Previously: “Darling!” Her father straightened. “Don’t.”
“He’s grown complacent,” Lady Alverette hummed. “Thinks that he’s all that—won’t even pay attention to my daughter?”
“Our daughter,” he corrected. “Ravina, don’t listen to your mother-”
“Ravina,” her mother said, sweetly. “What was that you said about summoning the King’s armory?”
“You are not summoning the King’s armory!” Richard said, flatly. The look he gave—or intended to give—was somewhat hampered by the cartoonish eyes painted on his magical glasses. Wide-blue eyes blinked innocently above the fierce scowl of scarred lip and crooked nose.
In the silence that followed, he yanked the glasses off, pillowing his head on folded arms atop the wooden table. “You will give me gray hair,” he said, faintly. “Both of you.”
Lady Alverette continued to sip her tea. “Honestly, you take away all my fun. Think how amusing it would be? An entire army outfitted to nothing?”
“Not funny, love.”
Too dignified to snort, Lady Alverette settled for a near-slurp of her tea. “You cannot tell me that you believe our daughter will repeat a year at that pointless academy because she wasn’t clever enough? Read between the lines!”
Now Richard winced. “When you put it that way, dearest,” he said, cautiously. “But we are hardly in a position to-“
“Every tutor we ever had, sang her praises within the first hour of teaching her. I, myself, have tested her own talents and I assure you—she is no brainless bit of of-“
“Thank you, Mum,” Ravina interrupted. She’d heard this argument before and it never ended calmly. “It doesn’t matter. I tried and it—didn’t work. I’ll just have to think of something showier and less—useful—for next year.”
Lady Alverette frowned. She refilled their teacups with a twitch of her fingers. “Could you summon something you’ve never seen?”
Ravina hesitated. “I’d probably have to see it,” she admitted. “I mean, when I was testing things, I figured out that I could call the general item or create a similar item out of nothing.”
Her mother stilled. “Who knew that?”
“No one! That’s technically—it’s—that’s not what the spell was supposed to do, so I counted it as a flop.”
“It’s exhausting.” Ravina said, sheepishly. “It’s pulling something out of nothing, using the fabric of our being, as the textbooks say. That’s very tiring and then add in the distance, the effort needed to solidify said thing and you have a recipe for a fantastic headache.”
Her mother grimaced. “I have enough of those on my own,” she said, lightly. “Do not mention that little detail to anyone, hm?”
“Why? Everyone probably knows. I mean, you can always accidentally create something and-“
“Accidentally, yes. Deliberately, no. Ravina—look at me. Do not repeat that to anyone.”
Ravina swallowed. There was a glint of iron in her mother’s gaze that promised the sort of consequences that she didn’t really want to imagine. She gave a quick nod.
“Ravina?” Richard lifted his head, uncertain.
“I won’t. Promise.”
“Good girl. Now, I want you to do something for me.” Lady Alverette summoned a sketchbook and her pouch of colored drawing sticks.
Ravina floated the unnecessary things off of the small table and over to the kitchen counter. She pictured the marble countertop in her head, guiding the mental bubble until she could feel it settling where she wanted it.
When her attention returned to the table, she saw that her mother had torn a fresh page from the sketchbook and then pinned the corners with melted pie weights. From her drawing pouch, she produced a stick of brown, one of soft marmalade orange and another of shimmering gold.
Drawing in a slow, deep breath, Lady Alverette broke off a neat square from each slender stick. She set the sticks to the side and gathered the squares up in the center of the sheet.
Ravina stood behind her, curious. This was always her favorite thing to watch. Of her mother’s many talents, her artistic skill, melded with magic, was always a visual delight.
Holding one hand over the colored squares, Lady Alverette’s brown eyes grew pitch black. Tiny, barely visible strands of golden light leapt from the palm of her hand to dance with the colored squares.
Squares that melted into puddles—before streaking across the blank page. Darting from corner to corner, skittering across the middle and back, a faint outline began to take shape.
An oddly shaped trinket—almost like a fancy mortar from a tea set. It had a golden butterfly on one end, and a half-cylinder set in the other. A half-moon, Ravina thought to herself, squinting at the shadowed image. She watched as the colors bled out on the white page, gradually fading as the picture was finished.
“What is it?” Richard pushed his glasses up on his nose. “Is that a crest?”
“At the base, yes.” Lady Alverette’s hand hovered a few beats longer, before she drew back, her eyes lightening to their original shade once more. “I only know that I don’t think it belongs where I found it.”
“…Where’d you find it?” Ravina crouched for a closer look. “It’s pretty. It looks like the mortar from Lady Kana’s tea set.”
“It’s too small for that,” Lady Alverette said. She turned the paper to face Ravina. “I saw it in the stables—but I didn’t have time to go and dig it out. It’s half-ground into the dirt and it’s by the water trough on the North side.”
“A reward?” Ravina guessed, the pieces of the puzzle clicking into place. They were well off enough, but from time to time, certain people would lose things when they were out riding.
Returning them to the owner or owners, usually led to a sizable monetary reward, the excess of which had paid for her magical education up the current point.
“I hope,” her mother said. “Think you could summon it?”
A crest imprinted on anything automatically meant a higher reward than normal and for something this fancy—Ravina guessed that it was either a token or a gift and therefore, of some value to the owner.
She feathered a hand over the glossy image and closed her eyes, picturing it in her mind. Her mother’s drawings were always so detailed—it was easy to picture this pretty little trinket.
Her magic stretched out from her, like a lazy cat on a warm afternoon—it pranced about her mind for a moment, then vanished.
Several long minutes passed.
An hour stood tall.
Ravina drooped from her seat halfway beneath the table. It had always been comfortable sitting on the floor and at least, here at home, her parents never told her to actually use the furniture.
Gentle fingers tangled through her hair and Ravina leaned into the caress, resting her cheek against her mother’s thigh. “It’s not working.”
“It’s a good distance. It might just be taking its time.” Her mother consoled. “Why don’t you call it a night?” She frowned at the half-drowsing Richard at the other end of the table. “The same to you, sleepyhead.”
“M’not tired,” Richard mumbled, but a yawn escaped as he slowly rose from the table. He had left one of his research projects in mid-point. There were still notes to be filled out and several logs to be updated.
“Why don’t you help him?” Lady Alverette tugged gently on Ravina’s ruffled hair. “Go on. Some tinkering would be good for you.”
“It’s not tinkering!” Richard huffed. “It is high-functioning innovational-“
“Yes, yes, I know darling,” Lady Alverette shook her head. She gave Ravina one last pat and then slid out from her seat. She waved her art supplies back to where she’d originally summoned them. “I, however, smell like the horses and the king’s men on a hot, sweaty summer’s day. So do excuse me—a nice hot bath is calling me.”
Richard found himself smiling. He leaned over at her as she passed.
Her face softened and she closed the distance for a sweet kiss. “Don’t keep her up too late—she has to fly back tomorrow.”
Ravina shuffled after her father as he made his way back to the welcome glow of the Royal libraries and secret archives. These were the hallowed halls of her upbringing and it would always be her true home.
She sidled closer, half-smiling when he reached back with one arm to pull her into a hug. They moved through the quiet halls, the magical lights flickering faintly from their holders.
“What were you working on?”
“Antidote for the Red Poison from the Draken Kingdom.” A grim look settled over his face. “It’s gotten worse.”
“Nine, since you left. It seems to grow worse the longer it lingers.” He sighed. “The Healers have been of little use.”
Ravina nodded, quickening her step. Her father’s research was important—but his human status meant that few within the magical court would even deign to acknowledge his existence.
“Nothing. If I could pinpoint the cause, it would be a major breakthrough. As it is, minimizing symptoms took the majority of my recent discovery, but that backfired. They passed with twenty-four hours of the first sign of improvement.”
“…It’s magical, isn’t it?” Ravina dared to whisper.
Her father gave her shoulders a slight squeeze.
She fell silent. A magical poison was ten times more deadly than a non-magical one. The devastating effects would often depend on the magical depth and capacity of the infected individual.
For once, she was grateful that her mother worked outside of the inner royal courts and far away from the gilded walls.
When she’d left for that year, the wives of two high lords had fallen ill within the first week of the semester.
She hadn’t heard of their passing.
Lady Alverette stripped out of her dirty riding gear, tossing it into the tall, cleaning basket by the door. She muttered the necessary privacy spells and watched them take effect.
It was a habit from her youth that she’d never quite outgrown. There were always prying eyes everywhere and she’d learned the dark truth of evil eyes far too early.
Steam rose from the large tiled tub that took up nearly the entire bathing room. She frowned and drew lightly on her magic.
The steam increased, until a tolerable haze filled the entire room.
Better…she thought to herself.
Another flare of magic heated the bucket of water beside the drain in the center of the floor. Dirty water swirled down the drain, several long minutes later, before gradually lightening to an acceptable color.
Lady Alverette eased into the tub and cast another spell of protection—this one to make sure that no one would dare make another attempt on her life.
It had gotten worse, lately—with Ravina gone.
But nothing worth mentioning to anyone.
She reached into her thick hair and drew out the golden-trinket. Ravina’s spell had worked beautifully—except for the fact that she’d already had the key in her possession.
It had been somewhat disconcerting to feel the little hands and feet scrabbling at her head, until she’d reached up to touch it. Then the feeling had vanished at once, taking the odd sensations with it.
Using Ravina’s spell had wiped away all possible traces of any previous spells and that had been the objective all along.
This particular trinket had been someplace where it hadn’t belonged. So she’d taken the liberty of involving herself, her good intentions vanishing when she arrived home to see Ravina’s brave front.
That had been unexpected. She’d thought Old Ben was finally losing it when he’d turned up, wheezing and gasping at the end of the corral. Ravina hadn’t been due home until the following day and she’d already begun planning out a small welcome home party.
It would be half-celebration and half-coming of age, as a magician’s license was no small feat and definitely worthy of a true feast and at least, one proper toast. She intended to shower her only child with all the things a young lady would need as their station improved.
New casting robes had been worked into their budget—and now this.
She scowled, stretching out to rest her head against the rim of the tub. Her eyes flickered from brown to a hint of violet as she stared up at the tiled.
Ravina was far too much like her father. All fairness and no fire. She wouldn’t challenge the magical academy—after all, a scholarship student had no voice.
Still. Lady Alverette bristled. Fail her daughter out of spite? Ha! She knew Maurous. He would, if he could and that meant that he would have to pay for that.
A/N: Aaaaaand here we go! It’s part 2!! I guess I might as well turn it into a serial, because why not? Should be fun. ^_^ I’m glad everyone’s enjoying the story, I have quite a few more little twists and turns to throw in there. Stick around for the rest. Took me a little while to figure out how to scene jump, so don’t expect too many sprawling descriptions, as I’m kind of drawing a bit of a blank for that. Expect some interesting characters to appear. ^_^