As before, Eason walked as quickly as he could towards his next destination. Scurrying from alley to alley and across each road was the stalking trio. Eason tapped his cane with each step with a kind of fervor they had not yet seen. The string of curses, many of them incomprehensible, had ended. They were replaced by a look of anxiety and worry. The boys, unaware of what could have truly been wrong, could only guess at the cause.
“I say that he blew up in anger because the noble didn’t want to pay as much as he was asking,” said Kelin.
“No, definitely not,” Pete said. “That noble was obviously in the highest of the upper caste. I bet that they have so much money that Eason could have asked for a house twice the size of the one he has now, and it would have been the same as asking for a single coin from the coffers of that noble. I think it’s because they wanted him to do something that he didn’t have the skill for.”
“Like reattach an eye?” Va’il asked. Pete looked at Va’il sideways, with a singular train of thought apparent in his mind.
“Yes… an eye. I hadn’t thought of that! I would have thought a finger. But who’s ever heard of an eye being reattached? And how would it have come out in the first place?” Pete asked. He sounded serious, but the other two knew he was joking.
Kelin laughed at the ridiculous conversation, though the reason he was laughing wasn’t because he thought it was ridiculous; he also was considering the reattachment of an eye.
“Better than an eye, I would guess it’s a foot that he tried to reattach,” Kelin said with a chuckle.
“Backwards!” Va’il howled in laughter at the thought of a bearan with their giant feet reversed.
“Those high-nobles are pretty amazing. I’ve only heard bits and pieces about the knowledge the highest class is privy too. The true workings of the government, the status of foreign relations, amazing secrets, and more,” Kelin said with a touch of longing. Though his own class was rather high, especially when compared to his friends, he was still just a child.
Eason, for his part, didn’t notice the commotion the boys were not so stealthily making behind him. Each tap of his cane on stone, dirt, or random pebble made a small cracking sound. So did his wrist, a couple of times, though not so loudly that anyone noticed. A few more fangs than usual were showing behind his lupus-sized lips, and the hairs on his tail seemed to be a little straighter than usual. Thus, it was most obvious to any onlooker that this was a very unhappy lupus.
Upon arriving at the door to a moderately large house in the second district, Eason moved his hand a little more forward on his cane, moved his hat an inch back on his head, brushed the sides of his ears twice, then grinned widely once before snapping his face into a serious expression. He looked much more relaxed than he had before. He rapped twice on the door with two knuckles.
“Doctor! Perfectly on time! No, early even. In, in!” A very familiar human man was welcoming Eason into his home. The trio, for their part, was shocked in many, many ways.
“Impossible,” Pete whispered.
“I… I… what?” Va’il muttered.
“I didn’t see this coming,” Kelin said casually after Pete and Va’il had each stumbled over their turns.
“Why is he there? Is this really Zeick’s house?” Va’il asked, stupefied.
“You saw his father there as well. It most definitely is,” Kelin said. Though he was surprised as well, he kept calmer than the other two.
“What could Eason possibly be doing here?” Pete asked with a concerned look on his face.
“I bet it’s his mother. She always looks a little ill,” Va’il said, though he had rarely actually seen her. He was recalling when he had seen her during the return of the king. She hadn’t moved much during the entire procession, now that Va’il thought about it, and she did seem slightly pale even in bright sunlight. Though it was an assumption, the other two boys nodded their heads in agreement.
They decided upon their seemingly favorite spying method yet again, which was looking through windows, a usually safe and effective means of gleaning information from neighbors. Also, it was a method that Pete had no troubles with. They made their way to a window at the side of the house that was covered in overgrowths and shaded, and peered into their schoolmate’s house.
Three bodies falling to the ground could be heard outside the window. Zeick and the others glanced unconsciously towards a window in the dining room, but upon seeing nothing through it, they went back to their dealings at hand. The boys, now sitting and almost limp below the window, could hear the conversation inside.
“Tralfor, sir, though I am usually honored to be a physician, I will have no part in this. You’ll have to find someone else,” Eason said.
“Fifty, no, three times that! There is a great price to be paid for a physician known to be as discreet as you are. For keeping these secrets, it’s only right that you attend to him!” Tralfor, Zeick’s father, spoke commandingly towards the physician. Zeick was at his side, shirtless, and his arm was being held by the tall human. Zeick’s back was to Eason. What was on Zeick’s back was what had shocked three young boys.
“If it keeps growing, let it grow,” Eason said. “I have a certain number of ethics that I abide to, no matter the price, and casually cutting short the tail of a half is something that makes my skin crawl with disgust. Not towards you, poor boy, but towards the people that desire to do this to you. It’s not my right to say anything more. I have my pride; I’m leaving.”
“But–” started Tralfor. He was cut off by Eason.
“And don’t fret, I won’t tell anyone of this boy’s secret. Though I may not approve, and in fact condemn your actions, I gave my word before I arrived. Upon my pride as a faithful physician.” Eason took another look at Zeick’s back, then turned and left as quickly as he could.
Right there on Zeick’s lower back were the beginnings of a tail. The surrounding area was severely scarred and red from repeated trimmings. Zeick, to the surprise of three very young boys, was a half, not a human as they had thought.
Inside, the two parents started squabbling with each other and went off to their room to continue yelling. Though the boys thought it was a two-sided fight, it was mostly Tralfor yelling at Areka, his wife. Though the boys tried not to listen, the yells quickly gave them a picture of the truth. Zeick was not the son of both his human parents. Tralfor was in no way related to his wife’s son. Those thoughts, amplified by the yells in the background, resounded in the heads of four young children, who, at the moment, had no choice but to listen to the screaming.
Zeick put on a shirt, now that he didn’t have to expose himself to the doctor that was supposed to “fix” him, and walked over to a certain window. He considered for a moment not doing what he next did, out of fear that people might hear the yelling of his parents, but something inside made him wish that other people would hear. He opened a window in order to take in a breath of fresh air in both a literal and figurative sense. He stuck his head out and looked down.