Va’il’s arm healed after a few weeks. The break wasn’t as bad as expected. The worst part, according to the doctor, was the amount of time it took Va’il to come to him. The doctor treated the area, as the swelling was still an issue, and then put a cast on the arm. A few weeks later, the bones were healed enough to remove the cast.
“It’s white,” said Mai’ou.
“Mhm,” Va’il responded while bringing a spoonful of soup to his mouth.
“You should leave your arm in the sun for a while.”
“Mum, that’s silly.”
“But it’s white!”
“I’m always this pale,” Va’il said while holding up both arms together. Though the left one was whiter, it was nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two arms. Mai’ou didn’t respond. She just stared disapprovingly while eating the soup.
“Did you have fun today?” she asked casually.
“Yeah! We found a beetle the size of a finger, with a scary looking head! Pete nearly had a conniption when I dropped it on his head!” Mai’ou stared at Va’il disapprovingly. He didn’t seem to notice. “But we had to leave it where we found it. Nobody was willing to take it home. It was pretty scary. How about you, Mum?”
“Oh, nothing much. It was a normal day at the store. Oh, there was one thing. One of my regular customers proposed to me. Mr. Eason, a lupus. I handed him two pounds of lamb, he asked me for my hand in marriage.”
Mai’ou twirled her spoon in the air casually while looking away from Va’il. She heard Va’il’s spoon finally fall into the bowl. She looked at him while smiling to see his expression. His mouth was closed tightly, and he was looking down. His eyes were wide, and his nose was flared. Mai’ou noticed that the claws on Va’il’s right hand were protruding. She smiled and remained silent. After a few moments, Va’il picked up the spoon and continued eating. He didn’t say anything for the rest of the night. Mai’ou smiled, and remained silent through dinner as well. She talked while putting Va’il to bed later that night, but Va’il remained mysteriously silent. It was a little worrisome to Mai’ou, but she didn’t pry into Va’il’s silence.
“We have a problem.” Va’il, Kelin, and Pete were standing in the middle of a small shack in Pete’s yard. They had outfitted the shack with a few chairs, hidden toys, and books. Papers detailing the various imaginative ideas and plans the children had come up with over the years littered the floor. They had just entered the shack when Va’il made his announcement.
“Gentlemen, let us sit,” Va’il said.
“Boys, did you want some juice or water?” A woman’s voice was heard at the door to the shack.
“Just some almonds, orange juice, cinnamon bread, and three apples,” Pete replied to Calatan, his mother. Va’il and Kelin each asked for milk. They made sure she had walked off before continuing the conversation.
“As you were saying, Va’il,” Pete said.
“Yes, a problem. A big one. Too big. I’m not sure I should even say it,” Va’il said.
“Just out with it,” Kelin said with a growl.
“You’re not going to like it. It’s Mai’ou,” Va’il said.
“What, what happened to Mai’ou?” Kelin asked. He became very interested, and Pete leaned closer while resting his arms on the table.
“It’s, she just told me the other day that she’s getting married,” Va’il said.
“What?” the other two boys shouted in unison. The shock was apparent in both of their faces; never had a lupus and a swine ever looked so similar. Va’il expected one of them to fall out of their chair, but both were leaning even closer now.
“Explain, now!” Kelin’s fangs were looking more prominent than usual.
“She said a customer, a lupus man named Eason; he’s the one who asked her,” Va’il said.
“And who is he?” Kelin asked.
“A customer,” Va’il said plainly. Kelin and Pete looked at each other incredulously.
“And, still, who is he?” Pete picked up where Kelin left off.
“Uh, I don’t know any more,” Va’il said while shrugging his shoulders.
“That’s not nearly enough! Didn’t you ask more?” Kelin asked.
“No, I didn’t know what to say,” Va’il said with another shrug.
“So you didn’t even object?” Kelin asked.
“No. So, you understand the problem now?” Va’il said.
“All too well,” Kelin said while shaking his head. “Va’il, you really need to learn to look into things with more depth. Come on, we’ve got work to do.”
The three boys stood up and walked out of the shed. They headed into the back of Pete’s house. His mother was waiting in the kitchen with a plate full of snacks and drinks. Pete had a good-sized house in the city’s second district. His father was a spice merchant and made enough to afford more than what they had. The house itself was simple, elegant, and spacious. There were five rooms, which allowed Pete separation from the rest of his siblings. His mother, a tall swine who was heavier than she looked, was a homemaker. She served the boys happily with peanut butter and apples. Glasses of milk were set on a fancy oak table. The boys quickly ate, said their goodbyes to Calatan, and ran out the front door.
“So what’s the plan?” Pete asked.
“We find the guy,” Kelin replied.
“And then?” Va’il asked.
“We… we do things. I haven’t got that far yet. We will think of a plan once we have investigated the enemy.” With that, the boys took off.