CHAPTER 3 - Of a Fight and a Voyage

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It had been two weeks since I had started coming out on the rooftop at the break of dawn. As I squatted and jumped and sweated, I realized just how out of practice I was. There had been a time when I could outrun even the boys higher my age; I had honed my skills with the crossbow, aimed the daggers and cut the branches of trees in perfect symmetry. The elementors always paid more attention to the boys when it came to physical training, but I had always spied the techniques that they were taught, and practiced them back at home. It seemed like a different life entirely.

But now that Amelia was in the last quarter of her schooling, I found myself with a little more time to spare. My small garden was flourishing better now that I paid more attention to them. I looked down the house's backyard. There were the roosters who had been rousing every one of our neighbors with their early morning crowing and the hens clucking away lazily with their eggs and chicks. The poultry business was a steady source of income and I congratulated myself every time I saw them.

I sat back down on the soft mat and stretched my legs. I laid back slightly and raised my feet up and brought them down slowly folding them to my chest. I let go slowly and repeated it all over. I managed some extra rope-jumping and core exercises until my body gave itself up. I focused my breathing for a while and as my breathing returned to a steady pace, I reached out to pick up my sundial that was lying a little distance away from the mat. It had been past an hour since sunrise. I clutched my pretty little reliable sundial and held it to my chest. It felt like an old friend to whom I turned every time I felt low or content.

The golden hour had made the sky pinkish and I rested my back on the mat yet again to stare away at the sky. The glow of the morning would never not deter to put me in awe. As I lay silently before the day arrived in all its entirety, I allowed myself a soft smile. I was going to step out of my country for the first time in my life. To the majestic Winter Realm. I had only read about the snow and rains, but had never witnessed more than a brief shower once in a while. Also, that the High King Maris was now passing on his crown to the next champion, the Winter Realm is supposedly expected to put on a good show.

I had heard stories, read books about the last Conquest. I clearly remembered the sub text of an article that I had calligraphed months ago for a Spring Journal about the Conquest – 

 I clearly remembered the sub text of an article that I had calligraphed months ago for a Spring Journal about the Conquest – 

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It had felt wonderful writing about it. But now to actually witness it and maintain steady reports on the progress of the challenges, was just like the fulfilment of a dream that I never even dared to dream.

***

"Why aren't you allowed to bring a younger sister with you? It's not like the ship will sink with just one extra person on it." Amelia was at it again.

"Amelia, look we talked about this. It's not possible. And besides you are not of age, you're barely sixteen. I don't want you near all the creatures, and the Princes, or you out in the cold with strangers."

"I am not what you think, Eleni. I will do as you say, I promise. I will be fine." She pleaded yet again.

"There are some rules. You have to understand. Why are we still having this conversation?" I felt my voice raising and tried to chunk it down. "Besides you have three months of school left and also assessments."

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