Cobal didn’t have to sit on his own for long as Mana and Kimi happened to come in for lunch not long after he did. He’d hoped the bustle and business of the general mess hall would take his mind off of the seriousness of the situation they were in and it was helping a little bit.
“Did you sleep well?” He asked them as they both sat down on the bench opposite of him.
Mana shook her head. “I kept worrying and before I knew it the sun was coming up already.”
“I didn’t want to say it, but I can see how tired your eyes are.” Cobal smiled.
“Should have kept to not saying it,” Kimi jabbed back. “I slept pretty well. Your beds are too large for someone my size, so when I had to get up in the middle of the night it took me an hour to get to the edge of the bed.”
Mana laughed. “I think you might be exaggerating.”
“Just a little bit.” Cobal added. “So, how was your morning then? You two went to the archives, right?”
Mana nodded. “We did. We looked around a bit, and a friendly older man gave us a tour. He said he was the master archivist. I didn’t quite catch his name since he was mumbling it a bit, but I think it sounded something like Sean.”
“Shejahn,” Cobal said. “Which sounds very similar to what you said, is that a name from your world?”
Mana nodded. “Is the name Sean not a thing in this world?”
“I haven’t heard of it at least,” Cobal said. “But I’m sure there’s many names in either world that aren’t in the other. Names are rooted in a country’s culture after all. It’s why we’re all named after our founder in a sense.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask about that,” Mana said, “but I wasn’t sure if it was a rude thing to ask.”
“Not at all, it’s a tradition within our family. Since we’re the Blueyerd Kingdom, all of our family is named after the color blue or something adjacent to it. Some will be named after water or the sky or other things blue, but it all leads back to it.”
“Do you know the origin of your name?” Mana asked. “Where did the name Blueyerd originally come from?”
Cobal thought for a moment. “You know what, I don’t actually know that. I should ask my parents.”
While they were sitting there, eating a mediocre but filling lunch, a young boy dressed in the staff colors came over. “Your highness, Lady Mana, Lady Kimi’Tharia, I’ve been sent to invite you to the council room. Two of the royal mages wish to speak with you.”
“We’ll be right over after lunch,” Cobal replied.”
The boy nodded and quickly ran off.
Kimi looked at Cobal with a bit of a sour look on her face.
“He got my name wrong.”
“Oh, I didn’t even notice that.”
“It’s not that difficult of a name, right?”
“There’s a reason we just call you Kimi,” Mana said, chuckling to herself.
“I’m sorry I don’t have boring simple names like you two. My name goes back far into my family’s history too, in a long line of royal spirits.”
“Does it really?” Cobal asked.
“No,” Kimi replied, pouting.
They all laughed.
After finishing up their lunch, they made their way to the archives. The council room was right near it. Normally, Cobal wouldn’t eat in the general mess hall, but he’d been kind of dreading talking with his parents more than needed. He was well aware that the reason they sent him out with Mana as opposed to someone else was because his father hoped that this would bind the hero to their kingdom. Cobal had started seeing things a bit differently though and was worried his father wasn’t quite pleased with their progress so far. While lost in thought, they reached their destination. As they approached the door, another young messenger approached them. “Your highness?”
“What is it?”
“Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to invite yourself and company to dinner in her garden tonight. The princess will be present as well.”
Cobal nodded. “Tell my mother we’ll be there, but we do have a meeting that might take a while, so don’t have the dinner ready too early.”
“Very well, your highness.”
After the boy ran off, they knocked on the door of the meeting room. Inside they found four of the court mages gathered, waiting for them to start the meeting.
“Good afternoon, your highness,” they all stood up.
“Please, just Cobal is fine. This meeting is going to take twice as long if you insist on using titles.”
“Very well then, prince Cobal.” The man looked around. “I presume you are lady Kimi’Thania?”
Kimi nodded. “Nice to meet you.”
He looked at Mana. “We’ve met briefly, Lady Mana, but I’d understand if you didn’t catch my name during the chaos.”
“I can’t say I have, no.”
“I am the head of the council of court mages, my name is Barradan Firstenol. These are my fellow council members, Mirium Starwat, Jeresan Dovir and Miloue Nagentil.” They all gave a polite nod.
Barradan looked to be the oldest of the group, his gray beard really selling the fact that he was a mage. He had beady green eyes and a tired expression. Mirium looked to be in her early fifties with dark brown hair that was slowly turning gray put up in a bun. She had spectacles on. Jeresan looked to be the youngest of the bunch, probably not much older than Mana was. He had bright blue eyes and short cropped blond hair. He had a sword on his hip as well. Cobal wondered if his talent in magic was more focused on the battlefield. The last person there, Milieu, was a woman in her mid thirties with bright pink hair on one side of her head and a buzzcut on the other side. It kind of reminded him of Kimi and her brother’s hairstyles. Cobal wondered if she was a spirit, as this kind of hair color wasn’t common amongst humans. She smiled at him when he looked at her.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you all, let us not waste any time,” Cobal said, sitting down on one of the three empty chairs. Mana and Kimi took place on the chairs positioned on either side of him. It was an oval table, so there was no real head of the table. The mages each sat down again. Barradan had a pile of papers in front of him and there were a couple of books strewn about, some open and some bookmarked. Cobal figured they had already started the meeting before their arrival.
“So, how far have you all gotten in your research?” Cobal asked.
The mages exchanged some looks before Barradan took the lead. “Well, as you’ve probably been informed about already, there is a strange runic circle in the room of the crown prince. There are no signs of any foul play, the windows were closed and the guards are confident no one entered the room.” He looked at Cobal. “As you know, there is always at least one guard standing in the hall leading to the royal chambers. No trespassers were seen. So either the kidnapper got past the guard without being spotted, or used magic to appear in the room of the prince. With the windows closed they can’t have broken in through that side.”
“Could they have gone in, closed the windows behind them, and then kidnapped the prince?” Mana asked.
“That’s what I was saying,” Miloue added.
“It’s definitely a possibility, but the odds of the prince realizing what was going on would be a lot bigger. These windows aren’t easy to open from the outside.”
Mana nodded. “So a possibility but very unlikely”
“My leading theory is that there is simply a magic at play that is beyond our comprehension,” Jeresan added. As the youngest of the group he was the most open to the idea that there was much to learn. Someone like Barradan, who spent his life studying magic, would be less happy to admit there’s magic out there he has no understanding of.
“That sounds likely, seeing as we’ve seen similar magic being used on our travels, if the information we got here is correct,” Mana said.
“Please, share with us the knowledge you already have so we can see if it matches up.”
Mana nodded and pulled the paper out of her bag that had the circles on them. They’d made sure to draw them as precisely as possible and Mana had been trying to study the script for a while now, but to no avail. “We found this circle while we were traveling, it seemed to summon a fiery creature to our location and after we defeated the creature it seemed to go inert. But I will add that neither of us knew enough about magic to fully confirm that.” She pulled out another piece of paper. “This is what we encountered in Milinia, where someone summoned beasts as well but also used it to vanish through.”Mana showed them the paper and the four mages spent the next few minutes looking at it intently without saying much. Miloue grabbed some paper from the side and started drawing something on it. After she finished what she was doing she showed it to everyone else. “So I’ve dissected the circle into symbols. I’ve done the same for the one we saw in the crown prince’s room and I have that list over here,” she pulled it out from under a book. “There are a few similarities I can see, but either one has symbols that don’t appear in the other circle.”
Cobal looked it over. This wasn’t his field of expertise, but he did see that some of the symbols indeed matched.
Mana seemed more invested in this. “So if both instances presumably summoned something from another place or sent it to another place could we assume one of these circles might be working as a sender and one might be working as a receiver? That could mean that the symbols that overlap pertain to the part of the magic that actually sends someone or something somewhere, and the symbols that don’t match decide what gets summoned and where it goes?”
Miloue nodded. “That’s what I was thinking as well. If we divide the symbols like this,” she took her piece of graphite and divided the symbols by drawing lines between them, “then we can infer that the inner circle has the core of the spell since it almost completely overlaps. The secondary and tertiary circle decide what gets summoned and where it gets sent.”
“Hold on a second,” said Mirium. “In either of the circles you’ve shown us, there were only two circles. But the one we saw in the crown prince’s room has three circles with writing on them.”
“Maybe that’s the difference between sending and receiving?” Cobal asked.
Mana nodded. “I think you might be right.”
“Well, we’ve figured out a lot then,” Barradan said. “More than I expected, you bring great insight, Lady Mana.”
Before Mana could reply, Kimi suddenly sat up straight. “I have a theory.” She smiled. “I think that extra circle could be the missing part to this mystery.”
“Please share it with us.”
“Can we go and take a look at the magic circle in the crown prince’s room? If I’m right I should be able to see for myself.”
They all looked at each other.
“Well, I do suppose we’re done here for now. Let us have a look then.” said Barradan. He got up and the rest followed.