Kenric

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Sophie was staring at Kenric. It had been so long since she had seen him. She was barely holding back tears.

What?" Bronte demanded.

"K-kenric?" She choked out. She realized she must have looked insane. It just hadn't occurred to her that those who had passed would still be living.

"Yes?" The red haired elf questioned, clearly confused. She had to warn him. She just had to. She would just have to wait for the perfect moment.

"Sorry. I thought... I thought I had heard your name wrong." Sophie lied. She wouldn't let him die this time around. She couldn't. Right now, she just had to focus on passing this test. She'd worry about Kenric once it was over. After all, she still had time.

"So, Sophie." Bronte sneered her name like it bothered him to say it. "Alden tells me you're a Telepath."

"Yes. She's been reading minds since she was five. Isn't that right, Sophie?" Alden asked when she didn't respond.

She nodded.

Kenric's and Oralie's jaws dropped.

"That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard,"
Bronte argued.

"It's unusual," Alden corrected.

Bronte rolled his eyes as he turned to Sophie. "Let's see how good you are, then. Tell me what I'm thinking."

"You're thinking that you're the only one at this table with any common sense," she announced. "And you're tired of watching Kenric stare at Oralie."

Bronte's jaw fell open and Kenric's face turned as red as his hair. Oralie looked down at her plate, her cheeks flushing pink.

"I take it that's right?" Alden asked, hiding his smile behind his hand.

Bronte nodded, looking angry, chagrined, and incredulous all at the same time. "How can that be? An Ancient mind is almost impenetrable."

"The key word in that sentence is 'almost,'" Alden reminded him. "Don't feel bad—she's also breached Fitz's blocking."

Guilt tugged at Sophie's conscience as she watched Fitz flush red. Especially when Bronte grinned and said, "Sounds like Alden's golden boy isn't as infallible as everyone thinks."

"It's more likely that Sophie is exceptionally special," Alden corrected. "Fitz also saw her lift more than ten times her weight with telekinesis yesterday."

"You're kidding!" Kenric gasped, recovering from his embarrassment. "At her age? Now that I have to see."

Sophie braced herself. This time around she knew what she was doing. She imagined 10 hands reaching out to grab all of the councillors chairs. Her gut tugged and strained against the weight, but she managed to pull it off.

They were only a foot off the ground, but Kenric cheered and clapped while Oralie clapped softly. No one was more surprised than Bronte. His mouth hung open in disbelief. Sophie set them down.

"How much can you hold?" Bronte demanded. Sophie shrugged, she actually didn't know.

"Try to see how many you can handle," Oralie said with a small smile. Sophie's confidence grew with Oralie's support.

She closed her eyes and imagined two hands first and picked up Oralie. She floated slowly off the ground. Next she imagined four hands and lifted up Kenric. She had no trouble getting him off the ground either. She found that Fitz's chair was the lightest as he floated a few feet above the floor.

"Wow," Fitz was gaping at her. She hoped she wasn't blushing. She was proud of being able to impress him. She wanted to see if she could go one farther. She lifted up the table in front of them.

Bronte was still scowling at her. The strain was getting harder, but she could still lift up more. Her own chair raised off the floor. She levitated Alden's chair and with the finale she lifted up Bronte, higher than everyone else.

Kenric whooped and hollered. Fitz joined in a moment later. Everyone but Bronte applauded. Sophie let herself slowly fall to the ground. The table was the hardest to let go of without dropping it. Eventually, the three councillors were the only thing left levitating in the room.

"That was impressive, Sophie," Oralie said proudly after Sophie placed her chair down. Her stomach was cramping immensely and Kenric's landing wasn't so soft.

Bronte was the only one still floating. He scowled down at everyone, "Well?" He grumbled, "Are you just going to leave me here?"

Bronte was about three feet off the ground when Sophie's hold broke and he clambered to the ground. The ancient elf's chair hit the ground and tilted backwards. Bronte flew out of it.

Sophie gasped. It had happened again! She was hoping anything, but that would happen.

For a second no one said anything; they just stared in open-mouthed shock. But when Bronte hollered for someone to help him up, everyone burst into a fit of laughter.

Kenric clapped her on the back, pulling her out of her worries. "I've never seen such natural talent. You're even a natural at our language. Your accent is perfect. Almost as perfect as these guys'." He pointed to Alden and Fitz.

"Well, I think I've seen quite enough to make my decision," Bronte barked, shoving all thoughts of moonlarks out of her mind. "I vote against—and you will not convince me otherwise."

Kenric shook his head. "You're being absurd, Bronte. I vote in favor—and you won't convince me otherwise."

Sophie looked at Oralie, begging her with her eyes to say yes. She couldn't imagine how much her future would change it she voted against. Sophie held her breath.

"Give me your hand, Sophie," Oralie said in a voice as fragile and lovely as her face.

Sophie's heard thundered. This happened last time, things had to be moving in her favor!

"Oralie's an Empath," Fitz explained. "She can feel your emotions."

Sophie's arm shook as she extended her hand. Oralie grasped it with a delicate touch.

"I feel a lot of fear and confusion," Oralie whispered. "But I've never felt such sincerity. And there's something else. . . . I'm not sure I can describe it." She opened her huge, azure eyes and stared at Sophie. "You have my vote."

Sophie let out the breath she was holding, that could have gone very differently.

Alden clapped his hands together with a huge grin. "That settles it then."

"Fools," Bronte grumbled. "I invoke my right as Senior Councillor to demand a probe."

Not that they'll find anything. Sophie thought.

Alden rose with a nod. "I'd planned as much. I've arranged to bring her to Quinlin as soon as we're done here."

Alden looked back at her. "Sophie, why don't you come with me, and we'll get you something else to wear. You'd better change too, Fitz."

Fitz grinned, "Welcome to the Lost Cities, Sophie Foster!"

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