Deep in thought, Kaidus rode the carriage back home by himself.
Lord Varath’s full name was Alzin Shuziel Varath, and the house had been of minor nobility. Around 20years ago, when the lord’s father grew ill and could not continue the duties as head of the house, the young Alzin took over. He quickly outpaced his rivals using strategic maneuvers, bringing in wealth and influence to his house. He was in his early twenties when he married the lady Reanne—then Reanne Gilin Lazfor. With her help, the Varath house had truly flourished.
The lord had three children: Larant the eldest son and first born, Jillian the oldest daughter, and finally Sylvia the youngest daughter.
Thinking about the events that had unfolded earlier, Kaidus chuckled to himself.
The book Kargalls: Lords of the skies, sat unopened beside him.
“Wha-..?” the shock had left him speechless.
“Lord Varath, I believe-” Troyle spoke up, but got stopped mid-sentence.
“Come now Troyle. Are you saying my daughter is not good enough for your son?” Lord Varath inquired sheepishly, trying to throw the discussion in a different course.
“My Lord, we’ve talked about this already. You said yourself not moments ago that you would not bring this up. He is just a child.” Troyle answered.
“Yes, but what an extraordinary child at that.” Lord Varath countered with a grin. “If I don’t take the initiative now, who knows how many others will be throwing their daughters at him once they find out? One should never underestimate the information network of the nobles.”
“You mean the rumor mongers among the nobles, dear.” Reanne amended his reasoning.
“Rumors are a form of information, my dear. And yes, I do mean you. One should never underestimate you.” Lord Varath replied back to his wife. A grin on his face.
“No, you shouldn’t, especially you.” She swiftly shot back at him playfully.
“Are you alright with this, Lady Reanne?” Seeing the immovable wall that is Lord Varath, Troyle turned to question the wife.
“Of course. We’ve talked about it three nights ago. It was my idea after all.” She smiled villainously back at him.
“You two…” At a loss for words, Troyle dumbly stared at the two. He had played right into their hands.
“Oh Troyle, don’t be so hesitant. We’ve known each other for three years now, and you’ve saved my husband’s life more than I can count. We’re practically family already. Why not make it official?”
“Protecting the lord is my job, Lady Reanne.” He replied.
“Then we are not paying you enough. How about a daughter-in-law for all your hard work?” Reanne coyly answered.
Looking at Kaidus standing there silently, “We… are not nobles…” Troyle tried to use the commoner card.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t think he’ll be able to elevate himself and your name?” Reanne easily saw through him. “I’m also certain that all the nobles are scrambling for the identity of the commoner who had been admitted into Zorin.” she added, instantly shooting down his argument. “We… are just getting an early head start, that’s all.” Her wicked smile returned, fully showing that she was not even trying to hide her objectives.
“Ah, you should have seen it Reanne! What an amazing gift!” Lord Varath interjected.
… Kaidus stood there speechless. They were talking as if he wasn’t even there.
“…” Troyle too, was truly at a loss for words at the shameless display before him.
Lord Varath turned to Kaidus. “What do you say Kaidus? She’s very cute, isn’t she? She’s got both my charm and my beauty. She’ll definitely grow to be more beautiful than her mother.” Lord Varath spoke with a grin on his face. “OWW!! OUCH! STOP! STOP!”
“Whose charms and beauty?” Reanna asked, having elbowed her husband.
“Yours! Of course yours! My beautiful and very lovely Reanne!!” Lord Varath hastily answered. “…hopefully, she doesn’t have your temper as well…” He muttered under his breath.
“What was that?” Reanne threatened.
“Nothing. I said, I hope Kaidus pampers her as well!” The lord quickly answered while feeling where she had elbowed him. “I think you may have broken my ribs.” He painfully accused.
“Oh? How unfortunate.” Lady Reanne replied with her wicked grin.
“Ugh…” Giving up on the back and forth with his wife, Lord Varath turned back to look at Kaidus. “Well? How about it? Why don’t you marry my daughter?” He asked once again with a smile.
“I thank you for the opportunity, but I must graciously refuse.” Kaidus answered with an apologetic bow, having calmed down after witnessing the couple’s loving banters.
“Is my Sylvia not to your liking? Should I get her elder sister? She’s a few years older than you, but…” Lord Varath asked, the smile still prevailing on his face.
“That is not the case. Sylvia is very cute.” Kaidus replied.
Sylvia’s eyes lit up for a second and she clutched her mother’s dress even tighter.
“I am very grateful for your high evaluation and praises, but please do not be offended by my decision. As I am, I cannot accept your generous offer.” Kaidus said as he gave the lord a bow of respect.
‘Calm and collected… unyielding, yet humble… undeterred by the temptations of lesser men… hmm…’ The lord silently reevaluated Kaidus in his mind. “You know what? How about… what if I just give her to you?” The lord spoke. “She can live with your parents, and when you two are old enough, you can be wed. That way, you both can grow up to understand each other better.” Lord Varath suggested with a grin.
“DADDY! NO!” The silent girl finally yelled out.
“What? You don’t like him?” Lord Varath replied to his daughter.
Sylvia looked at Kaidus. “I… I don’t know!” An embarrassed reply, the little girl quickly went back to hiding behind her mother’s dress.
“It doesn’t look like she’s against it.” Lord Varath’s grin widened.
“Mother…” the little girl feebly muttered from behind her mother.
“I’m sorry, but I will still have to refuse.” Kaidus apologized.
Looking in Kaidus’s eyes, the lord relented.
“Hmm… It seems you have thought this through. I understand, I will not push you any further.” Lord Varath answered.
“Just so you know, we’re not giving up yet. Once she grows up into a beautiful lady, we’ll be sending her after you, so be prepared.” Lord Varath quickly added with a wry smile on his face.
“…Understood…” Kaidus could only reply in acknowledgement, unable to worm himself out of the tactless situation.
“Well then, with that over with. Nice to finally meet you Kaidus. Please take good care of my daughter.” The Lord said, as he took hold of Kaidus’s hands for a handshake.
‘… He… he just told me to please take good care of his daughter…’ He had caught the tail end of it.
“How about sticking around and enjoying my manor? Maybe get to know my Sylvia a little better?” the Lord suggested coquettishly.
“Thank you for the offer, but I cannot stay. The point of today was to meet you and give you my greetings. It was due time I saw for myself, the man whom my father holds in such high regard.” Kaidus politely replied.
“No, thank you. At least allow me to ready a carriage for you.” The lord replied. Surprisingly, he had gone back to being respectable.
“You have my gratitude. It was a pleasure to finally meet you Lord Varath. Please take care of my father.” Kaidus made a bow.
“And you Lady Reanne, Lady Sylvia.” Another bow to Sylvia and Reanne, before he turned to walk out of the study.
“I will see my son out.” Troyle said as Kaidus made his way out the door.
“What do you think?” Lord Varath asked his wife.
“I certainly would not believe he is Troyle’s son if I hadn’t known.” The wife replied.
“Yes… the child holds himself quite well.”
“It is exactly as Troyle says. He is quite the peculiar one. Truly mature for one so young.” Reanne added.
Lord Varath edged closer to his daughter. “You think you can catch him?” He joked.
“…” Sylvia clutched her mother tighter.
“Not like that she won’t.” Reanne interjected as her husband burst into laughter again.
“It’s okay, she’s got you to teach her.” He smiled as he drew his wife in for an embrace and a kiss.
Although he had claimed he could not stay at the Varath manor, the second day at home went like every other day. Spending time with his mother and sister, helping with shopping, finding time to read while Anise was asleep, and listening and conversing with Troyle at dinner about various events going on in Ferrent.
They left out the issue about Lord Varath’s proposition during their dinner talk.
The 3rd day came, and it was time to go back to the Academy.
The carriage had arrived sometime in the afternoon after lunch, and he was saying goodbye to his mother and sister before the departure.
“WAAAA!! WAAA!! No! Gai! No! SHTAY!” Anise was crying in Adalina’s arms, knowing that the last time something like this happened, he had disappeared.
“Anise, Kaidus needs to go now. Please be a good girl.” Adalina tried to console her.
“NO! NO! GAI SHTAY!” She screamed louder.
Kaidus walked up to his sister.
“Anise please don’t cry.” He gently stroked her head.
“NO! WAAAAA! PLEESH DONT GO!!!” She cried, grabbing hold onto his outstretched arm.
“I have to go now, but I’ll be back before you know it.” He reassured her.
“NO!” she yelled, not letting go of his hand.
“I promise.” He said tenderly.
After a moment, her crying slowly diminished.
“*HIC* *hic* p-pwomish? *hic*” she asked in between her sobs.
“I promise. You be a good girl and stay with mom alright?” He gently patted her head as she released his hand.
“*hic* kay… *hic*” she managed a reply.
Having said his goodbyes to Troyle this morning, he gave his mother and sister one last hug before grabbing the small sack that Adalina had packed him, and boarded the carriage bound for the Academy.
In the sack was a new set of clothes Adalina had purchased the day before, the book Kargalls: Lords of the skies, and a lunch she had prepared separately for him.
He had also reluctantly accepted another green fer from Troyle, talking it down from three.
Kaidus took the book out of the small sack and begun reading.
“…secretive and dangerous, the Kargalls live in solitude. Each taking up residence in their own place of choosing, devastating everything around it. For reasons unknown, these mighty drakalls return every twelve years to Arauns Claws, specifically the Imperial Talon, to breed before dispersing into all corners of Lovis again…
… The Kargalls compete and kill each other for mates. Lesser males are quick to retreat out of the Imperial Talon, while the strongest males compete for the best territories. These alphas, having obtain the best territories and hunting grounds, could form harems of up to 10 females in a single breeding season… devastating and killing everything around for food, including other Kargalls…
…Lesser drakalls steer clear of Arauns Caws during this breeding season, and those unlucky enough to not flee the mountains, end up as food for these mighty creatures…
…are thought to be extremely long lived, increasing in intelligence as they age…
… during the beginning of the breeding season… records of smaller Kargalls teaming up to kill larger and stronger alphas before competing against themselves…
…While it is the younger and more virile Kargalls who come back year after year to contest for the chance of mating, there are rumors and stories of Elder Kargalls, known as Karugas. These Elders are rumored to be so great and powerful, that they can sustain themselves on magic alone…
…Natives of Unotus speaks of majestic beasts being sighted inhabiting lakes, mountains, large rivers, and large crevices in the earth, among various other places. One man spoke of his ancestor’s tales about a beast with wings so large, it filled a cave. Another spoke of witnessing a monster rising from the oceans, then flying off into the south. These people believe that the monsters can live forever, claiming to have spotted the same creatures’ generation after generations. Various sighting have also been confirmed of these Karugas in…
“Hasen.” He called to the entity in the ring.
“Yes… master…” the raspy voice echoed back in his mind.
“Do you have any knowledge of these Elder Kargalls, Karugas?” he asked.
“I… don’t know…” It replied back.
The phrases “extremely long lived… intelligence… live forever” caught him. He had merely bought the book out of self-interest, and had not expect to find anything meaningful. Yet, if these claims were not merely exaggerations, but possible facts, then these Karugas could hold some answers.
Hasen had not known, but legends and stories are there for a reason.
He made a mental note as he continued reading.
Having arrived back at the academy around dinner time, he returned to his room to stow away what he had brought and eat the meal Adalina had packed him, before heading to the library.
He needed more information about these Karugas.
Perusing the different isles of the first floor, many books about drakalls caught his attention, but none had any mentions about Karugas, elder Kargalls, or anything along the lines of ancient drakalls.
Disappointed, he gave up and left the library.
Following the walk path back to his room, the light posts around the campus were already infused with mana, giving off a dim light. Many other students were also making their way back to their rooms before it became completely dark.
“Master…” Hasen warned.
“Stay hidden there are too many people right now.” he quickly replied.
As he took another step, surge of mana rose from underneath him. In an instant, he pushed himself off the ground with wind magic and leapt a small distance away from his initial position.
He looked, and a giant spike had emerged out of the ground, impaling the spot he was just at before quickly disappearing underground.
“Who is it?!” Kaidus yelled out. He did not want another repeat of what happened the other day.
Looking around, he saw some students looking at what was happening, but none of them were the one who attacked him.
The earth in front of him quickly rose up and transformed into a giant hand, attempting to grab him.
Unsure of where the attacker was casting his magic from, he used wind magic again and jumped even further back.
“Show yourself!” he screamed again, but the assailant remained hidden.
As if it the previous attacks were just to test him, an instant barrage of mana infused leaves—from the nearby trees—rained down and encircled him. Razor sharp with mana infusion, they were there to cut off his retreats. The ground underneath him suddenly swallowed his legs, and trapped him. He felt another surge of violent mana.
Focusing own mana to cover his body, “Who?!” he screamed, blowing out the ground that had been holding him in place. Using the force of the explosion along with earth magic, he blasted away a side of the leaves and escaped the encirclement.
“…Master…” Hasen echoed again, its voice full of eagerness and wishing to come out.
“Stay out of this!” He commanded his familiar.
Cowardly attacking him with his back turned was one thing, but the attacker was blatantly trying to kill him. Trying to hold his anger in check, “ENOUGH!” Kaidus demanded.
Suddenly, a small orb of light manifested high above him, illuminating the darkening academy.
Students in the vicinity saw, as the sun reappeared.