Court of Sorcerers – Part 2

Court of Sorcerers – Part 2

This is Part 2 of Clever’s short story. If you haven’t read the beginning, click here.

There was one problem with Elyscia’s plan; the King may have liked her, but he still wouldn’t believe a woman came up with the greatest magic known to man. Reluctantly, she admitted to herself that she would need help. There was only one man she could think of to pitch the idea to the King: the court alchemist, Renout. She had been thinking it through for days, and there was no alternative that made sense. 

She added a vial of her magical creation to her bag, and set off for the palace. Renout would want to test it for himself, she was sure. As much as she hated the idea of him getting credit for her work, she wanted the money more than fame. Because in this world, money meant power and freedom. She didn’t want to count on being able to rely on the Duke forever. Fortune’s changed with the seasons, here at court. 

Elyscia made her way to the wing of the palace dedicated to the court magicians. She passed by the rooms of the court astrologist, catching a glance of star charts and a spinning model of the planets. Then, she came to the court alchemist’s workshop. 

Renout was bent over a desk scribbling furious notes, as a pot bubbled beside him. He carefully measured some powder on a set of scales before adding it to the thick boiling mixture. He immediately put out the flame heating the pot, set down his tongs, and took further notes. Finally, he turned to face her.

Elyscia found that she didn’t know how to begin. After a moment, she cleared her throat and stood up tall. “I’ve been working on a project that I believe would interest you.”

“Is that so?” Renout replied. “I do find it interesting that the Duke is swearing up and down that he never consumed a thing in your presence without his protection stone. The Duke may be pompous and quick to feel slighted, but I don’t take him for a liar or a fool.” Renault paused to sneer at her. “And he would be a humbled fool to marry someone of your station. I do not think even true love could make him stoop so low.”

Elyscia’s face flushed. This was exactly what she hoped Renout would deduce, but it didn’t make the truth any less insulting. All the more reason to do what she had done. There was no other path upward for a woman like her. And she meant to take what she deserved. 

“You would be correct,” she answered smoothly despite the insult. “His affections are the result of my work.”

His eyes trailed her up and down, for once not in a condescending way. Was that a hint of admiration? It was mixed with something else, something she didn’t want to admit she felt herself. 

She glanced away for a moment before continuing. “As you have no doubt deduced, the amulets cannot protect against the magic I’ve discovered.”

“Why are you telling me this?” he cut in. “You are too intelligent to go around gloating about something of this magnitude…something this dangerous.” His eyes gleamed. 

“I’m also intelligent enough to see the enormous value of this magic. I need a buyer.”

“Why not keep it for yourself? You already have the Duke. Surely you will be quite well off as a Duchess.”

“You said it yourself, Renout. It is a wonder that my ambitions aim even higher, but they do.”

He scoffed at her. “Higher than a Duchess?”

She stepped close to him, suddenly feeling bold. “I never wanted to be a Duchess. That was just the demonstration.”

“Then what do you want?” he whispered, standing from his chair to bring their bodies closer.

Before she could answer, Renout dropped down into his chair. His eyes moved to something behind her, and she turned to find a boy standing in the doorway.

“Sir, I’ve found the ingredients you requested,” the boy said, as he held out a small pouch.

Elyscia curtsied to Renout and hurried out of the workshop. 

Shortly after Elyscia returned to her shop, the chime sounded. She knew who it would be before she stepped into the storefront: Renout. 

“I believe we have unfinished business,” he said.

For the first time, she noticed how handsome he was. Not in the way of the Duke, whose golden skin and chiseled frame could have been straight out of a painting, but in a dark and brooding way. Maybe it was this realization that made her invite him to the back of her shop, into the secret workshop that she had not shown another soul. 

An intake of breath when the door swung open was the only indication of his surprise. It was replaced by a look of curiosity and wonder. He stepped carefully around the room and examined her tools, nodding here and there in approval. 

“How did you do it?” he asked.

Elyscia knew he wasn’t talking about the room. She flashed him a mischievous grin. “I can’t give away my secret, not until I get paid.”

“Surely you know my stipend from the King is not enough to pay what this kind of magic is worth?”

“I know,” she straightened, adopting a serious tone. “I want you to convince the King to buy it.”

Renout blinked at her. “You do know of the King’s suspicions toward magic? He wants it to aid him, but constantly fears it being used against him. If he were to find out this kind of magic existed, he would likely put to death anyone who knew about it.”

“Now, why is that?” she asked, circling him. Her teasing tone suggested she’d thought of something he hadn’t.

“Because he can’t protect himself against it, obviously,” he snapped out, frustrated at not knowing what she was hinting at.

“So then, we tell him that he can protect himself against it. That no one else knows the way to do so, and the magic could be used against everyone else at court, but we will graciously share the way to ward against it with our King.” She planted her hands on her hips and smiled triumphantly. “Only then do we offer to sell him the magic to use against his enemies.”

Renout looked at her and his eyes flared. Her breath suddenly caught in her throat. 

“You are brilliant.” He said it so softly, she almost didn’t hear. 

“If only I hadn’t been born a woman, I would be able to take over the world,” she deflected, embarrassed by the compliment, and that look in his eyes. 

“I do not know what it is to be a woman in this world, but I do know what it’s like to know that no matter how much smarter I am or harder I work than those around me, I will never have their wealth or rank.”

He paused to step closer and take her hand, before continuing. 

“Don’t sell your gift to the King, or anyone who will not appreciate your value. Instead, let us make them regret underestimating us.”

What do you think of the story so far? What do you think Elyscia and Renout will do next? Let us know in the comments. Keep reading more of Court of Sorcerers here!

Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

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