Chapter 5

Clash sat in an ante room in the Palace, waiting for his father. Lore was speaking to the Queen. Clash had outlined the idea of keeping Zeal occupied, and in the public eye as a positive one. The last thing they needed was a dissatisfied public, and an absent hero would lead to unrest. Lore eventually walked in, ninety minutes later. Clash was, by that time, feeling very irritable. The whole issue had thrown his mind and body into a turmoil and it wasn't a feeling that he was comfortable with.

"Queen Honor thinks that small receptions at first would be better. She's as uncertain as the rest of us." Lore said wearily.

"OK. Then what?" Clash asked.

"Clash this can't be predicted over a few days." Lore said testily. "Gods, I'm being bombarded from every direction with questions about your mother, including those from Honor herself. I'm fed up with hearing about it. I'm still confident it won't affect your succession."

"Well I didn't actually mean that. What about mother?" Clash asked.

"No. I doubt your mother is in the running for the crown. Queen Honor has no heir and you're as close as it gets, thanks to me." Lore replied.

"Father I don't mean the crown! Forget the crown for just one minute, please. Exclude everyone else from the picture. OK? Me, you, mother. What happens?"

"I'm not with you." Lore said.

"For crying out loud!" Clash sighed. "She's your wife and the Queen of Entia is your lover. Leave mother and the population will lynch you. Leave the Queen and you'll be out of the Courts."

"You with me, remember."

"Yes, me with you."

"Your mother won't revolt, Clash. In fact, she'll go to lengths to prevent that. I do know that about her." Lore said.

"So she'll turn a blind eye to you and the Queen? I'm not sure how I feel about that." Clash said uncomfortably.

"What?" Lore looked furious. "I've spent twenty years getting you to where you are now!" He growled.

"I know. I know everything you've done was for me too. Father that was all very well when there was just the two of us. To all purposes you were as single as the Queen. You aren't now."

"So what do you suggest I do? Pretend the last twenty years haven't happened? Turn my back on everything in favour of a woman I barely knew for two years only? Why in hell did she have to come back!" Lore was on his feet. "I expected a bit more sense from you, Clash. You don't know her at all! You had to be wet-nursed by another woman, for shit's sake!"

"OK I didn't need to know that." Clash grimaced. "I just hope you know what you're doing. She loves you because she doesn't understand why she shouldn't. I'm not talking about factual, political sense. I'm talking about basic compassion. I'd better go and organise a company for her for when she goes out into the city." Clash left his father in a very dark mood.

Comet got leave to visit the Infirmary. Zeal was asleep and Lore was in his study, so all was quiet when he left the house.

Antal met Comet in the laundry room. Comet told him all he could about Zeal, her passage to Entia, her magical ability and her opinions on the laws preventing its use.

"That's not alot, Comet." Antal mused.

"It's all I know. It's all she knows too." Comet replied. "Tell me about Brand. Is he OK? Have you seen him?"

"I haven't see him, no. I'll relay your findings to Shadow." Antal said.

"You could also tell him that she's a very admirable woman. If Shadow is expecting her to work for The Web, then he's in for a disappointment." Comet told him.

"That's none of your concern. I'd also advise you to keep your emotional distance from her. You're in there to do a job." Antal said reproachfully.

"Eh?" Comet said in disbelief. "You told me to seduce her! Not that I have, or ever will."

"A tool of the trade. It should be as emotionless as using a lockpick." Antal shrugged.

"It's not a tool I'd use. She's vulnerable and it's bad enough I'm using her as I am, let alone employing those methods." Comet snapped.

"You'll employ whatever methods it takes, Comet. They have Brand." Antal said. Comet snarled and took a step towards him. "Don't be stupid, lad. Focus your investigation on age preservation, Comet. Somehow, Zeal Dawnstar has preserved her age. Shadow is very interested in that."

"Of course. I should have known!" Comet exclaimed. "It could have something to do with her healing skills."

"Healed to the point of immortality. Is it a wonder Shadow wants it?" Antal shrugged his shoulders.

"No wonder at all." Comet said gloomily. Shadow would have Brand forever, and others like him. "Tell Shadow I want to see my brother, Antal. I'm doing as he asks. I want to see Brand."

"I'll pass on your request." Antal nodded. "Good night, Comet."

Comet had only just set foot in the house when Serai ordered him upstairs to Zeal's room. The woman looked upset and rather frightened.

"What's wrong?" Comet asked, taking off his outdoor cloak.

"Lord Dawnstar's temper got the better of him." Serai whispered and Comet's stomach lurched. "He struck her across the face."

"Oh no." Comet groaned. "I'll go and see to her." Comet went upstairs with his bag of bandages. Zeal was sitting up in bed and didn't look as folorn and woeful as Comet was expecting. She had a feint bruise on her cheek that was fading rapidly. Her eyes were flashing like demons and her jaw was clenched. Zeal was furious.

"I'm going to swear so don't you dare correct me." She shot at Comet.

"Fine by me. What happened?" Comet sat on a stool by the dresser.

"I'm not really sure." Zeal shook her head. "I asked him if Clash had spoken to him. He started ranting on about me trying to claim maternal rights over him! He said I had no right at all to go crawling to Clash to illicit family sympathy!" She said in outrage. "What in black and blue buggery is he on about?"

"I don't know." Comet flinched. "Maybe he'd liked to have had an idea first?"

"Sheep shit! He wasn't here, was he? Maternal claims? Maternal sodding damn and blast claims? I'm not doing anything! I told him to go and fry his testicles."

"Ah right." Comet flinched again. "He didn't like that, I take it?"

"He called me an inconvenience, Comet." Zeal stopped shouting and hung her head. "He said that me coming back to Entia after twenty years of peace, was a bad omen. He told me to stay away from Clash. I didn't ask to be taken away and I don't know if I had a say in coming back. I don't know what's happening and Lore, Clash, and you are all I have here."

"Hey come on. You're getting upset." Comet opened a jar of salve and dabbed some on Zeal's non existent bruise. "I can't offer an opinion on your domestic life with Lore, you know I can't. I'm a Tender. Where's Lore now?"

"He's gone to the Palace to take it out on the Court. He almost slammed the door off its hinges. He met Clash out in the street and they both went. I think Clash was coming here." Zeal sighed wearily. "I wonder if I'd been here all the time, would Lore still be a huge arsehole?"

"Er ... who knows eh?" Comet snorted a laugh then tried to hide it with a cough. "So what are you going to say to your followers out there?" He said, in an attempt to cheer Zeal up.

"Bugger all." Zeal muttered.

"You're sulking."


"A sulking mage just sounds wrong." Comet smirked.

"I'm not a mage because I'm not allowed to use magic." Zeal retorted. "Stupid law. It's as natural as farting."

"Air magic?" Comet snickered and made Zeal laugh. "Much better!"

"I'm just going to tell people how it works. It isn't even complicated, providing you have the Art. Once people know how simple and logical is it, they'll understand it more and fear it less." Zeal nodded.

"So how does it work? Practice on me." Comet smiled.

"A mage is a bridge. We collect elemental forces that are everywhere and all around us, and we channel them. That's all there is to it. As a female mage, I can feel Water and Earth forces. It's like I can see them as tiny, tiny particles. I simply make myself attractive to them, then focus them into the visible, magical effects we can all see." Zeal smiled happily.

"Attractive to the particles?" Comet asked

"Attractive as in causing an attraction. The forces do not bellow 'Phwor! What a pair!'" Zeal clarified.

"Zeal!" Comet erupted into laughter. "By the gods! Please tell me no one's actually called that to you."

"No of course not. I was earwigging at the door when Bracken was talking to the man who shoes the horses." Zeal told him.

"Er ... what? Bracken said 'Phwor what a pair' to the farrier?" Comet was officially lost.

"Yes. He was talking about someone called Sally."

"Oh! Yes I see. Well that's vulgar talk, Zeal. Pay it no heed." Comet said aloofly. "OK, you said a wizard can spot dormant magic in a person. How does that work?"

"It's the attraction thing again. Even if the magic is dormant, it's still open and waiting to attract. A wizard can sense the pull of the forces towards the dormant mage. All it would take is for them to be made aware of it so they recognise it. After that it's consciously developed within the mage, by the mage. It used to be under the instruction of other mages, of course. New wizards are quite weak until they get the hang of focusing and they grow stronger. The usual arguments about accidents isn't valid. A new wizard isn't strong enough to do much damage. Does that make sense?" Zeal felt very pleased with herself.

"You're very good at this." Comet was impressed.

"But it's not as it should be. No one's drawing on the forces. It's ... flat. It's still and stale. Inactive."

"So they have to be active for you to use them?" Comet suggested.

"No. As long as they exist, we can use them." Zeal frowned in concentration. "It's not just for our convenience. That's important. I just can't piece it together."

"So which of the four forces kept you ageless?" Comet asked casually. "I can sort of understand the attraction and channelling stuff, but I can't think of anything that would produce a halting of age."

"Nothing can. It's impossible." Zeal replied promptly.

"Impossible?" Comet felt like sobbing out loud. "But you're still twenty."

"I won't stay twenty now. I'm home. We aren't meant to be immortal. Who would want to be?" Zeal shrugged her shoulders.

"You'd be surprised." Comet said hopelessly. "But you were immortal for twenty years. How?"

"No that's not right." Zeal shook her head slowly. "Immortality applies to mortals, people. I'm a person now. Blast and bugger it! Wherever I've been, they were utter shite at memory, weren't they?" She said in exasperation.

"Wait. Hold up a bit." Comet held up his hands. "So first you were here, a person, a mortal. Then you went to a place where the word 'immortal' doesn't apply, somewhere with no mortals or people."

"I was alive. I lived. I communicated so I wasn't alone. I knew Lore and Clash weren't there because they were here. I was needed there and now I'm needed here." Zeal sighed heavily. "I'm rambling."

"No, it's fascinating." And it was something to tell The Web. "Let's leave it for now. You don't want to tire yourself out."

"I already have." Zeal yawned. "If Lore comes home and wakes me up with his roaring, I'm coming to get in with you."

"Oh that'll really make him stop roaring." Comet laughed. "Seriously, Zeal, I wouldn't be surprised if Lore his regretting his actions. He probably feels terrible about it."

"So he should." Zeal was having none of it. "One more thing before you go, Comet?" Comet turned round at the door. Zeal had a pair of Lore's under britches over her face.

"Umm ... other end, Zeal." Comet said warily.

"Huh? Oh! No I don't want to wear them. Here, sniff them." Zeal held out the garment.

"Eh?" Comet recoiled. "That's very nice of you Zeal, but no thanks."

"They smell of ... something. Something nice." Zeal had another sniff.

"I'll take your word for it." Comet said doubtfully.

"It's like pretty faded colours. I want it on my clothes too."

"Oh a perfume!" Comet said in relief. "Lore perfumes his underwear? Each to his own. Here just waft them about a bit. Not too close! Ack!" Zeal flapped the britches around and whipped Comet over the face with them. "It's lavender."

"I'll remember. So how did he lavender his underclothes?"

"I have no idea and no desire to find out. Good night, Zeal." Comet laughed.

"Good night, Comet, and thank you." Zeal tossed the britches on the floor and yawned.

Comet was woken at an absurdly soon hour in the morning by someone hammering on his door. He scrambled out of bed and grabbed for his clothes.

"Just a minute!" He called.

"Make it thirty seconds. Study, Comet." Lore's voice caused Comet to panic enormously. He was going to be sent out. He'd failed. Brand would die! He was formulating grovelling pleas and even a few lies pertaining to Zeal's health, all the way to the study door.

"Lord Dawnstar?" Lore had his back to Comet, facing the unlit fire. "Is everything all right, sir?"

"Not in my opinion, but that doesn't seem to matter." Lore snapped and turned round. Comet got a whiff of lavender and tried so hard not to think of underwear. "The visits to the house have been abandoned, Comet. Queen Honor requests an audience with Zeal this morning."

"Oh!" Comet almost collapsed in relief. "It'll be an honour to escort Lady Zeal to the Palace and ensure that she's well."

"You'll do more than that. You'll go in there with her and Clash. I have to be there already 'in reception.'" Lore said in annoyance. "This is against my better judgement, and therefore yours. If the Queen asks, you back my opinion."

"Of course, sir." Comet nodded. He decided against asking the irate Lord exactly what his opinions were.

"You'd better. Being undermined in my own household is not something I take kindly to. Go and get Lady Zeal. I have to get back." Lore almost knocked Comet over as he pushed past him.

Zeal and Comet waited in the study for Clash. Comet was a nervous wreck, but Zeal seemed quite composed.

"Remember Zeal, no swearing." Comet paced the room.

"No swearing." Zeal nodded. "And only answer questions. Don't volunteer information. I know."

"Everything will be fine. Clash and Lore will be there too." Comet fretted.

"Ready?" Clash said from the door. Comet couldn't figure out Clash's opinions on all this. He wasn't sure if he was in favour of Zeal socialising or not.

"Yes sir. Lady Zeal says she feels fine and I'm sure she'll say otherwise if she struggles at any time." Comet nodded.

"I will. What's it about, Clash?" Zeal asked as they went outside. "Do I really need an armed guard?" Captains Lance Baron and Hunter Bane were waiting in the street.

"You do." Clash said firmly. "The Queen saw father's display of temper towards you as a bad political move."

"What?" Zeal blinked in shock. "And how did she know? How did you know, come to think of it?" Clash just shrugged his shoulders. "He told you?"

"It came up in discussion."

"A discussion with Queen Honor Griffon of Entia? I think not!" Zeal was horrified, and very embarrassed.

"Obviously it did." Clash said shortly.

"So Lore just strode into the Palace and said 'Hey! I've just slapped Zeal!' How about no!" Zeal said hotly. "Clash! I'm talking to you!" Clash sighed heavily and turned round. "Why was Lore discussing my domestic issues with the Queen? Especially an issue that he can't possibly be proud of."

"Expressing his regrets, maybe? Did you think of that?" Clash preached.

"No I didn't because it's absurd! Expressing his regrets to me, yes. To you, yes. To Queen Honor?" Zeal badgered. Clash grimaced and grit his teeth. "Believe me Clash, I will ask her myself."

"A political move." Comet spoke up. "Pardon me. If Lord Dawnstar and the Queen were discussing you as a political asset, then the conversation could have stemmed from there. It was a bad move on more than one level, Zeal."

"Yes I suppose so." Zeal settled down a bit. "I tend to forget that the Queen is a politician. I'm not a political commodity."

"You are, mother, whether you like it or not." Clash said. Zeal snorted and walked on ahead, up the Palace steps. "I owe you one, Comet." Clash muttered.

"Not at all. It's a viable explanation. I can't think of any others. Can you?" Comet shrugged.

"None at all." Clash said quickly. "Shall we get on with it?" Clash and Comet followed Zeal.

The Palace Courtroom held around two dozen of the Court and half as many soldiers. Zeal recognised no one apart from her escort, Lore, and the Queen.

"Your Highness, it's an honour to meet you at last." Zeal said graciously. "This is my Tender, Comet Galeraven." Comet bobbed a bow. Queen Honor stood up and walked across to Zeal. She was a very striking woman and looked every bit as graceful and elegant at fifty, as she had twenty years ago. She still had a slim figure and her hair was still sleek and raven black. Zeal suddenly frowned and leant towards the Queen. Luckily, Comet saw this and immediately knew what had got Zeal's attention. He made eye contact with Zeal, and shook his head slightly.

"Lady Dawnstar." The Queen said loudly, and clearly. "It's an honour to meet you too. Much has changed since your departure. How are you adapting?"

"Quite well, thank you. My health is physically good, and hopefully my memory will fully return, in time."

"That returning memory will stay within the laws of Entia. I forbade magic completely twenty years ago." The Queen said.

"I'm aware of that, Highness."

"Yet you want to speak of it now, to the people of Entia. Why?"

"Speak of it, Highness, not practice it. I believe the people have many misconceptions about magic that leads to fear. The people don't deserve to be frightened when there's nothing to fear. Highness, you can remember it personally. Apart from the Warrior Mages that served in the army, can you recall anyone using magic as a weapon?" Zeal asked.

"My recollections are not in question." Queen Honor said shortly.

"No, Highness, I wasn't implying that. I was asking a genuine question as advice. Your memory reaches back further than mine, and is more accurate." Zeal only just saved that from being an insult regarding the Queen's age.

"Only you, Lady Dawnstar." The Queen said flatly.

"Obviously I can't deny that, but I doubt anyone can deny the exceptional circumstances surrounding that, or the result. There's a giant statue in the Square." Zeal reminded them all.

"And these talks that you intend. They are to be with the complete understanding of you, and the people, that I endorse them." Queen Honor stated.

"Of course." Zeal replied. "May I also point out that I'm in a position to target my audience. I can sense dormant magic in others. I gather the current method of surveillance is rather vague."

"And you would report this to me?" The Queen asked suspiciously.

"I'd report anything that infringed on the law, Your Highness." Zeal replied. The Queen returned to her seat and pondered this.

"Lord Dawnstar?"

"Your Highness. Obviously Lady Dawnstar is highly qualified in matters mystical. I strongly recommend, if not insist, that she does not do this alone. My reasons are her health and safety." Lore said stiffly. Queen Honor nodded slowly.

"Duke Dawnstar."

"Your Majesty." Clash nodded a bow. "I understand Lord Dawnstar's concerns, and share them. Lady Dawnstar is seldom alone. Her Tender, Comet, is with her constantly. The people of Entia have loved her for twenty years so I think her health is a larger issue than her public safety."

"Captain Bane." The Queen addressed Hunter. "Would you say Lady Dawnstar's contribution to the monitoring for the use of magic, would be an improvement?"

"It would, yes. People don't know what they're looking for so obviously it's very difficult to get facts, if there are any." Hunter replied.

"Captain Baron?"

"Your Highness." Lance said stiffly. "This is a disaster waiting to happen. Playing down the danger involved in magic can only lead to an acceptance of it, and a revival."

"I can explain that in quite a bit of detail. I did so to Comet last night. The danger is at an absolute minimum." Zeal countered.

"The danger is very real." Lance snapped. "Vanishing without trace for two decades is classed as rather hazardous in my books, Lady Dawnstar."

"Unique circumstances." Zeal replied. "I was chosen for a purpose that I've not managed to recall yet. Anyway, Captain Baron, you're talking about the active use of magic. I am not. I've just assured Queen Honor that I don't intend demonstrations of magic. Let's face it, I'd stand out like a wart on a buttock if I did." Clash, Lore, and especially Comet, all cringed and grimaced at the same time. "Pardon the metaphore." Zeal muttered as an apology.

"Highness." Clash spoke up. "If this permission isn't granted to Lady Zeal, then what is she to do? She carries massive public support. She saved Entia. The people out there are as grateful to her now, as they were twenty years ago. It can only be seen as good if we're all on the same side here."

"Very well." The Queen looked at Zeal. "Lady Dawnstar I grant you the title of Scholar and Guardian of The Mystic." Zeal looked up at the Queen in surprise. The Guardian of the Mystic title was a complete surprise. In the past, the Guardian would scout the population for wizards to train with the Warrior Mages of the military.

"Your Highness?" Lance recovered first. "If I remember correctly, wouldn't that put Lady Dawnstar at the military rank of General?"

"Hardly applicable, Captain Baron." The Queen raised her perfect eyebrows at Lance. "Her capacity is in the field of mysticism only. There are no mages in the army, nor will there ever be again. I've just explained Lady Dawnstar's role of monitoring the population for the use of magic. She won't need your soldiers for that." Queen Honor said flatly and Lance glared horribly at Zeal. "I'm sure the people of Entia will be satisfied with my arrangements. You may leave, Lady Dawnstar."

"Thank you, Your Highness." Zeal bobbed a bow, so did Comet, and they left quickly.

"I wasn't expecting that." Comet whistled as they took a seat outside.

"Me either." Zeal said. "Titles mean very little to me, Comet. If they did, I'd slap you every time you called me just Zeal." She smiled.

"Just humour me for a while. What would your official title be now?" Comet laughed. "We'll have to get the mason at the statue."

"I'm not sure. In times when a Guardian was needed, it was to spot Warrior Mages. It was a man thing. I vaguely remember Lord General Rhynn Faldor."

"So Lady General?" Comet said enthusiastically.

"Doesn't sound right does it? Lady General Zeal Dawnstar." Zeal laughed.

"So where does the Scholar go?"

"Oh yes, I forgot about that. Lady Scholar General? Buggered if I know. Guardian of The Mystic goes on the end."

"I know! Lady General Zeal Dawnstar Scholar Guardian of The Mystic. Does that cover it?"

"Sounds good to me." Zeal laughed. "Ah Comet, this isn't going to be as simple as it sounds. I have an enemy already in Lance Baron. I'm also under no misconceptions regarding Queen Honor. If it wasn't for my public support, she'd deem me a criminal. She's quite beautiful isn't she?"

"I've never thought about it. She's a bit old for me." Comet shrugged.

"She wears lavender." Zeal said sadly and Comet flinched. "Is it public knowledge, Comet? I have to know for my own dignity."

"I don't think so no. At least it's not common knowledge on the streets. I wouldn't know about the Courts. I'm sorry Zeal. I didn't know." Comet said sympathetically.

"Would you have told me?" Zeal smiled.

"I honestly don't know." Comet sighed. He fully intended having a go at Antal about this. Even if he hadn't known the Queen was having an affair with Lord Dawnstar, Shadow certainly would have. "You must be very upset."

"Not as such, no. He's a very attractive man. It would be stupid and naive to think he'd been by himself for twenty years." Zeal shook her head.

"I suppose so. He was still married though. " Comet pointed out.

"I wasn't there and after a while, he stopped imagining I'd come back. I don't see it as an infidelity, Comet. Lore thought I was lost forever, just like everyone else did. As for now? Well he's been with the Queen ten times as long as he was with me." Zeal tried to smile. "People don't just switch off and on."

"I can't believe you're so understanding. I agree with you, by the way, but even so." Comet said in admiration. "Will you explain it to Lore too? I could lift some of the tension."

"I don't know if he'd want to listen. I understand a bit better now. I was more than a surprise return. I was a personal intrusion too. The resentment was on quite a few levels." Zeal squinted out into the bright sun. "Fire always was the one to lash out. It's nature, you see? It jumps at quick tempered men and those who are backed into desperation. Water often had to swamp it with kindness and Earth had to enforce stability. Air is Fire's companion for its own good, otherwise it would have no direction and no temperament."

"So you women know what's best for us hot headed men eh?" Comet smiled.

"What?" Zeal shook off her daze and looked at Comet.

"You know? Fire and Air are masculine forces. You told me that. If the girlie forces knock them into shape out there, then it stands to reason that the female mages keep the male mages in order here." Comet laughed.

"Out there?" Comet looked across the Market Square. "Comet! Out there!"

"Where? What?" Comet looked around in panic.

"I know how the forces behave and interact because I've been with them Comet! Don't you see?" Zeal grabbed Comet by the arms. "I've been a part of ... of Out There! The forces took me with them to be a part of them!"

"Sacred shit." Comet forgot not to swear. "So you were here all along? Floating about, type of thing?"

"I was part of ... everything! Bugger me." Zeal sat down on the Palace steps. "How can I not remember something so magnificent? Can you think of anything more splendid than being a part of everything in existence?"

"The thought's a bit beyond my grasp, Zeal." Comet sat next to her.

"I want to remember so badly. I was a part of these steps, and of those trees. I was part of the River Ent ... Zeal ... whatever. I was a part of you, Brand and The Queen! I was a part of the food you ate and of the water Clash bathed in. I can't remember any of it."

"Whoa! That's pretty ... huge!" Comet said in awe. "I'm probably talking trough water here but do the forces have memories? I doubt it very much. You were the forces."

"Yes but I was taken because I was flesh and blood and capable of thought." Zeal sighed. "I'm doing a piss poor job for them up to now."

"What? How can you say that? Look how far you've come since you first came back. This memory business is obviously flimsy stuff. Yours just got broken into bits in transit, that's all." Comet smiled.

"I'm pleased you're here. To anyone else, I'd sound like a madwoman. Even if I do sound mad to you, you're too nice to say so." Zeal said seriously.

"You're not mad. Any fool can see that." Comet said dismissively. "I wonder what they're talking about in there?" He looked towards the Palace doors.

"Me, of course." Zeal rolled her eyes. "Here's Captain Bane." Hunter was on his way towards them so they stood up.

"Duke Dawnstar sent me to escort you home. They could be a few hours in there." Hunter said.

"Oh we're as well out of it." Zeal commented. "May I clarify a few things with you as we walk home?"

"Most certainly, Lady Zeal." Hunter nodded.

"In times past, the monitors under the Guardian of The Mystic were independent from the army. For obvious reasons, the monitors now are soldiers. They being the only people with a marked authority. If my monitors are all soldiers but I have no military authority, how can I make that work?"

"I thought of that too. It seemed a rather frustrating position for the Queen to put you in." Hunter said and Comet and Zeal exchanged glances. "So what I'll do is let the men know that you're in charge of that aspect of their duties. May I voice an opinion, Lady Zeal?"

"I'd very much appreciate you doing so, yes."

"Drop on them like an avalanche." Hunter said and Zeal looked at him in pleasant surprise. "Seriously. It often borders on persecution based on nothing. I avoided the duty as a Cadet, and I refused the command of it later on. I can't remember the Guardian's Mystics as a seperate body, but I believe that's how it should be."

"It's sad that the Queen turns a blind eye to abuse in her own army." Zeal stated.

"I can't say that, Lady Zeal. I've no proof of such a serious allegation." Hunter deflected.

"My Mystical Scholar's arse, you haven't." Zeal sniffed and Hunter almost fell over in shock. "Er ... yes. I believe that's your fault."

"Zeal!" Comet laughed. "It is not his fault. Captain Bane, for some reason the colourful language of the barracks has imprinted on Lady Zeal. It could be because it was the first verbal environment she was in when she returned."

"I'll improve, I promise. I'll make a special effort. I've stopped yawning and scratching my behind in public now." Zeal sneaked a grin and a wink at Comet. Hunter just nodded in a daze.
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