Chapter 2: Reading the Protector of the Small
Kel was shocked to see how many of Corus' elite were gathered in the ante-chamber to the Chamber of the Ordeal. As she entered, Alanna sent her purple magic to light the torches all around the room, enabling Kel to clearly identify all of the people in the room. She was pleased to see her friends Neal, Merric, Owen, some other of her friends from her training days and of course, Dom. She was nervous to notice that Lord Wyldon was present, as well as the King and even her parents! Kel was under the impression that her parents were visiting the Isles, conducting diplomacy on behalf of the crown.
Everyone's attention was completely directed at The Great Mother Goddess who delicately found her way to the top of the stairs, in front of the door to the Chamber of the Ordeal.
"I have brought you here today," she introduced, "in order for you to witness the great feats committed by one young Lady Knight Keladry of Mindelan, prior to her appointment as a Lady Knight of the realm, as well as her resilience and dedication to Tortall as a Lady Knight. As many of you know, she is an impressive young lady, and it is with great honour that I present to you the Protector of the Small Quartet, composed by myself and my brother Mithros."
At this, said god appeared next to his sister. He unravelled the scroll from his robes, and beckoned Kel forward. He passed her the scroll and she reluctantly accepted it.
"Thank you, Mithros, however, I'm not so sure that I'm ready to have my friends, and my elders whom I respect, read these chronicles! I'd rather they not read my more intimate opinions, and-"
Kel's remarks were cut off by an insolent shout from none other than Meathead: "Oh come off it Kel! We just want a chance to see how you held up! We're all friends here, we promise not to judge you. And myself am quite interested to read your thoughts when you were talking to me... I mean, what could possibly have motivated you to force feed me vegetables."
Ever her saviour, Dom distracted Kel from considering her previous crush on Neal, exclaiming "Why dear cousin, surely we just want to find out Kel's motivation for befriending a meathead such as yourself."
Neal, rebuffed, retreated into the embrace of his accepting daughter, who forgave him for all his insolence, largely due to the fact that she was unable to protest to his affections!
The motley group gathered in the Chamber began to settle themselves to read, whilst in contrast, Mithros and the Great Mother Goddess silently slipped out of the room, returning to the Divine Realms, eager to observe forthcoming dramas associated with the remarkable young lady.
Kel readied herself with a deep breath, and was ready for this alternative kraken, when the room was disturbed by the unmistakable tendrils of a certain black-robed mage's gift. The door to the Chamber was smashed open to reveal a sweaty and fired up Carthaki, Master Salmalin.
"Jon, quick, I need a hand, Sarra was abed, and I was reading to her a fascinating Tyran legend, when she seemed to pass into unconsciousness. Whilst I would be pleased if she'd fallen asleep, I think something is amiss in Corus, I didn't pass a soul in the corridors on my way here. Come to think of it... why are you all gathered here? I only wandered in as I sensed Alanna's gift."
Alanna responded to Numair, "Numair, we seem to be in the throes of a bit of divine interference. Our Mother Goddess and Mithros just visited us. You seemed to have been deeply absorbed in your Tyran legend," Alanna remarked sceptically, "but even Daine managed to join us from the Rider's barracks!"
"Daine darling, what's this about the gods' interference?! Is it anything to do with Sarra and Weiryn? Gods, I hate it when our deities try and help us in the Mortal realms, it always ends up in chaos – just look at the aftermath of the Immortals' War... Should I contact the mages of our neighbouring realms, and consult them? Jon what would you like me to do? We must prepare ourselves for a second war if Mithros and the Great Mother Goddess themselves appeared to you."
Daine stood and led Numair to a seat, "No darling, this is more to do with young Keladry. Nothing quite so dramatic, calm down." Reaching for her daughter Sarra from Numair's arms, Daine explained their situation.
Jonathon sealed the room with the regal blue magic of the Conte blood line, and gestured for Keladry to begin her tale. He, of course, was nervous to see the reactions of his progressive friends when they read of his unjust treatment of Kel, whom he was now quite fond of.
Kel, who had coincidentally sat herself next to Dom, who was next to Neal, took comfort in the close company of her friends, and met the gaze of the King with steely determination, raising her voice to the pitch expected of a commander on the battle field, Kel read clearly, Chapter 1, Decisions...