2.1: Chance Deflection

Section 2: First Contact
Ariesian Prince Olive, tired of the suffocating extra protection he had received from increased security due to the assassination attempt on his life, snuck away from the watchful eyes of his royal guards Trystan and Alexander. He escaped to a conductor store owned by a woman named Marta whom he knew well. His head had been aching since the attempt, and he had been hearing things. But he did not care. He dozed off, but not before speaking with a ghost—or perhaps an illusion—of his sister who died six years prior. A strange young man entered the store just as he fell asleep.

New Ram City, Aries 

When Olive stirred into consciousness, he nearly fell out of his chair. Nose-to-nose with him was the young man in the sky-blue cloak. The one who’d been sitting behind him when he had first arrived at the store.

“What the—”

The young man pulled back with raised hands. “S-Sorry! You looked like you were having a bad dream… I…”

Olive ignored him and glanced over his shoulder toward the couch. His sister was gone. He glanced back over the counter. The back room of the shop was still thick with smoke. The clock that hung to the side of the wall read 2:01.

Nine hours of sleep.

Olive frowned.

He felt odd. As if he’d been asleep for longer than that. As if he’d been away for longer than. It still was a long time regardless. He figured the royal guards were probably looking for him now.

“Do you come here often?”

Olive turned back to the young man who had lowered his cloak to reveal his face. His features were sharp but more foxlike than catlike. His dark hair was wildly windswept. And he was tall. Two or three heads taller than Olive himself.

Instead of answering, Olive swept off the chair and started toward the door. The young man followed him.

“I-I was wondering if you could give me some advice on a conductor for a friend of mine. A weaponized one,” the young man continued. “They’re an Elementalist—”

Olive stopped short, sent him a look of displeasure. Did this person not know who he was? Usually, people on the streets avoided him when he traveled without a cloak because they recognized his face. Whether it was because of his handed-down status or the rumors surrounding him, Olive didn’t care to know. He asked, “What makes you think I know anything about conductors?”

The young man rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “Good question. You just… seem like the type? I mean, you’re here.” He gestured to the store.

“You’re here, too,” Olive returned. “There’s a mechanic in the back.”

“She seems busy…”

“She is,” Olive affirmed, sliding past him. “That’s what appointments are for.”

“Oh, you have to set an appointment?” The young man blanched before he chuckled with embarrassment. “I feel like an idiot now.”

Olive paused just as he reached the door and craned his neck. “How long have you been waiting here?”

The young man glanced at the clock. Paled. “Nine hours…”

Olive stared. “You are an idiot.”

The young man continued to ogle the clock.

“Extraneous or intraneous?”

“What?” The young man blinked out of his daze.

“Your friend is an Elementalist Conductor,” Olive repeated. “Do they conduct vitae extraneously or intraneously? The vitae outside their body or inside?”

The young man perked up immediately. “I-Intraneously?”

“Then you should probably get one that has a stronger insulator,” Olive said, turning his attention back to the door. “So they don’t exhaust their vitae reserves.”

“An insulator?”

Olive paused. Turned. “The material that goes inside a conductor? To keep vitae utilization stable?” When the young man frowned in confusion, Olive turned to him fully. “How are you looking for a conductor when you don’t even know what an insulator is…?”

“Th-That’s why I’m here.” The young man scratched his head. “Isn’t it…?”

“This shop is for special, customized conductors,” Olive said. What a pain. “You have to know what you want before you come here.” He pushed the door open but paused halfway through the threshold. “It’s closed right now, but there’s a store a couple streets down.”

With that, he inclined his head and pressed outside. The young man brightened and followed him.

The twilight air was still heavy and humid, but the lack of sun allowed a cool breeze to creep between the buildings. As Olive led the young man around the block, the breeze picked up.

The darkness of the night crept into the corners and alleyways around them, but a couple of stores were still open and poured out warm light. The streets were dotted sparsely with pedestrians. Nothing even remotely comparable to the afternoon rush hour from earlier.

The young man shoved a hand in Olive’s face. “I-I really appreciate you showing me the way. My name is Claire.”

Olive studied the hand apprehensively. “I don’t really need to know that.”

“Oh, true.” Claire lowered his hand and rubbed the back of his neck. “What’s your name?”

“You don’t really need to know that.”

“But I kind of do,” Claire insisted. “You’re helping me out. I’d feel bad if I didn’t at least get your name.”

Olive regarded him. “Olivier.”

“Oh, okay.” Claire nodded. “Can I just call you Olive?”

What—why? Did this guy really not know?

“I don’t really care.”

“I’m seventeen,” Claire continued, unperturbed. “How old are you, Olive? I mean if you don’t mind me asking…”


“Oh, so I’m older.” He raised his chin a bit. “Are you from around here?”

“That’s how I know where everything is,” Olive replied dryly as they turned down a corner. “Let me guess: you’re a tourist.”

Claire broke out into a smile. “How did you guess?”

“You don’t know where anything is.”

“I guess you’re right about that.” Claire laughed sheepishly. “Anyways, it’s really impressive how much you know about conductors.” He pulled off his cloak and tied it around his waist. “Passionate people really inspire me. The fact that you can find something that you really love out of the millions of things out there and choose to pursue it on your own? It’s amazing.”

“Are you sure you’re not a solicitor trying to sell me something?” Olive side-eyed Claire.

“Did it sound that way?” Claire frowned. “I’m being honest…”

They trudged up a sloping walkway in silence.

“It’s not a passion,” Olive finally grumbled. On the outskirts of his vision, he saw a flash of long black hair. “It’s barely even a hobby.”

“Passion, hobby,” Claire mused. “They’re all things that you care about enough to—”

Olive came to an abrupt stop which sent Claire crashing into him. Claire stumbled backward after mumbling an apology before he gave Olive an inquiring look. In response, Olive nodded at the building in front of them. A behemoth, wooden sign loomed on top of it: CONDUCTORS: GENERAL, WEAPONIZED, GENERATOR.

The store was much larger than the shop they were previously in, taking up almost the entire block. It was a wooden thing with window displays filled with conductors of different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Claire blinked up at the sight. “How did I not notice that before?”

What a pain, Olive thought with a sigh.

Claire returned the sound with a grateful smile and an extended hand. “Thank you—”

A sliver of brilliant cyan light cracked through the blackness just behind Claire. It blitzed past Claire in an instant and hurtled past Olive’s head. A dull crack resounded followed by a sharp pain at Olive’s ear.

Olive cradled the area with a wince before he turned his head. A short knife with a blade made of cyan light was embedded in the wall just behind him. The light dissipated a second after, disappearing the shape of the blade along with it. The handle clattered to the ground.

There was wetness at Olive’s ear. A drip, drip, drip of blood.

A conductor, he realized. A melee conductor. A Projector Conductor’s weapon.


A shadow dropped down between them before Claire could finish. A tall and dark figure cloaked in black. Their face was covered by a white mask painted with red cheeks and a black smile.

The masked figure reached for their hip where an array of bladeless hilts hung on a belt. With a deft twist of their fingers, they plucked one of these hilts and twirled it in the air before pointing it at Olive. A bright cyan blade grew from its flat surface. The light from it banished the shadows around them and ended at a hot tip that ghosted Olive’s throat.

Olive swallowed.

The figure spun the knife in hand and raised it high in the air.

“Olive!” Claire shouted.

Here we go again, Olive thought as he watched the edge of the knife hurtle toward him. It was like the universe was pushing him toward this point. But why? What did his assassination even accomplish? Was his life really worth all of this effort? At this point, wouldn’t it be better if he just—

 Dodge! Tuck!  

The thought came at Olive so forcefully that he obeyed it without hesitation. With a quick drop of his knees, he fell beneath the line of the knife’s path. Its sharp edge missed the top of his head by a hair’s breadth and carved a line in the wall where it became embedded.

 Fight! Grab their weapon! Use it against them! Sweep their feet!  

What? No! That was stupid!

“Run!” Olive shouted at Claire before he ducked out underneath the figure who had reached for their belt again. He gave the figure a jab at the side with his elbow before dashing down the walkway. His footsteps pounded in his ear along with his heartbeat. But those were the only sounds he could hear meaning—had the assassin gone after Claire?

Olive craned his neck just in time to see the silver glint of a blade arcing toward him.


Olive snapped forward and ducked. The blade once again skirted his head. The momentum of his evasion, however, sent him tumbling forward and crashing into a trash bin.

A pedestrian woman across the street gave a shout of alarm. Papers, rotten food, and scraps of metal rained down around him, drowning out the sound. By the time Olive got his bearings, the shadowy shape of the assassin was in front of him.

The assassin flicked their gloved hands and lilac light grew from their palm. The light illuminated their face—their mask. It was brown, wooden, carved into a smile.

The mask. It was different, Olive realized. The vitae color and conducting type were different too. A Conjurer Conductor, probably. This was not the person who had attacked him before. There was more than one assassin.

The lilac light began to take shape in the assassin’s hand. Another sword. As it solidified in their hand, the light it emitted dimmed until all that was left was a normal longsword, which they lifted into the air.

This was—


What… ?! Like hell it was!

“Guards!” Olive managed as he scrambled backward.

He felt something ghost his hand and turned his head. Crouching right beside him was a woman with tanned skin, with dark brown hair that fell in wild waves to her ears, with bottle-green eyes that glowed unnaturally in the darkness. A woman whose hand was wrapping around his.


Before he could respond, the woman jerked his hand and forced it to wrap around a stray metal pipe on the ground beside him. With a manic grin, she guided his hand and the pipe upward—


Sparks erupted in the dark as metal clashed against metal. The woman pulled Olive’s hand back and forced it forward with the pipe. With a surprised grunt the masked figure blocked the blow with their longsword.

Olive’s arm strained against the push of the assassin’s sword, but the woman continued to guide his pipe forward, forward, forward. But the assassin seemed prepared. Flicking their free hand, they conjured another weapon there in a flash of lilac light. A dagger.

“Wow, conductors sure can do amazing things!” the woman laughed —of all things—from beside him.

The figure hesitated for a moment before driving the dagger toward Olive’s side. With a quick upward kick, however, the woman sent the dagger spinning in the air. Using the temporary distraction to her advantage, the woman gripped Olive’s hand tight and slid the pipe across the longsword. The motion sent the assassin stumbling back. Without hesitation, the woman swung the pipe at the assassin’s side. A sickening crack resounded.

As the assassin collapsed with a groan, Olive released the pipe, rose to his feet, and dashed down the walkway. He was jerked back, however, by the woman whose hand was still wrapped around his own. She was studying the groaning assassin curiously.

“What are you doing?!” Olive snapped. “Ru—”

He blinked.

The woman was gone.

His hand felt cold.

He looked around in confusion.



He couldn’t linger on the absurdity for any longer because the masked figure rose to their feet. With a grimace, Olive turned on his heels and ran down the road. He locked eyes with the pedestrian woman who was still standing across the street with her hands cupping her mouth in horror.

“Get away! Get the guards!” Olive snapped at her. She stumbled back in response, but he didn’t wait to see if she followed his request. He rounded the corner into an alleyway and threw a glance back in the direction of his assailant. They were dashing after him at an alarming speed.


Olive snapped his attention forward just in time to see a familiar pair of fox-like black eyes. With a painful crack, he collided with Claire and fell to the ground alongside him in a messy tangle of limbs.

“Olive!” Claire panted breathlessly as he sat himself up. He gripped Olive’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”

Olive swallowed a groan and unfurled his body. “W-Why are you here?!”

“I-I was following—”

“Why in Aries’s name are you following me?!” Olive snapped.

“I was just trying to help!” Claire returned, an edge creeping into his voice. He pulled himself up to a stand and then frowned. “Why are they chasing you?”

“Because I’m the prince, you idiot!” Olive snapped.

“The prince…?! The prince of what?!”

“Seriously?!” Olive recoiled. “I’m the prince of Ari—”

A swift blow to the side cut him off and sent him flying against the alley wall. His vision blurred as his back cracked against brick. His bandaged shoulder pulsated in unison, and his vision dimmed. With a grunt, he shook away the paired pain and forced himself to focus.

The assassin with the wooden mask approached him, sword in hand. But Olive didn’t care for this assassin. The assassin he cared for was the white-masked one who was now approaching a fallen Claire with a glowing cyan knife.


Not again.

It was happening again. All his fault. The same thing. If he hadn’t reached out that helping hand then—

Olive felt it before he saw it. A heat bubbling up the base of his palms. A heat that steadily rose in intensity and temperature until it reached a boiling point. No! But it was too late. Before he realized what was happening, activation energy had been reached.

A flash of pure red sparked at his palms. A spark that exploded into a blaze of deep crimson. A wreath of fire.

The wooden-masked attacker let out a shout of alarm as the flames licked at their feet. They stumbled backward to escape the heat, but the flame was relentless. Crawling across the ground, snapping, and devouring everything in sight. There was no stopping it now.

Soon the wooden-mask was pressed against the opposite alley wall alongside the white-mask as flames surrounded them.

“That’s impossible!” the white-mask whispered against the wall of fire. “Conducting without a conductor…?”

Mind buzzing, Olive scrambled to his feet and to Claire’s side. Claire sat up and squinted in confusion. His eyes widened and reflected in the blackness of his irises were the flickering flames. He turned to Olive and whispered, “Did you…?”

The crackling fire crept closer and closer to their assailants as Claire continued to stare, but then a gust of cold wind swept through the alley, extinguishing the roaring fire in an instant. A haze of smoke took its place and suffocated everything in a gray.

Olive stared. What sort of luck—

And then he coughed, doubling over as he gagged. The haze around him clouded everything. His sight. His mind—

Abruptly, a warm cyan light broke through the smoke, and Olive blinked up to find the white-mask staring down at him. Their knife conductor was pointed squarely at his face.

“Halt at once!” a familiar voice suddenly boomed from the darkness behind them.

Olive turned his head in the direction of the sound. And in the darkness there, a blade of deep crimson light bloomed. The face lit up above it belonged to none other than Alexander Charming.

A fiery arrow burst out of the darkness just behind the man’s head, and it hurtled toward the white-mask. Drawing and igniting another knife conductor in a flash of cyan, the white-mask deflected the arrow with ease.

Out from the night emerged Trystan with a sleek, black bow and arrow in hand. He was soon joined by a group of royal guards who each wielded a conductor.

“In the name of the Ariesian king and queen,” Trystan shouted, “you are hereby under arrest for your assault on the Ariesian prince. Lay down your weapons immediately!”

The white-mask and the wooden-mask exchanged looks before—in a mind-boggling feat of acrobatics—they scaled the wall behind them and climbed onto the rooftop. They peered down the ledge for a moment before disappearing into the night.

“After them!” Trystan ordered. The guards behind the man split off into groups. Trystan followed suit, disappearing down the street, conductor in hand.

Olive watched in a stupor before he turned to Claire—who was no longer sitting beside him. Olive looked around wildly. Nothing. Nowhere. Nowhere. Nothing. Nothing but smoke and ash.

“Prince Chance,” Alexander said as he came to Olive’s side. His voice sounded distant, gargled. “Are you all right?”

Olive turned and emptied his stomach onto the ground. He could taste it. The acrid smoke curling on his tongue. He could feel it. The ghost of flames licking his skin. He could hear it. A distant crackle and pop. A memory.

“They escaped,” came a distant voice. It was Trystan, re-entering the alleyway panting. “Is the prince all right?”

“Yeah, he’ll be fine.”

A pause. “Those flames…”

“That’s for another time,” Alexander responded. He shut off his conductor with a flick of his hand. “Send out a search party for the assassins. We might still be able to catch them.”


Olive could feel Trystan staring at him—staring at his hands that were surrounded by dying embers. But Olive was staring at Trystan too. Staring at the conductor in the man’s hands. The bow and arrow.

* * *

The throne room was quiet save for the pit-pat of his uncle’s shoes as he paced back and forth in front of his throne. The throne of the king of Aries was as grand as all thrones tended to be. It had a gold frame that intricately twisted like woodwork around a red cushion and rose up in the shape of ram horns. The queen’s throne next to it had the same design with an addition of carved feathers, and Terra sat on it pinching the bridge of her nose.

Olive stood in front of his pacing uncle. To his left stood Alexander and Trystan, both standing with their heads bowed.

“So you still haven’t been able to catch the two assassins,” his uncle drew as he threw a glance in Alexander’s direction.

“No, we haven’t, my king,” Alexander replied, finding a way to bow his head even more. “The search party we sent out several hours ago combed through the entire city, but they’ve found nothing. The assassins may have fled the city.”

“And the boy and the woman that Olive mentioned?”

“We haven’t been able to find them. Witnesses said they did see a boy running after Olive, but they didn’t see a woman.”

Olive frowned at this information. 

Abruptly, Alexander sank to his knees, startling Olive from his thoughts. The royal guard pressed his head against the floor and clenched his fists. “My king, I am deeply ashamed that I let the prince be put in harm’s way like this, not only once, but twice now. I humbly accept any punishment.”

Olive uncrossed his arms. “Hey, wait a minute—”

“Olive, quiet,” his uncle said as he approached Alexander. “Alexander,” he said, “you’ve served the royal family for many years now and you’ve proven yourself worthy of your title as the head of the royal guards numerous times. After seeing the way you handled the Tragedy, I thought that there was no person better fit for the job.”

“Yes, my king.”

“But as you know, the Ariesian royal guard’s sole purpose is to protect not only New Ram City, but the royal family,” his uncle continued. “Alexander, your personal feelings toward Olive have clouded your judgment. I know you view him as an adolescent in need of freedom, but Olive is the prince of Aries. He is no normal teenager.”

Terra perked up at this with a frown.

“You will be demoted from your position as head royal guard, and you will be assigned to an outpost at the outer city wall,” his uncle stated without a drop of emotion.

Olive stiffened. Wasn’t that excessive? In the end, it had been his own decision that put him in the path of the assassins. “But—”

“Olive! You don’t have a say in this,” his uncle snapped. “Especially after your constant reckless disobedience! Take some―”

“I know!” Olive snapped back. “I know it’s my fault!”

His uncle closed the distance between them in an instant. Hand raised.

Olive waited but the impact never came. Instead, his uncle lowered his hand and turned away.

“Although it may have been Olivier’s decisions that led to this situation,” his uncle continued, stepping in front of the former royal guard, “it is your duty to ensure these decisions do not get out of hand, Alexander.” He met Olive’s gaze. “Do you understand, Olivier?”

The doors clicked open a moment later, and a royal guard walked up to them.

“Sir, the Ophiuchian peacekeepers are here,” she said.

“Gabrielle and Izsak…” Olive mumbled under his breath.

The guard startled. “Yes, those are the peacekeepers. My prince, how did you know it was them?”

Olive frowned. How did he know?

“Send them into the meeting chambers and tell them we’ll be in shortly.” His uncle waved his hand.

* * *

Olive was wandering aimlessly down the halls of the palace several hours later. The meeting between his aunt and uncle and the peacekeepers seemed to be stretching on forever. It was a meeting his uncle and aunt had excluded him from very pointedly, but he didn’t focus on this fact.

The assassins. Claire. Alexander. The woman. They were all weighing on Olive’s mind. And the weight on his shadow? Trystan and another guard by the name of Samuel. They were at his heels and watching him like hawks. Alexander had been the only guard to truly master the art of the aloof watcher.


Olive clenched his fists as his gut twisted.

That was what happened when you cared about things.

“Hey, cheer up, Ollie! Maybe we could go to Uncle and convince him to let Alexander slide after!”

Olive stopped short and turned his head. There Lavi was, twirling a lock of dark hair as she strayed between him and the guards.

“I’m not going to convince him about anything,” Olive muttered, turning away from her. “You heard what he said. It’s final. I can’t take back the fact that I snuck out, and I can’t change the fact that he’s being punished because of it.”

“Why are you like this?” Lavi sighed, crossing her arms. “You never used to give up so easily! Things always rise up from the ashes…”

Olive clicked his tongue and whipped his head in her direction. A retort was on the tip of his tongue, but it died there as he locked eyes with Trystan who stood behind her. The man was exchanging a confused look with Samuel. Olive shut his mouth.

“What?” Lavi huffed. “You’re going to ignore me now? You can’t just do that.”

“Yeah, I’m aware.” Olive glanced away from her and stared at the ground. He’d been aware for six years.

“Good.” Lavi beamed, chin lifted. “Now, I’m sure we can convince Uncle if we go to him together.” A pause. “And maybe we can convince him to let us out with some guards to try to find Claire and that lady.”

Olive paused before shaking his head. Of course, Lavi saw the woman and Claire. She’d always been able to see things he could see, whether they were real or not. Coincidentally, she strayed the line between reality and illusion too. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Trystan study him with uncertainty.

“Uh, sir,” Trystan began.

A smile broke across Lavi’s face as she pointed down the hall. “Oh, look, it’s—!”

“Well, look at who we have here! It’s Olive Chance!” came a familiar voice.

Down the hall came a man and a woman dressed in black and white suits. White sashes imprinted with the Ophiuchian symbol were wrapped around their right arms. The woman wore a red tie, while the man wore a yellow-orange one. Gabrielle Law and Izsak Wtorek. Ophiuchian peacekeeping agents.

“Miss Law,” Olive greeted them in surprise as they came to a stop in front of him. “Mr. Wtorek.”

“Olive, didn’t think we’d see you!” Izsak grinned. “How many years has it been now? Three?”

“It’s been two years,” Gabrielle replied with a yawn. She looked him up and down. “I’m glad to see that you’re alright.” She then reached for his head with her ringed hand. Before she could make contact, he slapped it away with a pointed glare. Instead of looking annoyed by this, she chuckled. “Same as ever, I see.”

Really, what a terrible personality. The most two-faced of them all.

“Look at you!” Izsak whistled. “You’ve grown so tall.” He snapped his fingers and reached into his suit pocket with a gloved hand. “I need your opinion.” There was a familiar amber glow from the area, and when Izsak pulled his hand out from his pocket, a stuffed animal rested in his palm. Pointed ears, buggy eyes, stubby tail.

Olive couldn’t help but let a smile tug at the corner of his lips as he studied the atrocity. “You’ve gotten better.”

Izsak chuckled. “That’s good to hear. Ophiuchus may outlaw the conjuring and transmutation of currency, but there’s nothing written about stuffed animals. In other words, I can start my own monopoly!”

Olive took it from the man and turned it over in his hand. Lavi skirted close to him and rubbed her fingers across its cheek. Her eyes brightened, and she brought up her other hand to squish its other cheek. “Wow,” she whispered, “it’s so ugly that it’s cute.”

“You all know each other?” Trystan’s question cut through the conversation abruptly, causing all heads to turn toward him. When he realized the attention, he straightened and cleared his throat. “Uh, I apologize, sirs, for interrupting your conversation. I was merely curious.”

Gabrielle regarded him before asking, “Trystan Carter, right? I remember seeing you at the Conductor Exam. Moerani told me you were good. I see you’re doing well for yourself. Climbed the ladder pretty quickly, too. King Augustus mentioned thinking of giving you a promotion to head royal guard.”

Olive started at this and glanced at Trystan. Their eyes met. He looked just as startled.

“I’m not surprised you asked if we know each other,” Gabrielle continued, rolling her neck. “I bet you haven’t seen our prince here talk to anyone so friendly before, right?”

What a terrible personality, Olive thought as he regarded the woman and did his best to suppress a scowl.

“But to answer your question, yes, we know each other. We’ve been acquainted since… just about six years ago.”

Trystan took a moment to digest the information. After a beat, he let out a breath. “Wait, do you mean… six years ago… during the Tragedy?”

Olive stiffened in the silence that followed. As he watched Lavi tuck a lock of hair behind her ear with an unreadable, faraway expression, his stomach churned.

“We were some of the peacekeepers on the scene after it happened,” Izsak explained.

Gabrielle elaborated, “The fire destroyed most evidence of ELPIS involvement in the royal palace, so we’re lucky Olive was there as key witness.”

Somber silence.

Before any more information could be offered, Olive interjected with feigned disinterest, “Anyways, is the meeting over?”

“Yeah, we just wrapped up,” Izsak replied, gaze lingering. “We’re working with the chair of your Investigation Bureau and Security Council to get to the bottom of this before it gets any more out of hand.” He paused in thought. “You need to be careful, Olive.”

“He’s right you know,” Lavi added, arms crossed again.

“They seem very set on the idea that the assassins are Ariesians,” Gabrielle muttered. “Which I can’t exactly fault them for. It’s very rare for non-Ariesians to be Elementalists with the fire attribute.”

Izsak’s gaze flicked to Gabrielle’s face. “You sound unconvinced.”

Gabrielle chuckled, sliding her hands into her pockets. “I even have my reservations about whether that second group that attacked Olive last night are part of the first assassination attempt. We don’t fully understand the motive. There are too many variables to say for sure.”

 And nothing could be left up to chance.  

“You mean that there might be more than one group?” Lavi frowned. She gave Olive a worried look. “That’s not good.”

“Anyways”—Gabrielle sighed, waving the thought off—“all the royal guards are to submit their conductors for inspection by tomorrow night.” She nodded at the two who stood behind Olive. “Why don’t you two submit your conductors right now? I’ll handle our prince here.”

Trystan and the other guard exchanged uncertain glances, but before they could protest, Izsak stepped between them and pushed them down the hall. “Here, here,” Izsak said good-naturedly as he threw a glance back at Olive and Gabrielle, “I’ll show you where to submit them.”

It wasn’t until the three had disappeared from view that Gabrielle spoke.

“I heard that you used it again,” she said quietly. Her dark eyes seemed to bore into his face as she placed a hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright? Would you like me to put in a word to Doctor Kingsley?” Olive winced at the pressure, and she pulled back in surprise. “Oh, sorry…” Another pause. “You should get your wound examined. You know how dangerous elemental vitae can be.”

“I’m fine,” Olive replied, shrugging away from the woman. With that, he inclined his head down the hall and headed in the direction. Lavi soon joined him.


“To feed my bird,” Olive said. “It’s quieter company.”


“I’ll ask for an escort home, so don’t worry. You won’t get in trouble with your boss or whatever.”

“And he says that I have a terrible personality…” Gabrielle sighed before she shouted, “You should be going to the medical Conductors!”

 Aries  is a warm northern country ruled by a fair king and queen. Beneath the king and queen are feudal lords who are assigned states to govern and given certain duties in turn. The capital is New Ram City which is under the protection of the royal guards, personally selected Conductors chosen to protect the royal family. 
- Countries of Signum by Multiple Authors, 20th edition

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