1 0 0

Chancen appears in Fox's study as per his usual style, entering without permission after a curt rap on the door. Fox, used to his friend's quirk, knows to lock the door when dealing with sensitive issues or wants to be left alone. He wouldn't be as forgiving if anyone else tried it, though.

"Well, I hate to say it, but I think you're right about her, Fox." The admission comes out of nowhere. Chancen picks up the pile of waiting reports and shuffles them noisily. Fox waits for an explanation to the rather cryptic comment.

"I'm often right about a lot of things. You'll have to be more specific." The "her" is likely to be Daystorm, seeing as Chancen spent the morning and some of the afternoon working with her.

"There's something special about her. No one learns offensive magic so quickly. It should have taken days for her to call the blade without any emotional prompting. I didn't get the hang of it until my sixth day of training, and that's considered fast! Day managed the feat in one morning!" Chancen leans forward. "What's going on here Fox?"

Fox set his papers down, settles back in the chair, and runs a hand through his hair to buy some time to think. He hasn't mentioned the mark to anyone except the King, and no one's discovered it on their own yet. Should he let Chancen in on this secret? Until they know for sure why she's here, the less people who are aware of the mark, the better.

"You have that look."

"What look?"

"The one where you're debating whether or not I should be informed of something. Want to know what I think? You should tell me. I happen to be growing fond of this woman and her sharp wit. What's going on Fox?"

"Alright, but this is between you and me. No one else needs to know. And I mean no one Chancen, not even Tryssa." Fox continues once Chancen agrees. "She bears the silver scales of the Gods, etched into the skin behind her right ear."

"I knew it! I knew there's something special about her! I'm assuming the King's aware and it's the reason he allowed her to stay. It makes sense now." Chancen whistles, settling back in his chair. "So, you did your research?"

This man knows him all too well. "Of course. The mark only appears during times of turmoil or change. I didn't find much else at the royal library, and nothing at all here. Seems the last time anyone bore the duel mark was during the last great war. I did, however, find some interesting information on hybrids, confirming Day's account of her arrival on Caliah."

"Why keep it secret? Skies above, you heard firsthand what others are saying about her!" A valid question. The King hasn't expressly forbidden him from mentioning anything, but then again, Galan doesn't have to.

"Don't you see, that's exactly why we can't say anything. Do you think it'll be easier on her if they find out she's endorsed by the Gods? They already act like she has three heads and breathes soul-destroying fire. You know how fanatic the devoutly religious tend to get. Some will see her as an idol and place her on a pedestal. Others will deliberately seek her harm. Either way she's further ostracized with no hope of a normal life."

"Pretty sure she has no hope of a normal life right now, Fox." Chancen mutters.

Fox raises an eyebrow at the truth in those words. "Secondly, there's the timing. There's no war, conflict, or threat beyond the Auric, and they haven't done more than waylay a few caravans. Common thievery, nothing else. Before we follow her blindly into the fire, we need to know why she's here. This," Fox points at a report recently arrived from the border, "Worries me far more than one stranger learning her abilities at an accelerated pace. I received news from Freya at the west outpost. Goblins are cropping up near our borders in alarming numbers. She has the situation under control for the moment but she's worried, rightfully so, about the bordering villages."

The Paths of GreythornRead this story for FREE!