Chapter Four

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The Dahrese Consulate was an eye-sore to most of the Noruzian high-breds, especially those whose ancestors had fought in the War. Some found the high walls, which made it impossible to know what was happening within the grounds, disconcerting. Others simply thought that the visual layout of the thing to be a blight on the otherwise uniform State Section.

Arre was struck by Dahrese Consulate, though she felt that as a devotee of Ista she should be appalled by the nation’s very existence. Still, the strange symbols etched into the walls with some sort of gleaming silver metal were beautiful to her. She removed a glove to run her hand over the symbols as the Dahrese Consular gave her and Kolen a tour of the grounds. What felt like low vibrations ran from the tips of her fingers and up the length of her arm.

Odd.

Arre refocused her attention on the tall man who walked at her left side. His thin lips moved slowly, enunciating each word as though to a small child. She wasn’t sure if she was the only one who could see the engraved sneer lines around his mouth as he spoke to Kolen, or whether she was the only one who cared. The Consular clearly did not like the allied states; he clearly did not like Kolen and he clearly did not appreciate having to show the Crown Prince’s new wife around his grounds. Arre still did not quite understand how this, ‘high society’ functioned. It seemed that everything was a lie. People smiling at people they hated to further causes they didn’t understand.

And this was not where she belonged.

Darius, Aide to the Consular, watched the new Princess intently. He made mental notes of her hesitance when speaking, the way she shrugged away from her husband’s gaze on the rare occasions that it did fall on her… He felt sorry for her, really. She was far too shy and delicate for the world into which she’d been thrown. And her husband would be no good for her, he could see. Though Darius walked a few steps behind the trio he could clearly hear everything that was said. It was his job to hear these things, and to remind the Consular of important details later when it came time for reports to be written. Usually Darius was bored by these exchanges, especially when the Lastrian ambassador came around, but today was different.

When she’d touched the Syllic, Arre had reacted as though she could feel its power. That had never happened before. Only the highest echelons of Dahrese government knew what Syllic was and only the most powerful Seers could sense its power. In the lead-up to the War, the allied states had been on a crusade to wipe out all the Seers in their lands. To the best of his knowledge it had worked. Even amongst the Dahrese, who had fought the purge, Seers were few and far between. Ony two were living now. The War had cost E’oren a great many things.

Surely this woman who had never once left the Island Temple-worse still, who was the daughter of the Grand Cleric-could not be a Seer. Darius pondered on this as he followed the trio around the grounds. He made a mental note to re-read all the documents the Dahrese record-keepers had on the Grand Cleric’s family later.

For now, the tour was over. The Crown Prince was thanking the Consular for a wonderful afternoon on behalf of himself and his wife. For her part, Arre smiled sweetly and nodded agreement, noting that the Consulate was beautifully designed and maintained. Darius waited for her to say something about the glory of Ista, but to her credit she did not. As the three walked towards the couple’s waiting carriage Darius saw Arre reach out and touch the Syllic. Again she seemed to feel something.

Regular records would not do, Darius concluded. He needed to know everything about this woman. He’d need to inform the Phaistian at once.

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