New Egypt: The Revelations of Oriceran, Soul Stone Mage, Book 5
By Sarah Noffke & Martha Carr
The atrium was full of humans and witches and wizards. Azure found it hard to squeeze through as a sort of reunion seemed to be happening. On the far side of the room she saw a face she recognized, one that more and more was a source of comfort for her. She tugged on her father’s arm to get his attention as she slid through the tight bodies.
“What’s going on?” Azure mouthed over the loud chatter.
“Oh, we’ve been meaning to tell you, but with the world tour you’ve had your hands full. We’ve invited many of the officials from Terran here. It’s the first time for a meeting of this sort,” Richard said.
Azure’s mother materialized on the other side of Richard, her face bright and full of life. She smiled all the time these days. As queen she always looked quietly stressed. However, now she was neither queen, nor alone. She threaded her arm around Richard’s. Being together hadn’t been easy for them in the beginning, but it absolutely felt natural now.
“Azure, it’s a beautiful precedence. More and more we’re opening up the borders. Just imagine what you’ll accomplish on your world tour,” Emeri said, squeezing Richard’s arm. He pulled her into him, kissing her on the top of her emerald green head.
“Wow. This is amazing,” Azure said in almost a yell. Everyone seemed infected with good emotions, it was contagious. “I’m headed to the potion shop. I’ll see you both before I set off tomorrow morning.”
“Please do,” Richard said, a proud smile on his kind face. Azure’s father being in Virgo was as normal as the raven still perched on her shoulder. It wasn’t how Virgo had been before, but it was better.
The leaves were turning into vibrant shades of auburn and fiery orange. Azure loved this time of the year. She kept stopping to pick up pretty leaves until she realized she had a handful.
“Our queen must have nothing to do if she’s picking up leaves on a leisurely stroll,” Finnegan said, stopping her on the cobbled path that led to the Potion Shop. The ancient wizard didn’t look as grumpy as usual, but rather had more of a hop in his step as of late. Losing and then regaining magic put everything into perspective.
“I’m grateful that the kingdom is in a nice state, although even if it wasn’t, I might make time for the simpler things. I’m nothing to my people if I lose my mind to the stress of the crown,” Azure said, just as a fairy flew out from behind Finnegan’s beard where she’d been hiding.
“Oh, leaves! They’re so pretty! I love the color,” Navi said, flying over to inspect the leaves in Azure’s hands.
“I knew you’d appreciate them. And I think you’ll love this even more.” Azure stepped back, tossing the assortment of leaves into the air. They rained down on the fairy making her giggle with delight. She twirled up through the air as the leaves fell.
Finnegan rolled his eyes at this. “I’ve got something for you to do since you’re not busy. Since Reynolds awoke from being a statue, he’s up to something. Did you ever find out why the rogue dryads froze him?”
Azure shook her head. “The agreement was that all crimes were erased after the rogue dryads unfroze the statues.” Reynolds, Azure’s old tutor, had returned to Virgo once freed from the statue garden in the Dark Forest.
“I noticed the old crook walking with the queen mother, recently. What do you know about that?” Finnegan asked.
“I know nothing about it. Who is the one with too much time on his hands now? When did you start keeping tabs on my gran?” Azure asked.
Finnegan’s mouth popped open with offense. “I’m not keeping tabs. I only wonder if keeping company with a criminal is smart. The queen mother is overseeing the court and we wouldn’t want her reputation and judgement put into question.”
Azure couldn’t help but smile. “I’m sure she’ll appreciate your concern. I’ll pass this along to her, tell her you were looking out for her.”
“No, don’t,” Finnegan said abruptly. Navi was now busy inspecting the raven who was still perched on Azure’s shoulder. Manx kept pretending that he didn’t notice the fairy. He loved to aggravate.
Azure drew back an inch, arching an eyebrow at Finnegan, who had gone slightly pink.
“If we could, Queen Azure, I think it would be best to keep this between you and me. I wouldn’t want the queen mother to get the wrong idea.”
Azure thought she knew what was going on here, but saying anything to this stubborn wizard was never going to work. “Well, unfortunately, I won’t be able to keep an eye on things since I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m sure that Gran and Reynolds have only been catching up. However, on another note, I’m wondering if you can meet with Gran to advise her on what plants I should bring back from my travels.”
Finnegan’s expression became more neutral as he returned to business. “Yes, I have the new greenhouse ready. I think your idea of having a separate house for the foreign plants is smart.”
“I do believe you just gave me a compliment, Finnegan. Is planet Insta in retrograde?”
Finnegan waved Azure off. “I’m not complimenting you as much as the person who taught you about herbs and plants.”
That sounded about right. “Yes, he is an extremely intelligent man, but as ornery as a centaur on a night of full moons.”
Navi, who had been buzzing around, failing to get Manx’s attention shot over and stood on Finnegan’s shoulder. “She’s right! You’re one cantankerous man.”
Finnegan brushed the fairy off his shoulder. “Does your raven need a snack? He can have this pest.”
Navi fluttered in the air, her hands fisted on her hips.
“Actually, I think that Manx is quite full since he just ate enough soup to feed the entire House of Enchanted.”
Finnegan offered his trademark skeptical look, his mouth pulling back to the side. “Exaggeration is never a becoming trait, especially for a queen.”
“But…It’s true…Manx, tell him,” Azure stuttered.
With a serious expression, Manx lifted his head. “All I know that’s true is that I’m a raven.”
Finnegan shook his head. “As I can see.” He returned his attention to Azure. “And yes, I’m happy to advise Sari on foreign plants that will be of use to us here in Virgo.”
“Good. I’ll be communicating with Gran by scrying. Please meet with her soon.”
An almost smile sprang to Finnegan’s mouth. “If you insist.”
Azure bowed slightly to the wizard before strolling by him and up to the Potion Shop down the walkway.