Land of Terran: The Revelations of Oriceran, Soul Stone Mage, Book 4
By Sarah Noffke & Martha Carr
The Kingdom of Virgo has lived in peace for thousands of years… until now.
The pink climbing roses covered the arbor that lined the pathway, which connected the House of Enchanted to the manicured gardens. Emeri released a smile when she came to the end of the covered pathway and the sun kissed the top of her head. There were few things that made her smile as of late, but a garden in full bloom deserved her joy. She nodded her attention to the old wizard who sat on a stone bench beside a low row of bushes. Beside Finnegan a fairy buzzed, and others could be seen flying through the gardens. It wasn’t their space to care for, but fairies couldn’t help tending to plants.
“Thank you for meeting with me,” Finnegan said, standing and taking the hand Emeri extended to him. The old wizard pressed his cracked lips to the back of her hand before standing tall. His long turquoise beard was untidy and his eyes tired, as if he hadn’t slept in quite some time.
“Of course. Shall we?” Emeri held up her hand, indicating the cobbled path that weaved through the topiaries and rose bushes. Her emerald green ringlets were pinned up on the top of her head. Emeri wasn’t queen anymore, but she still dressed as if she were. A hundred year reign couldn’t be forgotten overnight.
“It’s about the virus,” Finnegan began at once. The old wizard hadn’t worked a full day at the farm since he’d contracted the virus, which wasn’t surprising. Virgo hadn’t been the same since the morning witches and wizards awoke realizing something was askew.
Emeri nodded. “I figured as much,” she said.
“I was hoping you’d take me through how it affected you. I mean, we know that it steals our magic eventually, and that for some it is faster than with others. I just…”
Emeri pressed her fingers to her soul stone fashioned into a necklace, just like Azure’s. It didn’t just give her comfort to now have the stone again, but also strength. She’d fully recovered, well, as much as she was going to.
“You know that my magic is completely gone, right?” she asked the old wizard.
He nodded, not looking at all like himself. The virus stole confidence when it robbed them of magic.
“At first my magic didn’t work the way it always had. It was unreliable and backfired at times.” The pair turned at the bend in the path. A flock of dodo birds sat under a nearby tree, pecking at the ground.
“How long until you were rid of magic completely?” Finnegan asked.
“That’s only just beset me.” Emeri stared off, not really seeing.
Finnegan cradled his head in his knobby hands. “That means it took a year for you to lose your magic.”
“Which means we have enough time for Azure to find a cure. As we speak, she’s working on—”
Finnegan shook his head, his eyes filling with tears. “I’ve already lost all my magic.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“It’s gone. Poof. Disappeared. Overnight,” Finnegan said, his voice frantic.
“Oh, but that can’t be.” Emeri turned, appraising the wizard in front of her.
“It’s true. And I realize that because I irrigated the crops the morning of the infection, I might have gotten a stronger dosage, but also, what if this virus is more potent? What if everyone in Virgo who has the virus is going to lose their magic right away?” Finnegan asked.
Emeri tightened her mouth. Shook her head. “That’s not going to happen. We won’t allow it. And we will find a way for you to get your magic back.”
“Oh, you’ve always been so strong, but I fear that there’s little hope, especially for an old wizard like myself.” Finnegan pulled his wand from his pocket and held it up and laughed coldly at it. “I’ve had this wand for almost five-hundred years and it’s useless to me.”
A small light buzzed overhead and then the figure of the fairy shot into view. The silver-haired fairy sank down until she was perched on Finnegan’s shoulder. “Hey, Listen. We’ve told you, it’s going to be okay.”
Emeri smiled weakly at the sweet fairy. They were always taking such good care of Finnegan. “Luna is right. And the best thing you can do is to get some rest. Preserve your strength so that when we have a cure you can get right back to work.”
Finnegan laughed, but this time it was genuine. “You’ve always been a slave driver, haven’t you?”
“I just know you’re happiest working on the farm.” Emeri turned her gaze on the buzzing fairy. “Please follow Finnegan home. And let the House know if you need anything.”
“Thank you,” Luna said, pulling on a piece of Finnegan’s hair and leading him forward, like on a leash.
Emeri’s smile dropped. She should have said more. Helped Finnegan to feel better. But what else could she say?
“The people of Virgo still look to you for comfort,” Richard said at her back.
Straightening, Emeri turned and faced him. He was wearing his usual get up, slacks and a button up shirt. He was all neutral colors, about like most humans from Terran. How strange Emeri must look beside him with her vibrant shade of hair and eyes and colorful dress?
“The people of Virgo are in a time of need,” Emeri said plainly.
“And even though you’re suffering, you’re still trying to remain strong for them,” Richard observed.
“The job of the royal family doesn’t go away when a queen gives up her crown.”
Richard’s face fell. “First of all, I want say I’m sorry.”
“Yet again,” Emeri said, bustling off, back the way she’d come. Richard strode beside her, his eyes on her stone expression.
“You don’t seem to hear me each time I say it. And also, you appear to be insinuating that I’ve abandoned my duties to Terran, but I was stripped of my title,” Richard said, his voice a rough whisper.
“I’m fully aware of that. I’m not insinuating anything. I can’t help it if you have a guilty conscience,” Emeri spat.
“I’ve been trying to help Azure, you know that.”
“Yes, apparently word has gotten out that the human from Terran is being noble from time to time,” Emeri said, her voice cold.
“You know, hating me takes away precious energy you could be using for other things,” Richard said, and there an almost smile in his eyes.
“Hating you has always given my life purpose,” Emeri quipped.
Richard turned, staring down at a row of rose bushes that were bursting with life, something that both he and Emeri were losing faster than ever. Emeri, without her magic, would begin to age faster. And Richard without drawing from the elements would also meet death much faster. However, after seeing the Dark Forests and realizing what Phillip had been doing to make Terran great, he couldn’t pull magic anymore. It felt wrong. Or maybe it was that he needed to punish himself somehow.
“Well, I never hated you. You and I were put into unfortunate positions. A no win situation,” Richard said and when Emeri didn’t soften he added, “I always wanted to fight Phillip, but feared what he’d do if I did.”
“Oh, like create a virus that robbed me of my magic!” Emeri yelled so loud that she unsettled the dodos.
“It took him several decades to do that. Just imagine what he would have done sooner if I’d rebelled. He probably would have waged a war with no care about the treaty.” Richard turned back to Emeri, an earnest look in his eyes.
She tilted her head up, her nose pinched. “I still don’t approve of having you here. I only tolerate it for Azure.”
“Who by the way, is as incredible as her mother and just as impressive as queen.”
Emeri shook her head in response and hurried forward, putting Richard at her back.
“And Queen Azure treats me with the same indifference, but I’ll spend my remaining years proving to you both that I deserve a second chance,” Richard called, a lightness to his tone.
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