CHAPTER 2 - Of Unexpected Things

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I stood nervously in the queue of young Liberan voters, listening to all the hubbub; men talking over one another about the statistics of the voting so far, ladies discussing the First Sons' grandiosity, especially Prince Nova's. Children were scattered through the walkways roaming around the uncountable food stalls and play centers. Caeliski's most significant esplanade, the Viridi  had been redecorated entirely.

The Viridi  had always been a busy area. After all, it was the common ground of the Spring Realm's three districts, Gemyre, Liberan and Aqros. I could see the seacoast of Arborika, a little east from where I stood. I had been to the sea a lot growing up but it was fetching every time. Civilians from all the three districts had travelled to the promenade in order to cast their votes. I thought of my father's words when he had helped me study for the history assessments.

"But father, aren't you supposed to vote for the House of Libra?"

"It doesn't work like that my dear girl." He chuckled softly. "You belong to the Spring world. Wouldn't you want the best Defensor to represent your Realm? If the First Son of your House is not worthy of being an Emperor, why would you make him the King of Spring Realm? This Defensor will have a huge advantage in the  Conquest, would you want someone unworthy to rule the whole world? The Throne of the Four Realms is much bigger than you and me and all the Houses."

He and mother were through and through Liberalis, the ones with a clear mind and a sense of justice hardened like steel.

Life is unfair, but you should do justice to it because it is still yours. My mother's words would echo inside of me every single day, because life had been unfair to me every single day.

The queue progressed slowly, as one by one people entered the townhall's entrance and disappeared inside a vast booth that had been freshly painted in dark maroon. The curtains parted again and I rose on my tiptoes to see a man around my age being led inside the booth by a heavily armed guard. It didn't take much time for him to reemerge from the other exit.

My legs ached as it had already been a better part of the late-twilight hour that I was standing in the queue. I knew the lack of training had made me weak since I joined the Post. I looked around and saw women fanning themselves with hand fans. I cursed my inability yet again, that I couldn't even conjure up such a small gust of wind that could carry a tiny bamboo hand fan mid-air and make it swing to produce flurries of cool wind. I had seen Amelia braiding her hair with mere flicks of her hand. She would move one finger each for the three separated locks of hair and would weave them perfectly together and tie her hair in a braid, sometimes she did it for me too, the magical air swooshing in my dark black tresses and playing around my ears.

I allowed myself a small smile but the thought still remained- I had never been able to do anything like that. A small lock of hair was falling on my right cheek, I tried to concentrate on the air around it. I raised two shaky fingers up and recalled my school's old Elementor's words- Feel the air, become one with its force, imagine your body speaking with the element, control it. I moved my fingers slowly and felt the lock move an inch up my cheek as I focused hard, and then, just like countless other times, I felt hot with perspiration and the tiny connection disappeared in a flash. I sighed my usual failure sigh. I glanced sideways consciously to be sure no one had witnessed my miserable attempt at elementing. I did not have Amelia with me to snicker at people anyways, I realized gloomily.

Finally, I was at the entrance of the booth; a lady guard took two giant steps towards me and made me hold out my hand. "Resist the force." She said and looked at me in the eye. Before I could understand what was happening, she was clenching my fingers together, her wind was forcing my palm into a fist. I knew this was a test, one which I would fail and they would ridicule me. I wouldn't have come if I had known they were checking the Air magic. They must have seen my panic. The thought of being laughed at yet again made me feel sick and just then, the lady howled out loud. "What was that?"

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