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4.

School began without much of a hitch. Mrs. Wilder opened up the school house and the children begrudgingly filed in. They were joined this term by a few new children from the Pescada tribe. Karen was in the same study level as Breydon, and Breydon was on an eighth year study level. Asa was on a second year study level and Cheryl was third year. The three Forster siblings would wait for the children from the Pescada tribe to show up. Kipper, Bream and Cheryl would appear with a few of the other children from the watery deep. Kipper was a year older than Breydon, and Bream was the same age as the human boy. They all would trek together to the school house in town and meet up with the other children from town and a few of the surrounding villages in the yard.

Asa generally stayed with Cheryl, Kip or Bream throughout the day. The other boys in school would rapture on and on about how great at sports Breydon was and Karen was often busy reading during school breaks. Thadius was often sick but when he was at school, Asa liked him. Breydon was also good friends with Thadius, but the older boy was often wary of Thadius’ sister. Alana and her friends didn’t sit well wiht Asa, mostly because she was a strange breed of girl that he had grown to be frightened of.

It was a fairly normal day; winter was winding down, and Asa had worn a lighter jacket. Karen, Breydon and Asa had all went down to the beach after helping their mother set up shop at the bakery. Karen sat on a rock reading, while Asa and Breydon raced back and forth along the sand bars. The Pescada children would be arriving soon, and sure enough, they all started rising from the waves. Cheryl ran ahead of her brothers and ran over to Asa.

“Hey, Ace. Did you finish your homework?” she asked. He sighed deeply.

“Yeah, I did. How about you?” he replied.

“No. You know how I feel about homework,” she said nonchalantly. The two of them joined their older siblings as they chatted with each other by the rock that Karen was sitting on. Kipper helped Karen climb down as he held her book in one hand.

“Man, Karie… All I ever see you do is study!” the Pescada boy commented. She smiled as her feet touched the sand and took her book back.

“I like reading,” she said.

“I can tell,” Bream added. “I guess someone had to inherit your dad’s smarts since it seemed to skip over on Breydon here.”

“Knock it off,” Breydon said with a growl.

“My brother’s pretty smart, don’t let him fool you,” Karen told them.

“Well he’s fooled us for our entire lives,” Kipper replied.

“Oh and… by the way, Karen…I had some trouble with some of the reading that Mrs. Wilder gave us… could you explain some of it to me?” Bream asked sheepishly.

“Of course, when we get to the school yard I’ll explain it all,” she offered. Asa and Cheryl trailed behind their siblings. Asa noted that Cheryl was rather quiet and was curious as to what was going through her mind. He knew it was pointless to just ask, but she would blurt it out sooner or later. Half way to school, she sighed deeply and shook her head.

“Both of my brothers like your sister,” she said.

“We’re all friends, Cheryl, of course they like Karen,” Asa replied. Cheryl tugged at one of the anemone like strands of her hair.

“No, Ace, they really like her. How Alana likes Breydon,” she clarified.

“You mean, they’re going to start following her around and acting all weird around her?” Asa asked.

“They already are! I mean, look!” Cheryl cried. Asa gazed at the four of them as they were walking.

“Hey… Karie…” Bream began. “Can I… well you have a lot of books today so…”

“Can I carry them?” Kipper cut in.

“Hey, I was going to ask her!” Bream snapped.

“You were too slow on the draw, so I asked her,” Kipper replied. “So, Karie, who do you want to carry your books since it seems that both of us want to help you?”

“I’m sorry, Breydon has already volunteered to carry my books for today,” Karen told them. Her older brother picked up the hint and came over and took the books from his sister’s arms. He glared at the two of them and shook his head. The two younger children who were some distance behind them were puzzled by the exchange.

“Why can’t they all just be friends!” Cheryl cried. “You know, like you and me! Promise we’ll always be friends, Ace.”

“I promise,” he said, holding out his hand. The two shook on it and decided to run ahead and break up the tension that was brewing among their older siblings. The rest of the walk was filled with idle chatter. Once inside the schoolyard, Karen sat with Bream and the two of them started going through the reading. Kip and Breydon started to play ball for a while. Asa and Cheryl sat across from Karen and looked over the map from their last adventure.

“Remember that time you fell out of the boat?” he said. She giggled and nudged his arm.

“Well, I can swim in the ocean, but it’s hard to swim in an ocean of sand,” she replied. “Glad we finished up in time for school. It’s hard to have adventures while we’re in school.”

“I know,” Asa said. “We’re going to have to make up less elaborate adventures.”

A slight cough was heard by the gate. Asa saw Breydon’s face falter for a bit. Thadius and Alana had arrived. Thadius waved to him and so did Alana, though the way he reacted to each was different. Thadius being Breydon’s friend was always received warmly, but Alana being in love with him scared the teenage boy.

Thadius walked over to Breydon and Alana followed. Karen sighed and got up.

“Sorry, Bream, I’ve got to go help my brother,” she said. She headed over toward Breydon who was fending off questions from Alana. Bream growled under his breath.

“Can’t Breydon take care of himself? There are two other guys there…” he mumbled. Cheryl grinned wickedly.

“Oh, come now! That’s her brother! No need to be jealous!” she said poking his ribs. The older Pescada glared at his sister who only grinned wider. Karen returned with Alana in tow.

“I’m pretty sure, Bream’s got the basics down, but could you just elaborate on some parts?” Karen requested.

“Sure,” Alana replied, looking over her shoulder at Breydon who was talking with her brother. Cheryl tilted her head to the side watching the older children study.

“I’m bored,” she said to Asa. “Wanna go ask Breydon if we can play with him and Kip?”

“Sure,” he replied. Just as the two got up, Mrs. Wilder came to the door and rang the school bell. The students filed in a relatively orderly fashion. Asa sat in the second row a seat away from the window. He was next to Mason, a fairly quiet boy from the next villiage over. Cheryl was in the row behind him and in the middle away from the windows because Mrs. Wilder realized that she had a bad tendency to daydream while sitting closer to the window. Bream, Breydon, Alana and Karen were all in the eight row, and Kip, being the oldest and farthest along in school was in the ninth row. The older kids, those in their tenth, eleventh and twelfth years sat in the back rows.

“Good morning, class,” Mrs. Wilder began. “It’s so nice to see your smiling faces. As you all know, the first day of spring was yesterday. Can any of our first year students tell me what happens in spring?”

The flowers bloom, Asa thought, it gets warmer, the sun shines brighter, the Welkin return and Dad leaves the end of this week. Almost all the ships would leave port that week. He worried the Welkin wouldn’t return in time for him to watch them return with his father.

The school day would begin with a general studies lecture, often about something like a brief overview of a country or culture, or even a history lesson. This would last about half an hour and then they would split up by year and Mrs. Wilder would make them study a particular subject for a period of time. They children started studying math, which Asa was actually very good at. Just as Mrs. Wilder came to the second years to check their homework, a loud, hollow trumpet blast was heard. Mrs. Wilder smiled and looked out the window.

“The Welkin are returning children. We will finish up this lesson and then all of you may go home,” she said. The room erupted in cheers but she held up her hand.

“Go straight home,” she said. “It may be fun to watch, but it could be potentially dangerous if you don’t have the right decorum.”

Asa could hardly concentrate on his figures. The Welkin were here. He was both excited and sad, but he could not dwell on the unpleasant. School was dismissed and after saying good bye to Cheryl and her brothers, Asa, Breydon and Karen went to their mother’s bakery. The woman was overjoyed to see them and as she wiped flour from her hands all four of them gazed at the sky and up at the Welkin.

The Welkin were a tribe of bird people, who for the most part looked human save their odd colored skin and eyes and large wings. During the winter they’d migrate to warmer climates. They’d lock up their city in the mountains tight and fly off to a tropical haven for a few months. When they flew back, they’d come in waves, and every clan had its own perfect formations of various kinds.

Isabel was already standing outside when the children arrived. Her eyes were fixed dreamily on the first wave of Welkin that were flying in. Usually the warrior Welkin were mixed in among the civilians and those in power, they were usually flying in v’s or alone. Isabel finished wiping the flour off her hands.

“I have to finish up some pastries… I’ll be home in time for dinner, can you start it tonight, Breydon?” she asked. The older boy nodded.

“Sure thing, Mom,” he replied. “What’d you have in mind?”

“Whatever you start I’ll finish,” she told him. “But make it light and quick so we can all sit outside and watch the Welkin with your father.”

The children promptly walked home, all the while mesmerized by the graceful Welkin above them. Their father was already standing outside the house watching the sky as clans flew by. Ike smiled faintly as his children walked up the path to the house.

“You know what this means,” he said. They all looked down at the ground. By the end of the week, Ike would sail for warmer waters in search of sea monsters to hunt. Sea monster scales were good for armor and weapons, the meat was a commodity and their bones were sought after for creating tools, and various parts of these monsters were good for medicines. When he caught one, there was a great influx of money to the family, if he didn’t, Isabel’s bakery got them by well enough. Still it was never fun to have their father leave for weeks, sometimes months at a time.

Breydon finished dinner in record time, before his mother even got home. The table was set, and the family sat down and talked about their day, despite each one being anxious to sit out on the snow and watch the sky for passers by.

The entire family, without a word cleaned the dinner table and kitchen quickly and then put on their coats and jackets and sat out on their porch and watched as the next wave of Welkin flew by. Their flying was almost hypnotic to people like the Forsters who couldn’t do so.

“Dad, have you ever been to the Welkin city?” Karen asked. Ike shook his head.

“But your mother has,” he told her. All three children turned.

“Really, Mom?” Breydon said. “When did you go?”

“Oh it was before you were born,” she replied. “I had just gotten married to your father and the Welkin had a severe food shortage. So your father and I were going to go bring them food with and of others from the villiage, but he had to leave on a voyage. So I went with the band on my own.”

“What was it like?” Karen asked.

“Well, it was summer then, but it was very breezy up there. There were houses in trees and homes in caves,” their mother explained. “There were a lot of places that you could only fly to, but many of their structures were connected by rope bridges.”

“How were the people? Were they as silent as they are now?” Karen prodded.

“They’re a lot more talkative on their own turf, but in general, the men especially are very reserved. There are a few exceptions, but not many,” Isabel responded. “Oh, it was so much fun up there. I wish I could go back.”

“I want to go up there,” Karen said idly.

“You probably will someday,” Ike told her.

“As soon as she learns how to fly,” Asa added. The family laughed and looked to the sky again.

“You never know when the chief’s family flies in. Sometimes they’ll just fly in formation, or they’ll mix up among the clans and have a decoy family,” Ike commented.

“What’s it like to fly?” Asa asked.

“It’s absolute freedom,” Breydon answered.

“It’s funny then, that people who are supposedly so free feel so oppressed by those around them,” Karen added. The family sat on the porch watching the Welkin and freedom fly by.

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February 2014

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