Chapter Fifteen: Roxy

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Roxy:

I was sitting in the front room when the others arrived a few days later. Avery entered eagerly, her hair a little redder than before, proudly sporting her new signet ring - proof that she had passed. Her mother - my aunt, Emberlyn - rushed to her side, full of admiration and approval. She reached out to touch a few of the strands of flaming red hair that made her own brown locks look weak and insignificant by comparison.

Cinaer sauntered into the room a few moments after Ave had, his own red-brown hair looking ruffled and his eyes glinting. My mother drifted forward to meet him. "Cinaer, it's so good to have you back with us."

"Thank you, Seraphina, it's good to be back." Cin looked more at home than the palace than any of the rest of us as he lounged back into one of the armchairs, like a King surveying his subjects from a throne.

"How were the last few days?" I asked from my own perch by the window.

He shrugged his shoulders, leaving it to Avery to respond: "More tests. You wouldn't believe how hard they worked us. Plus we had extra history and etiquette lectures. Did you know that-"

"Surely you have something more interesting to share than some random fact about the Sephan Realm," Cin cut across her. "Roxy doesn't want to know every detail of your week."

"Sorry, Cin, I hadn't realised that you were the source of knowledge on what Roxy does and doesn't like. The wed-" I cut her off abruptly with a look, my eyes burning into hers.

Cin, on the other hand, laughed. "I was merely trying to save her from the boredom your conversation usually induces." His tone was lazy, as if teasing Ave was too easy to command his full attention.

"Really, Cin, I don't think that was necessary," Emberlyn said indignantly.

"Calm down, Em, the children are only having fun, he didn't mean anything by it." Of course not, golden boy Cinaer could do no wrong. Now if I had made the same comment... "But they should really realise that now is not the time for fun. As Protectors they now have a much more important role to fulfil. Delegates from the Sephan Realm will be arriving tomorrow morning and the Brizans a little after that. The King needs to know that you will be ready to receive them. You will address the Sephan delegates with their appropriate title - no matter how amusing you might find it." She glared at me as she said this, as though I were the person she was most worried about.

"Try your hardest to treat them with politeness rather than ridicule. However, that advice is more important for the delegates of the other Realms than the Sephans - we don't want them to forget their place. Behaving should be quite straightforward, but I'll be keeping an eye on you, as you often turn even the simplest tasks into disasters." Her eyes rested on me once again and she stood up and went towards the door, followed closely by her sister. Pausing in the doorway, she added: "That will be all for now. You can do as you wish until dinner."

"What a welcome." Cin grinned. He got up from his chair and walked to my side. "It's good to see your mother still likes me." She liked Cin a little too much in my opinion.

"Where are we staying?" Avery asked at once, eager to get out of the room.

"Third floor, I'll show you," I replied, already walking towards the door. "We're going to be on the same floor as the Arcans. The King wants us to keep a close eye on them while they stay here, to make sure that they don't go looking for trouble."

"Other than the sort we'll be dealing them." Cin laughed wickedly.

I left them at the top of the landing after telling them which room was which. "See you at dinner," I called as I went into my own room. "Seriously," I added in response to the bemused looks they gave me. "Don't be late."

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