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Apprentice Rhea Lasko was the first to Old Silas’s farm. She sat by herself on the wall, looking up and down the ancient cobbled path before her, hitting her nail against her bottom teeth. For the past hour she had been this way, waiting for superiors and the priest who was to oversee her. Being the first to a job was part of Rhea’s self-designed routine. Sometimes, she felt like she was always waiting.
The old path before her was one that Rhea had walked many times, usually when visiting friends and doing jobs outside the Province’s capital city . It was a long line along the largely uninterrupted landscape of hills and fields, bridging the gap between the farms and small villages that sat in between the capital city and the other cities nearest to it. The stones that made up this ancient, well worn were falling apart where they lay, leaving the structure very uneven in places. The Court had many better things to spend their money on, however, and the cities with their big screens, monorails and numerous cars would forever remain a priority.
In Rhea’s bag was a sling, the leather seat folded and bound up in its own strings. It was the only weapon with which she felt properly skilled. Slings, bows, swords and other weapons were often owned by people who needed to protect themselves – there was no way that anyone outside of the Royal Court would be allowed to use a firearm. At any rate, a sling was perfect for all of Rhea’s needs. It was small, and it was effective. Properly, aimed, it could even be used to herd animals. Rhea had seen it done and it was very impressive.
Rhea stayed there on the wall for what felt like hours, back straight and nail hitting her teeth, until finally the two she was waiting for arrived. They were a young in a short red dress very similar to Rhea’s and a brother from the nearby temple. Once he was close enough to see properly, Rhea guessed that he was somewhere in his late thirties. She slid awkwardly off the wall and offered them a wave, causing the young woman to break out into a smile.
“Rhea,” she chirped, pulling the girl into a tight hug and not letting go until Rhea spluttered for air. Having been a very close to this woman since the age of eleven, Rhea was very used to this form of greeting.
“Morning, Eireen,” said Rhea, a smile growing on her face despite the pain her lungs felt. “I was wondering when you’d arrive.”
Eireen was twenty-one now and very different from Rhea in appearance. She was a tanned young woman with long blonde hair she tied up every morning and eyes that were light grey in colour. Rhea, a week from her seventeenth birthday, had eyes that were a very dark brown. Her skin was almost as dark, and she loved her shoulder-length hair despite the odd distasteful comment she used to get from teachers about it being too wild or in need of taming.
“This is Brother Thomas,” said Eireen, gesturing to the robed man standing beside her. “Enchanter Dion asked him to oversee our work today, okay? Just in case anything goes wrong.”
Brother Thomas nodded, looking Rhea firmly in the eye “From what I understand Old Silas wishes for you to place a warding spell around his flocks in order to protect them. If a warding spell is absolutely necessary, then it is my duty to ensure that he is spiritually protected.”
“Did Silas ask for protection?” asked Rhea.
“Of course he did,” said Brother Thomas. “Without a request I wouldn’t be here.”