Chapter Nineteen: Celebration
My father stood outside the hall, an open look of admiration across his face, his eyes seemingly aglow that he looked almost the young General he was fifty years ago.
I walked up to him, trying to keep my poise in the presence of other well respected warriors. But before reaching him, my smile had set itself in a broad grin.
“I knew you could do it.” He said proudly.
“Alex, you made it through?” I turned to find Adrianna half jogging up to meet me. “Did you pass the trials?”
I hugged my friend briefly and almost jumped up and down in joy of the occasion. “Yes! And you?”
In a mock stance of power, Adrianna folded her arms and replied firmly, “Easy. I don’t think they knew who they were messing with.”
I gave her a playful nudge, “Sure, sure.”
My father put his hand upon my shoulder. “Come. We must have a dinner to commemorate the day. Adrianna, will your father be in attendance?”
She shook her head, “No… he’s still away.”
My joy titled for a moment and I felt a soft sorrow for her. Adrianna’s father was never at home, and when he was, it was almost certain that he gave his daughter little attention. With her mother passed away, and brother off on duties, she spent most her time at their estate alone. In that sense, it had a good aspect. The estate was all to herself, and that meant being able to do near about anything. But it was an aspect with a saddening side to it. She was alone.
“Come on,” Spoke my father. “Come with us and join in on the feast.”
She perked up a little and smiled. “I’m sorry,” She replied courteously, “but with my Father away, now I am in the academy I must take care of some business first before I can go about enjoying anything. But thank you for your offer.”
“That is too bad. Perhaps another day.”
She bowed her head a little. “I better be off. Alex, I’ll see you tomorrow on the field.” Then as was now due in the presence of an officer, she saluted in traditional Order fashion. Her right fist closed and placed over her heart. Father returned the salute, and Adrianna disappeared off through the hall’s doorway.
“Come. We best be off as well.”
We turned to leave for the same door, but within only a few steps Father was stopped but a tall man with a handsome face, and short cut fiery coloured hair. He gave a quick salute.
“General Du’ Belmonte. The council requires your immediate attendance at the Atrium.”
I stood just behind him, my heart sinking. In an instant my plans to celebrate along with my father and bask in his pride were gone.
“I understand.” He nodded to the man and he quickly saluted once more and turned to depart, vanishing through the door as quickly as he had arrived. My father turned to face me, bending slightly at the knee to keep eye level. “It seems I will not be able to attend either. But, duty calls, and when it does we must heed it. You’re in the Order now. You’ll get used to it. We’ll make time another day.”
“Yes father.” I saluted him and he returned it before he too disappeared outside, leaving me to stand alone, balling my hands into fists, angered by the bad timing.
* * *
The household was silent except for the sounds of servants going about the kitchen behind the dining hall. I sat at the long table, eyeing a plump piece of steak, but feeling little hunger for it.
Celia, a striking women and my surrogate mother since I were a young child and my mother passed away from a fatal disease, noted my quiet state. She was a striking woman of various talents. She’d at first been the daughter of a powerful household many years ago, but an old conflict destroyed all she had and she became a mere servant.
Father had employed her to assist my mother during child birth, since she was already a weakened woman from sickness. When she’d fallen into a deep coma, she’d been quick to assert herself. She’d taken to parenting me in my mother’s place, and as she drew further to death, she slowly took the place beside my father.
A year later after my mother’s death, and they were partnered. An ambitious and crafty move.
But through her ambitious plots, she was kind and helpful. She was as much a mother as my true parent could’ve been, and because of that there was little that could be hidden from her.
“Mi’ Lord will be able to make time for you yet. Have patients.”
I stabbed at my dinner with my fork, my mind off in its own place.
“Don’t forget how proud he is of you. You’ve come so far and have still so much more great potential ahead.”
She sighed. “If you wish to spend time with him so much, then ascend from initiate, and apply to join his regiment.”
I perked up a little at that notion. I had not considered that possibility. “Is it possible? The placement is random and generally never permanent, unless you are a full time officer.”
“That is true. But, if you play your cards right within the Order anything is possible. As organised as they are, there are points where one can exploit and tinker.” She spoke in her plotting manner.
Cutting off a piece of meat and stuffing it in my mouth, I took a moment to consider the idea of worming my way through the Order’s setup as my tastes savoured the tender and moist morsel. “I think it’s best for now that I stick with what I get. I am but a raw recruit.”
“True.” She chewed one more piece of her dinner and rose. “It has been a long day. I think I’ll retire early. Goodnight, Lady Alexandria.”
“Goodnight, mi’ lady.”