Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Most people sit and chat after the trial. I’m the first one out, I feel relieved, a weight lifted off my shoulder. I’m set free from a prison I didn’t know I was in. The first thing I do is take a big breath and smell the air as I walk out. This time I’m greeted by the scent of pine trees instead of this dusty temple. Has it always smelled so nice around here?

“There he is, go speak to him,” I hear Mother Dalia’s voice.

When I turn I don’t see here anywhere in the crowd that’s flowing out. I might be hearing things. I’ll have to give her some kind of gift when I say goodbye to her. I head down the stairs almost skipping. I trip on the last one but I catch myself and laugh at the silliness of myself. It’s almost as if I’m floating on a cloud right now. I lost that trial on paper, but I won. They don’t control me anymore.

“Wait,” a crackly voice calls out. “Isaias, wait,” the voice calls out. I don’t recognize it, but I wait.

I don’t recognize the kid standing in front of me at first. The sneakers have changed for our standard sandals. Shorts and shirt are gone and replaced by the robes new students wear. Finally, it gets to me, this is the kid that was knocked out. The one I carried out of the house back in the woods. He’s been cleaned up and dressed. He could still use a haircut and he still looks frail and skinny, but he’s a lot better than when I last saw him.

“Hi, I’m Kaiden,” he says out of breath.

“Hey, I’m Jason,” I respond extending my arm for a hand shake.

 “That’s cool, people just call me Kaiden. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for rescuing me,” instead of shaking my hand, he gives me a hug. It’s not a strong, hug. It’s odd to just hug people the first time you meet. I can’t say I like hugs very much anyway. Still, I hug him back because it seems like he had been waiting on this moment for a while. Finally, he lets go, and I hold on a few more seconds before letting him go. That’s something Mother Dalia taught me. Don’t let go of the hug until the other person does, they might really need that hug. I still hate hugging.

“Well, I’m glad you’re doing alright kid.”

“So, where are we heading next,” he asks with a straight face.

“What do you mean by ‘we’ because I don’t think that’s a thing,” I say with a smile and a laugh trying not to hurt his feelings because I can see he’s serious about it.

“We, as in you and me. Where are we going? They said we can’t stay here,” he continues.

“No, they said I can’t stay here, you’re free to do whatever you want,” I retort taking a more serious tone.

“Right, and I choose to go with you. You’re the one who saved me, you’re one of the only two people that have been nice to me through all this and the other one says it would be good for you to have me along. You can teach me everything I need to know about killing vampires,” Kaiden holds his ground that’s for sure.

It doesn’t surprise me that Dalia is behind this. He’s all but said it. When I heard her voice earlier I wasn’t mistaken. She sent he kid to me. I’m not going to be taking him in no matter what she says. I’m just not good with people. Especially a kid. She’s had a lot of wild schemes in the past but this has to be one of the wildest.

“Look kid, you want to stay here. I’m not the role model that you’ve been led to believe. I only think about myself. I don’t follow rules and I’m unpredictable. On top of that, I don’t really like kids. Nothing against you personally. You seem like a cool kid. But, there’s nothing you can do to help me in my work, which is more than killing vampires,” I try to give him an honest answer with no room for responses.

“You saved me, and a bunch of other people so you don’t think about yourself. I can do magic so that’s helpful and I don’t like rules either. Also, I’m not a kid. I’m just short.”

“The answer is still no. Maybe one day, you can come work with me. Be my best friend or whatever Dalia wants. For now, the best place for you is the temple with the Eremites. They might not like me, and I don’t like most of them; but they taught me a lot. Everything I needed to survive in the world. One day, when you’re eighteen, they’ll give you the option to leave. Take it, find me. Then we can talk and if you still want to team up or whatever, we can. I’ll be doing this for a long time, so you got years to catch up. Sorry, but I’m just not taking you with me. Come see me when you’re older,” the truth again.

I don’t give him a chance to respond this time. He mumbles something, but I can’t hear him. I walk off. I glance back from the end of the path and he’s still standing at the bottom of the stairs. I expected him to be there with his fist balled up and angry, but instead he looks to be on the verge of tears. I feel bad about leaving him. But, I don’t know anything about taking care of kids, or even myself in the city.


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