Salis' Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: The Imaginarium


New friends, new enemies.

Chapter 6 (v.1) - Buckets of Fun

Submitted: August 25, 2019

Reads: 11

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Submitted: August 25, 2019

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I was sitting at my desk in my room trying my best to stay awake. The night before I had been on the run from Ferret until late into the night. She and her friends had taken it as a game and, despite their looks, were easily able to follow Helnion and I. The only reason I had avoided them was because one of the instructors had come and scolded them before sending them back to their rooms.

"What happened last night?" Arty asked me hesitantly when she finished her morning meal.

"Two foxes were being chased by some hounds." I replied.

"Really!" She said. "I have always wanted to watch a hunt. What was it like?"

"Noisy."

It really had been noisy. I didn't think it was possible for Ferret and her friends not to talk.

Arty thought for a moment before replying. "It was? I do not remember hearing anything last night."

I didn't reply and then turned to my meal. It would not be long until it was time to go to my morning training and I didn't want to be hungry on top of my tiredness.

"Was Ferra with you last night." Arty asked when I had finished. "She came by looking for you."

"Yes." I replied.

"I should ask her if I can come next time." Arty said to herself.

I said nothing more to Arty and put my head on my desk. Since there wasn't a clock on Calorin other than the odd sundial I had no idea how much time I had until I had to leave so I decided to get in a quick nap.

"Salis." I heard Arty say just after the chimes had sounded. "Time to go."

I lifted my head from the desk. It had only been a few minutes and I had been nowhere near falling asleep and felt just as tired as I had before.

I stood up and headed for the door.

"H-have a good day." Arty said. She sounded like she was still a bit uncertain on how to deal with me.

"You too." I replied.

I had never cared for formalities like this but I didn't want to be rude either, especially to my room mate. I had to live with her after all.

I opened the door to find Ferret standing outside.

"Ferra!" Arty said and rushed past me.

"Hi Artua." She replied. "I hope Salis did not wake you up when she got back last night."

Arty looked down for a moment and kicked the floor lightly before answering.

"No."

Ferret laughed lightly. "You do not have to lie."

Arty blushed.

"Can I come next time?" Arty asked after a moment.

This time it was Ferret's turn to show embarrassment.

"I am sorry Artua. I meant to ask you but it slipped my mind."

"That is okay." Arty said.

I looked at each of the girls in turn. If they kept on like this we would be late. Of course I could be mean and just leave them to their fate but Ferret's Salis Radar would probably go off the moment I moved.

"We should go." I said, interrupting the awkward atmosphere.

Both the girls looked at me.

"Right!" Ferra said. "I do not want to do extra laps again."

Ferret began to turn to leave but looked back to Arty when she saw that the younger girl had made no move to follow.

"Are you not coming Artua?"

Arty shook her head. "My parents can only afford the knowledge and magic classes."

Ferret shrugged. "I am not taking any magic instructions so I understand." She said and smiled.

This made me wonder what these two did with their free time. It must have been nice not having to train morning and evening or getting every other day off.

Ferret turned back to me. "I think we should probably run."

She then turned back to Arty long enough to wave a goodbye to her before heading out of the room and taking up a quick walk towards the exit of the building.

 

***

I followed behind Ferret. I actually tried getting ahead of her but since her legs were so much longer than mine I would have had to run to do so, but with a maid staring at us suspiciously I thought it probably wasn't a good idea.

This all changed when we left the building. No sooner had we exited did Ferret burst into a run. I did as well and to my chagrin I noticed that she would look back occasionally so not to run faster than I was.

The run itself was almost as bad as what I had gone through in my training yesterday. Not only were my legs still sore from that, my outing last night had taken its toll on them as well.

"Are you all right?" Ferret said when we came to a stop at the training fields. "You seem a bit slower."

I sat on the ground and didn't reply.

Ferret sat next to me.

"Do not worry it will get better after the first week. My first week I collapsed every day at the end of training and I kept falling asleep during my knowledge instructions." She said with a smile.

I looked around me. From what I could tell we had actually had plenty of time left and hadn't needed to run.

"Oh!" Ferret said, remembering something. "Instructor Benc usually assigns some of us older students to mentor the younger and he let me be your partner when I asked."

I groaned on the inside. The thought of being stuck with this girl every morning…

I noticed Ferret looking around.

"I wonder if Helnion will end up coming." Ferret said after a moment.

I had actually wondered if Helnion would be coming as well, she had been waiting for me on the way to my archery practice yesterday after all. Perhaps she had already gotten bored of me or had simply forgotten?

Ferret suddenly stood up.

"I will be right back." She said and ran off.

It was then that I saw several of her friends.

I took the opportunity to get away and stood up as well. I would not be able to hide from her for long but I was determined to not make this easy for her. Hopefully someday soon she would give up and I would be rid of her.

It did not take long for me to find out that she had been keeping track of me because as soon as the bells chimed signalling the start of training she walked straight through the different groups of children to me.

"I need to get with my group for now but I will see you later." She said and walked to where many of the older children were.

I wondered why she had even bother coming to find me just to tell me she was leaving but I was thankful that I was rid of her for now so I decided not to think too hard about it.

"Line up!" I heard Bench say not long after Ferret had left.

I turned towards where my group was and got in line.

"I see all of you survived yesterday." He said and began walking down the line. "Do not think that I will go any easier on you today, in fact I will be pushing you even harder."

Bench reached my place in line and glanced at the bandages on my right hand but said nothing about it and moved on.

"I know most of you were expecting to go straight into your sword training," he continued, "but I am going to make sure you deserve it. I will also expect you to help your fellow trainees for none of you will touch a sword until I deem all of you worthy and if I feel that any of you do not deserve my training I will see to it that you join one of the other groups if at all. I also expect you to be on your best behavior at all times." He paused and then added, "Unless those people are training with the bow."

Bench turned to the opposite side of the field where the morning group of archers were starting their training and then turned back to us and grinned.

Several of the boys around me laughed.

"Quiet!" Bench yelled. "You will not make any noise in line unless spoken to."

I noticed those same boys, as well as some others, jump.

"Now to business." Bench said. "First off, and always first, we will be doing stretches…"

As Bench had said, the training this morning was indeed harder and from what I could tell all but the two toughest boys collapsed at least once during training, most more than once.

I for one fell five times. I wasn't the worst off but I was close. I knew I would have done better if I had started my training completely rested but I hadn't. If I had known I would be doing this before running from Porra-kel I would have gladly gone with Pali from the beginning.

On a good note I wasn't one of the ones that vomited.

"You survived!" Ferret said, sitting next to me as soon as both our groups had finished our training for the day.

I was laying on the grass not far from the water barrel, with several of the other children from various groups, and was determined not to move from that spot for at least a few hours. I had not only drank my fill of water but had drenched myself with it too.

"I remember laying not far from here my first few days of training." She said. "Actually… I think the first day I could not even make it to the water barrel."

Ferret laughed lightly and looked a little embarrassed.

"Do you want me to carry you back to your room?" She asked and stood back up before looking down at me.

I didn't like the way she was looking down at me and also hated the idea of her carrying me so I stood up as well. It was all I could do to push myself up off the ground and my arms and legs shook as I forced myself up but I did it.

Ferret smiled at me. She also looked a bit disappointed.

"When you start feeling better after training you should join my friends and I in the bath house for a quick bath. It is not heated until night but the cold water helps." She said.

Honestly I was extremely tempted by her suggestion. So tempted that I felt that it might be worth the risk.

I heard some girls shout.

Ferret looked to the girls that had shouted and then turned back to me and looked like she wanted to say something but didn't. Instead I saw a wry smile flash across her face just before she turned away and began jogging for her friends.

I was not certain but that smile made me wonder if she was planning something. She probably was. I would have to be on my guard for an ambush tonight.

No sooner had Ferret left I made my way back to the water barrel. There were a few children ahead of me but I did not have to wait long.

When it was my turn I looked at the ladle hanging over the side and hesitated. I hadn't paid it much mind before but now that there were dozens of sweaty, tired children laying around or having passed through and added to the fact that my morning with Iguana had done nothing but remind me about disease the ladle looked absolutely disgusting to me.

Earlier I had been too tired and thirsty to care but now…

I decided then and there that as soon as I got paid I was going to buy myself a water flask. I would also boil my water before I used it.

I felt the eyes of a child on my back. A line was already forming behind me so I needed to stop wasting time.

I picked up the ladle. The barrel was getting low on water and I had to lean over the side to reach it, even with the long handle the ladle had.

I took a sip and then dumped the rest of the water on me before moving to the side. I then gave myself a quick rub down in an attempt to clean myself.

***

Now that I had done that I decided to head to my knowledge class. Sure I still had a few minutes until I needed to be there but I would get a longer nap if I took one in the classroom.

In the end I nearly did just that. Not only did I easily fall asleep in my seat but if it weren't for Vanilla's repeated scoldings I could have slept through nearly all of her lesson.

Mercifully lunch came. Normally I would have been happy to get up from sitting for so long but my legs felt even more stiff and tired than they had but forced myself to get up anyways and leave the room.

I was not far from the girl's dorm when I saw Ferret's boyfriend Dorito. Once again he was with a large group of others. The two boys they had been pushing around before were also there and were being made to carrying large baskets.

He noticed me and met me not far from the steps of the girl's dorm.

"Hello there Salis." He said, giving me a mock smile.

I said nothing. I was hungry and didn't care to trade insults with an idiot.

"She is the one teaching you math?" One of the boys said.

"Yeah, along with Calren."

"And Helnion." I heard another boy say. It was Caldren.

"Helnion?" The boy to Caldren's right said and poked him in the ribs. "Don't you…"

"Hey!" Caldren said, cutting the boy off and punching him in the ribs lightly.

The boy grinned at Caldren and was joined by the grins of several others.

Caldren blushed.

Dorito turned from the commotion back to me.

"I just want you to know I do not care if you are a Terran or not, there is no way I will accept you as my tutor."

"You tell her!" A boy added. "No way someone as tiny as that knows what she is doing."

Dorito lifted his chin up and walked past me. The rest of the boys followed. Several made jeers at me as they passed.

I took one look at the boys carrying the baskets and then did my best to push the encounter out of my mind and once I had my food in front of me it was not hard.

Lunch time passed quietly and I managed to sleep for most of it. Arty was in the room as well but she followed my example and slept until it was time to go.

It took me a minute to fully wake back up but when I had I no longer felt as sleepy as I had. My muscles on the other hand were just as sore as they had been.

Back in class I wished I had still been sleepy because if I was going to sleep through anything it was etiquette. On the up side Vanilla didn't yell at me.

"Salis." Vanilla said, waving me over when we finished etiquette.

I stood up from my seat and walked to where Vanilla was waiting for me in the front of the room.

"I have been talking with the headmaster and we have come to a decision." Vanilla paused as if giving me a chance to speak. "We have decided that you do not need to be present during the science, writing and grammar sections of class. You already have a vast knowledge of the sciences, and a firm grasp on writing and grammar."

I hoped this wasn't leading to making me tutor some other less than capable children like I had with math. I also wondered why they hadn't already taken care of it when they had done already with my math.

"I had wanted to have you tutor some other children as we already have you doing with Instructor Pai but Instructor Benc has requested that you be allowed to take afternoon training. Headmaster Ury has decided to let you choose."

Vanilla looked at me expectantly. I knew she wanted me to choose tutoring but there was no way I was letting that happen. My body on the other hand wanted nothing to do with the idea of even more training.

My mind won over my body.

"I will do the training." I said.

I thought I saw a flash of disappointment on Vanilla's face but wasn't sure.

"Very well." She said. "I will inform the Headmaster. As for you, from now on you will be allowed to leave class and head to the fields as soon as we finish etiquette. Make sure to be on time to Instructor Pai's for your tutoring. Instructor Benc can be a bit lax with his time in the afternoon."

I nodded and left the room.

I then realized something horrifying. There was a good chance Ferret would be there waiting for me.

 

It turned out I was right. No sooner had I left the Temple of Knowledge was I accosted by Ferret.

"Salis! I knew you would choose right!" Ferret said.

I acted as if I hadn't seen her and kept walking.

"Remember when I said we were going to be partners this morning?" Ferret said, catching up to me and matching my pace.

I certainly did remember. Of course at the time I had been expecting this to happen was during morning practice but had she been referring to this afternoon training? Had she also found out before I had that this choice would be offered to me?

"We will not be practicing with swords together for a few weeks but do not think I will be letting you sit around until then…" Ferret trailed off. "Well, maybe for the first week. Instructor Benc says if we work you too hard you will get hurt."

"Salis! I knew you would choose right!" Bench said, coming to visit Ferret and I.

The fact that he had said exactly the same thing Ferret had said made me want to snicker. Ferret did it for me.

"That is exactly what I said!" She said through her laughter.

Bench smirked. "As expected of one of my best trainees. You even think smart."

Bench turned to me. "Normally we cannot get children away from the Temple of Knowledge at your age since everything they teach you is so important. Even getting them to get you out of tutoring was a chore, but I believe Headmaster Ury knew that training was better for you than too much tutoring."

"I think too much tutoring would drive her crazy." Ferret said.

"For now Salis," Bench said. "I want you to watch the others train. I know those Terran muscles of yours are probably more well built than us Calorin but I do not want to prove myself wrong and get you hurt."

I nodded. I was perfectly fine sitting around and doing nothing for a few hours.

Ferret grabbed my hand.

"I will keep an eye on her." She said to Bench.

"I do not think you will have to worry too much. She may not be good with people but I do not think she is the type to run off." Bench said.

I wasn't too sure about that. The only reason I wouldn't run off was because I didn't have a good enough reason to and yes, Ferret may be annoying but I didn't want to find out what the school did to students that skipped class or training. At least not now.

Ferret pulled on my hand. "I'll get Salis settled in nicely." She said to Bench and began pulling me to the area of the fields with the sparring circles.

"Good." Bench said and waved us off. "Make sure she doesn't fall asleep either." He added with a laugh.

And just like that I got two hours of free time and thankfully Ferret was usually too busy with her training to come to the side where I was and talk. That didn't mean she didn't talk at all as she seemed to be friends with almost everyone but even then she didn't let that interrupt her training.

As I watched her I realized how devoted she and the others with her were. In fact, I actually became engrossed and found myself watching several matches intently. I had come here expecting to see them standing in lines and swinging fake swords at nothing or at most a target of some sort but Ferra's group did nothing of the sort.

"I am glad to see you are enjoying yourself." Bench said, standing next to where I was sitting. "You ARE enjoying yourself are you not? It is hard to tell with you."

Bench looked at the sparring trainees with a proud smile. "Most of these will go on to apprentice under a master swordsman. I am not sure how much you know about the art of the sword but even as skilled as they are now they have just begun their journey and it will be years more before they are considered masters themselves."

Bench looked at me with a crooked smile. "As for you Salis Terra. I imagine you will be fought over by those two places." He said and gestured towards the Temples of Melche and Candrar. "I for one think you should do whatever you want. Just know that I am going to try my best to have you choose to follow in their path." Bench nodded towards those training in front of us.

"Those poor souls that have lessons behind desks, it's time to clean up!" He yelled and gave me a look that meant I was one of those that needed to leave.

I stood up quickly and began a slow jog back towards the Temple of Learning before Ferret had a chance to meet me. Thankfully she did not try to follow me far and went back with her group.

 

***

I soon found myself in Cowlick's classroom. He, and everyone else in the room, glanced at me when I entered. He didn't say anything to me and went back to his lesson on an old guy from some time in Flaern history that had some ideas about something.

I stood next to the doorway waiting for him to finish. Until that point I had been feeling less tired than I had all day but the few minutes I heard of his lesson made me nearly as tired as I had been before my lunchtime nap.

"A bit earlier than expected." Cowlick said when he had finished with his lecture and the other children were busy picking up their chalk and slate. "A good quality to have." He added.

"Let me give you a list of things I want you to go over with your three charges today." He said and motioned for me to follow him.

Cowlick walked over to a small desk behind the lecturn and grabbed a piece of paper.

"I realize you must not have much experience tutoring others so if you need any help or they give you any trouble I am but a few paces away." He said and handed me the paper.

I nodded and took it.

I turned away from Cowlick and began walking to the table I had used the last time I was here. Dorito and Caldren were already sitting and were both staring around the room lazily. Helnion was not at the table.

I looked to where I had seen her sitting last time and saw that she was face down on her desk and was most likely asleep.

"She has been like that all day." Caldren said. "Instructor Callic managed to keep her awake all morning but gave up after lunch."

"She came to class late too." Dorito added. "One of the maids brought her."

I was actually not surprised at the news. Helnion had been out just as late as I had been. I would have felt some sympathy for her but I had woken up much earlier than her had to go through training as well.

I walked up to where Helnion was sleeping, motioning for Dorito and Calren to follow me. They shrugged to each other and did just that.

I grabbed Helnion by the shoulders and began to pull her off of the bench.

"Grab her legs." I said to the boys.

They both grinned and each took a leg.

No sooner had I picked her up was I once again reminded about how sore I was. Thankfully Helnion was much lighter than she looked and the three of us managed to carry her all the way to our table.

"Everyone is watching us." Caldren said with a hint of embarrassment.

"This is going to be a great story to tell the others later." Dorito said with a grin.

"Yes, I guess it will be." Caldren replied, a grin now on his face.

"Do either of you have any water?" I asked.

"Water?" Dorito asked. "Carrying Helnion did not tire you that much did it?"

I look to Helnion then back to Dorito.

"I need it to wake her up."

Both Dorito's and Caldren's eyes lit up in understanding.

"I will get us some water." Caldren said with a grin.

I watched as Caldren walked towards the nearest window and focus on something outside. A smile soon appeared on his face and moments later I saw a ball of water float through the window and into the room.

"Where did you find that?" Dorito asked.

"Got it from a rain barrel." Caldren replied.

Caldren moved from the window back to our table and placed the water just above Helnion's head.

The ball of water itself was about twice the size of my fist and was dripping slightly.

The drips of water landed on Helnion's cheek and I saw her face twitch but she showed no signs of waking up.

"Just drop the whole thing." Dorito said.

"I don't think that would be nice." Caldren replied.

"It is not like you are hitting her. I bet she will be completely dry by the time we are done with class." Dorito said.

Caldren looked at Helnion. I saw the hesitation in his eyes and even a little shame.

"All right." He said.

The ball of water dropped immediately and landed perfectly on her head.

Helnion groaned and after a moment later her head was off the table.

"Salis?" She said groggily when she saw me. She then smiled for a moment before realizing what had happened.

Helnion wiped her hand on her face and the looked at it. She then looked around the room and saw that pretty much everyone was watching her. Most of the other children were laughing quietly with their friends. Even Cowlick had a smile.

Cowlick noticed me look at him and immediately went back into teacher mode. He cleared his throat and began his math lecture.

"I have not had this much fun in math for quite a while." Dorito said cheerfully.

"I know." Caldren said, adding his agreement.

I decided this was the best time to ruin their mood and grabbed the their slates and wrote some math problems on them before handing them back.

"Can you let us off for today?" Dorito said, grudgingly taking one of the slates from me. "You owe us that much for helping you."

I ignored Dorito's comment as well as Caldren's agreement and turned to Helnion. I also ignored the grumbling that came soon after.

"Are you awake enough to get a slate?" I asked Helnion.

Helnion nodded and stood up.

She was still a bit out of it and nearly walked past the small table that held the writing slates and chalk but remembered at the last moment and was soon sitting back at the table. I then took the slate from her and wrote math problems on it.

I remembered last time that Helnion was better at math than the other two and gave her problems that were slightly harder. I didn't care how hard I had to push her, I was determined to have her do better than the two idiots that sat across from her.

Helnion looked at the problems on the slate and furrowed her brow. She then looked around the room, her eyes lingering on the window, before coming back to me.

"Don't even think about it." I said to her.

Helnion sighed and began working on her math.

The rest of my time with these three was pretty quiet aside from grumbles from all three or the rare occasions they finished what I had given them to work on. Sadly most of their work was sloppily done and took them forever to complete. Helnion took the longest but she made least amount of mistakes.

By the time the bells rang, signalling the end of class, all four of us at the table were drained.

"About time." Dorito said angrily.

Caldren nodded his agreement.

Both of the boys stood up from the table.

"See you later, 'Instructor Salis.'" Dorito said before leaving with Caldren.

As for Helnion. She had already planted her face on the table and looked to be well on her way to sleep.

"I see it did not take her long to fall back asleep." Cowlick said. "I hate to ask you of this but would you mind waking her back up and seeing she gets back to her room."

I nodded and shook Helnion. The girl awoke easily and looked at me wearily.

"Oh." Cowlick said as I began to leave with Helnion. "While I did enjoy watching your actions with waking Helnion today, could you please refrain from doing anything of the sort again in the future."

I nodded slightly at Cowlick.

I wasn't sure if I could avoid creating another commotion again considering the three I had to work with, but I wouldn't mind it if it did. I had actually enjoyed the whole thing as much as everyone else apparently had.

"Come on." I said to Helnion and dragged her out of the room.

***

Right when I left the classroom I stopped pulling Helnion. Pie Can had asked me to get her to her room but getting her out of the room was good enough for me. If she wanted to sleep some more she could make her way to her room easily enough on her own. If she didn't… I'm sure a maid could handle it if it came to that. For now I was going to go to my archery practice.

To my surprise Helnion followed me.

The walk to the archery range was nice and quiet. Helnion was more awake now that she was up and moving but she was not watching everything around us like she had yesterday.

The only thing I was worried about now was whether or not Ferret was going to show up. Chances were good that she would show up after practice but I was certain I was safe for the moment.

It turned out I was safe after all. Despite the fact that Bench and other martial instructors were on the opposite side of the fields training several groups of children I saw no signs of Ferret. This meant if I was quick to leave when Medic was done with me I might be able to avoid the girl.

It turned out I would have no chance of avoiding her. About ten minutes before training would be done for the day Ferret showed up. She did not come too close but she came close enough that she made sure there was no way I would not see her.

"You ready for a fun night?" Ferret said, meeting me where Helnion was dozing off to the side of the range.

"Fun?" I replied, wondering what she was going to try and make me do tonight.

"Wake Helnion up and I will explain everything on the way to the dorms." She said.

I looked at Helnion. How much had she slept today? It had only taken her minutes to find her spot and she had slept the entire two hours.

I slapped Helnion on the cheeks lightly. She groaned and slowly opened her eyes.

"Salis? Ferra?" She said, looking between both of us slowly. "Good morning."

Ferret laughed. "Morning was hours ago Helnion."

Helnion thought for a moment. "Oh… I remember."

"Come on Helnion." Ferret said, and pulled Helnion to her feet. "I have something really fun planned for tonight."

Ferret looked at me and then began walking towards the dormitories. I immediately began to wonder if I should have abandoned Helnion and made a run for it before Ferret had a chance to catch me.

No. I thought. Ferret was a much faster runner than me and she would have easily caught me. That added to my already great fatigue made it not worth the effort. I also did not want a repeat of last night.

***

Ferret looked around before she began her explanation.

"Did you know there is a great evil in this school?" Ferret asked me.

I shook my head.

"Every year there are certain… undesirables… Yes, undesirable is a good word." She said and nodded. "Every year certain undesirables hold an evil ritual a few days after lessons resume after summer. These people corrupt the minds of…"

Ferret sighed.

"Dario and his minions will be testing some poor boys that want to get into their group." She said. "I saw what they made the boys do that wanted in last year and how they were treated after they joined. I cannot let them turn anyone else into bullies." She said and clenched her fist.

So we were going to crash Dorito's party? I actually liked the sound of it. Not only did I not like the way he acted I had also seen first hand what he had done to those two boys.

"Those of high birth or have rich parents get into the group just by asking. Any boys that got in the same way you did Salis have to go through what they call "trials." These trials pretty much force the boys to act like slaves and during the initiation tonight, if it is the same as last year, they will get beaten with sticks.

"Even after the boys pass the trials they are almost treated like slaves. What is worse is what they do to any boys that do not want to join. There was a boy smart enough not to join two years ago but they bullied him so much that he left the school after a few months."

Honestly I was not surprised that stuff like this was happening. Even back on Earth bullying was everywhere. It was just something children did to each other. Even I had had some girls try and bully me from time to time but I never really had it that bad.

"What are you going to do?" I asked her.

I actually agreed with Ferret that what these boys were doing was bad and if I could help put a stop to it I felt I should. It also sounded fun. For the first time I actually looked forward to doing something with her.

"I will show you when we get to my room."

We entered the girl's dorm on the opposite side I usually did. Once inside Ferret led me a few doors down and stopped in front of a door.

"Here is my room." She said and opened it.

The inside of the room was exactly the same as mine. The only differences being Ferret's possessions and those of her room mate. Most of which appeared to be musical instruments, some cheap decorations and several large lumpy bags whose contents I could not make out.

Several girls and even a few boys were already waiting in the room. Arty was there as well.

"You got her to come!?" One of the girls said in amazement.

I recognized the girl from the bath and the hunting party last night. Ferret had told me her name but I hadn't cared enough about her to even give her a nick name, let alone care about her real name.

Ferret smiled at me. "Yep!"

"Hmm," one of the boys said, "I was hoping something like last night would happen again."

"Chasing Salis and Helnion around that late again?" One of the girls that had been part of the hunt said, waving her hand in dismissal, "I was so tired this morning I did not want to get out of bed."

A few of the other girls that had also participated voiced their agreement.

Ferret laughed. "Not to mention that we got in trouble."

"I am just glad it was not Ekin that found us, we would have been yelled at all night." The first girl said.

"I wish I had been there." The boy said.

Everyone looked at me.

"Maybe next time." Ferret said. "But tonight we have something more important to do and hopefully just as fun."

Ferret walked to the lumpy bags that sat in the corner by what I assumed was her desk. When she got to them she opened one and pulled out something that looked like dried moss.

"We are going to surround the grove after Dario and his minions all arrive. We will then place this and burn it." She said, holding a large piece up for everyone to see.

"What is it?" One of the girls asked.

Ferret thought for a moment and then shrugged. "I do not remember. I overheard someone saying they had burned this and that it created lots of smoke and smelled horrible. I thought it was a perfect fit for Dario's soul." She paused and then added with a grin, "I just hope he does not end up liking the smell."

Everyone but Helnion and I laughed.

Helnion herself had made her way to the bags and was rummaging through them and from what I could tell was not paying the least bit of attention to anyone in the room. Most of the others in the room glanced at her curiously from time to time but no one said a word to her or about her.

"We will split up and place piles of this so that the wind will blow the smoke towards Dario." Ferret continued.

"How are we going to keep them from seeing us?" One of the boys asked.

Ferret shrugged. "I am hoping they will be too busy being stupid to notice anything."

Everyone looked around at one another for a few moments slightly dumbfounded.

"Who cares if we get caught." A boy that had been quiet until now said. "It will be fun either way." He then looked to the first boy that had spoken earlier. "It might even turn into a big hunt after all."

The two boys grinned at each other.

Most of the girls grinned as well but I noticed several had worried looks.

"It is about time for dinner and Dario will not be leaving until well after dark. Meet me by the weapons shed after lights out." Ferret said, standing up. "I will see you all then and we will go over our groups and such in more detail." She specifically looked at me when she said this.

"Do you need help hiding the bags outside?" One of the boys asked.

I didn't hear Ferret's reply because I was out the door as quickly as I could.

While I walked towards my room I thought about Ferret's plan. It was more well thought out than I had thought it would be, and if the moss did what she claimed it would do I could see it working. The execution of the plan on the other hand… How exactly was Ferret planning on doing all she wanted to without being seen? Nights on Calorin were generally lighter than those on Earth thanks to the two moons almost guaranteeing at least one being in the sky at all time. I imagined at least some of the boys could use magic and would probably be using it to make light or power light crystals.

I entered my room. I had lost track of time and was not sure how much longer it would be until the maids came by with dinner.

I decided that laying down sounded nice and headed for my bed. Just as I did so Arty entered the room followed by Helnion. Thankfully Ferret was not with them.

"Are you going to steal Salis' meal again." Arty said timidly as she turned to block Helnion from entering the room.

Helnion looked at Arty curiously. "Steal Salis' meal?" She said and then glanced at me.

"She didn't steal my meal. She was getting it for me." I told Arty.

Arty looked at me for a moment then turned back to Helnion. "Oh." She said and moved out of the way. "I am sorry. It is just that you came into the room and took Salis' food without saying anything…"

Now that I thought about it, it must have been strange to Arty when some random girl had entered our room unanounced and taken my food without a word. Helnion must have been quick if she had done it fast enough to keep Arty from stopping her.

Helnion walked past Arty and picked up my chair. She then walked to the window and set it down and sat on it.

Arty watched Helnion suspiciously but went to her bed as soon as Helnion had taken her place by the window.

No one said anything. It was great.

***

Dinner arrived some time later, but before I could sit down at my desk with my plate Helnion took my hand and started pulling me towards the door. I immediately knew where she was taking me and to my surprise I offered no resistance. The strange look Arty had while she watched was worth it either way.

I tried eating my food on the way to Helnion's room but her firm grip on my wrist kept me from using both of my hands. I was certain I was more than strong enough to free myself but despite my hunger I decided it wasn't worth the risk of spilling my drink or having any of my food slide off my plate when I jerked my hand free.

Once in her room both of us sat down and began eating. My meal was nothing spectacular and consisted of cheese, bread, a bowl of stew and the obligatory cup of water.

Helnion's meal on the other hand was much more spectacular. I hadn't really noticed last night because I had been too busy inspecting her room, but now saw what was probably a perk of living in the more expensive rooms. Like my meal she had cheese and bread. Unlike my meal she had a large piece of meat, probably lamb, a small saucer filled with what looked like honey and a side of several vegetables.

Helnion noticed me studying her meal. "Do you want some?" She said.

"No. I'm good." I replied.

I now knew one thing. When I got paid, I was upgrading my meal plan.

For the rest of the time until lights out I played with Helnion's magic crystals while she either played with them with me or messed with my hair. To my surprise I was actually beginning to find her tending to my hair relaxing and I found myself dozing from time to time.

I woke up to a knock on the door.

Helnion and I had both fallen asleep at this point and both of us awoke with a start. Helnion looked like she still had no idea what had happened so it was I that stood up and went to open the door. I nearly stopped myself from opening it because I knew it would be Ferret or her friend but I had already agreed to help.

"Salis." It was Ferret and one of her friends. "It is almost time to leave…"

Ferret began to giggle, her friend looked confused for a moment but then soon joined.

"Salis." Ferret said, trying to quiet herself down because, after closer inspection of the hallway, it appeared to now be after lights out. "You have drool all the way down your face."

I wiped my face. It was true, the right side of my mouth was sticky with my saliva.

"I like your hair though." She added after motioning for me to follow her. "Not sure if I approve of looking good just before we leave to see Dario."

I walked back to where Helnion was sitting and pulled her out of the room.

***

"I'm going ahead." I told Ferret as we quietly slipped out the exit to the girl's dorm.

"We should stick together." Ferret replied.

"We'll get spotted more easily if we travel in big groups."

"At least get some moss."

"All right." I said.

I had wanted to get a look at what Dorito and his friends were up to before Ferret and her group botched things but having some moss might be useful later.

On our way to the shed I noticed something that concerned me. I had expected the night to be at least fairly light, and it was, but the entire area around the school was large open fields with grass that only came up to my knees at best. If anyone was watching the school from one of the small groves of trees they would easily be able to see anyone coming in the moonlight.

Hopefully all the boys would be as dumb as Ferret claimed them to be. If they were smart they'd have at least one person watching just in case a teacher came to see what was going on.

I grabbed one of the smaller bags of moss. Despite it coming almost to my hips it was surprisingly light.

I turned to leave and noticed Ferra looking at me.

"Be careful." She said after a moment. "Both of you."

I looked at Ferret. If anyone was going to mess things up it would be her. Still, whether or not she did it would the night would be memorable for better or for worse.

I turned from Helnion and headed out into the fields. It had not been hard to pinpoint which grove Dorito's party was happening in because I could see a faint glow coming from one south east of the school grounds. For now I actually wasn't headed straight towards it and had taken a path perpendicular to it. It would add time to get there but I imagined if someone was watching it would only be in the direction towards the school. Even so I crouched low, Helnion following suit after a moment.

"Salis." Helnion said after a few minutes out, surprising me slightly because I was not used to her talking. "Where are we going."

"Around, so they can't see us coming." I replied.

Helnion nodded in understanding.

"What should I do?"

"For now just follow me."

Helnion nodded and then resumed her scanning of the surroundings, probably looking for something interesting.

 

***

After who know how long the two of us reached the grove, both of us breathing hard thanks to the quick pace I had set. Despite my already heavy fatigue from the past few days Helnion actually looked more tired than I did.

I stopped just short of the bushes that began just outside the grove. I could not see anyone yet but I could faintly hear the quiet voices of some boys somewhere inside.

"Can you climb a tree?" I asked Helnion.

She nodded.

"Papa hates it though." She said.

"Follow right behind me and watch where you step."

I began heading into the grove. The bushes weren't actually very thick and were easy to navigate around. I had hoped they would be thicker, making it easier to hide, but once we entered the grove itself it became a bit darker so I was satisfied with that.

It did not take long before I began to make out what some of the boys were saying. Most of it was idle chatter or excitement about the ceremony.

I stopped.

In front of me I saw that several boys were holding light crystals and one or two had candles. Among them I saw Dorito and Caldren. Caldren was dozing next to a tree but Dorito was watching the other boys as if he owned them.

I wondered if he really was their leader or if he was just always that way. If he was leader I didn't see how. I was fairly certain he had some sort of nobility but he wouldn't be the only one and there were certainly older boys as well.

I turned to Helnion and once I had gotten her attention I pointed to the tree we were next to. The tree was more than big enough to hold both of us and was close enough for us to see what was going on. I just hoped that none of the boys heard us climbing it.

"Try to be quiet." I told Helnion as she began to climb the tree.

I wasn't sure if she had heard me because she hadn't looked at me.

I headed for a nearby bush and climbed inside. If Helnion was heard or spotted as she climbed I wanted to make sure I wouldn't be found as well.

"Did you hear something?" One of the nearest boys said.

"Yeah, it is probably a squirrel or a rabbit or something." Another boy replied.

"You sure?"

"If it were a teacher they would come straight at us."

"Yeah…"

I could not hear what the boys said after this as they started whispering. A part of me was suspicious but I had no way of knowing until something happened.

Helnion had found a place in the tree and stopped moving. This meant it was now my turn.

I looked around just in case and saw I was in the clear. I then moved to the tree as quickly as I dared.

The climb up the tree was actually harder for me than it had been for Helnion. She was so much taller than I was that she had easily been able to reach the branches. I on the other hand had to actually move a large rock under the lowest branch before I could even jump high enough to reach it. The climb after that was much easier and I did manage to do it more quietly than Helnion had, but not by much.

***

A few minutes passed before anything happened.

"It is time to start!" A large older looking boy said after another had said something to him.

This older boy was probably the biggest and oldest I had seen at the school. If he wasn't in his last year here I would have been surprised.

Dorito stood next to the bigger boy and now had a dutiful look on his face. Caldren was now awake and was standing just behind Dorito.

"New boys line up!"

Seven small boys lined up awkwardley in front of the leader. I noticed that two of them were the ones that Dorito had been pushing around.

"What do you offer in return for joining our group?"

The first four boys each eagerly walked up to the leader and placed something in his hand. I could not see what it was but I heard metallic clanks and guessed it was money.

"That will do. Welcome to the group boys!"

The four boys looked at each other excitedly and then took their places with the boys watching.

It was at this point that I began to wonder when Ferret's plan would start, or whether it would happen at all.

"What about you three?" He said to the last boys.

None of these boys looked happy to be there and were all looking at the ground.

My guess was that these were the poor boys that had been bullied into joining. If this were true this was when the bad things started happening.

"Well?" The leader boy said, his smile now gone.

None of the three boys said anything.

"Looks like you are going to have to work your fee off." He said and stood right in front of the boy in the center. "But first you need to show us how much you want to join us."

Leader Boy held out his hand to Dorito.

Dorito eagerly put a long thin branch into his hand.

"Kneel." Leader Boy said to the boys.

Two of the boys shakily did as they were told and knelt on the ground. The third collapsed and began sobbing.

"Quit crying!" Leader Boy said and struck the boy with the stick several times.

I was beginning to get angry. Leader Boy was scum. No one had the right to beat others like that.

Besides me I could feel Helnion shaking. I looked over and saw she looked even more angry than I felt.

I hoped Ferret's plan would start soon or else an angry Helnion would be nipping at Leader Boy's heels.

***

Leader Boy had begun to whip the other two boys when another boy came and whispered in his ear, stopping him. Leader Boy's smile was malicious.

"It is time to move out boys." Leader Boy said.

The rest of the boys whooped and moved out.

Leader Boy looked to the three shaking boys on the ground in front of him. "Impress me."

The three boys stood up quickly and rushed after the others.

I heard rustling below me.

Not far from my tree I saw three boys creeping from bush to bush.

"You sure you heard someone over here?" I heard one say.

"No way that was a rabbit making all that noise." A second, familiar voice said.

"Think they ran off?" The other boy I had heard earlier said.

"Hope not." The second boy replied.

I watched as the boys passed. One of them was holding a light crystal and was passing it over every bush while the other two kicked at them. They didn't seem to be paying much attention to the trees but it was hard to tell through all the branches.

I heard yelling, some of if from girls.

It appeared Ferret was the one that had been caught in a trap. I didn't see anyone with weapons so I doubted anyone would get killed…

"Screw this. I am going out there." The third boy said.

"Me too." The first said.

The second boy shrugged and ran off with the other two.

***

A few moments after the three boys left I decided I wanted to follow as well.

Helnion actually beat me to it and jumped out of the tree. I jumped out after her, my sore legs nearly giving out when I landed, and I stumbled.

Helnion and I followed not far behind the boys only stopping just short of the edge of the fields.

Here I could see several figures in the moonlight running about. Several of these figures stood around smoldering piles of moss, while others charged at them.

I watched as the boys lifted what appeared to be buckets as they approached. I hadn't noticed anyone with any buckets inside the grove so I had no idea what was inside. Whatever it was several of Ferret's friends were now covered with it.

I soon began to hear shouting coming from another part of the grove. I turned to Helnion and motioned for her to follow me. She did so, and thanks to all the commotion happening outside we were able to move through the trees and bushes quickly.

I arrived just in time to find an interesting scene developing in front of me.

Ferret was kneeling on the ground in front of Leader Boy. Two of the boys in Ferret's group were holding her down, with one of the girls standing behind her with a bucket.

"I will pay you later." Leader boy said to those that had betrayed Ferret.

"How did you know?" Ferret said with a bit of fear in her voice.

"Do not be dumb, Fer." Dorito, whom was standing next to Leader Boy, spoke. "You and your friends talk so much it is hard NOT to hear whatever you are doing whether I want to hear it or not."

"We are coming to help!" A girl shouted from my left.

Everyone looked over and saw three girls heading towards Ferret. Just behind them were several boys in chase.

Leader Boy himself charged at the girls. He reached them in what seemed like only three bounds and began sparring with them. The first girl went down easily thank to a sweep to her legs. The second took a kick to the stomach and bent over in pain. The third managed to put up a fight and blocked another kick and jumping out of the way of a leg sweep before being grappled and then pinned to the ground.

The boys that had been following the girls arrived and pinned them to the ground.

Leader Boy said something to them I couldn't hear. The boys immediately dumped the contents of their buckets onto the girls' heads before placing the bucket there as well.

"You have won. Let us go." Ferret said when Leader Boy returned, her voice now completely devoid of any fight.

"We will, but not before we punish you. Do not want it getting into your head to try again."

"Wha- What is in the buckets?" Ferret asked.

"Last night's dinner, and boy did I eat my fill. Also drank plenty of water."

I could not make out Ferret's face very well from this distance but it would be easy to guess what it looked like now.

Ferret looked around her. Aside from the girl behind her there were five other boys holding buckets, including Leader Boy, Dorito and Caldren.

"Too bad the bath house is closed for the night." Leader Boy said, raising his bucket over Ferret's head. He then poured it.

To my surprise Helnion darted out from behind our bush and charged at the boys pouring the contents of their buckets onto Ferret. The distance was at least thirty meters to Leader Boy so I doubted Helnion would make it before being seen.

Leader Boy tossed his now empty bucket behind him as Dorito began pouring his onto Ferret.

Helnion had not yet been seen and was actually doing a good job at staying low and quiet as she ran.

The girl behind Ferret poured her bucket next, albeit with some hesitation.

Helnion was now just behind Leader Boy. Everyone was watching Ferret so none had noticed her.

Just as it was Caldren's turn to pour his bucket on Ferret, Helnion reached down and looked like she was trying to grab Leader Boy's discarded bucket but instead tripped and slammed squarely into the back of his knee. To my surprise Helnion's hit knocked Leader Boy over and right into Caldren's bucket, spilling it all over Leader Boy, Ferret and Caldren.

Everyone looked at the scene dumbfounded.

Ferret was the first to speak.

"Get out of here Helnion!"

Helnion looked at Ferret then to all the other boys who were now aware of her presence.

I had yet to see Helnion move as fast as she did in that moment.

Sadly I knew that she had no chance of escaping. From what I could tell she was one of the slowest runners I had ever seen. If something didn't stop the boys now chasing her it would only be seconds before she was caught.

There was no way I could reach her in time, and even if I did there was no way I could hold off even one of those boys.

"I. AM. GOING. TO. GET. YOU." Leader Boy said as soon as he had stood up and set his sights on Helnion. He then burst into a sprint and easily began covering the distance between them.

I looked around me quickly. There had to be…

I picked up some rocks. I had no idea how accurate I could be with them but it was all I could think of at the moment.

It was too late. One of the boys grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her to the ground. Moments later she was surrounded by the other boys and there was nothing I could do.

"Go check and make sure no more are hiding!" Leader Boy yelled to three boys, one of which had one of the two remaining buckets.

The boys immediately rushed towards the grove, towards me.

If I ran now there was the possibility that I could still get away, but could I really do that? It was much too late to save anyone else from a bucket of… something nasty, even Helnion, but could I really do it?

I picked up a stick the thickness of my arm and nearly twice as long. I wasn't going to run but there was no way I was getting a bucket dumped on me.

The boys reached the bush next to mine when I jumped at them. Two of them jumped when I did so, while the third skidded to a halt.

I swung my stick as hard as I could at the hand of the boy that was holding the bucket. My strike easily connected and the boy dropped the bucket, recoiling in pain. The bucket spilled and poured it's contents onto the ground.

I immediately followed through with a strike to the only boy that had started to come after me and struck his arm away as he reached for me. He yelped as he jumped back, barely dodging my strike.

All three of the boys backed off from me and began looking for sticks of their own. I ignored them and ran as hard as I could to Helnion and Leader Boy.

Leader Boy himself was still standing over Helnion and the boy pinning her down. Leader Boy was looking at me, but only for a moment because he soon turned back to Helnion and dumped the bucket onto her. He then turned back to me and charged.

It was a matter of moments before we met.

I swung my stick at his leg. He was so much taller than me that that was the only place I could easily hit.

Leader Boy ignored my strike and took the hit. He didn't even flinch and slammed into me, knocking me over.

He stood over me and looked at me curiously.

"The Terran?" He said, a little fascination in his voice. "To think the Terran was dumb enough to try one of Fer's plans."

Leader Boy leaned over and picked me up by the waist.

"I don't like bullies." I said to him.

"Bullies?" He smirked. "Only when we need to be."

He hefted me, feeling my weight.

"You are heavier than I thought you would be."

The three boys I had ran past arrived and Leader Boy glanced at them.

"Any buckets left?" He asked them.

"Nope." The tallest of the boys said. "She spilled it on the ground over there."

"Then what are we going to do with you?" He said to me.

"How about put me down?" I said.

I saw a smile almost appear on his face.

"And why would I want to do that?"

"So we can get to bed. I'm getting sleepy."

This time he did smile.

"Go on."

"The sooner you get to bed the sooner you can dream about pouring buckets of nasty stuff onto your enemies."

"We can always fill up another bucket." One of the boys said.

Leader Boy looked at him. "Do any of you have to take a dump?"

The boys looked at each other and shook there heads.

"Your lucky day. We pissed and crapped all we could before you and Fer's other goons arrived." Leader Boy said.

He then tossed me onto the ground next to Helnion, right into a small spot of mud that had formed from what had missed her.

"Close enough." Leader Boy said when he saw where I had landed.

He then raised his head and yelled, "Time to go boys!"

With that all the boys rushed back towards the school.

"I am so sorry for getting you into this." Ferret said, coming next to Helnion and I.

Helnion had begun taking her clothes off and using it to wipe herself off and said nothing. I said nothing either.

"I better go check on the others." She said and jogged off.

I turned to Helnion. "Let's go and get clean."

"Yes. I smell." Helnion replied.

Both of us turned to the direction the bath house was in. The bathhouse itself would be closed but the river was there for the taking.

 

 


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