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Sneak Peek Finale: The Silver Witch

Leading up to the release of volume 2...

... please enjoy a special preview! (3/3)


(SPOILER WARNING: Volume 2 picks up just weeks after the first volume. For those wanting to avoid spoilers, beware! For part one of the preview, click here.)


Master Wis suggested we head to the clearing just outside the city, so knowing right where it was, I led the way. Our short walk through Aramore’s lively streets was made in complete silence. There was a stifling unease that snatched at my tongue and worked hard to keep any words from escaping my mouth.

Every time I tried, my mind went blank and it clamped shut again. Estesia seemed so unapproachable that even though she walked listlessly behind me, she exerted this nasty pressure that bore down on me like one of her daunting wind spells. Did she just not like me? Or was I just intimidated? Still, for Master Wis’ sake, I wanted us to get along.

“So…” I finally mustered the courage to speak. “How do you and Master Wis know each other?”

“Hm? Did you say something?” She was turned away with her hands behind her head but looked at me from the corner of her eye. 

I groaned. Forget it.

Instead, I chose to focus on just about anything else to keep the awkwardness at bay. I noticed the loose cobblestones that occasionally shifted beneath my feet as we walked, and tried to imagine how chaotic the port must have been this time of morning as the smell of sea water wafted into my nose. I admired the large buildings of cascading brick and steeply pitched roofs of colorful tile. Even after all this time in the city, I was still impressed. It was nothing like my small hometown. 

There was no shortage of distractions in the streets. I could pick people out from the bustling crowd and try to imagine a story for them. Why was the orc merchant in such a rush? On his way to a sale, no doubt. Or how about the tired looking tradesman? He probably left his home without breakfast this morning. And the dark-skinned elf arguing with his girlfriend? As we walked by, I could hear he forgot her birthday. 

I couldn’t help but wonder if Estesia loved Aramore as much as I did. It sure would have been nice to talk to her about it. Now wearing her iconic silver hat, she drew a fair bit of attention as we walked together. Most just pointed and shared excited chatter, but she would also receive the occasional shout of affection or enthusiastic wave. She was much friendlier to strangers than me, and always returned their greetings with her own. 

As we approached the southern gate and moved to leave the city, the pikeman standing guard stepped forward to stop us. “Sorry for the trouble, but by chance, are you the Silver Witch?”

“I sure am.” Estesia’s cold face warmed right up, and she smiled brightly to the guard.

“Wow, I’m such a big fan!” He held out his hand, and Estesia graciously shook it. “Bennette, get over here! It’s the Silver Witch!”

Another guard, a female Hybrid with rabbit ears, curiously approached. Her face lit up immediately upon seeing Estesia. “I can’t believe it. You were absolutely incredible last night.” 

“Thank you.” Estesia chuckled, scratching the back of her head. “That means a lot, really.” 

I grew very annoyed. Was it just an act? She was quite the performer. Or maybe she just really didn’t like me after all. I narrowed my eyes but kept silent. 

“Is this your apprentice?” The female guard asked, her eyes finding me in Estesia’s shadow. 

“Goodness no.” Estesia laughed. “Though I do have to play nice for a little bit.”

“My teacher is Madame Wisteria.” I quickly interjected, with a bit of pride. 

“Oh, the apothecary? I’ve heard of her.”

“You must be quite talented!” The Hybrid guard remarked.

Estesia just chuckled. “Well, she’s a bit of a late bloomer. Apparently she can’t cast any magic yet. But I’ll fix that.” 

My face burned with embarrassment. As the guards laughed along with Estesia, I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Why did she have to tell them that? How awful! I fought back tears of humiliation and frustration. 

“I’m sure the Silver Witch will have you casting spells in no time.” The pikeman encouraged. “Do your best!”

I muttered a meager reply and hastily pushed my way forward as Estesia said goodbye to the guards.  It wasn’t long until we made it to the familiar clearing where the city walls loomed tall nearby, cloaking us in a chilly shade. 

“Alright, let’s get this over with.” Estesia turned towards me, but I refused to look at her. My fists were clenched, and the brim of my hat covered my eyes. “Is there a problem?”

I didn’t reply.

“Come on, if you have something to say, let’s hear it. Stand up for yourself.”

I was fuming, but managed to speak in a low voice. “Why did you have to tell them that?” 

“What? Embarrassed?”

My face said it all.

“Good. Then do something about it. Hit me.”

I glared at her and pointed my Arcanus threateningly in her direction. I really wanted to hit her. I wanted to, but…

“… I can’t.” I lowered my arm and hung my head in shame. 

A heavy wind suddenly took hold of me, lifting me up off the ground and knocking me on my rear. I looked up at Estesia in shock. Her hand was extended out towards me. 

“Hey!”

“If this was a Spellcraft match, that hesitation would have cost you dearly.”

“I’m not looking to be some kind of witch athlete.” I growled. I tried to quickly get up off the ground, but Estesia just knocked me back down.

“Fine. What about in a real-life situation? The consequences are far more severe.” 

I groused, and defiantly stood back up. “I want to use my magic to help people. Not this.”

“Oh, please. Spare me your idealism.”

Ouch.

“How can you help others if you’re unable to protect them? Or even help yourself?”

I looked at the scar on my wrist and remembered a time I felt absolutely helpless. I hated to admit it, but she had a point…

“Now stop making excuses and hit me!”

I thrust my hand out at her and chanted my spell. Nothing. 

“See? It’s not that easy!” I shouted, throwing my arms up in frustration. “I get that I’m supposed to ‘feel’ the magic or whatever, but what does that even mean?”

Estesia rolled her eyes and lifted her hand.

“Wait!” I tried to protest, but once again found myself on my backside. It was really starting to hurt. “Stop that!!”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Should I clasp my hands together and cheer you on with syrupy platitudes? How has that worked for you so far?”

Tears began to form in the corner of my eyes. 

“You won’t get any sympathy from me. Not when you’re just standing in your own way.”

“I’m trying my best.” I argued. 

“No. You’re using too much of this, and not enough of this.” Estesia first gestured to her head, and then her heart. 

“What’s that even supposed to mean?”

“You’re thinking too much. Stop worrying about whether you can do it or can’t do it. Just relax and free yourself of any of that nonsense. The magic will never come if you don’t open the door and let it in.”

I was tired of hearing such vague advice. I grumbled, “That’s not helpful.”

“Let me ask you, girl —”

“Isabel.”

“Let me ask you, girl — do you think before you breathe? When you walk, do you think about which foot is supposed to step on the ground next? Of course not. Magic can come just as naturally, but you have to let it.”

“But—”

“Enough excuses already!” She sharply interrupted. “Do you want to cast magic, or not?”

“I do.”

“Then come on.”

She was a jerk, but she was right. Arguing wasn’t going to get me anywhere. But it all felt so hopeless. How was I supposed to get magic to feel as natural as taking a breath? 

Nonetheless, I stopped protesting and we got to work. We practiced until my throat was so dry that I couldn’t utter a spell without my voice cracking. My spellcasting arm became so sore, it was hard to raise it. But by the time the sun was past its peak and sinking back towards the horizon, I had nothing to show for it. How could I want something so badly, and yet not be able to grasp it? It wasn’t fair. 

“This is hopeless.” Estesia sighed after blowing me off my feet for the umpteenth time. “You’re not getting it.”

“Well, I don’t see how knocking me down over and over again is supposed to help!” I snapped. I winced as I returned to my feet, rubbing the tender bruises.

“Practically? I’m trying to drill the feeling of wind magic into your bones. But really? It’s just kind of fun.”

“You’re the worst.”

“Boohoo. Anyway, let’s call it here for the afternoon. I’m tired of you wasting my time.”

Her tone was sharp, but as she briskly walked past me, an ice cold waterskin magically appeared in my hands. I looked up in surprise and watched as she continued forward without another word. 

“Thanks…” 

 

***


The clinking sound of metal was swallowed under my bed as my discarded Arcanus bounced off the edge of the nightstand and settled somewhere below me. I didn’t watch where it went, I didn’t care. It was useless to me. Instead I collapsed somewhere above it on my mattress. 

What’s the point? 

I didn’t have much of an appetite, so after meekly helping Master Wis close the store, I skipped dinner and hid in my room for the rest of the evening.  Having to face her after yet another failure was almost too humiliating to bear. 

Wait. Where was Cloud? I lazily lifted my head but couldn’t spot him anywhere in the room. It was only after the sound of conversation between Master Wis and Estesia died down from the den that I gathered the courage to go out and look for him. I wasn’t sure which of the two witches I was more afraid to bump into. 

I quietly opened my door and slipped out into the hallway. But as I approached the den, I heard someone making clicking sounds with their tongue. I peeked my head around the corner and gasped.

“You’re such a cute kitty. Yes. Such a cutie!” Estesia was talking in hushed tones to Cloud, who was on her lap and enjoying scratches to his chin. 

Didn’t Cloud have any respect?! She was a total jerk! Why was he hanging out with her? He should have known better. 

That’s when Estesia noticed me peeping into the room. She quickly tossed him off her lap with a suspicious cough and leaned an arm back on the couch away from me.

“Do you like cats, Estesia?” I asked with a hidden smirk, entering the room to retrieve my feline companion. 

“Tch.” She sneered. “Your cat just tried to jump on my lap, that’s all. Keep him away from me.” 

It was a bad bluff. Surely she knew I saw everything, right? Including the silly face she was making…

My face softened as I remembered the water she conjured for me earlier. I held Cloud back out to her with a soft smile. “You know, chin scratches are his favorite.” 

Estesia rolled her eyes with a groan but accepted the cat anyway. Cloud gladly settled back down into her lap, and she resumed scratching his chin. Though she did her best to look unhappy about it. 

“Where’s Master Wis?” I asked, sitting down on the worn loveseat across from her. 

“She’s down in the lab, I think. She mentioned needing to brew something for the store. Shouldn’t you be helping her?”

“Probably, but…” My voice trailed off. 

Estesia narrowed her eyes. “You’re pathetic.” 

“I know.”

“See? That. Right there! What is that?” Cloud became startled as Estesia’s tone bit at me. “Don’t just roll over and say, ‘I know.’ Defend yourself. Fight a little.”

“But I am.” I sunk back into the faded cushion behind me. “I’m not worthy of being a student to someone like Wisteria Amberfinch.”

A poignant pause filled the air before Estesia replied.

“Did she tell you that?”

“No, of course not.”

“Has anyone told you that?”

“Well, no. But—”

“Then tell that ugly part of you called Doubt to stuff it. That’s your only problem.” Estesia firmly pointed her finger at me as she spoke. “I tried to tell you earlier. You’re just standing in your own way.” 

I had trouble finding a response, so Estesia continued. 

“The moonlight lotus. What do you know of it?”

My eyes were drawn to the beautiful silver bloom on her hat. “Not much. It’s not native to Aramore, right?”

“Right. Because the conditions for them are so extreme.” She took her hat off and peered at the flower. “While an ordinary water lily can grow in a matter of weeks, the moonlight lotus takes an entire season.” 

She went on, “In that time, the lotus must endure a lot. Fish, insects, weather, poor water quality… any number of conditions can ruin the plant and keep the finicky flower from blooming.”

I gazed at the flower in wonder. It was so pretty with its delicate petals curling around the pearly stamen like a protective mother.

“It has to wait for months, as the flowers around it bloom happily in the sunlight. But this flower is different.”

“It needs moonlight.” I replied with a whisper.

“No cloudy nights. No lunar eclipses or lunations where both moons happen to be waning simultaneously. The odds are constantly stacked against it. But it defiantly blooms anyway, under the light of a full moon. And when it does… beauty.” 

“Wow.” I was stunned by how inspiring the little flower actually was. Though in my case, I had two full moons and that still wasn’t enough to cut it. So maybe I’m not exactly a moonlight flower. 

“You’ve had your Arcanus for what, less than a month? You have no reason to be whining yet.”

“… How long did it take you to cast your first spell, Estesia?” 

She held up three fingers in reply.

“Three weeks?”

Months. Like the moonlight lotus.”

“Months?!” I was absolutely floored. “It’s hard to imagine someone as talented as you struggling for that long.”

“Don’t insult me with that word. Talent had nothing to do with it.”

“I’m sorry.” I quickly replied. “I’m sure you worked very hard.” 

“Damn right. We can’t all be prodigies.” She snarled, gesturing towards the laboratory. “The rest of us have to fight and claw for our place in the world.” 

“The way you fight… it’s incredible!” I leaned in with a big smile, holding my hands to my face. “It was my first time ever seeing magic like that. Even thinking about it now, my heart starts to pound.”

“Alright, easy.” Estesia leaned back to put extra distance between us. Then her eyes drifted to my left hand. “Wait, where’s your Arcanus?”

“Oh, it’s…”

She quickly stood up, scaring Cloud off her lap in a sprint. Her face was contorted in anger, the look in her eyes enough to boil water. “You really piss me off.” 

“Um…” I tried to explain, but she was already set off. Not that I had a good explanation.

“You’re so spoiled it makes me sick! Do you even realize how lucky you are? Do you know the lengths some people would go for an Arcanus? How hard some of us had to fight?”

I cowered as her voice continued to climb in volume.

“Are you so ready to just wilt away? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe you don’t have what it takes after all. You brat.”

Before I could even apologize, Estesia stormed off into her room. She slammed the door behind her with enough force that the entire den trembled. 

I was overcome with guilt and shame. I treated something so precious carelessly. The first thing I wanted to do was hug Master Wis and tell her how very sorry I was. I was a lousy student.

But she didn’t think so.

Within seconds I was at the bottom of the stairs in the laboratory, out of breath with tears in my eyes. Master Wis was at one of the stone counters, grinding something with a mortar and pestle. A cauldron was bubbling nearby, filling the room with the smell of honey and allspice. 

She looked at me over her shoulder with a smile, but quickly noticed I was upset. “Isabel, what’s wrong? Were you two fighting up there?”

She opened her arms, and I ran into her embrace. “I’m sorry Master Wis. I’m so sorry.”

“For what, dear?” 

“My Arcanus…”

“Did you lose it?” With a worried expression, she took my ringless hand in hers.

I shook my head. “I…” 

… tossed it. Abandoned it somewhere under my bed. It was hard to finish the sentence. But my teacher seemed to understand anyway. Her face softened, and she tenderly tucked some hair back behind my ear. 

“I’m just… so afraid.”

“Afraid?” She repeated with a frown. 

“I’m afraid you were wrong about me. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to cast magic. I’m afraid…” My voice got caught in my throat as tears slid down my flushed cheeks. “… I’ll have to stop being your apprentice and leave the apothecary.”

“I’m not wrong about you.” She gently placed a hand on my cheek. “When have you known me to ever be wrong?”

Despite the tears, I couldn’t help but chuckle at her joke. But my face quickly fell again. I began choking up as tears flowed freely and steadily, “Worst of all… I feel like I’m letting you down.” 

“Oh, Isabel.” Master Wis pulled me into another hug and squeezed. Her warmth and the familiar smell of her gentle perfume just caused me to cry harder as I melted into her arms.

“Every day, I find myself so amazed by you. I couldn’t be prouder to call you my student.” She whispered into my ear. “You could never let me down.”

“But…”

“Shhh.” She interrupted, pulling away and looking down at me. “Your ring?”

“It’s somewhere in my room.” I muttered.

She sighed a breath of relief. “I was worried maybe you threw it away outside or something. But that’s easy.”

She waved her Arcanus and opened her hand. My rose gold ring materialized out of thin air and gently fell into her palm. She delicately slid it on my finger, reminiscent of the time she first gifted it to me. It was one of my most precious memories. 

We were silent for a moment, but she spoke softly, “If anything, I should be apologizing to you.”

“What?” I hiccupped.

“Giving you a history lesson, teaching you about the stars or which potion ingredient does what… that’s easy. But magic, it’s complicated. And not something I’m quite sure I know how to put into words.” Master Wis grimaced, like she herself was in pain. “It makes me feel like I’m failing you as a teacher.”

As my teary eyes studied her expression, I realized even the great Wisteria Amberfinch had insecurities. Did mine seem just as absurd to her? I mean, how could she possibly think that?!

I held her tightly at the waist, not wanting to pull away. “I couldn’t dream of a better teacher. You’re the best, Master Wis. The absolute greatest!”

She beamed down at me as if a weight had just been lifted. She stroked my hair and continued speaking in a soft manner. 

“There are many trials in life you’ll have to overcome yourself, Isabel. This is just one of them. But whether it takes days, weeks, or even years… I know you can do it. And I’ll be here cheering you on. For this trial, and every trial to come.”

“Master Wis…” I was at a loss for words, but hopefully my face said it all. 

“Besides, there’s no real reason to worry. As long as dust gathers on the floor, you’ll always have a job here.” Her signature wink accompanied a droll grin, and we both giggled in relief. 

“Just watch. I’m going to become a witch worthy of your faith.”

“I have no doubt. Now, since you’re here, can you grab me some dried pennyroyal? And a knob of manticore brine?” 

“I’m on it!”

 

***

 

“So girl, you actually showed up? Good.” The Silver Witch stood in front of me with an arm on her hip, a soft breeze gently disturbing the grass between us. “You’re not ready to wilt away after all.”

I was certain that after the night before, Estesia was going to give up on me. But when I woke up, Master Wis told me she was already waiting at the clearing. I ran over right away. I didn’t want to let her, or my teacher, down. 

“Master Wis believes in me. So I want to believe in myself too.”

“Aw, am I supposed to be moved?” Estesia taunted. “Talk is cheap. Show me. Girl.”

For the first time since I got my Arcanus, my mind was quiet. Free of the whispers of doubt. I wasn’t going to stand in my own way any longer! 

I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes. In through the nose, out through the mouth. A breeze rolled through, dancing across the grass and playing with the ribbon on my hat. I made a silent plea, asking for it to work with me. Even for just a moment. 

I opened my eyes and lifted my arm, flexing my hand out towards the Silver Witch. The Arcanus on my finger began to shiver as I tried to call on its power. 

I want to do this!

“Without shape and without form…” I chanted the spell with confidence and enthusiasm, my eyes focused on my opponent. 

Please. 

Please. 

Please.

The wind picked up, and as my robes began to whip, I started to feel excited. Was this it?!

But that excitement lasted only a moment. The rather ordinary breeze finished rolling through, leaving both the Silver Witch and I standing there in awkward silence. 

Nothing magical had happened at all. 

Estesia sighed in frustration. “After all that bluster, too.”

I bit my lip. Why? Why? Why?!

“You feel all good after a little pep talk with your teacher, but what did I say? That doesn’t accomplish anything.” She crossed her arms and scoffed. “In fact, I’m sure you’d get this a lot quicker if Wisteria didn’t coddle you so much. She’s just as hopeless as you are.”

I stiffened. Estesia had a sharp tongue, but those words bothered me more than anything she had said yet. Just a pep talk? As I thought about the previous night, and my extraordinarily kind teacher, I clenched my fists.

“Don’t talk about her like that.”

“Oh?” Estesia looked me over, and for a moment, I thought I saw the flash of a shrewd smile. 

She continued in a loud and belligerent tone, “I seriously can’t stand her. She’s a complete and utter fool! Everyone thinks she’s so great, but she’s really just a hack. Just look at you, it’s clear the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” 

“Estesia, stop.” My tone grew venomous. Weren’t they supposed to be friends? I wouldn’t forgive her for saying these nasty things about my beloved teacher. 

“Or what?”

My knuckles grew white. I had never looked at anyone as furiously as I was looking at Estesia now. It felt like my entire body was on fire. I wanted to shut her up, but…

“That’s what I thought.” She scoffed. “Wisteria Amberfinch. An absolute, worthless, sorry excuse for —”

“Without shape and without form, WIND COME FORTH LIKE A STORM!” I wasn’t even thinking. My body just moved on instinct. 

My Arcanus began to once again pulse, sending ripples of energy through my body. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. It wasn’t just resonating, it was tapping into something deep inside me. I was breathing for the first time, connecting with a part of myself that I wasn’t even aware existed. This mystical force flowed through every fiber of my being. 

The wind swirled, caressing my skin and whispering in my ear like an old friend. I was a ship about to set sail, and the sky was smiling at me with favor. A powerful gust blasted from my fingertips, sweeping the Silver Witch off her feet. She tumbled backwards, ripping up blades of grass as she was thrown across the earth. I watched her silver hat fly from her head, before gently floating down beside her. The moonlight lotus glittered and danced. 

I was shocked! At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I did it. I actually cast my first spell! But as I watched Estesia crumple, my excitement was stifled by the stark reality of what just happened. She was the Silver Witch. 

Now I’ve done it. 

Estesia pushed herself up off the ground and I froze. I prepared myself for whatever punishment was about to follow. A scolding? A wind spell of her own? Something worse?!

To my astonishment, a punishment never came. Instead, Estesia began clapping. And laughing!

“That? That right there? Remember that feeling. That is magic.” 

I stared at the Arcanus on my finger and a big smile broke out across my face. 

“Great job, Isabel.” 

At the mention of my name, I looked up in gleeful surprise. Estesia’s smile was genuine, an expression I had only seen after her victory at the Spellcraft arena. She had finally acknowledged me. 

“I feel like hugging you!”

“Please don’t — oof!”

I did anyway, of course.

 

***

 

We hurried back to the apothecary, or rather, Estesia was forced to try and keep up with me as I rushed back. The guards from before saw the smile on my face and were quick to congratulate me. The ebb and flow of the crowded streets were no match for my enthusiasm and I burst into the store in record time. 

“Isabel!” I startled my teacher, who was in the middle of reaching for a potion on the top shelf, a customer waiting patiently at the counter. I would have ordinarily felt bad for startling them too, but not today.

“Master? Allow me.” From across the store, I proudly chanted, “With but a small wave of the hand, you will move as I command.”

Up until that moment, Master Wis and Estesia’s lessons on magic seemed like cryptic riddles I had to solve if I ever wanted to accomplish anything. I cursed their vague instructions. But now I had truly felt magic. And it all made sense. 

Harmony. It was just an extension of myself. There was nothing to think about, like breathing. I just had to open the door and let the magic in, then out. From there, any spell would be easy, right?

Smash. The potion went flying past Master Wis’ outstretched hand and crashed against the side of the counter. 

Oops.

I winced. Okay, maybe there was still a lot to learn…

“Isabel! You did it!” Master Wis beamed.

“She did?” Estesia repeated in disbelief, watching the blue potion pool across the floor. 

“Um…” Our customer was quite shocked. 

“Oh! So sorry about that.” My teacher grabbed another potion and checked them out as I quickly cleaned up the mess. My face was red as we saw them off, but soon it was just the three of us in the store.

“So?” My teacher swelled with pride.

“You should have seen it!” Quickly forgetting my embarrassment, I embraced her with a big hug. “I knocked Estesia right off her feet!”

“Well, let’s not exaggerate…” Estesia coughed. 

“I really did.” I whispered.

“I’m so proud of you, Isabel! I knew you could do it.” 

“You’re a strange one though.” Estesia crossed her arms and peered at me. “It didn’t matter what I said, you wouldn’t snap. Even if most people would have a long time ago. To think all I had to do was badmouth your teacher a little.”

“Oh? Is that what happened?” Master Wis wore a proud expression on her lips.

I was embarrassed for some reason, my face flushing and my ears growing hot. 

“What did I tell you though, Estesia? She just needed a little push.”

“Wait, you two planned this?” 

“Sure did.” Cloud jumped up on the counter, and Estesia began scratching him under the chin. “Magic and emotions are irrevocably linked. It was just a matter of getting you to tick.”

“And Estesia is the best at pushing buttons.”

The Silver Witch chuckled. “Watch it.”

“I thought you were just a huge jerk. That was an act?” They were both so fiendish!

“Mostly.”

“Estesia is actually a big sweetheart. You never gave me any trouble back at the atelier, did you Sister?”

“Shut it. I’ve done my apologizing.”

“Sister?” I looked between the two of them.

“Well, not by blood. By magic.” Master Wis smiled at Estesia. “She’s one of my Sisters from the Lilac Grove, and one day she’ll be your Sister too.”

“Wait? Really?!” My teacher could be so elusive. Until now, she only referred to the Silver Witch as her friend. 

The Circle of the Lilac Grove was Master Wis’ coven. From what I understood, she learned magic while boarding at their atelier, though she rarely talked about her time there. Eventually, I could become initiated myself. But not until I was further in my training. 

This meant they learned magic together. How cool! I lit up at the thought of being so closely linked to the Silver Witch. Maybe there was even more I could learn from her. I really hoped so. 

“Well, I guess I should be off.” Estesia stretched her arms high into the air. “There’s always another tournament to get ready for.”

“So soon?” Master Wis pouted. 

“Can’t you stay a little longer?” I added. 

“Sorry. This place is too stuffy for me. But hey,” she put a hand on my shoulder, “if you ever want to get into the Spellcraft game, I’ll put in a good word. That wind spell really packed a punch. You might have a knack for it.”

That made me really happy, but my heart was already somewhere else. I looked at Master Wis. “I think I’m already where I need to be.”

“Well, you’re in good company. After all, despite what any official record might say, there’s one witch I’ve never been able to beat.” 

“Master Wis, is that true?!”

“I have no idea what she’s talking about.” My teacher laughed with a devilish grin.

Estesia waved her hand and her travel bag appeared at her side, all packed and ready to go. “Oh, and Isabel?”

“Yes?”

“Here.” The Silver Witch plucked the moonlight lotus off her hat and placed it gently into my hands. “Study hard, okay?”

“What? A-Are you sure?!” I knew how much it meant to her. I was holding something precious.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got spares. Even a magically preserved flower doesn’t last long in my line of work.” 

The silver flower sparkled and gleamed, just like the Silver Witch before me.

“Besides,” She continued. “You earned it. You finally bloomed.”

I pulled the flower close to my heart, fighting back tears. “Thank you, Estesia. Thanks for everything.” 

I would be sure and treasure it forever. 


***


So? What did you think?!

Isabel isn't as gifted as Wisteria, or as confident as Estesia, but she's determined to find her own path! If this story is any indication, now that Isabel has her Arcanus, things are only going to get more serious. Casting a spell was just the first of many trials she'll have to face.

We're now just days away from the release of volume two! I hope you've enjoyed this sneak peek, and I hope you look forward to what else is to come! We've got knights, merchants and inventors. Oh, and as we've discussed, Wis will be getting her own story! So there's plenty more to look forward to.

Volume two releases on Amazon Saturday, April 6!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

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