Wilder’s mouth was wide open, and the corners of his eyes and mouth were almost touching. The laughter that came out was loud and hoarse… No one else could laugh that long; I’ll give him that.
“Boss, you’ve awakened! Boss is up!” Short Manta seized Steven’s neck and rocked him excitedly, not caring if Steven’s able to bear him.
Poor Steven, he’s dying…
Flynn, as always, was scrubbing my forehead with a towel. Only this time, tears welled her eyes.
After I had passed out during Leila’s surgery, Ray treated me with a dragon’s spell. Speaking of which, dragon magic was peculiar enough to drag me from the edge of death. Though they were genius too, to treat a simple trauma. It might be the cost of magic power.
“Please, I’m begging you. Stop smirking…” A stranger’s voice came to my ears, faded and powerless, “It’s driving me crazy…”
Why was there a stranger in my carriage? I turned away, and to my surprise, it was the man who called himself Fischer!
“Cohen, here’s what happened.” Flynn explained, “You fainted. Ray said Fischer didn’t need to die because you saved that white dragon’s life. Our mage healed him, but without an extra horse, we put him here.”
“I see. I need to charge you for shipping!” I said, “Fischer, why did you want to kill a dragon?”
“Well…” Fischer looked a bit embarrassed, “I’m craving to make a robe out of its white skin for my father.”
“So that’s why…” I stopped looking at him and said, “But dragons are not beasts, don’t you know?”
“Luhrmann told me dragons are evil.” Fischer said, “He offered me the Dragon Sword.”
“Luhrmann? The minister?” I immersed into my thoughts.
After spending two days on the open grassland, we had to say good-bye to the dragons.
“Remember, because of the blood loss; she needs to eat more fruit and anything rich in protein… avoid excessive water intake… try not to move around too often.
“Protein?” Ray stared at me blankly…
“Eggs and beans.” I supposed dragons were smart enough but protein was not yet in their vocabulary.
“Oh! I see.” Ray nodded and started explaining my treating advice to Flynn and Winslet, “Cohen is basically healed, but he’s not yet strong enough to move. Everything will depend on his recovery speed. I reckon maybe after a few days… by the way, this is for you.”
Ray put a silver necklace around my neck.
“Young lord,” Uncle Maiza looked sparkling, “now where are we going?”
“Back to DC! Let’s surprise my dad!”
Dragons took off into the air, circled above us and headed west…
“Forward… to DC!” Maiza’s voice was as loud as it could be!
Since I’m not dying, my friends started to fool around once again. Fischer was a tragic sight all the way along. On one side, some thought he must be a villain or at least stupid enough to be fooled into killing a dragon. On the other side, some thought that I wouldn’t have been saved if it weren’t for him, or we saved each other was a better way to put it? Nevertheless, Fischer was given extra attention on the way.
I’d healed enough to slightly move my hands, and it made me feel relaxed. I’ve started talking to with Fischer a lot after saving him from my friends’ silly jokes; he was smart enough to keep up with my thoughts. Though I was never going to tell him about missiles or bombers, he’s able to detect my philosophy ideas and polish on them. I was impressed.
“The thing you said… makes sense, but can you make sure the regulators and controllers are well educated and practiced enough to carry out your plan? Fischer frowned.
“That’s why it’s crucial to enforce education, universal education.”
“Universal education? Please be more specific.”
“Nobles and commoners, humans and alien races, they are not so different after all.” A white cloud projected its shade on me, and I considered my choice of words. “In the current system, the education right was given solely to nobility rather than commoners. As a result, the nobles have grown superior, and others lower, humana are arrogant while aliens are barbarous. If it continues, the world will grow increasingly chaotic…”
“Hold on!” Fischer’s hand was up, and he gave a moment to himself, then hinted me to continue.
“Take a look at the uprisings and wars these years. How much money did we lose? If the empire spent it on education, not only could we resolve conflicts, more importantly, talented men can be discovered, which would mean more wealth!”
“Talented? We have the nobility.”
“Let’s see, within an empire, how many people make up the nobility and how many make up the commoners? Since you have so much talent in the nobility group, then what if we search among the commoners? A great many people are ignored…” I slid up to make myself comfortable, “Every human life is insignificant unless you make it great…”
“I…” Fischer’s lips seemed pale, “… need a drink…”
My speech has probably destroyed his outlook, though, he was not splitting hairs once I reasoned myself.
Sighted me waving hands by a carriage, father’s hopeless eyes instantly lit up. He roared with laughter and slapped an unlucky mage-looking guy off the stairs.
“Visual Kheda!” He wiped his bleeding nose, “You shall remember this!”
“Haha! Cohen.” Father certainly did not care, “Come and meet your Uncle Webster!”
“Uncle Webster?” I glanced at this dirt-covered Uncle Webster, “Arch-mage?”
“He is! He came as fast as he could once heard you were hurt and was about to catch up to you. Then god knows why you came back!”
“Oh!” I pointed at Fischer, “Dad, I picked him up on the way…”
“En?” Father gave him a look, “Fis…cher?!”
The afternoon; I was chatting with Fischer in a desultory kind of way when a man and a woman came in, accompanied by my father.
The man, who looked a few years older than my father, stopped Fischer’s attempt to speak. He came closer to me and took my hand and said, “You must be Cohen.”
“Yes, uncle, I am Cohen,” I answered but gave more attention to the woman aside. She had a luxurious outfit and graceful disposition in a way that glared expression and gesture of maternal manners, which attracted me more.
“Not uncle!” Father was a bit annoyed, he leaned down and whispered, “This is His Majesty! Climos Summers!”
“Take it easy, Visual.” Emperor Climos smiled, “Call me uncle, and this is your auntie. Nashor.”
The first moment she said, “My appreciation for saving Fischer.” The next moment. Queen Nashor seized Fischer’s ear, “HOW OLD ARE YOU TO TRY TO KILL A DRAGON! YOU ARROGANT BOY!”
She seemed like a pleasant mother but was more like a tyrant…
“Good thing the priest didn’t burn your son.” The Emperor smiled, “Or who would have saved Fischer today.”
“Huhhe…” Visual echoed, “Wasn’t that your plan?”
“You participated.” His Majesty stood closer, “I heard the Viceroy, who’s never bribed anyone before, gave the high priest five grand in cash!”
“Please say no more.” Father forced a smile, “I’ve been poor since then.”
We said farewell to the Summers, then father started telling me his past. Turned out him and the Emperor were close as kids. Years after, father had resolved a number of problems as a civilian Viceroy. Then, his Majesty assigned him Viceroy to rule over Darkmoon, which was a rough province then.
“Dad,” I asked, “Our city is not rough at all!”
“You wish! I spent nearly twenty years to make it right!”
“Huhhe… you have a point.”
“However, these days won’t last for long.” Father patted me on my shoulder.
“What’s going on?”
“It’s something I’ve decided recently, which is yet for you to concern. You will find Webster and Tennessee when you get better. They will be your mentor and you will learn, along with your Wilder and Flynn friends. As for the Winslet kids, they are going home.”
“I’m ok with that, but why do Winslet and the others have to leave?”
“You stupid little brat, they have to study their culture and skills, am I right?
“I see…” It’s time to say goodbye.
“Don’t be sad!” Father said, “You’ll meet again! By that time, the boys will become stronger, and the girls prettier…”
“Prettier and prettier… I know, but why is he grinning like a pervert…”
I walked slowly in the garden trying to accelerate the recovery process. Flowers were spurring light scent and I was delighted watching the gorgeous night sky, sort of. I should be done for today’s exercise by walking back and forth beside the lake.
I found a corner and spotted a slender shadow sitting by a large cobble, leg curled and glanced down the water, hands around the knees, and four clear wings waggled by the wind, long hair reflected by the lake, blueish…
“Winslet, what’s on your mind?” I walked by.
“Cohen,” Winslet said, “I’m going home.”
“Father informed me.”
“Mom sent a letter, she misses me, and I miss her.”
“You’ll meet soon.” I sat down beside Winslet and took her hands.
“You know,” Winslet laid her chin on one hand, and spoke softly, “When I was younger, my mom didn’t have much time for me. All I did was sit down by the lake and watch it change colors, from light to dark and lake blue… when there was the wind, the lake would bounce silver dots, which looked like dreams… sometimes, when it rained, there were drops and ripples, they bounced around and then vanished…”
“I love the song you taught me,” Winslet stared at me, “Can I sing one more time?”
In the garden, by the blue and clear lake, Winslet sang for me for the first time.
Raindrops as mysterious that fell in my heart
I can’t help staring at you, and you showed me none
No tongue yet unforgetful
That your look, bright and beau…
Winslet sang slowly, but my heart trembled. O Winslet, will I ever have the chance to watch the lake with you again.