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Pantino del'Asphran wasn't the only wizard in the Three Kingdoms, but he was the best.
His castle was well-situated in the eastern forests of the Belao, a day's ride from the nearest town, nearly two days from the nearest house of royal blood. It was a typical stone castle, walls and turrets built around an open courtyard, with the main building of the castle itself in the middle of the courtyard. A small village sat down the hill and across the river from their walls.
The kitchen was built below ground, Pan's receiving room--seldom used--taking up half of the main floor, several bedrooms for guests, even less used, taking up the other half. The tapestries that hung on the wall showed deeds of heroism performed by knights and magicians alike. They were both fantastic and gory, and Pan took particular delight in watching the reactions of his usually unwanted and uninvited guests as they noticed the subjects in the wall-hangings.
His sitting room and bedroom were on the second floor, a small antechamber for his consort opening off his bedroom. The furniture here was less ornate than in the formal rooms of the first floor, comfortable and worn rather than gilt and showy. There was, at the moment, a small pile of china on the floor by the wall; his teacup and saucer. They'd been flung at Daniel in a fit of anger that very morning and had yet to be cleared away.
Pan's laboratory consisted of the entire tower, the wide, round room edged by tables. High shelves held everything from his books to his tools to his herbs, skinny ladders built right in alongside them at regular intervals allowing him to reach even the highest shelves. The south facing wall was blackened withsoot, the thick wooden table on that side of the room scarred and chipped.
The kitchen and his lab were the only rooms where there was always a fire lit. The pit in his tower was in the middle of the room; his thick, black cauldron, currently holding a dark, viscous liquid, sat over the banked flames.
Pan himself was puttering, munching absently on a sandwich of thick dark bread with roast beef and mustard as he tested the amethyst crystals he'd found the day before last in a small cave at the foot of the East Pass Hills.
He wasn't paying very close attention to what he was doing, his thoughts on Daniel, who had not yet arrived, even though the man had been sent for ages ago. It was quite maddening, the way Daniel would make him wait.
His distraction was no doubt the explanation for why he had just mixed a small portion of the crushed crystal with the sula potion, instead of the sulfur potion, resulting in a rather loud bang and a sudden flash of flames that singed his eyebrows and the front of his hair.
Coughing, he staggered over to the barrel of rain water by the small window.
"If you wish to die from your guilt over this morning, mage, you could toss yourself from a window." Laconic, husky, his own personal knight and overall irritant leaned against the doorframe, one blond eyebrow arched.
Need flared instantly at the sight of Daniel, as it always did--damn the man to the bowels of Eldon's realms. He straightened, hand on the barrel edge as he was still none too steady, and sent a glare in Daniel's direction.
"I have neither a desire to die, nor guilt. Perhaps you are thinking of your own feelings."
"I believe you accused me of having none..."
"Hrmph. So I did." Pan dipped his hand casually into the rain barrel and wet his fingers, bringing them up to his face. The water was cold and good against his heated skin and as soon as he felt it, he gave up his casual pretense and dunked his face in the water. It could hardly lower Daniel's opinion of him after all; he wasn't sure Daniel's opinion could get lower.
Daniel's hand landed on his back, solid and hot. "Are you hurt, Pan? Honestly?"
"A little. The flames shot into my face, but only for a moment." He straightened, face dripping water onto his dark blue robes. Blinking, he looked up at Daniel. "I didn't think you cared."
"I care, Pan. Just because we don't agree, doesn't mean..." The soot was brushed from his face.
Posted October 18, 2010
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