1st Year, P. 4

The man dismounted from the wagon. His smooth charcoal-dark complexion and medium build gave an attractive appearance. He slightly doubled over by the horses, but regained his balance just in time to catch the child as she sprung into his arms. The of them laughed wholeheartedly until he placed her back to the ground to rub his forehead.
“What’s the matter Papa?” the girl asked, in a thick island tongue.
The man twisted his grimace into a smile. He picked her up and gently embraced her.
“Nothing to worry you, Masa. Papa is just a little worn out from working in the cane fields all morning long,” he answered.
The girl braced her forehead against his and frowned.
“Papa, your head is hot just like the sun,” she said.
The man chuckled. His accent muffled some of his response. The team watched as he hoisted the girl onto his shoulders and walked away.
“These must be Thomasa’s memories,” Roudan said in awe. “She was such a charming child.”
“Almost angelic,” Farouk chimed in.
Yoshida wasted no time in following the shadowy pair. “We need to keep up with them if we are going to learn more,” he shouted to the team.
They walked to a modest three-room hut. Aside from the simple wooden furniture, the shelves were decorated with an elaborate array of wildflowers, herbs, and spices. There was an overwhelmingly delicious aroma from a pot of stew roasting in the fireplace.
Shevchenko scoffed. “If these meager living conditions are where she was reared, then it is a blessing General Malta had the graciousness to take her in.”
“Quite the contrary to your beliefs, islanders are astute minimalists. They do not feel it necessary to hoard fineries or have lavish houses. This humble abode is the perfect setting for an easy and well-managed lifestyle,” Farouk countered.
 “Besides, this tiny hut is filled with a richness of warmth and love. Plenty more than any aristocratic haunted castle bubbled inside Dorsea,” Yoshida interjected.
Shevchenko flinched at his words. It had not occurred to her that Savoi was better off than most of them, since she came not from nobility.
“I didn’t mean any harm,” she stammered.
Roudan signaled for her silence, as a tall brown-skinned woman dressed in a blue nursing gown entered the hut. Young Savoi practically leapt off her father’s shoulders to get to the woman.
“Mummy!” the girl screamed with excitement. “How many babies did you deliver today?”
The woman embraced her daughter and patiently waited for her to settle down.
“Only one baby this morning. Mother and son are doing very well. Both are strong at heart, like we were when you were born,” the woman replied. Then she spoke to her family in their native language. It appeared to the team that the woman had instructed Savoi to set the table. Shortly after dinner was underway, a massive regally structured golden carriage led by four white horses arrived in the front yard. General Malta, who then was still a Major, exited the carriage along with her wife. The team had never seen General Malta in person, as she left the academy long before their studies began.
Malta’s wife, Renata, came from a family of gentry who owned most of the land on the island. She was an olive-skinned brunette with a shorter stature, but majestically beautiful. Malta instructed the driver to wait for them, then entered the hut. Alpha squad stood in awe of the beautiful blonde, whose demeanor was everything they could imagine from a founding General of Calvary academy.
Though it was expected for commoners to address military officers and noble dignitaries, the Savoi household was rather informal as they greeted their visitors.
“Galayna, Oliver, no need to get up from your dinner. I apologize in advance for our unexpected arrival,” Malta said in a pleasantly calm tone.
Renata rushed around the table as she said. “Yes, we apologize. I was restless in anticipation of the new ball gown being created for me.” She kissed the young Savoi on the cheek, which made the child giggle.
“Mummy, may I get my book out? I want to show Miss Renata what I learned since she loaned it to me,” the girl blurted through her giggles.
Savoi’s mother nodded her head, and she sprinted from the table to one of the other rooms. Malta and Renata sat at the table at Oliver’s insistence.
Galayna clasped her hands together on top of the table. She sighed, then spoke. “The fabric for the gown was hard to work with. Fine silks I can manage, but to incorporate satin with lace seemed excessive.”
Renata made a child-like frown with her bottom lip poked out. Galayna got up from the table to retrieve the gown. When she returned, Renata squealed giddily and clapped her hands.
“Oh, Galayna! You are truly a miracle worker. There are no other seamstresses like you in the entire kingdom of Celeste,” she praised. “Have you given anymore thought to our offer for you to move to the Malta estate permanently?”
Oliver gruffly cleared his throat in protest at the question, which caused both Malta and Renata to tense up. Malta leaned into her wife’s ear and whispered, “My darling, I told you to let me handle this. We cannot just impose ourselves on this family.”
Suddenly, young Savoi emerged from the room with a gigantic silver trimmed leather book. The book was half her size, but that did not deter her from carrying it proudly to the wool rug in front of the fireplace. She signaled for Renata to join her.
As the girl read, everyone from Malta to the Alpha squad was taken aback.
Farouk snorted loudly, “Unbelievable! Savoi was barely a toddler and could read such an incredible body of literature.”
Yoshida nudged him on the shoulder. “What is that book?” he asked.
“She reads from the written work of the great philosopher Equidos. Only scientists and lawyers read this material at the university,” Farouk explained.
 ~The Waring Robins~

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