Slumber Page 3

I shifted away from him. “I have no magic.”

He chuckled. “You’re one of the Azyl, child.”

One of the Azyl? No. He was mistaken.

“I’m not.” I looked to Kir for help. He could only look on.

With a growl, Stovia dismounted from the horse and none too gently ripped me from the saddle. My feet hadn’t even hit the ground and he was shaking me, my eyes rolling back in my head with the force of it. “Stop pretending!” He hissed, seeming careful not to raise his voice. He let go of me and I stumbled. He lowered his body so his austere face was level with my own. Those wickedly black eyes burrowed through me. “In this village is one of the Dravilec. I want you to seek out my healer, Azyl. Now.”

At the command I felt a wave crash through me, my whole body humming with tingling vibrancy. A mind of its own, my body turned to face the village. And I could feel her. The Dravilec. Six years old. Valena of Daeronia. We were in Daeronia. Thought so. We were growing closer to Sabithia. To Silvera. To the Princezna.

Wait.

I am an Azyl.

I swayed at the thought. All the time my father had told me the stories, how my brother and I had been desperate for a little piece of magic in our lives. And I was a mage. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be with my family.

What would Stovia do to Valena’s family? Would he murder them in cold blood if they refused to hand her over? I knew, even without my help, that he would find Valena. He was a powerful Glava. Could sense magic. But that didn’t mean I had to aid in the destruction of another family.

“No,” I whispered.

“What?” Syracen growled.

I spun around, defiant, hatred blazing out of my eyes. I wished I was Glava with the ability to summon the elements. I’d set him on fire and watch him burn for what he had done to me. To Kir. For what he would do to Valena.

“I said… no.”

His hand cracked against my face with such force I was sent flying to the ground. The breath whooshed out of me at the agonising blow to my ribs as I made impact with the hard dirt. My eyes watered at the painful heat across the left side of my face. I felt something warm trickle from my mouth and hissed at the pain and taste of copper where my lip split open.

I heard Kir cry out my name.

But Syracen wasn’t done. He grabbed me by the clasp on my cloak and held me so he could slap me across the right side of my face. The world rang in my ears. But I refused to cry.

“Find me the healer, girl, or you’ll wish you were dead.”

“No!” Kir yelled and I could hear the sounds of a struggle.

“Shut him up,” Syracen hissed.

I heard the sound of flesh hitting flesh, of Kir grunting. No.

“No,” I groaned, lolling limply in Stovia’s grasp. “Stop.”

“Will you find the Dravilec.”

I couldn’t. “No.”

“Lash the boy to the nearest tree. He’s going to pay for Rogan’s disobedience.”

My heart lurched in my chest and I shrugged around Stovia to watch through blurred vision as they dragged a bleeding, crying Kir to the nearest tree trunk. They ripped at his shirt. One of them produced a horse whip and Kir whimpered in terror. I felt vomit rush up my throat but I willed the acidic show of weakness down.

“Stop,” I murmured weakly. “Stop. Don’t hurt him. I’ll do it.”

I looked to Stovia. He watched me closely. Seeming fascinated. Then he nodded at his men and they quickly drew Kir’s cloak over him and dragged him back to the horses. His right eye was already swelling shut and I imagined my left eye was much the same.

“Tut tut, Rogan,” Syracen whispered, bending down to gaze at me face to face. “You’ve just shown me your weakness. I imagine I could have battered you into an oblivion of agony and you would not have given in. But you won’t let someone else be hurt because of you. Interesting. And useful. Now find me the Dravilec.”

I was gripped with nauseating shame as I took the guards through the winding, quaint, peaceful village. By now, we had made enough noise to rouse people from their homes, and they gathered on their doorsteps nervously, as their eyes took in the Royal Guard and the two beaten children with them. I came to a stop at the doorstep of a shop. An apothecary.

“Here.”

Syracen smiled at me, his eyes brimming with pride. I hated him. “Yes, it is. Thank you, Rogan.”

He pulled the rope by the door and a brass bell rang loudly. We heard hurried footsteps and then the door was thrust open by an older man, tall and imposing.

“Can I help?” He queried, warily.

“I am Vikomt Syracen Stovia of the Rada. May I come in, Mr Rosonia?”

Rosonia’s eyes widened but he nodded, his oil lamp casting his profile against the shadows of the wall. Syracen turned back and nodded at two guards who strode forward to follow at his back. Sadistically, he pushed me past the threshold of the door. He wanted me to witness this.

Once inside, Rosonia stood with a stout, middle-aged woman, who looked frightened, clutching her robes tightly around her. Two girls stood behind them. One, a tall, attractive girl, possibly in her early teens. Clutching her hand was Valena. Small and frightened, her large dark eyes too big for her face.

“I come bearing sad news.” Syracen stood before them, intimidating and powerful. “The Kral is dead.”

The Rosonia’s gasped at the news.

“Yes. I am afraid it is true. Princezna Haydyn is now alone in the world, the weight of carrying the load of Dyzvati too great for her young shoulders. As the only mage upon the Rada I felt it was my duty to seek whatever her highness needs to aid her in her mighty responsibilities.”

“What can we do to help, My Lord?” Valena’s father asked eagerly, his eyes full of genuine sadness for the Kral.

“There is very little magic left in our world. But I’ve been collecting the strongest of the magic. Here,” he put his deadly hand upon my shoulder and I fought not to shudder, “Is one of the Azyl, thought to be extinct. But she found you well enough.”

I saw how Mr Rosonia and his wife gasped at my appearance. “What happened to the child?”

“One of my soldiers. He has been dealt with,” Syracen lied smoothly. “But you have in your keeping someone who could help my little Rogan.”

“Mama.” The elder girl looked frightened now, drawing Valena closer. “Don’t.”

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