Queen Honor of Entia was laid to rest next to Lore Dawnstar. Clash, Comet and Zeal were in attendance, but outside the people were laying tributes on the Palace steps. Later the same day, Clash, Comet and Zeal stood in a secluded area of Zeal's private gardens. Ruby's casket had been buried there along with two tin swords, all that was left of Brand. The title of Queen, or King, would never again be used in Entia, but it wasn't difficult to tell who the people would elect to preside over them. Lady Zeal Dawnstar turned the Palace over for the use of her Council, and refused a separate Court. The building would never be used as a domestic dwelling again. Zeal had a home, she always had. Now she shared it with her husband, Lord Comet Galeraven. Clash only deviated slightly from this new, semi-democratic system. He reasoned that as a Lord, and the son of Lady Zeal, he needed more than a few miserable rooms in which to live. These rooms had been expanded, and added to, until it eventually shared a wall with the Palace. It was in one of Clash's partly finished rooms, that Zeal and Comet met with Violet Veil.
"They still exist, Violet. They're people." Comet said.
"Loosely, yes. Shadow's death left The Web with no structure." Violet replied.
"No brutality, you mean. Reform that structure without the brutality, Violet." Comet said evenly. Violet looked at him in surprise. "The Web is the eyes and ears of the streets. They always were. It can be done with no violence and no force or cruelty. I know you can do it Violet. You were Brand ... Shadow's first advisor for three years. Work with people like Antal Redsong, and we'll deal with people like Vittie."
"Yes. I trust that you will." Violet nodded.
"Well I don't trust you at all so let's not be under any misconceptions." Comet stated. "Do you want to tell me what Brand's hold was over you? You were the only person in Entia, apart from my mother who knew that Brand and Shadow were the same person."
"No. I don't want to tell you. I have a lot of work to do." Violet inclined her head. Comet nodded and she left.
"Weirdo." Zeal sniffed.
"Weirdo?" Comet laughed. "What in Entia is a weirdo?"
"Weirdo! You know? Someone who's ... weird! Anyway that's your bit sorted out, let's go and sort out mine." Zeal smiled at Comet.
"Clash will be there already." Comet said. "I hope he knows what he's doing, promoting Lance Baron to General."
"It's as he said, promoting Hunter over him would cause trouble we don't need right now. Everything's in its infancy. Promoting both of them created an active balance of opposing views. Those views turn into ideas and plans and that's what will shape Entia." Zeal explained.
"I hope so. I wonder if Clash managed to find Jasper Icevale?"
"Yes I believe you. Don't go on." Clash's voice came from round the corner. Zeal snickered and motioned for Comet to stand still and stay quiet.
"How you got in that position I do not know." Jasper's voice shrilled. "Mind you, look at the size of you. No wonder you got stuck sideways."
"Yes well I'm sure I wasn't this size back then." Clash said testily. "They should be here by now."
"Oh it was no good, you know." Jasper said seriously. "No bung, you see."
"What?" Clash said in irritation. "Bung? What are you talking about?"
"Bung. Your head should have been down there. See?"
"Ack! Icavale, please!"
"No you don't understand, Lord Dawnstar. If all the rest of it dropped out first then it could have been fatal!"
"Ew! Shut up! Yes I mean it Icevale, stop it. Great gods I'll throttle Comet if he's carted her off somewhere."
"Clash! How are you?" Zeal breezed round the corner, Comet following, grin first.
"Mother!" Clash darted at her. "Look, do we really need him? Can't we get someone else? He's as daft as a loon!"
"He likes me." Zeal smiled widely then turned round to address Jasper. "Jas ... huh?" He was flat on his face infront of Zeal, with his arms spread out. Comet was hopping from one foot to the other and badly needed the small room.
"Get up man." Clash nudged Jasper with his boot. Jasper squeaked and shook his head. "Sacred gods." Clash went to grab him off the floor.
"Ah it's OK Clash. Leave him be." Zeal laughed and flung herself on the floor with him. "Jasper?"
"Lady Dawnstar." Jasper said to the floor.
"How old are you?"
"Oh I forget. I stopped counting at seventy. You?"
"Buggered if I know. So you'll remember all the oldies here who used to use magic?" Zeal nodded and Jasper turned his head.
"The Warrior Mages?"
"And the rest."
"Not many left now. Many died inside with no magic. They lost the need to live. Sad eh? Me? Oh well I had tales to tell and people to impress. Strange, you weren't really all that big when you were carrying him. How did that happen?" Jasper waved his hand in the direction of Clash, who looked like he was going to cry.
"You did a good job, Jasper. Do you think you could find the old mages? General Bane will go with you." Zeal said enthusiastically.
"An official escort? Oo I say! Just the old relics? No new imports?"
"No not for now. We need mature teachers first. Like a ... Council of Mystics! Yes!" Zeal grinned.
"I think The Illustrious Order of Zealian Mystics sounds better."
"You do? We'll sort that out later. So are you in?" Zeal nodded eagerly.
"Absolutely! Can we get up? My knees have gone." They helped one another up off the floor and Clash twitched his nostrils at Jasper. Comet had ran off to the small room and was now back for a refill.
"I'll get someone to see you home, Icevale." Clash said.
"That's Arch Mage Icevale the first, if you please. Come along." Jasper hobbled off down the hallway and Clash looked like he'd dearly like to throttle him.
Zeal Day was as lively and as boisterous as it had been for two decades.
"Good gods Antal! Are there any Tenders left in the Infirmary?" Comet laughed. One end of the Market Square was bustling with blue tunics and they were all very busy.
"Icevale is the fittest among them so you work it out." Antal rolled his eyes. "Your good Lady wife is up to her elbows in it over there."
"What's she doing?" Comet couldn't even see Zeal.
"Last seen arranging cushions beneath Lynette Skywash. Poor old dear's suffered from piles for years." Antal said and Comet winced.
"Comet!" Clash barked and pushed his way over. He looked completely stressed out and utterly harassed "Ah Antal. Even better."
"I was just leaving, Lord Clash." Antal said quickly.
"Oh no you don't. My mother has just requested warm lathered water, tubes, and a jug and him on the back row looks green. Go and sort it out and Lady Zeal is to touch no one's backside. Understood?"
"I'll go and send her over." Antal laughed.
"This is a disaster waiting to happen." Clash fretted.
"Zeal thinks it's going to be fine." Comet shrugged.
"Comet the youngest one is sixty seven! I've never seen so many swollen veins, knobbled joints and hideous feet in all my life! Half of them can't see six feet infront of themselves. How are they supposed to direct it?" Clash exclaimed.
"It's a mage thing, apparently." Comet laughed. "Jasper's enjoying himself." Jasper was gliding around in a long, multicoloured robe that had so many beads and baubles hanging from it, it must have weighed as much as he did. He also wore a pendant with a six inch gold crescent, his 'stamp'.
"He somehow convinced the smith that that pendant was necessary and officially endorsed. The Treasury received the bill for it this morning." Clash sighed in resignation.
"Hello my men!" Zeal darted by.
"Hey! Hold up!" Comet caught her by the waist. "Where are you going?"
"Home to change. Lathered water doesn't take long to work." Zeal winked and Comet let go of her very quickly.
The senior mages were made comfortable in front of Zeal's statue, with the aid of cushions, stools, supports and a brigade of Tenders. Jasper had convinced Hunter to build him a plinth next to the statue, behind the mages. Zeal hitched up her skirts and clambered up there with him.
"Ready?" She beamed.
"I still think you should go first." Jasper nudged her in the ribs.
"We'll go together. Air and Water. OK? After three. One, two ..."
"Yay!" Jasper let loose with a shower a tiny sparks that were completely harmless and very beautiful.
"You cheated! I said after three, not .... oh dear gods." Zeal gasped in awe. The other mages had taken the cue and were now channeling forces into the sky above the Square. Sparkles and flashes of colourful magical fire were buffeted by whirlwinds of air. Water sprays dispelled the fire and made swirling, hypnotic mists. People watched in awe as enormous blooms erupted from gardens and rooftops. They were swept up by air currents and set free to dance among the elements.
"Come on, Lady Zeal!" Jasper whooped.
"Jasper they're singing!" Zeal said through the tears. "The forces are singing!"
Above the flowers and fireworks, the mists and swirls, the forces sang and they rejoiced. The people had come back to them. It's common knowledge on many realms that there is one absolute sign that magic is there. That Zeal Day, the whole of Enitia danced under a Raibow. /////Book Index Dawnstar Of Entia Previous