A Walk on the Beach

((My prompt word was ‘salt’, so I decided to write a beach story with salty ocean air.))

“A pleasant evening for a walk, Magister Embersun,” the adahi guarding the door said as he unlocked it and held it open for the mage to pass.

Xanaroth did not reply as he passed through the doorway, and was rather perturbed by the fact that the adahi had used his name. He showed his displeasure with a twitch of an ear which ruffled against the inside of his hood, and maintained his silence. Of course he had to identify himself to be able to go past this door, but that didn’t mean he wanted anyone to overhear who he was. He waited for the door to shut behind him before pulling back his hood.

She was already here, of course. Where he preferred to be punctual, she preferred to be early. She claimed it was staying a step ahead, and perhaps she was right. She stood some distance away on the beach, with her back to him while looking out over the waves. The salty air was lighter and fresher out here, where as there was a certain heaviness to it within the building.

Underlings. They could never get anything right.

He approached her, her back was still turned, but she looked exquisite even from behind. Despite his instincts screaming to beware of this one, he had already fallen for her. It was far too late to turn back now. She turned to face him as he neared. A light breeze blew the wisps of dark reddish brown hair that had fallen out of her bun across her face. Her bronze skin contrasted with the pale tan of her robes, and her violet-blue eyes regarded him.

“Good evening,” she said. Xanaroth thought he detected a hint of a smile behind her words.

He smiled genuinely, “Hello, my dear. You look beautiful tonight.”

She raised a brow, “Just tonight?” One corner of her mouth turned up in a mischievous grin.

Good. She’s just playing, but it always pays to be careful. “Every night and every day.”

She kissed his cheek, and took his hand. They began to walk along the beach. Xanaroth spared a glance back at the large, sprawling complex. It was a series of buildings, all connected either by sharing walls, or with halls built between them. This was the only private stretch of beach, located along the back wall of one of the large cafeterias, there were no windows on this side.

She spoke, drawing his attention back to her. How it could have drifted away in the first place? He did not know.

“Did you have any luck?”

Oh. That. “No. I’m afraid you are right. He doesn’t speak.”

“I know I’m right, but do you think he understands what is said, whether he can speak or not?”

“I’m not sure. If he does, he makes effort to avoid letting us in on that fact, which means he’s far more intelligent than the others believe. This was my first time trying to work with him directly. You said he tested positive?”

“Yes. He’s a mage. I saw it myself.”

“But someone uses physical punishment with him, but yet no one has put his hands in irons. Has he not tried to cast anything?”

“That’s the reason his hands aren’t covered. We’re waiting for him to try something. He hasn’t yet.”

Xanaroth shook his head, “Vallindra, it just doesn’t make sense. If he’s smart enough to have the ability to cast, then why doesn’t he?”

“Exactly. We’re stumped. He vocalizes, but nothing sounds like words.”

“Have you tried asking Zaelith to see if he can find any evidence of him casting or speaking in the past?”

“Zaelith doesn’t have the clearance to see him.”

“Maybe we could talk to the others to get that changed.”

“No. I don’t want Zaelith working on this. The more the seer of the past knows someone, the more he can see their past. I do not want him finding out I’m on the council. Besides, I’m pretty sure the rest of the council would say no as well. No seer has ever had that kind of clearance, and I doubt one ever will.”

Xanaroth nodded, “You’re right. I wasn’t thinking.” Every council member had their secrets. None of them would be too eager for their secrets to get out. Bringing the seer of the past to see the subject was out of the question. He could see that now. He decided to change the subject. “How is your research going? It must have been nice having a full day to dedicate to it without having to work with the lucaja.”

“It’s going.” She frowned slightly in the way she always did when she was slightly frustrated with her research. “My brother just left a fortnight ago with his new adahi from Hollowmont, so we know where the sword is, not that we’d ever get the town to give it up. The pyromancer you informed me about does show some promise of being able to recreate the staff. I’ve made a request with the others to grant him an adahi, and it was approved. They’re currently looking into matching an adahi with him. I haven’t had any leads on the others except the wand.”

“The wand? You found it?”

“I haven’t. I received a report from an adahi in Elenduil in which she mentioned her mage’s research, and requested a couple of books. I’m having them copied twice so that I can have my own copy as well. Maybe I’ll be able to beat him to it.”

“Elenduil? Is it Lord Melith’enddare?”

“His son. You’re not supposed to know anything about this, by the way.” She stopped, turning to face him as the waves lapped at the shore. “I only tell you because I like you. You may miss me if I have to go in search of it.”

“I would. So much. Maybe if you have to leave, I could go with you.”

“Magister, you have a class to teach and students who would question if you disappeared suddenly.”

“I could always say a family member was ill, and that I requested a temporary adahi to visit home.” He smiled. It was a common request within the mage city. Temporary adahis were often assigned for visits home, whether a family member was ill or not.

She smiled and put her arms around him. “Maybe you could go with me after all.”

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