but it was strange behavior since she did not eat dinner the night before. She excused herself and went to her room.
She got back into bed and pulled the covers up over her head. The room was warm and the covers made it seem almost unbearable for her. About an hour later, her master comes into her room because she failed to show up for combat practice. As soon as she heard the knock she folded the blankets down to her chest to expose her head.
“Bell, I’m only going to say this once. Get up, get dressed and get yourself down to the practice area. Now.” He commanded. She moaned and rolled over.
Her eyes were closed but she could hear him walking across the floor. He placed his hand on her to lightly shake her. She moaned again. RavenDance was concerned. He felt something wasn’t right. He placed the back of his hand gently across her forehead. It was warm. He thought to himself that she has a fever.
“Bell? Are you feeling alright?” he asked. She just moaned. He left the room. She covered her head with the blankets and fell asleep.
She didn’t really feel bad but she didn’t really feel good either. The room was too warm for her and now the blankets made it worse.
A while later the arcane priest and her master came back in. The priest uncovered her head and checked for a fever. It appeared that the little miss may indeed have a fever.
The priest spoke. “There have been reported cases of this throughout the city Arcane Warrior. I’m afraid she may have contracted this disease while at the imperial feast. I will do what I can for her but you must know, that in most cases, this disease proves to be…have you the address of her next of kin?”
“Is there nothing we can do?” RavenDance asked.
“Other than praying?” he shrugged his shoulders. “There is a tea that has been rumored to help. Do you want me to prepare the tea for her?”
“How long does she have?”
“Oh I would estimate the disease is well into its course now. This disease is wretched. I would say if she doesn’t have the tea now then you may be writing her parents to inform them their little girl has passed away within a day. Shall we at least try the tea?”
RavenDance sighed. “Yes. Yes, of course. Bring her the tea right away.”
With that both of them left her room. Bell was scared and thinking she was going to die and she was mad because if this disease kills her it will have robbed her of her chance to kill that demon that keeps haunting her.
The priest and RavenDance come back into the room. RavenDance lifts the little girl’s head up and he sits behind her holding her up.
“Apprentice Bell, please drink this tea. It will help you get well. I am sorry it will taste quite horrible but it will keep you from succumbing death.” The priest said.
RavenDance held the cup of tea in his hand and pulled it close to her mouth.
“It’s best to drink it all at one time Apprentice” the priest stated.
Bell plugged her nose and drank the whole cup down at one time. Oh by Arcanos it was most nasty. She was gagging. The priest left a bucket by her bed. RavenDance stayed with her.
The tea caused her to become violently nauseated and she was now holding the bucket in her lap as her head hung over it. This lasted all night.
By morning the retching had stopped and she went down for breakfast. She was starving so much so that she had two heaving helpings.
“Master, can we stay for the circus? Pretty please?” She asked.
“We might as well. We must make sure you have your strength back to continue on after that because we have to make up for lost time. In the future, least you wish to become violently ill again, don’t come down with a case of circitis.”
Everyone at the table except for her laughed. She felt embarrassed and a little mad but this is exactly like a trick that Clef would have pulled on her. Remembering that, she laughed too.
They arrive at the circus. There are games to play with weird prizes. The big top was not colorful at all. What kind of circus master uses dark red and grey she wondered. They enter the big tent and take a seat. RavenDance was acting strange. He was jittery. Bell thought him to be excited or perhaps nervous.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls may I present Darklyn’s Circus Macabre. Where you’ll be dying to leave! I give to you our circus master, Darklyn” said a tall man with alabaster skin.
Bell found this to be a most interesting circus. She recognized the man who announced the circus master as a real vampire. There were knife throwing acts and tight wire acts. Some of the actors were losing limbs and one lost a head. RavenDance was tapping on the hilt of his sword.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
He replied, “I don’t like the undead. They too are our enemies at times.” She didn’t care; she was having a great time.
“And now ladies and gents, we need a participant from the audience to help us out with this next act. To make this fair, we have taken all the occupied seat numbers and put them into this glass jar” said the vampire. “Now our not so honorable ring master will pull one number out of the jar.”
The circus master or ring master as he was sometimes called was a jester who seemed to prefer dark red and grey rather than the traditional bright colors. His jester hat was most interested and disturbing at the same time. His hat was adorned with tiny skull bells that would jingle when his head moved. His face and hands was skull like so either he was an undead too or he had someone who did a great make up job on him. Darklyn was holding a shovel that had a carving of a skeletal elephant in his hand.
The ring master dipped his bony fingers into the jar and pulled out a piece of paper. He said “Would the person sitting in chair ninety six please come on down and join me. Again, chair ninety six.”
Bell Singer just happened to be sitting in that seat. She jumped up and went down into the middle of the ring. She stood beside the macabre jester.
She could hear him in her head. He said “Hello Ding-La!” With her mouth a gape she turned her head with a questioning look on her face. “Oh don’t worry Ding-La! I can find you anywhere! Hahahahaha!”
“Well who is our willing victim, I mean participant?” he asked.
“Arcane Warrior Apprentice Bell Singer” she replied.
“Well young apprentice, how about you help us with some juggling. You can juggle can you not? You are a Singer after all!”
“Um. Yeah I can a little.”
As she stood next to the macabre jester one of the crowns surrounding her belly button began to itch.
“Great! This is Zane the Zombie. Zane meet Apprentice Bell.” He said that in such a way as to imply to the zombie that she was food. The audience laughed.
They begin to juggle and pass the colored balls back and forth. Zane’s left hand falls off. The audience laughs. Zane eventually loses his right arm and Bell wins the so called contest. As a prize, Darklyn hands her a shadowy scale.
“Use this only if you are really in serious trouble. I’ll come help you.” He whispered in her head. She returned to her seat and put the small scale in her money sack.
Poor RavenDance wanted to leave this dreadful place as soon as he could however his apprentice would not have that. He was forced to leave the big top with her to go play games for prizes.
Bell knocked down all the bottles in the bowling game and won a beautiful ornate miniature casket with directions on the bottom. The directions say “Only open at night and in a closed room. Do not have open windows or doors. Not responsible for contents after opening.” RavenDance took that from her placing it in his pouch for what he deemed as safe keeping. Bell finally announced she was tired and wanted to go back to the compound.
“Don’t ever make me endure such a spectacle again, young Bell. I will not have the restraint I showed tonight. Understand?” He said.