The previous Sassy Saturday excerpt, First Name Friendship, can be read here.
This one takes place long after the last one. Kasile is no longer a captive (whether this was a rescue or an escape is a bit complicated) and has invited Eric to the castle to discuss a future mission for him.
The mercenary was allowed through the curtain wall without argument. They had orders to let someone of his name and description in, no questions asked, by the princess herself. They didn't even insist he have an escort.
The title of “Princess Rescuer” might have raised his stock, but the ambiance was still far from welcoming. The last time he came, it was for a job and he was treated like riffraff. Now he was here as a guest and treated like a germ. Two guards stood at Kasile's door and announced his presence.
A princess cleaned and polished by a corps of handmaidens opened the door. She looked just as royal as the day they met, but unlike then, he wasn't dazzled by her beauty. They were too familiar for that. Instead of a princess, he saw a friend.
The princess’s penthouse was decorated in shades of red, pink, and gold. From her bed to her vanity to her bookshelf, the style of fire dominated. The princess sat at a table molded like an open flame and prepared with tea and biscuits.
Hands in her lap, she said, “Eric, I wanted to thank you again for all you've done for me.”
Eric slipped into the opposite seat. “You don't have to keep thanking me. We're friends.”
“I know, but thanking is all I can do. Father wouldn't agree on a reward . . .”
“It's okay, Kasile, you don't need to feel bad about it.”
Flames in her eyes, she politely asked, “Are you feeling my emotions again?”
“I can't help it! It feels like a cold draft.”
“To business . . .” Kasile ran a gloved hand through her hair. “I didn't invite you just to thank you again. I want you to compete in the New Scepter Magic Competition.”
“A week-long contest for mages under twenty-one years of age,” Kasile explained. “It is supposed to be open to everyone, but there are still rules that weed out anyone not enrolled at the Royal Academy of Magical Study.” She grinned like a trickster. “As a royal myself, I can bypass all those horrible pretexts and recommend someone.”
Eric deadpanned, “So I'm a tool in your latest political protest?”
“Eric! How could you say such a thing!?” Kasile placed her hand over her heart. “I would never call you a tool!” The grin returned. “You're my co-conspirator.”
“We're friends and friends help each other.”
Eric stood up. “As much as I'd love to get tangled up in your political conquests, I'm going to work at the Across the Sea restaurant so I won't have time for them.”
Kasile raised her cup. “Royal tutors are paid better.”
Eric pushed his chair in. “Was the old one a murderer? I killed an Ataidar citizen the other day. I can still see his blood on my hands. ”
“Not a problem.” She sipped her tea. “Your advocate already contacted the Knight of Justice and presented your case to him. He agrees that you shouldn't have to appear in court. If, for some reason, you do . . . I might have a few things to say.”
Eric slouched. “You don't take 'no' for an answer, do you?”
Kasile smiled charmingly. “That's how I was raised.”
This is a historic moment. I'm being strong-armed into a job. “Well, then, I guess I will accept the position of your magic tutor.”
“Great!” Kasile clapped her gloved hands together. “I'd like to start with barriers . . .”
Just like with mana spheres, she was a quick study and formed her first one within an hour. Not only that, Eric couldn't break it no matter how hard he punched or kicked. Dengel was absolutely ecstatic at this turn of events. He lectured (not bragged) about his elevated role as an imperial tutor in ages past and how delighted he was to be one again. Eric reminded the dead mage that he was the one teaching. Furious, the tenant dared him to teach fireballs.
“Kasile, how do you feel about fireballs?”
Kasile tilted her chin down and stared. She flung her arms out at the fire symbols in the room of the most recent descendant of the fire goddess Fiol.
“Right . . . Stupid question.”
“Even so, they're not fireproof.” She stood up and her gown's many layers rustled. “We'll need your guild's training room. Do you get teleportation sickness?”
“Uh . . . yeah . . . why?”
The princess held her skirts in one hand and walked to her vanity. “All the more reason to take this off.” She snapped her fingers and the laces and hooks of her beautiful dress undid themselves. Eric closed his eyes and covered them with his hands.
“I appreciate that, but it's unnecessary.” The princess hung up her dress because underneath it, she wore commoner clothing. Next to go was her jewelry, make-up, and gloves. The result was a girl who, while still pretty, didn't look particularly royal. She used a cloak and hood to conceal even that.
“Are you going undercover?”
Kasile shrugged. “It's not easy being a gorgeous and beloved princess.”
To learn more about the heroines of A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.
A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at: http://smile.amazon.com/A-Mages-Power-Journey-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00AVMAISG