"I don't know what to do with it," Flik protested, staring at the palm of his glove.
Odessa, dressed in a Scarlet Moon infantry uniform, grinned at him from the hay bales in the back of the wagon. "It's simple enough. Just command the power of the rune and bring your will to bear on it. It sounds more complicated than it is."
"No runes in that fancy Warrior Village?" Viktor asked. There was no uniform to fit him, so he had to content himself with masquerading as a hay bale.
"We rely on our swords more than on magic," Flik insisted, rubbing his hand and feeling a faint electric prickle where the rune's imprint showed on his skin. "I've never used one before." He was playing the part of a common mercenary, and had kept his habitual blue cape, though Viktor had scoffed that no self-respecting sell-sword would wear such a thing.
"Give it a try, then." Odessa reached up to make sure her hair was still properly tucked up under her helmet. She nodded to the slowly passing countryside. "Take a stab at that tree."
Flik lowered his eyebrows and steadied himself against the side of the wagon. He would rather have tried this first alone, not rattling in the back of a haycart with even the few resident chickens watching him.
He focused his mind on the rune and felt a sudden stir of power. Surprised and pleased, he meant to command it towards the pine tree twenty yards from the road, but he had not counted on his element. It arced out of his hand unexpectedly and he quickly sought to recall it back to him-- a mistake.
Lightning burst in a blue-white flare, knocking Flik to the other side of the wagon. The chickens were deeply agitated and loudly let it be known; there was a pungent smell of smoldering hay. Odessa was sprawled on her back, laughing until tears streamed down her face, her hair falling out of her helmet. Viktor was beating the sparks out of Flik's clothing with rather more force than necessary. From the buckboard Humphrey gave them all a look of long suffering, as if he doubted this lot could overthrow a small pub, much less the Empire.
"Take it out," Flik said, when he had gotten his breath back, lost more from Viktor's pounding than the shock. "I'll kill us all."
"Don't be ridiculous, that was brilliant." Odessa wiped her eyes. "I had no idea it would like you so much."
"Like me?" Flik demanded, incredulous. "It tried to kill me!"
"Did you see it?" Viktor shook his head. "Turned around and came right back to him, just like a puppy. Damnedest thing."
"Give yourself a week," Odessa said, schooling her expression for whatever shred of dignity Flik had left. "You'll have it bringing you your slippers by then, I'd wager potch on that, and if not you can get rid of it. I've never seen such a strong response."
"Ugh," was Flik's opinion.
"It takes a few tries to get the hang of it." Odessa twirled the end of Flik's headband around her finger. "Don't worry, handsome. They'll be calling you something impressive before long... The Blue Lightning, maybe."
Viktor snorted. "If they don't call him a charred lump of armor by the side of the road."
Flik kicked him out of the wagon.
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