3.8: The Night Letter

Throughout all of his life, the full 71 years, he’s had his fair share of times he’s had no other option than to sit back and watch the seconds tick; the time he married the love of his life, waiting on her to say “I do”; him watching her vitals crash as the doctors worked to save her life while attending to his newborn son; when he was accepted as the new headmaster of FHA, staring up at the panel of judges, of which Tameri was a member; the night he lost his son and daughter-in-law, waiting up for the call he knew was coming, his grandson asleep in a makeshift crib he transformed one of his desk drawers into.

     Right now, as his watch ticks loudly in his mind, he watches as the pool of applicants for the ’89-’90 school drops by the dozens. Even those he sees remaining, he believes they’ll end up being no shows, just like one of the freshmen for this now concluded year. Neth huffs and his fingers hover over the computer’s power button. He chooses not to, resolved to look his failure in the face. The rest of his week will consist of that as he’ll have to send polite inquiry emails to attempt to earn their applications back.

     At this rate, Four Hearts Academy will close. I’ll be the last headmaster. I’ll be the one to end the greatest revolutionary academy Avinia’s ever known.

     Neth looks at the portraits of his predecessors on the north and south walls of his office.

     Not one of you has ever been a detriment to this academy. Four Hearts has weathered so much, and despite its sullied history, my tenure will be the final nail in the coffin.

     He turns his bleak expression upward when there comes a knock at his office door. Not wanting his brood intruded upon, he goes and meets his guest directly. He feels his nerves stand on end when he sees two women standing before, one familiar and one not. “How may I help you, miss…” he asks the dark-haired woman dressed in a dark military uniform, decorated service badges over her left breast. A snowflake-shaped ring sword hangs behind her back. At her side is Tameri, and while her eyes meet Neth’s, she keeps a hand on her spadroon’s pommel.

     “Vice-Captain of the 61st regiment of the Silent Slayers army, Venesi,” she says.

     “Quite young to be a Vice-Captain?” Neth says.

     “If you require proof.” She pulls out her ID and it has her picture, and in the bottom left-hand corner is a violet stamp of three swords orbiting the moon. She swaps the ID for an envelope after Neth nods. “I was ordered to deliver this missive to you directly.”

     “Shouldn’t you make sure I’m the intended recipient, first?” Neth asks.

     “No need, sir. Your name is Neth, born on Cream 19th, 1928. Your wife, Velina, died giving birth to your son, Mikael. Fourteen years ago, Mikael was pronounced dead alongside–”

     “Yes, yes, you’ve made your case,” Neth barks curtly. “Do you have any other orders?”

     “No, sir,” she says. “I’ll see myself out,” she tells Tameri as the professor steps into her wake.

     “How old?” Neth asks when the Vice-Captain vanishes beneath the horizon of the stairs.

     “Twenty would be generous.”

     “I concur.”

     “I have no clue who she is or who trained her to reach such a rank so soon in her life, but I suspect she’ll be running the 61st shortly,” Tameri says.

     “I pray that doesn’t happen, but the Ohaida army is notorious for low age drafting. Theirs is the fastest growing army for a reason.”

     Tameri gives him an inquisitive look. “Are you still against Shuri pursuing Ohaida studies?”

     Neth sighs gustily. “To continue to do so will only impair our relationship further. He wants to, so I’ll let him.” He steps back into his office and Tameri follows. “Besides, I’ve recently learned something crucial.” He shuts the door.

     “Oh,” Tameri takes a seat in front of his desk, “and what would that be?”

     He joins her and says, “That children are not their mothers.” He gives Tameri a pointed look.

     “Does that mean you’ll tell Shuri the truth about his mother?” She returns the pointed look, adding a frosty touch with her eyes. “Let’s not trade barbs, sir. What’s in the envelope?”

     The headmaster undoes the seal and removes a thin folder with no words or signifying marks on either cover. He proceeds to read the first page and the instant his brow furls, Tameri blinks out of concern.

     “Sir, what is it?”

     Neth continues reading beyond the first page, but the remainder of the contents provide specific instructions with detailed codicils for every aspect of execution listed in the missive, including but not limited to: housing, administration, mailing services, and a trial period.

     What has the headmaster sweating the most, however, is the signature field containing the official, full-colored stamps of Avinia’s four national governments. Next to Three Holy Vanusi is the sun with three white wings touching in the center. Beside Silent Slayers is the moon with three dark blades orbiting it. The other two, Drijad’s Elements and Myztic Corps, show a meteor crashing through a hurricane and a comet shooting straight up with an indigo vapor trail in its wake respectively.

     The last time these governments and Four Hearts Academy interacted, it led to one of the biggest wars in Avinian history.

     “Sir, show me the folder,” Tameri urges.

     Neth whirls the folder around and shows her the first page. The missive is titled:

“Ibri House

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s