Chelle, goddess blessed and saviour of the allied kingdoms, sat glaring at the puzzle in her hands. It was a wooden sphere that could be shifted this way and that. Once solved it was supposed to fall open to reveal the prize, which she could hear rolling around inside.
She had been at it for hours, but no matter which way she turned the toy it would not budge.
Footsteps drew her attention up from the puzzle to the courtyard around her.
She was seated cross-legged on a stone bench in the corner of a small courtyard. The courtyard was a quiet spot in the middle of the office building of the magic academy. Since hardly any students ever came to the offices the building was mostly silent except for the bubbling of a small fountain and the occasional professor passing. Most of them didn’t bother Chelle though. She could come and go as she pleased.
The owner of the footsteps however were headed straight towards Chelle.
“So this is what our saviour does on her off days,” he called out to her with a small smile tugging at his lips.
He was a thin man with stiff posture and a hook nose. His clothes were simple breeches, a white shirt and an orange shawl that was wrapped around his shoulders. Orange – the colour of royal house. He was the king’s emissary and through past interactions Chere knew his name to be Parish.
“What’s it to you?” she asked when he reached her – her fingers still idly playing with the toy.
“Simply glad to see that you’re having a moment of peace,” he said. His voice was smooth with a practiced calm that always seemed to unnerve Chelle.
“Yet something tells me you’re here to disturb my peace.”
Parish nodded even as he loomed over her.
“As always duty calls. I am but the messenger.”
Chelle sighed and put her puzzle down in her lap.
“What do you have for me to destroy this time?”
“Oh, it’s not one of those missions,” Parish said. “Do you know about the peace festival being held in Castle Port?”
Chelle nodded. It was a festival being held in honour of the recent peace arrangements with the countries from the west. People from all over the allied kingdoms where gathering at the port city so they could bring offerings of thanks to the goddess Odea.
“Well the king is sending you and me to attend as well.”
Chelle frowned. “I don’t do social events.”
“Yes well, since the end of the war there have been quite a bit of conflict between our kingdom and some of our allied neighbours. They are saying that our kingdom is war mongering, and over enthusiastic for a battle. How we ended the war seems to have left them with the impression that all we are good for is fighting.”
“They’re afraid of us?” Chelle asked.
“In a manner yes. It is hard to live knowing your neighbour can wipe out half your armies using a single warrior.” He gave her a small smile with the words. “We need to show them that we will also abide by the new peace.”
Chelle’s hand automatically came up to rub at the band tattooed around her bicep. It was a new tattoo and still had a couple of scabs that would peel off within the next couple of days. Parish’s eyes followed her movement. He stared at the tattoo a moment – his eye flicking to the matching tattoo on her other arm – before meeting her eyes again.
“It would make such a great statement for you to show up with those. For people to see that we are putting the war behind us.”
Chelle shook her head. The tattoos were intricate spells, used to bind her magic. Normally something like them would only be used on those who had broken the law and whose magic had to be taken away for the safety of society. Chelle’s where simply used to dampen her magic. To keep it controllable.
“I can still fight with these, you know,” she said.
“I know,” Parish said. “But others don’t. Let them see that we are putting away our weapons. We need to let people see that the peace is something we are in support of.”
Chelle sighed. “I don’t have a choice do I?”
“It’s the king’s orders,” Parish said.
Word count: 740
Written by: Enette Venter