“Come on, let’s get it before we run out of time. We should do some tests and things before we administer the Slime to him, though.” Haemish called out as the two ran back to the lab. Haemish quickly pulled away from the boy but worked hard to get to their destination.
“You…go…ahead!” Boren yelled, not able to keep up with the senior. Their physical stats were too different, and though the boy had been training hard, he couldn't keep up.
“Huh? What are you doing here?” Haemish shouted in surprise as he came round the corner leading into the lab. Inside stood two people he had not expected to see while trying to save Aarav’s life.
Lori Kvar, Weapons Master of Brewyn Palace, and her second Baldwin Gunther stood in the lab. “What on Ursa’s hindquarters are you two doing here?” He asked, forgetting his audience coming up behind.
“What! How dare you speak such language in front of the Prince!” Lori roared. “I can’t believe you would say something like that. Apologise now!”
“Ahh! Yes, I am very sorry. I should not have said something like that, just that both of you surprised me, and I have been under a lot of pressure. A life literally hangs in the balance at the moment. Again, I would normally never say such a thing.” Haemish stuttered, shocked at his outburst. What had possessed him to say something so foul? He hadn’t used or even heard words like that since… banish the thought, remember your decorum!
What infuriated him further was Gunther’s smug smile. He grunted as he glimpsed the man’s expression and sighed inwardly. The man would be spreading the word, he was sure. “Not to worry, we heard something from the infirmary, one of your students or some such. I want to know why one of my students is suddenly one of yours!” Lori grimaced at the Boren. The boy had just rounded the corner and frozen in the doorway as if caught in a spell. Gunther’s smile stretched even tauter, and Haemish was sure he saw a shiver pass through the boy at sight. The Second looked like he was starving, and Boren was a delicious meal. That gaze would give Haemish nightmares were it directed at him.
“Not much time to talk, you heard right!” Gunther’s gaze shifted, and Haemish barely suppressed a shudder. He quickly shoved everything Boren and experiment related into his spatial bag. At the same time, Lori looked on at Boren, waiting for and expecting an explanation. “Need to get off to help my student! You know how it is! Boren, I’ll leave you to it, shall I? No time to waste!” Within twenty seconds, Haemish was out the door and praying for good fortune for the boy. His idea was a good one, but Haemish could handle it himself. Boren would be OK with the two. They were his trainers.
Good luck, boy! In his rush, Haemish failed to see the irony of that comment.
“Boren, what is the meaning of this?” Lori asked, her usual stern demeanour pasted on her face. It was a look she reserved for people that wasted her time and her recruits. Currently, Boren was both. “Why are you missing your morning training?” A few seconds after finishing her sentence, she tapped her foot on the floor when Boren took too long to answer her. Gunther just kept that gods-forsaken grin plastered on his face. Boren knew the sadist would have a bloody way for him to pay for missing their training session.
“My friend, um, that is…. Aarav is hurt, or something is wrong with him. I have been trying to work out the problem and find a solution to get him better. I was busy with that! I promise it is a good reason. You can…um. I’m sorry.” Boren wilted slightly in the face of their glares. Then, he remembered that no one should learn of Aarav’s abilities. Otherwise, it would be bad for the Slime. The military types, when Haemish and Marasa had said that these are two of the prominent people they had been thinking of, Boren just knew that. So it was important not to alert these people as to Aarav’s abilities; otherwise, who knew what would happen.
“We will discuss this further after your training. I do not wish to explain to the Queen again why you are not performing your training exercises and attending your classes. Is that clear?” Lori said in her curt voice.
“Yes, okay, fine,” Boren mumbled back.
“Sorry, what was that? I said, IS. THAT. CLEAR!?” Lori yelled, this time full-throated, almost making Boren stagger with the force of the shout.
“Yes! Yes, Weapon’s Master!” Boren said, a little dazed from the shout, his ears ringing with its volume.
“Good, good, now follow Baldwin here. He told me he has some special training in mind for you. We have lost time to make up for after all! Don’t we?” Lori’s smile changed to mirror Gunther’s, and Boren audibly swallowed at what was to come. That Haemish, abandoning me like this! I want to help Aarav too! And I don’t want to leave with these two sadists!
Haemish dashed into the clinic. He wasn’t trying to get away from the two maniacs in the lab. He just wanted to get back to the clinic as quickly as possible. Never mind the nine-year-old he had left at their mercy. Yes, that was definitely it. He just wanted to save his student. The original one he had acquired, sacrificing the other to the military might of the palace. Once again, he wished Boren luck in the hours to come. They were likely to be uncomfortable, and lessons would be learned, but there was no other way.
“The gods be with you, Boren!” Then he knocked on the door to Marasa’s room in the clinic. He will wait if need be until the woman wakes on her own. No entering uninvited this time. He could handle the embarrassment. He hated to admit it even to himself, but he didn’t have much experience with the fairer sex though he had lived for many years. Not having ever found someone that he genuinely gelled with. He shared common interests with someone that could be around him for extended hours at a time. He could be a miserable sod sometimes. He knew he could be, but most of the time, he was interesting! If the topic involved Alchemy or Potion Craft or something similar, he had lived through so much. The longer he went, the more difficult he found it to meet someone who had similar life experiences to his own. It stood to reason that the longer he lived, the harder it would become.
Somehow though, Marasa had sparked something in him he had long since buried, with no expectation of digging it back up. He had begun to understand why people would not wish to live forever and slowly allow themselves to fade away into nothingness or obscurity. No, the burning spark had been reignited, and he didn’t want to let it go.
“Marasa! Are you there? Are you awake?” Haemish heard the sounds of someone stirring inside and assumed it was Marasa. Haemish took a seat, intent on waiting to listen to any new ideas Marasa might have.
“Haemish, coming!” Marasa's voice rang through the closed door, and a loud yawn interrupted her words midway, causing Haemish to smile. “Be out in a minute! Have you had a chance to think of anything?” The last word was spoken just as she opened the door, the shirt looking a little ruffled as if she had slept in it but otherwise none the worse for wear.
Haemish could stop his eyes from wandering over her figure before focusing on what he had in his hand and his purpose. Haemish, focus man, you have been around for more than two centuries. Still, you are allowing yourself to be distracted by something so basic? But his feelings would not be denied. He was only human after all, even after all these years; that was something he could not dispute.
Stats and abilities had always made it difficult to tell how old people were. That was why it had never really been an indicator of whether someone could be a suitable match. Maturity and life stage had always been the best way to tell, not that Haemish knew much about his skeletons, preventing him from connecting for a long time. By then, all the good ones were taken. Many of the people available now likely would not have been around more than fifty or a hundred years.
Haemish winced at his thoughts, a century, he said it like it wasn’t a big deal, but most people didn’t live longer than eighty or ninety years. Content to spend enough time on the earth to watch their grandchildren grow old and then go on to the final rest. He who didn’t have children, let alone grandchildren had no such compunction.