“Good afternoon everyone.” A weary Kaidus spoke to the group as he sat down.
“Are you okay?” A female student asked him.
“I’m fine. I just didn’t think the council would still be having this much issues to deal with after a whole term.” Kaidus replied, almost as tired as he looked.
“Is the council still dealing with the Zeyvir problem?” A male student asked.
“No. We were able to get that sorted out before the last ryes. This time is something else.”
It was now Palx—the last turn of the year, and the end of the school term. The next turn Hiso, would be the Rjus—a long break. His Birthday had come and gone, and he was now 8.
Currently, their 2nd class had just ended and the usual party had gathered for lunch. The group consisted of: Mirat Klivus, Jorva Zeille, Prim Lithius, Lisin Rhonorus, and Kaidus himself.
It has almost been a whole term since the day Prim and Lisin first joined him—to formally apologize to him. After that, they had joined him for lunch whenever they could. Jorva also came and apologize to him, joining them. After seeing the four of them, Mirat also joined in.
While an awkward amalgamation at first: a commoner, a low Noble, a prestigious princess of the Lithius family, and two high nobles. The group eventually got past their differences, and were finally starting to speak casually to one another as respectable colleagues.
Eating together had been something that Prim and Lisin were doing to alleviate their guilt while getting to know Kaidus better, but with the addition of Jorva and Mirat, lunch became something of a get-together. As Jorva and Lisin got to know Kaidus, their fear receded, and both started joining in on the conversations—making small talks of their own. The incident between them, all but forgotten.
“So, what happened?” Mirat followed up on his earlier question.
“Another scuffle between students last night. I spent all of 2nd class helping with the questions and recording everything down. This is the third day in a row.” Kaidus answered as he ate.
“Ugh… sounds rough…” Mirat replied sympathetically.
“I heard the last student in intermediate summoning class has managed to contract with a spirit. It seems, come the new term, all of them will be moving up to advanced summoning.” Prim spoke, not wanting to intrude onto council business.
“Oh, me too. There’s only a few of them this term, right? Maybe we should sign up next term, and see if we can get ourselves a spirit.” Lisin suggested.
“You must be offered the class during enrollment Lisin. The masters are the ones who decides which classes you could sign up for.” Prim informed.
“Ah right… that’s too bad…”
“I’m sure you’ll be able to get into summoning class soon Lisin. You just have to keep going like how we’ve been ever since our first year.” Prim reassured her friend.
“OH! I just remembered something I heard from my father over the ryes. Any of you hear about the conflict in Malpaars?” Jorva interjected.
“The war?” Lisin asked.
“A little. My older brother spoke to me about it.”
“No, can’t say I have.” Kaidus answered.
“Me neither.” Mirat added.
“From what my father says, it seems bandits had incited a…” Jorva spoke as everyone else ate while listening to him.
“What is everyone’s plan for the Rjus?” Mirat asked the group after they finished their talk about the war.
“I’m staying here to practice my magic with some other students who are also staying.” Jorva swiftly answered.
“My father says he has a trip planned for my siblings and I, but I still don’t know how long the trip will take. I don’t want to miss the start of the next term.” Prim answered.
“Lisin? Kaidus?” Mirat questioned.
“I’m not sure. Maybe go back home and spend the Rjus with my family.” Kaidus answered.
“Me too.” Lisin added.
“And you Mirat?” Jorva asked.
“Heheh… I will be traveling around and going through Ferrent’s nearby villages and towns with my father. Getting a feel for the land, and acquainted with the people.” Mirat smiled happily as he spoke.
Lunch went by like usual. Random tidbits of information here and there, friendly banters, inquiring about classes, and helping each other with aspects relating to their class.
As lunch came to an end, the group dispersed and Kaidus left for the council room.
“Where’s Philnor?” He questioned as he entered.
“Not here yet.” Julesi answered as she was jotted something down.
Kaidus went over to where Willex the 3rd chair is, and started helping to sort through the council records by date—for the end of the term.
The Council had not been what he expected. Thinking back, he had been naïve.
The mundane tasks he was shown that first day was but a fraction of the jobs in the council. He planned to use any free-study time to peruse the library, but there was always something to do.
Student’s accidently hurting bystanders with magic, breaking things, blowing up objects, flooding rooms, fighting with other schools, misconducts unfit for those of the academy, along with various other troublesome causes. The egos of nobles were a truly frightening thing, and was more so for nobles with great power.
With the day over, Kaidus was in his room looking through the notes he wrote down earlier in the library.
His quest for clues was still an ongoing one. As he had hoped, there were clues regarding large winged creatures in the thousands of records of eye witness accounts and stories. Having meticulously looked through more than half of them, he was able to find some information.
‘If I can just find one of these… if they are as old as the stories claim, maybe… just maybe, I can get some answers.’ He thought to himself as he looked through the countless pages of notes he recorded, putting together where these unknown creatures were spotted.
As the term came to an end, Kaidus was leaving for home. Most of his belongings had already been sent ahead of time, and it was now just him and a small sack with his notes.
Having said his good byes to the masters, and their little group earlier at lunch, it was time to leave the academy.
As this would be the last time he see Zeeke for a while, he decided to bid the Gate seer goodbye.
As he approached, the feline looking spirit came up to greet him.
“Grrrarar!” It sounded happy.
“I’ll be going home for a while, so I’m here to say goodbye for now. I’ll be back next term.”
“Ra?” Zeeke replied, sniffing about Kaidus and his luggage.
“Here you go.” Kaidus pulled out a small piece of derilt root from his pocket and gave it to Zeeke.
“Rrraarararaa!” it was elated. Quickly snatching the derilt root and swiftly disappearing into its shack before coming out again.
“RAAAR!!” it roared happily, moving in to nuzzle Kaidus’s leg.
“I’ll bring you something fresh when I come back.” He said as he bent down to stroke the small cat’s grassy fur.
The nature spirit had been indifferent to him at first. Try as he might, he was getting nowhere close to befriending it. It wasn’t until he came back to the academy, and was eating Adalina’s packed lunch on one of the benches nearby, that Zeeke came to him. It was because of the laraze slices in the lunch that had attracted the feline.
Ever since then, he has been giving it all sorts of vegetables. It turns out, Zeeke will only take uncooked raw vegetables. He still had no idea what Zeeke did with them, but it was somewhat bringing them closer together.
After saying his goodbye, Kaidus left the academy.
“KAIDUSH!! Anise tackled him as he arrived at home.
“Welcome back honey.” Adalina also gave him a hug.
“I’m home.” Kaidus gave them a big smile.
“I’ve put the luggage you sent earlier in your room.”
“Thank you, mother.”
“Diner is ready, but your father is not home yet. Would you like a snack while we wait?”
“No, it’s okay, I had a snack on my way home. We can wait for father.” He answered as they made their way to the living room.
“Kaidush? Are you shtaying thish time?” Anise asked, her face pleading him to stay.
“I’m staying for a long time.” Kaidus answered back with a grin.
“YESH!” Anise exclaimed happily as she hugged him. Adalina watched with a warm smile on her face.
“So, what have you been up to this time while I was gone?” Kaidus asked Anise.
True to his promise, he had been coming home every ryes to spend time with the family.
“Mommy wead the shleeping dog and the angwy cat to me yeshterday. And guessh what, guessh what.” she asked him with a smile on her face.
“We shaw a big dog today! He walked by ush but I washnt shcared!” a huge grin on her face, her dimples prominently showing.
“Good girl.” He smiled back as he gently stroke her hair.
“Ehehehe!” And she laughed as she hugged him again.
“You said last time that this will be a long break?” Adalina asked from where she sat.
“Yea. It’s a turn long, so I’ll be home until the start of Alivai.” He replied back to Adalina while gently petting Anise’s head.
“So… Lord Varath’s been asking about you.” Troyle said with a grin as they ate.
“…Why would he be asking about me?” Kaidus asked.
“He really likes you. And… I may have said something about you coming back for a long break while we were drinking a couple days ago.” Troyle tried to give an innocent grin.
“Is this about the marriage proposal?” Adalina interposed.
“Why does mother know?” Kaidus asked Troyle curiously.
“I… may have told her.” Troyle gave another innocent grin. This time, with a wink.
“…” He was dumbfounded.
“Oh? Is it bad that I found out?” Adalina teased.
“No. What do you think about the proposal?” he asked Adalina calmly.
“I thought it was a fine proposal.” Adalina replied. “Miss Reanne has brought Sylvia over a few times to visit. Isn’t she a cute girl? She’s very nice, and gets along well with Anise too.”
“Shylvia?” Anise looked up from her plate.
“Yes. Big sister Sylvia. You like her don’t you?” Adalina spoke to Anise.
“Yea! Big shister shylvia ish very nicshe. She plays with Anish!” Anise replied happily at the mention of Sylvia.
“You too Anise?”
‘What fearsome parents.’ Kaidus thought, remembering Lord Varath and his wife Reanne. They were truly trying to ensnare him one way or another.
“I know you just got back, but how about joining us tomorrow? The lord’s been asking me to bring you to visit for quite a while now. I’ve been telling him you are at school, but I don’t think I can use that excuse anymore.” Troyle asked.
“A visit to Lord Varath’s Estate again?” Kaidus inquired cautiously.
“We’ll just be there to pick up the Lord. We’re heading outside tomorrow to check up on the derilt farms.
“Something wrong with the farms again?”
“There was a report two nights ago about an attack. The lord has gathered up some men, and we’re going to check it out and make sure the farmers are okay.” Troyle explained.
“I see, in that case, please allow me join you. It’s been too long since I’ve ventured outside of Ferrent.” Kaidus replied.
“Good. Same time tomorrow then.”
“Troyle. What do you think is happening?” Lord Varath questioned with a wide grin on his face.
“My Lord, they’re children…”
There were four carriages moving toward the outer gates of Ferrent.
Troyle and Lord Varath in the first one, two kids in the second, followed by another two that were occupied by guards.
Kaidus sat facing a girl with short dark blue hair in a cobalt dress. This time, she was meekly looking back at him. The scared sheltered princess he had met almost a year ago was holding her grounds.
When they arrived at the Lord’s estate, Lord Varath had immediately called for Sylvia to join them, then threw them both in a carriage together.
“Good to see you again, Lady Sylvia. How have you been?”
“I-I’ve been fine. T-Thank you.” She managed a meek reply.
“Is this your first time out of Ferrent?” Kaidus asked.
“Are you scared?”
“No. F-father said you would p-protect me.” She replied nervously, but her eyes showed absolute trust in her father’s words.
‘Hah… that man…’ Kaidus pictured Lord Varath’s grinning face in his mind.
“Did he say anything else?”
“No…” She looked away embarrassed.
“Sorry. I will not pry on the subject.” Kaidus felt that it was better he did not know.
“F-father said you go to Zorin academy… my big brother Larant is going there soon.” She timidly spoke, trying to start a conversation.
As they rode, he attempted to entertained Sylvia with stories about the academy, and about magic.
Reaching a building in the outer farmlands, he finally witnessed what Troyle had always talked about as he stepped out of the carriage.
The areas of farmland that bordered the forests and wilderness were ravaged by wild animals, and many guards were injured. Having expanded the farms into their territories, many animals were retaliating against the farmers, and eating or destroying their crops.
“This is quite bad…” Troyle spoke as they saw the fields.
“Indeed. Even worse than the last time.” Lord Varath added to the grimness.
“Lord Varath. Thank you for coming!” A guard came out of the building to greet them.
“Lynor, what happened here?” Lord Varath asked his guard.
“Two days ago the korgas suddenly came out of the woods and killed three of our kaltiers and two farmers. We’ve been fighting them ever since. Some of the workers were able to escape in time because of the hounds, but none of them are willing to go back out into the fields now.” The guard answered.
“Three kaltiers and two workers?” Lord Varath voiced in disbelief. “Korgas are but a fraction of the size of a kaltier, how is that possible? And what happened to the workers?” Lord Varath inquired further.
“My lord… the workers claimed a demon was commanding the korgas, and that it was the one who killed the Kaltiers. The attack was so sudden, that we were caught unawares… we couldn’t protect those two.” Lynor spoke angrily at that last part.
“Yes, my lord. They say it was in the guise of a large hound. Those who saw it, said it was as large as any Kaltier with thick fiery red fur, and glowing golden eyes.”
“Did any of you see this demon?” Troyle asked the guard.
“No sir, we have not. But with the kaltiers dead, the korgas have been coming further into the farmlands. We barely repelled them yesterday day. If you had not come today, I fear to imagine what would happen if they attacked again.”
“Take me inside. I want to hear everyone’s own account. Grenth, you guys keep an eye out, and watch my daughter and the carriages.” Lord Varath ordered.
“Yes, my lord.” Both Grenth and Lynor answered.
Staring at the damages, Kaidus could see that it was out of the ordinary. The fences along the outsides were broken, derilt plants were trampled and dug up, soil was overturned here and there, and the land was a huge mess.
After a while, Lord Varath and Troyle came out of the building.
“Grenth, take a few men and follow the road. I want you to circle back into the forest and scout that area.” Lord Varath pointed towards a patch of the forest bordering the fields. “Don’t take any chances. Just see if you can pick up anything and report back.”
Taking half the men who came with them, Grenth and the scouting party followed the road until they were out of sight, then ventured into the thick forest.
“What do you make of this?” Lord Varath asked Troyle.
“I don’t know my lord. Maybe we should consider what the farmers are saying?”
“Every one of them said the same thing. They all clearly saw something and it would be unwise to not consider the possibilities.”
“I don’t doubt that they saw something, but no one has ever seen a demon or even know what they look like. I can’t bring myself to believe that it is anything more than an overgrown beast of sorts…”
Kaidus was silently watching the forest as Troyle and Lord Varath talked about the problem at hand. Having silently observed for a while, an ominous presence began manifesting from the direction of the scouts.
“Something is happening.” Kaidus interrupted their talk.
“What’s going on?” Lord Varath asked.
“GYAHHH!!!!!” A doomed scream sounded off in the distance.