Rum snags his suitcase and sword case from Pan after joining her at the rear of their class’s procession. Unlike the reporters following Nuria’s group, Tameri and the other professors lead the majority of the student body to the dorms in the northeastern corner of the campus. The gathering breaks apart by class as the dorms loom closer. Roy leaves from amid one of the other sections and steps up behind Rum and Pan.
“Hey, guys,” he says, waving with minimal effort, careful to keep his broad claws away from them. They greet him back as their march comes to a halt.
Professor Tameri stops at the base of the Ohaida dorm’s front steps and faces the entirety of her pupils. “When you all enter, I want you to form a semicircle in the foyer,” she commands.
Rum, Roy, and Pan enter last and stand between the older students and the door. The teal walls surrounding them makes the dorm look like a forest, especially with the chestnut wood floors and spiraling staircase in the middle of the foyer standing like a mighty tree. Tameri moves to the left of the tree and sweeps her hand toward a glass case atop a marble pedestal. Inside the case is a thin, single-edged blade, with a square guard, the length of it around sixty centimeters.
“Who here can tell me what this weapon is called?” She hides her snickering behind a raised hand when several students shout out “Sword!” “You’re technically correct, but this type of sword has a specific name. Does anyone know what it is?”
“Ninjato,” Aven says loudly.
“And why is it named so?”
“Because the first reputable soldier to use one was named Ninjato. Before his time, the sword’s history is a bit of a toss-up. More than one hundred theories exist about its origins,” Aven explains.
“Then perhaps you can tell me what the significance of this ninjato sword is, also?” Tameri asks. When Aven falls silent, she directs the question to everyone.
“That specific ninjato sword belonged to the eighth headmaster of Four Hearts Academy, Headmaster Orza. He was the professor of Ohaida, or Slayer House, while also acting headmaster,” Shuri says.
“That’s almost the right answer,” Tameri replies. “Headmaster Orza was a teacher first, then took his historical title later. As headmaster, he had to report his teachings to the government. His particular style of teaching, the shinobi art, was outlawed. Unfortunately, he had an indomitable spirit. There was no getting him to agree with such a ruling. The day after it was passed into law, he left nothing here but his ninjato sword.”
“So, he just gave up because he couldn’t do what he wanted?” Rum asks.
“Well, see it from the teacher’s perspective. While he and I have very different principles, I can respect his decision to leave. The values and skills he wished to impart were forfeit. Should mine be against what FHA wishes to stand for in the future, I myself will also leave. Sometimes, when your way of life is infringed upon, separation from that environment is the wisest course of action.”
Even as she sets foot inside the foyer, the dark walls and deep brown wooden floor as eerie as ever, she feels more at peace than before. Nuria’s rejections, while expected, were still something she wasn’t prepared for entirely. Every glare and scathing remark a knife to her heart and Nuria was more than willing to toss several her direction. The angel blinks and escapes her rising melancholy when her professors speak up.
Professors Zathony and Marmagar pincer a dark metal pedestal, a glass barrier shielding a pair of seven-inch fangs. “The fangs right here are from the now-extinct saber-tooth tiger. The fourth headmaster, Headmaster Kaz, was a saber-tooth and left his fangs behind as a memento to Vanusi House.”
Tyra raises her hand.
“You know the rules, Tyra. If you have a question, just ask it,” Zathony says, his co-professor relaying his words with sign language. “The conference is over, Marmagar. You may stop if you wish.” Professor Marmagar shrugs and signs away.
“I heard that Headmaster Kaz was an administrator for the Vanusi government before becoming headmaster,” Tyra says.
“‘Heard’ huh?” Zathony teases. “Well, yes, you’d be correct. He was on the fast track to becoming one of the Three Holy Vanusi when the third FHA headmaster–”
“Headmaster Uwel called on him to personally succeed him.”
“Precisely. Anyway, the old man wanted us to impart a swift history lesson. With the inclusion of Ibri House, he doesn’t want the past to become obsolete, thus we put it on display. If you wish to inspect the teeth closer, do be careful. I don’t need the old man on my case.” As he and Marmagar ascend the stairs, he says, “You’ll find complete syllabi taped to your doors. Make copies in the library if necessary.”
Tyra hangs back to let others take their turn to investigate the teeth first. When Carnya taps her shoulder, she misses a boy with white fur pass on her other side. “What’s up?” she asks.
“How come you know so much about this?” Carnya asks.
Because the info helped me against my mother, she doesn’t say. “I decided to learn more about the school over the spring break. Turns out FHA has a very, um, interesting life story.”
“Oh? Any juicy tidbits? Speaking of juice, we could talk about it over dinner!”
“But we just had lunch.”
“You know me, never enough food when I need it!” Carnya drags Tyra away from the foyer.
“But our bags…”
“Syl, be a dear and put our bags away before you join us at the cafeteria!” she shouts, but slams the door behind Tyra before bothering to hear him out.