29 ※ Trials [pt.1]

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Chapter 29 Trials [pt.1]

Elle watched other agents mill about wringing their hands as everyone stood, waiting for—they weren't quite sure what. Leaning against one of the walls of Section 6 with a standoffish expression resting heavily on her features, she tried to catch Mather's eye as he silently entered; like a brush of wind.

Silence held the room in its silky embrace. The handsome man wore his stripes proudly on his arm, each one making its mark on the hopefuls around him. Agents puffed out their chests and stood upright a little straighter when he passed or glanced their direction.

That morning she had risen early; making her bed to perfection before slipping away to the abandoned room where the team would meet. There, wedged underneath the desk was a scrap of paper, torn and muddied. Unsteady hands unfurled the slip and in block writing one of her team members had scrawled:

Goi huhn œwa dan tri. El lun estpa, Ray cel revle o pyäd—a hing kol tsang por el lœmak en uhaka dan.

Squinting at it, she was thankful she brushed up on the forgotten languages of Rau. She sounded it out silently, mouthing each character.

"Meet here after the welcoming ceremony. Just before, the Heir will have revealed himself at the ceremony, and we will have the updated mission brief from Mikel."

Gods! She had expressed her worries about Cerid's identity being revealed to him, and now she was already fabricating and pulling together threads of truth and lie to feed all her friends. Somehow, her mind hadn't caught up to the implications of her team knowing who the Heir was.

Guilt seeped down her spine, making her hunch over and grip the table tightly, knuckles whitening. The mist surrounding the heir of DETRA would be cleared with his announcement to those who have made it into the ranks of the agency. What Cerid didn't know was the wolves biding their time amongst the crowds.

Her loyalties were frazzled. It was all too easy to just tell the team a lie about the depth of her information about the matter. What was almost certain, however, was how she would be exploited from then on due to her closeness with him.

Could she refuse to give them the damning information about him? Persuading the team that he is a decent man; one that they would very much like to befriend? No. Their loyalties lay with the Order and Mikel as its spearpoint.

Didn't hers?

Maybe it is selfishness. She thought, as she folded the note and jammed it back into the nook in the table.

Holding onto two things too good to be true. Staying with Mikel and the Order was safe; it meant freedom once I pass my expiratory date. Freedom scared her. For Cerid, it was his lifeline: a promise of hope that he would one day experience.

Here she was, dreading the notion. But then again, fascinated by the ideas of having little to no strings attached. She wouldn't know what to do with herself.

Rereading the note back in her mind, her hand flew to her mouth. And then there was the celebratory ball! The female agents had been gossiping about it for the past few days, but it wasn't like Elle was a part of those secretive conversations.

The Heir would bring an esteemed guest: a relative of the Imperial Party, no doubt. Her stomach had sunk at the thought of Cerid going to the ball with another girl. Not just any girl, but one who would look ethereal as she dazzled the room, dripping in jewels and the like.

Her eyes would sparkle and Cerid would dance with her as if the whole world melted away leaving only the two; for eternity and then some.

Her expectations couldn't be that he would choose her. Social suicide: in a treacherous game of words and actions. Allies could be made that night. Common Sense echoed in her brain to let it go; to stay out of it. Remain inconspicuous to avoid unwanted eyes, leading to unwanted questions.

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