20 ※ The Vault

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Chapter 20 The Vault

Rankings would be announced soon, and Elle had constructed the picture of nonchalance. Leafing through the pages of a book she had found earlier – discarded. Why would anyone throw away a perfectly good story?

            A thin paper cut broke the skin of a finger. She huffed, sucking it, eyes never leaving the page.

            Tan hadn't talked to her much since the challenge. By much, Elle really meant not at all. Her and some other recruits were leaning   against one of the walls, talking amongst themselves. She didn't glance over to where Elle was curled onto her bed.

            It was most likely that the Gods were trying to make a point.

            She didn't look up when the bed creaked and dipped to accommodate a big lump of muscle.

            'Thought you'd left.'

            'You know I could never leave you for too long. We all know that if I paid you, you'd happily strangle a few trainees in here.'

            'Who said anything about coin?'

            Cerid laughed as Mather walked into the room but veered off to the side instead of striding into the centre of the section. Elle let out a sharp breath and sunk her nose back into the novel.

            'Impatient, are we?' She pretended not to hear him. He shot her a mildly entertained smile – which was about as close as she would get to earning a real one  from him.

            His real grin was probably too scary to even look at.

            'What are you reading on this dismal day?' Day? Night? She wasn't sure with the lack of contact with the outside world.

Cerid snatched the book and studied the front of the manuscript. Squinting at the faded lettering, he sounded out each word silently, eyes wide.

            The wretch knew what he was doing.

            Elle groaned, reaching forward to snatch it back but he stood and held it aloft above his head. 'By the Gods!' Still, she couldn't grab the thing as he wafted it around.

            The Rift that Tore the Realms Apart: Splitting of Saryn.

            'That's quite the mouthful. Though I do suppose any difference in reading material might mitigate the absolute crap spewing from that gob of yours on the hourly basis. Now next time you open your mouth, maybe some fairly intelligent comments will be uttered!'

            'Piss off to waste another unfortunate person's time.'

            He met her glare and thrust the book into her waiting hands. 'Ah. But then again...perhaps not.

            'You enjoy the history of the realm?'

            Elle put the book down and shot him a withering look. 'Is it bad that I find it fascinating?'

            A non-committal sound came from her left. Cerid raised his eyebrows back at her. 'Merely surprising to me that a woman would –'

            'Are you actually suggesting that a woman couldn't possibly have an interest in politics, or the past of the realm? Are we not more capable than men in every way that counts?'

He did not answer here outburst whether from lacking things to retort with, which was highly doubtful, or that he was just so bemused at the sudden passion.

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