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~

Between the Witching Hours P. 3

A group of female cadets flocked to Yoshida, insistent that he should give them a dance. Savoi graciously bowed and walked to the bar for a drink. Shevchenko aimlessly followed Farouk around as he chased the server with grilled bovine marinated in yellow curry on a platter. Shevchenko waved the server to hand the platter to Farouk. After a few minutes of silently watching him stuff his face, she sighed.
“I don’t know what to do with Savoi. Everyone thinks she is so special just because she’s from the Islands and she looks exotic. I think she’s rather plain,” she said.
Farouk remained expressionless. Instead of any kind of response, he shoved a piece of meat into his mouth.
Shevchenko was unbothered and continued to vent.
 “Isn’t it odd how Yoshida does not give me the time of day, yet he appears to lap up everything Savoi utters from her rude mouth? I can’t believe she had the audacity to call his full name without permission.”
Farouk gulped down the meat and said, “Aha, that is the root of your problem.”
Shevchenko waited for him to proceed, but he quickly stuffed his mouth again. She became impatient and stammered, “What the hell do you mean?”
Farouk paused from taking another piece of meat. He knew she would not allow him to eat in peace. He placed the platter on a nearby table and smiled.
 “Instead of spiraling into your emotions, let’s look at the facts that have been presented to us. Cadet Savoi is not just some exotic beauty from the Islands. She was handpicked by one of Calvary Academy’s founding Generals. That alone definitely makes her special. When we throw Yoshida into the mix, he too was also selected by a founding General. That places them both in a unique category, which separates them from the likes of the rest of us. Now, we’ve seen firsthand Savoi and Yoshida have some kind of gravitation hold on each other. Who knows what might transpire from that. Perhaps you should steer your attention towards Roudan, since he seems to fancy you. That’s just my humble opinion and suggestion,” he said.
Shevchenko glared at him with contempt. “I didn’t ask for your opinion or suggestions,” she snarled.
A quarter to midnight, names were drawn to select an honored male/female cadet. Roudan and Savoi were chosen, respectively. Savoi gushed as she went on stage to collect her sash and bouquet. The crowd enthusiastically cheered for her.
Shevchenko snatched a glass of wine from a server. Farouk looked at her empathetically.
“Oh, don’t give me those eyes. I knew she would win. I just can’t believe Yoshida wasn’t chosen. Roudan isn’t even here. He skipped the damn dance in favor of playing a game with those silly other boys,” she protested.
Farouk smiled and waved for a server to bring her another drink.
“I think it can be noted Yoshida was probably not chosen because of his affiliation with the Yakuza,” he replied.
Shevchenko scoffed. “He isn’t with the Yakuza. He was with the Gokudō.”
Farouk clinked his glass against hers and said, “Noted.”
Savoi encouraged Yoshida to accept the sash on behalf of Roudan. They sat together on pillowing his/her thrones. The dance concluded with a last song, then the cadets were prompted to return to their respective barracks. Yoshida shimmied past the female cadets and bumped into Farouk.
 “Hey mousey, we should head out to look for Roudan,” he said.
Savoi walked behind them with four shot glasses in her hand.
“Drink up, boys. I have a feeling we’re in for an adventure,” she said.
 Shevchenko did not want to be excluded, but did not want to be subject to expulsion.
“Curfew just hit. There’s no need to go off gallivanting into the night when Roudan can take care of himself,” she protested.
Yoshida rolled his eyes and frowned. “No one asked you to join this search party.”
  Farouk passed a shot glass to Shevchenko to silence her from causing more friction.
Savoi held her glass in the air and prompted everyone to follow suit.
“We’re Alpha squad. That means no man is left behind. We will find him and make sure he’s okay. The sooner, the better for us all.”
Yoshida clinked his glass to hers with a sigh. “Cheers!”
The entourage headed down to the lower rooms. There were at least twenty different rooms to check. When they reached a dimly lit basement, they found Roudan sitting at a table playing a card game with members of the Delta squad. Calvary Academy based the top four squads on cadets who showed the most promise for battle. Everyone that did not make one of the top teams were sent to receive corrective training. For all intents and purposes, Delta squad was considered the bottom of the barrel.
“Roudan, what happened to the Bravos?” Yoshida asked, with a hint of concern in his tone.
Roudan remained focused on the game. “They slithered away once they realized I couldn’t be beaten,” he answered as he slammed his second to last card on the table.
A member of Delta squad, named Molvik, secretly tucked two cards inside his sleeve, then pretended to slam his final card on the table. Roudan raised an eyebrow suspiciously, then chuckled.
Molvik glared at him smugly. “What the hell is so funny?”
Roudan cackled. “It’s hilarious how you skipped two turns, yet only have one card left to play.”
Molvik stood up and banged his fist on the table.
“Just what the hell are you getting at, wise guy?” he asked.
Roudan continued to laugh. “Either you’re some kind of amazing magician, or simply a lousy cheat. Either way, my final card levels above anyone else’s. So, your foolery was in vain, as I have won even this round,” he said.
Before Molvik could say another word, Roudan grabbed his left arm and retrieved the two hidden cards. Molvik clenched his teeth and withdrew his arm. He slumped back in his chair with a smirk.
“You think you’re so great because you’ve been assigned leader of the Alphas. I wouldn’t choke on that merit coin while gloating. Everyone here knows your family is a disgrace to Calvary Academy. We’ll all see you stumble soon enough,” he said.
Yoshida stepped towards Molvik, gripped a handful of his hair, and yanked his head back.
“That’s where you’re wrong, you silly Delta dog. Acts of valor aren’t hereditary, unlike that unsightly receding hairline you’ve got going. I may as well do you a favor and snatch it all out now, or you’ll be bald by graduation,” he said.
 Molvik pulled his head from Yoshida’s grip, but not without a plug of hair pulled. He leapt across the table and took a pocket knife out from his trousers. Roudan reacted quick with a swift punch to his throat. Another member from Delta named Dende pulled out a baton.
“That kind of contraband will get you expelled from here,” Yoshida teased.
“You won’t be able to tell if you’re dead,” Dende replied as he swung.
Yoshida dodged the attack, then kneed Dende in the stomach.
Shevchenko looked at Farouk, who shivered in a corner. She grabbed Savoi by the arm.
“Let’s go. Nothing but more trouble will come from all this ruckus,” she said.
Savoi snatched away.
“No, we have to do something. We can’t just leave our team,” she replied. Without hesitation, she stood in front of a burly Delta to stop him from interfering. She looked into his eyes to reason with him.
“Call your dogs off. Let’s settle this with a new card game,” she pleaded.
Cadet Feliz shrugged his shoulders, then pushed Savoi to the side with brute force.
“Who are you calling a dog, you little bitch? Nobody wants to play another damn card game. Besides, this is no place for girls. Leave before you get your pretty dress dirty,” he said as he walked away to join the fighting.
A fit of rage crept inside Savoi. She picked up one of the metal folding chairs and struck him upside the head. Shevchenko and Farouk were reluctant to take part in the melee, but did not want Savoi to get hurt. The brawl ended after forty minutes. The entire Delta squad had been bested, and understood that they could not contend with their opponents.
Alpha squad departed into the night. They needed to cool off before returning to their rooms. Roudan invited everyone to sit with him. So, they made their way to the bleachers on top of the male barracks. From there was a view of the entire campus. The starry night sky above and the sound of the ocean waves brought serenity to their heart.

~The Waring Robins~

Recruiting Station

The military entrance processing station (M.E.P.S.) for Calvary Academy was in the 9th ward on the coast of Cielle. General Benavides and his colleagues thoroughly reviewed each cadet’s application to determine eligibility, as well as occupational specialties. The cadets endured vigorous medical examinations and had to score high marks on a vocational aptitude battery test to be successfully recruited. Every single measure was meticulously considered before a cadet could set foot on campus, regardless of socio-economic status.
After the required assessments were administered, the male and female cadets were housed in their appropriate barracks for the night. Cadets Roudan, Yoshida, and Farouk shared a 3-tiered bunk in the same room. The men stood in the center of the spaced beige room with their duffle bags in tow. They drew straws to decide their sleeping arrangement. Since none of them wanted to sleep on the very top bunk, Roudan and Yoshida quickly worked together to separate the beds. There was still more than enough space between them to dwell comfortably.
Once everyone put their belongings away, there was an awkward silence. The men stood aloof side by side, gazing out of the bay window, but soon Roudan broke the ice.
“Sheesh, the past seventeen hours have been the most grueling forms of torture that I’ve experienced in my entire life.” He paused a beat, hoping someone else would chime in. When no one volunteered to engage in the conversation, he continued. “I heard the chow hall serves a mean brew with the best hops in the region,” he said, as he nudged Farouk on the left shoulder.
Roudan unintentionally nudged the smaller and younger male hard enough to cause him to lose balance. Farouk frightfully looked up at Roudan’s cheerful eyes and realized he was being playful.
“We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow with the induction ceremony. Perhaps it’s better to refrain from intoxication,” Farouk sighed.
Roudan blew out a raspberry and turned to Yoshida, and said,” A couple of drinks will hardly matter at this point. Besides, some of the most traumatic events in my life occurred while I was sober.” He plopped himself on the wool couch next to them. “Yes sir, I was a happy-go-lucky good kid until I learned my older brother and uncle fled their respective platoons and were killed in the line of action.”
Yoshida’s interest was piqued by his confession.
“You come from a line of deserters, yet you stand boldly before us ready to be inducted in the academy?” he asked.
Roudan’s jovial spirit diminished into a serious tone.
“I am not my brother or uncle’s keeper. Their sins have no bearing on my dedication to service. My father died during the lottery process, so naturally I was selected to take his place. I plan to serve the academy and kingdom with honor to restore our name,” he replied.
Yoshida thoughtfully considered Roudan’s disposition. He was impressed that Roudan’s commitment to the cause did not waver because of the ill-timed circumstances of his family’s demise. As a child, Yoshida was taught to respect men of such noble character. The very fact that Roudan did not hide from the call to duty or need to be coaxed into service was commendable.

~The Waring Robins~


 

Theatrics of a Wiser Fool

I fell in love with a beautiful lie
The premise seemed promising
The attention and affection seemed perfectly timed
I decided to intentionally dismiss the discrepancies in favor of hope
The truth was always there
My heart and passion hurried through the blurred lines
Now I know for certain that a figment of my imagination was fed with sweetness
But
What is easily given is even easier to take away
The coldness from withdrawal left me inconsolable
How funny is it that I’ve been beating on a stone wall that had nothing behind it all along
My openness and raw emotions were preyed upon
Now I feel like a wiser fool
That is what happens when one sits too close to the stage
The magic no longer has a stronghold because all the flaws are fully displayed
I got caught off guard, caught up in my feelings, and played
What a dreadful experience indeed

Catch Me in Love

Catch me in love

Don’t think I fell
I was pushed

Shut my eyes tight
Afraid of view

You spoke past my flesh
Right through to my spirit

Asked me right out did I believe I’d fall again
I cried to you the wounds of a former pain

Never dreamed about a place where I wouldn’t have to beg
Faintly remembering all the good things in life I deserve

No matter how short the time
You’ve awakened my nature

I feel fortunate and blessed for the ride
No longer scared to fly

Catch Me in Love

Catch me in love

Don’t think I fell
I was pushed

Shut my eyes tight
Afraid of view

You spoke past my flesh
Right through to my spirit

Asked me right out did I believe I’d fall again
I cried to you the wounds of a former pain

Never dreamed about a place where I wouldn’t have to beg
Faintly remembering all the good things in life I deserve

No matter how short the time
You’ve awakened my nature

I feel fortunate and blessed for the ride
No longer scared to fly

Catch Me in Love

Catch me in love

Don’t think I fell
I was pushed

Shut my eyes tight
Afraid of view

You spoke past my flesh
Right through to my spirit

Asked me right out did I believe I’d fall again
I cried to you the wounds of a former pain

Never dreamed about a place where I wouldn’t have to beg
Faintly remembering all the good things in life I deserve

No matter how short the time
You’ve awakened my nature

I feel fortunate and blessed for the ride
No longer scared to fly

Bad Feelings

Bad Feelings

Between the hollowed-emptiness, barrage of saddened rage, and jumbled stream of thoughts; I am a mess. Never knowing if I said too much or should suppress it all in. All of those bad feelings haunt me. They wake me in the wee hours of the morning. Though I had been asleep, my spirit had been weeping the entire time. To verbally articulate my grief, would be the same as confessing to the world a losing battle with despair. All I can do is write; to release the strain from my body. Just know, every letter of every word in every sentence is drenched in the pain of my tears.