“There’s absolutely no order in this library, it took me forever to find it, the covers so run down,” I said coming back to the center of the room holding a tower of books.
“Woah… are you telling me we have to read all that?” asked Rein while pointing his index finger towards the tower of books and scanning it up and down.
“Yes, you’ll need to learn all of this when you return home anyway so it’ll be better to just get it over and done with beforehand,” I said while reading through the contents page on the book of noble history.
“Ahhh, I found it, come here this is your family tree, oh and here… here are your full names, Reinelous Philipo Edin Isadore and Reubenile Roberto Caesar Isadore,” I said while I traced their names with my finger.
“Our names are blacked out…” On their faces, a cocktail of sadness and non-existent nostalgia, a slight pang hit my heart.
‘I will repent for my past sins by returning you to your families in this life… I know it won’t ever be enough compared to what I tore from you two but I swear at least in this life, I will find those that wanted you dead and make them pay… those are the only ways I can think of to repay you…’ Guilt laid on me heavily, if I could I would turn back time to erase myself before I ever became a nightmare to anyone.
“Don’t be sad, once you return your names will also return. Look at the portrait of your parents, this is Duke Asher Stenham Isadore your father and Duchess Edith Dewitt Isadore your mother.”
I spoke as I let the two flick through each page of their family portrait, it seemed like they had their portrait painted every month or so up till they were 4 years old. Anyone could see they were beloved to the ducal couple, most nobles only had their portraits taken every year or so but the Isadore family had an updated painting every month.
- - -
“Hey Rein, this looks like the clothes we arrived here in.” Reuben’s sudden exclamation broke the silence that had settled.
“You're right, look, it's the same necklace as the one in our drawers.”
“Wait… you mean to tell me the director didn’t take away your possessions when you two first came here?”
“Yh, I’m pretty sure all the other children have their stuff too,” said Rein without putting much thought into my question.
“Did the director take something from you?” asked Reuben looking up from the portraits.
“No… I think I know a way we can hasten the identification of some of the children here." The twins looked at me with the look of ‘how?’ so I began to explain.
“Here me out, wait the book’s here somewhere.” I said while looking through the pile of books I had accumulated and I picked up a withered book called “500 Ways to Calm a bored child” with a drawing of a child throwing a tantrum on the cover.
“500 ways to calm a bored child? So how exactly is this book going to help us?” asked Rein, taking the book from my hands and roughly flipping through the pages.
“Look here on page 46 it says, play a game of show and tell. If the others do still have their clothes we can divide them into nobles and commoners. After that, we can come back here and search for which noble family they belong to.”
“How exactly are we going to get everyone to play show and tell?” asked Rein.
“Rein, is today group reading day?” asked Reuben.
“Ugh, yh…” Rein answered while counting with his fingers.
“I know how we can get everyone to participate, let’s go to the playroom right now Miss Dandy should be there.” I gave the book to Reuben and followed his lead. We walked towards the playroom, which was located right next to the dining hall and looked to be about the same size.
“Miss Dandy! Miss Dandy! Look, we were playing and we found this interesting book, doesn’t this say show and tell? Miss Dandy, we want to play show and tell too!” exclaimed Reuben making Rein and me look at each other sideways.
“Miss Dandy we really want to play show and tell!” I exclaimed after Reuben, causing other children that were in the room to come rushing towards us excited to play a new game.
“Miss Dandy! Are we playing a new game?” asked a girl named Tella.
“Miss Dandy!” All the excited children spoke out wanting to play this new game and just when I thought she might give in she spoke out.
“Children! Please calm down and listen to me for a moment, show and tell is only fun when the items you show are unique to you. You all share the same toys, sleep in the same rooms and eat the same meals, how will you play show and tell? Let’s just settle down for story time, alright?” She said and before I could chime in Rein took the lead.
“Miss Dandy! I know something unique that everyone might have.”
“What would that be, Rein?” she asked with her friendly smile now wiped off of her face.
“The clothes and other stuff we came to the orphanage in, I still have mine and it’s unique. Miss Dandy, let us play show and tell with our clothes!” Rein whined like a child.
Suddenly it was like another bomb of excitement had dropped on the children as they all exclaimed how they still had the clothes they arrived in too.
In the end, she had to cave in just to calm down the excited children, so story time was replaced with show and tell and all the children rushed out to prepare their clothes and participate in the newly discovered activity.
“Miss Dandy, should we go tell the children from sections A and B to bring their clothes for the show and tell?” Reuben asked
“Oh, No I’ll go do that,” she replied with a stiff voice.
“No it’s okay Miss Dandy, we’ll go tell the teachers after all, we suggested the game.” I retorted quickly scanning her reactions.
“Alright then you 3 can go upstairs and tell section A and I shall go inform section B,” she said as she rushed off towards the stairs that led down to the basement.
“Weird… why are we allowed to inform section A but not B, I think I should send my Chimera down there to see what they’re trying to hide.”
“Good idea but for now we should go inform section A and get our clothes too.” With that, I instructed the Chimera to go to the basement.
- - -
We rushed upstairs to section A and found the teacher who was in charge of the children and Reuben informed her of the changed schedule for the evening. While Reuben was talking to the teachers in section A I looked around.
I couldn’t help noticing how different Section A’s rooms looked compared to Section C, the floors in Section A were carpeted which was rarely done as carpets were harder to maintain, the walls had a nice floral wallpaper and panelling for insulation topped off with chandeliers powered by mana stones and paintings from artists that I recognised. Section A was decorated like a noble’s mansion while Section C looked like a dungeon.
“Rein tell me I'm not the only one seeing the discrimination…”
“Oh you haven’t seen this floor yet huh, It’s nicer up here.”
“I thought it was just the director's office that was decorated nicely but it’s this whole floor?” I remarked.
“That’s why the kids on this floor are so stuck up and act like they own the place… I hate coming up here,” said Rein while looking out the window.
“Though I don’t envy them, they'll probably be taken in the upcoming full moon, except Sam and what was her name?” he said while scratching his head.
“Sam and Grace, you're talking about the two from section A right?” Reuben, who had finished talking to the teachers, had come out and we started heading towards our own bed chambers to retrieve our clothes for the show and tell.
“Yh Grace that was her name, anyway those two never get adopted or whatever you want to call it,”
“I see, if they’re taken on a full moon they’re definitely not being adopted… Do you guys know where they might be taken to?” I asked while opening my drawer and taking out my yellow dress just then, a thud could be heard and Reuben picked up the object that had fallen off my dress.
“Here and no, we don’t know where the kids are taken to, they’re always taken in a carriage so even if we wanted to we can’t follow them,” Reuben spoke while handing me the red diamond brooch.
“Rein and Reuben I think it would be best to not take your necklaces and I’ll leave my brooch here too..” I said while taking the brooch and putting it back into the drawer.
[Vee… Something’s not right here, these people… how, just how could they do this? Wait, I'm coming to you right now.]
“How long do we have before story time begins?” I asked out loud.
“Storytime begins at sunset, so in an hour or so, why?” asked Reuben.
“Remember how I asked my Chimera to go down and check the basement? Well, he’s coming here right now but he didn’t sound too good…”
- - -
I opened my eyes once again to the sight of my mother sleeping slouched over my bed, it would be a rare sight to see a duchess slouched over let alone fall asleep like this, my mother was always like this…
“Mo… Mother, you should go sleep on a bed,” I spoke out, lifting up my hands and shaking her awake.
“Hmm... Lu? How are you feeling, Lu?” she asked
“I’m perfectly fine now Mother, I think you need some rest.”
“He’s right my dear, you should rest a bit… I’ll stay here with him.” My father’s voice broke out from the right side of the room, startling me a little. He stood up and walked towards me then proceeded to place the palm of his hands on my forehead to check my temperature.
“His fever has gone down significantly, Lu do you want to eat something? I’m sure you're hungry from your awakening…”
“I… So… before eating, I want to ask you a few questions, father and mother… would that be alright?” My mother once again embraced me in her arms as if she was afraid I'd break or be blown away by the tiniest breeze.
“Of course you can, this mother wonders what could possibly have my son so curious to make him resist food,” she said, tightening her hold around me.
“I… mother I can’t breathe…” I said squirming.
“Oh, sorry… it’s just… my little baby has grown so big, he doesn’t call me mum anymore.” She spoke while loosening her arms around me a little, unexpectedly my father also joined in and now we were a mess of limbs on my bed…
“Yes I agree, how has our baby grown so much that he’s calling his mum and dad, mother and father.”
“Alright alright… M…Mum and D..Dad, I'm serious..” I said while squirming harder.
“Okay, okay honey ask us anything,” they said, finally releasing their grasp on me.
“What… What year is this? How old am I? Is this really not heaven?”
“Lu… did you have a bad dream?” asked my mother, holding my hands.
“You said I could ask anything, please…” My mother then nodded and took a deep breath and before she could answer my father took the lead.
“Honey, it’s currently the year 1204, you are 10 years old and we are currently in the Faulner Empire. Can you tell us why you think this is heaven?” He asked.
“I… I died…”
“What do you mean baby? You're not dead, you’re right here.” my mother once again panicked.
“No… You don’t understand mum, I waited for death… I… you left and so did dad then when Raven left… I couldn’t stand being here all alone, so I did nothing but wait for death.”
“Lu, who is Raven? You kept mentioning her this morning too...”
More panic started to rise on my mother’s face from my barely audible jumbled words, my father who was always more logical broke the row of panic between my mother and I.
“My love… let’s allow Lucas to tell us slowly, from the beginning Lucas… Your mum and I will listen, so take a deep breath and tell us from the beginning.”
He spoke softly while sitting down on the bed and running his hands up and down my mother's and my back to calm us down.
“I’ve already lived the future… the future where you both passed away and this empire went under exactly on its 1000th year, year 1245.”