Disclaimer: Don't own it.
There was one girl of all the villages of Bless’d Bay who was desired, hated and envied by every other girl and boy, and it wasn't Karalan.
It was impossible to look at Milete Beyene and not be captivated by that slightly crooked nose, the firmly set mouth, and the eyes as grey as swirling storm clouds. The girl was lithely built, with long, beautifully moulded legs, delicate fingers, and sleek black hair always tied up in a high ponytail which fell down her spine and swung like a horse’s tail. Sometimes she had it braided. A red dot was often painted on her brow, between her eyebrows.
She was the only girl at school with gold coins in her moneybag instead of bronze pieces. Her status wasn’t terribly high on the social scale but as her father was Governor of Bless’d Bay, she was still entitled to be privately tutored by a Prophyte. Regardless, she turned up at school every day wearing her most simple dresses, though by the standard of the other children they were still superior to the finest clothes a seamstress could offer the lowborn. Most of the children wore brown or green shapeless tunics, Karalan included.
Milete was ruthless in more than one aspect. Her words with direct and pointed, her determination unwavering – even her fierce beauty was like a spear, piercing holes in every heart. Her disregard of the expectations of others was so much like Karalan, that it was generally accepted they would become friends. Naturally, they disregarded that too and respectfully ignored each other in classes and elsewhere, never even giving the other a glance. Karalan had once hated Milete Beyene for being born the way that everybody else strived to be their whole life. As she grew older, she realised that such hate and jealousy wasn’t worth her energy.
“I hope you haven’t made a mistake choosing me over her.” Jory would joke as they lay on the grass outside the school. Karalan's reply was blunt and simple.
“I'm suspicious of anything that wears a dress.”
The grin that Jory would give her was worth ten times more than Milete Beyene’s approval.
But still, Karalan curiously took note of how indifferent the girl was to being popular. The younger children treated Milete with more courtesy than their teachers, and the Prophyte teachers of the school treated her like a princess, clearly hoping that praise would reach her father’s ears and perhaps even Nuor Priests. But Milete’s equal treatment of everybody made the Prophytes think her insolent and the poor children feel like royalty. When studying, she ignored all distractions and quietly focused on the task at hand. When class was over, she could always be found sitting silently on the edge of the school fountain with a pack of girls at her feet like dogs – the Flower Girls, they were called, because their brains flew away like petals and kept their heads in the clouds, dreaming, and ultimately stupid.
“Let us review the five classes of living beings on earth.” the Prophyte Mistress told a room of eleven adolescent pupils, and Karalan sat up straight. There was nothing she loved more than learning about the Seven Empires. History, in whatever form, always tied back to Aura and sentinels somehow.
Next to her, Jory lay on his stomach and his eyes fluttered open and shut, barely catching on. When they exchanged looks, his bored face said, ‘Why is she the only teacher who talks without pause for hours?’
“At the bottom, plant life. Above them, animals. Naturally, above them, sentinels – though it is very much debated whether they should be above humans. Next is, of course, humans. And above us, obviously, Auran races.”
“Like Fairis!” sang a Flower Girl with a tiny nose and an idiotic smile.
“Like vampires.” Kyaraus said with a confident smirk.
When Milete turned her lifeless eyes on him, he unravelled slightly. “There are no vampires.”
“Yeah, well, you’ve never been to Nocsaare, have you?” Kyaraus shot back, torn between a voice that was defensive and flirtatious. He looked all of the girls in the eye, “Got all sorts over there. Banshees, Shells, Golems -”
The Prophyte Mistress pursed her lips. “Thank you, Kyaraus. That is enough.”
“Shut up, Kyaraus.” Karalan murmured calmly to her brother.
“- and then you got your Reapers and Demon Lords... yeah, I'm sure some bloodsuckers are hiding in that giant graveyard.”
Kyaraus tapped his fingers on the floor as the Flower Girls cried their chorus of ‘ew!’ and broke into mindless chatter. Karalan tutted and fiddled with the straw that unravelled from her sandals. These girls always told Kyaraus how disgusting he was, but lavished their affections on him all the same, and he would always play. He was a fool, and they were the most dense and brainless girls in Seven Empires.
The Prophyte Mistress exhaled hard, her eyes briefly meeting Karalan’s and, for once, they silently acknowledged each other’s intolerance to this pathetic adolescent behaviour. “It is obvious you are no longer mine for the moment. Very well, you may leave for your midday meal. When you return, we will have another reflection session to determine what your future trade will be. I hope you have all been thinking hard since our last session.”
Tired groans closed her sentence. Karalan got up, gave the Prophyte Mistress a last, assessing glance. She’d always hated Prophytes for being too close to Nuor Priests – but they had been abducted as children just like her mother. It could be her mother standing there, teaching the class. ‘But they’ll never permit your mother to leave.’ Father-Han said simply. ‘Can you believe that, Fairi Princess? As if we’d find each other again and hatch a master plan to destroy the Nuor Preists.’ He spoke of treason so calmly that it made Karalan grin. Suddenly, her father looked very cunning as he chuckled, ‘Oh, oops!’
“Thanks, bitch-puppy.” Jory cuffed the back of Kyaraus’s head, although he was grinning.
“Yeah, thanks, you fool.” Karalan scowled. “I wish you were still young enough to be in Class Two, away from me.”
“What? I didn’t do that.” Kyaraus insisted. “What I did do what get us all a lunch break. You should be thanking me, Kar.”
6 June 2013.
If posted, Author's Notes will be HERE.