She was dressed for travel.
“What are you doing, Kaia?” asked Navihm. It was the next morning and they were preparing to leave.
“I’m coming with you,” she said, looping another, thinner strip of leather around her waist and attaching it to her belt so it hung to her hips.
“No,” said Hart. “It’s dangerous.” She didn't even bother looking at him, preoccupied with attaching a dagger to her hip.
“It’s not particularly safe here,” she pointed out, referring to the two failed assassination attempts. “If the invaders breech the coast, the entire continent isn't safe. I am the most skilled empath in the country, you can use my help.”
“This is war, Kaia,” Hart implored. “Not a picnic. People die.”
“Everyone else is allowed to risk their life for their country,” she pointed out. “Why not me?” Hart opened his mouth, but couldn't come up with a suitably crushing retort. She was right, after all. Kaia, sensing Hart’s indecision, put the final nail in the coffin.
“Take me now, or I'll come with the next wave of troops.” The First was scheduled to send more troops in a week. “You can't stop me, you may as well take me with you where you can protect me.” Kaia smiled confidently and slotted a dozen small throwing knives into her belt. About the length of her finger and made completely out of one piece of flat, shaped metal, her throwing knives were deadly.
“She comes with us,” said Navihm.
About an hour after they set out it started raining. The persistent sort of rain that misted out of nowhere, soaking into coats and cloaks. Soon everyone in the group was miserable. Navihm glanced over at the professor, wondering how the older man was managing in the weather. He noticed in some surprise that he was completely dry, as was Rose. Somehow, using water magic, the rain slid right off them, leaving them and their mounts perfectly dry. Noting Navihm’s curious glance the Professor smiled.
“This would be good practice for you, Navihm,” he said. “I know water magic isn't your strongest area of study. See if you can stop the rain touching you.” Navihm closed his eyes and concentrated, leaving Equus to follow the rest of the horses without his guidance.
“Don't try and concentrate of the individual drops of water,” said the professor, sensing what Navihm was doing with his magic. “Create a barrier just above your skin that doesn't let any water through.” After a few minutes Navihm was successful. “Good, the hard bit is concentrating enough to keep the barrier up. This is a good lesson in focus.”
It was a few hours until the rain stopped. The sun had come out to they decided stop for their midday meal. Navihm was only slightly damp where the rest of the group were sodden. Rose took in his wet sleeve and the droplets of water in his hair with a slight smirk.
“Don't worry Navihm, I’m sure you will get better with more practice,” she said, barely hiding her smugness. Rose was glad that she was better at Navihm at something. That didn't happen very often. Kaia approached them and gave Navihm a small kiss on the cheek, whispering something in his ear. Rose was startled to notice that Kaia was as dry as herself.
“Well done Navihm,” the professor chimed in. “You did a good job keeping up two barriers.” Rose pouted, annoyed.
You may have picked up on the fact that Kaia has two of her beads, this is mentioned back in chapter four when Navihm is explaining to his class about what the beads mean.
It may not surprise you to learn that Kaia earned her first bead during the events of the prologue when she used herself as a distraction to save Hitomi. In fact, at only 8, she was the youngest person in the First's history to earn a bead.
But how did she earn her second bead you ask? The answer may come with the next chapter =)
P.S could you tell that I wrote this just after seeing the new StarWars movie? There is an overt homage to Rey's outfit in this chapter. I couldn't help myself!
P.P.S, I just stumbled across my humble story at #45 on the popular this week list. Holy shiitacke! Thanks guys
P.P.P.S let me know what you think of the bonus features