Chapter Twenty-Three – The council of Milinia

Come morning, all four of them took a break from their training for a day to go and visit the town. Mana and Cobal hadn’t returned to the village since they originally stayed there overnight. Now they were going there to talk to the council and maybe visit some of the shops in town. With Mana speaking there soon, it would be a good idea to get to know some of the people first. Their meeting was early in the morning and then after they could do what they wanted. Dionil accompanied them to town but he said he wanted to visit some places so he wouldn’t go with them to the council. Now they were sitting in the hallway leading up to the council room, waiting to be let in.
“Nervous?” Cobal asked Mana.
She nodded. “Like I said yesterday, I don’t like speaking with strangers too much. As a teacher it was fine, which is strange, but that was just the way it was. I never really questioned it too much. But I’m confident it will be okay, right?”
Cobal nodded. “I’ve talked with diplomats many times and although it can get pretty boring sometimes, it should be perfectly fine.”
Right as they were discussing this, the door opened and out stepped Marsilar, dressed in more formal attire than the previous day. “The council will see you now.” He had a polite smile on his face.
They followed him into a surprisingly small room. A table in the form of a half circle was set up, with six elves sitting around the round half. There was room to stand in front of it. 
“Allow me to introduce you to the council,” Marsilar said. From left to right he pointed at each of them, starting with an elderly elven woman with white hair tied in a bun. “This is Grilia.”
Next to Grilia sat a young man with a shaved head and a long thin beard. “This is Jirit.” 
Next to Jirit was a young woman with blond hair and a shock of green hair. She had a bright smile on her face. “This is Haleya.”
In the middle seat sat a middle aged man built like a bodybuilder. He was wearing a tanktop and had black hair tied into a bun. “This is Qritor.”
The remaining two seats were filled by people who looked very similar. Both had one green eye and one eye of a different color. One had short blue hair, the other had long purple hair. They both nodded politely. “This is Mas and Vas.”
And on the end of the table, Marsilar sat down. “I know it’s a lot of people all at once, but you’ll get to know us if you stay here for a while.”
Cobal nodded. “My name is Cobal Blueyerd, third prince of the Blueyerd kingdom and companion of the Hero Mana.”
“I’m Mana, the hero summoned by the Blueyerd royal family. A pleasure to meet you.”
“The council of Milinia is honored to have both of you as guests in our small kingdom,” Qritor spoke, his voice being surprisingly high-pitched. “I know apologies have been made, but as the head of this council I would like to formally apologize for how the woodland sage treated you,” he said looking at Cobal.
Cobal nodded. “All has been forgiven.”
Mas spoke up, their voice being almost musical in a strange way. “We wouldn’t want relations with our neighbors to go sour because of this, so I’m happy it was resolved.” They looked at Mana. “And we would like to welcome you as an honorary member of this council.” Mas looked at Vas, who pushed a piece of paper forward towards Mana. “If you sign this, you will become a member of this council. You will have the right to cast a vote in matters regarding Milinia and the surrounding woods.” Their voice was similarly musical to that of Mas to the point where Cobal assumed the two were related.
“I’m assuming I can choose to abstain while I’m not in Milinia.”
“That is perfectly acceptable and what we expect.”
Mana signed the paper after looking it through for a little while. “Is this magical or anything?”
Marsilar shook his head. “It’s just a normal contract. All it asks, as you’ve probably read, is that you become a member of the council and will vote for what you believe is best for the village. It’s a formality, we tend to agree on most things here.”
Mana nodded. “I’ll be in your care then.”
“Excellent.” Qritor took the parchment and put it in a small box, then put it on a shelf behind him, where several other similar looking boxes were already standing. “Let us move on to the next point of order then, the festival.”

“The harvest festival is a yearly festival. Every fall we celebrate the good that nature brings us and thank the gods for their hand in our prosperity. It was once a very serious prayer event but over time turned into a more celebratory thing.” Qritor looked at Cobal, “I’m sure your human kingdom has something similar.”
Cobal nodded. “As far as I know harvest festivals are very common in most countries. Are they common in your world?” He looked at Mana.
Mana thought about it for a moment. “You know what, we have a lot of celebrations in our world, lots of them based in religion in some way, but I don’t know if we have one specifically for the harvest where I’m from. Everything’s so modernized that it’s not really a thing we think about a lot.”
“That sounds somewhat sad,” Marsilar offered.
Mana shrugged. “We have other celebrations. We do this thing where people dress up as monsters and go trick or treating, that’s pretty fun.”
“What is trick or treating?” Mas asked, having a curious look on their face.
“It’s something where kids go door to door, asking people for tricks or treats. If you give them candy, they’ll be happy, if not, they’ll pull a trick on you, like throwing eggs at your house or something.”
“What a weird festival.” Mas said.
Mana laughed. “Explaining it does make it sound strange, but I promise you it’s a fun time for everyone involved most of the time.”
“Either way, we’re getting distracted,” Qritor interjected. “The festival will take place on the last day of this month. We were hoping you could hold a small speech for the people to motivate them.”
Mana nodded. “I was worried for this, since Marsilar already brought it up when he visited Dionil.” She sighed. “I’ll do it, as I said to him as well, but I don’t promise I’ll be good at it.”
Qritor’s so far serious look turned into a big smile. “That’s all we ask from you, it’s much appreciated.” He stood up. “Well then, unless you have any other questions for us, this meeting is over.”
They all stood up and Mana and Cobal left the office.
“That went well, right?” Cobal asked her.
“It went as well as I expected. Reminded me of a teachers meeting at the school in a sense. Not too formal but should have been an email.”
“That’s a lot to explain all at once, it’s like a letter you send to a bunch of people, but they receive it immediately and can reply quickly to it as well.”
“That makes sense, it’s like magic.”
“Sure, good enough.”
“Want to have a look at some of the stores in town?” Mana asked, changing the subject. 
“Let’s,” Cobal replied, as they made their way towards the center of the small town.

The town of Milinia was partially built on high ridges in the trees and partially on the ground. Most of the houses and some of the more luxurious stores were higher up while most of the shops, craftsmen and farmers were on the ground level. Stairways weaving around trees were in several places and bridges connected most of the places so it wasn’t a journey to get from one place to another. The buildings were made almost exclusively out of wood and logs, just like Dionil’s house was. Where some of the cities they came through in the Blueyerd Kingdom had a stone foundation and bricks for walls, the elves seemed to prefer wood and planks. With the safety of the forest protecting them from wind and water, these buildings were more than sturdy enough to suffice for their living standard. Cobal and Mana strolled along the forest ground, leaves mostly lining the dirt roads. “How many years were you a teacher for?” Cobal asked Mana.
“Why are you asking that suddenly?” Mana sounded surprised.
“We’ve talked a lot over the past few months, but you rarely talk about your old world unless prompted. I guess I’m just a bit curious about it. It’s a completely different world from mine, after all and it’s really hard to comprehend sometimes.”
Mana stopped walking and Cobal followed suit.
“I was a teacher for a little more than three years. If you count internships it was about seven years, but the first two or so years of those I barely taught, I was just observing.”
“Kind of like when a young man or woman is sent to a craftsman, first they just sweep the floor and observe.”
“You could say that. We used to say that interns were there to get everyone coffee or tea. There were internships where this happened for real and it’s not a good sight. You learn so much more by actually doing, so observing is fine for a while, but shouldn’t be too long.”
Cobal nodded. “You can learn a lot from watching the best sword fighters but if you’re not putting in practice it doesn’t matter how well you know their movements, your body won’t be able to keep up with those movements.”
“Yeah, that’s similar, I suppose.” She continued walking. “I taught mostly young kids and it was a pretty nice job, although tiring at times.”
“So is sword fighting.”
Mana laughed. “Probably for different reasons, but I can imagine that to be true.” She looked up at the sky. “You know, even though training is going well so far and my magic is steadily improving, I feel like something’s wrong about it.”
“What do you mean?” Cobal asked.
“I don’t want to say this around Dionil, because he’s very wise and probably knows what he’s doing, but there’s something about the way he’s teaching us how magic works that feels unintuitive. It feels as if there’s something important that we’re missing.”
Cobal thought about this for a moment. “As far as I’m aware, Dionil’s teachings line up with what most scholars believe about magic. If there’s something missing, that is not a fault of Dionil’s, but more so a fault of magic studies as a whole.” He chuckled. “It would be very funny if an outsider found something wrong with their studies after a few weeks of trying.”
“Maybe I’m completely wrong, I’m not super confident about this at all, but I’m thinking I should bring it up with him.”
“You should, I’m sure he’s willing to humor the idea. He seems fairly open minded on most things.”
“Perhaps that’s a good idea.” They continued walking for a little while. There were several shops and eventually they found what looked to be a weaponsmith. Standing outside the store was a familiar face.
“I expected you two to eventually wander your way towards this place,” Dionil said with a smile. He motioned them over. “Follow me, the owner of this place is an old friend of mine.”
Looking at the building, this was the only building they’d seen in town so far that had stonework in it. There was a furnace made out of stone and the sound of metal being worked came from the open workplace out back. Following Dionil, they both went inside.

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