Pulling his face back from the page his eyes flickered over the quick scrawl. He blinked once, showing no other sign of satisfaction, smoothed the page and closed the book. This too he secured in an inner jacket pocket.
“Awake, awake,” he muttered disdainfully and shook his head. The words drifted away on the wind.
He chuckled and glanced at the moon. “What a foolish girl,” he told the glowing orb, “can’t follow simple directions and loses her thoughts on the wind.” He puffed out his cheeks and blew a breath up and over the stony ledge.
Far below him, the wooden shutters of a ground level room blew open forcefully. Galloping through the room, gusts of wind skimmed colour dampened tapestries that decorated the walls and billowed through the delicate clothing that hung over the dressing screen.
They twisted and bounced off the stone corners, swirling until the power had subsided into a fist sized orb. It hovered in the air seeming to reflect glints of the moonlight that illuminated the gardens outside the window.
Then, as if pulled by a string, the glowing orb drifted lazily toward the farthest wall of the room, and onto the softly breathing chest of a little girl. It rested there, barely making a dent in the thick covers, but shone brighter with each small breath that passed over it.
Awake, awake, escaped the soft whispers.
The girl shifted slightly in her sleep, murmuring indecipherably. The orb bounced twice, pressing into the girl’s arm as she rolled her body over, squashing her nose into the pillow.
“No, mama,” she said more clearly now, squeezing her eyes closed in an effort to hold onto her dreams.
The orb continued to hover. Again it emitted the same phrase, awake, awake.
The girl pinched her eyebrows together and pressed her whole face into the pillow this time. The words were louder the second time, more forceful and angered. She could not drift back into the realms of sleep.
Gripping the sheets with her fingers she turned sideways, groaned and blinked into the darkness. “What?” she said as she rubbed her eyes. She froze mid-motion as her gaze settled on the orb glistening a hands distance from her face. She stared wide-eyed, the light illuminating the deep blue colour of her irises.
“How?” she whispered to the empty room and, with a cautious curiosity, stretched out a finger to touch the strange object. It flickered, as a candle does when it burns. She stretched further but, as her fingertip made contact with the warm, comforting light, it flashed and sputtered out.
“A glowing candle,” she muttered pressing her fingertips to her lips, “how strange.” Sitting up in her bed she turned towards the open shutters and frowned.
Close the shutters, she thought firmly, forming the words in a loopy script in her head. Within her mind’s eye she could see the letters stretching across an expanse of air, like a schoolroom chalkboard.
The shutters clicked shut.
A shadowed smile passed over the young girl, Julia’s, face. She had always felt a certain pride every time she used her talent, even for the most basic of tasks. From a young age she had been able to master the commands befitting her role. Without the need for servants to complete the routine tasks she was supposed to avoid, Julia had become fiercely independent.