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The Call of Magic, Book One of The Fool’s Journey,
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June 20, 2020
“You gave my slot away,” a voice behind Jake Eller says.
He turns, smooths a hand over his close-cropped black hair. Though his cowl is not up, the wafting lines of magic burn from his eyes, wisp along his mocha skin. Waiting in the Parade Field, they have not yet entered the Well.
Short, with dramatic dark eyes and matching hair, the woman wears the copper armor and single white sleeve of the Free Company. She’s smiling, watching him with a teasing look, and though short, her chin is down like she holds the high ground.
“You don’t have the years to wear the slate,” he says. He is far taller than her and must look down at a severe angle. She barely reaches his shoulders.
“Battle leaders have to be in for eight years.” She quotes the regulations at him. “Silly me. Doesn’t matter that I can wipe the floor with most of the new Strength.”
A grin comes to his face, his eyes twinkling with amusement. “How do you mean?”
“Magic, fitness, fighting, intelligence, chess . . . anything-you-can-think-of.” She cocks her hip, folds her arms in a display of confidence, her staff tucked into the crook of her arm.
He steps closer. “Sounds like you’re a real asset.” His gaze dances down the curves of her armor. “Padierna, isn’t it?”
“Josephine,” she says, and her eyes never leave his.
He presses his gauntleted hand to his chest and speaks from the heart. “Well, Josephine, I don’t know you too well, and I can’t speak to all of that, but I will say I admire your ambition.” He’s not sure if she’s flirting or not, but he comes closer anyway, near enough that he’s invading her personal space. “We have some things to deal with at the moment, but I’d really like to discuss that with you.”
She doesn’t seem to mind, gives no ground.
The smile is still there, and the part-challenge, part-something else look in her eye makes him think she has things in mind. “Maybe whip that ass in chess a time or two.”
Her smile broadens. He watches her eyes pick over his face, the infinite mark on his arm that marks him to Strength conroi. She opens her graciously appointed mouth to reply when he pulls away, his finger raised. He must speak, not strong enough in magic to form his words with will alone, whispering them down the link to his teammates. Then he is moving away, down the line towards the command.
Still, he remembers to turn back. “Duty calls, Joe. Send me a raincheck. I want to see what you can do.”
His eyes say her chess skills aren’t what he’s talking about.
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