Gem and I seemed to of come the same conclusion about how to treat that incident. Neither of us said a word about it and things continued as they had been. Soon, summer ended and fall began. With it came the second term. I had attained enough credits from my summer apprenticeship to get a better room and was able to move into the northernmost dorm building in the luxury dorms. It was in the northwest corner bottom floor. It had two bedrooms that split off from the entry hallway and ended in a common area that looked outside with two huge pane windows. The walls were maple. It already had two couches and a maroon carpet. A square table sat between the couches and a chandelier hung above complete with candles.
I entered the room carrying a bag of books. Several Glren came in behind me with everything else I owned. I secretly found it amusing how often glren were used for manuel labor. Though they are fantastic at the job, most are quite strong and know how to handle direction. Gem came in behind them as I gestured to what room I wanted my stuff in. They obeyed and I moved into the common area and sat on a couch. Gem sat down on the other.
“It’s nicer than your old room.”
“Brighter,” I said. Then I looked up towards the chandelier and spoke with the Quatane. All the candles on it burst to life burning bright and very slow. I had mastered the candle trick by this time.
“You’re not supposed to be able to do that.”
I shrugged, I had started to notice something that bothered me. I had stopped progressing with any of the uses of the Quatane having to do with fire. I’d been constantly increasing my abilities with fire, like how much I could manipulate. But it had been several weeks, and I still hadn’t made any improvements with it no matter how much I practiced.
“So what if you can’t get better at speaking with fire? Learn how to do something else more useful with the Quatane.” Gem said reading my expression. She had heard my complaints about my lack of progress.
“Probably, Larissa could teach me healing.”
“That would be good. Aren’t you in one of her classes right now anyways?”
“Yeah, but I mean. like more of a one on one thing. Something like what we had with La’Turge. But better, because Larissa’s sane.”
She laughed. “It was fun though; we did learn some cool stuff.”
“We probably have a bigger Quatane vocabulary than some Speakers, because of Speaker La’Turge…”
I heard the door open, and footsteps followed by a voice. “You even got those candles?”
It was Kevin, “How was Dew Vale?” I asked.
“Dewy, and… oh Princess! It’s a pleasure to be graced by your company.” Kevin gave the princess a half bow.
Gem laughed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to surprise you.”
“Sit down,” I said to him motioning to the other side of the couch.
He plopped down obediently. “Are you two friendly now?”
Gem nodded, with a half-smile.
“I guess she wasn’t that annoying.” Kevin said to me.
I hadn’t expected him to get that casual with her so quickly.
“Annoying?” Gem said to me, eyebrows raised with more curiosity than anger.
“Well…” I said.
“I knew he was lying, he just didn’t know it. If Dmitry was really trying to avoid you, he would have succeeded.” They both laughed.
I looked at Kevin slyly. Spoke the Quatane a flame appeared on the knee of his pants. He jumped off the couch and I spoke again, the flame vanished and there wasn’t even any damage to the fabric of Kevin’s Pants.
“What… Ruah damn, Dmitry, how the Hells did you do that?” Kevin let out several more choice curses. Then ended with, “I probably deserved that, but you’re an ass!” He was laughing.
“He is!” Gem piped in.
Second term would pass. I generally enjoyed it. Though Andre Atrell, who had seemed to have forgotten who I was as first term went on, suddenly remembered when he saw that I had jumped ahead with credits and was performing well. Perhaps it was also to with the time Gem was spending with me. I would remember Gem’s words from the summer though. They gave a bit of strength and presence of mind for when I dealt with him.
It was mostly insults cast from afar or threats of violence when I was alone. Realistically, I don’t wish to spend much time on this one individual. He was just an important man’s second son, and that was who he would always be. He did however, provide me with a moment of motivation in my life. For that at least, I mention his name.
It was growing close to the end of the term and year. The New Year’s celebration began in two weeks, and more importantly to the students, there was a Ball held by the Church for the students to attend. It was on the day before the New Year’s celebrations would begin. It was held in the Palace in the same great Hall that we had feasted in with the Royal family.
I hadn’t been sure what my plans were for it. Kevin urged me to ask Gem, and I argued that it was impossible. A lords son would probably take her. That was how things were. Gem was an impossibility in my mind. I let the time slip by without making a decision, and somehow Gem remained dateless. I probably would have ignored the whole thing entirely if I hadn’t overheard Andre Artell talking outside the Church.
“I’m taking Princess Gemaeve to the ball; my father is arranging it with her father.”
I stopped walking. No, I would have been fine with anyone but him.
“Can he do that?” one of his followers asked.
“Yeah, her father will tell her what’s going to happen, but I still have to ask her, part of the rules.” He said shrugging.
“When are you going to do that?” Said follower number two. I honestly didn’t know their names.
“I’m on my way now,” Andre explained. The only one in Andre’s entourage whose name I knew was Devon Soar, but he didn’t speak much, less now than when I had met him.
I started moving again, back the way I had come. I had just left Gem, she was probably still in the Library. Andre looked to be heading towards the Havens probably thinking he would find her there. I knew what I was going to do, though I didn’t accept the reality of it till I flew into the library, climbed the stairs to the second floor, and found the table where we had been working together. She was still there, reading a book.
“Gem…” I just needed to say a couple words at a time.
“Hey, did you forget something.”
“Ummm…” It was me or Andre Artell.
“Do… you… want… to go… to the… ball… with… me?”
“You came back for that?!” she smiled and her face lit up.
“Uhh… yeah,” It sounded soppy now that I thought about it, but I very well couldn’t tell her that I had just ran back here because I’d overheard Andre.
“Yes,” She said smiling, “I would love to.”
I proceeded to smile like an idiot.
“Don’t you have a class soon?”
“Yeah,” I said. It had dropped in priority after over hearing Andre.
“I’m done, I’ll walk with you,” I was glad to see she was happy. She packed up her things and we left the library.
However, once outside we were greeted with the unfortunate sight of Andre Artell and his gang. He saw Gem before he saw me, but then our eyes met for a moment and his eyes narrowed. I wondered if he had seen me near him earlier.
“Princess Gemaeve, I was looking for you.” he walked to her all charm and swagger.
“Oh, what for?” Gem asked polite and friendly.
“I would like to invite you to attend the ball with me.” It wasn’t even a question, just a statement.he
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m going with Dmitry.” She said sounding actually apologetic. Then, to my surprise, she took my hand in hers.
Andre’s face took on the expression of, lack of understanding. His crew was silent, and for a moment I thought I saw Devon Soar smile.
“You can’t, my father…” he didn’t finish his statement, Gem and I just walked by him. Andre Artell, for all his talk, or show of confidence, he was insecure and a without his family, a weak person. I did not show him any compassion at the time. The pain he caused to me had left me shallow.
He had grown to rely on his father’s name. If his father or his father’s name didn’t get him what he wanted, there was little else to him. He didn’t even have it in him to summon up anger, or a rebuttal. He just watched us go, his crew waiting for him to do something. He did nothing. Maybe this was the first sign, or maybe there were others. What came of his self-loathing truly was a tragedy.
A week passed as usual. Kevin laughed when I told him what had happened with me asking Gem to the ball. He said that it had to of happen like that or not at all. He was going with Savannah Norv. He liked her, and other than being quite poor at the Quatane, she was a nice and clever girl.
It was Parasday and I was done with classes. I was entering the Havens when Gem caught me. She had a rather nice room on the first floor of one of the visitor lodges. She, however didn’t seem to care for it and would often return to the Palace during the week. She did spend most of her weekends at the church, she’d recently taken up sleeping on one of my couches. Kevin thought it was funny, and would often jokingly complained about how it was scandal to wake up to a princess of Ruahden snoring on his couch!
“What’s up?” I said turning. She must have been finished with classes as well.
“Before the Ball, do you want to have dinner with my parents.”
“Oh,” I hadn’t considered that possibility, “Alright… aren’t they serving food at the Ball?”
“Yes, but we’re to eat in private with my family, don’t worry, it’s not like you’re going one on one with my dad. You’re far from the only guest we’ll have for dinner.” She was struggling not to laugh. I must have gone rather pale.
“Yeah, that sounds fine.”
“Good,” she laughed. “I’m going to be staying at the Palace for the rest of today and tomorrow.”
I nodded. “You’ll be back on Kariday?”
“Yeah, I’ll come by. Maybe I can find you something to wear. I know you don’t have much money, so don’t worry about it.”
There were a million things I would rather do than look at clothing. I preferred Hari’s methods of finding clothing for me. Wear this… that simple. “Alright…” I said not overly enthusiastic.
“Well, see you, Dmitry.” She said smiling and heading into the Havens.
I waved good-bye as she passed. I actually was heading in a similar direction but she seemed in a hurry, so I let her go.
The weekend passed. Saday night Kevin and I had acquire a couple bottles of wine, the night was a blur to me. Simply said, I was in prime condition the next day. Even late into the afternoon when Gem came, I was still in relative agony. However, I behaved myself and dealt with the ordeal. I recall deciding on the grey doublet with the silver and black trim in the first ten minutes. I was trying to be respectful so I had given what I had thought was a generous amount of consideration. Somehow the process of confirming the decision took significantly longer.
When we finished the sun was almost done setting. I was wondering where Kevin was. I usually would have seen him by now.
“Fine, help me put these in your closet.” Gem said
“What?” I asked.
She frowned at me like I was challenged.
“I mean all five of them?” I reiterated
“What? I thought we were deciding on which one I was getting.”
“No, just the one you’re going to wear.” She said rolling her eyes. “Just help me, there’s a cloak in here to, you can’t wear your other one,” she said the last bit frowning.
“I like my cloak.”
“That things too small on you, and it’s been everywhere… you ride with it!”
“It’s still nice.”
“Maybe it was once, but now this one’s nicer. Are you going to help me?”
I shrugged, stood up and helped her bring the suits and the cloak into my room’s closest. I had to admit the cloak she’d gotten me was nice. It was black and trimmed silver. It was thick rich wool, it would be very warm. My only complaint was it didn’t have enough pockets, and it screamed wealth!
“Do get a say in what you wear?” I asked, trying to think of a way to complain.
“My sisters and I already took care of that. No way you could have come, you would have died.”
That was probably likely.
“Where’s Kevin, isn’t he usually back by now?” Gem asked changing the subject.
“Isn’t he going with Savannah?”
“Yup,” I said.
“They’re cute,” she said.
I rolled my eyes.
“What?” she laughed.
“Nothing,” I said smiling.
We hung out for a while. I had started reading for a class, the end of the second term meant finals as much as the Ball. Granted I was skimming it, but it was a still a form of reviewing. Gem had drifted off to sleep a little after eighth bell. That was about the time Kevin drunkenly swaggered in. Savannah was behind him, holding his hand. She was rosy cheeked and smiling. I laughed, and Gem stirred opening her eyes.
“Dmitry!” Kevin said. Letting go of Savannah, he came over to me arms out stretched awaiting mine. I obliged smiling.
“How are you?” I said smirking.
“Good, here,” He reached into a pocket in his cloak and produced two bottles of wine. One unopened the other almost finished. “That storeroom was a miraculous find.”
Savannah sunk down into the couch next to Gem who was sitting up. “What time is it?” She asked.
“It’ll be ninth bell soon.” I answered.
Kevin threw back the remainder of what was left in the opened bottle, and then eyed the second bottle. “It’s not the best wine but it works. Dmitry you have to help with this next bottle.”
“You have classes tomorrow!” Gem said finally taking in the situation.
Kevin shrugged. “Kind of… terms pretty much over, just got to test well.”
“Getting drunk won’t help that!” Gem said.
“Probably true, but it’s fun!” Kevin said smiling. “Dmitry, open it.”
I smiled and lifted up the unopened bottle. I spoke the Quatane and the cork popped out. I threw it back and took a gulp then passed it to Kevin.
“Dmitry!” Gem exclaimed.
“If he doesn’t help me then I have to drink this all myself.” Kevin explained matter of factly. It sounded like logic to me. “You can help too Princess, three bodies will better handle this better than two will.”
I smiled as Kevin passed the bottle back after taking a swig. The reentry of alcohol into my system had been an instant relief to remnants of my hangover. I may pay for it tomorrow, but my classes weren’t too hard. I could drift through most of them.
“I can help to!” Savannah piped in a little late.
We all looked at her, Kevin spoke. “Probably not a good Idea, Sav.”
“Oh,” Savannah responded. “Probably right,” she said with a smile.
I offered the bottle to Gem. She shook her head, so I took another swig and passed it back to Kevin.
“Well I should be heading back, my escort will be waiting.”
I nodded as the bottle was passed back to me. He was pounding it. I had at least given him time to recover a little bit between swigs. I shrugged and took another deep gulp and passed it back.
“I’ll walk with you.” I said standing as she did.
“You don’t have to.” Gem said.
“It’s fine I want some air anyways.”
“Bailing so early?” Kevin demanded of me taking another swig.
“I need at least a ten minute break.” We had already downed half the bottle. Kevin was two years older and had probably had twenty to twenty-five pounds on me, even if I was as tall as he was. My head was spinning about from the alcohol I had just consumed, even if his was not.
The night was cool and clear. The moon may not have been full, but it was plenty bright. As we left the Havens, I put my arm around Gem, and she willingly leaned into my body. I was half drunk and brave, and her warmth felt good next to me.
We made our way to the exit of the church grounds like this. We didn’t say anything but that was fine. When we got close to the entrance, and where her escort would be waiting, I took my arm off her. She hesitated for a moment before she stepped away from me. Looking at her she looked younger than her fifteen years. The cloak made her look small beneath it. Her hood was up, covering most of her face. However her dark hair escaped it and danced in the light breeze.
When her escort came into sight I spoke. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Probably, thank you, Dmitry. Good night.”
“Night, Gem,” I said stopping.
She turned to wave to me once before she reached her escort. I made my way back to my room. I was only half drunk but my head still felt like it was floating.
Tyler W Golec