Sorceress Royal

This week I found another plotbunny through Tumblr {which is just a treasure trove of awesomeness} which stated that there are two people who are generally found in towers: wizards and princesses. So yeah, that became this. Enjoy!

“Ada, there is someone coming,” Riva said from where she fluttered in front of the window.
I groaned internally, not wanting to lose my concentration. “The wards will get him,” I told her as I carefully added the crushed bellflower petals to the mixture bubbling in my cauldron. A tuft of purple smoke poured out and onto my worktable. I smiled. This particular spell had taken four hours to prepare, I would not have some hopeful muck it up.
“Ada,” Riva started again, hesitantly, “he’s already passed the outer wards. It looks like he’s getting ready to climb the tower.”
The purple haze of my spell flickered for a moment as I took that in.
No, focus.
It doesn’t matter that he crossed the outer wards, I told myself sternly, nobody has ever made it inside. The spell solidified again as I raised my hands towards it, now as a tiny ball of bright purple light.
“Suza,” I called out, hoping he would listen, “would you be a dear and make sure His Highness doesn’t make it up the tower? I can’t deal with him right now.” My only answer was the brush of scales against my leg and the giant roar as he tossed himself out of the window. I wasn’t expecting the answering roar followed by a growl so deep I could feel it in my bones. My beautiful spell flashed once, then winked out of existence, my attention shot.
I threw my head back and made a sound of pure frustration. “Four. Hours!”
I closed the grimoire still open in my lap and flung it on the table in front of me. The cauldron was still spewing smoke, but the spell had been broken. There was no saving it now. Fuming, I walked out of my cosy, candle-lit workshop and into the midday light of my bedroom. I turned back towards the wardrobe that I’d just walked out of, the portal to my workshop still shimmering within, and closed the door.
It had been a while since someone had tried to ‘rescue’ me from my tower, I’d almost forgotten what an annoyance it was. The first few years, before I had strengthened the outer wards, the mere sight of Suza’s large dragon form was enough to send most princes running. After the wards, well, no one had even dared to get anywhere near ‘the Cursed Tower’.
The sounds of battle were different this time, I thought as I listened more carefully. No sound of shield against scales, No outcries in the midst of battle. Just snarls and growls, like two animals fighting.
There was a pained yelp and Suza came tumbling in through the window, his larger form dispersed. The now cat-sized dragon lay in a crumpled heap of blue scales and leathery wings. I quickly made my way to him. “Suza,” I shook him gently, “are you alright?”
He shook himself, wings and all, and nodded. Pressing himself under my hands for a moment in caress before walking over to his pillow and curling up. Transforming took a lot out of him, I knew, he needed his rest.
I stood looking at Suza for a moment, worried, when Riva spoke up. “He’s climbing the tower, he’ll be here soon.” She turned from the window and flew over to me, gold and green feathers glimmering in the light. “Ada, he might make it. What do we do?”
I had no idea. This was the first time in fourteen years that someone had even come this close to entering my tower. Fourteen years ago I may have wished for rescue, but I was no longer this scared maiden imprisoned by her circumstance. I righted myself and turned to Riva, gesturing for her to come perch on my shoulder. “He still has to make it through the last wards,” I told her as she landed and dug her talons in deep enough to draw blood. The connection zinged through my magic for a moment, making every colour and scent sharper. “But if he does make it, we shall welcome our guest,” I continued, conjuring a ball of bright blue fire over my palm, “and we’ll teach him that this princess doesn’t need rescuing.”

The next few moments were tense. I’d released the energy needed to keep the blue flames going, no need to spend it when the threat wasn’t here yet. But, toadstools, what if he succeeded, I fretted. I had no intention of leaving my studies, I really didn’t want to leave my workshop. However, Rhezar the Grand stated that magic worked because of certain Laws. He failed to say what the Laws were, exactly, but he was very clear about one thing: break the Laws and lose some of your power, his books taught me. My father had stated Law when he locked me in this tower. Any who would find their way inside my prison could claim me. But what if I refused? Would breaking non-magic Laws influence my abilities to do magic? How would that even work?
A hand landing on the windowsill cut through my panicked thoughts. My last wards flared up an angry red. The prince let out a pained grunt followed by a low growl, but nothing more. I’d set these wards to their most dangerous. Anything human that wasn’t me should suffer from such intense heat that they let go immediately. Although I hadn’t exactly had a test subject, I thought as his head and shoulders appeared through the opening. Maybe I didn’t attune them right.
The prince dropped through the window, rolled, and sprung to his feet. He wasn’t wearing any armour, I noticed. His clothes, well, what was left of it, were still smoking. The man looked around him as if expecting another attack, crouching low in defence. When his green eyes landed on mine he straightened again.
“You are not welcome here,” I told him, trying to keep my voice stern.
“Yeah,” the man answered, his voice rough, “the dragon and the flames kind of gave me that impression.” He scratched the back of his head almost sheepishly, ruffling his black hair. “To be honest,” he continued, taking in my appearance, “this whole endeavour, and you, are nothing like I’d expected.”
I refused to look down to myself. I knew what I looked like. I’d ditched the princess dresses a long time ago. They were just too flammable. Also, I’d spend most of the night preparing for the spell this prince so brazenly interrupted; I was not functioning on a lot of sleep. No doubt I looked very un-princess-like.
Still, rude.
I drew up a little bit of magic to make another ball of blue flames dance above my palm.
His entire demeanour changed at that. He dropped his hands to his sides and loosened his stance, obviously bracing for an attack. Green eyes changed to glowing gold and his teeth grew into long fangs. He growled low in his throat as his face slowly shifted.
“Werewolf,” I whispered, the fire forgotten.
“That would explain why he got through the wards,” I told myself while I started pacing, “they were attuned to humans but according to Fezeraiah the Eldest werewolves are only part human. And the other part is magic, so why wouldn’t he be able to just waltz through my carefully constr-”
Someone pointedly cleared their throat right next to me and I looked to see Riva, still perched on my shoulder, gesturing towards my guest with her head.
The werewolf was fully human again, an amused quirk to his lips.
“Right,” I turned back towards him. I tried to remember how my mother used to stand when addressing other Kings and Queens. She’d always looked so haughty and regal, a demanding presence without even opening her mouth. “Sir Wolf, I have no care for your bravery or for the promises my father made you, I have no interest in marriage.”
The prince’s eyes bulged. “Marriage?!” He choked out, looking very uncomfortable. “I have a wife and three children.”
“What?” I didn’t understand, “So you’re not here to rescue me?”
“Lady, from what I’ve seen -” he gestured down to what was left of his clothing, “you don’t need a lot of rescuing.”
I gave him a nod, smiling. “You would be correct.”
“I believe there has been a misunderstanding,” my guest started, bowing deep, “I am Ardal Conrí, Heir to the Crescent Throne.”
I returned his bow. “I am Ada Lockwood, youngest daughter to King Maxwell of the Veridian Isles.”
The werewolf’s eyes widened, but he didn’t comment. “My father sent me to ask for your assistance, my lady. We are at the brink of war. We need someone to help keep the peace – or stand on our side in battle.”
“And you’ve come for me?” I asked, still not sure what was going on, “Why?”
“Our own sorcerer breathed his last a few years past. Of old age,” he added hastily at my expression, “we need someone with magic at our side. When news of a powerful sorcerer living in a guarded tower reached our ears, Father sent me. We will pay whatever price you ask. Will you help us?”
“You’re asking me to become sorceress to the throne?”
“Yes.”
I could do it. I could leave this tower and see part of the world again. I would be valued for my study of the craft and not because of the family I was born into. A family who had stuck me in a tower they had never know held magic and never looked back. I could practice magic every day and discover new things. But did I dare go out there, into a world I no longer knew anything about? The tower was my prison, yes, but it was also safety. I had Riva and Suza and my workshop, did I really need –.
A thought struck me. “Did your sorcerer have a study? Or a workshop?”
“Of course,” Lord Conrí answered, “filled with books and exotic ingredients. If you agree, it would all be yours.” He finished with a smile.
Miry toadstools, he knew he had me. I still didn’t know if leaving the tower without a marriage would break Father’s rules and therefore hamper my magic. But to have access to new knowledge, to learn new things. I was already smiling.
“So, what will it be, my lady?” He asked, holding his hand out to me. “Are you a princess, or are you a sorceress?”
I let my eyes flash with a spark of magic and watched his flash gold in return. “Oh,” I answered as I laid my hand in his, “definitely a sorceress.”

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