My new bed made me look forward to sleeping at night for a whole new reason besides exhaustion, which over the next few weeks changed from a physical type to a more mental type as I was thrown back into my rusty studying skills. Most of the time was spent tagging along with the surprisingly spry old physician, who was too busy cramming every medical knowledge he could think of into my brain to really give me insight into his personality outside that. He did have me explain beforehand what I already knew and didn’t express any pleasure or surprise, as though he hadn’t any expectations of me at all. It was almost as though I were just an empty jar he took around with him and talked into. Thus, I characterized him by his large gray mustache and the scent of black licorice, a jar of which he always kept in his office as a natural anti-inflammatory, but I’m sure he munched on when I wasn’t looking.
Then there was time with the reading and writing tutor. Apparently, Roman had been nice by not mentioning how poorly constructed my letters to him had been, to which the tutor wasn’t as kind about. The huge library we met up in was soon lost on me as she came to prove to me just how little I knew about this world’s grammar. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone for this suffering, as Gus was always with me. Irritatingly enough, Gus had an easier time grasping onto writing then me, probably because he didn’t have English as his native language to come in and screw everything up. Just because I had a magic trick in my brain making it so I could speak the language without thinking about it didn’t mean that if I slowed down long enough to think about it to write it down that I automatically could.
When the tutor discovered that I had another native language, and one he had never heard of, he had me write down a list of words and kept it on hand so she could study it herself. The intent was so she could see where I was coming from and why I kept making the same mistakes. She really wasn’t all that bad of a teacher, strictness aside. Though I had no hope that she’d find anything.
The rest of the time not taken up by daily necessities was spent on my own in the library, trying to struggle my way through the books. After all, my ability to study was really the only skill I had any confidence in. And though Nehcor told me I was doing great, that didn’t change the fact that I felt like I was floundering.
Gus would join me then too, even going so far as to let me cuddle up to his side on the rug while we read.
While I was with Dr. Mustache (his name was Stacian Newvle, but what the heck kind of name was Stacian?), Gus was pushed through conditioning exercises by Sir Fairenson to work up his sad lack of stamina. In the evenings I’d take a look at his sore limbs and do my best to ease up the pain caused by a combination of growing pains and overworked muscles. As I did so, I continued my work on his stunted growth plates that had missed out on a part of their crucial growing time due to malnutrition. It wasn’t as easy as just adding some of my body’s resources (which got me thinking, why could I send over components of my body without having to cut through the skin barrier like I had to do with Roman and his bone growth protein? Mysterious mysterious). Even if I could just add some of my own bone, I could tell my own body had suffered from just giving over the little bit to the little girl we had recently healed in the temple, who we’d also have to see again in a year’s time to clear out calcium build up again. These where whole, healthy bits of bone that thought their job was done. The only reason I knew it wasn’t was because of the marks malnutrition had left in the energy markings of the cells.
Eventually, I gave up and took a temple visit to talk to Nehcor about, which was actually quite pleasant as Roman lent me a carriage for the trip (a normal, nondescript one, thankfully), along with a knight escort. When I had protested, he just told me that it was for Gus as much as him, since he knew Gus would want me to be safe since he couldn’t come himself. I suspected that the duke’s son had already deduced that Gus was my fatal weakness to get me to not ask too many questions, but I took it. Roman had a pile of papers on his desk at the time and looked a bit skittish with cabin fever.
In the carriage, I met Sir Fairenson again.
“Aren’t you, like, his personal bodyguard?” I asked. “Is it okay for you to be escorting me?”
He gave me a somewhat mysterious smile. “Someone of his highnesses importance has more than one bodyguard, my lady.”
I waited for him to answer my second question, but he just continued smiling at me.
“I’m not going to hear the other part, am I?”
“If my master commands me to escort you, it is more than okay, it is law.”
“…You know that’s not what I’m asking, right?”
“I believe the lady can infer the answer, as the one whom his highness is dependent on for his wellbeing and survival.”
Ah. Yes yes. Of course. I’m that important now.
Thankfully, while not talkative, Sir Fairenson wasn’t taciturn either, and we made pleasant enough conversation on the way to the temple. Through that I learned the reason for Roman’s cabin fever: ever since he had regained his freedom of movement, any time spent inside doing paperwork rather than outside moving about had become difficult. Apparently, he quietly whined to Sir Fairenson on a regular basis about how he just wanted to run and run until he simply collapsed.
“He’s finally been able to access his talent with the sword as well,” said the knight. “Something he’s always bemoaned ever since he had to watch his younger brother leave him behind in that regards. It’s already assumed that the right to inheritance is going to be removed from his younger brother and returned to him.”
“That’s not going to cause any problems, is it?”
“Oh, no. His highness Lucas was never too keen on…the heavy responsibilities involved with maintaining the duchy.”
Based on the pinched looked on Sir Fairenson’s face, in other words, he was an irresponsible lazy ass.
Well, whatever. That wasn’t any of my business. Oh, that was so nice to say. Maybe I should figure out how to make popcorn for when drama hits. I’d already managed to get into some conversations with the maids about said pastimes, and they were more than eager to include me, as their fellow servant, into the local entertainment of gossip and drama watching. And, apparently, Sir Lucas, the younger brother who’d be coming after the winter holidays, was a treasure trove of entertainment.
Frankly, I was surprised that the maids were so willing to talk with me about the juicy tidbits on their masters. You’d think they’d be more hush hush about it. When I mentioned this to Sir Fairenson, he simply chortled and told me that it was most likely my open personality that had eased them into a false sense of security.
“And they’re not telling you as much as you may think,” he said. “If there’s anything we servants have learned, it’s how to keep secrets by sounding like you’re telling them all.”
Now that just got me all curious. Oh well. Again, none of my business.