Gerome and I had spent the morning practicing, when Giselle, his wife, suddenly came running from the direction of the village.
"Gerome, there are visitors requesting aid. Elves among them. Alexend said he would help, but I worry. He always charges such awful prices for aid" she gushed out.
Gerome and I looked at each other, he seeing the ways my eyes lit up. I had yet to see elves. In fact visitors themselves were rare.
"Come child, we shall say its a learning experience. They will be in your family home, so you have a right to visit. Go and I will see if I can bely Alexend. Perhaps you might be able to aid them instead," Gerome urged, giving me a slight shove with wind in the direction.
He was right of course. The last time a visitor had appeared requesting aid he had been unable to afford the price my father had charged. He had been kept for 5 years as a slave. My father believed magic was a right, and for others to use it there must be a cost. Gerome was one of the few who believed we should use our gifts to help the people, and I was of a similar mindset. Why should kings and queens, and nobility and those with the money be the only ones to deserve our help. Surely there were more worthwhile causes.
I hurried to my family home, a place I rarely visited nowadays. One of the other apprentices had been positioned in front, but he knew that he could not deny my visitation within my family home, and soon I was let in.
I pushed aside the door, and stared in wonder at the people before me. There was at least two elves among them, tall and beautiful people who I had only read about. There was also an old man, and a young woman.
"Hello?" one of them asked me, breaking me from my awe. I shook myself, then began talking.
"Hello. I am Mariena. I believe you requested aid? I am willing to be of assistance," I began. "What help do you need?"
They looked at each other uneasily, then back at me. "My horse has lost a shoe" the old man replied. 'I believe they have taken it to the stables."
I nodded. A simple task to fix, provided I could get hold of a shoe. "Then I shall make the bargain with you," I stated. "Unfortunately our blacksmith is away at the moment, so magic will have to be used in the task," I began, when the door suddenly opened again and my father entered.
He was a tall imposing man, though not as tall as the elves. Looking down at me he managed a wry grin. "Ah Mariena. When Gerome tried to delay me I had a feeling you would be here gawking like a fool," he stated, then moved as if to brush me aside so he could address the others. "It seems our blacksmith is away, so magic will need to be used in your task. The cost is high."
The others looked around, worried. They had little in the way of coin on them it seemed, and could not afford what they had for a task like this. I suddenly did something quite possibly foolish, I interrupted my father. "Father, we have already made the bargain."
Alexend looked down on me in surprise, shocked to see me still here. When he brushed people aside, they usually left. "You have not completed your training, so you cannot make the bargain," he said with a sneer.
"Any wizard who has manifested powers, and has come of age may make a bargain," I replied, staring him down, trying my best not to flinch. "You yourself, gave me the family crest pedant three weeks ago." With those words, I picked up the necklace around my neck.
My father frowned at it, then seemed to pause, as if searching for a reason to not let me continue. "And what price have you charged? If it is too low for the task I shall have to take over."
I glanced at the people in the hut, sensing their confusion, and hoping they would understand the next bit was best for them. "The price is that I accompany them on their journey," I stated, hoping the people would not display any shock, or be surprised.
My father frowned. "Nonsense, you are still in training,"
"And you are not her mentor," a voice from the door suddenly said. "As mentor, while she is under my care, all decisions involving her welfare belong to me. Mariena, you may accompany this group, I believe it will be a great training exercise for you." My father turned his glare to Gerome then, before glancing over at the strange group.
"And you have agreed to this bargain?" he asked them, his usual sneer in place.
The old man was the first to recover and answer. Glancing at me, he nodded. "We see it as a fair exchange for the price of such magic sir."
Alexend treated all of us to a glare. "Fine. The bargain is made. Mariena I believe you have a horse to shoe and then you better pack some things child," he said, before storming out.
I stared after him, releasing a breath I didn't even know I was holding.
"Don't worry my dear. You know he doesn't like to be beaten. I shall pack your things, you take your group of travellers and shoe the horse," Gerome murmured, standing beside me, before disappearing from the door.
"What just happened?" one of the elves asked, shocked.
"Uh, I'll explain a bit later," I rushed, before gesturing that we should head out the door.