Lith never expected for Selia Fastarrow to get all sentimental, and in fact she didn\'t.
Her eyes had barely the opportunity to get watery before she steeled up, replying with a giant grin.
Now that you mention it, I really deserve this trinket. She said retrieving the hand from his grasp and using it to ruffle his short black hair.
Selia was moved, but didn\'t like to show her emotions in front of others.
It\'s only thanks to the secret stash of meat that I hid and tenderized for you that you managed to grow so big and strong.
In a way, I\'m part of your family as well. She said playfully, trying to lighten the mood.
In a way You are part of my family.
Almost like an aunt Lith replied, hoping to achieve a critical hit and make her tough mask crumble.
He didn\'t really care much, otherwise he would have kept tabs on her health too during all those years.
But Lith\'s debt was real.
Without her help and contacts, hunting beasts would have provided meat, but not money or clothing from the pelts and hides.
Everything would have gone to waste, making his family\'s life much harder.
Lith wasn\'t willing to keep any tab open, nor he was enough of a scum to forget about someone just because she had apparently outlived her usefulness.
Relations were important in such small community.
It was unlikely that whenever his family would need help, he would always be able to promptly return.
Also, he had no idea how long the Court would protect them in his stead.
Between Nana and Selia, they would have the two most important local figures by their side, leaving the need to call for the Count or the Marchioness only in case it was absolutely necessary.
Selia hugged him tight enough to squeeze the air from his lungs.
If I end up marrying and having children of my own it would be all your fault. She said sobbing a little.
Who would ever guessed that rude little jerks could become so cute
- Guess I exaggerated a bit.
I didn\'t mean to crank the drama to eleven, just wanted her to feel indebted!
You monster! Solus scolded him harshly.
Stop playing with the feelings of those close to you.
I understand when you do it to complete strangers, since there is no trust between you.
But that was just cruel. –
Feeling guilty, Lith consoled Selia for a while, and gave her the same treatment his parents had received that morning, removing all the accumulated damage and knots that over a decade of hunting incidents had inflicted to her body.
It only made her more grateful and loving, which in turn made Solus even more angry, scolding him all the way back home.
Later that evening, he gave one ring to each family member.
Needless to say, the dinner got delayed half an hour because they would not stop making things appear and disappear, like kids with a new toy.
Nana had to wait until the next morning to get her own.
I know is not much, compared to what you lost, Master.
But it\'s all I can do at the moment.
Mindful about what had happened the previous night, Lith avoided stirring the heart of his mentor.
Not much Stop being stupid, young spirit.
You have no idea what does it mean for me. She looked at it like it was a lost son.
No Forgemaster ever accepted to sell me one of these, no matter the sum I offered.
They were too scared sullying their reputation.
I hope that once you graduate, you\'ll not change your mind and take me as your first client.
There is so much I still want to get back.
It would be my honour.
Nana hugged him, holding back her tears.
- What\'s wrong with these people I got more hugs by strangers in these two days than in twelve frigging years! He thought.
Shut up and get hugged! Solus commanded.
After leaving Nana and Tista to their patients, it was time to deliver the last one.
Count Lark was very happy to see him, Lith could almost see stars in his eyes while he was staring at the present.
Thank you so much, Lith.
Having one of my proteges joining one of the six great academies is already a dream that comes true.
But you managing to make one of these after just one month, goes beyond my wildest expectations.
I just wanted to show you my gratitude.
Without your help and perseverance, I would have stubbornly continued with the home-schooling, missing so many opportunities.
Lark patted Lith\'s shoulder, adjusting his monocle.
There no need to dig up past mistakes.
There are more recent events that I would like to share with you.
For example, recently the Court and the Mage Association have finally deliberated about Headmistress Linnea\'s decision about you and Nana.
He made a dramatic pause, wanting to keep his guest on edge.
And Lith prompted him to continue, taking bait, line and sinker.
They deemed her decision reckless, overstepping the boundaries of a Headmaster\'s authority.
Her rulings have been revoked, and being the one that presented the appeal, I was bestowed the title of Knight of the Griffon as a reward.
What is it
It\'s just an honorific title, thanks the gods, with no lands attached.
Basically, I\'m not considered a local nuisance anymore but a benefactor of the Kingdom.
The most important benefit, is that when I request a hearing from the Court, it takes much less time now.
How recently, exactly
About two weeks ago.
- Good to know. Lith sighed in relief.
If it all happened after the mock exam, it would mean that I\'m overdoing things.
I absolutely need to avoid standing out too much.
So far so good. –
No reason, just curious.
What about Linnea What happened to her
Glad you asked. Lark had a smug grin, cleaning invisible dust from his monocle with a handkerchief.
At first, she was just reprimanded.
It doesn\'t seem much, but believe me, for someone with an oversized ego is huge hit.
Then she suffered the same fate from the previous Headmaster from the White Griffon.
She has been relieved from her duty, and replaced by someone younger and more open minded.
Is that a big thing Lith asked, being completely ignorant about mages\' internal affairs.
Headmaster is supposed to be like a noble title, lifelong.
Being forcefully removed like that is the equivalent of marking her as a failure.
She will never hold an important position again.
Is not as bad as what happened to Nana, but it\'s the next worst thing.
Aren\'t they afraid she could defect the kingdom
And go where Lark scoffed.
Sure, she can sell her academy\'s secrets, but that\'s it.
No one would want someone deemed detrimental by her own country.
She could get riches, but she has no need for money.
No one will give her status and power back.
Lith almost felt bad for her.
Being rejected by her academy was the best present that any mage of commoner origins may ask.
Without Linjos and his policy, even a Ballot would have been of limited use.
People like him or Quylla would have been likely forced to quit.
And when did this happen
About two days ago.
Seems someone aced his mock exam. Lark winked at him.
- Dammit, I opened my mind-mouth too soon! The Queen is too decisive, couldn\'t have let her resign by her own will with an excuse What if she tries to get back at Nana Or me – Lith inwardly cursed.
Lark seemed to read his mind, promptly easing his worries.
Rest assured, they would not take unnecessary risks.
If the Court and the Association shamed her like that, was to set an example.
I wouldn\'t be surprised if in a few months, when the investigations are finished, she would choose to disappear from the public scene.
As in forever. Another wink.
- That\'s a nice way to say she will be killed because deemed more dangerous than useful.
I must be really careful not suffering the same fate.
Being part of the political system is a double-edged sword.
If I get involved too deep, they will not let me go.
They\'ll use my family to turn me in a dog on a leash. –
Thank you very much, Lark. They knew each other long enough to avoid honorifics when alone.
Sorry if I keep bothering you but, any news about my lost brother Lith had been true to his word, and made the Count keep tabs on Orpal, preparing to deal with him in case he ever decided to return.
There is not much to add. Lark shook his head.
After getting into the orphanage, he was renamed Meln.
As per your request, I moved him in an institution at the edges of the County, to make harder for him to get back in case of escape.
He had quite a hard life, from what I know.
As soon as he became sixteen, he joined the military.
Has been honourably discharged after two years.
After that, he left Lustria County and never came back.
- Two years of military service. Lith thought.
Enough to earn merits, get rid of the disowned brand and start a new life from scratch as a free man. –
I\'ll keep an eye out for him.
What do you want me to do, in case he returns
If he has no ill will, then just contact me as soon as you can.
Otherwise, I must ask you to do the same thing you would for your own family.
Worry not! Lark offered him his hand, and Lith promptly shook it.
If I smell the slightest sign of trouble, I\'ll make sure he will never bother you ever again!