Chapter 5

22440 YD (1096 CE)
The Valley of Whipping Tails, Cydrithenna

I had only read about the planet Ménarwen in textbooks, dreamt about it in fiction, and seen it in a holographic display of the Daerlyvian system. The planet was our closest neighbor and home to the Elves, many of whom joined us on the battlefield this day. Although disappointed to discover we would not be traveling off-world for my first battle, I happily agreed to meet my father’s allies from Ménarwen in person. I had only seen one Elf before, a senator in the Daerlyvian Federation, whose voice my father needed for a vote.

Concept art, an elf woman converses with a Drakon man in a battlefield camp as they sit around a campfire. The Drakon man holds a flower.
Concept vibes: An Elf and a
Drakon converse at camp.

Alongside the Elves in our encampment were other soldiers from Federation factions: Daemons, Fae, and even a handful of Orcs. The brilliant glow of the magickal Daemons stunned me, and I endeavored to speak with one before the soldiers went into battle.

Instead, my father commanded me to trail alongside the soldiers in his retinue, running errands, shining weapons, and doing whatever the other battle attendants told me to do. My age qualified me to be a battle page, and I would stay behind in the camp whilst those with more training fought our enemies.

A lieutenant I served ordered me to collect blades from his tent, a peaceful task I could complete while also getting a sense of how lieutenants lived on the battlefront. I happily took the order and ran off to his tent to find the knife and sword he wanted. Just as I found the blades he sought, Varin interrupted me. He looked more like our father than I did, his black hair naturally straight, his brows thick. His light armor and battle regalia even gave him the same royal air as our father, but he would never have the same dignity.

“It’s not fair,” he said.

I blinked at him. What could be unfair about this? Though our numbers were greater than those of our enemies, the Stone Giants, our mother had said it was important that we not use our advanced technology against them, and that we fight with honor and respect. Federation law gave us this great honor to stand on the battlefield, and Varin still complained? Our jobs could easily be done by something far less alive and more automated.

“Stop staring at me like that, little brother. You look stupid.”

I hid my tremble behind a meager illusion. Varin blocked the entrance, and I had to get back to the lieutenant immediately. “What’s not fair?”

“That I have to share my first battle with you. Why couldn’t these savages just attack when I was your age?”

I shrugged.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m still older than you, and you’ll have to do what I tell you to do.”

“I know.”

“Good.” He smiled and stepped forward to ruffle my hair. “By the Scales, your hair looks like it was styled by a little girl.”

“I have Mother’s hair,” I said with a pout.

“That’s why it looks that way.” He noticed the two sheathed blades I carried. “Who are those for?”

“They’re for—”

Varin plucked the small knife away from me and removed its sheath.

“Hey! That’s not yours. You’re not supposed to do that!”

“I order you to show me these blades, little brother.”

I held the heavy sword tight with one arm and reached for his hand. “Give it back, Varin.”

He spun away from me as he played with the blade against an invisible opponent. “This knife is too light. I bet it couldn’t even break a Giant’s skin.” He laughed. “Or an Elf’s!”

“Varin, I need that—!” I cried out in pain, dropping the sword and grabbing my palm.

“Looks like it can break your skin!” He howled with laughter.

Hot blood covered my hand. I hissed through my teeth as tears welled in my eyes. “You hurt me!”

“Of course I did. It’s no less than you deserve, trying to grab a knife from my hand.” He tossed it on the ground. “You’ll probably have to clean that before you give it to your silly soldier friend. At least I was assigned to the general.”

“Not because you’re special!” I spat back. “You’re supposed to be studying him, not coming in here and—” I masked and rolled away from his shove. He’d come at me with such force that he stumbled straight through my pitiful glamour.

“You cheated with magick, Solin!”

“Go away, Varin!”

“Not until you—”


Our eyes shot toward the entryway to discover my displeased father. He had yet to be armored by his attendants, but he still appeared menacing. His dark brows were set into a permanent look of disappointment, and he stared at us until even our breaths were silent.

“How did you get hurt, Solin?”

I regarded the stinging wound on my palm. “Varin cut me.”

“He tried to grab the knife!” Varin protested.

“Because you stole it from me!”

“Enough!” Father marched closer until he loomed like a Giant. “I did not bring you here to embarrass yourselves and our house. You are here to see how the Federation handles the aggression of its enemies and to learn how to obey orders since you will one day give them. You are not here to fight each other!”

“I wasn’t trying to fight him,” I said.

“He cheated with magick!” said Varin.

Father’s demeanor changed to one more quizzical. “What magick?”

“Oh, he didn’t tell you?” Varin cast me a wicked smirk. “Solin can use magick.”

Father glowered at both of us. “Varin, get back to your duties at once.”

“But, Father, Solin—”


Varin grumbled petulantly. “Fine!” He stomped off, but not before giving me a scowl that would wilt forests.

Father surveyed the tent and found a healing kit. He picked it up, then knelt beside me and took my hand. “I’m sure Lieutenant Selvar won’t mind us borrowing this.” He nodded at a chair. “Sit.”

I sat down. My legs dangled off the side of the chair.

As Father cleaned my palm of blood, he asked, “Did he really take that blade from you?”


“You mustn’t reach for blades with your bare hands, son.”

“But he stole it!” I whimpered; my palm stung as he sanitized my wound.

“You will be fine,” he said. “Pain is part of every battle. Even the ones without weapons.” He dried the wound and reached for a bandage. “Have you been studying magick, Solin?”

I stared at the healing kit and reluctantly nodded.

“Is it dangerous?”

I shrugged.

“Can you show me what you did?”

I nodded.

“Here.” He finished wrapping my wound, then stood and stepped back. “Show me.”

I hopped off the chair and bounced on my toes, examining my freshly bandaged palm, then masked myself as another chair. Father’s brows perked with interest, and he brought a hand to his chin.

“Illusory magick. Very interesting. What else?”

I bit my lip, unmasked, and concentrated until I projected a glamour of a chair. It flickered, and then it faded.

Father sighed into a “hmm,” then looked at me again. “It’s been quite some time since an illusory mage has been within our ranks, Solin. Whom are you learning this from?”

I didn’t answer.

He sighed again, then knelt beside me, taking notice of the blood on my other hand. He took another cloth from the kit. “You’ll have to be careful, son,” he said as he cleaned me. “As a senator, you might be tempted to make use of this power to exert your will.”

I shook my head. “No, I only use magick to get away from him.”

“Is that why you used it today?”

I nodded.

“After he took the knife?”

I nodded.

“I need you to speak up, Solin. A senator will need to speak, or the Drakons will have no voice in the Federation. A prince will need to speak, or the Drakons will have no one to command the troops.”

“Yes, Father.”

“We are on the battlefield. I am not your father here. You must respect chain of command, or you will lose soldiers.”

“Yes, Sire.”

He smiled. “Well, I will be your father until I exit the lieutenant’s tent.” He patted my hair with his massive hand and kissed my forehead before standing. “Be sure to clean his knife. This may not have been your doing, but the task must be done. Show Lieutenant Selvar you can do whatever it takes to get a job done.”

I bowed my head at him. “Yes, Father.”


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The Fire of Felwing series and its novels, Flicker, Spark, and Blaze © Elizabeth Tybush. All rights reserved. Chapter images (“vibes images”) created using Canva, DALL-E 2, and/or other tools. (Read more)