Adane barely escaped war in his homeland. He wanted nothing more than to hide in this new city with his adopted child Chisa by his side. But every choice he makes risks their quiet lives and every day brings the war that Adane fled closer to their doorstep. Soon Adane will have to choose between running away again or taking a stand against an enemy that can’t be seen and cannot be fought.
Transplant of War
by Meyari McFarland
21. Basic Lesson
The palace walls were grey. Smoke stained and damaged by explosions, they were a far cry from what Adane had seen the first time he came to the palace. It should have reassured him. The king and queen clearly were doing everything they could to protect the country, or at least themselves, but it didn’t. Even being surrounded by Prince Gamali’s crack troops didn’t reassure Adane.
Their march through the city had been quiet, almost peaceful, no barges or trams or carriages flitting by. He’d glimpsed people peeking out doors or looking through windows in the increasingly better parts of town where windows to the street actually existed. But there was too much fear in the soldiers’ auras. Price Gamali stalked down the streets as though he expected soul-riven soldiers to charge at them at any moment.
Frankly, Adane expected it. He could feel more life around them then there was emotion to match with, not that the thought made sense to him. Except for all the ways that it did. The soul-riven were hollow, blank spots that lived but which didn’t feel, didn’t have emotions the way real people did. Adane didn’t know if other mages could feel that difference. Balqis had only raised an eyebrow at him when he’d mentioned it to her. But Adane most certainly felt it and it made him shiver as they circled around the palace walls towards the still unbroken main gates.
Adane looked over his shoulder, scanning rooftops for any glimpse of Chisa’s fluff of curls. He didn’t see anything, thank goodness. None of the others had come along. Balqis hadn’t allowed it. Truthfully, she hadn’t wanted Adane to go either but someone had to teach the mages in the palace how to layer spells.
Faisal had been very clear that none of the mages at the palace knew how they’d done it. Or hidden away in other parts of the city. The sheer improbability of that bothered Adane. What in the world had they been taught that they didn’t know such a basic thing about their own magic?
“Should already know that,” Adane muttered as he followed Prince Gamali through the battered but still functional gate.
“Know what?” Faisal asked.
“Sorry,” Adane apologized. “They should already know how to layer their spells for maximum effect. It’s a basic lesson that I was taught, all of us were taught, when we were young.”
“They, ah, believe that you did something more,” Faisal said, grimacing at the look Adane gave him. “I know, I know. But I think that… they want to believe you’re special so that they have hope.”