"And then they broke the seal and I told them what happened. . .more or less."
Lucia exhaled slowly, glad that she had told the whole story at last. It had taken a while to introduce Nixon and tell Lady Kiandra the story of Lucia's recovery. But now that Lucia had a chance to tell the story privately, with no one but her mother listening, she had finally managed to give details that she would not dare give her father.
How her brothers had met their deaths. The level of desperation she had placed inside the seal. Her friendship with Nixon despite their radical differences. Her growing doubts about the dragon Inhar's credibility.
"I see." was all Lady Kiandra said.
Lucia felt nervous as she asked, "Mother?"
"Yes, Lucia?" Kiandra didn't look at her daughter.
"What will happen now? How long do you and Father intend to have me rest? Will Father change his mind about the Elite squad?"
"Now isn't the time to be talking about the Elite squad. Did you see a healer before you came to me?"
"There's nothing else that needs to be done for you at all?"
"I'm just tired, Mother." Lucia assured her. "And I want to resume training as quickly as possible."
"Well, you can't do that to a recovering mind." Kiandra told her none too gently. "I expect the time off the healer recommends and a few extra days just to be sure. I've dealt with magic-related injuries before and you can't be too careful."
That meant over a fortnight at home doing nothing. "But Mother, that's too long!" Lucia exclaimed. "I can't-"
"My word is final, darling." Kiandra interrupted, her voice softening as she added. "I'm asking you to do this out of love, not to punish you."
"Mother. . .I just don't know if I can sit still for that long. I can't stand-"
A knock on the door to Lady Kiandra's chambers cut off Lucia's protest. Kiandra made her way to the door and opened it.
"Nixon. Welcome." she smiled warmly. "It's not very proper of me, but won't you come in? Lucia and I were nearly done a little discussion."
"Of course, Lady Kiandra." Nixon entered the room, his shoulders stiff. "Thank you."
Lucia smirked, happy to see that even Nixon Ore could be phased by some things. "What are you doing here? I thought you would have gone home by now."
Nixon shrugged his shoulders. "They rented out my room at the Academy, and the student's contract lasts for another week. Your father offered me a room in the meantime."
"Is he planning to sponsor your Elite training like I asked him?"
"He is." Nixon sat down next to Lucia. Kiandra kept her distance, watching the two of them carefully. "He asked if I'd like to be your bodyguard instead, but I turned him down."
"Why?" Lucia demanded immediately.
"What shot would either of us have at the Elites then?" Nixon responded, raising one eyebrow in silent answer to the question.
"I suppose you're right." Lucia agreed. "I'm glad he's sponsoring your training, though."
"So am I. But it's odd," Nixon confessed. "Meeting my sponsor before training starts. Usually the sponsors don't show before the middle of training."
"If I can get permission, let alone a sponsor, it would be a miracle. I just hope I can make the roster in time for-"
"You're not taking time off to rest?" Nixon's eyes widened. "But that's self-destructive!"
"Well. . .e-er, I never said I wasn't taking time off." Lucia stammered.
"You can still make training if you explain your situation, Lucia." A teasing smile crossed Nixon's face as he added, "Perhaps if you spoke with your father about why you feel the need to join the Elites so strongly, he'd let you go."
"Well, I- I never-How dare you!" Lucia sputtered. "Who have you been speaking to, Nixon Ore? Who, tell me?"
Nixon laughed as Lucia tried to interrogate him about what he knew of her personal life. On the other side of the room, Kiandra chuckled as she remembered her own courtship.