I don’t usually put out chapters on Fridays because I go and hang out with my friends (Friday Night Magic, yes I am a certified nerd :P). I was still feeling a bit under the weather, so I decided to stay at home and pump out another chapter instead.
By the way, answering ShadowSnake and everyone, A.F. means After the Fall, which is semi-explained in this chapter.
***June 6th, 965 A.F.***
When we got to the school, I met up with Richard to see if he needs any help with the class today. He graciously declined my offer. I tried to head towards the library, but Cecilia wanted to skip school and come me. Richard had to peel her off of me before she dejectedly agreed to stay in class.
I walked out and into the library, which was right beside the school. The old librarian, Mrs. Carroll, greeted me when I entered. Since I visited the library often, she knew me by name. The books in the library were mostly “how to” books and history books. I learned from Mrs. Carroll that there weren’t many fantasies since the sponsor for the library, mayor of Caedona, didn’t feel that fantasy novels would help the public in any shape or form. I have yet to meet the mayor, but if I do, I will slap some sense into him for not including fantasy books.
The amount of books that were in the library was staggering. Since it was a medieval setting, I did not expect there were many books around. It turns out that someone in the Dwarven Capital “invented” the printing press, lowering the price for all the books. Ever since then, all prints are controlled by the Royal Press. I guess that is one way to control how and what the public thinks. I have to keep in mind to take all history books with a grain of salt since everything is, with no doubt, heavily censored.
“Good morning, Mrs. Carroll.”
“Morning to you too, Ajax. What can I do for you today?”
“Can I get the book that I put on hold last time? I haven’t finished reading it.”
“Hmm, let's see..., ah here it is.”
Mrs. Carroll struggled to lift a massive tome from underneath the desk and slams it on the table counter, causing a small tremor in the process.
“This is the book, yes? ‘The Official Bestiary’?”
“Yes, thank you!”
I carried the tome to a table in the corner. The bookmark that I left was still there. I wanted to read this book in case I run into some rare and dangerous monsters in the future. With my intellect, I can memorize everything and use the information that I have gained as my weapon. Turning to the page I bookmarked before, I began reading.
“Flame Elementals. Rare. Difficulty Rating: A. Birth rate: Unknown. Life expectancy: Immortal. Found generally near volcanoes or deserts. A humanoid elemental made completely of flame. Immune to fire class magic. Ability to consume fire to regenerate. Ability to use all fire class magic.
The Bestiary is a collection of pictures and information on all the known creatures. It is used to help adventures to understand what they are hunting to lower the fatality rate. I was surprised that it included life expectancy and birth rates as a part of the information. I asked Mrs. Carroll about this once. She said that sometimes, the adventurers would follow an extremely strong beast for a long time. After it dies of a natural cause, the adventurers would collect its body. The birth rates are included in case someone wants to capture, tame, and breed the beast.
“Flame Hydra. Unique. Difficulty Rating: SS. Birth rate: extremely low. Life expectancy: 200 Years. Found in a cave on the Northern side of The Drumming Heights. EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. A giant red serpent with multiple heads. Extreme regeneration ability. Each head can spit either fire, poison, or acid.”
“Geist…Ghost...Ghouls...Goblins. Common. Difficulty Rating: F. Birth Rates: Extremely High. Life expectancy: 5 Years.”
At this point, I stopped reading. Closing my eyes, I resisted the urge to cry. I sat there in silence as I remembered my short life as a Cani with Queenie. Even if I somehow managed to go back to The Lonely Mountain, with a life expectancy of 5 years, everyone that I know would have long passed. It would be a new generation of goblins that live there.
Wiping my moist eyes, I closed the book in anger when I realized something. Why were goblins in the bestiary? They might not have been developed culturally, but they can speak intelligently. Then I remembered, Africans were treated the same as animals in history on the old earth. It must be the same idea.
At this point, in honor of the memories of Queenie, I made a vow in my heart to change this when I reach the Royal Academy. Other people must know that goblins are intelligent beings and should be treated as such, instead of treating the same as any other beasts.
I finished reading the bestiary and started on another book, “History of the Dwarves.” Most of the history were lost during the fall, which was the invasion of Smaug. The dwarves that escaped built the new Dwarven Capital. It was never officially given a name. Everyone just went with the Dwarven Capital, or D.C. for short. With that, the noon bell rang. I carried the book back to the front desk and dropped it off to Mrs. Carroll.
“I am heading off for lunch, Mrs. Carroll.”
“Have you finished with this yet? Do you want me to hold this for you?”
“No, thank you. Even though I am not finished with it, I don’t want to put it on hold. It might be a while before I can come back here.”
“Oh, why is that?”
“Well, I am going to need the time to make money. I need about 30 gold so that I can attend the Royal Academy when I am 10.”
“Oh, you are aiming to go to the Royal Academy? I am so proud of you. I am going to miss you. Give me a hug.”
She walked towards me from behind the counter. I was smothered by an old grandmother smell. I was a bit annoyed but I let her hug as she pleased since she was kind to me. But after a solid minute of hugging, I was finally at the end of my patience. I forcefully pulled myself away from her.
“I really need to head to lunch now, bye!”
“You take care of yourself now.”
I walked back towards the school. Everyone else was eating their lunch in their classroom. I would have joined them, except I have business with Richard. I went towards Richard’s office where he usually enjoys his lunch alone. I knocked on his door.
It was a small and messy office. Being the lone teacher for the whole town and villages, he had to keep track of all the children. There were stacks of paper everywhere with information on every child. With a polite bow, I greeted Richard.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Ferguson.”
“So what brings you here, Ajax.”
“I was hoping you can graduate me, right now. I don’t spend time in the class anyway.”
“You know other children don’t graduate till 10 years old right?”
“Well, you also know that I am not like other kids.”
“Can you tell me why you want to graduate early?”
“I need the paperwork of graduation so that I can attend the Royal Academy. To do so, I need a lot of money. Instead of coming here five days a week for the attendance, I need to use the time and earn money as a merchant instead.”
“Well, I do agree, if anyone can make it big in the Academy, it would be you. On the other hand, nothing like this has happened before.”
Richard scratches his beard a bit in thought. I could tell that he was reluctant to let me go. At the same time, he doesn't want to hinder my future. Finally, he slapped his hand together and expressed a solution.
“Oh, I know how to solve this! How about I officially hire you at the school as an assistant. That way, you can stay in school while earning money.”
“Not to disrespectful, but I humbly decline.”
“May I ask why?”
“How much are you are prepared to pay me?”
“A small silver coin a day.”
“How many school days are there in a year?”
“About 200 days? Give or take.”
Unlike the old Earth, students don’t have summer vacation. Instead, we have winter vacation, when it snows and it becomes impossible to travel to school. The number of school days is practically the same.
“That means I would earn only about two gold coins in by the time I am ten years old. The bare minimum I need to attend The Royal Academy is thirty gold coins.”
I told Duncan that he would pay half so that he would stop arguing with me and return the money to the other villagers. In truth, I want to pay for everything myself. After everything that my parents have done for me, I cannot possibly let them be burdened with the cost of education.
“In that case, I cannot answer you right now. I would have to talk to the mayor about this since he would be the one that signs the document confirming your graduation.”
“Thank you. Please let me know as soon as possible.”
I bowed in respect and exited the small office, heading towards the commercial zone to purchase the necessary goods to make the distillery.