Kallus went up to Calda’s door and knocked. When she opened, she knew instantly the reason he was there.
With a sullen face she said, “I can go get him for you.”
Kallus waited on her well-kept porch. A few minutes later, Calda appeared again with Ashlyn and Damien both gathering at the door.
Showing a bland smile, Kallus nodded at the boy. “I have come to take you away from this house. Say your goodbyes, if you must.”
Ashlyn was shocked to hear it. “You have come to a decision already?”
“For a human, apparently,” Kallus said with a bit of humor. “This is the solution we all agreed with. The boy is to live with me.”
“I can’t believe it.” Ashlyn turned to Damien, looking on him with kindness. “I expected it to take more time.”
“For you, Ashlyn, the Tribunal works hard. Though, I must return home soon. Come on, boy.”
Damien looked up at Calda. “Goodbye,” he said. “Thank you for–for everything.”
“This isn’t goodbye,” she smiled. “This is your place now.”
“Right.” Then he faced Ashlyn. “Will I see you around here?”
Glancing to the side, Ashlyn grew sad. “I should probably head back to the Academy,” she said. “I will come visit you, that’s for sure.”
“Alright.” He took one last look at Ashlyn and Calda before going with Kallus. Damien saw them waving at him as they departed.
It was a cool, cloudy day. The gray covering the blue sky offered the promise of rain, though there was no downpour. Damien was inclined to say nothing as he walked. With how much longer Kallus’ legs were, he could greatly outstep the boy along the path.
Damien almost thought he would have been happy to hear the news, but instead it made him nervous. He had grown so used to being an orphan that now the thought of having a family simply terrified him. A family of elves, no less.
Kallus led him along the path until they came to a seemly manor that adorned a tree-lined bluff. Kallus’ house sat near the edge of the village, surrounded by a few pristine gardens. They passed through a leafy archway and onto the gorgeous property to find his family standing out front, waiting.
Lanara and the two children stood in a huddle, along with Tenila, the children’s live-in nanny. They all had anxious smiles on their faces as Kallus brought the young Damien forth.
“Damien,” Kallus gestured, “let me introduce my family. This is my wife, Lanara,” he pointed to her as she stepped forward.
“Hello,” Lanara took Damien’s hand. “Welcome.”
Kallus motioned for Lila to step forward. “This is my daughter, Lilathanor.”
“Hi,” Lila waved in greeting. “You can call me Lila. Everyone else does.”
“Hello, Lila,” Damien nodded at her.
“And this is my son, Nihilan,” Kallus said.
The thirteen-year old did not seem eager to introduce himself. With the push of his father, however, he fell in line. “Hello,” Nihilan spoke to Damien. “I don’t have a nickname.”
Damien acknowledged the young elf. “I don’t have a nickname, either.”
Nihilan scanned the skinny outline of Damien, noting his shaved head and blackish eyes. “Where the fates did you come from?”
“Nihilan,” Kallus snapped at his son, “you keep talking like that and I’ll punish you. You know better.”
Nihilan fell silent after that threat. He stepped back into the formation and let his parents do all the speaking.
“This is our housekeeper, Tenila,” Kallus continued. “She helps us with the children also.”
Tenila came forward with a kind smile that struck at Damien. She was a bit older than Kallus and Lanara, with hazel eyes and dark blond hair. “Welcome to the house of Kallus, young man. We’ve gotten your space all set up.”
“My space?” Damien looked up at Kallus. “My very own space? I can go wherever I like?”
“You’ll find no restrictions here,” Kallus answered. “You must be respectful of the house. Tenila abhors having to clean up after children.”
“I understand,” Damien faced forward. With introductions out of the way, Kallus led him inside. His family flanked behind them, clumping in the front entryway.
Damien beheld the splendorous manor for himself. It was lit by an array of windows and skylights. The central chandelier was set with twelve radiant lamps. The ornate banister was made of smooth oak that trailed up to the second level. It was a well-fashioned house, built with more rooms than the family had need for.
As an elf lord, Kallus had inherited much wealth from his ancestors. This manor is what he had to show for it.
“Let me take you upstairs,” Kallus said, leading Damien to the second level of the house. They passed through a long corridor set with the guest rooms. On the other side was an open space set with more bedrooms. These bedrooms were bigger and beautifully furnished. Kallus went to the large room on the left and showed Damien in.
Damien took in his new quarters with gratitude. There was a wide bed fit with dark cotton sheets. His windows were draped over for the moment. Along with an oak dresser, his room featured a work desk that would suit him for his impending studies. From the ceiling hung a small chandelier.
Kallus went over and undraped the windows. Peering outside, Damien looked upon the lovely gardens that adorned the house.
“I, uh, I can’t believe this is mine,” Damien said.
“I want you to rest today,” Kallus said after a moment. “Have supper with us. Tomorrow, I require you to join me down in the forge.”
“That’s right. We all have our responsibilities here. As long as you do them, I shall provide your every need.”
Damien puzzled. “You want me to work for you?”
Kallus nodded. “I can give you skills that are irreplaceable. You will learn well under my care. When the time is right, I would appoint you to inherit my burdens.”
“What kind of burdens?”
“One day I shall lay down my hammer and my legacy. I hope that it passes to someone who is both worthy and willing.”
“You mean you want me to inherit all of this?”
“Every person in my house will inherit what I pass on to them. As it happens, I need someone to pass on my legacy to. I do not wish to burden my own children when they grow older. This is one of the reasons why you are here.”
“I see,” Damien lowered his head. “How bad can your burdens be?”
“If you prove yourself both worthy and willing, they are not bad at all.”
After taking time to consider, Damien met Kallus’ gaze. “I am willing,” he said.
Kallus grinned. “We shall see.”