The Storm Prince, Chapter 6

I completely forgot about blogging yesterday. Sigh. I guess now the day my New Year’s resolution lapsed is recorded in internet posterity. I hope you can all forgive me my tardiness, but here is another chapter of ‘The Storm Prince’ for your reading peasure (I hope.)

It took the Queen’s armorers several minutes of scurrying around to locate a left-handed bow, and several more minutes of bowing and scraping before they would believe Beri’s wrath had not been incurred by their lack of preparation. Glianna’s friends consisted of the pale girl with the fan and two males, one of whom was marked as a relative of the fan-waver by similar coloring and facial features. The other regarded Beri through suspicious eyes as yellow as his hair. He was not Daoine Sidhe, or at least, not entirely. His ears were too long, and stuck out too far, despite the delicacy of his features. His fingers were all the same length. Part Tylwyth Tyg? Beri wondered. It was impolite to ask, and so he did not.

Glianna carried a little falcon with fierce eyes and flame-red plumage. Her friend, Linnit, held a delicate crossbow small enough to shoot one-handed. Linnit’s brother, Mercund, continually shouted orders at an ill-behaved hound, and the other young lord, Galen, used a well-made spear as a walking stick. When Beri tested the pull of his drawstring, Glianna and Linnit giggled together.

“I have never hunted with a left-handed archer before,” Linnit teased.
Beri managed to smile at her. “No? You have not spent much time at the Academy of Avalon, then. Most wizards are left-handed.”

“You are a full wizard?” Glianna allowed herself to sound surprised. “You are quite young.”

Beri nodded. “I was younger still when the honor was bestowed.”

“Ah, yes,” Galen agreed, tone dry. “You were the youngest meteomancer in history, were you not?”

“I am still, to the best of my knowledge,” Beri agreed.

The blond lord had obviously done his research. They were well into the forest now, with the meadow a distant golden shine behind them. The dog sniffed busily at a fallen log, dislodging a large centipede. The bug scurried into the gloom.

Galen gave him a small, unpleasant smile. “Unfortunate, that. Meteomancy will help you very little here. There is no weather, you know.”

Beri barely contained his dismay. “No? How do the plants grow?”

Apparently tired of being ignored, Mercund inserted, “By the grace of their Queen, of course. In the Summerlands, everything that happens is by the grace of the Queen.”

Galen snickered. A flock of quail scurried out of the underbrush, and the dog leapt. The bird gave an audible crunch between the hound’s teeth. Mercund broke away to wrestle the feathered corpse free of his animal and barely avoided falling victim to its white jaws himself.

“Ah, well,” Beri said, “I have other magics upon which I can rely.”
Galen’s laughter vanished and Linnit quickly hid a stricken look. Glianna’s dark eyes glittered with some indecipherable excitement.

Ah, he thought. I see through you now, Lady.

Overhead, a flock of birds startled into flight. Beri nocked an arrow and took aim. As soon as the arrow flew free he knew the shot was a bad one, but he whistled the air into movement. A brisk wind whipped their clothes and hair and then stopped. The bolt flew true. His arrow took a fat bird and it fell into the trees.

“Well done, Most High!” Glianna said. She whispered something to the bird on her wrist and it lifted itself into the forest canopy.

“That was lovely,” Linnit said. Her voice was still faint from her earlier surprise at his mention of the Birthright. “I have not felt the wind in such a long time.”

Beri shrugged. “Wind is only moving air. If you heat it quickly, or cool it quickly, it will move. The difficulty comes in knowing what you move when you start the wind. Slight changes in the natural patterns of the air can create great storms later.”

“And yet you do it to guide an arrow?” Galen asked.

Beri shrugged again. “As you said, there is no weather here. The wind will dissipate against the walls of the Hill. Or if my meddlings displease the Queen, she will stop it herself, I suppose.”

Mercund dropped the mangled quail into his game bag. “It seems quite a risk to me. It might cause a storm, and yet you do it. You might displease the Queen, and yet you do it. Foolishness, I say.”

“Perhaps,” Beri agreed. “But sometimes a storm is necessary.”

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