Chapter 43

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            Kallai wasn’t exactly sure when they’d sunk to the ground, still clutching each other. She thought it was right around the time her own tears had dried up leaving her face tight and aching. She stayed as she was, sitting on the ground, her arms wrapped around Shuu even as his were around her. His winds continued to swirl around them, forcing everyone else to keep their distance. Shuu’s face was still buried in her shoulder, his sobs long since worn out, leaving only a whimpering, broken kind of crying that had been getting progressively quieter until it was now barely audible. Not that she could blame him. If she’d just suddenly found out everything she’d ever known and cared about was gone…

            Feeling tears prick her eyes again, she blinked hard. She’d cried enough. She had to stay strong, keep herself together, so that Shuu could rely on her. He didn’t have anyone else and she would rather die than abandon him.

            Shuu’s cheek slid along her shoulder, his hands falling away from her. Kallai frowned as she realized that the winds encircling them had died away as well. She touched his face, feeling his warm breath against her hand, relaxing with a sigh as she realized he was unconscious and not dead.

Carefully she laid him down, his body curved against her legs, his head in her lap. Gently she stroked his hair, finding its fine strands softer than her own. Petting his red mane was reassuring, letting her know he was still alive, still there, even if she was sure his heart had shattered.

            Approaching footsteps drew Kallai’s attention away from Shuu, her red-rimmed eyes going to the headmaster, two Councillors, and Magi pair that walked hesitantly towards them. The lead Magi was the one to speak, his lips light against the black expanse of his beard. “Is he dead?”

            “No,” she said, her hands not stopping their soft motion along his hair. “He just passed out. He’s exhausted.”

            “Good,” said the other Magi, her brown eyes narrowed as they looked at Shuu. “It’ll be easier to contain the monster if he’s already unconscious.”

            Kallai’s spine snapped straight, her gaze darkening into a glare, her hand stilling. “Forgive me,” she said, feeling heat that had nothing to do with her power filled her veins. “I must have heard you wrong. I thought I heard you calling him a monster, as if he’d done something horrible.”

            The female Magi looked down her long nose at Kallai. “He is a monster, girl. He sent us flying backwards with no spell, no word of engagement, and kept us away without using anything either. How is that not monstrous?”

            A muscle in Kallai’s cheek jumped as she fought to keep her voice low, to avoid waking Shuu. “It seems we have very different definitions of monstrous,” she said. “I would think people who would send armed soldiers to escort one student away, simply because their power was different would be monsters. Or people who would decide that, because someone uses a different kind of magic, that they’re automatically something that needs to locked away, something less than a person. That’s what I’d call monstrous.”

            The Magi, headmaster and Councillors all flushed. “You don’t understand the situation,” snapped the oldest looking of the Councillors, his hair a pure white that belied the dark look he was shooting Kallai. “He attacked without warning, without provocation.”

            “I’m fairly sure that Shuu just found out that his people, his city, and everything he’s ever known is gone now, destroyed in a war. He said this tower is the same one that was part of his city, and since this school had been around for centuries, then that would mean his people have been dead for at least that long. I think someone finding that out would be entitled to freak out, and that people with consciences would allow them some leeway. I would like to see how any of you would react in the same situation.”

            More footsteps announced the arrival of Sevilen, his face serious. He came to stand beside Kallai, his head up, eyes steady. He bowed to the others after a moment of silence, just simply letting his presence and position speak to what side he was on, before saying, “Please do forgive the boy. As Kallai has said, he has obviously been traumatized and allowances must be made. I assure you, an outburst like this won’t happen again.”

            “And how can you be sure of that?” the headmaster demanded.

            Sevilen turned a bland, emotionless gaze onto her, while Kallai glared. “Hush,” she said, one hand going back to Shuu’s head. “You’ll wake him.”

            “Because none of us are going to do anything to provoke him. With time and some rest, he should be returned to a calmer state, and from my experiences with him so far, he is as reasonable as any other child his age. If you press him, it is likely he will leave, likely heading to one of our neighbours, not all of whom are kindly inclined towards us. Would you wish them to have others capable of doing what the boy can, abilities he could likely teach them?” Sevilen asked, his voice quiet and even. They blanched and he nodded. “Now, if you’ll return to the others, I believe it best that we leave the boy in my cousin’s capable hands.”

            The Councillors, Magi, and headmaster trailed after Sevilen. He winked at Kallai when they weren’t looking, before replacing the tight mask of emotionless over his features. She nodded back before turning her attention back to what was important, making sure Shuu was alright.

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