The Lockseyes entered, and the Head School Master rose and extended his hand. “Lord Lockseye. Good to see you.” He looked at Rejinal. “This must be your son Rejinal.”
“Yes, indeed, Master Stokes.”
Stokes turned to the young Lockseye. “Welcome Rejinal. I’m sure your stay will be an educational one. I’ll tell you a bit about the school. This year we have a hundred and four students registered, our second highest number. Fifty of those are first year students, thirty‑one are second year, and I’ll let you figure out how many are third. We have ten School Masters including myself, each of whom you’ll meet before long. In first year the goal is to bring all the students up to the same high level of competence. We will do our best to help you through this very challenging program, and in return we expect you to help yourself through it. We expect all our young men to be gentlemen, and our young ladies to be ladies. Anything less is unacceptable. You have today off, as you do every Sunday, so you’ll have a chance to become acquainted with things. Your dormitory minder will give you your schedule. Do you have any questions?”
Rejinal tossed his bangs out of his eyes. “Too many for you to answer, sir, so I’ll figure things out as I go along.” Stokes nodded. “Very wise.” He frowned. “You’ll have to visit the barber right away.”
Rejinal opened his mouth to protest, but a warning look from his father stopped him.
“He’ll see to it,” Lince said.
“Good. Now if you’ll excuse us, Rejinal, I’ll speak to your father for a moment.”
When Rejinal was on the other side of the door, Stokes asked. “So how are things at Sunfield? I hear you’re having a marriage celebration soon. Congratulations!”
“Yes, we’re having it in the school break so Rejinal can attend. I’ve told Ulyx he has to be there, and I’m extending an invitation to Valleyville staff.”
Stokes smiled. “Very kind. I’ll pass it along. So what are your plans for Rejinal? Do you wish him to stay the three years? To go on from there? What do you think he’s capable of? Besides cutting anyone here down with a sword, I’ve heard.”
Lince smiled briefly. “I don’t think he’d do that. As to your other questions, I’m not quite sure. He could probably handle anything you throw at him if he put his mind to it. Motivation is the problem.”
Stokes frowned. “Those are the challenging ones. We’ll do what we can. I always ask the parents about discipline. If things get ‑‑ difficult, should we send him back or deal with him here?”
Lince looked grim. “You have my permission to do what you must here, but I want to be kept informed.”
Stokes nodded. “Very well.” He jotted some notes. When he was finished he got up to open the door. “Have a safe trip back, and perhaps I’ll see you at your celebration.”
“I hope so, Master Stokes.”
Rejinal was leaning on the wall across from the door, arms folded. “Were you telling him to beat the lessons into me?” Lince grimaced. “Come on,” he said, steering Rejinal towards the stairs. “I’m not expecting you to be a trouble maker, Rejinal. They do have permission to carry out normal school discipline. Let’s go get you settled in your dorm.” The two of them reached the modified servant’s quarters which housed the first-year students. They passed a door with the sectioned-off lady’s area and entered from the other end of the wing. The dorm minder greeted them and showed them to Rejinal’s room. The area was small, but pleasant, with polished oak furniture and ample light. Mr. Lyon was there placing Rejinal’s clothing neatly in drawers.
Rejinal watched him for a moment, then said “That looks worse than what Melissa does. I hope you won’t be offended, Mr. Lyon, if I tell you things won’t stay so ridiculously neat.”
Mr. Lyon shook his head. “I didn’t really expect so. Your neighbours are in. Their doors are through the bathroom.”
Rejinal opened the bathroom door and saw three other doors opening into it. “I’ll go meet them when you two have left.” Lince smiled. “I’ll take that as a hint.” Getting serious again, he said “Remember what I told you, Rejinal.”
The young Lockseye nodded. “You needn’t lecture me again, father. I’m willing to give this a try.”
“Good.” Lince gave his son a hug. “We’ll be on our way, then. I’ll see you at end-of-semester break.”
When they were gone, Rejinal grabbed a pile of neatly folded shirts and tossed them in the air. “Yeah!” he yelled, grabbing his sword. As the shirts fell, he sliced one to pieces. He stared at the mess, satisfied. When he noticed three curious heads peeking out of the bathroom, he turned and grinned.
“Come on in,” he said, laying his sword on the bed. The three lads did so. “You fellows live through the doors in the bathroom, I assume.” When he saw a tall blond fellow, he held out a hand enthusiastically. “Say, it’s Antonio Duke.” he looked at the others. “And you are?”
Lord Duke’s son answered for them. “Bolger Wills, Davish Kagan, and Martin Rosewood. Did I get it right?” he checked with the others. Three heads nodded.
“There’s four of you and three doors,” Rejinal commented. Bolger spoke up. “Davish and I share a room. It saves our parents money.”
“Have a seat,” Rejinal said, putting his sword away properly. “So, we’re stuck together at this institution of betterment. Tell, me, what do you or your parents hope to gain from it?”
Antonio spoke first “My father thought it best to educate me here. As my brother is ten years younger than I, he will be a better age to take over father’s estate. I must strike out on my own and build my own place.”
To the others, Rejinal said, “Antonio’s father is the horse breeder by the river down south. My father’s bought some lovely animals from him. What about you, Bolger?”
The heavy round‑faced fellow said matter‑of‑factly “Mah parents want me to know more than tailoring and rug weaving. All mah aunts and uncles pitched in to send me here. Ah dunno what good they think it’ll do. Ah’ve no plans to get rich enough for someone to stick a sword through me.”
Rejinal nodded grimly. “I see your point.”
“Well, I’ve no qualms about trying to better myself,” Davish said. “I begged my parents to send me so I might learn all that is known, and more.”
“What do you mean more?” Rejinal asked.
“I plan to become a Magician ‑‑ a Conduit who discover the secrets of the world.”
Rejinal wrinkled his face. “Well, each to his own. I myself can’t stand to study that much.
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