The Ruens of Fairstone (Aeon of Light Book 2) (8 page)

“I sure did.” Miles slaps Fergus Fairstone on his butt again though this time so loud that it sends an echo off the castle walls. “You should try it sometime, it’s a great way to relieve the built up tension of this finest school in Vetlinue. You’d be surprised how firm his buttocks are for a thousand-year-old man, truly inspirational for today’s youth.”

Pard shakes his head in disgust and walks past Miles and the statue. “Come on, let’s get this over with.”

Miles opens his arms. “
What’s wrong
? You don’t need a little inspiration from old Fergie here?”

Pard rolls his eyes and keeps on walking, focusing on the seldom used side iron gate leading through the fence that surrounds Fairstone’s property. He clinches his teeth as the bitter wind cuts through his cloak and sweater and sting his skin and bones. The inside of his nose freezes and his nasal passage constricts. He unlatches the iron gate and swings it open.

Miles catches up and bumps past Pard and takes the lead. He playfully jumps in front of Pard and is seemingly unaffected by the cold. He continues to walk backward as Pard shields his face from the elements.

Pard shakes his head at Miles prancing about.
He seems to think my room is too chilly to study but out here in the real cold he acts as if it’s a warm spring—unbelievable this lord of the North.

“So, what was it?” Miles says with a nod.

Pard, already annoyed, snaps back at him. “What was what?”

“Why’d you finally relent and say you’d tutor me? I actually thought you were really going to deny me, which is a new feeling for me, I wasn’t sure how to react.”

Pard snorts. “I imagine.”

“So what was it? My charming personality? You get to hang out with the coolest kid in the school?
Ha
, or all of Bastin for that matter. Or was it my sexy smile?”

Pard’s face contorts as if to throw up.

Miles smiles. “It’s my smile, right? That usually does the trick.”


Please

come on
.” Pard gestures toward the glowing town of Greysin in the valley ahead. He turns left onto a cobblestone road leading down a hill and away from Fairstone.

Miles tilts his head to the side. “So my personality, then?
Huh
, well that’s a first.”

Pard jerks to a stop, and for a split second the thought of turning back enters his mind. “Don’t you ever shut up?”

Miles rolls his eyes. “Dang, professor, aren’t you a stiff one. And I thought you were all right, different than all these other nobs here at Unfairstone School for Boys, producing the greatest pompous’ of our age.”

“Why the heck do you keep calling me professor? It’s annoying you know.”

“Because your parents were professors, and you’re like the smartest kid in our whole grade, and maybe even the entire school, and you’re going to be a professor someday, right?”

“How do you know I want to be a professor?”

Miles scoffs and lets out a high-pitched chuckle. He looks at Pard as if it should be obvious. “Because what else would you be? Duh.”

“Whatever.”

“So you don’t want to be a professor?”

“That’s not the point.”

Miles’s eyes narrow in confusion. “It’s not?”

Pard changes the subject. “You called me a seeros.”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“What is it? I couldn’t find any information on any seeros in any of my books.”

“I only know a little. A seeros works for my father. Strange guy him—doesn’t talk much—keeps to himself, kinda cool in a weirdo way.” Miles shivers. “Though scary as hell sometimes. He’s one of the few guys my father really trusts. But whenever I tried to talk to him he ignored me.” Miles laughs. “Sort of like you. Maybe that’s a seeros thing.”

Pard shakes his head.

“Anyway, I saw him fighting hand to hand combat one day, him against eight other guys, and he kicked their asses. He had his shirt off and that same mark you have on your back is also on his back. And another time I saw him connect to a dog with a grey electrical light, and he zapped an assassin trying to kill my father. It was cool in a freaky way. I imagine it was the same thing you did to Yitch’s cat.”

 
In an awkward silence, Pard and Miles continue to slide down the icy hill as the lights of Greysin grow brighter as they approach town.
 

“Okay, so that’s all you know of the seeros?” Pard says. “He connected to a dog, zapped an assassin, and kicked some guys’ asses.”

Miles shrugs. “Sort of. After I saw Samon zap the guy, I asked my father what kind of person he was—being able to do that and all. And he said he was marked by the light and that he’s a seeros and not to ask any more question or speak of it to anyone. And so that’s it, that’s all I know.”

“That doesn’t tell me much. But I guess that’s more than I knew yesterday.”

Miles laughs. “So what does it feel like when you shoot your light and zap the crap out of something?”

Pard squints, still unsure if the light was really him or not. He still blocks out what he did in the west wing as an anomaly and not part of him. “I don’t know what it feels like.”

“What do you mean you don’t know? How can’t you know? You zapped the cat in Nox’s arms, right?”

“Yes,” Pard says without thinking, and then he flinches and clams up, realizing he just admitted to killing Nero and shooting electricity out of his fingers and chest.

“Dang, professor, that’s so cool. That you can do that thing with the light, but not killing Nero the cat of course.” Miles shrugs. “Honestly, I liked that cat, surprising really, considering it was Yitch’s—guess pets can’t choose their owners, eh?”

Pard stands up straight and defensive. “Look, I didn’t mean to hurt the cat. I don’t even know how or why it happened. It was only the second time I saw the light, and I was so out of it I don’t even remember how it felt. All I know is I was mad, and it happened, and once I realized what was going on, I was scared and that was it, no more light, and Nero dead.”

“Hey, professor, it’s all good, no need to get all riled up. I’m sure you didn’t mean to fry kitty. But it’s nothing to be scared or ashamed of—embrace the badass within you and let it all out.”

Pard cringes. “Embrace the badass,
seriously
? What does that even mean?”

“It means you got some seriously scary, powerful shit going on inside of you right now and you should accept it as a gift and use it.” Miles’s right eyebrow slowly rises. “For good that is, and once you can control it, and definitely don’t use the light on me, like ever.”

“All right, so let’s say I have this gift. It sure didn’t seem like I could control it the other night. How are you so sure I won’t accidentally zap you if you piss me off?”

In deep thought, Miles tilts his head to the side for a second then inches away from Pard. “Right, so we can figure that out later after advanced mathematics.”

HINER’S FORMULAIC PHYLUM

After ten more minutes of battling the wind, Pard opens the gilded doors leading into the warm, well-lit sanctuary of the Greysin Library.

Like everything else in Greysin, the library is opulent, fit for only the most wealthy and privileged that may want a book or quiet place to read or gather. Greysin, a sleepy town within a days travel of the capital city of Wellingtin in the province by the same name, is also home to the second residences of many of Bastin’s elite who spend their summers lounging and partying and scheming by the lake. Pard, clearly not of the upper echelon of Bastin society, at least in wealth or pedigree, is usually taken for a worker, and he goes unnoticed as he mingles among his betters, taking pleasure in overhearing their dirty little secrets and political maneuvering and schemes. Of course, that is, until they want something from him, like a glass of wine, or water, or a towel, or directions to their rooms, then it quickly gets awkward. But most of the time it’s as if he doesn’t exist, which is fine by him. Now during the off season, winter, the town is empty except for the locals. And the library is a place Pard uses as a sanctuary away from Fairstone and Yitch and his other nemesis’ whenever he can escape the school grounds. Though with all the detentions he’s been getting lately, it’s been two weeks since he’s been in town.

“So where do you want to sit?” Miles says.

Pard nods toward the far end of the library near the history section, his favorite section, and where he last saw Selby Barrow. The library is mostly empty at this hour as Pard slowly makes his way through the corridors of books and cushy chairs and mahogany desks and tables. He glances up through a circular stained glass skylight as he passes underneath. The bright moon hovers above as clouds roll through the illumination. Pard lowers his gaze, back on track with his purpose, he scans the library like a sly sleuth, searching for his mark while undercover. A glance here, a glance there, taking it all in, not letting on he’s giving any person a passing thought. Pard eyes his normal study table ahead, and his heart sinks,
no Selby, shoot
.

Miles slaps Pard hard on the back. “So glad you agreed to help me, for whatever reason, I can’t seem to get this stupid Jibles’s law, not to mention Hiner’s Formulaic Phylum of madness.”

“Right,” Pard says, deflated, uninspired now that Selby Barrow is nowhere in sight. He plops down in his chair and slumps onto the table.

Miles sits across from Pard and unslings his backpack. “So which madness do you want to start with?”

Pard ignores Miles and stares across the room at the chair he last saw Selby sitting in.

Miles drops his thick advanced mathematics book on the center of the table.

Bang

Pard flinches.

“So which madness is your poison, professor?”

“Hiner’s Phylum,” Pard says with a crack in his voice.

“Should I start with number one?”

“Yes.” Pard leans forward and rests his folded arms on the table and sets his chin on his wrists. “Scribe number one and do the first problem you don’t know how to complete and then I’ll check it to see where you’re going astray.”

Miles winks at Pard and points his pencil at him. “Smart thinking, professor, I knew you were the right light-wielding badass for the job.”


Right
.” Pard buries his forehead in the crook of his arm and closes his eyes.

“Can I get you anything, dear?” an old woman’s crackling voice says.

“Oh, no, thanks, Ms. Cookle,” a kind girl’s voice says.

Pard’s eyes open wide and his head rises. The hunched over ancient librarian Ms. Cookle, wearing a morbid black dress, is hobbling away from a small round table while pushing a book cart. And there she is,
sweet Selby Barrow
.

“Done,” Miles says, and he slides his answer over to Pard.

Pard, drunken grin on his face, ignores Miles as he ogles Selby and her wavy brunette hair tucked behind her ear.

“Hello,” Miles says, waving his hand at Pard. “Hey, professor, I’m done, you can check my answers now.”

“What?” Pard says, snapping out of his trance and looking at Miles.

“Are you smiling at me?” Miles says.


What
?
Heck
no, I don’t smile
.”

“You are, you’re totally smiling at me.”

Pard’s face straitens. “No I’m not.”

Miles snorts. “Yes you are. So what’s gotten into you?”

“Nothing!” Pard looks down at the table and grades Miles’s first phylum. He slides it back over to him. “You need to carry the two and six, not the four and eight.”

Miles nods. “Oh, I see.”

“Now figure out number two.”

“All right.”

Miles lowers his head and scribes out number two, and Pard peeks around Miles’s shoulder until his eyes find Selby.
 

Selby adjusts her thin glasses and crosses her legs, then she glances up at Pard and gives him a kind smile.

Pard, embarrassed, snaps his gaze away and it locks onto Miles’s paper as he works out the phylum. Pard slowly lifts his head.
 

Selby, attention no longer on Pard, is in deep concentration reading a large purple book.

Pard continues to stare and gets lost in Selby’s presence.

Miles flicks his pencil in the air and lets it tumble onto the table. “And done!” He slides the paper over to Pard.

Pard, still lost in his dream, imagining him and Selby strolling in the forest and holding hands, he ignores Miles again.

Miles leans over the table. He clicks his fingers in front of Pard’s face, and Pard doesn’t flinch. Miles turns around and sees Selby then he lets out a laugh everyone in the library can hear.
 

Selby lowers her book and turns to Pard and Miles.

Pard snaps out of his moment and swallows the lump in his throat.

Miles eyes Pard and then Selby. Miles waves at Selby, and she smiles and waves back. Nodding, Miles turns to Pard. “Ha,
I see now
.” He gives Pard a goofy grin as Pard lowers his head back to the quiz.

“What do you see?” Pard says.

“Why you said you’d come to the library and tutor me—because of her.” And he flicks his head toward Selby.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Pard snatches Miles’s paper and grades the phylum.

“Sure you don’t. So did you talk to her yet?”

Pard doesn’t look up and continues to scribe corrections. “Talk to who?”

Miles slides his fingers across the table and rips his paper away.

Still grading, Pard marks a two and a minus sign on the table before lifting the tip of the pencil.
 


You know who
,” Miles says.

Serious, Pard stares Miles down with a death glare. He quickly glances toward Selby, and she smiles at him. He smiles back though his lips twitch in a blink of an eye and they only make it a hair past horizontal before they immediately return to their normal reserved state.

“So what’s up—did you talk to her yet?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

Pard furrows his brow. “That’s Selby Barrow.”

“Yeah, so what?”

“She’s the daughter of the mayor of Greysin, and she’s the most beautiful girl in all of Vetlinue.”

“Yeah, and you’re not bad-looking either, I guess, and you’re definitely the smartest kid I know, not to mention you’re a badass that can shoot light out your fingers and blow shit up.”

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