Chapter 10 - In the Lobby

2.2K 87 3

It was the day after they arrived, the day when Hydro would finally meet Guardian Eska. Hydro made sure he was properly dressed, adorning himself in garbs of rich royal-blue silk buttoned up with polished anthracite buttons and his family's sigil stitched on a field of black.

Hydro was the third contestant to arrive in the lobby patrolled by the old servant. The other prince had already arrived and was chatting with the woman whose name still escaped him. Prince Evber wore a shirt of light yellow with his sigil of a purple owl perched on the branch stitched on a field of gray. His fingers were adorned in emeralds and topazes. The woman wore a blouse as black as her hair (cut slightly past the shoulders) that extended to her skirt of red. A poppy red scarf hung to the breasts near the frilling of her blouse. Stitched in purple and white to the upper right of her blouse was a badge with the word Gracie's next to a circle with a dagger protruding from its bottom. Rather than earrings, she had a pierced lip—its ring ebony black. Bracelets of many colors reminded him of Elias Ward. Is she skilled in the practices of healing?

"The broken tear of House Paen," Cain called to him. "You are Hydro Paen, then, correct?"

Hydro would have corrected any other contestant by demanding to be called Prince Hydro Paen—but he and Cain Evber were equals. He did correct him on one article though. "The second. I am not my father."

Cain chuckled. "My apologies. How was the voyage here?"

"I shared time with a Garian; a huge brute at that."

"Cadmar was his name. . . . I wondered where he was from."

That wasn't interesting. Hydro knew his name. Instead he wanted to learn about the woman next to Cain. He had yet to hear her name. The woman's eyes wandered between the two of them. Was she studying them? Clever lady. Hydro couldn't imagine her to be too large of a threat though. As far as Hydro knew, there were no female fighters on Acquava—only men bred of the sea and salt. Instead many preferred to study adored arts and confront the battle that happened behind the lines—the battle to save lives. 

"And how was your travel?" Hydro asked.

"I traveled with the poorer fellow."

"To a prince, isn't everyone poor?" The woman spoke with a slight variant of Common Tongue.

Cain chuckled. "I suppose you are correct, there, Gabrielle. I traveled with the brown-haired fellow."

Hydro eyed her with intrigue before returning his gaze to Cain. "The commoner?" Hydro looked up at the ceiling. He hadn't noticed the painted cupola before.

"I cannot tell you his name. All he did was ask questions."

"And is zat a bad zing?"

"Do you like the man?" Cain raised his eyebrow.

Gabrielle chuckled. "Of course not. But he seems decent, like me. . . ."

Footsteps came from the other side of the lobby. Hydro took his eyes off the cupola and saw Zain enter. He wore a black vest with gold buttons and a crimson, long-sleeved undershirt. On the left side of his chest, there was a red circle with a sword pointing diagonally through it. Embroidered in red stitching was the word Gazo's. Gazo's Academy? That meant something, Compared to Symmetry Academy in Symeria, Gazo's was far above it in caliber.

"Zere are too many unbecoming people out zere." Gabrielle looked at Zain and then back to Cain.

"Your accent tells you are from Empora, yes?" Hydro asked.

Gabrielle furrowed her sleek eyebrows at him and nodded. "What of it?"

"Nothing. I hear people there have taken to prayer quite much."

The Trials of the Core (GotC #1)Read this story for FREE!