Chapter Twenty Three: Roxy

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The sky was a hazy pink, blurred and confused with the buildings that plunged up into it. It was going to rain today. Rain was a rare occurrence in the Helian Realm and a largely unwelcome one - as anything which detracted from the sun usually was. The feel of it wasn't too bad, rather like a hot shower, and I did like the roar it made as it rushed through the vegetation. When I was younger I loved to run out into the rain to smell the damp, clean scent it gave everything. But this had changed when I got my powers. Fire was useless when there was so much water. I hate feeling useless.

Helian Protectors stayed inside while it was raining, it was an unwritten law. No one ever spoke about it, it was just understood that that was what you did.

So that morning, I went downstairs with every intention of staying indoors and doing nothing: no tours, no entertaining, no accidentally bumping into Brae in the garden. Aside from the rain, everything was going to be perfect. At least it would have been perfect, if it wasn't for my mother.

She beckoned me over after lunch. I looked up at her in the way of a response, reluctant to give her any more effort than that.

"The Drynans are coming in a few hours."

"Great!" I said, injecting as much sarcasm as possible into my voice. The Drynans were another elite family. Related to us in some way, but I couldn't remember exactly how. They consisted of a stuck-up, aging couple with the five most annoying children in the entire Realm. I couldn't understand how anyone who gave birth to one child that horrendous would possibly think that it was a good idea to have more.

"You are going to entertain the children in the garden while the Drynans attend the diplomatic meetings inside."

"Not likely!" I replied, scoffing. "I already have my babysitting duty for the next few weeks, remember? Besides, it's going to rain this afternoon."

"Well, they can't stay in here! They would humiliate us in front of our guests." I had to admit that was a fair point - I wouldn't want the kids anywhere near important meetings and delegates either. The last time they had visited our house, six members of staff had quit and we'd had to completely remodel the dining room.

"Someone else will have to do it."

"There isn't anyone else - everyone is busy with the tests. I can't believe you're being so selfish! Besides, they listen to you slightly more than anyone else." 'Slightly' being the key word in that statement. For some reason the kids found me interesting, which gave me a minute level of control over them. Of course, this time there would always be the option to Control them for real, although I had a feeling their parents wouldn't be too happy with that...

"What's in it for me?" I said the words jokingly, knowing they were pointless. My mother glared at me, her eyes burning hot and furious. Then she stood up and left the room, signalling that the conversation had come to an end.

They descended on us in the middle of the afternoon. In an instant the solemn, professional air which had filled the palace for so many days was shattered by a single, piercing scream.

"Shut up, Lucienne, it can't hurt that much."

"Does too! If it leaves a mark I'm telling mum, Emile!"

"No you won't. I'll do it again if you do - for longer!"

"I'm telling! Muuum!" The voice faded, accompanied by retreating stomps.

"Right, you owe me 20," Emile could then be heard saying to someone else. You could almost hear the grin in his voice.

"No. That doesn't prove anything!"

"Yes it does. If she can't handle a little burn like that then there's no way she'll be a Protector. They have fire everywhere and it doesn't hurt one bit. Pay up, Blaise."

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