The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon
Summer had arrived and all that time was allocated to be spent with her master in lessons on trailing, summoning and combat. The school year had been very difficult for her but the great thing about RavenDance was that he always pushed her past what she thought she could do. In some ways, he reminded her so much of her brother, Clef who would always challenge her.
RavenDance had the entire summer filled up with going to some cave that was crawling with lower level demons and the undead. Just great. It is a good thing that she adopted her own motto of “what doesn’t kill me will make me much better than Clef.” Bright side, she would be in a cave where hopefully it would be nice and cool.
It seemed that Bell was not the only arcane that would be caving it this summer. She was paired with an apprentice priest and courtesan, and informed that they would be part of her inner circle probably for the rest of her life.
The courtesan would be in charge of cooking, repairing armor and any other house hold type chores that would be needed. The priest would be praying, taking care of their religious needs as well as healing, field surgery and the like.
“Greetings arcane warrior apprentice. I am arcane priest Jasper” said the boy. “It is an honor to be in your inner circle.”
Another boy bowed. “Greetings arcane warrior apprentice. I am Damon, your courtesan. It is my utmost pleasure to meet you.” He seemed to blush as the words rolled out of his mouth. Bell found him to be very handsome.
“Hello to the both of you. Pleasure is all mine. I had no idea when I would be paired with some of those who were to be in my inner circle.” Bell said.
RavenDance said “Actually Bell, this is happening a bit before schedule because it has come to my attention that you have become quite bored in combat training and are taking down your opponents too easily. The combatant instructor has already been pairing you up against those who are two years above you.”
“Yeah, I wish I could say I’m sorry about that but I’m not.” She said.
Her master laughed knowing full well the force that was driving her to having to be the best in every class.
“Since you are all finally here together, I need to tell you about a dream I had”
RavenDance rudely interrupted her “Bell, we all know about the dream you had that set you upon this path. Must we all hear it again?”
“IF you would let me finish…” she looked at him very sternly. “I had a dream last night that I found very interesting. In this dream I was me but in full armor and there was a man there, he said that he was my Mentor in the dream world. In this dream, we were sparing. Stalking around each other as if it were some kind of ritual or dance, which I have to say was a bit arousing. He had me meditate for a while. When I came out of the meditation…the name Bell no longer felt like my own.”
Jasper looked at her with surprising shock. “Wow! Do you know how lucky you are? I mean really! From my studies thus far, I can tell you that only a handful of Arcanes ever gain the attention to garner the Mentor.”
RavenDance explained that the Mentor in her dream was actually Arcanos Demonos who had taken notice of her determination and skills and chose to give extra instruction.
“Ok well from now on, Bell is no more” she said. “My name is Demona.”
Her inner circle and RavenDance all nodded and repeated her name in unison.
The summer went by so fast. Demona was challenged beyond her wildest dreams. For the first time in combat she was actually badly wounded and spent a week under the care of Jasper. She was able to garner names, places and ranks of some of the demons that she wanted to summon and it must have been something bardic in her because she was actually able to gain the true name of the demon from her nightmare.
The last summoning she did was to call and ensnare that damned demon. She had to face him; she had to face that fear. RavenDance’s face was full of fear as were all in her inner circle. Demona was now summoning THE Prince of the Nine Planes of Hell.
“I call upon Antonio, First Prince of the Nine Planes of Hell to appear before me now.” She used every single ounce of will she could find within her and it felt as if she were drawing the will from Jasper, Damon and RavenDance.
Much more forcefully “Appear before me NOW!”
And just like that- there he was. The thing that said it was going to take everything she loved from her, standing in the summoning circle unable to move.
Antonio was disorientated. “How DARE you summon me! I AM the Prince!”
“Silence!” she demanded.
He realized that he had been summoned by an Arcane Warrior who was not fully into her power. He grinned as the wheels turned in his head thinking about calling forth other demons to aide him. He then realized who had summoned him.
“M’Lady Bell. Aren’t you supposed to be at the bardic academy? What is this?!”
“I am facing you Antonio. I am here to let you know that I am the one who will take everything you love and hold dear away from you. I will kill them all and make you watch as I slowly torture them and kill them and then I’ll feed you their most vile organs. But you…you I will torture until the end of my days before I kill you.”
“M’Lady, I think you misunderstood my message a few years ago. I don’t want to take them away from you. I accept all those you love and everything you hold dear. I accept them and you as my own, my love” he said.
Demona’s third crown birthmark burned. She knew he was to be her last love, the most passionate and loving of all of them.
“You are released to return to your home” she said. He left without any argument and she collapsed to the floor.
When she awoke outside of the cave she felt confident, like the black cloud that plagued her since her fifth birthday was gone and the sun was shining and she felt power. She could hear Jasper asking if she were alright.
She sat up then stood up. “I’m…I’m different now.”
“You most certainly are Demona. Look at your armor” Damon said.
She looked down and she saw that the armor looked like natural skin. It felt natural. Like nothing of Bell existed and she was finally who she was supposed to be. Her daily ware no longer fit her.
“We have to return to the academy apprentice as you and I need to seek an audience with the Great Summoner.”
Demona did not recall her armor. She mounted her horse and they all left for the academy. She felt a sense of pride and relief. She sat up strait on the horse, just like RavenDance had done. Her whole demeanor had changed. She could actually feel the cool air emanating from her. Of course Demona wasn’t the only one that grew in power- her inner circle seemed much more than they were before and the bond had truly formed between them. They were now inseparable.