Elodie - Kashani's Last Hope

A battle raging between two High Lords threatens to change Kashani forever. Nothing in Elodie Jedda's life will ever be the same if Jante Calende succeeds in his attempt to assassinate the Most High Lord. There is only one hope for Kashani - Elodie. She believes in herself, the problem is no one else does. Is she strong enough to convince those around her that she is their last hope?


3. Chapter 2

The sky was darkening and it was hard to even see a few feet in front of himself. Tenvan Thira knew he had to keep his wits about him. The flash of light almost disoriented him but he managed to stay focused on Jante Calende. He returned fire with a sonic boom that shook the ground. Jante staggered but did not fall.
The air was filled with clouds of sulphur and spices and it was causing an annoying tickle in both the men's throats. It would have been suicide to cough. The spells they were both using were incredibly complicated and a cough could change them into different spells. Sweat was dripping from Tenvan Thira's brow but Jante Calende still looked cool and calm. The final battle between the two Lords had been going on for hours and still neither showed any hint of tiring. These surely were the two greatest magicians in all of Kashani.
Jante raised his arms towards the sky and ice black tendrils shot upwards from the long silver nails on each of his hands. With a single word they fell down towards Tenvan Thira, wrapping around him and imprisoning his arms by his side and covering his mouth in a tight seal.
The crowd let out a gasp, people sat with fritas halfway to their mouths so enthralled were they. It seemed that Jante could not lose - he would be the first Sleejaxen Most High Lord. Everyone knew that they were probably seeing history made. Suddenly the binding ties flew off Tenvan Thira. It was incredible, he had not been able to move a muscle nor utter a word, yet he was free. He really was a powerful Lord.
"End." The voice of the supreme judge rang out. The Questa had ended. Now it only remained to see who the victor was. Tenvan Thira knew that it would be him. Not because he was the most powerful magician. Jante was at least his equal. No, he knew he would be the victor because for the first time in the history of the Questa someone had cheated.
Of course it took a lot of power to cheat. Normally if a Lord had that amount of power he would not need to cheat. Certainly Tenvan Thira had never needed to but this time it was different - Jante Calende was really a superior magician. Tenvan Thira had plans for Kashani and he could not afford to lose his position as Most High Lord. He had been forced to cheat and he was sure the inhabitants of Kashani would understand eventually if they knew but they would never find out, not if he could help it.
Most High Lord Thira had formed his plan over the last year. It had been simple enough to slowly mindnumb a dozen lesser Lords. It only needed to be done to the stage that they would follow his will unquestionably but still functioned normally. The process had been so gradual that it was unlikely that their families had even noticed a thing. They had come in handy when he could not release himself from the tendrilitis attack. His masterstroke had been twisting the minds of the panel of judges to such a point that they were only able to recognize half the attacks against him. Jante Calende had launched some stunning attacks but to no avail. Tenvan Thira was already stepping forward to receive his cloak and cap before his name had left the chief judge's lips. "The Most High Lord is found to be Tenvan Thira"
Out of the corner of his eye the newly crowned Most High Lord could see Calende standing straight as a poker, his large hands clenched in fists so tight that his olive skin was white and his face the color of a storm cloud. Tenvan Thira would have to keep an eye on him. He had the potential to ruin everything.
Four years away from the excitement of the Questa, Elodie Jedda sat at the table in Hawkasplain Allaskul and dreamt of being anywhere but there. The light stones on the walls never seemed to completely brighten the dull Wenta light. The stone above Elodie had worn out and her table was now in a pool of shadow. She angled her text around to try and catch a little more light but her head still cast a shadow over half of it.
Even though the year ten class was made up of children from most of the families in Hawkasplain, Elodie caught the eye of most visitors to the room. Most visitors caught themselves wondering what kind of child she was. Jedda was a Haethon surname so one would expect that she was a Haethon girl. It was true that she had many Haethon traits and certainly spoke Haethon, although her accent and mannerisms were more of the South than those of her classmates. Yet she appeared to be something else. Often what caught the visitor's eye was her hair, it was nearly as white as an Elven girl's although it was grown longer than the traditional Elven spiky hairstyle. Apart from that, she was much taller than the tallest Elven woman, even at fourteen. She stood nearly shoulder to shoulder with her Assheeba friends but her skin was much paler than their burnished chestnut. An Assheeba girl with skin the color of hers would most certainly be very ill. Her body was more muscular than the other Haethon girls with whom she shared a classroom but not as much as the Sleejaxen girl who sat next to her, leafing through her history text. The one thing it was certain she was not was a Mordequai. If she had been a Mordequai she would not be chewing her stylus to bits as she struggled to 'state in your own words the history of the Questa'. A week’s holiday to celebrate Founder's day would begin once the final bell rang for the day but that was hours away. Mada Paodia would expect the essays to be handed in before they were set free.
With a deep sigh, she crossed out what she had written and started once again. Her usually unremarkable green eyes were now as dark and challenging as the ocean in a storm. She forced her brain to concentrate drawing it back from its daydreams of sunshine and fun.
I must concentrate. It's funny how Mada Paodia can cause even something as fascinating as the Questa to appear dry and boring. Still, I'd better try to complete this or I'll have to stay behind. Ma would not be impressed. I'd probably be confined to the house for a week. I wish something would happen to make Mada forget all about this.
Elodie started writing on her sheet.
. . . The Questa is held every ten years. The last one was in 552 and Tenvan Thira was once again found to be fit to carry the mantle of Most High Lord. The Questa . . .
The classroom was silent apart from the scritch scritch sounds of stylus on sheet as everyone tried to complete their task.
Suddenly the door to the class was flung open and Nera Cring came flying in as if blown by some rogue wind. Elodie could not believe her eyes. Nera's normally neatly brushed auburn hair had burst free from its bone pins. The ties of her tutor's apron had come undone and were flying out like streamers behind her. She ran up to Mada Paodia who was sitting at her tutor's desk with a shocked expression on her thin face.
"Mada, you'll never in a thousand years guess what is happening!"
"Nera, calm down!" Mada stood up from her desk and glared at the young woman. "What do you think you are doing, bursting in like that? It may perfectly acceptable for people to just come rushing through the door of your year one class with no thought for knocking, but people are expected to knock on my door and await my invitation of entry."
Elodie saw Nera roll her eyes and was sure she heard her let out a resigned sigh. It was not that long ago that Nera was in the year ten children's place. She was certain to have been reminded of how Mada Paodia could leech the joy of living out of the most positive child. Elodie caught the eye of her friend Cas sitting next to her and raised her eyebrows.
Turning back to the front, Elodie leant forward on her table; she knew that only the most exciting news would cause Nera to burst in like that. Perhaps her wish for an end to this class was to be granted. Just her luck it never happened in Suntyme when the weather was begging you to escape the classroom.
Nera drew herself up, patted her hair back in place and spoke in her 'tutor' voice, her right arm extended with the hand forming the traditional Western circle gesture of greeting?
"Greetings Mada Paodia. H'you year ten. Master Clyta sent me with a message from Master Bogrim. I am to tell you?"
Her voice rose an octave and the words tumbled out.
"Most High Lord Tenvan is arriving in Hawkasplain today! He has come to have talks with High Lord Calende's family and will stay the night at Master Bogrim's house before returning to Kenttol in the morning. Master Bogrim says all the children must go home now and prepare to greet him outside the Town Centre at 6 o'clock tonight. There will be a lastens feast at Master Bogrim's house in Most High Lord Tenvan's honor. I wonder what they'll serve. I hear that High Lord Tenvan is fond of mulled wain . . . and chocolat. Ceddry is serving tonight so he will tell me all about it when he comes home. Maybe there'll be some chocolat left over that he can bring home for me. I've only had it twice before. It was so sweet and it coated the roof of my mouth so that I carried on tasting it for hours afterwards. Mmmm."
The words spilled out of her mouth and then suddenly she recollected where she was. She patted her hair once more and realizing that her apron ties were undone, tied them firmly.
"Oh, I must go back to Earlaskul and tell Harper and her class. C'you"
Nera rushed out the door, continuing on her mission, her hair once again working its way free of its bone pins and her beefa skin sandals clattering along the mudbrick hallway. As the door closed the air filled with a cacophony of voices as all the children began talking at once.
"Children, your attention please!"
Mada Paodia's voice cut through the chatter and the room slowly became quieter. She stepped in front of her desk and clasped her hands in front of her.
"As you have heard, we are to expect a visit to our town by Most High Lord Tenvan Thira. You are to now go home and prepare to greet him. You will all attend. There will be no excuses. However, there is sufficient time before then for you to finish your essays."
The class groaned, their hopes of a free afternoon dashed.
"Now go. C'you and may your way be clear."
"C'you Mada Paodia and may your way also be clear." The children reeled off their usual farewell, their minds already on what they would wear or, in the case of many, whether the Most High Lord's visit would mean a special meal in their homes.
The room filled with noise as the children rose, scraping their chairs on the mudbrick floor as they got up from their desks. Everyone was discussing the news with their neighbors as they removed their texts from their tables and put them in their bags. The sounds of a hundred beefa skin boots and sandals clattering along the hallway outside could already be heard as other classes left the building. Elodie's class was keen to join them.
Elodie, however, was slow to join them. Her mind was on something else. She leant back in her chair and ran her fingers through her hair. A look of concentration rarely seen in this classroom crossed her face.
Why exactly is the Most High Lord coming to Hawkasplain? What exactly has Jante Calende done to bring Tenvan Thira here at a time when the Lords are supposed to be sitting in Kenttol? Not my problem I suppose, but still . ..
Elodie rose from her table. She gathered her texts together and shoved them any which way into her beefa skin satchel. Then she noticed that the Sleejaxen girl next to her was still in her seat, chewing her lower lip and wringing her long broad hands.
"Cas, did you not hear Nera? Most High Lord Tenvan is coming. We must get ready."
Cas looked up at Elodie, her wide brow wrinkled with worry. Worry was a common expression on Cas' face. Elodie didn't know of anyone who worried as much as Cas Dara. You would think that she was in charge of the running of Hawkasplain and organizing the lives of all of its inhabitants, the amount of time she spent worrying.
"My family is not home, Elodie. They have gone to Port Lan to collect some texts my father ordered and won't be back until late. I was going to study at the Arts Centre and then go and eat lastens with the others in my compound. Our house is locked and I can't get in to get my best clothes. I can't dishonor the Most High Lord by wearing my school clothes."
Elodie looked down at Cas' blouse and skirt. They were dotted with inks from the Art class earlier that morning and the hem of her skirt was coming undone at the front. Elodie agreed that it was not an appropriate outfit for greeting the Most High Lord.
"Mada Paodia said no excuses, but what in Kashani can I do?"
"That's easy. Come home with me, Cas. You can have middease at our house and I'm sure we can find something for you to wear. Miry should be at home helping my mother catalogue the herbs. You're only a little smaller than her. She just got a new best outfit so she is sure to have something you can borrow. Come on, let's go."
"Thanks, Elly. I really didn't know what to do."
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