Friday, July 12, 2019

Serialization: "The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice" by Roberta Downing: Chapter Thirteen

The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon

Chapter Thirteen

The Great Summoner refused to see RavenDance but granted the audience with Demona. As she walked in she remembered her etiquette and it came natural to her. She kneeled before him.
“Well, my, my. You have changed in a drastic way apprentice. You gained the attention of Arcanos Demonos as a Mentor, you were given your name by your God, you bonded with your circle, you charmed your Information Imp to give you names and other information that he would not have ever revealed to you and lastly- you summoned a Bazatu and a Prince at that far beyond what your level of training should have been able to do.” He said
She was silent and kept her gaze away from his face. She waited.
“Demona, this is the first time in the history of the academy that this has happened with one as young as you. Your armor is no longer armor but your actual skin. You are two years from being able to go out with your Instructor to work toward your journeyman ship yet I have no choice but to send you. There is a war in the far north west of Whalesong. You shall go there. Learn about war and what you can do for the side you choose to serve on. While you are there, you must find the last member of your inner circle; one who is not an arcane but is more than able to protect people should you have to engage in demonic battle in public. And I want you to work with RavenDance on your magics because it is quite evident that the magic has awakened in you. Now, go and make your preparations and congratulations.”
With that she bowed her head and stood up, took her three steps backwards and left the room. RavenDance was waiting just outside the double doors. He wanted to know why she was the only one granted an audience.
“Demona, what happened” asked RavenDance.
“That is Journey man Arcane Warrior Demona if you please” she said with a huge grin on her face. “We are to go to Whalesong and join in the battle there. I must find the last member of my inner circle and I must work with you, RavenDance on my magics as the Great Summoner has said they have come upon me.”
“Well! Congratulations Journey man Arcane Warrioress Demona!” everyone said.
“There will be time for celebration later but now we must all go and make preparations. Damon and Jasper, you should know what I will need. We leave in two days so make ready. Meanwhile I have some letters I must write. I’ll be in my dorm room.”
Demona sat down at her desk and wrote a letter to her mom and dad explaining everything in great bardic flair! She wondered as she wrote the letter if there would always be some part of her that would always be a Singer. She left instructions for them not to tell her brother because she knew he and Satyr were in Whalesong on their journeyman ship and this would finally show Clef that for once in her life, she had actually surpassed him.
She had a lot to do and a short time to do it in. She went to see Jasper to have him update her last will and testament. It is one thing to have a generic one while an apprentice but journeyman ship changes things. A lot.
Demona pondered which side she would join in the war. Would she help defend Whalesong or would she help the invading side. Her brother and his best friend were helping to defend Whalesong and she could so easily aide the other side but in doing so would that really turn the tide and cost two of the people she loved to lose their lives? No, she put that notion out of her head because that would be pride and revenge and she knew neither was useful. And so it was decided.
She went to the magic instructor to be tested at what level she was currently at. He knew that prior to summer vacation, she had only the use of the most basic of magics. He tested her by having her attempt to read the different level magic books. Demona had reached her third circle of magic and thus was given her belt with the appropriate pouches, she purchased her blank spell books that she would need to write the spells down as she learned them and she bought pre written spell scrolls to use in case of emergencies.
Prior to sending the letter home to her parents, she had a miniature portrait pained of herself to include in the parcel. She hadn’t had a lot of time to be able to sit for portraits to send home or to anyone. While sitting to have that done, she thought that instead of taking the most direct route to Whalesong that she would swing down and go into Singerville for a quick visit and then travel north west to reach their destination.
Singerville seemed like a long lost dream of a place she visited once instead of the notion of home. She knew she would be welcome there at any time, that wasn’t the issue. She began feeling like she had no home – that somewhere out there was a place waiting for her to settle into, to have a life and to be what she was.
She studied her spells prior to prayers and going to sleep. This would be the last night in the gods only knew how long that she would have a bed to sleep in. Tomorrow would be tents and the earth underneath her.
In the morning they all mounted their horses and rode to the docks to take the two day trip from the Arcane Island. She loved the trip more now than she did when she took it for the first time. That artic air- it was so comfortable and soothing.
As they arrived in Ashland, she remembered the minstrel Jake who she had given all her bardic things to and written a recommendation for him to attend the bardic academy. She wondered how he was and thought he must not be doing all that well as a bard since he had not written her, which meant he either didn’t care or he couldn’t find out where she was. That now seemed like a life time ago.
They rode for weeks and were finally getting close to Singerville.
“Master RavenDance, would you mind hanging back a few hours and let us ride in alone. I’m interested if anyone will even recognize me.” She said.
“Didn’t you write a letter home?”
“I did write the letter- I just forgot to mail it off. I’ve got it in my satchel.”
“Very well. I’ll camp out here for the night and arrive there in the morning. Is that ok with you journeyman?” He joked. She nodded and off they rode.
They were stopped by the village guard. Each of them handed them their identification papers. Her identification only said Arcane Warrioress Demona, not Bell Singer.
“State your business” he demanded.
“Visiting family.” She said.
“Very well, welcome to Singerville, Arcane Warrioress Demona and your inner circle.”
With that she dismounted, and handed the reigns to her courtesan as did Jasper. Damon took the horses to the stable and was instructed to get them rooms at the inn.
Demona now moved like a master arcane warrior. She headed in to the shopping district of the village to her father’s music shop. She opened the door and walked in. He welcomed her to his shop but without using her name. She browsed around looking at drawing paper, chalk and pencils.
“Arcane Warrioress is there anything I can help you with today?” Jotar asked.
Speaking in the arcane tongue she replied “Do you not recognize me father? A hug would be nice.”
Jotar Singer had a confused look on his face. “I’m sorry arcane warrioress, my daughter is still at the arcane academy, and perhaps you have me confused.”
“No, Dadda, I am your daughter. Your only daughter. You knew me as Bell. I am now known as Demona. Your friend RavenDance will be arriving tomorrow.”
“Oh my goodness Demona! What has happened? You must have had some really intense training and combat to get you looking like that” he said.
“I have graduated to my journeyman ship and have all but one of my inner circle.”
“How did you manage that? You were not supposed to start that for another two years. You know your brother just left for his journeyman ship too.”
“Dadda, please don’t tell him that I am now in the same year as he is. I want to see the surprise on his face when he sees it for himself. Promise me!”
“I promise. You still have me wrapped around your little finger. Perhaps some would see that as a weakness however, I see it as my biggest strength! You should attempt to go see your mother. She’s at the temple for test results from her visit last week.”
Demona walked to the temple of Cwell and entered. She saw her mother sitting in the outside waiting room just before the nave of the temple.
“I’m…I’m sorry but there is no way that someone such as yourself could enter into such a holy place” said one of the priests of Cwell.
Demona had no choice but to play the part, perhaps it was her being in her grandfather’s temple or maybe it was some of that bardic blood that was still within her but she just could not help herself!
Speaking in the common tongue she said “If this was such a holy place would I then be sent back to the ninth plane of hell from whence I came? Perhaps someone has defiled your so called holy place priest.” It was difficult for her to speak in the common tongue now after the time she’d spent at the arcane academy.
The priest held up the holy symbol of Cwell, a golden ornate mandolin. “In the name of the most Holy Cwell, I command you, demon be gone!”
Demona’s mother stood up in a fright. She was literally shaking at the sight of her unbeknownst daughter.
Demona reached out and held the holy symbol and laughed with delight. The poor journeyman priest was now frightened. He couldn’t understand why his deity would not send this beast of hell back to the fiery pit as “unholy” as it was.
“Let me introduce myself priest to put your mind at rest. I am Queen Demona, a journeyman arcane warrior. I’ve come to see the woman awaiting test results.”
“May I inquire the reason you wish to see my patient?” the priest asked.
“I’m sorry I can’t discuss that with you as this is arcane business. I do hope you can forgive me and understand. I am truly sorry for any inconvenience or stress this may cause you or your patient.”
Demona was going to play this out for all it was worth. Perhaps her grandfather would be looking down upon her seeing that she still had the humor, imagination and artistic abilities. Maybe he would even smile to see just how convincing she was being- playing out this little skit.
“Of course, arcane warrioress, I shall make sure you have privacy to talk to my patient.” The priest said as he motioned for her to continue on into the waiting room and he walked away.
“Greetings Mrs. Singer. I do apologize if I upset you or caused you any fear. It was not my intent.” Demona motioned for the woman to have a seat.
“What can I do for you arcane warrioress? I haven’t done anything in which to cause any harm to the current arcane warrior’s domain.” Lily said.
“I have come to visit my family here in Singerville. It has been some time since I’ve been here.”
“Oh, do you need assistance in finding your family? Have they moved away?” Lily asked.
“No, my parents still live in the same home I was born in and I know that my father still owns the local music store.” Demona kept a straight face as those words passed her lips.
The blond elven woman’s eyes though lit up with joy but also had the look of confusion.
“My father’s name is Jotar, my brother’s name is Clef and your name is Lily. Hello momma” she smiled.
“No momma, my name is now Demona as I was named by Arcanos himself. Far be it from me what I did to earn that honor.”
“Well! In that case, why don’t you and your inner circle come to dinner this evening and we can catch up” Lily said.
“Momma, I am on my journeyman ship. I’m here for a few days to visit and then I must move on to where I’ve been ordered.”
“Journeyman?” Mrs Singer paused. “But you still have a couple of years before that is supposed to happen.”
“Things happened over this past year and especially this summer that have caused the Great Summoner to change the rules. I wrote a letter before I left the island but I was so busy that I forgot to mail it. In the missive, it explains in great detail the past year.” Demona handed her mother the letter and the portrait.
“I’ve changed momma. I faced my greatest fear and lived to tell the tale. I feel strong, confident, and I’ve grown into the role of a journeyman. There wasn’t really anything else that the academy could teach me at this time. Now, Clef doesn’t know about this. I want to be there when he realizes who I am and that for once in my life I have finally outshined him. This is something that I have dreamed of long before I ever left for my apprenticeship.”
“Oh I remember my dear girl. He was always pushing you, daring you, challenging you to do more- to be more.” Her mother said.
“It was more than that momma, Clef was teaching me that life is not always kind, that it is not always fair and most of all, if you want something bad enough, you have to work hard to get it because it is not going to just be handed to you.”
Her mother nodded and realized that her little girl was growing up to be a wise woman. She had always hoped that she would grow up and be the best she could be and perhaps even be a much better bard than her grandfather, Cwell- the God of the Bards. She could not be more proud.
She kissed her hugged and kissed her mother. “We shall arrive about six and my courtesan would be more than happy to help you in the kitchen.”
“Oh wonderful, I haven’t been feeling well lately and have been a tad drained. I would welcome the help of your courtesan. Is he or she well versed in cooking yet?”
“Oh yes! Damon is a whirlwind of crazy person in the kitchen but everything he makes is wonderful and is fit for my station.”
“And what station would that be if I might ask”
“Well I suppose I shall introduce myself properly to you just this once. I am Arcane Warrioress, Bazatu Ice Queen Demona.”
“Queen.” Her mother whispered.
Her mother was somewhat surprised by Demona’s rank because after all, when she was a little girl, her only dream was to be better than Cwell- better than the God of Bards. Here she was, a queen in her own right.
“Alright mother, we shall see you at six. I must go and freshen up and rest for now.” With that Demona excused herself and headed for the Mandolin Inn.
Damon had procured her a room best befitting her station. He had anticipated her arrival by having a bath drawn and ready just as she walked into her suite.
“We have dinner plans this evening at my parent’s home. I’ve offered your services to help my mother in the kitchen. She says she’s not been feeling well and has felt drained lately. We must arrive by six so if you could be there about four to begin helping her that would be a godsend.” The warrioress said.
Demona was wondering how Tessa fared over the summer. She missed her. She didn’t have the chance to see her before leaving and she took up a fair amount of time writing home to her parents and preparing to leave the Arcane Island. It had been some time since the two of them had any time to spend together getting caught up or having a girl’s day or even to spar. She decided that after her bath she would write a letter to Tessa and get her caught up.
She knew Tessa all too well. She would not be happy that she was left behind to endure the next couple of years before taking on her journeyman ship. Tessa was the jealous type but she was in no way as noble as Demona. Nowhere near as graceful, though she had learned to be tactful in dealing with instructors and students at least when in the classroom.
Singerville was exactly as it was the morning she left it. It seems nothing really changes. People come and go but it was still the same. There were hundreds of bards from all over the globe and all of them Singers either by blood or marriage. Strange to see street buskers in the party capital of Arret yet there they were and per usual all of them were apprentices gaining experience in the craft.
Every day someone was throwing a party, a feast, a banquet and sometimes it was for a birthday, anniversary or for no reason at all other than for the students to learn how to do it. The real test was if a bard could pull one or all of those things off and have the clan enthralled then it was a safe bet that a mastery had been earned in that category.
“Momma, is everything alright? I hope that was just your yearly physical and not anything serious” Demona said.
“Oh, everything is alright or will be after I get rid of this bug.”
“Ah you are sick, I can have my priest take a look and see if there is anything he can do for you” she said.
“Demona, my darling girl, this bug is going to be with me for the rest of my life” Lily said as she placed her hand on her stomach.
“Oh my! You are with child. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Ya know that will put me smack dab in the middle” she teased. “I’m happy for you.”
“Let’s keep it between us for now- Jotar doesn’t know yet.” Her mother said.
“How much you wanna make a bet Clef already knows.” She laughed.

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