Chapter 5 - Mage Targa

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Kastali Dun

Claire finished her mid-day meal and walked arm in arm with Saffra through the Great Keep. They made their way to the royal library where she would take her first lesson with Mage Targa. Since meeting him, her nerves had gotten the better of her.

"Mage Targa can be...intimidating," said Saffra.

"Intimidating? He's downright terrifying."

Saffra sighed. "I know what you mean, but really, he is not as bad as he seems."

"Ha. I disagree with you there. And don't get me started on his appearance." Mage Targa's long-faced sneer swam into her mind.

"Yes, he really is quite awful to look at, isn't he?"

They burst into laughter, though hers was more of a nervous laughter. Their voices echoed off the stone walls of the castle. There was no denying it, Mage Targa was not a looker. Had he a better attitude, she might pity him for his appearance, but with such a frightening disposition to match his face, he would get no pity from her.

Saffra led her up another grand staircase. They took a left turn and continued down a wide hallway lined with painted portraits. She glanced at each of the faces they passed before stopping short in front of one. She stood staring for a moment before saying, "I've seen her before." This woman had Sprite markings, golden hair, and sparkling blue eyes. The longer she studied the woman, the tighter her eyebrows pulled together. Then her eyes widened. "Is this—"

"Queen Isabella? Yes."

Her jaw dropped. "I saw her in the Marble Dragon's mind once. I didn't realize...she looks so much like me..."

"Indeed. The similarities are uncanny. Your likeness has always intrigued me."

"And who is the girl beside her?" Standing beside Queen Isabella in the same portrait, was a young girl with sandy brown hair and hazel colored eyes. Claire's gaze flicked between the two faces. "They have similar features. The same thin nose...the same shape of eyebrows...Is she...Did Queen Isabella have a daughter?"

"Yes, that is her daughter, Princess Irelia. Hers is a sad story. I will tell you sometime if you would like to hear it. But for now, we had better not be late. You know Mage Targa..."

At the mention of Mage Targa, her fascination shattered. "Yes, we had better get going, and quickly."

They rushed off, hurrying through the castle. At last Saffra came to an abrupt stop. They stood before two large oak doors. Each was finely carved with flowers and vines. The Seer turned to look at her. "Try to relax," she said. "You have Cyrus's magic now. That must count for something."

She nodded, swallowing. Some things were easier said than done regardless of whose magic she had.

You will be fine. Magic is in your blood...

Saffra's smile was reassuring.

She reached out and hugged the Seer. "I don't know what I would do without you," she said. Their embrace worked wonders on her nerves. How lucky she was to have a friend like Saffra.

"I said what I meant last night, Claire. I am at your service for whatever you need, and I am happy to be your friend." With that, Saffra left her standing before the doors.

She stared apprehensively at them. She had heard of the royal library, but as a servant she was never allowed to enter. It was one of the many unfair restrictions placed upon those of lower birth. However, she would have to worry about equal rights later. It would not do to linger, so she pulled the doors open and entered.

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