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Abarak 13Slowly, day by day life began to run like a calm river, as fall turned to winter in Brethage. A boy was introduced to the circles of the nobility as Aiden of Cardineal, and ran the streets as Foxtrap-Todd. He learnt how to greet a duke, and how to lie to a guard. He memorised elaborate poems and aphorisms in Nuhaled, and coarse curses and jests in Hardig, both entirely untranslatable to the other tongue. The accent of his father's land slowly disappeared of both, leaving hardly a trace, a fleeting shadow of belonging to anywhere else. He was taught the art of swordplay, and how to punch another boy in order to hurt but not harm. He learnt how not to stand out, how not to make enemies.
He had quickly learnt to sense the patterns of how he could disappear from the Cardineal house undetected. He knew when his mother would feel guilt of neglecting him and decide to order Vernas to educate him, or take him with her to some ball or valued event, and he kindly obeyed. He would tolerate ridicu
Abarak 12The emperor couldn't get used to his pet. For months, the boy had followed him around, always there, always silent. He hadn't had a moment of solitude. He hadn't been able to name it, not a single name he could come up with seemed fit. The court had grown to refer to it as "The Emperor's Dog" or "The Emperor's Shadow" or something equally garish. The beast itself didn't seem to care at all. It didn't seem to care about anything. It didn't speak unless spoken to, and hardly at that. And that silence was not submissive, nor was it rebellious. The boy simply did not care.
It was always dressed in finest silk, precious stones and metals, hair immaculately oiled and curled. It looked strange on such a hunched, fat thing. He couldn't imagine it dressing deliberately, but neither a slave daring to go near enough to dress it.
It never seemed to sleep. It was awake when he laid down to rest, it was awake when he woke up. Of course he could get rid of it if he wanted to, he could even kill it hi
Stars and moondogsI've never gotten lemons
But they gave me lemonade
You were made of porcelain
Your sparkling hair on a braid
You were so beautiful, your
heart was warm but hands were cold
I got lost on the sidewalks
Mind so young but thoughts so old
You were the moondogs, for we
Were then blasting off to space
There is more of such beauty in
Nature as the human race
You chose me as your leader
So lead you I had to do
Through the mountains and the sea
And the sky so deep and blue
I thought I'd take you to mars
But ended up in Yemen
I know the lemonade, but
Never had a lemon
We'll standHe hasn't been all right
since she learnt how to fly
He was a gruesome sight
And we all knew why
Until one guy stood up
And he said
This is gonna sound bad
This is gonna sound cheesy
Not saying 'don't be sad'
Because life ain't easy
I just want you to know
That we'll stand by your side
Never let you fall down
Until the tears have dried
We won't let you just drown
If one is only one
Then two is thousandfold
When all is said and done
It's just as you were told
Abarak 11Aiden stared out of the window of the study, and Harom sat beside him, map in hand. "And this is where Wolfback joins the Great River between Mount Honh and the south-east plains."
"Which way does the river flow?"
"The what?" "The Wolfback river. Does it flow to north or to south?" The half-elf bit his lip as he did when he was thinking. "To north. All rivers flow towards the sea." Aiden nodded, and for some reason wrote it down. He'd known how to read before, but only Harom had taught him to write. His handwriting had become indistinguishable of his. One or two more hours, or as long as it would take for Harom to grow bored this time. He always did. The man had taught him nearly daily, everything that Vernas refused to teach. His mother seemed to have lost all interest in him upon finding having no aptitude for her profession.
His street clothes - what he'd grown to refer them as - were locked into a wooden box at the bottom of his wardrobe. They'd become worn in the past few we
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