Va’il, Teena, and Ruby stood around the avian, entranced. No matter what, they hadn’t been expecting a life story.
“No, no, thank you,” Va’il said. De’un simply nodded.
“Va’il, it’s about time. I don’t want to be rude to you sir, but we have a friend waiting, who gets a little anxious if he’s made to wait. Really sir, thank you so much. Your story, your life, it is amazing. Before we go, what happened to that farm girl?” Teena asked.
“She’s at home, of course!” De’un said with a wide grin. Teena and Va’il smiled at De’un’s explanation, gave another bow and thanks, and then left to go find Kelin. “You are, miss?” De’un asked of Ruby.
“I, uh, sir, I’m, was that Va’il? Oh, I apologize. I mean to say, my name is Ruby Melonscone,” Ruby eventually replied after much stuttering. She hadn’t realized Va’il was almost beside her the entire time, and only noticed it was really him when Teena mentioned his name.
“Melonscone, is it? Hmm, you’re a fair young girl, so you must be Kaz’s daughter. Is that right?” De’un asked.
“Kaz Un Yeatre Melonscone’s only child, yes. My mother is Jane Lucrene Melonscone. Though, father died when I was only four. If you knew my father’s name, then you might have known my mother either under the names of Strawtree, with which she bore two daughters, or her maiden name of Midivald, from the house of Green Forest.”
“You’re a child of Melonscone and Midivald? The house of Scones and of Green Forest actually got together? I’ve been isolated too long, too long! Why miss, I’m not even privileged enough to look upon you, even if you are a child!”
“Please sir, it is fine. I was the one who eavesdropped on your story. It was enthralling. I couldn’t help but overhear, and I think that might have been a friend of mine. Was that boy you were speaking with a half?”
“Ah, so that’s what he was. I wasn’t sure. I see. Rising sure has developed quite a bit. A half… and a noble at that! Maybe… maybe. I really wonder who the next king is now. To see so many amazing things speaks wonders about its ruler. I wonder if Fidel’s child will be as wonderful as he was.”
“We will see, right? Thank you for your company, Marquis De’un. Enjoy your stay in Rising,” Ruby said. She then bowed and took her leave.
“Smart. She knew who I was without me ever once mentioning my name. Those families… looks like I better start drafting up some alliance agreements,” De’un thought to himself with a smile.
Ruby had faithfully accomplished her mission, but her mind was in turmoil. She was deep in thought over why Va’il had appeared. She thought and somewhat realized that he was friends with a couple nobles, but that wouldn’t matter. Ruby was a noble, and she didn’t want to attend. Much less should a commoner. Something seemed extremely suspicious about it to her. She passed off De’un’s assumption that Va’il was noble, but it did make her further suspect why Va’il had appeared. As she was musing it over, she happened to catch another glance of Va’il and Teena. She saw as they met up with Kelin. It then struck her that Kelin had told her specifically to come. She shivered once at the realization.
“Does he know?” Ruby asked herself. “Now I’ll just have to find out more.” Ruby went through a long train of thoughts and self-convincing, stirring her suspicions and masking her real motives from herself. She resolved, finally, to do something she had subconsciously wanted to do for a while.
The gathering drew to a close, which prompted Jane to find Ruby. They soon set out for their estate.
“Did you complete each task?” Jane asked. She was smiling and looking pleased. Her tasks must have gone well.
“Every one of them, exactly as asked, Mother,” Ruby replied.
“Yes. He really was just like you said. An interesting person.”
“Well done Ruby. You’re doing well. Anything else, then?”
“Actually, a question. Where was Darius? I didn’t see him anywhere.”
“Darius? Still look up to him, do you? Well, it’s fine. He’s a good enough person when he’s out of my way. But, now that you mention it, I haven’t seen him either. There are a few things I wouldn’t mind discussing with him too. I’ll find out.”
“So, you told me to come, but where were you?” Ruby asked. Kelin looked up at her with a somewhat surprised expression.
“Excuse me?” Kelin asked. He and the rest of the usual group were sitting in the schoolyard under a tree as usual, not expecting the sudden arrival of Ruby.
“Common courtesy, correct? You said I had to come. I would have either way. But what was supposed to happen, Kelin?” Ruby asked.
“Ha!” Kelin laughed, and was feeling very amused. “I see, you took it quite seriously. My apologies, Miss Melonscone, I forgot all about our engagement. When I did remember, you were already being entertained by two dashing boys, and I wouldn’t want to intrude.”
“Are you toying with me?” Ruby asked, indignant.
“No miss. Anyways, those two impetuous fools ended up bumping into Giovinni’s son by accident. They made the mistake of telling him to watch where he was walking, even though they were the ones in the wrong. They must not have known who he was. What do you think happened?”
“Giovinni must have been furious. Darney would definitely have been embarrassed, right?”
“Count Darney is resilient, I’ll give him that, but he still lost a pocket full of gold coins, in public no less.”
Kelin and Ruby kept talking about the affairs of nobles and the like, which the rest of the group paid little heed to. Soon a bell was sounded, and the lunch break was over.
The next day at lunchtime, Ruby arrived once more, this time approaching Teena.
“You’re Teena, part of Eason’s family, right?” Ruby asked. Teena gave her usual pleasant smile.
“Yep. And you’re Ruby,” Teena replied. “How did you know that about me? Have we met before?”
“No, we haven’t, but I’ve known Eason for a while. And just yesterday he was in a very talkative mood.”
“Ha! It seems everyone has known him. Even from the common Va’il to the rare Ruby. I should ask him tonight just how many things he’s done in his life to earn him such notoriety.”
“So he is a commoner only after all,” Ruby thought. She then went on to tell the eager lupus girl more of the things and the stories she knew about Eason. Teena giggled and laughed at the various things Eason had told Ruby, and kept conversing with Ruby until the bell sounding the end of lunch was rung.
A day later, Ruby heard the bell signaling the start of lunch. She packed her items and rushed out the school’s doors. She arrived at the yard earlier than most, and took a long look around. After a bit she stopped and looked up at the cloudy sky, lost in thought, for she hadn’t seen Va’il’s group.
“C’mon, hurry up,” Va’il said. “We gotta catch that spot before the rest.” He was right behind Ruby. She slowly turned. He was looking right at her.
“Well don’t just stand there, let’s go,” Kelin said as he rushed by, patting Ruby once on the back.
Va’il walked by her, turned around, and said, “You coming already?”
It took a moment for Ruby to realize what was going on. Harnes and Pete had already stopped at her side, and Zeick was behind her. She finally did, and emphatically said, “Yes!” Teena grabbed one of Ruby’s hands and pulled her along as they took their spot under a large tree. With that, Ruby had joined Va’il’s group.