Saerowyn began to cast a shielding spell after they closed the door to his home, but his son stopped him. “Let me do this, Father.”
“Hmph,” he grunted. “You would do well not to treat me like an old fool.”
His son smiled and put his finger to his lips while he whispered an incantation. Blue light flickered and crackled from his fingertips just as Saerowyn’s wife walked into the room and directly into the path of the bolt of magic. She frowned when her hair stood on end and the magic bathed her in a faint blue glow, then continued on to spread over the house.
“I hate it when you do that,” she complained to her son, trying to smooth the gray hair that stood out like a tired halo around her head.
“I love what you’ve done with your hair, dear,” Saerowyn said, smiling at her.
“You are not amusing,” she replied, still struggling with her hair. She finally went to a table in the bedroom to fetch her brush, but it only made the hair crackle more when she pulled the bristles through it.
“It will dissipate in a moment, Mother,” Thalmar said.
“Good. I have to go visit Widow Artiss tonight and I don’t want to look like some wraith.”
He nodded at her. “It will leave even sooner if someone gets too close to the house.”
As if on signal, someone yelped outside and fell into the side of the house, which prompted another, louder, cry of pain. Melith’s hair dropped instantly to her shoulders when the charge left over from the casting surged into the shield about the house. Saerowyn whispered a word over his wife’s cup of tea she had left on the table and watched a young courtier, racing away from the house in the mists above the cup. The scene quickly floated away, leaving only a lukewarm cup of tea behind.
“How many times have I told you not to do that to something I’m drinking? It always leaves a bitter taste behind.”
“I’m sorry, dear. I didn’t have time to pour a scrying bowl.” He turned to his son. “What kind of spell was that?”
“A simple sound shield combined with a sheet lightning spell.”
He sat down at the table, folding his hands in contemplation. “Intriguing. I really thought there were two following us.”
Thalmar sat down opposite him and leaned back in his chair. “There were. The second one grew faint of heart at the wizard walk and turned back.”
Saerowyn ran his tongue along the inside of his cheek as he often did when he was thinking. “Good, I was afraid I was losing my touch.”
Melith noticed her husband’s bleeding hand and began clucking over him like a mother hen. “What have you done now, old man?”
He waved it through the air. “It’s fine. Leave me alone.”
“Fine, my big toe,” she squawked. “You’re bleeding again.”
“I am a mighty wizard!” He waved his hand in the air in a gesture of dismissal. “Obey me, woman, and let me be.”
“You will be mightily hurt if you don’t hush and let me care for that.” His wife seemed unconcerned she was ordering the king’s mage to be quiet.
He sighed while she bustled around, gathering up supplies to save him from his scratch. “You have never in 54 years given me the respect I am due,” he complained.
“Of course I have,” she said, pouring out a basket of supplies on the table. “You’re just not due nearly as much as you think you are.”
He looked around the room as she contented herself with cleaning and dressing the wound. A simple healing spell would have closed the scratches, but then she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to mother him, which gave her great joy.
Melith honored his ancestors when she moved in and still managed to make the home their own. Unlike so many of her predecessors, she didn’t feel the need to put another woman’s belongings in storage and bring in new things for her new home. She went through the storage rooms below the castle like a child on a treasure hunt, asking the history of each piece and pulling out things to represent every ancestor. “Build on the past and look to the future,” she said as the pile of riches grew. The house, which could have been a cold impersonal thing, was filled with history and memories.
If only they had the time to build more memories. He was often tempted to ask her to go live with their daughter, where it might be safer should catastrophe strike the royal house, but he knew she wouldn’t so he didn’t bother to upset her with what ifs. They would face the coming storm together as they always had.
“Are you about done, old woman? I’m an important person. I have business to discuss.”
She slapped him on the head when she walked behind him. “Show some respect.”