- 5th day of Hanotë -
Part 3 - Magic Fire
Ilea sighed and shook her head in disapproval.
“You know you can’t go on doing things like this, right?”
Arkadi shrugged and continued to warm his frozen hands by the fire that magically burned over the white snow.
“Let me enjoy it while I can, then. And come here. It’s too cold,” he told her and Ilea sat beside him. He draped part of his heavy mantle over her shoulders and she shuddered when the warmth of the fire touched her face.
“One of the things I miss the most while staying in the Tower is the warmth of the sun,” she confessed and he wrapped an arm around her waist pulling her closer.
“You’ll see your wish come true soon enough. Once we’re out of these damn mountains it should be the middle of Spring.”
“How long do you think it’ll take us to reach Melkar?”
“Fifteen, twenty days? It all depends on the weather.” Ilea sighed in dismay. “Or we could do it in one or two days, if you’d teach me how to shape-shift.”
She glared at him and shook her head sternly.
“We’ve talked about this. Before learning how to change your shape you need to learn and perfectly control transfiguration. And you still can’t do it.”
“Oh, come on! You know I don’t have the patient to go around transforming pebbles into flowers and back to pebbles again! It’s such an useless exercise!”
“But it gives you an important base to learn many other things, including shape-shifting! Besides, I’ve told you more than once that that degree of Magic is beyond what Humans can hope to achieve,” Arkadi sighed in frustration, knowing that he could never persuade her to change her mind, and Ilea kissed his cheek smiling at his almond-colored eyes. “Don’t sulk.”
“I’m not sulking!”
“Yes you are. You look like a small boy who didn’t get what he wanted for his birthday,” she insisted, amused by the frown marking his forehead, and he suddenly looked at her, eyes too bright, almost threatening.
“I could show you right now, just how much of a small boy I really am!” he told her in clear defiance but then shrugged. “The problem is that I’d probably have to face Amâmbar’s fury afterwords, and that’s something that any sane man should carefully take into consideration,” he added ironically and Ilea raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
“What’s that talk about Amâmbar?”
“He told me to look after you.”
“I can’t believe it! He really told you that?”
Arkadi nodded with a prideful expression and made the flames in front of him change color and burn in a bluish purple.
“And that if I didn’t I’d have to face him on a Mage’s Duel.”
“That old man …!” she grunted angrily and Arkadi laughed at Ilea’s vengeful expression.
“Please, do inform me of the time and place of when you’ll be kicking his ass so I can watch!”
They sat in silence for a few moments, just watching the flames jump and burn over pure, white snow, until Arkadi turned to face her.
“Where will we go after Melkar?” he asked and Ilea raised her eyes to the gray sky above them, the cold wind freezing her cheeks and nose.
“Let’s just focus on actually managing to reach Melkar.”
“Why? Why wouldn’t we reach it?”
“I don’t know … It’s just a feeling …”
“I know your feelings all too well. Is something going to happen to us?”
“You know? It just feels like we’re somehow cheating. I shouldn’t have come with you, and it’s as if my presence hasn’t been contemplated in the greater scheme of things. For this reason there are things I just know, because they’re not protected against me. Of course everything has its price …”
Arkadi seemed to ponder on her words and then shrugged.
“I know I’m a Mage and all, and that that should mean my mind is able to process complicated things like that … But really, that’s just not me. All I can tell, all that it’s important to me right now, is that you’re here with me and that I know I can count on you.”
She smiled and nodded. That simple, direct line of thinking was really like him.
“I’m also glad I came. And as for the rest just remember one thing. No matter what happens this was my choice, and mine alone. And I don’t regret it. And all I want is that, no matter what, you keep moving forward. Don’t throw everything away, all the efforts and sacrifices made, in the name of something that can never be,” she told him and her purple eyes, so clear beneath the white daylight, seemed to swallow him whole. Pulling her closer, his lips almost touched hers, but then she drew back, clearly avoiding him, and stood up. “We should go on while the weather is clear and it’s not snowing,” she told him and he sighed, following her lead.
“You’re right,” he conceded and, with a magical word, he put out the fire.