Teaching Above Your Station
Time seemed to slow as Alex ran. It seemed to him
that he had never gone slower in his life. He couldn't move two feet to push
Jackie out of the way. Jared seemed to be moving faster than light, while Alex
was going slower than a turtle.
But then Jackie's challenging smile flashed
into his mind as she jumped up and slammed the edge of her palm against where
Jared's neck connected to his shoulders. He fell in a heap onto Jackie, but
he had dropped his sword.
Time went back to normal.
Alex fell to Jackie's side, "You killed him!"
he shouted. He couldn't believe it actually sounded like an accusation.
"Nah... just knocked him out for a few hours."
"He really hates you!"
"Yep. Oh well. Doesn't matter."
"What'd you do to him, out of curiosity?"
Suddenly Theo and Arcane were hoisting their
leader upon their shoulders and taking him inside.
"Man, oh man! They are so LOYAL to that guy!"
She sighed, "But they don't know that he wouldn't give a tiny copper coin for
them, do they?" She looked sadly at Alex.
"No, they don't, but you're avoiding my question."
"What I did to him? Oh, sorry. It's kinda embarrassing."
"How can it be embarrassing?"
"I didn't think it would work. That's HUMILIATING
"I think you're avoiding your own question
now... if that's possible, that is."
"I think it is. What'd you do to him?"
"Well, I sneak into the palace library every
night. Don't tell your parents, though."
"Don't the guards stop you?"
She giggled, "Nope! I give them some of Gigias
blueberry muffins every night, and they let me in without question."
"One of the messengers. She sneaks into the
kitchen every night, too. I let her practice her recipes in there, in return
for a few muffins. That way I can give them to the guards, so I can go read
the books there."
"Interesting cycle there. So what about it?"
They were walking back to the palace now, "Well,
I read a story in there about a girl who was a warrior. One of her secrets was
to hit a person in that little corner of the neck and shoulder, and PALOINK!
Out they go!"
"So you were just testing things out while
your life was at stake?!?"
"What's the big deal? If you had stayed put,
I would've just blocked him with your sword, but noooooo... you had to MOVE!"
"Back to the topic. Why did you know to do
"Well, I figured I had about three seconds
to live, so I might as well TRY to survive. It was the first thing that came
to mind. Come to think of it, pushing you out of the way would've been more
efficient, but oh well."
"Why push me out of the way? He was going after
"Oh, no, see... if I had just dodged, you would've
been hit, because you were in front of me. So I just had to push you out of
the way, and he would've run into a tree or something."
"Wouldn't he just stop?"
"An object in motion tends to stay in motion...
especially big objects."
They both laughed.
"Jackie, can I ask you something?"
"Why were you, um, COLLECTING (I think that's
the best word for it) their swords?"
"Oh... heh! I'm a scavenger, that's why."
"What's that mean?"
"It means that I don't let things go to waste.
If I'm out walking and I see something that I think is interesting, I keep it.
If I just came out of a battle, I would go back and take all the shields, swords,
"Well it might be for you! You don't sit in
your room and wonder if you'll still be employed tomorrow!"
"You do that?"
"Why? You do a good job, don't you?"
"Well... let's just put it this way: If the
people here didn't love me so much, I wouldn't be here."
"I thought you said they don't like you."
She laughed, "That's what the government WANTS
you to believe, Alex. They love me. Every time I come running in (late) for
my kitchen duties, everyone looks up and says (almost in unison) 'Oh, it's just
you, Jackie.' but they all are smiling. Most of them sit there and watch me.
It's kinda scary when you think about it."
"You are the direct opposite of me. You have
people who love you pretending to hate you, while I have people who hate me
but have to pretend to love me just so they aren't destroyed."
She shrugged, "You could always use that to
pull WONDERFUL pranks, you know."
He gasped in horror, "I would NOT use my power
to do ANYTHING like that."
She shook her head and laughed, "You've gotta
lighten up, Alex."
"No I don't. You need to be serious."
She looked him over and laughed, "You're right.
"Well, you know what they say... opposites
attract. That's probably why we're friends."
It was all Jackie could do not to stop dead
in her tracks and scream for joy. She'd never had a friend before. Never. Ever.
NEVER IN HER WHOLE LIFE! She wanted to fling her arms around Alex and laugh
hysterically, but she didn't want to scare her friend away. She settled for,
"I've never had a friend before."
Jackie couldn't stop herself. She stared at
him, blinking. "YOU never had a friend? Why not?!"
He shrugged, "People are either mean (like
Jared), or too formal (like the rest of the world). No one is real with me.
You act yourself around me, or at least I think you do..." He cocked his head
and looked at her sceptically.
She smiled wide and spread her arms out wide
for examination, "This is me." Then for added measure she made an ugly face
and crossed her eyes, then puffed out her cheeks and tried to make herself look
fat, "And this is Jared."
Alex laughed. If she was yellow and had a curly
tail, she might've looked just like him, "That's Jared all right!"
Jackie enjoyed making her new-found friend
laugh. She looked serious and walked stiffly, "Hello. My name is Theo. I do
whatever Jared wants, what? Coming Jared!" she said in a bored and flat voice.
Alex laughed again, "I don't know how they
do that. I don't know how they don't see that Jared doesn't care about them!
When he gets in trouble, he lets them take all the blame, but yet they come
to his rescue constantly!"
"Yah. It's almost sad that the goons... erm,
Theo and Arcane... don't know that he calls them names behind his back!"
"You call them goons, too?"
"ALL the servants call them that. It's Jared
and his two goons."
Alex laughed, "He calls them his followers."
She shuddered, "Weird."
"How'd you know he calls them names behind
"Because his maid tells your maid, who tells
the guard, who tells the cook, who gossips to the other cook, who is eavesdropped
on by... ME!"
"There is a vast network of communication between
you guys, isn't there?"
She laughed, "The only interesting thing about
working in the palace is all the gossip. Whatever you say is listened to by
the workers around you, who will most definitely gossip about it to someone
else, and by noon the whole palace knows about it!"
"You guys don't tell that stuff to my siblings,
or the nobles, right?"
She shook her head, "Even if we tried, they
He nodded, "So when you think you'll be able
to give me my first lesson?"
She thought about it a moment then said, "I
dunno, really. Hmm... OH! You'd better go back now. Your parents are probably
worrying their little royal heads off because you've been gone so long. Shoo!"
"You're avoiding my question!"
"No I'm not. I told you I'd tell you when I
Alex started to leave, then stopped when Jackie
called out, "Don't tell anyone we're training together!"
"Why?" He turned around to face her.
"Because it's dangerous on my part. I could
"For teaching above my station," she said,
stepping past him and walking toward the palace.
Alex opened his mouth to say something, but
decided against it and scurried off to his room. He knew his family wouldn't
worry. They knew where he was. The whole PALACE knew where he was.
He wondered as he scurried. He wondered if
Jackie really COULD get arrested for teaching above her station. Everyone who
watched the fight KNEW that Jackie was good, and that she was going to train
The thought of Jackie being taken away scared
Alex. It scared him more than anything he'd ever been scared of before.
To be continued...