“Well, well, well, look who we have here. One, two, three, four truant children. What shall we do with you?” Sensei asked sarcastically. He was holding the cane in his right hand in a very menacing way, and pointing it at Va’il, Pete, Kelin, and Zeick.
“Nothing,” Kelin said, and then walked to his seat and sat down. He promptly pulled a book from his bag and started reading.
“Well, three then,” Sensei said sadly, “and what a wonderful three they are. Your progress will be affected by missing a couple weeks of class. Tests, tests, tests. I’m sure your parents have done more than enough physical punishment, my job is mental.” Sensei’s words made Pete squirm.
“Tests? Do we have to sit to do them?” Pete asked sheepishly.
“Sore, are we? Sitting will definitely be a part of it,” Sensei said with a hearty laugh. Pete and Zeick both sighed as they looked at their desks with fright. The teacher pointed towards the desks, and the other children howled in laughter as both boys took a while to sit. Each time they tried sitting, they yelped a bit, prompting more roars of laughter. Though they were laughed at, none of the boys were ridiculed by their peers. Everyone had already found out that the boys had tagged along with the soldiers. Everyone would treat them like heroes for the rest of the day. But, for now, the hilarious scene was too much to be contained.
Va’il sat when he was instructed to, but to every child’s dismay, he didn’t yelp in pain or take a while to sit. His clothes covered the bandages on his shoulder, so at that moment he was quite pleased with the punishment that Mai’ou had inflicted on him. At least it was her claws and not her fangs, he thought.
Sensei was a merciful person, and accommodated the truant group. He gave them a brief review of what the class had covered in their absence. He told them what to read and what they would be tested on. To make up for it, the four of them would be taking several tests all at once. If even one person didn’t pass one test, they would all have to take new ones. But he gave them three days to prepare, and Harnes assisted the boys during breaks. Her notes were very thorough, and she was happy to share them at Va’il’s request. The story that the boys told about their adventure was a simple one, and lacked any details about the maroon or Geon. They had earlier decided not to tell anyone about those things, because no one would understand, and the events themselves were confusing.
Due to Sensei’s accommodations, Mai’ou’s love, Harnes’ help, and the simple story that the boys told, Va’il’s life was back to normal by the next week. The group managed to make up for any missed schoolwork, and the talks of their heroism quickly faded. They found out that normal life was definitely better. One bit of normal had changed though. Geon was in Rising, and he was living with Pete.
Darius walked through the long hallway in the same way he had many times before. In his arms he held a thick binder filled with many papers. He arrived in the throne room and made his way to the front. He listened as Fidel finished speaking with the minister of technology. The minister had just finished giving her report.
“Very interesting. I’m sure we will find something for it to do in the future. Very well, granted. Your estimate?” Fidel asked.
“I already have metal workers creating a mold. Thank you Sire. I’m sure a prototype is only a few years off at most. Maybe a few months, now that your approval is concrete. Thank you.” She handed a paper to Fidel, which he signed and handed back. She then went back into the crowd of ministers and advisers.
“Ah, Darius,” Fidel said upon noticing the olive-green cloak, “I’ve been waiting for you.”
“King Fidel, Darius is at your service, as always,” Darius said while politely bowing.
“You’ve been back for a few days now. How come you’ve taken so long to greet me?” Fidel asked while smiling.
“Sire, I was inundated with reports. I’ve barely started organizing them. My preliminary report was sufficient, I hope,” Darius replied.
“Yes, Darius, it was. Tendal should be empty soon. It might be empty now, even. A pity the city is lost. But we can only do what we are able,” Fidel said while sighing.
“Yes, Sire. As for the warning, though?” Darius asked.
“Still nothing. I fear for our country, but we’re not completely unprepared for danger. I’ll discuss that later, in private, Darius,” Fidel said.
“Yes, Sire. As for the reports that I wanted to speak of, give me a moment to pull them out here. A casualty report and a census are most pressing.” Darius pulled a couple of papers from the binder and handed them to a servant, who promptly delivered them to Fidel on his throne.
“I see. Better, yet worse, than expected,” Fidel said as he glanced at each. “The relocation efforts are being handled. Hopefully those from Tella won’t have to suffer long.”
“Thank you, Sire. Next is the preliminary report of wealth obtained from Tendal. It’s been added to the treasury and carefully accounted. It should be redistributable towards the refugees in either cash or compensation soon.” Darius pulled another paper from the binder; however, another paper fell out and landed on the ground. He handed the report to the servant, and then picked up the paper on the ground.
Fidel watched as Darius first smiled at the paper in his hand, and then put it back in the binder. Fidel glanced at the report that the servant handed to him, and then looked at Darius again.
“The next report?” Fidel asked.
“That was all, Sire,” Darius replied. He bowed, then turned around and started walking away.
“Wait, Darius. You’re not excused yet.” Darius stopped in his tracks. He turned around and walked back. He had a puzzled look on his face.
“Excuse me, Sire. I apologize for not waiting. It’s just, pressing matters always await. Your commands?” Darius asked while wondering what Fidel meant.
“What was that other report, the one you just had?” Fidel asked, his curiosity rising.
“The one I handed to you was on the wealth we received,” Darius said in a confused manner.
“No, no, the one that fell to the ground,” Fidel said while flailing his hand, fluttering it, and then pointing at the ground.
“Oh, that was just a report submitted by a subordinate. It’s nothing that would be of concern to the king, really,” Darius said.
“That’s for me to decide. You laughed upon seeing it. My interest is piqued. Why wouldn’t it be of concern?” Fidel asked. His words were becoming faster and his interest was obvious.
“Sire, some children stowed away on the mission. My subordinate took care of them for a while, that is all,” Darius said. He thought that would be sufficient for Fidel.
“Oh? Now that is quite interesting. Go on, let’s hear the whole thing. I’m sure the room could use a good chuckle. Well, as long as the kids are safe. I assume so, since you wouldn’t dare laugh at a tragedy?” Fidel asked. The room murmured in agreement. Everyone, from the oldest minister to the haughtiest noble, agreed that it would be entertaining, at the least, to listen. No matter how serious they all were, the recent discussions had been depressing, and this small break was accepted by the group. One particular lupus in the back of the room put his hands over his face and shook his head.