Chapter 32 – Opening Moves
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I ended up sitting in a room waiting for the Vice Principal to come. The Principal had been called to explain what had happened leaving Vice Principal Keith Lathe in charge. I had been charged, or at least questioned, for attempted murder charges and anything that significant fell on him. It seemed weird not to involve the guards but since I did not have a say, I sat and waited.

Hours passed by and my stomach began complaining about the lack of food. I was curious what their plan was. Now that we were separated, would they attack me, or did they have something more nefarious in mind? They did not take my cloak and because of the duel, I had a few nasty surprises in store stuffed inside it, so I was not too worried. Although, I wished I packed a lunch inside it now.

I played with the new patch I had sewn onto my sleeve while I waited. Trying to keep my mind off food I fixated on the coarse stitching I had done to get it to stay put. It represented that I was a 'Healer in Training' and could be trusted to help in emergencies. I was kind of proud of it, so I had spent an hour putting it on my school uniform. It was a green tear drop with a red backing. Simple and yet it represented a lot.

I was broken out of my thoughts by a tall pompous looking man that waltzed in followed by one of the men I had seen checking statements before. The man behind the tall man had magic that allowed him to detector lies. This was why I thought this whole plan was dumb. I mean making up stories when you know they can check it? Who does that? Maybe I should have upped my intellect because I have no idea what the point was.

As pompous as the lead guy looked his voice was full of care, “We are sorry about the wait. My name is Mr. Lathe, the vice principle and I am here to hear your side of the story. I need you to answer a few questions to confirm but after investigating we have determined you are not at fault and as long as your answers match you will be free to go. This here is one of my associates and will validate your statements. Please ask if you have any questions." He took a seat opposite me as he finished speaking and the man stood behind him.

He asked the questions while the man behind him just stood there with his eyes glowing purple. At first, the questions were easy to answer. Things like “Where were you yesterday?” “What is your relationship with Amy?” and so on but as time went on they got harder and weirder. Questions like “Where is the vial?” “What level of enchanting skill do you know?” “Do you know any dark magic?” kept on being asked and it was another couple of hours before he finished questioning me.

He excused himself and they both walked out the door leaving me sitting there. While I was trying to decide if I was supposed to just sit here or leave, the door opened up again, and another man stood there staring at me. He was about five nine, black raven hair and in his twenties. “I am Nicolaus, part of the security team here. Your version of the story checks out and we have lodged a complaint on your behalf. We confiscated the gold that was part of the wager and you are free to go." He tossed down a bag that made a thud mixed with metal hitting metal and turned and left.

‘Sigh, what a waste of a day’ I thought as I grabbed the bag and made my way to get some food. I heard people talking about the fight as I left but it was all in hushed voices and my perception was not all that great. I only caught bits and pieces of their conversations. They had reported Madam Prescott to the king, Amy was in the medical ward and the guards were looking for something.

I thought about what it all meant as I walked over to the cafeteria. There was not much of a selection to pick from since they did not have a full menu. I just grabbed a couple of sandwiches and went to eat. I watched the other kids as I ate. The few students that were around seemed so relaxed and they joked and horse played with their friends. I kind of envied them. I had bounce from one issue to another ever since I came to this world.

 

***

In a grand room a man sat upon a throne with two teenagers sitting on two smaller thrones placed slightly below the main one. The ministers stood before them giving their daily reports. They had been listening since the sun had risen. Reports of how much they gathered in taxes, food supplies, issues with any upper nobility had been discussed and orders on how to deal with issues were given. Only the last minister’s report remained and was in the middle of his report on foreign affairs.

“… and monstrosities have appeared on our southern border. The Kingdom of Ickrana has made no move to stop the flow of monsters that are coming out of the dungeon. Refugees have been seen fleeing from their towns. As of now, our southern stationed army is holding but have requested reinforcements and extra aid supplies.

There has been an increase in dark magicians and our soothsayers are foretelling of the Dark God Apharean waking from his slumber and are unsure if his shackles will contain him. It is likely that dungeons will continue to increase as he awakens and Holy casters are being targeted by an unknown force and may be linked to his awakening.” He finished speaking and waited for King Clarence to give him any orders.

“Release the supplies from the fifth warehouse and activate Duke Moore’s troops to reinforce the boarder. Consult with the schools to see if there is anything that we can do to increase testing for Holy Mages and send envoys to the other kingdoms to see if a collaboration can be formed. You are all dismissed.” He waited to for them all to leave before he began to speak again to the two teens sitting below him, “Gideon and Lucas, as you can see from the reports turmoil is going in our lands. The reports you sent back from the school are just a side effect of our resources being stretched thin. Removing some of the security to guard the towns have left students at risk and whoever the masterminds were, used that to their advantage. To make matters worse, they executed the nobles. Even if they deserved it I now have to deal with their parents that are now trying to undermine my reign.

Since our resources are at a tipping point, I plan on waiting to see if Ickrana will make a move to seal the dungeon but if they do not, I may have to a few teams to go in and subdue it. I would like each of you to form a group just in case I need to send one of you. A war might break out if they misunderstand and I trust you both to be able to smooth over any issues that might appear.”

They both gave their affirmation and stood up. Lucas spoke up after that, “Father, we have met a girl that may be of aristocratic birth and we were wondering if one of our family might have spread their progeny outside of the castle. She has similar traits as the rulers of Endalasia and of course us. She does not seem to realize what any of it means so it is unlikely that she was raised within noble circles.” Gideon was nodding as Lucas talked to reaffirm. “We have looked into the parents listed but they did not stand up to a background check. They had moved into the village when she was three and did not have a child before they had moved.”

Gideon chimed in, “She does wear an enchanted necklace with writing but it is tucked into her shirt and every time I went to look at it she glared at me. She is also uncomfortable around me because of Shawn the illusion mage that I listed in my report so I have little opportunity.”

“We could use a specialist to borrow it so we can get a good look at it. Perhaps Neal if he is around?” Lucas made it more of a question than a statement and then waited for his father’s reply.

***

“Come on Ralph, we need to put her room back to the way it was before they release her.” A guard was rushing about inside a room trying to place the items they scattered in their search back to where it was before they had showed up. A small image appeared to hover above his hand as he urged Ralph to hurry up.

They had spent hours looking for a tiny vial that was supposed to hold a black liquid. Unfortunately, the hours they had spent were all in vain. “I’m telling you Ernie, I do not like having to search a little girl’s room. It does not feel right.”

“Come on Ralph I could use the bonus so let us finish here and move onto the next room.”

“Fine, I know your wife is expecting so I agreed but I am not happy about it.” He talked as he put the items back and then moved to the door. “Which room was next?”

***

“What do you mean Amy got into a duel with Alice? Why did she do that? I sent her there to observe Alice and to let me know when she left the school. Nothing more!”

“I am unsure Madam Prescott. She is not answering the communication crystal we gave her.” The nervous woman shuddered but still said, “We have failed to be able to contact her in the last week but before we could make contact with her we received news of her duel.”

“Find out what happened and then distance us from her as best you can. We cannot afford to agitate the King. Not when we are expanding our operations.”

“Of course Madam Prescott I will do it right away.” And with a bow the nervous lady fled glad that she was not killed like her predecessor for delivering bad news.    

***

“The king has called for my army and I cannot trust you to lead it. While I am gone try not to cause any more issues. It will be enough if you can just do that.” The old Duke’s gruff voice echoed a bit in the empty hall. His forehead creased in worry. “I have begun to deal with your last issue but anything you might do to Alice may disrupt my plans to pull Sophia Prescott in to deal with her. I have used one of her pawns to attack her and either Alice is dead or Sophia has become an enemy. Do you understand? Do. Not. Do. Anything.” Samuel Moore finished by enunciating each word to make his point.

Only his son, Oliver, was in the hall and by the end of his father’s speech his face was pale. Without his father around to protect him from those he had wronged, his life might be endanger. It was all that bitch, Alice’s fault. His life was perfect up until she escaped. Now he had to remain in the castle or risk getting killed. If she was dead like his father said then it would send a message to the others and he should be safe. If she was still alive, well assassins would quickly fix that. Why could his father not see that was the easiest solution?

He did not say any of that but instead said, “Rest assured father I will behave while you are gone.”

***

After eating I made my way back to the dorms. It was only around five but I was exhausted by all the drama that had happened today. A nap was what I was craving and since I had nobody to meet and no classes to go to, that was what I was going to do.

I comforted myself as I opened the door to my room by telling myself that I would work twice as hard tomorrow to make up for the lost time. Voices of men could be heard coming from my bedroom as I stepped inside.

“Come on Ernie, there is nothing here. Let’s go to the next room.” I pulled out my replacement mace that happened to be a table leg. I just have not had time to buy a new one and this was the best option I could find at the moment.

“Ralph let me just finish looking and we can go.” I moved to peek inside and saw a man reaching into my panty drawer. Another man, that looked a little familiar, was standing by my bed. Both of them had on guard uniforms but why were they in my room? Old men doing a panty raid was just weird and did they just say they were going to raid another room after mine? I stepped away from the door and tried to come up with a plan. 

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