The trek to Ressavia was uneventful. The man she had discovered remained unconscious, pulled by the lucien that followed behind her. Elliera was mulling over exactly what she would tell the council. She suspected the man was not of Estrav origin, though by his muddied and pale features she could not be sure. Her people resided on the border between the Estrav and the Aa’Nessam province which stretched from the Verstav Peaks down into the Isam plains. There was plenty of tension between both provinces and competition to fill a king’s chamber. It was this that made Elliera uncomfortable in bringing this man to the council, for his features marked him as bearing from the Aa’Nessam province.
If, indeed, her conclusion was correct, the council might attempt to respect his privileges and not keep him as a prisoner. Elliera was not so sure. For the last couple of years that she had been training as a gardein she had noticed that there were political complications that begun to interfere with the council. They were minute at first, so small she had attributed the lack of funds and new apprentices as a mere disinterest. Now, some years more the wise, realization dawned on her that the council members were not acting of their own accord and someone else, some government official more concerned about winning a war against the Aa’Nessam was pulling their sleeves. Or, if they were acting on their own accord…No, she stopped herself. Elliera could not let herself think like that. Some of the council members had been her friends and closest mentors that she had admired. What would happen to her faith in the Divska cause? She had planned and trained her whole life to be a Divska gardein, how could she continue if the Divska was compromised.
All this turmoil boiled in her head as she stepped under the arching gates that marked the beginning of the Ressavia village. It was nearing dusk and the farmers were turning in for the day to their small, wooden huts sitting down to home cooked stews. Lamps hung outside of houses offering comfort against the closing dark. Though most people were off the main road, Elliera decided it best that she avoid it anyways and take the back ways to the Divska church. She didn’t want to risk premature arguments that she had no energy to face. Glancing back at her haul, she noticed the lucien’s eyes were shifting briefly from the homes that surrounded them and twitching its ears to listen. It made no sound, not even the pads of its feet on the dirt could be heard.
She sighed. Thoughts of grandeur had filled her head when she had set off this morning, believing that she would catch a powerful guardian to be her partner. Not only had she stumbled across a unconcisous man, she had accidentally caught a lucien! However, she reprimanded herself, guardians were to be bound by a special ritual and she had failed to do as such. Perhaps she might have another chance, but she felt so weary from the anxiety of bringing such a stranger to the village that her mind could consider little else.
Off in the distance she could hear children screeching with glee as they settled down to dinner, fussing with one another over who would get what. It put a slight smile on her face as she thought of the kids she had grown up with, her fellow orphans, in the Divska church. There were many great memories she had though she had never learned anything about her family. She never felt the need to do so.
As she began the winding walk up to the temple, a voice stopped her in her tracks.
“Elliera?” It quested.
Her head snapped up. Ahead of her, on the steps, was one of the Divska’s elders peering around her form to the mass behind her. She tried to get her thoughts together before the elder stepped forward. In the dimming light, she could tell it was Senma Tevkin, one of the gentlest of the elders and her favorite mentor.
“What is that behind you?” His eyes were soft, but they widened as he realized what stood behind her, “By the bright, Elliera, what happened?”
A huge relief lifted off her chest and her head sunk down. Her breath became more normal as she faced Senma again, “Senior Tevkin, I’m sorry. I was out on my quest, but then… then I saw this man by the river and he was hurt. I was reviewing his wounds and…well, this lucien was watching me. It seemed like it was intelligent, like it could understand what I was saying.”
Tevkin peered at her over his thin glasses that sat on his thin, long nose. He stood above six-foot and was even taller now that he stood a couple of steps above her. His height might have been intimidating if it were not for his smiling face that were lined in years of wisdom. The robes he wore encompassed him like a blanket of knowledge, as if he were a walking reference.
Finally he gestured toward the side of the church, “Come my child. We should not discuss such things out in the open. There are ears that should not be aware of this yet.”