Three heads looked up. One looked down. The silence that lasted was much shorter than it seemed. Four mouths all opened simultaneously and uttered nothing out of shock.
“Hi, Zeick.” Va’il spoke up first.
“Uh, hi.” A response was all that could be given at the moment. Most of the minds in this small vicinity were so full of thoughts that they were empty of words.
“This is your house?” Va’il asked casually.
“Uh, yes,” Zeick stammered.
“Oh. So… what color?” Va’il asked.
“Huh?” Zeick, Pete, and Kelin all looked at Va’il with a sudden snap of bewilderment. In such a confusing situation, Va’il only added to the problem, or so it seemed.
“Your tail. Do you know what color it’s supposed to be?” Va’il asked.
The silence resumed. The taboo that no one was supposed to know of, to speak of, had been touched upon. Va’il himself knew that he had said something wrong, and couldn’t bring himself to speak up until someone else did. Zeick spoke up, with a surprising revelation.
“Gold. It’s supposed to be gold,” Zeick finally responded. There was pride in his voice.
“Really? That would be something to see, since your hair is black,” Va’il said with a laugh.
“But I’ve never really seen it. I’ve always had it, had it, cut.” The words hurt everyone in the vicinity. Pete thought of the twirl in his own tail. Though no one could see it through his clothes, he still had a sense of pride in the way his tail curled just enough to make a circle. Va’il continued the conversation undeterred.
“Then just stop cutting it,” Va’il said.
“No. No, we can’t do that. A half, everyone would know I’m a half. My mother would be hurt, and that man would, would, I don’t know!” Zeick hit the edge of the window frame with his fist.
“Nothing. That’s what. Nothing,” Va’il said calmly. “Nothing will happen. You’ll be Zeick, still. You’re a half, so what? Nothing will happen if you don’t let it.”
“Oh what dribble,” Kelin said crudely, “you really don’t have a way with words, Va’il. Listen Zeick. You’re a half now. End of story. Do you agree or disagree?”
“What?” Zeick asked.
“I said, do you agree or disagree. Are you a half?” Kelin asked.
“I am, so agree, right?” Zeick said while still questioning his own thoughts. He replied with a touch of indignation.
“Then that’s the end of it. You’re a half. Tonight, tomorrow, and from now on. I won’t let you go back to being a human,” Kelin said.
“Kelin?” Pete asked cautiously. One word was enough.
“Power is sometimes a really, really good thing.” Kelin laughed at himself, and stood up, staring at Zeick.
“He’ll be corrupt long before anyone realizes he had a good side,” Va’il said. The display of outright power that his friend recently showed at the hotel made Va’il really believe that Kelin would do something that would help Zeick, though Va’il wasn’t sure if it was the best method. They spoke with Zeick for a while longer before retiring to their homes for the night.
“You’re back later than usual.” Mai’ou was waiting with a stern look on her face.
“That’s because I’ve completed my report!” Va’il spoke very proudly to his fear-inspiring mother.
“Report? Okay, go on, what is this report?”
“My report has determined that you are not allowed to get married.”
Mai’ou’s look changed to one of complete bewilderment. She was used to being bombarded with odd reasoning and strange questions, but this one made her take a step back.
“Marriage? What? Who? Huh?”
“To Mr. Eason.”
“Oh, right, that marriage. My marriage to Eason, correct?” Mai’ou spoke in a sarcastic tone that seemed understanding.
“Yes, him. He is not allowed.”
“Again, what? If I wasn’t so confused… oh. I get it now.” Mai’ou smiled softly when she realized what Va’il meant. “So you remembered that little comment I made a while ago? The one I was only joking around about, but you never responded to.”
“That would be the one,” Va’il said proudly, before realizing the full extent of Mai’ou’s words.
“Then please, definitely do explain why I cannot marry him. This should be amusing.” She spoke the last few works too quietly for Va’il to hear.
“Then I shall explain. As you know, Eason is a doctor. My investigation has shown that he takes too much food and wastes it, from you even. He is a treacherous and lustful man. There is a strange woman in a little school that he cheats on you with, I saw it myself. He is envious of a noble man’s wealth, and demands more from the noble than is necessary. But he is a lazy person who doesn’t really find any enjoyment in taking care of a patient. He just mournfully moves around the patient’s house doing menial stuff. He gets angry really easily, even with the highest of nobles. And he, well, uh, that’s all.” Va’il finished speaking his very condensed report without mentioning anything about Zeick. He thought it best to leave out.
“So you followed him?” Mai’ou asked calmly.
“We sure did.”
“Oh, of course. You weren’t alone.”
“Um…” Va’il didn’t like the smile on Mai’ou’s face.
“Well, let me tell you a few things. Mr. Eason is one of my best customers. We have a very good relationship. He is married to a schoolteacher, and he only said a silly joke that I wanted to tease you with. He doesn’t waste a thing, I should know. He provides food and wealth to families everywhere, whoever is in need. Something that many other nobles would scoff at upon hearing. They probably deserve to be overcharged, though I doubt he does. That man is fair, but some of his patients are odd in their words and actions. Anything else you want to know?”
“What are you saying?” Va’il asked in a dazed manner.
“Oh, and he isn’t lazy either. If you followed him everywhere, you might have seen him at a certain woman’s house. His first patient. He’s been attending to her for eighty years. I don’t think what you saw was laziness. What I’m saying is that you misunderstood every possible thing you could in the worst possibly way, my silly boy.”
“Oh.” Va’il was sucked of energy. He didn’t know what to think. He wasn’t sure if what he saw previously was really interpreted by him correctly, or if his mother was right. She was smiling. Va’il, still a child, believed that motherly smile more than anything else. The silly boy had misunderstood everything. His mother bent down and hugged him.
She whispered into his ear, saying, “Besides, I’m a lupus. We are devoted to one love our entire life, until one of us dies. I told you before, your father is alive. Therefore, even if I was tempted, I wouldn’t have another husband.”
Va’il, satisfied with the many explanations he had received, decided to put everything swirling in his heart to rest, for the time being.
End of Part 1.