Home > The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5)

The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5)
Author: Brandon Sanderson

"My lord," Ashe said, hovering in through the window. "Lady Sarene begs your forgiveness. She's going to be a tad late for dinner."

"A tad?" Raoden asked, amused as he sat at the table. "Dinner was supposed to start an hour ago."

Ashe pulsed slightly. "I'm sorry, my lord. But. . .she made me promise to relay a message if you complained. 'Tell him,' she said, 'that I'm pregnant and it's his fault, so that means he has to do what I want.'"

Raoden laughed.

Ashe pulsed again, looking as embarrassed as a Seon could, considering he was simply a ball of light.

Raoden sighed, resting his arms on the table of his palace inside Elantris. The walls around him glowed with a very faint light, and no torches or lanterns were necessary. He'd always wondered about the lack of lantern brackets in Elantris. Galladon had once explained that there were plates made to glow when pressed-but they'd both forgotten just how much light had come from the stones themselves.

He looked down at his empty plate. We once struggled so hard for just a little bit of food, he thought. Now it's so commonplace that we can spend an hour dallying before we eat.

Yet, food was plentiful. Raoden himself could turn garbage into fine corn. Nobody in Arelon would ever go hungry again. Still, thinking about such things took his mind back to New Elantris, and the simple peace he'd forged inside the city.

"Ashe," Raoden said, a thought suddenly occurring to him. "I've been meaning to ask you something."

"Of course, your majesty."

"Where were you during those last hours before Elantris was restored?" Raoden asked. "I don't remember anything of you for most of the night. In fact, the only time I remember seeing you is when you came to tell me that Sarene had been kidnapped and taken to Teod."

"That's true, your majesty," Ashe said.

"So, where were you?"

"It is a long story, your majesty," the Seon said, floating down beside Raoden's chair. "It began when Lady Sarene sent me ahead to New Elantris, to warn Galladon and Karata that she was sending them a shipment of weapons. That was just before the monks attacked Kae, and I went to New Elantris, completely unaware of what was about to occur. . . ."

Matisse took care of the children.

That was her job, in New Elantris. Everyone had to have a job; that was Spirit's rule. She didn't mind her job-actually, she rather enjoyed it. She'd been doing it for longer than Spirit had been around. Ever since Dashe had found her and taken her back to Karata's palace, Matisse had been watching after the little ones. Spirit's rules just made it official.

Yes, she enjoyed the duty. Most of the time.

"Do we really have to go to bed, Matisse?" Teor asked, giving her his best wide-eyed look. "Can't we stay up, just this once?"

Matisse folded her arms, raising a hairless eyebrow at the little boy. "You had to go to bed yesterday at this time," she noted. "And the day before. And, actually, the day before that. I don't see why you think today should be any different."

"Something's going on," said Tiil, stepping up beside his friend. "The adults are all drawing Aons."

Matisse glanced out the window. The children-the fifty or so of them beneath her care-stayed in an open-windowed building dubbed the "Roost" because of the intricate carvings of birds on most of its walls. The Roost was located near the center of the city-within-a-city-close to Spirit's own home, the Korathi Chapel where he held most of his important meetings. The adults wanted to keep a close watch on the children.

Unfortunately, that meant that the children could also keep a close watch on the adults. Outside the window, flashes of light sparked from hundreds of fingers drawing Aons in the air. It was late-far later than the children should have been up-but it had been particularly difficult to get them to bed this night.

Tiil is right, she thought. Something is going on. That, however, was no reason to let him stay up-especially because the longer he stayed awake, the longer it would be before she'd be able to go out and investigate the commotion herself.

"It's nothing," Matisse said, looking back at the children. Though some of them had begun to bed down in their brightly-colored sheets, many had perked up, and were watching Matisse deal with the two trouble-makers.

"Doesn't look like 'nothing' to me," Teor said.

"Well," Matisse said, sighing. "They're writing Aons. If you're that interested, I suppose that we could make an exception and let you stay up. . .assuming you want to practice writing Aons. I'm sure we could fit in another school lesson tonight."

Teor and Tiil both paled. Drawing Aons was what one did in school-something that Spirit had forced them to begin attending again. Matisse smiled slyly to herself as the two boys backed away.

"Oh, come now," she said. "Go get your quills and paper. We could draw Aon Ashe a hundred or so times."

The boys got the hint and slipped back to their respective beds. On the other side of the room, several of the other workers were moving among the children, making certain that they were sleeping. Matisse did likewise.

"Matisse," a voice said. "I can't sleep."

Matisse turned toward where a young girl was sitting up in her bedroll. "How do you know, Riika?" Matisse said, smiling slightly. "We just put you to bed-you haven't tried to sleep yet."

"I know I won't be able to," the little girl said pertly. "Mai always tells me a story before I sleep. If he doesn't, I can't sleep."

Matisse sighed. Riika rarely slept well-especially on nights when she asked for her Seon. It had, of course, gone mad when Riika had been taken by the Shaod.

"Lay down, dear," Matisse said soothingly. "See if sleep comes."

"It won't," Riika said, but she did lay down.

Matisse made the rest of her rounds, then walked to the front of the room. She glanced over the huddled forms-many of which were still shuffling and moving-and acknowledged that she felt their same apprehensiveness. Something was wrong with this night. Lord Spirit had disappeared, and while Galladon told them not to worry, Matisse found it a foreboding sign.

"What are they doing out there?" Idotris whispered quietly from beside her.

Matisse glanced outside, where many the adults were standing around Galladon, drawing the Aons in the night.

"Aons don't work," Idotris said. The teenage boy was, perhaps, two years older than Matisse-not that such things really mattered in Elantris, where everyone's skin was the same blotchy grey, their hair limp or simply gone. The Shaod tended to make ages difficult to determine.

"That's no reason not to practice Aons," Matisse said. "There's a power to them. You can see it."

Indeed, there was a power behind the Aons. Matisse had always been able to feel it-raging behind them lines of light drawn in the air.

Idotris snorted. "Useless," he said, folding his arms.

Matisse smiled. She wasn't certain if Idotris was always so grumpy, or if he just tended to be that way when he worked at the Roost. He didn't seem to like the fact that he, as a young teenager, had been regulated to child-care instead of being allowed to join Dashe's soldiers.

"Stay here," she said, wandering out of the Roost toward the open courtyard where the adults were standing.

Idotris just grunted in his usual way, sitting down to make certain none of the children snuck out of the sleeping room, nodding to a few other teenage boys who had finished seeing to their charges.

Matisse wandered through the open streets of New Elantris. The night was crisp, but the cold didn't bother Matisse. That was one of the advantages of being an Elantrian.

She seemed to be one of the few that could see things that way. The others didn't look at being an Elantrian as an 'advantage,' no matter what Lord Spirit said. To Matisse, however, his words made sense. But, perhaps that had to do with her situation. On the outside, she'd been a beggar-she'd spent her life being ignored and feeling useless. Yet, inside of Elantris she was needed. Important. The children looked up to her, and she didn't have to worry about begging or stealing food.

True, things had been fairly bad before Karata had found her in a sludge-filled alley. And, there were the wounds. Matisse had one on her cheek-a cut she'd gotten soon after entering Elantris. It still burned with the same pain it had the moment she'd gotten it. Yet, that was a small price to pay. At Karata's palace, Matisse had found her first real taste of usefulness. That sense of belonging had only grown stronger when Matisse-along with the rest of Karata's band-had moved to New Elantris.

Of course, there was something else she'd gained by getting thrown into Elantris: a father.

Dashe turned, smiling in the lanternlight as she saw her approach. He wasn't her real father, of course. She'd been an orphan even before the Shaod had taken her. And, like Karata, Dashe was kind of a 'parent' to all of the children they'd found and brought to the palace.

Yet, Dashe seemed to have a special affection for Matisse. The stern warrior smiled more when Matisse was around, and she was the one he called on when he needed something important done. One day, she'd simply started calling him Father. He'd never objected.

He laid a hand on her shoulder as she joined him at the very edge of the courtyard. In front of them, a hundred or so people moved their arms in near unison. Their fingers left glowing lines in the air behind them-the trails of light that had once produced the magics of AonDor. Galladon stood at the front of the group, shouting out instructions in his loose Dula drawl.

"Never thought I'd see the day when that Dula taught people Aons," Dashe said quietly, his other hand resting on the pommel of his sword.

He's tense too, Matisse thought. She looked up. "Be nice, Father. Galladon is a good man."

"He's a good man, perhaps," Dashe said. "But he's no scholar. He messes up the lines more than not."

Matisse didn't point out that Dashe himself was pretty terrible when it came to drawing Aons. She eyed Dashe, noting the frown on his lips. "You're mad that Spirit hasn't come back yet," she said.

Dashe nodded. "He should be here, with his people, not chasing that woman."

"There might be important things for him to learn outside," Matisse said quietly. "Things to do with other nations and armies."

"The outside doesn't concern us," Dashe said. He could be a stubborn one, at times.

Well, most times, actually.

At the front of the crowd, Galladon spoke. "Good," he said. "That's Aon Daa-the Aon for power. Kolo? Now, we have to practice adding the Chasm Line. We won't add it to Aon Daa. Don't want to blow holes in our pretty sidewalks now, do we? We'll practice it on Aon Rao instead-that one doesn't seem to do anything important."

Matisse frowned. "What's he talking about, Father?"

Dashe shrugged. "Seems that Spirit believes the Aons might work now, for some reason. We've been drawing them wrong all along, or something like that. I can't see how the scholars who designed them could have missed an entire line for every Aon, though."

Matisse doubted that scholars had ever 'designed' the Aons. There was just something to. . .primal about them. They were things of nature. They hadn't been designed-any more than the wind had been designed.

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