1.2: I Will Remember

Rum places the last of his clothes in his suitcase, all folded neatly in separate areas. His pants and shirts dominate the top and bottom of the center, his socks and boxers on the right, and his two pairs of sneakers on the left. The case for his buster sword is open and empty, however.

     “I never realized how many blue clothes you had,” Roy says, walking up with Pan.


     “It’s his household’s favorite color,” Pan says, cutting him off with a snippy tone.

     “Household?” Roy asks.


     “Him, his sister, and his mom all like blue. It’s his favorite color. His mom loves black. Nuria’s…more indecisive.”

     “How so?” Roy says, then he and Rum turn to Pan expectantly.

     The archer blushes and turns her head. “Shut up.”

     Rum smiles. “I’ll miss you, too.” He zips his suitcase. “Or, you could change your mind and come with us?”

     “And deal with the testosterone rolling off the three of you? No, thanks,” Pan snaps.

     “Girls don’t have testosterone.”

     “Someone hasn’t told your sister, then,” Pan teases. “I mean, seriously, she’s got the biggest balls out of any of us. Not even Shuri challenges Neth like that. You saw his face when the two of you stood, right? Like he was a teapot on the verge of whistling.”

     “I thought he was gonna say “Wait” next,” Roy admits.

     “He’s probably trying to scare him out of going as we speak.”

     “I think that ship has sailed. Shuri’s determined to go, and so am I. I’ve had a blast here at FHA, and if this landmark Nuria mentioned rivals it…well, I can’t pass up the experience. You sure you don’t wanna tag along?”

     Pan sighs. “I would, but I wanna test Tameri’s plans for my Bond of The Blade practice. Wouldn’t be able to focus on the trip even if I did go.”

     Rum smiles wanly. “Then I’ll be back to see how you’ve improved. Good luck.”

     “Thanks,” she says before accepting his farewell kiss.

     Rum high-fives Roy, grabs his suitcase and weapon case, crossing to the weapon rack in a haste. He flips his weapon case into the air, beckons blue electric currents between his fingers, and commands his buster sword into the perforation molded for it. The case shuts itself when it hits the floor.

     “Show off,” Aven says, leaned against the opposite end of the weapon rack.

     “Take it easy, Aven.”

     Aven replies with a snort and a wave of his hand.

     As Rum races down the spiral staircase, he uses his lightning-call technique to keep his weapon case afloat above his head like a metal halo. His excited dash out of the Ohaida dorm is terminated when he spies Tameri in his periphery. She leans against the building with crossed arms, eyeing Rum sternly, then his weapon case. She turns back to him slowly and Rum senses a lecture on the horizon.

     He sighs and says, “I think I know why you’re here.”

     “Do you?” the professor asks without inflection.

     He hoped to glean the purpose from her tone, clicking his tongue in defeat. So, he decides to throw out a guess. “Does it rhyme with…actually, Reddic doesn’t directly rhyme with anything. Right?”

     “Medic,” she replies without inflection. After a pause, she imploys a somber tone and continues. “Aurum, I’m not here to stop you from going.”

     Rum blinks. “You’re not?”

     The professor crosses to him and places a hand on his shoulder, looking him in the eyes. “Why would I stop you? Avinia’s a wonderful world and based on the clue Nuria gave, I know exactly where Reddic’s taking you. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. If it wouldn’t leave me without another whole class, I’d have encouraged Roy, Aven, and Pan to go, as well. I just wanted to see you off in private.”

     “Why?” Rum asked.

     He and Tameri sat and watched as Pan and Jojen explored a varied assortment of pill bottles. Jojen went over each in detail, explaining the pros and cons of each bottle. Most of it went beyond Rum’s understanding, but he memorized the repeated phrases “heart rate”, “beta-blocker”, and “blood pressure”.

     “Why use beta-blockers?”

     “Because essentially, Pan is a sniper. Most archers are. A valuable tool most employ are beta-blockers,” Tameri said.

     Jojen continued the explanation. “They slow down one’s heart rate, making it easier to control one’s physical actions and improves their accuracy as a result. A slow heart is a strong heart for a sniper.”

     “Aren’t snipers criminals?” Pan asked, discarding another bottle.

     “Aren’t you?” Rum asked playfully.

     “Snipers are serious criminals. At worst, I was a petty one.”

     “You know, you never explained that to me.”

     Pan gave Tameri a swift look. “Tell yah later.” She went back to the medicine and eventually settled on one with Jojen’s assistance. “Nadolol,” she selected boldly. “This one comes in a large amount and the uncommon side effects sound manageable.”

     “You said your father was an archer, didn’t you? He should’ve told you about them, at least as a preliminary measure,” Tameri stated.

     Pan scoffed as she pocketed the Nadolol. “He tells me what he needs from me, not what I need.”

     “You said he contacted you about your video site, right? Perhaps he’s checking up on you.”

     “He didn’t find it. The Arrowhead CEO sent him an online newsletter with my picture on it. I was dressed in that baby blue outfit they sent me a week ago. Every day since, my dad’s sent me sponsorship requests. But don’t cheer for him. Sponsors have all the control over the videos they choose to support. My content would become his. My only power is that I don’t have to accept his sponsorship at all.”

     “This dad of yours sounds like a real ass,” Jojen said, earning a laugh from Pan.

     “Yeah, she does that,” Rum said when Tameri appeared puzzled. “You should’ve seen how tickled she was when she first told me.”

     “Aurum,” Tameri exclaims incredulously.

     “Oh, yeah,” Pan chimed. “He went on quite the tear. Only way it could’ve been better was if my dad was there in person.”

     “Any chance we can hear it now?” Jojen asked, more tickled than expected.

     Rum was ready to repeat his original rant when Professor Tameri stood and clapped her hands. “Another time, Jojen. I have to get these two back to campus. Neth isn’t against it any longer, but I’ve learned from you never to poke the bear.”

     “Can we hear that story next time, too?”

     “Absolutely not.”

     “Why’s that?”

     Tameri points to his floating weapon case. “To remind you to keep that under wraps out in the real world. Only as a last resort are you to use that, Aurum. Can you promise me that?”

     Rum can’t pinpoint what’s bothering Tameri, but he’s spent enough time around her to feel that something’s amiss. The tone she uses when talking about Neth’s overprotective habits is present. He decides to test their budding relationship and asks, “Does the reminder come because of The Pure…or someone related to The Pure? I know you and Stark haven’t been on good terms lately.”

     The professor smirks ruefully. “I’ve heard some of what Nuria’s learned. I even understand that Shuri’s improved, as well. However, I’ve seen the depth of your skill far longer. You’re more observant, tactical, and talented than I was at your age. Use those tools to watch over Nuria and Shuri. Keep them safe, Aurum.”

     “Rum smiles this time. “I appreciate the praise, but I’m not there yet.” He locks eyes with Tameri, the pride they exude targeted at her. “But one day, when I am, I will remember who got me there.”

     Tameri crafts her own prideful expression as she steps closer. She kneels and wraps her arms around his shoulders. “Enjoy yourself out there, Aurum.”

     “I will.”

     The two hold their embrace for a few moments more, after which Rum spies the start of a tear reflecting the moonlight. As he marches toward Ibri House, he recalls the familial atmosphere he felt with Tameri, Pan, and Jojen. His soul shined like saffron, as it does now. He’s never felt that outside of times with Nuria and Auriel. He wants it to be a good thing, but he can’t know for sure it’s until he at least learns of his real parents. He decided to wait one more year for Nuria and hopes that him coming with her now will help him convince her to ask Auriel with him. As badly as he wants to know, he’d never do it without Nuria by his side.

     We’ll learn together or not at all!

     “Damn, you’re really going,” a blunt voice calls out.

     Rum lifts his head to see Lauron and Tyra marching away from Ibri House. “I’m surprised neither of you are. Especially you, Tyra. You and Nuria finally made up.”

     “While I’d have a lot of fun, I’m not Ibri. I’m not eager to waste all that time I could spend learning. Plus, there’s our house representative meetings.”

     Lauron groans. “Which is why I have to stay. Cwen didn’t let me toss aside my duties. Came to tell Nuria that. Bah!” Lauron stomps off without another word.

     “Anyway, I already told Nuria and Shuri, but you have fun out there. I’ll see you when you get back.” Tyra bows her head, then takes her leave.

     “That’s the plan,” he whispers.

     Rum moves into Ibri House, finding his new classmates talking around the fireplace cozy. He drops his belongings and jogs over to them. As he joins the conversation, he senses that same saffron feeling saturating the room. He knows it’s there, but he forces his negative feelings on the subject into the far recesses of his mind.

     Right now, Nuria and I have different things to learn together.


     In his very short sixteen years, Rum’s never known Nuria to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first thing in the morning. To discover her not already awake and dressed (with freshly ironed clothes), but alert and happy on the hood of the jeep, talking to Reddic whole excitedly kicking her legs, he realizes one important thing. While his love for her isn’t in question, his recognition of her is.

     Gotta use this trip to reconnect. Been a little self-involved this semester.

     He and Shuri arrive as Stark and Neth and Roark (Stark’s bald security deputy) step around from the other side of the jeep. It doesn’t get past Rum that Shuri immediately climbs into the jeep without greeting his grandfather, though he spares one for Nuria.

     “No form this time?” Reddic asks.

     “Unnecessary. We already know the destination. Officers Stark and Roark were able to calculate the other details with Warden Crata’s assistance,” Neth explains.

     “Perfect. So, where are the keys?”

     “Nice try, Professor Reddic,” Stark says sharply. “I’ll be driving.”

     “Wait!” Nuria blurts after hopping down. “Reddic, what about Fa- your lucky tooth?”

     “Ah,” Reddic mumbles a moment later. “I’m afraid it’s gonna have work overtime for the trip. I’ll have to handle the ache to follow.”

     Nuria smirks. “Good thing I know a thing or two about lucky teeth.”

     “You do?” Rum asks curiously.

     “Oh, just wait to see all the stuff I know now,” she boasts while dragging him away.

     Oh, yeah, I have a lot to learn during this trip!

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