The sphere the phantom o.., p.5
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       The Sphere: The Phantom of the West Rim, p.5

           Fandy Adams
 

  Later Eorin brought him to a train stop. Five benches lined along about ten meter with glass canopy sheltering them. There, they sat and wait for the train and their halted friend. Eorin looked at the rail far there and hoped Aska catch them before the train arrive. While Rey fixed to a poster on the edge, two persons leaning back each other with an ice city as the background, a drama titled “Spring in the North End” and will be play on the stage this summer. And down there he saw the pillars hold the rail, carved with the shape of mountain giant as if they’re enslaved by the humans to bear the rail with their back.

  A few minutes later the train arrived and stopped before them. The design like represent the modern era of this world, it shaped rounded rectangle, smooth and unpointed like a common bus but 2-3 times longer. Ivory white is their color and embellished with golden stripes. Some ads painted on the body from luxurious trip with an airship till promo of the concert.

  A hand suddenly landed on his shoulder to his surprise. He turned around immediately and found Aska has stand behind him out of breath.

  “What take you so long? We almost missed the train.”

  “Don’t ask a word.” said Aska look upset. “Why he could be so mad at me?”

  “How do I know, you seems have a ‘troublemaker’ sign on forehead.” said Eorin.

  Three of them entered into the train. Aska sat and leaned his back with hand on his head while Rey looked out to the window with excitement like a little kid at first trip. Without his notice Eorin steal a glance to him, many questions on her mind about him especially the odd attire of him. However the way he looked the window, honest little smile on him makes her, for now, seen him in good thought.

  “Is it okay? I didn’t bring any money.” whispered Rey to Aska.

  “Well, you can use my one-month voucher that I won from the contest.” said Aska give him a card. “It’s already good for nothing since I had student railcard. With that you can go anywhere you like without spending a dime.”

  “Really?” said Rey look excited.

  “Yeah, but sure you couldn’t go to anywhere right now considering it's the first time you came to Lucretia.” said Aska “That's why I'll give you a free tour. Where do I start?” 

  “What if we start from the beehive building over there?” said Rey, as he pointing to a large building which looks very similar to the skep.

  “That was Ishtar Lodge, the place where the hypocrite ... I mean bureaucrats get together and discuss everything about politics and other bullshit. It's very tedious, from the first time I set foot in this city I never stood a hundred yards from that building.” 

  “That bad?” 

  “Worse, never ever dream of it.” said Aska. “And around Ishtar Lodge was administrative complex, full of paper and the rigid monotony. Basically it was dull place with dull people.”

  At once someone who sat across them look him sharply as if he was offended by what Aska said.

  “And oval building there was called Ishtar Shell.” said Aska, pointing to an oval-shaped building. From the distance it was looks like half-submerged eggshell, the metal dome was parted half with the glass curtain. “It is a military building, everything about defense and security of the Kingdom of Ishtar was lied there, slightly worse than the Lodge especially the generals.” 

  “Next from Ishtar Shell is Gilgamass Stadium. You can see many great Sneakers match over there. There would be international match next month, Arema Griffins versus Beauregard Flame. I'll take you to watch it if you would help me find ebony sap in Grimwood and trust me, there will be no bargest this time, for we just stepped on the lighter part of the woods.”

  “That sounds interesting.” said Rey. His eyes still fixed on the stadium while imagine what kinds of games played there.

  “Well then, if you agree to take a part in this business you should know our stores.” said Aska, as he pointing southeastern most of the city which appears slightly odd, various color of checks filled that district. Furthermore it looks messed up and shabby than any other parts of the city, skid row of tents covered the black stripes of rail track – seems it abandoned for long time.”

  “It’s the Rampall Mart. I sold all my findings there. Peoples there were tough in deal and hard to compromise. Trust me! If you don’t careful you can be deceived by them and just bring nothing or it could be worst, you will go home … naked.”

  “Really?” said Rey look disbelieved. “Well, in my store we’ve always give normal price so I’ve only give out about 3-4 sentence to make deal happened.”

  “You have a store?”

  “My grandpa had, just a little book store and I’ve just helping him after school.”

  “Good kids! I guess you never got paid for that.” said Aska.

  “How about the building with the statue over there?” asked Rey as he pointing to the domed building with a statue of man on the top of it.

  “It was narcissistic museum.” said Aska.

  “Pardon me?”

  “We call it Pavilion of Sanvierre. Actually that place was a museum, created to tell the most ‘honorable and courageous’ House of Sanvierre. From they were against and overthrown Queen Astarte less than a millennia ago till they did ‘the biggest part’ in the Dark Lord fell decades ago.”

  “They sound great.” 

  “Yeah but that ‘courage, honorable, heroism or any good deed’ part was just fairy tales.”

  “What do you mean?”

  “Well, most of the bastards here bear the name of Sanvierre. The Lower House led the gangs and controlled the street while the Greater House like House of Sanvierre unofficially and informally became second ruler of Ishtar.”

  Rey glanced to Eorin at the same moment, distress looks clearly on her face when the name was spoken off. Wonder what story she had with them but her expression more explained than Aska does, that those who had the name of Sanvierre should be avoided.

  “But eastern district wasn’t called Arts and Cultural District because of that narcissistic pavilion. But for there are many buildings of arts and cultures, there are museums, exhibition buildings and studios.” said Aska “And not to forget LCE88 Theatre, heavenly place of the well-known and most popular LCE88.”

  “Heavenly place? Get real.” Eorin mumbled and look of disgust was on her face.

  “I’ll take you there someday. Believe me! One stare and you will like them in an instant, you would be astonished with the first show and leave them would be sorrow. Ah Maruru, I would like to meet and handshake with you once again.” Aska's face turned like someone who get hypnosis, stare into empty space with blank eyes but happiness looks much on him.

  “Believe me! Steps there once and you will like him in an instant.” said Eorin, looking at Aska who still doesn’t get out from his delusion.

  “My grandpa said people deserve to be happy in their own way as long it’s not troubled the others.”

  “Yeah, but still I hate this part of him.” said Eorin looks upset.

  “If I may know, where are we going actually?” asked Rey.

  “Ishtar Grove.” answered Eorin.

  “It’s a theme park?”

  “Theme park, you really came out of the jungle do you?” Eorin laughed, while looked deep on him. “Do you think what else we do at this age? Look at the windows!”

  Rey looked out the window and then his eyes gazed in growing wonder and amazement. In the distance he saw a huge building, very unique the shape was, from the front it was like a prow of ancient Viking ship, smoothly convex and looks layered by floors. A blue column curvedly splits the center, connecting from top to bottom, an artificial waterfall it seemed, or maybe a river in the transparent glass, and the green roof on the top swirling downward into the east wing. However the building seems was only a part of Ishtar Grove, a main building it might be, for it stood in the center of vast green plate surrounded by another building and bordered with great wall-ring.

  “Need a guide book?” asked Eorin to
Rey who looking at it with amazement.

  ***

  They brought him now into the front yard of Ishtar Grove. It was vast and green, almost like a park with white paved road. Spring came earlier this year and the trees grew perfectly under the warm sun, and the grasses and bushes looks tilled well by gardeners. There were wooden benches with unique shape, mostly under the trees he found them, and seemed it weren’t lies on the ground but grew from the earth. And there, he presented with common things he often saw at the morning when passed the gate – teens with their hustle bustle. Books and bags were on them, either joy or stress was looked on their faces. Some girl looked and smiling at him but other stared oddly at his fashion. Not far from him he saw six peoples gathered and playing music, but suddenly one of them halted and told them that they should be more serious because the festival will be held in few weeks – whatever it was. And dismay looked on him when he saw a geek who suffered a similar fate as him, though not actually same, for he saw someone has freeze the lower part of his body and then they take all his books and stuffs, and throw it with laugh, seemed such problem exists in any realm. But somehow he felt some excitement on that place, the same feeling when he stepped on the school at the first time, an old feeling for friendship and knowledge.

  “Hey Aska!” a young boy called him with a looks of worries then he smiled to the blue eyes girl among them, “Hi Eorin!”

  “Hey, I’m here, why you called me?” asked Aska.

  “Oh I forgot to tell you.” The boy then whispered something to his ear and moment later Aska’s faces also turned worry like him.

  “Is that true?”

  “I heard myself, he introduced himself as Adjucator Covach, and he came for you. Well, not you exactly but he looking for someone who just get out of the Grimwood.”

  “Why?”

  “I don’t know why. Actually what are you doing there until you didn’t came home last night?”

  “I almost got eaten by a pack of Bargest hours ago. Do you think I set a camp there just for fun?”

  “Well, there’s an upcoming concert less than a week. At this time you will do anything to get more florins.”

  “Even so, I planned to go there alive.” said Aska “Just forget about it, what else did you heard? Did you hear they spoke about three-headed dragon?”

  “I think so, I heard they also mention about Zimeth.”

  “So they send an Adjucator to arrest me. That’s cool.” said Aska look excited. 

  “Arrest you? I think not. From what I heard, those Adjucator even wondered how you could get away from Zimeth. Maybe he came here to recruit you.”

  He was shocked by the news and for a moment he stood frozen. Neither the beast or dragon he feared, nor detention or punishment since it was just his monthly activities, but losing his freedom by joining service is what he feared most, cuffed by rules, no joy no fun only order and command, at least that what in his minds about services.

  “Do you think I should go see him?” said Aska bit nervous.

  “He's an Adjucator, things could get worse if you don’t meet him. Man at his rank could easily send you off into White Continent.”

  “And when that happened you couldn’t even dream off about Maruru. Ahh, I could Imagine that she eventually meet someone here, maybe one of his fans, maybe someone like you, or lesser. Then they get married, held great and unforgotten celebration ever while you staring at her icy photos in the bitter cold of Northwhite.” said Eorin provoked him.

  “Ok, better I go now.” said Aska.

  Eorin smiled like a Grinch when Aska ran in hurry. But only in second the boy turned around and whispered something to Rey.

  “Eorin will take care of you. If anyone asked just say that you’re my cousin and if they asked you further just act crazy.”

  “W-what?!”

  “Just say that you lost your brain, umm I mean lost your memory.” said Aska.

  Aska then left them with hurry. Meanwhile the boy still fixed on Eorin, bright his eyes was when looked at her as if there’s star sparkling inside it.

  “So Eorin, do you have time this week?” asked the boy.

  She immediately grabs Rey’s arm and put a fake smile on her face. “Oh I’m sorry. As you can see I've already got a date.” replied her.

  “What?!” said Rey confused.

  “Right?” said Eorin smiling to Rey, but behind her back she secretly pinched his waist.

  “Y-yyeeaah!” cried Rey holding pain. 

  “Oh, I see.” said the boy bowed as if he just lost a hope. “Well, if you have problem with him, or anyone, or anything, call me.”

  “Of course.” Eorin promised.

  That boy left them and looks like he walked with a limp along the way. For a moment he like see himself from the back.

  “I feel bad about him.” said Rey.

  “You do? Wow that’s very pure heart of you.” Eorin speaks pejoratively. “Let’s go.”

  “Where?” asked Rey.

  “To his room of course.” answered Eorin.

  ***

  The headmaster’s office looks wide and bright. Sunlight pierced through three large windows facing to southwest, and behind them a green garden stretched to the edges where the city looks shrunken from the height. A wooden desk lies after the windows with black leather chair. Few books piled on the desk along with some documents, and beside it there’s a picture of an old man with cheerful smile being in arm of a young red-haired woman. A name plate made of woods was at the center of the table with a stroke of black lettering, “Alden Bytheroot – Headmaster of Ishtar Grove” was read on it.

  The room feels warm in the color of wood, books were well ordered in shelves along with folders, few antiquities was there from painting to sculpture, but some part in the corner filled with daily stuff like rod, hat and folding chair, even umbrella and sword was placed in the basket together.

  There the old man stood calm watched the garden through the windows. Indeed he was an old man but cheerful smile that spread on his round baby-faces made him looks younger as if his face wasn’t conquered by his age. His hair was dark and neat, and his attire was modest, clean and presentable. Sometimes he fixed his collar or playing with the button on his olive-green vest.

  The grey eyes behind the glasses stared gently at the garden before him, yet his attention drew to somewhere else, as he listened to someone behind. He was a man, pale-skinned and tall with brown greasy hair. He wore a midnight-blue uniform and silver insignia was worn on his left chest. A curved sword was mounted on his left waist, it has green-brown tassel on the hilt and the scabbard ornamented by chromed-metal. Carefully he spoke to the old man with his cold voice, but it wasn’t a respect that made him so rather it was like there’s something he tried to hide.

  “The dragon give enough destruction in the woods, fortunately they don’t take their chance to get into the urban area.” said the pale-skinned man “Still we don’t want to make this happen again, we want to take the one who responsible for this.”

  “I never thought that The Shell would give any concern about the dragon. Nevertheless this dragon things was under the Ministry of Natural and Terrestrial, not to mention that you don’t have any right to take one of my student without my permission even if you have proof that my student had responsible for this.” said the old man. “It will be easier for you if you speak the truth Covach. It’s all about ‘him’ right?”

  “You already know?”

  “Just rumor about his presence, but your coming here have make sure of me. It just I don’t expected you came this fast.”

  “He was become our top priorities for now. So we gathered many sources as fast as we could, and forces had been dispatched to the forest to find him.”

  “I think Sahagin gone too far on this.”

  “His son and their family were killed in the incident at Belitshe. I think that reason was more than enough for everyone to make it personal. Pardon me, but as his friend I thought y
ou’re more knew him than me.” said Covach.

  Headmaster paused for a moment. There’s brief of sadness in his eyes then he continued to ask, “How could you conclude that Artharis was here?”

  “Yesterday the rangers saw out of the Peak Cave a Zimeth flew to the sky pursued a Gryphonite. It’s very odd to see that bird here while their habitat far on the south. So either it was lost bird migrated in the wrong season or more reasonable if we just assume that it was …”

  “Volk, and I knew the one who had that shape. I’ve sent his friend to look for him this morning, and seemed they’re fine since you have informed me that three of them had leaved the forest safely.” said Headmaster. “While waiting why you don’t tell me about Shell reformation? I heard that there’s change on recruitment and promotion system.”

  “Why you’re interested on that?”

  “I’m head of this Grove. It would ease my students if I could provide them better information about their next place, whether Shell, Lodge or any other place.”

  ***

  Aska walked down with deep misgivings, brightly white corridor made him almost like walking into the other side of the world, between his freedom and duty. Six feet from the door was like the furthest distance he ever took in his life. The old pictures of former headmaster lined along the corridor. In his eyes their smiles and eyes look taunting him, as if they were conspiring to put him into service. His mind in chaos, filled with the imaginary military lives – strict rules, eat ration foods, mopping entire camp and getting up before the sun rises and above all his face will turn into the like of Sahagin. “Nooo!” Aska shouted in his mind.

  As he got closer, he sneaked along the wall. The door bit opened and his ears trying to catch the conversation inside. At that time Covach and headmaster talked about General Septuagin’s nephew who had just got promoted as the Captain of the Dragon Rider, and they discussed his thesis about how to tame great dragon such Zimeth like has been done by Princess Selena and made them as the winged steed for the Royal Dragon Rider in the future. However his own bewilderment made him heard only about Zimeth and military, convincing his prejudices that two peoples inside were talking about him join the services.

 
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