The Aterland Chronicles

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Chapter 39: A Woman Scorned

“Come in,” Hazel’s tone was curt.

She had been waiting for Che for over an hour, and it took all of her self-control to maintain her civility as he entered the room.

“You wanted to see me?” Che’s expression revealed the extent of his trepidation at this request.

“Indeed,” Hazel’s lips tightened into a thin line as, with difficulty, she overlooked the fact that the Native servant had failed to address her appropriately. “I gather that, unlike me, you were accorded the honour of being included in our War Council.”

Che shuffled uncomfortably in the doorway, hesitating as he turned to close the door.

“I was asked to participate as one of the few native Bloods in the castle,” said Che, as he finally met Hazels gaze. “I am afraid I am unable to…”

“Sworn to secrecy are we?” The Ascendant’s eyes narrowed, “Well, I expected that would be the case.”

Rising from her chair, Hazel levelled her potens ring at the young Blood.

“Lady Hazel what…”

Che was unable to finish his question before Hazel had spoken the incantation.

“Iussu meis,”

In less than a second Hazel cast an orb of shining green energy from her ringed hand and tossed it towards Che.

The shimmering globe enveloped Che, imprisoning him within its glass-like sphere filled with vapour. Che had no option but to breathe in the fine green mist.

“To attempt an escape would be fruitless Che,” said Hazel, “you are confined by a Bidding Charm. You will be compelled to do my bidding, whether you wish it or not.” Hazel studied the Natives piercing, slanted dark eyes. Bloods were trained not to show their emotions, but Che’s eyes held such wrath. “You should not be angry with me Che-va-rah, I intend you no harm. I wish only to know what was discussed during the War Council meeting. You will repeat every word that you remember.”

Che’s voice was a monotone as he mechanically recited the conversation that had taken place during the War Council.

Hazel paced, circling around him as she listened.

“Enough,” she said, clenching her fists to her side.

Abruptly, Che ceased his recount.

“Their incompetence is beyond belief!” Hazel threw her hands in the air in exasperation. “Does Lord Dux think Lord Ka is a fool? That he will be unprepared for their futile conjurings? With the confractio charm and an army of Djinn behind him, the man is practically invincible and I for one, do not intend to sit around here and wait to be annihilated.”

Hazel stomped over to the window. She leant her brow against the cold glass and looked out over the snow-covered landscape and towards the ice mountains, her mind whirring. So, do I remain here and wait for the inevitable attack, or join the rest of the refugees at Knucker Island in the hope Ka doesn’t discover us there?

Turning away from the window, she glanced towards Che, a germ of an idea growing in her mind. Maybe, there is a third way…

Liberi et oblitus,” Hazel’s words released Che from the Bidding spell, erasing his memory as the shining bubble of energy popped, exploding into a shower of glittery green particles.

“Err… Sorry, My Lady,” Che stumbled over his words as, with an expression of confusion, he stared blankly around the room. “You asked me to… wished to… speak to me?”

“Yes Che, thank you for coming,” a smile pulled at Hazel’s lips, “I understand that you have taken on the responsibility for Lady El-on-ah, while she is enjoying the hospitality of our dungeons?”

“I am charged with waiting on her, yes,” said Che, “As I have long been accustomed to meeting Lady El-on-ah’s needs, I was the obvious choice.”

“I bet you were,” Hazel suppressed a grin as she lifted a decanter of honeyflower mead from the table. She poured a little of the sweet yellow liquid into two glasses, offering one to Che.

“No, thank you, My Lady,” Che rubbed his head, “I think maybe I’ve had rather enough already. Though I can’t remember…”

“As you wish,” Hazel returned the glass to the table, marvelling at how the oblitus had not only removed the Native’s memory but also appeared to have reinstated his manners.

“I ask about Lady El-on-ah,” She went on, “because I wish to accompany you the next time you visit her…”

Che’s eyes narrowed, the Blood’s demeanour becoming instantly more guarded.

“Don’t look so worried,” said Hazel, “I intend no harm to the Ascendant, I merely wish to discuss Lord Ka with her, El-on-ah is, after all somewhat an expert on the monstrous individual. It has come to my notice that the Council would not even entertain a political resolution to the impending war, and I am concerned that we are closing off the possibility of a peaceful end to this dispute. Therefore, I am curious to know Lady El-on-ah’s thoughts on whether a more peaceful solution could work. What about you Che, do you think Lord Ka can be reasoned with?”

Che pursed his lips and, evidently having second thoughts about turning down her earlier offer of a drink, he picked up the glass from the table, taking a swig of the honey coloured liquor.

“Lord Ka was hardly known for his propensity to see reason before he sold his soul to the Djinn. I suspect he’s even less likely to display that trait now he has fyre in his blood.” Said Che, “however, El-on-ah has seen him more recently, so may well be able to provide you with a clearer insight into his propensity for rhetoric. If you wish to accompany me next time I see her, I have no objection, provided you clear it with Lord Dux first.”

“Thank you, Che, I appreciate that,” Hazel took the empty glass from his hand, “I’m sure Lord Dux will have no objection.”

An arrogant smile played on Hazel’s beautifully defined lips. Natives are so easy to manipulate…

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