Chapter 14 - Tales

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Even hours after the small display of power in the dining hall, Hydro fumed. When he left, he wandered outside and went to the training court head noticed when he was exploring the library in the days before. There he cast power. He wanted to cast every element, but he reserved to casting only earth, due to its proximity and overwhelming majority. As he did so, he only thought about the Garian. So the Garian knows power; he is still probably as horrible with the axe as Zain is with that sword. A spire erupted out of the ground. He is lucky Cain stopped me. The spire expanded from waist-height to the mansion's height. The worst thing I can do is let that Garian win. He then increased it to nearly double the estate's size before releasing the terrain back to normal due to exhaustion. He dropped to the ground then and pounded his fist on the hot stone court. If fire wasn't so far away, I would have been able to cast it. . . .

Now the first contestant to arrive in the dining hall, he had cleaned up from his makeshift training session, dressing himself in worsted wool pants and a royal purple vest. When the guardian entered, he tried his best to ignore the Garian. He did this by focusing on the head of the table where Guardian Eska sat with his conseleigh. Compared to previous dinners, Guardian Eska seemed to be noticing him more, for Hydro caught his glance thrice during the course of the meal. Did Senator Numos tell him of the dispute?

To Eska's left was a man with blond hair streaked with silver, who Hydro had never seen before. Lightning-bolt studs clung to his earlobes and no-frame glasses exuded a certain intelligence about the man. He must be the one who will talk about the trial. But Hydro found the interactions between Guardian Eska and his conseleigh more interesting than knowing what they cared about. He found it odd that Eska never smiled. Or talked. When do I get to dine with you and learn your secrets?

A hand on his shoulder tore Hydro from his observations. "Is the prince better?"

Hydro looked up to see Senator Numos above him. A faint stubble was starting to grow from his neck. "Much," Hydro lied. There was no reason to alert anyone of his annoyance.

"I am sorry about intruding earlier . . . it was not my place to . . ." Senator Numos leaned in so close to Hydro that he smelt the man's breath. It wasn't as bad as Hydro thought it might be.

"We all have a part to play," Hydro said. He looked toward the Garian, who talked with Zain, but when the Garian did look at Hydro, his eyes were daggers.

"That we do. That we do." Senator Numos laughed, slapped Hydro's back, and took his spot a few seats down from him near Conseleigh Rorum.

That was queer. What purpose do you serve, Senator? The beautiful silk was wasted on Numos. It was stretched too thin for someone so thick. Sweat poured from the senator's forehead. How hard was it to walk? To Hydro, it seemed the cane served more purpose than Numos himself. Over the past five years, as he sat with his father during political meetings, Hydro found politicians to be people who talked much but said very little. They did have some power though: If two-thirds of the active politicians agreed, they could usurp his father's throne. His father had even told him once, "I do not come to these meetings for my enjoyment but, rather, for the safety of my family."

When Guardian Eska stood, he commanded the room. "Contestants, I would like to take this moment to introduce to you Luvan Katore, back from business on Agrost. He is responsible for your first trial. At this moment, I will let him speak."

The man dabbed his lips with a golden cloth and then stood up. "Thank you. Contestants, I am sorry for my absence, but from this point forward, I will be here. Because of my absence, however, I will ask you to tell me your name when you stand, if you are not from Agrost. Understood?" Luvan paused and then continued, "As guardian, you would be responsible for contact with all planets of Gladonus and must learn to cooperate with others in difficult situations. For this trial, you will be paired at random with a teammate to test cooperation. The three groups of two will be announced in the moments before the trial begins. At this moment are there any questions?"

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