Iris, the orphanage "mother" or Auntie as she preferred to be called, stood outside waiting. Every day she gets up early and waits outside to teach us. Because we live in between the kingdoms we don't have a school to go to for free, and because we are orphans we don't have the money to afford proper schools. Still, we make due. Through a few charitable donations of junk and some woodworking, we'd gotten a large table and a bunch of smoothed off stumps to sit on.
"Auntie do we have to do this every day," one of the younger boys, Morgan, whined as he plopped down onto one of the stumps.
Like most kids, he preferred running around playing than sitting and learning. We all did to some extent. But Iris knew just how to keep us in line.
"How else are you going to be able to get into one of the kingdoms when you grow up?" she said through an irritated smile.
"Why can't we just stay here with you forever," one of the other boys whined. It was Ricky, the newest kid. He'd been dropped off one night nearly two months ago without even a message. When we first got here thirteen years ago, it wasn't odd for parents fleeing the hunt to drop their kids off at random orphanages. Nowadays it's pretty rare.
Her smile softened as she looked at the child and sighed. "I won't be here forever, you know that. Now, Morgan, because you complained why don't you go over what we learned yesterday."
After a minute of whining, he monotonously repeated back the end of the last lesson. "So with the last family gone the first hunt came to an end. The three kingdoms came to neutral standing. They kept a common currency and from then on each kingdom has grown steadily."
We all stared at him in amazement. All except Iris and Colt. They were the only ones who had stopped being stunned by the little genius. If any of us had a chance of being accepted into a kingdom, it was Morgan. During the lessons, he would act bored and uninterested. But if you looked closely you could see the sparkle in his eyes every time Iris mentioned a new subject or brought up a historical event we hadn't yet studied. The slight twitch of her ears when someone got an answer wrong.
"If you would just apply yourself more, that photographic memory could easily get you into one of the kingdoms." Said Iris.
"But I don't want to leave you guys..." mumbled Morgan, slouching back on his stump, burying his face in his crossed arms.
"Fine fine. Well, let's begin the lesson" started Iris. And right on schedule, I fell asleep.
Suddenly, my eyes ripped open. Darkness wrapped around my body, an unnatural stillness gripped my everything. I couldn't even feel my own heartbeat as the darkness below me began to shift. The stillness below slowly warping into a massive whirlpool, my body stuck stiffly at its center.
"Run! Run Kal! Run!" A familiar voice chanted in my ear.
With each word, the streaks grew more focused. They were bolts of lightning. Each one arced overhead with more force than the one before. The shouting grew louder with each passing second, my heart ramming against my chest. Then finally, everything returned to the darkness. Stillness gripping my body once again.
"Kal...Kal, wake up. The lessons over." Colt said, nudging me awake. "I Took notes for today so you can study them tonight."
"Thanks" I replied, stretching out the sleep from my muscles. A dull pain buzzed behind me as I tried to recall the dream.
"Iris says a farm to the west is gonna pay us to go hunt a wolf for them." Said Colt as he grabbed his bow and arrows from the side of the home. "Hurry up and get your spear they are expecting us in a few hours."
"How much are they paying us?" I said, heading over to where he stood, grabbing a wooden spear from beside where his bow sat.
"Iris said that it's one of the wealthy farms so we are getting a thousand credits for it" Replied Colt mounting the bow on his back.
"That much for a wolf? We better not disappoint then!" I said, excitement bubbling in me as I ran ahead of Colt.
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