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?

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6. Chapter 5

Elodie flopped down on her bed and stared at the ceiling.
Things are going so well for us at the moment, I couldn't bear to have 'the Calende situation' spoil it all. What can I do? Who might know what is going on? Well that's a stupid question! There is only one person who seems to know everything that is going on in the town and is happy to tell anyone . . . Ceddry Rhys!
Elodie remembered Nera saying that Ceddry was helping with the feast at Master Bogrim's. With a bit of luck he would be there now and she could ask him what he knew. She decided to get ready to greet the Most High Lord now and then stop off at Master Bogrim's house on her way.
Elodie grabbed her clothes and went into the bathing room. She decided that she smelt good enough so just washed her face and hands rather than take a full bath. No one had wilted at middease so she must smell all right. Once she had dried her face and hands she pulled off her clothes and started to dress. She pulled on her skirt and then tugged it down to her hips. Once she had put on her blouse the gap of pale skin between her belly button and her skirt was well-covered. She twisted her long hair up and pinned it to the top of her head. She had forgotten to get clean socks so pulled on her grey skul ones and tugged her beefa skin boots over them. She grabbed her jacket and dashed out of the room, her discarded clothes lying in a pile on the floor. She dragged on her jacket and headed for the door to her mother's herb room. Shoving it open, she stuck her head in and waved to her mother.
"C'you Ma. I'm heading off now."
"Isn't it too early, Elodie?"
"I want to meet up with my friends before the square gets too crowded."
"Oh, C'you sweetie. If you see Aethyn tell him to hurry home to have something to eat."
Elodie groaned. Aethyn! Oh no, I'd forgotten about him. I know exactly where he'll be . . . the polo ground. I'll probably have time to go by there.
"Sure, C'you."
Elodie closed the door and ran through the house and out into the street. Bother Aethyn, the grounds are in the opposite direction to where I want to go.
Elodie headed down the street towards the outskirts of town. The elephante polo ground was right on the edge of the protective circle. She knew that this kept most Sneaks - the criminal class of Kashani - out but it still made her nervous just being there.
As she left the Haethon area of town and entered the Assheeba part there was a noticeable change in the architecture. Harper Dara had studied Architecture at Finalskul and Elodie had often seen her pouring over texts about the various housing styles of Kashani's inhabitants. She tried not to stare at the houses but the murals painted on their mud brick walls were hard to ignore. She knew very little of Assheeba history but Harper had explained that the murals were of an important point in the history of the family who lived there. Each house was topped with a flat roof area for sun worship but Elodie imagined that the cold weather would prevent all but the hardiest Assheeba from sunning himself there.
Maybe if we had a sunning area I could spend sometime making my skin look a little less ghostly. Now that would give the neighbors something to talk about!
The door of a house just along the road opened and a girl stepped outside. Seeing Elodie she raised her arm in greeting.
"H'you, El!"
Shanis Deler was in Elodie's class and sat behind Cas and her. She came over to Elodie, her long legs covering the ground faster than Elodie could probably even run.
"H'you Shanis! Your hair looks fabulous!"
Shanis normally wore her short hair its natural brown color but now it was a warm yellow like the flowers of the celonie herbs her mother grew.
"Do you like it? Sino did it for me. I don't know what my mother will say! Still today is a special day. Where are you off to? I don't see you around here too often."
"I'm going to find Aethyn."
"He'll be at the polo grounds. Ishiri is back from North Halifal. Aethyn spends hours watching him and discussing polo. Ishiri says that it's really helpful because Aethyn is good at picking up errors in his form. Next thing you know Aethyn will be cutting his hair short, dyeing it my color and leaping on an elephante!"
Shanis threw back her head and laughed at the image.
"Come, I'll walk with you."
Elodie was pleased of the company but by the time they had reached the grounds she was puffing despite Shanis walking as slowly as she could. Having legs three times as long as your body certainly had its advantages!
As they entered the grounds Elodie could see a rider and elephante tearing down the field, a beefa skin ball flying ahead of them as the rider hit it with a long mallet. The elephante was the largest Elodie had ever seen and her heart skipped more than a few beats as the pair charged towards her.
"Halta!" the man shouted and the elephante stopped just a body's length from the girls. Shanis barely blinked.
"Stop showing off, Ishiri! Have you seen Aethyn Jedda?"
The young man removed his helmet and wiped his brow.
"He's over at the other end. Here, hop up Elodie and I'll give you a ride over."
Elodie went whiter than she already was.
"Neela, Juda"
With a groan the huge beast bent its knees so that its back was now just above Elodie's head. Ishiri reached down his hand.
"Give her a leg up, Shanis."
Elodie grabbed Ishiri's hand and he pulled as Shanis lifted her up with ease. Almost immediately she found herself astride the elephante's shoulders with Ishiri seated behind her.
"Ever been on an elephante?"
"No, never!"
"Uppa!" With that command the elephante rose once again to his feet.
"I'll go slow, I promise. Away!"
They set off across the field. Elodie couldn't believe how high up they were. She gripped the elephante's harness and tried to slow her breathing. In the distance she could see her brother sitting on a fence. Almost too soon they had reached him.
"Halta Juda. Neela!"
Once the elephante had settled on its knees Elodie turned and slid down its side. Juda reached around and gripped her with his trunk, lowering her gently to the ground.
"Wow, Ishiri, thanks, that was unbelievable. Thank you too, Juda."
Elodie turned and walked over to her brother, a smile covering her face.
"Fun, huh, Els?" Aethyn jumped down from the fence and lifted her up onto it before climbing up again.
"Oh, Aethyn, it was indescribable!"
The pair talked about the amazing experience of riding on such an enormous animal for a short while.
"Now, Els, why are you here anyway? Did Ma send you to find me?"
"Aethyn, you know the Most High Lord is coming! You need to get home to have something to eat and get ready. It's already 4 o'clock, there's only two hours to go! I bet you haven't even opened any of your texts to study! Pa will be furious!"
"Elodie, I don't want to be a surgeon, I want to play elephante polo. I don't need to go to finalskul. Ishiri started training right out of Allaskul and he's making 50 000 goldas a match, that's not much less than a surgeon makes in a whole year! Why would I want to waste four years studying!"
"Aethyn, you need more than a mad desire to be a player and a lust for money to be an elephante polo player. Ishiri has been playing sports since he was a small child. You'd be lucky if you'd played taming more than six times in the last year. Look at the size of his muscles, his arms are as big as your thighs. Aethyn you need your studies, then maybe one day you could play for fun."
"Elodie, how much time does Pa have for fun? I'd be lucky to get to watch a match; never mind play in one. Els, this is what I want to do."
Elodie sighed. She knew there was more chance of her father taking up elephante polo himself than there was of him allowing Aethyn to give up his studies to try and become a polo player.
"All right Aethyn, but you have to be practical. You need to convince Pa that you can do this and not neglect your studies. It is costing them a lot of goldas for you to go to the finalskul. What if you keep on studying and in your spare time you try horsa polo. At least you can work on your techniques. I'm sure they would let you use the practice horsa here."
Elodie was pleased with herself coming up with such a good plan. Riding on Juda had given her an insight into the reasons Aethyn was so obsessed with polo. Now she just had to convince him to go home and get ready.
"So will you go and get ready now, Aethyn?"
"No, Els, I'm going to stay here. I don't want to face Pa right now. The Most High Lord won't notice I'm not there, will he? Besides I might even manage to get my studies done before Ma and Pa are home!"
Somehow Elodie felt that the Most High Lord would notice. But that was ridiculous! Hawkasplain had more than six thousand residents. How could one young man be missed?
Elodie jumped down from the fence and turned to look at Aethyn.
"Well, I'm going to the Town Centre now. I said I'd meet Cas there. C'you, Aethyn and please don't stay out too late."
"I won't Els, don't worry. C'you and may your way be clear."
Elodie walked around the edge of the polo grounds. It took much longer on foot than it did on the back of an elephante. As she got half way round she waved to Ishiri and Shanis who both riding back to the bedding area on Juda. They both waved.
"See you tonight." Shanis yelled.
"Yes, see you, Shanis."
Elodie carried on walking towards the gate to the street. By the time she got there her boots were dusty and her skirt was round her waist again. She stood in the shadows of the gate post and readjusted it. Once she felt she looked respectable again, she stepped out into the street.
The street was fairly deserted. Most people were using the below ground travellators to get around the town. Elodie knew that at this time they would be fairly congested and it was likely to be faster to walk to the town centre than use the travellator system. She had an hour and a half before it was time to be at the town centre. That was more than enough time to get to Master Bogrim's house and talk to Ceddry.
The polo ground was between the river and a main road. She only needed to carry on along the road to get to the town centre and Master Bogrim's house was just behind the Judiciary.
As she passed the little caf on the corner of the main road and the road to the Assheeba Earlaskul Elodie cursed herself for forgetting her purse. Her stomach rumbled as she looked at the selection of fruita cakes in the window and she could almost taste the ice cold fruita tea that was chilling in the ice box. It would be hours before her family sat down to Lastens. Maybe she could beg some spring water from Ceddry. That gave her the incentive to speed up her pace.
Thinking about the route she was taking to the town centre Elodie decided that it would be faster to cut across the river. The main road first went out past the centre of Hawkasplain before turning back to enter the town centre and that would add extra time to her journey whereas the river turned towards the town centre soon and she knew if she followed it, it would lead her nearly to the door of Master Bogrim's house.
Within a few minutes Elodie had reached the point where the road rose to cross the river as it turned to the South. She stepped off the road and slithered down the slope to the edge of the river. A path of sorts ran along beside it where others who wanted to cut their journey time short had walked. Elodie tidied her clothes up and set off along the path.
It was cool down by the river and its gentle burbling was almost musical. There was little sound carried from the surrounding streets and houses and she felt like she was all alone. Then she thought she heard a voice. Only it seemed as if it was in her head.
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