Collection: Submissions/Ages of Youth/the Halleaux Guest Chronicle by Daniel
Chapter 3: Homecoming
Ren walked down a hallway that looked exactly like the others, but he had memorized the way in the two weeks since he had moved into his rooms. He stepped through a door and into another hallway. He stared left first, then right. To his right were his quarters locked behind a set of double oak doors. To his left were another set of oak double doors which hid Marius’ quarters from the other recruits. He was, after all, a commander. He was one of Petra’s right hand men, the other was an englishman named Mech, whom Ren had never met. He walked to his right and unlocked his door. As he stepped inside he caught a whiff of his favorite smells: cinnamon, cloves, pine, and white sage. They blended together in the air to form an altogether not-unpleasant medley. The First room was lit by the soft light of a candle that burned on the table, filling the room with a gentle glow.
Inside was everything on his list, plus a few things he had not asked for. The double king- sized hand carved bed, with a mattress stuffed with down, had not been slept in. He slept instead on the floor in a sleeping bag. He walked to the table and took off the top portion of his armor. He sat down and thought of his last two weeks, joining the Haven Fighters, telling Petra mostly everything, and meeting Marius. He sat at the table for several minutes lost deep in his thoughts when he was jolted back to reality by a loud knock at the door. He stood and slowly walked to the door, grabbing a large knife on his way. He opened the door just enough to see who was there and found, to his great surprise, Petra waiting in the hallway.
“Ah, I was hoping that you were home, may I come inside?” She asked
Ren was shocked that she had come to see him. After all, he never got the impression that she considered him anything more than someone to watch as closely as possible. He was glad that she believed what he said about being a soldier because technically it was the truth, not the whole truth, but the truth nonetheless.
“Of course, Milady”, he replied smoothly, “ I have been hoping to speak to you myself”
Ren opened the door the rest of the way and Petr strode in, she took a moment to stand there and take in the sight.
“Excuse the clutter, I wasn’t expecting company” Ren said, moving his armor off the table along with a long thin box engraved with what appeared to be glyphs of a language long lost to the world.
Petra took a seat and rested her hands upon the table, staring at a point somewhere beyond Ren.
“Can I get you something to drink?”, he asked politely
“Water, please” she stated tensely.
He poured her a glass of crystal clear water and set it on the table in front of her. He then walked across the room and poured himself a small glass of an unknown liquid that was light brown in color, walked back to the table and resumed his seat.
“What is that?” she asked
“The juice of a berry who’s name I can’t pronounce. it comes from the northern forests, where the native tribes make all sorts of things out of it. Try it” he said pushing the glass towards her.
“I’m not sure that it’s a good idea,” she said, “Are you even sure it’s safe?”
Ren chuckled quietly to himself and handed her the glass.
“It's perfectly fine, as long as you don’t-” Ren began. Petra took a big gulp of the juice and inhaled sharply.
“It burns” she said between gasps of air.
“Well, yes, I was going to say it’s perfectly fine as long as you drink it slowly and take small sips” Ren said, “However, you didn’t know that because you were too busy chugging it to hear”
Ren poured her another glass of water and dropped a small tablet into it making it fizz and bubble, saying “Here, drink this, it’ll help with the burning”
She took the glass and drank deeply not stopping until the glass was entirely empty.
“Why?” she asked
“Why what?” came his answer
“Why does it burn, and why do you drink it” she replied
“It burns because it contains so much acid that in large quantities the acid of the fruit begins to burn you, just as any acid does with time, as for why I drink it, well, because it tastes good.” He answered her, “Now, you wanted to speak with me about something”
“Um, yes, as you can see I have kept my end of our little deal and I think it’s time you fulfill yours” She said suddenly businesslike. Ren did not quite see where she was going so she stayed quiet. “Tomorrow you will go to the computer room and meet with Mech, you and him will begin to work on strategic maps of Javert’s command posts, understand?”
“Yes, Ma’am” He said.
“Now, didn’t you want to speak to me about something?” She asked politely
“Yes, for the past two weeks I have been here, I have done nothing but walk around the base and report to you.”
“Okay”, she said looking slightly unsure of what was to come.
“I want to go to the training field, or leave the base, or go somewhere other than your office, my lab, and my quarters” he said
“I will see what can be done and we will revisit this matter tomorrow”
“Good”, he said obviously satisfied.
They sat there for a moment and finished their drinks. Then he gathered up their glasses and took them to the sink.
“Now, is there anything else I can do for you” He asked quietly
“I actually have a question about your past.” She said
Oh great, he thought, here it comes, then I’ll have to tell her the rest and I’ll lose one of the only people who trusts me around here.
“What did you do in the time between leaving Javert’s army and joining the Haven?” She asked. Ren breathed a sigh of relief because it was not the question he had been expecting.
“I wandered around and eventually found the native tribes of the north and made friends with one of them. They taught me many of the skills I learned.” He answered
“Come again” He said
“Which tribe did you make friends with” She asked
“One of the larger ones, I believe they are called the Wolf People in this tongue and the Nikitari in their own” he explained.
Petra stood and walked to the door, opened it, and stepped into the hallway. Before she left, she turned and said to him “Ren?”
“Yes Ma’am?” came his response
“Have a good night and I will see you tomorrow”
“Yes Ma’am” He replied
Ren shut the door behind her and took off the rest of his armor. He layed down on his sleeping bag, rolled over, and soon fell into light, fitful sleep.
He woke the next day at 5:00 as usual, and ran through his usual morning workout. Then he hustled to the shower. He sighed to himself, after all, there was nothing like standing under ice-cold water early in the morning. He wrapped a towel around himself and stepped out of the tub. Smiling to himself as he breathed in the fresh morning air he stood before the mirror and picked up his shaving razor. After applying a salve to his face to his face (just one of many from his collection of homemade remedies for everything) and began to shave off what little hair had managed to grow since the last time he had done this two days ago.
He was happy, pleased that he was going to be around people for the first time in almost three weeks. Then he stopped and peered into the mirror. He had just taken notice of his hair. He was going to meet people and he would not meet them looking like a prison escapee. He picked up his knife (never leave home without it) and the short length of cord he usually tied his hair back with. He proceeded to tie his hair back and cut it just above where it was tied leaving him with a shaggy, shoulder length mess. He continued to cut it shorter still until he was satisfied. Almost there he said to himself and he picked up his razor. Five minutes later his hair was finished in a standard military haircut, short around the sides, longer on top. It had been almost four years since he had his hair cut like this last. He walked over to his bag which was lying next to his sleeping bag and pulled out a pair of black linen pants and a thin, black, sleeveless cotton shirt. He put them on, belted on his knife and one of his handguns, and grabbed his training gloves. His gloves were black tactical gloves with steel reinforced carbon fiber knuckles.
He had worn his armor for so long it felt weird leaving without it, but wearing his training gear again felt good, felt right. For the first time since he had left the army, he truly felt like he was home.
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