A final note hit the xylophone. The boy put the instrument down and looked out past the city walls. The boys, broken from their trance, quickly followed suit and looked over the walls. There below them stood several creatures that they had trouble seeing in the darkness. The maroon had stopped moving, and were instead staring up towards the tower where the boy was. He surveyed the sight below him, then went back to pick up the xylophone. He gripped it once more and tapped a single note. The boys then looked down again as the maroon had suddenly started moving away. They quickly ran off, leaving the boys more perplexed than ever. They looked up in unison at the boy in the tower. He was smiling widely as he stared down. He nodded to himself, and then turned. Instead of walking away, like he had planned, he stopped upon noticing the group of spectators. His mouth opened and closed a few times. He obviously had thought he was alone, and now was in shock from seeing the audience.
“How are you?” Va’il said in a very unnatural tone. The receiver didn’t respond. Apparently, the situation was quite awkward for him.
“Well, now that the surprise is over, you want to speak?” Kelin asked in a coarse manner. Va’il looked at Kelin disapprovingly. Kelin responded to Va’il’s look. “Well he wasn’t speaking.”
“Still, that’s kind of rude,” Pete said, “since we haven’t met him yet.”
“Oh come on. We’ve been here for an hour, at least, and he hasn’t noticed us at all,” Kelin said.
“Who are you to speak? You’ve been mesmerized for the past hour as well. Why haven’t you spoken?” Pete asked, but the argument was broken by a loud growling sound.
“Excuse me,” the boy said shyly as he covered his stomach with a hand. The four boys stopped their small argument to look again at the foreign boy.
“Hungry?” Zeick asked quietly. The boy nodded in response.
A few minutes later, five boys waltzed into the inn where four of them had been a few hours ago. It was still just as vacant as it had been before. They made their way up the steps towards their room on the second floor. Inside, the room was as they left it, though there was now a sleeping lupus girl in one of the beds.
“Your bed, you get to wake her,” Zeick said to Kelin with a smile.
“Since when did we decide?” Kelin asked with a grumble.
“Since you spent most of your time reading there, earlier,” Zeick said.
“Why don’t we just let her sleep?” Kelin asked.
“Ah, that wouldn’t be right. Though she seems to like that spot. Wouldn’t be appropriate, with this bunch of males. Besides, who will tell us where the food is?” Zeick asked reasonably.
“Fine.” Kelin shook the girl’s shoulder, and she slowly came to.
“Oh, you’re back,” Teena said as she stood up and rubbed her eyes. She blinked a few times, and then rubbed them again. “Odd. If I was seeing double, there should be eight of you, not five.”
“Pete sometimes looks like two people. He eats for two people as well. Speaking of which, Teena, can you please prepare five plates of food? It’ll be much appreciated.” Kelin talked while he held Teena’s arm and led her to the door.
“Sure, just leave it to me,” she said while still rubbing her eyes. The door closed behind her. The group kept silent as they waited for Teena’s footsteps to leave.
“Okay,” Kelin said.
“Yes, okay, let’s start,” Zeick said. Zeick and Kelin looked at the foreign boy.
“So, there is probably a mountain of questions that those two have. It would be best to start talking about who you are and what’s going on as soon as possible,” Va’il said in a serious tone. The boy was taken aback, but he answered nevertheless.
“Though I’m not sure which of us is the rude one, pardon me. But I don’t think telling you will really matter. Surely, you already have seen the effects of the recent battles. I’m someone who’s trying to help, but now I’m completely stumped as to what I can do. I can only hope I run into someone helpful in Rising,” the boy said.
“Wait, what? That was completely random. First, your name. I’m Va’il, this swine is Pete. That’s Zeick, and Kelin is that fiery lupus. You?”
“Geon,” the boy answered.
“Geon? Well, I’ve heard stranger. Next, well, hmm, I’m not sure where to start. Ah, I know. We’re all from Rising, you mentioned Rising. We live there, and came with the soldiers.” Geon’s face lit up at Va’il’s words.
“You do? That would help me a lot if, maybe, well, no, never mind. You’re just kids,” Geon said as he ran through a range of emotions.
“Just slow down. Besides, you’re a kid as well. Now that you know we aren’t local, how about explaining a few things. Like what’s going on in this city, why you don’t seem to be local either, and what you did before,” Va’il said calmly.
“Well,” Geon said, “I guess it won’t hurt to say everything. Even if you can’t help. First, this city is under siege by the maroon. Those are creatures that you saw attacking the walls. To put it simply, they are men that look like they are made of mud. They need the item, so they are attacking various places. They prefer to sleep, you see, and that’s what the item makes them do. For thousands of years they have been asleep, but they just recently woke up. They must be missing the item, and so they are searching for it. They aren’t very fast thinkers, so they have trouble searching, and they also don’t pay attention to anyone that isn’t a maroon as well. They can probably feel the vibrations of the item from time to time, and have been searching each city they come across because they aren’t sure of the distance.” Geon took a breath.
“We’re confused,” Zeick said.
“That’s big. So maroon are mud men that like to sleep, but the thing that lets them sleep is gone and they are looking for it. That’s about it, right?” Va’il asked.
“Exactly,” Geon replied.
“And just what is the item you are talking about?” Kelin asked.
“I don’t know,” Geon said while shrugging his shoulders. The other four stared at him.