Doran was that person. You know the type, the one who made it incredibly difficult for anyone to get along with them because they’re two-faced. Friend one moment and talking behind your back the next. Truth was he was incredibly jealous of Soletus when he was younger and spent so much of his time trying to outdo him.
The week of the trials started. The members of the Brotherhood who were eligible, would be doing trials for not only for warder to be given warden titles but, for wardens to get the choice of become masters for an open teaching position and wardens for town watchers and outer patrol. Not to mention for warders to get a chance to become scouts and a scout to be able to advance to a teaching position. However, Soletus and Lyndon sat in the front of the monastery grounds with Kiao and Mien instead of watching them.
Soletus didn’t feel like it because he would be reminded how he wasn’t there. Lyndon just didn’t want to be around a place that reeked of Doran. Kiao, being a healer should have been there just in case someone got hurt. However, the young man said that was when most of the priests actually come out of their rooms to help their fighting brothers.
“I’ll just get in the way,” he told them.
Soletus didn’t know why young man took a liking to them. He was older. Most young men didn’t exactly want to hang out with a bunch of tods because they were supposed to be “adults” everything. Kiao didn’t seem to be one of them. Not to mention, he was a very odd young man.
He had a good bed-side manner and was concerned for other’s well-being, but he was aloof outside of duty. Even when Mien apologized for what he did to Kiao, the young man gave him a rather cool, “I accept your apology.” However, Mien wasn’t at all put off by it at all. He looked as if he was given a warm hearty acceptance as Lyndon gave him. Soletus figured it was how he heard the world. He guessed Kiao met exactly what he said no matter the tone he used.
As for Mien, he was happy to be out of the chapel. He was almost acting like a normal boy of his age. He rather be with friends than doing anything else. They all sat together playing a game of fours. It was a game that Soletus didn’t like because he was horrible at it. Lyndon was normally a good player. Kiao hadn’t played it much and spent most of his time losing. Mien was terribly good at it. He had managed to take east, north, and west. Now he was working on corning Lyndon’s men represented by yellow oval stones. There was nothing he could do.
Kiao let out an impatient sigh. He rolled on his back and said, “You might as well yield.”
“Give up already,” said Soletus to his cousin.
Lyndon held up a hand. “No, there’s a way out of this.”
Soletus doubted that given that Mien was waiting patiently trying to hide the smug grin on his face with his hands clasped in front of his face.
“Ha, I have escaped,” announced Lyndon sliding the piece to what appeared to by an unoccupied point on the board that he could claim as territory. Mien didn’t even blink as he lifted his grand commander from his spot and placed it right beside Lyndon’s scout. He then leaned forward placing his elbows on his knees and looked in Lyndon’s direction intently.
“Now what,” he said.
Lyndon frowned at the board looked up at him and pointed down. “That’s not fair!”
“You left your scout defenseless,” explained Mien. “My grand commander kills him and holds the territory.”
Lyndon stared at the board trying to find a way to save him from his fate however Mien had won. Soletus knew he won ten moves ago, but Lyndon believed in struggling to the end.
The young scout pouted at his defeat. “Fine you win, again,” he grumbled.
A grin of satisfaction lit Mien’s face as he removed his pieces from the board.
“Your being timid doesn’t reflect very much playing games or at least this one,” observed Kiao.
Mien focused on cleaning up his portion of the board. “It’s a game; I don’t have to be timid.”
“You don’t have to be timid here, and especially around us,” said Lyndon.
“Not what I met,” said Mien softly. “When I do something like this it’s like I can forget to be shy because playing four corners isn’t fun when you’re afraid.” He glanced up at everyone then looked back down. “That doesn’t make sense, sorry.”
“No, it makes sense,” answered Kiao. “In fact, it’s something you should do when you are around others. Forget that you are afraid.”
“I’m not that brave,” he answered.
Soletus nudge him with his elbow. “You’re a lot braver than you think saving me and all.”
Mien tried to hide his flushing face by looking down.
“We need to teach this boy to take a compliment,” said Lyndon.
Kiao started to nod in agreement, but something caught his attention. He pushed himself up on his elbow becoming tense. Soletus twisted around to see what he was seeing. It was Doran dressed in his fighting uniform covered in dust and sweat fresh off the trial field. His brow was furrowed with his eyes sat on Soletus. Lyndon’s lips curled up in a snarl. Doran ignored him and swung his staff down at Soletus. The young monk caught it in his hands before it hit his face.
“Have you lost it,” he shouted to the other tod.
“You,” was all Doran returned trying to tug his weapon from Soletus’s grip. Kiao rolled away from the two. Mien scurried to his feet backing away. Lyndon came around his cousin and shoved Doran back. The young tod stumbled backwards. Soletus tossed the staff to the side and got to his feet to stop Lyndon who was not pushing Doran back again.
“This has nothing to do with you,” snapped Doran.
Lyndon got in his face and spat, “When you mess with my cousin, it has everything to do with me!”
Doran tried to shove him back again, but Lyndon dug his heels into the ground immobilizing himself. He then shoved Doran back again. Doran then shoved him back. They went back and forth to more times until then started hitting each other and grabbing clothing hair. Soletus wrapped his arms around Lyndon and pinned his arms his side. Kiao grabbed him by the arm.
“Stop it,” shouted Kiao just as Doran got free of him and turned on him. He punched him in the face. The young chanter priest dropped to the ground. He then retrieved his staff from the ground and came at Soletus and Lyndon. The two parted from each other and Doran stumbled into a group of the older tods who took Doran under their wing. Two grabbed one arm each and another took the staff away from him.
“This is why we said it isn’t worth it,” one of them said dragging him back.
“Why would he come after me, I didn’t nothing to him,” exclaimed Soletus.
“Your father failed him,” answered one of them.
Soletus didn’t have time to figure out the logic in Doran attacking him for that. All he knew it was stupid so turned away from the tod and helped out Kiao. However, another one of Doran’s friends reached him first along with Mien. The boy took hold of him without issue but when Doran’s friend helped, Kiao lashed out and swatted the warder away like an angry cat.
“Get you’re paws off me,” he snarled almost at a shrill.
Mien let him go.
“Not you. I don’t mind your paws,” Kiao amended.
Soletus joined Mien and pulled him up, getting a good look at him. Kiao had a bloody hand trying to control blood flowing from his nose. He appeared to be angered, but was content with giving Doran a venomous glare.
“Get me to the infirmary,” he requested. They hurried away hoping there wasn’t a master or anyone else around of authority. In fact, Soletus hoped the infirmary was empty so they didn’t have to explain why he was hurt. When they rushed in, the beds where empty with only a standby healer was slumped in a corner sleeping. He didn’t hear Soletus’s gang until Kiao barked at him for a mirror. The chanter priest jumped to his feet with a start. He became appalled as soon as he took Kiao in.
“He broke my nose,” said Kiao.
“Who,” the priest asked running to the other side of the large room.
“Honored Priest’s Meric’s son,” answered Kiao. He went to a cabinet, and plucked out a rag for his bleeding nose.
The priest stopped his search for a mirror. “Why? Do I need to get Brother Oli in here?”
Kiao swayed his head as he cleaned his hands and face off.
“I think you should,” protested Lyndon.
“It’ll be a waste of time,” said Kiao.
“Because his father is Honored Priest Meric.”
Lyndon and Soletus didn’t get the significance so he explained further. “He gets him out of everything,” he said and took the mirror that was handed to him. He winced at what he saw. He chanted the phrase of healing then closed his eyes and started mended his nose. However, the attending priest too his hand.
Kiao glared at him, his eyes were now violet brimming with magic and annoyance. “Alder!”
“I really think you should go to him,” said Alder. “This isn’t an excusable offense.”
“Agreed,” exclaimed Lyndon.
Kiao tugged his wrist back. “If Lyndon didn’t escalate the confrontation further, I would gladly to tell Brother Oli. However, Brother Meric would make sure it all the fault was on him.”
Soletus watched his cousin’s bluster deflate. “Didn’t think about that now did you,” said Soletus.
His cousin crossed his arms and looked at his feet. “No I didn’t. Thanks, Kiao.”
Alder then held his chin up. “No, if you won’t tell them I will.”
Kiao grasped the side of his smock and held him back. “Don’t. No one will see swelling after a day. If anyone asks, I ran into something.”
Kiao started healing his face again.
The priest looked at him incredulously. “You’re letting him get away.”
Alder threw his hands up in the air. “Of course, you have to protect Lyndon!”
Kiao’s face went from annoyance to exasperation. “Why does it bother you so much that I won’t tattle-tell?”
Soletus then stepped in. “Listen, I know it’s a bad idea not to say anything, but it’s better if we don’t.”
Alder looked as if he just noticed Soletus standing there. “So you just want to keep this quiet too.”
“I know this goes against better judgment, but hear me out. It’ll end up being his word against all of ours. If what you say is correct, that’ll make reporting this pointless. I’m sure in the future there will be a better opportunity for punishment. There always is,” he said.
“I’m tired of that boy getting out of everything though,” pressed Alder.
“Well you’re just going to have to let him go one more time,” said Kiao. His face was healed up. The swelling around his eye was still there a little, but his nose had stopped bleeding.
Alder then declared. “You’re a stupid dod, Kiao.”
Kiao shrugged in response. “Let me handle this.”
The priest scowled and marched away from them.
“I didn’t know Doran has such a reputation,” said Lyndon.
“Well you didn’t have to grow up around him. Alder did and they used to be friends and Doran basically spat in his face,” explained Kiao.
“Imagine that,” grumbled Lyndon.
“I don’t know the details, but he and Alder got into trouble over something and Doran lied to his father about what happened and the man got him out of any sort of repercussions. Alder however, got the brunt of all of it. Alder went on a mission of trying to see to Doran get punished. It didn’t work and he got away with everything.”
Soletus then asked. “Would he go to his father because of our fight?”
“Tits no. He instigated it. He would try to blame victim you two wanted to tell someone about it.”
Soletus had no desire. That would get him in trouble with his father. “It’s better if we don’t.”
“Well, what he will do is probably go to go to his father about his failing score and get it changed.”
Soletus face twisted in bewilderment. “How?”
“I don’t know. Maybe your father wasn’t being objectives enough.
Soletus let out a short laugh. “He can raise up as much of a stink as he likes, but he won’t get far.”
Kiao lowered his mirror to give Soletus a dubious look.
“I’m serious. His father can try and go over my father’s head, however if Papa gives a low score to someone’s fighting performance he won’t budge.”
“We’ll see about that.”