Disclaimer; Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing. I’m sorry this bit took so long to get to you. Hope you all enjoy it.
“Lady Xin, Lady Launi wishes to speak with you in her garden.” A child wearing a white messenger tunic called as they started back towards the central square. The child gave a stiff bow. Large dark eyes peered up at her. Xin inclined her head and glanced at Aitelle.
“I’m going to go help with the decorations.” She said with a reassuring smile.
“See you later.” Xin turned back to the child. “Lead on then?”
The child bowed again, turned and half ran towards the Spirit Elemental building. Xin followed, trailing a bit behind.
Launi’s garden was filled with late blooming flowers that filled the area with a gentle flowery scent that put Xin at ease despite her misgivings. Lady Launi sat beside a small raised pond, her simple white dress shone in the afternoon light. She turned towards Xin, her smile filling her with peace.
“You wanted to see me?” Xin smoothed her hands over her hair, the blank gaze of this spirit elemental, unnerving.
“Come sit.” Launi patted the rock wall she sat on. “I had some questions for you, a curiosity I wanted to satisfy.”
Xin hesitated. “Curiosity?”
Launi inclined her head. “I don’t bite.”
Xin laughed nervously and sat, glancing down at the pond. She felt the gentle tug of the water, there was something odd about it, another subtle tug that was unlike anything she’d felt before. She tried to focus, to see what was beneath the water, but there were other things, living things that kept interfering. Bright orange and black fish, some as long as her arm, swam in lazy circles. Along the far side of the pond, lily pads provided platforms for several small turtles and a large frog who peered at her. Xin took a steadying breath, resisting the urge to play in the water. She glanced at the silent spirit elemental. Launi’s face was a smooth expressionless mask.
“You had questions?” Xin prompted. Launi’s thin eyebrow arched and she turned her face towards Xin, smiling gently.
“Years ago there was a water elemental, Mitsuru.” Launi leaned forward, dropping small round chunks of something in the water. The fish swarmed towards her, eating the food. “He was a bit arrogant, and quite proud of his ancestors.” She leaned back. “He often spoke of how his family fled the Nekarian invasion of Dhaul. As his powers increased he decided he wanted to return to his ancestors lands and try to raise a rebellion.”
Xin snorted. “I’ve never heard that name. Had he come to Dhaul, he would have been chased. Stoned out of the country.”
“Would he?” Launi looked at her, surprise on her face. “I thought the dissatisfaction with Kera,”
“Dhaul is a successful province because of the stability of the Empire.” Xin said slowly. It had taken her years to understand it herself. “We resent the way the Empire walked over Dhaul, but we are also proud to be a part of the Empire. There is no ruling class anymore, we do have a governor but,” she shook her head. “There is a better distribution of resources than what our ancestors had. There is less poverty, more food during famine.”
Launi nodded. “We warned him, the old Lord of Sandau and myself. We told him it was far too dangerous. The stories of Kera’s attacks on spies were stomach churning. But he went anyways.” Her brows pulled together. “He wrote three times. One to alert us that his plans had to be changed, one to describe the remains of the old fortress, and one which told of his marriage to a local woman. He never gave her name, possibly for fear his missive would be intercepted.” Launi stood, smoothing her dress, clasping her hands in front of her. “We heard nothing more from him, though twice we sheltered fleeing water elementals who mentioned receiving help from an unexpected source. They never gave a name, nor shared details of who had given them aide.” Launi looked at her. “Did you ever hear of some strange water elemental coming from the north?”
Xin frowned, thinking. Matau was a fount of information, useless and old gossip. Never had he spoken of a water elemental from the north. She told Launi that. “The only thing I remember hearing about was my mother being chased out of the village. I was too young to remember.” Or, she thought, she’d blocked it out. She remembered her mother whispering to her, warning her about what would happen if anyone found out about her powers.
Launi nodded. “What about your grandmother?”
Xin blinked. “I don’t know. Matau never spoke about her.” She’d never given it much thought, but now it bothered her.
“And your father?” Launi held up her hand. “Water Elementals inherit their abilities from one or both parents. They rarely skip generations. In the north the bloodlines are meticulously recorded.”
Xin swallowed. “There were rumors that my sire was a sailor, who drowned at sea. Matau never told me his name.”
Launi nodded. “Perhaps that’s a question you can ask Corrin on her return.”
Xin’s stomach flopped at the thought of meeting her. It was one thing to wistfully dream of reuniting with her mother, another to contemplate actually doing it. Corrin was not the woman she’d imagined, of that she was certain. “When is she supposed to be returning?”
“Probably early spring.” Launi motioned Xin to follow her as she made her way towards the small tea room. “She and Kerga are running merchandise up and down the coast.”
“Kerga is the Captain of the trading ship, The Prancing Dragon. She and Corrin have been close partners for years.”
“Thank you Xin, for indulging my curiosities.” Launi said gently.
“What do you think happened to that water elemental?” Xin asked after a moment.
Launi tipped her head to one side. “I think he is either dead or has hidden so deeply in Dhaul that he has all but forgotten why he is there.”
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