“Marina,” Annalise rode over to me. I looked at her and nodded. “Athena and Aaron shot some rabbits and ducks, they’re cleaning them for lunch, would you get a fire started.” She looked at Lefty and smiled. “You’re about to see something impressive, Lieutenant.”
“Am I?” He raised an eyebrow. I laughed and shook my head. He dismounted and offered me a hand.
“Perhaps a bit,” I said softly, attempting to dismount, and he quickly went to help me, “She could do it herself, to be perfectly honest.” I carefully dismounted, trying not to flush at his hands on my waist. I carefully hovered my hands, sending out a warm light, that burst into a flame which hovered in the air.
“Well the queen was right,” Lefty said, “I am impressed, neither Aimee nor Queen Elana have ever done anything like that.”
“Parlor tricks,” I smiled. “That’s what Lisette calls them.” He laughed.
“Oh good,” Athena bounced over, holding a cleaned rabbit, “Marina fire, it will cook quickly.” She glanced at Lefty. “Lieutenant, could you perhaps go to the stream and get us some water?”
“Happy to,” he smiled at her. “Your Grace,” he said and walked away. She smiled at me.
“You’re both making trouble,” I said. “I assume Tristan’s decision to see your grandfather has to do with your scheme from last night?” She nodded. “So he’s considering it?”
“I don’t know what he’s considering,” she shook her head. She glanced over at Annalise and Prince Eric. “They look well together.” I nodded.
“Would you be able to show me this?” Lord Raymond walked over, gazing at the fire. I smiled.
“Yes,” I said, “not here, but in a labratory or classroom, where there’s room for error.” He nodded. “Lord Raymond has magic, Lady Athena.”
“I see,” she nodded. “I suppose it runs in families, I’d heard that.” Lord Raymond nodded. “I’ve heard of Queen Elana’s power, but I doubt it compares with our Rina.”
“Athena,” I said softly. She shrugged. “She’s bragging. I wouldn’t dream of challenging your sister’s,”
“It’s alright,” he said, “my sister and I are both well trained, but our power is limited. I was hoping to spend some time with a mastero, but Countess Olivia told me the one who trained Queen Annalise isn’t in Dovetail.”
“I believe that Mastero Anselm’s exact words were, ‘if your majesty forces me to go back to that cess pool, I will never speak to you again,'” Athena said. “He’s an eccentric man. I very much look forward to being his lady.”
“He’s at Pantona then?” Raymond asked. Athena nodded. “Do you know if he’s considered reestablishing the order?”
“The Masteros?” I asked. “That’s of interest to you? How terribly un-Phanian!” He laughed.
“I suppose so,” he shrugged. “But I wasn’t accepted into the brotherhood four years ago, which limits my options for serving the gods, unless,”
“Unless,” Athena smiled. “It’s an admirable goal, serving the gods. Why were you refused? Into the brotherhood?”
“The mothers don’t always disclose their reasoning,” He said. I looked at him, he sounded almost bitter.
“My father said there are very few brothers,” I said, “only a few every generation.” Raymond nodded. “Still, I know it can be difficult, for your life to go in a way you didn’t hope for.” He smiled. I keep thinking about what Annalise said about him, about how his aura reminded her of Brayton, and I keep thinking about Brayton’s claim that he traded his soul to Amina after Marie chose another.
If even a small kindness could save Raymond from that level of despair, I’ll give him that. Lieutenant Lestoff came back with a pail of water, and I felt my heart skip when he smiled at me.
“Thank you Lieutenant,” Athena smiled at him.
“Happy to help, Captain,” he said softly. The Prince and Annalise bounced over and we all ate.
“Where did you learn this?” Lord Raymond asked me. I grinned. “Not from the sisters?”
“No,” I said, “I taught myself, from the library.”
“Rina’s very studious,” Annalise said. “I’ve been trying to emulate her but I get bored sitting all day.”
“How do you prefer to spend your time then?” The Prince asked, leaning back against his elbows. Aaron met me eyes and rolled his. I tried not to giggle.
“Lisette prefers anything active,” Aaron said, “our whole lives, you stick a book in her hand, she’d trade it for a sword.” She kicked him playfully. “Well, it was knives first, wasn’t it? What did Father said to you, Lisette, when you were six?”
“Surprise is your first weapon,” she grinned, “this is your second.” She pulled a small knife out of her boot. Aaron and Athena both smiled, and I realized I was too. I suddenly missed Count Caleb very much. Annalise took my hand and squeezed it.
“I wish we could have met him,” Prince Eric said softly. I looked at him and nodded. The right thing to say.
“I think we should go back,” Annalise said standing up and walking over to her horse.
“See,” Aaron shrugged, brushing himself off. “Can’t sit still to save her life.”