Even the children need time to zone out and relax… An excerpt from RotP:
As always, all original material remains Copyright Evangeline Warren 2012
Juliana lay on her back staring at the clouds drifting past in the sky. She often could not find time to simply be and she relished each opportunity that she happened upon. She could feel the prickles of the blades of grass dancing across her back, their sweet smell enhancing the fresh morning air, so rare at the end of winter. Stretching her arms out as far as they could reach, she then folded them beneath her head, creating a more comfortable pillow.
Closing her eyes to block out the bright sun and the scintillating entertainment that the passing clouds provided, she practiced the meditation techniques that Landon had taught her. While the process was invaluable when she was attempting an extremely difficult spell, and was something that contributed to her rather low failure rate, it was even more beneficial when the practitioner was completely relaxed. As she sucked one breath in, she shut off all external stimuli, ignoring everything from the optimistic birds in a nearby tree that were nearly a month early to the cool breeze that was washing over her now unresponsive body. With the breath out, she simply exhaled, letting her mind focus inwards. The next inhale brought the severing of the now near constant tethers to James, Cyrus and Master Jonathan. Although it was a bit disconcerting, at first, to be without their constant background noise, Juliana found it refreshing to finally have her brain to herself, even if that solitude only lasted until one of the aforementioned males panicked and forced their way through her barriers. The following exhale brought the detachment of her psyche from her physical body. During a spell, she would have only have completed the first step and Juliana was aware that she was now venturing into dangerous territory. If someone happened upon here, she would be unable to react quickly enough and no one would be aware of her fate. She quickly exiled the now panicking part of her brain from her conscious. This was her time and she was safe enough for the time being, guarded by the Academy guards and their extremely loud armor.
I wonder how they ever catch anyone. Juliana mused to herself, appreciating the lack of eavesdroppers. Don’t all of their targets hear them before they even enter the same hall? Had she had control over her body, she would have laughed, pleased at the witty commentary constantly running in her head. Drawing herself even deeper into her meditation, she stopped all conscious thought, only allowing those brain functions that dictated the life-giving directions that her body carried out everyday to keep her alive.
After a few moments, though she had no idea how long it was, she slowly allowed herself to regain consciousness, beginning with conscious thought, she worked backwards, holding off the external world until the very last moment.
Opening her eyes, she was startled to find that she was no longer alone. Cyrus sat next to her, his legs bent and his arms resting atop his knees as he looked out over the rolling hills surrounding the Academy. His sword, Echo, lay within arms reach. To Juliana, it seemed as if he was standing guard over her. But she quickly dismissed that thought figuring that it was a bit absurd.
“Cy?” Her voice tentatively reached out to her companion.
He started and then turned to face her, a grin splitting his face. “Hey, Julsie!” He said softly, aware of her recent return to consciousness. “How are you feeling?”
“Better.” She replied, a smile crossing her face. “I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been feeling so tired.”
“Well, it’s not like you’re the savior of the world or anything.” The obvious sarcasm in his voice made the uncharacteristically subdued Juliana laugh.
“You may have a point.” She pretended to ponder the suggestion seriously.
“I do have my uses.” He laughed, their banter easing the tension that had sprung up on him the minute that he had felt Juliana detach their mental connection.
“How did you find me?” Juliana asked him, curious as to the speed of his arrival.
Cyrus paused, not willing to tell her that he almost always knew where she was. Her wellbeing was always at the forefront of his mind. As he scoured his mind for an acceptable explanation, he decided to go with the vague and slightly predictable answer. “I don’t know. I felt you go silent, panicked for a second and then tried to find you. This was just a gut feeling, I guess.”
“You, the mighty Crown Prince of Alinzar, were panicked at my disappearance?” At this revelation, Juliana, who was, at this point, attempting to sit up, collapsed back onto the ground, laughing.
Cyrus was a little affronted at her teasing, and the wideness of his steel grey eyes reflected this, throwing Juliana into more peals of laughter, chokingly pointing out his current resemblance to an owl. “I was very worried! So was everyone else!” Juliana hiccuped as she tried to suppress the laughter that was now trying to bubble out of her uncontrollably. Deciding to get a little revenge for her teasing, Cyrus said, “Didn’t Master Marcus teach us a spell sequence to stop hiccups?” Seeing Juliana gesture wildly, unable to express herself without a hiccup escaping, Cyrus continued on. “He really does teach us the most random things. I, mean, honestly! Hiccup cures?”
“Aren’t you hic going to hic he- hic -lp me?” Juliana demanded, the effect of her tone diffused by the manner in which her hiccups interrupted her sentence.
“Hmmm…” Cyrus gave her request some ‘serious’ thought. “Okay…” He sighed, agreeing in response to the glare gracing the face of his friend. “If you insist.” He preformed the spell and waited for the onslaught of criticisms and jibes from Juliana, sure that his teasing had landed him on a trip to Juliana’s land of slander. Although she was a fundamentally nice person, she could always turn a good insult on an unsuspecting victim. These skills, however, where hardly ever put to use against her friends. Generally they were used in either their defense or her own. Nonetheless, Cyrus dreaded the formidable power of insults that she wielded effortlessly.
To his surprise, she smiled. “Thanks Cy.” It seemed that her meditation had mellowed her a bit, something that Cyrus was extremely grateful for.
“Shall we head back now?” He enquired, jumping to his feet and offering Juliana his hand.
She refused it and jumped up as well. “We shall.” Be careful, she warned him, you never know who’s watching and it would do none of us any good if someone saw me being treated as a girl.
Cyrus chose not to respond to her warning, and said, out loud, that James was most likely waiting for them and that it would be prudent to head back. Juliana was puzzled, to say the least, at Cyrus’ seeming dismissal of her warning and the tinge of hostility that was radiating off of him. What she didn’t know, however, was that the hostility was directed inwards. Cyrus was furious with himself for putting his feelings for Juliana before the cause of the utmost importance, her safety.