Chapter 10: The Guardians

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When it came time for dinner, Dlav rushed out the classroom and headed towards the Greeting Room. Rhiassa and Nevyn were there, having explained what they had learned that day. Rhiassa spoke about the history of the school's founding while Nevyn had some difficulties answering questions about the library. Salvatore shook his head, knowing that the future guardians had a long way to go.

Now, Salvatore sent them out the room so they could have dinner with the rest of the students. Dlav was waiting for them as they turned a corner and headed toward the Great Hall. He said, "Well, I'm shocked. They usually send the new guardians to dine with us on the third day. They're convinced that you guys are definitely the guardians."

"I'm not surprised to hear that," said Rhiassa.

"Even then, the guardians have their own section in the library and the Great Hall, as well as their own dorms," said Dlav. "The perks of being a guardian."

"So, who are the guardians?" said Nevyn.

"You'll see them later on tonight," said Dlav. "Right now, Brother Bluehair wants you to meet the other students and eventually, the guardians."

He led them to the Great Hall, where scores of students were dining on wild boar with pears, bananas, and Gabon nuts on a bed of sliced okra and blueberries. The meal was washed down with Element Float, which was deep crimson with yellow-orange swirls and served in a pewter mug. The drink smelled like pine sap and tasted like blackberries. It was considered an 'energy drink' by many people of Ostlea.

Dlav seated them at an empty table and a goblin cook brought the meal out to them. As they ate, Nevyn said, "So, you said the guardians in training don't eat with the students until the third day?"

"Well," said Dlav, "for some reason, the circumstances in this situation require that you be prepared to learn sooner than we all thought."

"Why?" said Rhiassa. "What's going on?"

"Shadowwolf," a student hissed as he addressed them.

"Who?" Rhiassa glared at him.

"Scaillus Shadowwolf is one of the worst characters that you'll meet," said the student.

"I heard he eats live snakes for breakfast," said another student.

"I heard he does evil experiments on babies," said a third student.

"Ok, that's enough," said Dlav. "We already have enough problems with the rumors about Shadowwolf to deal with, so don't go making anything up. Anyway, Shadowwolf is one of the worst people ever, and his rise in the kingdom coincided with the slaughtering of the royal family and most of the nobility, though there are a few known survivors. The Silverheart family came and took over everything and destroyed the world union, driving humanity to almost extinction and devastating the balance of the world. Shadowwolf is an adviser to the king, and his advice does more harm than good for the kingdom."

"So, has he, actually, tortured anyone?" Rhiassa asked in fear.

"Oh, but he surely has," said a girl. "My uncle was tormented by Shadowwolf himself because of his...well...differences. Shadowwolf had tortured him using devices that have long been since forgotten."

"Indeed," said Dlav as he stared at Rhiassa and Nevyn, who had apparently stopped eating during the girl's testimony. "Now look at what you did; you've scared the new guardians out of their dinner. How will they protect you without food in their bellies? You should be ashamed of yourselves."

Rhiassa shuddered as she thought about the girl's story about Shadowwolf torturing her uncle. She wondered what kind of monster does things like that to people. She said, "Surely Shadowwolf is nothing more than a boogie monster that parents tell you about just to make you behave." Dlav and Nevyn stared at her as if she had somehow sprouted two extra heads. Rhiassa remembered the pleas that parents would say to their children in order to keep them in check:

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