We rode into the forest, far enough to avoid capture by either army. We dropped to the ground and lay amongst leaves and needles. We didn’t worry about our horse making noise, for they were trained to be still.
Little John pointed and waggled his fingers as Nix had done.
“Bae von ox nae,” I whispered while thinking of Kraznir’s army, “bae von ox nae.” And then we waited. And waited.
Both armies remained frozen. Because there was no movement, no blink of an eye, no leaning one direction or another, there was no way to determine if the spellbind had worked.
Time passed and we became hungry. “I’m going hunting,” Little John whispered. “I think I saw rabbit tracks.”
Doughty fell asleep. My eyes grew tired, but I kept them focused on the armies, looking for change. My head fell to my chest, then I forced it upright. Over and over I battled my body.
“I caught one” Little John said as he held up a good-sized brown rabbit. “Can you get a fire going while I skin it?’
I scooped together leaves, then sticks, then searched for larger branches. When I felt there was enough, I held my hands over the leaves, closed my eyes and thought “fire” for I didn’t know the actual spell. Imagine my surprise when a flame burst forth from the heart of the leaves!
I placed several sticks on top, then when they began to smolder, even more.
“Looks great,” Doughty said. “Add the bigger branches. That should work.”
Just when flames rose to shoulder height, Little John appeared with the rabbit on a spit. He held it over the flames, just out of reach so it wouldn‘t char. Soon the smell of cooking meat tickled our noses. My mouth filled with saliva in anticipation.
“There,” Doughty said, “it’s done.” He tore off a leg, bit into it, and smacked his lips with pleasure. “Wonderful.”
We enjoyed our meal. It was not the best one we’d ever had, but since we’d not had meat for the days of our journey, it was exactly what we needed.
“Can I have some?” an unfamiliar voice asked.
Doughty jumped up, pulling his dagger out of his belt. “Who are you?”
“Mastix, sir.” The man wore Kraznir’s army’s uniform. “I’m hungry. If there’s even a tiny bite left, I’d love to eat it.”
I tore off a piece, gave it to him, then watched him slowly chew with his head held back and his eyes closed. “Um, that’s delicious.”
“So, is there something else you want?” Doughty asked.
“A bath, clean clothes and a soft bed.”
“Okay,” I said. “But why did you approach us? Shouldn’t you be afraid of being seen with us?”
The man laughed. “You’re my friends, right? Can I go home with you?’
Little John laughed as movement surrounded us. In front of us stood Kraznir’s entire army, officers and lowly men-in-arms, all with wistful looks on their faces. “Your spell worked,” he said to me with a wink and a grin. “The war is over.”
“For now,” Doughty said. “Only for now.”
“We have no more food,” I said, “but if you ride with us back to Siln and swear allegiance to King Taden, you can live in peace in Siln.”
An officer stepped forward and bowed. “Yes. My men and I will gladly follow you. We have yearned for the freedom and prosperity of Siln, but had no way of getting there. You have offered us everything we’ve dreamt of. Freedom instead of torture, instead of forever being indebted to Kraznir. For that we are grateful.”
Doughty stood and held out his hand. The officer extended his. Once grasped, Doughty pulled the man to his chest in what was considered a bond of trust.
“We’d better leave now,” Little John said. “if we ride hard, we’ll be home by tomorrow night.”
My heart felt light. My spells had worked. No lives had been lost. No injuries incurred. Not a single soldier from Siln had deserted, but the entire army Kraznir had sent was now happily singing their way to Siln.
I knew that from now on I would no longer be a magician-in-training for I had saved Siln’s men from harm. Kraznir, for now, was no longer a complication.