Ink and Ice (the Saiopia Duology, Book One)

The King is Coming


Flax 25, 1358

The week moves slowly. Miss Boadicey’s history lessons drag along at a grueling pace.

After Kai’s skirmish with Dominique - and Birdbox’s odd mention of Mable - I keep a close eye on the couple, just in case I notice anything… out of the ordinary. From time to time, I see Kai holding her hand just a little tighter than he needs to, like he’s afraid to let go.

I know there’s something going on, but I can’t tell what it is.

I should be happy that Dominique is gone, but I’m not. There’s something about his absence that seems… off. He had left without saying a word to anyone but Azure, and his friends are as much in the dark as I am.

It’s unsettling.

I’ve noticed something about Azure changing, too. It’s harder to avoid her when she isn’t constantly with Dominique, particularly at school. Her usual quiet, distant hostility toward me has faded to a curious, puzzled demeanor. I wonder what changed. There’s been talk that she and Birdbox have broken up at last, that that was why he had left… but in my experience, people love to gossip… and Azure doesn’t let go quite that easily.

Two days ago, for example, I’d dropped my quill on the floor at school. It had been a distracted fumble; my mind had been back in the forest, with the frost doe…

I’d looked up and Azure was looking back at me, holding my quill between her fingers.

“You dropped this,” she said, her cheeks tainted pink.

“Uh,” I’d answered. “Perhaps.”

It was, to be put bluntly, the dumbest thing I could have said - but I couldn’t help it. She never looked at me like that… with curiosity in her eyes instead of anger. I had no idea what had changed. The almost-kiss? Dominique’s absence?

I’d taken the quill and given her a small smile. At this, she’d turned away, looking as though she had turned down an unfamiliar road and wound up somewhere completely different from wherever she’d expected to be.

Sometimes… I wondered. I had almost learned to control my magic, after all.

What was to stop me from telling her the truth?


Milo slams a hand down onto the table, breaking me out of my thoughts. “Peter.”

I glance up, trying not to feel annoyed. Milo’s moods have taken on a considerably darker tang of late. If I drift off for so much as a second, it sometimes sends him into a frustrated rampage.

I grunt listlessly, setting my quill to the parchment and trying to remember what he had said the technical term for the uniquus’ horn was.

With a semi-satisfied smirk, Milo turns back to the board and continues his lecture, not hesitating to give the gory historical details about uniqui. “You see, we as scientists never have quite figured it out. This isn’t only about the Impossible - it’s about Roth, too, and the uniquus. They share the common ground of an inability to die-”

“Not all Impossible are immortal,” I whisper.

Milo pauses, looking down at me with… almost with alarm. No, that can’t be it. “What did you just say?” he asks.

“Sorry, my head is… somewhere else today.”

“As it usually is.”

I shake my head, glancing down at my paper. “Let me get this right. Uniqui have the ability to morph their shapes so that they are camouflaged, or so that they become something else entirely?”

Milo gives a disgruntled snort. “Your head would float right off of your shoulders if it weren’t attached to them, wouldn’t it?”

“The odds are likely.”

Milo cackles and drops the chalk on the floor. It hits the dusty wood with a snapping sound, painting the dirt a whitish-gray color.

“I’m not the only one whose head would float away,” I mumble.

With an angry growl, Milo bends down to pick up the chalk, setting the two now-broken pieces on his desk.

“You make assumptions, Peter. A uniquus has both abilities, although only one of those abilities can be considered natural. Many people assume that uniqui are a breed of horse, but they are merely relatives. Uniqui are the size of Shetland ponies, can breathe underwater, and turn different colors depending on their surroundings. Aside from this, they can physically alter their appearances. This is not camouflage; it is magic. Uniqui travel in herds, as they are herd animals, but are not flighty like real horses.”

I look up from my notes, suddenly curious. Milo speaks about uniqui with a sort of disgust, the same way most speak about Roth and Impossible. Because of it, I feel… sympathy for the animals.

There’s a slight click as Milo drops the chalk on the floor again. I finish recording the new information, then glance over at him.

Julianna Gabriel

#1598 in Fantasy
#639 in Romantic fantasy
#324 in Dark fantasy

Story about: magic, small town, romance fantasy

Edited: 30.07.2019

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