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Arden Chapter 27:
Guardian of the Peace

The first meeting of the interim council took place in the judicial chambers of Lorin. It was considered a fitting place for the meeting. Located between the old palace and the Mage tower, it represented a balance between monarchy and magic. The law was created by the people, and obeyed by the people, no matter their gifts or status of birth.

Ovette liked the symbolism. It was something she could use.

The meeting was well underway.

“And what of the Mage from the east?” said Milo, the merchant.

“She was unexpected, yes,” said Ovette.

“What do you intend to do about her?”

“I intend to do nothing. But why is this my decision alone? This is a council of equals, is it not? She was unexpected but although she has changed the shape of our conflict the heart of it remains. We are still in danger and we must take the necessary actions to ensure this land is safe from our enemies, wherever they may be.”
“And where are they now?” asked a guildmaster.

“Everywhere. All around us. As they were when the king signed that foolish treaty. As they were when we took him from power. As they still are,” said Ovette.

“They will hear about what has happened here and plan their next move accordingly. We must do the same.”

“The game has changed now,” said Milo.

“It has not. Only the pieces are different,” said Ovette.

“So we learn the new rules?” said the guildmaster.

“We make them. Arden is safe for the moment, but only for a moment. Our enemies will come, and we must be ready for them, by whatever means necessary. Until that time comes we must not be caught unaware. Are we agreed?” Murmurs spread around the table. “Good. Then look to the seas, gentlemen. Our next challenge will come from the east.”

*****

Bronwyn stroked her new horse with a firm hand and sadness in her heart. He had already been saddled and prepared for her journey home. All she had to do was climb on.

Chester hovered nearby.

“What will you do now?” she asked him.

“I don’t know. Everything is going to change here. I’m not sure where I fit.”

“They are going to need lawyers. I’m sure they could use your help.”

“Maybe. I was thinking of leaving the city too.”

Her heart leapt a little. “Really? To go where?”

“Maybe leave Arden altogether. I was thinking of going east for a time, to the Five Islands.”

“Oh.”

“But only for a time. When I come back maybe you could show me the eastern province?”

She smiled. “I’d like that.”

“Good,” he said.

“Good,” she said.

*****

Summer was over now. The autumn weather would soon arrive in full force as the winds shifted to the south-west, bringing with them the cold rains. But they were not here yet. Bronwyn hoped for a few more days of dry weather, perhaps a week if she was lucky, until she was back among the villages she loved. But even if the rain did fall now it would not dampen her mood. A lot had changed since she left Ashdown, but she was looking forward to delivering the good news.

Bronwyn mounted her horse and set out along the Westway, into the sunrise. Her shadow stretched behind her to Chester’s feet.

She felt the wind at her back and smiled.