I snapped to attention and time seemed to slow down. The world faded around me until all I saw was the cloth hurling toward me, lit by the blazing blue bonfire.

The fire rune leapt to my mind. Control it, Dorua! A small amount, not a fire, just the heat. Steam billowed from the cloth as it sailed toward me in slow motion. Wind next. A big gust at first, then slow as the cloth dries. Snuff the heat, and bob the cloth into the air.

The rest of the world came into focus once again as I heard a collective gasp from the group. All five of the dark-robed wizards stared at me. I turned toward Mhorik, who just stroked his beard with one of his more enigmatic smiles on his face.

“I see you are not to be underestimated,” Amberstone said, regaining her composure. The wizard who had hurled the cloth frowned and narrowed her eyes at me. Murmurs erupted from the crowd.

Mhorik motioned for me to follow him. I quickly snatched the cloth from the air and handed it back to Ambermoon. “I believe courtesy dictates I should return this to you.”

A slight smile crossed Ambermoon’s face as she took the cloth. I turned to follow Mhorik.

We returned to our seats. The wizards talked some more, but I barely heard a word. I was giddy. I controlled the magic perfectly. Perfectly! I felt the ebb and flow of magic around me, and I was lost in the currents for however long we were there.

“Let’s go.” Mhorik’s voice drew me back to the present as he got up and followed the crowd out of the clearing. We walked back along the paths, out of the grove to the field, and back to the fire.

“Well,” Mhorik said as we got back. “That was some show. You certainly will be remembered after that.”

My face cracked open with a smile. “I did good?”

“The magic was amazing. The politics you stumbled into, however….” Mhork’s voice trailed off.

“What do you mean?”

“That other wizard was Riversdepth. Let’s just say she doesn’t like me much. I think she wanted to embarrass you, but instead you made a fool out of her.”

I sat quiet for a moment, the glee of victory ebbing. “Is this bad?”

“No worse than usual.”

We sat quietly for a bit. i stared into the fire, when a timid voice with a heavy accent interrupted my thoughts.

“Can we join you, yes?”

A painfully thin man stood nearby, with a young boy. Their robes were colorful and foreign, but worn and still dirty from travel.

“Yes,” I said without knowing why. “I am the apprentice of Starwise.” I had learned my lesson.

“Could any not know who you are?” the young boy said in a similar accent to the other man as he sat down. “Everyone saw you!”

My hands flew to my face. Everyone did see me up there, didn’t they?

“She’s a bit overwhelmed right now.” Mhorik laid his hand on my shoulder.

“I see. It is nice to meet you, Starwise. I am Cloud’s Reflection from the empty plains.”

“I am not familiar with the empty plains,” Mhorik said. “Where are they?”

“To the far south. Few wizards in that land. They have bad reputation, and people are as willing to hunt them as to ask their assistance.”

“What brings you so far north?”

“Our village was attacked and burned. A warlord attacked, and our magics were powerless against him. He enslaved the village, and we fled for our lives.”

“I am sorry to hear that, Cloud’s Reflection. What happened?”

“The warlord lead an army of green skinned brutes. They were savage.”

“Green skin? Sounds like Kobolds, but would not be so easily controlled.”

We sat in silence for a bit, until Mhorik asked, “Is this your apprentice?”

“Not truly. He is my son, although he does show some promise with spells.” The boy smiled.

“Well, I hope you find shelter in these lands. Be wary, some tribes distrust traveling wizards, as my apprentice and I learned on our travels here.”

Cloud’s Reflection nodded. “Let us hope to find some good news here. Thank you for your kindness, Starwise.”

The events of the day finally crashed down on me. Fatigued weighed me down as I struggled to get my sleeping furs spread out. Worry about the next few days gnawed at my stomach, but sleep took all the same.


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