Volinette's Song
to you while you’re here in the infirmary. How are you feeling? Any pain? Any sickness?”
    “I’m sorry,” Volinette stammered, her cheeks going red and the tips of her ears burning as if they were on fire. “That was tactless. I mean, I’m pleased to meet you.”
    “It happens often, but my questions are more important. Any pain? Sickness?”
    “I felt ill when I tried to sit up,” Volinette admitted with no small amount of hesitation. “I had to lay back down.”
    Qadira nodded.
    “I should think so, young Acolyte. You’ve been through quite an ordeal today, but we’ll see you through the worst of it.”
    A commotion from outside the cubicle’s curtain drew Qadira’s attention and she raised a finger, indicating that Volinette should wait. As if she had anything better to do. Even straining, Volinette couldn’t make out the hushed argument that was being conducted just beyond her door. She clenched her fists and savaged the bed sheet between her fingers. She was close to everything but couldn’t understand anything. It was infuriating.
    Qadira reappeared, smoothing the lay of her tunic with long fingers. She took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh, as if she were trying to regain her composure. Volinette raised an eyebrow, but the elf shook her head. The elven woman’s eyes, a bright shade of amethyst, sparkled with anger, but not directed at Volinette.
    “Nothing for you to worry about, Acolyte. What happens beyond that curtain is my problem, not yours.”
    When Qadira approached the bed, she seemed to glide instead of walk. It was almost as if she’d floated from the doorway to where Volinette lay. She laid a cool hand on Volinette’s forehead.
    “Ow!” Volinette exclaimed. She jerked away from the touch as pain lanced through her temples. 
    “I’m sorry,” Qadira said, inclining her head in apology. “Link shock is always worse when you’ve recently overextended your abilities. Even so, it needed to be done, but it’s over now. You can relax.”
    “Link shock?”
    “Haven’t you ever touched another mage and felt a tingle or burning in your fingertips?”
    Volinette thought back to the first time she’d met Baris. Clasping his hand in greeting had sent a tingle running up her arm, but she’d paid no attention to it at the time. Then there was the touch of Master Casto and later, Janessa. Even so, it was certainly nothing like what she’d felt when Qadira had touched her forehead.
    “Yes,” the girl admitted slowly. “But I didn’t know what it was.”
    “That’s link shock. It’s the power of the Quintessential Sphere jumping between two vessels.”
    Volinette blushed again. There was a great deal she needed to learn before she could fulfill her dream of becoming a Master. Still, Maera had made her an Acolyte just based on the outcome of the Trial of Admission. Surely that meant something, that she had something unique about her.
    Qadira reached up and turned down the wick on the lamp, lowering the light in the small room to just that which came in through the high window.
    “You need to rest. I’ll be back soon with something to eat.”
    She’d pushed out through the curtain before Volinette could protest. The thought of eating anything made her stomach roil in a way that reminded her of the near sickness she’d just recently overcome. Determined not to let it get the best of her, Volinette settled back against the pillow and closed her eyes. Perhaps if she w ere able to get a little nap in, she’d feel better by the time the cleric returned.
    Volinette was just about to drift off to sleep when the rustle of the curtain announced a visitor.
    “Forget something?” she asked, without opening her eyes. Qadira seemed as if she’d be able to take a joke, with her quick smile and lively eyes. Anything to help pass the time would make Volinette happy.
    “I’ll never forget you, or what you’ve done. She’s dead and it’s all your fault. Maera may think you’re

Similar Books

The Pixie Prince

Lex Valentine

First Ladies

Margaret Truman

Darkness Calls

Caridad Piñeiro

The Abominable

Dan Simmons

Vampire Taxonomy

Meredith Woerner

A Hard Ride Home

Emory Vargas