Chapter Eleven - Roxy

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Roxy:

The sands raced past the bike at top speed as we hurtled back towards Halia. It was midday and both suns were high in the sky, beaming down mercilessly on the desert below them. The sky was stretched out on either side of us - a faultless expanse of cerulean - blending into the scorching sable sand at the sharp line of the horizon. We were the only humans - the only forms of life, in fact - for hundreds of miles in each direction, unreaching and unreachable as we rocketed back towards civilisation.

"How about we stop over in Kye? It's going to be dark soon and there's no reason to hurry back - we're not needed for another week at least," I called to Vincent over the intercom.

Vincent shook his head without turning to look at me. "Your mother wants you back tonight..." He broke off, but from the way his jaw set and he fixed his eyes firmly on the road ahead of him I knew that there must be something else.

"What is it?"

"Your mother thinks that you might need some... tutoring, before the Arcans arrive."

"Tutoring? But I've already passed-"

"Not in being a Protector... in-"

"Not being a disappointment? Not embarrassing them?"

"She didn't phrase it quite like that."

"But that's what she meant."

"She called it, 'Princess training'."

I didn't even try to suppress the less than Princess-like laugh that erupted from my mouth. "So she thinks she can train me into being a perfect little Helian in a week? Why do I need to behave anyway? They're hardly worth it." I sneered as I spoke, glaring at the desert whizzing past through my visor. This visit seemed to be causing more trouble than it promised in entertainment.

"So what does Princess training entail?" I asked after a pause.

"You'll have to ask your mother. But I would imagine that it would include learning when to shut up," he began to count. "Controlling your temper - not that you'll ever manage that."

"But that's why you love me," I interjected, pouting.

Vincent chose - somewhat wisely - to ignore me. "Not poking your nose into other people's business; how to dress appropriately."

"OK, that's going too far. There is nothing wrong with how I dress."

"It's not Princess-y enough."

"So I should be wearing flowing dresses like the Brizans? Or pastels like an Arcan? White and blue are just my colours, don't you think?"

Vincent laughed. "No, you still need to look like a Helian."

"So I should burn everything to a crisp?"

"Well, that would definitely get your mother's attention, but I think that she's looking for something more sophisticated and less... scary."

"In what way do I look scary?"

"I'm thinking about it from the perspective of an Arcan-"

"Yuck. Why go there?"

He carried on as if I hadn't spoken. "You're used to the hot weather, so everything you wear is short, but Arcans see that as indecent. You wear a lot of bright colours, they wear a lot of white and neutrals. They also like to sparkle."

"What?"

"You'll see what I mean when they get here. But don't be surprised if you mother tries to put you in something... with a little more material." Given that I was currently in no more than some very short shorts and a t-shirt I could kind of see his point on that one. Arcans were always covered up. Brizans tended to dress in long, floaty fabrics and Sephans... Don't even go there. But still, they were visiting us, why should I have to pretend to be something I'm not?

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