She turned to the ArmsMaster and the Chancellor, who each sported looks of respect on their faces as they stared out the window of her chamber above the square.
The ArmsMaster turned to her. “You realize that boy he just fought is the best Fourth Cycle we have. Kenian Graystorm. Trained under Armsmaster Carterran out in Sharingseld before he came here.”
Gabriella smirked and stared at the ArmsMaster expectantly as she leaned against the wall. It had been a long time since she had seen him, longer since she’d trained under him. His gruff exterior belied a gentle side… but that had been long ago.
He seemed to read her mind, though she was well-shielded, for his face softened slightly as he looked at her.
-- K’chia. I will do this thing for you. But first you must… break your fast...--
Tears nearly sprang to Gabriella’s eyes at the gentleness in his mental tone; it had been long indeed since someone had spoken kindly to her. She took a deep breath, understanding the meaning behind his words, and nodded slightly.
Aloud, the ArmsMaster said abruptly, “I’ll throw him in with the fall Fifth Cycles, see how he does with them.”
The Chancellor, oblivious to their exchange, said, “But didn’t he just beat the Graystorm boy?”
“Luck,” the ArmsMaster growled. “I’ll start the others off in Second and Fourth Cycles.”
Gabriella smiled smugly.
She watched as the ArmsMaster made excuses to the Chancellor outside and made as if to head south on Market Street. Kemple crossed the square and disappeared into the crowd on his way back to the Academy. Gabriella waited. Within a few minutes, her door opened again. She looked up at Ramon. He closed the door quietly behind him, looking down at her.
He crossed the room and stood above her for a moment. Then he held his hands out. She let him pull her up. Did she dare, she wondered, to look into his eyes? He always knew….
As if he had read her mind, he tilted her head up with a callused but gentle hand.
“K’chia.” Ramon surveyed her face. “You have been negligent.”
“In what?” Gabriella asked softly. How did he do it?
“You have tended to the matters of the world, but not to yourself.” He placed his strong hands on the side of her face and kissed her forehead. Before she could stop it, a tear trickled down her face. He saw it and wrapped his strong arms about her tightly, holding her against his chest. And she cried.