Myscreth

by

parkertallan

Chapter Twenty-Six: Memories and Commitment

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As Mason and Claridee made their way back to the trainees’ quarters, he could hear Claridee let out an occasional sniffle. Entering the trainees’ quarters, the sniffles became full blown tears.

“What’s wrong?” asked Mason.

“I was just thinking about Counselor Halrous,” she replied in a halting voice. “While we were still after Proust I was able to put those thoughts aside, but returning to Bendroff without him …”

Mason wrapped his arms around her and held her close, gently stroking her hair as she buried her face on his shoulder.

“If it wasn’t for him, I probably would’ve quit training to be a Council member,” she said in a low voice choking back tears. “Now he’ll never get to see me join the Council.”

Mason held her tighter as sobs shook her body.

After a while, she looked up at Mason and gave a sad smile. “I know the last thing he’d want is for me to cry, but I can’t help it.”

“I think he’d understand.”

“When I first arrived here, I was convinced it his personal challenge to get me to laugh. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long for him to succeed.”

“Which story finally got you to laugh?”

A small laugh escaped Claridee as she considered the question. “The legend of the quarrelsome Counselor.”

“I haven’t heard that one.”

The two of them sat down at a nearby table as Claridee told him that story and several others. Soon both were laughing. However, as the night went on, their laughter became more and more punctuated with yawns. “I think it would be a good idea if we both got some rest,” Mason finally suggested.

She nodded, stifling another yawn. “It will be nice to sleep in a real bed again.” Looking down at her dirty clothes, she added. “Not to mention clean clothes and a proper bath.”

She gave Mason a goodnight kiss.

“Thanks,” she said in a soft voice, walking towards her bedroom.

When Mason reached his bedroom, he was too exhausted to even bother removing his dirty clothes. He collapsed on his bed and was instantly asleep.

The next morning he was awakened by the sound of someone knocking on his door.

“Who is it?” he called out groggily.

“It’s Claridee.”

He sat up and rubbed in eyes, too tired to care how he looked.

“Come in.”

She opened the door and poked her head inside.

“Counselor Anklin sent a message that after breakfast he and Counselor Janice will meet us here so we can go and retrieve Tranlee and Darnia.”

“Thanks, I’ll get ready.”

She started closing the door, but paused and with a smirk added, “I certainly hope that includes changing your clothes.”

Mason looked down at his clothes with a laugh, “Really? I thought they’d be good for another day or two.”

She wrinkled her nose in protest.

After she left, he quickly washed and put on clean clothes. Once he was done, he hurried to the dining area where he was pleased to see Claridee waiting for him. Almost as pleasing was the sight of platters filled with Myscrethian fruits and vegetables. The meals had been small and inconsistent over the past week, but with all the excitement, he hadn’t realized how hungry he was until he saw the food piled in front of him.

By the time Mason and Claridee had finished eating, Counselor Anklin and Counselor Janice were waiting in the library. After everyone had put on their heavy jackets, Counselor Anklin opened a doorway. It wasn’t long before Mason found himself in a desolate hilly area where a bitterly cold wind whipped through his parka.

 “Nice little vacation spot you got here Anklin,” observed Counselor Janice dryly, wrapping her jacket more tightly around her.

Counselor Anklin pointed at one of the hills. “The building is just on the other side of that hill. I don’t think Tranlee would attack us, but let’s stay out of sight just to be safe.”

Counselor Anklin led them up the hill. As they neared the top, he gestured for everyone to get down. Peering below, Mason saw a small building, similar to the ones he’d seen in the equatorial settlements.

Counselor Anklin called down to the building in a loud voice.

“Tranlee and Darnia, its Counselor Anklin. We’ve come to take you back to Bendroff.”

There was no response, so he called down again.

This time the door opened and Tranlee peered out. Her hair was disheveled, and she appeared to be wearing a nightgown. “Is that really you Anklin, or have I finally gone crazy?”

“It’s me Tranlee. Is Darnia with you?”

“How could you do this to me?” she hollered angrily.

“I think you know the answer to that. Now answer me - is Darnia with you?”

“What if she is?” Tranlee called back. “Do you plan on torturing her some more?”

Mason leaned over and whispered to Claridee. “Sounds like she’s here.”

Counselor Anklin ignored the taunt and continued. “If you want to return to Bendroff, you’ll have to lie face down on the floor. Do you understand?”

“You can’t be serious,” she screamed. “I’m not a criminal.”

Counselor Anklin remained silent, and for a brief time, there was only the sound of the wind.

At last, Tranlee called out in a hesitant voice. “Anklin are you still there?”

He waited before responding. Mason could see that Counselor Anklin was growing exasperated. “I’m here. Now, are you going to do as I ask?”

In answer, she furiously flung open the door and defiantly lay down on the floor just inside the building.

“Follow me,” Counselor Anklin ordered.

He led the group down the hill, occasionally stopping to make sure Tranlee hadn’t moved. As they approached the building, Counselor Anklin whispered to Counselor Janice. “Get the bandages ready.” She nodded and quickly pulled out a roll of bandages from one of her pockets.

When they reached the door, Counselor Janice knelt beside Tranlee while the others remained outside. She quickly set to work bandaging Tranlee’s eyes. Once finished, she stood up and nodded at Claridee. Mason saw her concentrate on the bandages before calling out. “Done.”

Tranlee didn’t say a word while this was going on, but Mason could tell that she was seething. Once the bandages were secure, Counselor Anklin bent down near Tranlee and said. “Here, let me help you up,” reaching for her elbow.

“Don’t touch me,” she spat, shaking him off while rolling to a sitting position. Getting up, she gingerly felt her way around until her hand grasped a chair. Sitting down she crossed her arms, not saying a word.

After closing the door, Mason scanned the room. It was simply furnished with only a table and a few chairs. On the table was a backpack and clothing was scattered about the room.

“Where’s Darnia?” asked Counselor Janice.

“She’s asleep in the bedroom,” barked Tranlee.

Counselor Janice and Claridee headed for the bedroom and soon Darnia could be heard screaming. “Get away from me!”

Counselor Anklin turned to Tranlee.

“After they’re done with Darnia, Janice and Claridee will help you get dressed too.”

She sat there in silence, almost as if she hadn’t heard him.

Counselor Janice and Claridee soon emerged from the bedroom, leading Darnia to one of the chairs. As Counselor Janice was leading Tranlee to the bedroom, Tranlee violently pulled herself away, nearly falling in the process.

“Get away from me! I only want Claridee to help me.”

Counselor Janice shook her head sadly. “You heard her, Claridee.” Claridee stared in disbelief at Tranlee before nodding at Counselor Janice. Taking Tranlee’s hand, Claridee said in a cold voice. “Come on,” before leading her to the bedroom.

“I’ve never seen her show such hatred towards me,” Counselor Janice sighed to Counselor Anklin.

Darnia laughed. “And why shouldn’t she? After all, you’re not a true daughter of Myscreth as Claridee is. What other emotion could she feel for your kind?”

Counselor Janice whirled around to face Darnia, face red with rage. She started to say something, but stopped abruptly. She gave Darnia a withering look and stalked over to the kitchen.

 “If anyone needs me I’ll be in the kitchen looking for any of Tranlee and Darnia’s belongings to pack up,” she called out behind her.

Counselor Anklin watched Counselor Janice leave, a look of concern on his face. He sat down next to Darnia. “Antagonizing us isn’t going to do you any good. You need to understand that Proust has lost.”

“And how did he die?” she interrupted.

“A cave-in.”

“I see.” She gave a smile that Mason found very disconcerting.

When everything was ready for their return to Bendroff, Counselor Anklin addressed Tranlee and Darnia.

“You’ll both have an opportunity to address the Council as it decides your fate. Until then, everything you need will be provided, but the bandages will remain in place.”

Darnia and Tranlee said nothing, and to Mason’s amazement, showed no signs of fear. After waiting for a response, Counselor Anklin sadly shook his head and concentrated on the wall. It soon emitted a low hum and the doorway formed. When the light stopped flashing, Darnia and Tranlee were led through by Counselor Anklin. The others quickly followed.

They arrived back in Bendroff on the transport field. The two prisoners were led into the hanger, and guards were summoned to escort them to their quarters.

While they were waiting, Tranlee asked. “Anklin, could you have Halrous come see me? I’d like to talk with him.”

Counselor Anklin looked down and said nothing.

When Counselor Anklin didn’t respond, Tranlee asked. “Is something wrong?”

Counselor Anklin replied in a slow, halting voice. “We lost Halrous.”

She appeared stunned. When she finally spoke, it was in a shaky voice. “Halrous is dead?”

Mason watched as Counselor Anklin looked down, unable to speak.

Tranlee paused, seeming to steel herself before continuing. “How did it happen?”

“He died in the ruins of Antlorn,” answered Counselor Janice quietly.

Tranlee erupted, her voice echoing throughout the hanger. “How could you have let him die like that? I thought he was your friend, but you were willing to let him die to satisfy your foolish sense of right and wrong!”

Seeing the two guards arrive, Counselor Anklin held up a hand and they stopped.

Counselor Anklin sadly shook his head. “Halrous didn’t think it foolish.” Without saying another word, he nodded to the guards.

As the guards led Darnia and Tranlee away, Counselor Janice watched them go. “Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much hope for those two,” she noted sadly.

Counselor Anklin looked over at her with a grim smile. “You may be right Janice, but I hope they prove us wrong.”

Over the next week the Council members, along with Mason and Claridee, busied themselves catching up on the work that had accumulated while they’d been away. Although not fully recovered, Counselor Gorwold could now get around on his own and was tackling his duties with enthusiasm. Seeing Gorwold’s joy at once again being able to help the people of Myscreth made Mason smile.

Even beyond the normal work of the Council were the preparations for the upcoming trial of those who’d conspired with Proust. To insure transparency, it was decided to invite the leaders from all of Myscreth’s major settlements to attend. Mason and Claridee were kept busy arranging transports and welcoming the leaders to Bendroff.

The two trainees saw little of Counselor Anklin during this time. He didn’t even join them for meals as he usually did. Instead, he spent what little free time he had speaking with the prisoners.

However, one evening while Mason and Claridee were in the library, Counselor Anklin came in looking haggard. He scanned the shelves intently before grabbing a book. After inspecting the cover, he broke into a smile and sat by Mason and Claridee.

As he read, Mason occasionally glanced over at him, waiting for a chance to ask a question that had been gnawing at him since the cave-in. When Counselor Anklin looked up, rubbing his eyes, Mason seized the opportunity.

Clearing his throat, he said. “There’s something I’ve been wondering about.”

“Yes?”

“Proust said that anyone could be given the ability to manipulate scientific laws, but you told me it was something you were born with.”

Counselor Anklin closed his book and pushed it aside. “It’s true that a genetic mutation is what allows us to manipulate scientific laws. However, our scientists were able to develop a serum to replicate this mutation. That’s what nearly destroyed Myscreth. After the war, all information on the serum was destroyed to prevent it from endangering Myscreth ever again.”

Mason stared at Counselor Anklin in shock, realizing that Proust had been telling the truth. “Do you think Proust could have succeeded?”

“I don’t know,” replied Counselor Anklin, leaning forward, “but for the sake of Myscreth and Earth, I hope that knowledge remains hidden forever.”

Mason had another question he needed to ask, but this one was for Claridee. However, everytime he tried to ask it, something else came up or he just chickened out. Finally as they were passing one of the balconies overlooking the farming areas, he knew he was ready. He led her over to one of the benches, “I don’t know why, but I always find it so peaceful here,” commented Mason. “Why don’t we sit for a little while?”

She smiled. “Sure, I’d like that.”

They stared at the vegetation below in silence, just enjoying each other’s company. Looking over at her, he was reminded of their first kiss near the farming areas in Stranoff. Watching her serenely taking in the view below, he knew this was the perfect time to ask his question.

 However, before he had a chance, Claridee took him by the hand and smiled. “Mason, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you.” She looked into his eyes. “Will you marry me?”

Mason was stunned and for a moment he couldn’t get his mouth to work. “Of course I will!” he exclaimed as he threw his arms around her and kissed her.

They both jumped at the sound of someone clearing their throat loudly. Looking up they saw Counselor Anklin and Counselor Janice staring at them.

“Sorry to interrupt,” commented Counselor Anklin dryly as Mason and Claridee got up from the bench. Claridee seemed to get over the surprise faster than Mason.

“Mason and I are engaged,” she exclaimed giving Mason a quick hug.

Counselor Janice ran forward. “I’m so happy for the two of you,” she cried, throwing her arms around Mason and Claridee.

After she released them, Counselor Anklin shook Mason’s hand and hugged Claridee. “I couldn’t be more pleased. The two of you truly deserve the happiness I know you will bring one another.”

He continued speaking in an almost wistful voice. “I’ve always thought of weddings to be the highest form of human celebration. Two people willingly dedicating their lives to one another is the greatest expression of love I can imagine.”

Looking over at Claridee, Mason couldn’t agree more.

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A note from parkertallan

Thanks for reading. Comments, suggestions, and reviews are always welcome.


About the author

parkertallan

Bio: An engineer who enjoys writing something other than technical reports. Writing let's me share all the ideas floating around my mind. I hope my writing jump starts your imagination as so many books have done for me.

If you enjoy physics, check out https://physicswithcats.com/ for some fun stories which explain various physics topics.

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