Gumber- year 462
In the morning, Damien woke up to the smell of freshly cooked food. He smelled fatty meats and hot biscuits. After getting dressed, he came out of his room to find Ashlyn sitting at her mother's table. She was sipping a glass of orange juice and finishing the remnants on her plate. When she heard Damien's steps, she looked over to him.
"You're finally awake," she smiled. "My mother made breakfast."
Damien went and sat down across from Ashlyn. She looked proper with her tight hair-bun and seemly outfit. Within seconds, Calda placed a plate of food in front of Damien. It was the first time he beheld crispy bacon that was meant for him. It was accompanied by a warm, buttery biscuit and a portion of eggs. It was perhaps the largest meal he had ever been given.
He bit into it, grateful for the high nutrients. Without any prompting whatsoever, Calda said, "I figured you could use some fats. You must be growing improperly right now. Far too skinny."
"It tastes good, thank you," Damien said. He fell quiet while eating.
A few minutes later, Ashlyn cleared her plate off the table and scrubbed the used dishes in the sink.
"Oh," Calda chimed, "I bought some new clothes for you, Damien. I'll go place them on your bed." With that, she disappeared from the kitchen.
"She likes to talk a lot," Damien commented, causing Ashlyn to turn.
"She's excited," Ashlyn said. "Secretly, I think she loves having people to take care of."
"She bought me clothes? Why?"
"When we go before the Tribunal, it would be best if you looked presentable. They care about that sort of thing, you see."
"So that's why you're dressed so nicely," he realized. "I've been wondering: what is the Tribunal like?"
"They're not so bad," she said. "Kyanthus can be the most hard-headed one of the three. He looks at facts and only facts. Milanthius is more diplomatic, easily persuaded. And Kallus..." she breathed in. "Kallus has been a close friend of my family for years, always watching out for us."
Damien nodded. "I see. And you're supposed to convince them to let me stay here?"
"That's the plan."
Damien brushed his bare scalp while consuming his eggs. He was not used to having only roots for a mane.
"I'm assuming you had hair before this," Ashlyn said when she came back over.
"So much of it."
"It will grow back, I'm sure."
When he was finished eating, he scooted out from the table. "I suppose I should get dressed, then."
It was late morning by the time they all headed out. Calda was leading the way to the Ferion with Ashlyn and Damien in tow.
Damien found his new clothes to be a comfortable fit. They were made of woven cotton that had a gentle feel. The shirt was long enough to conceal the dark marks along his arms.
When they had finally arrived at the Ferion, they stepped along the fragile stone. Directly in front of the entrance was a fountain bubbling with a gentle flow. Beyond that, there was a high platform on which the Tribunal heads stood. Kyanthus and Milanthius were already in appointments of their own, and Kallus was nowhere to be seen.
Calda shuffled Ashlyn and Damien to the side of the building to stand and wait. When Milanthius was finished with his appointment, he was the first to notice Ashlyn and her guests.
"Ah," he waved his hand, "the child has returned to us. Come forth, Ashlyn, let me behold you."
Ashlyn stepped forward, blushing. "My lord," she gave a bow.
"How goes the Mages Academy?"
"Quite well," she answered.
Milanthius glanced at Kyanthus as he took his seat. "What may we do for you?"
"My lords," Ashlyn began, "I have a favor to beg of you." Then she gestured Damien forward. "This boy is an orphan and I have vowed to watch over him. I would like you to make a place for him here in Gumber."
"A human?" Milanthius crinkled his nose. He made a full scan of the young Damien. Concerned, he looked over at Kyanthus before speaking again. "And why did you bring the boy here? He belongs to the human world. Let the humans watch over him."
"I couldn't bring myself to do that," she said. By now, Kyanthus was observing the matter from his own seat. He watched Damien through the slits in his eyes. "My lords," Ashlyn addressed both of them, "I only wish you to discuss it formally. My will is that he'd stay, but he won't survive here without your consent."
Kyanthus rested his chin in his palm. "That is all?" he asked. "And where will the orphan be staying until we give our consent?"
"I can take care of him, my lords," Calda came in. "I think what my daughter wants is a way to check on Damien every now and then. She cannot do that if he is bound to the human world."
"I understand your concern," Milanthius said after a moment. He stared at Ashlyn, trying to gather her reasoning. "Of all the orphans in the world, why this one?"
"Because," Ashlyn smiled at Damien, "he is my friend."
He grinned over at Kyanthus. "So compassionate, is she not?"
"Hmm, yes," Kyanthus groaned. With a sigh, he crossed his legs. "Rest assured, Ashlyn, we shall discuss it formally. Though, it would be wise of you to have a more reasonable course."
"Yes, my lords." With a bow, Ashlyn stepped behind Calda.
"We shall summon you in due time." With a wave of his hand, Kyanthus dismissed them. As they turned and walked out the building, he turned to Milanthius. "What place does a human have here?"
Milanthius chuckled. "You were the one who wanted her to appreciate both worlds," he said.
"And now she is bringing humans to Gumber. We cannot let this go on."
"Perhaps it is a good sign that our Sorceress is asking this of us. It means she respects us, and her allegiance should not go unrewarded. If she wants to keep a companion, then let her keep one."
"But where will the boy live? We cannot grant a human a house of his own, our laws do not allow it."
Milanthius paused for a moment. "Kallus will not want to be left in the dark about this. We must summon him here."
"Kallus would rather care for his family at home than serve the Tribunal."
"It matters not. Kallus has the blood inheritance. We are to discuss it formally with him."
"Oh, very well," Kyanthus tossed his hand to the side. "The sooner this is done, the sooner we can have our realm back."