Chapter 22 - News

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In order to get better reception with his telecommunicator, Zain went outside and sat on the stoop. Clouds blocked an otherwise silver sky, and there was a light patter of rain mingling with a thunder that shook the air. To the left, a hovercraft was coming toward the estate, making its way through the empty plain of dirt. Zain couldn't make out the driver before it disappeared beside the estate. Zain went back to talking with his brother.

"There are still three more trials though, right?"

"Yeah . . . but . . . I need to win one of these next two to advance to the fourth."

"I take the blame for the first trial. I shouldn't have said anything until they were finished. I'm sorry."

It's not your fault. It's mine. Zain saw movement up ahead. It was Tundra. Her usually bouncy, blue hair was moist with rain. Instead of her usual dress, she wore a black uniform with a blue lapel and a golden C badge pinned to her left breast pocket.

"Have you notified Eska of my upcoming arrival?" Jamaal asked.

"Not yet."

"Smart of you to stay undercover, Mr. Berrese." Tundra walked up the side steps, smiling at him all the while.

Zain nodded and smiled back. What was he supposed to say to that? 

"If you plan on having someone visit the Core, you must make your case to Edwyrd himself. The Trials are supposed to be free of interference. Make sure you do it soon."

Could she hear through the rain patter? "Thank you, Conseleigh Iycel."

"You are welcome. I will see you at supper."

Zain nodded and watched until Tundra entered the estate. Once she did, he turned his head back toward his brother. "I will talk with Eska tonight."

"Do so, and let me know his decision."

Zain nodded. "I will."

Rain fell harder. Lightning ripped through the sky. The signal died. Shit. I didn't even get to say goodbye. That was always a problem for him.

Zain stood up and entered the estate again to retire to his room. Attached to his door was a crimson envelope with a golden seal, a silhouette of a dragon embossed on it. The next trial. Was Conseleigh Iycel preparing for it?

He ripped open the letter.

Dear Contestants,

            The next trial, conceived by Tundra Iycel, is ready for your participation. As guardian, you will need to be able to assess situations critically. This trial will test the strength of your mind and your ability to analyze situations. More information will be given by Conseleigh Iycel herself at tonight's dinner, which will be served at seven. Make sure you are present.

                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                    Guardian Edwyrd Eska

He looked toward Gabrielle's and Cain's doors. The envelopes had already been taken off of them. Now he heard faint voices coming from Gabrielle's room next to his. It was Cain's voice. Zain crept over and listened.

"A trial of intellect . . . I wonder what Conseleigh Iycel has planned."

"Whatever it is, it will be easier zan za last trial."

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