Monday, 11 February 2013

Prossia Blog Tour

I am privileged to be part of the 'Prossia' Blog Tour and am doubly privileged in that I get to post the beautiful artwork of the author who is also a very talented artist


Raphyel Montez Jordan grew up in a household sensitive to the creative arts. As a child, his hobbies were drawing favorite cartoon and video game characters while making illustrated stories. This passion for art never left and followed him all the way up to his high school and college years. It wasn’t until college when he underwent a personal “renaissance” of sorts that Jordan took his interest in writing to another level. When he was 19, he started writing a novel for fun, taking inspiration from the constant exposure of different ideas and cultures that college showed him while staying true to the values he grew up to embrace. However, when the “signs of the times” influenced the story and the characters to spawn into universes of their own, he figured he might possibly be on to something. As he studied graphic design at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia, Jordan also used his electives to study sciences like Astronomy, Psychology, and Biology in order enhance the reading experience in his story. He eventually made it a goal to have the story published after he graduated, and dubbed the goal “Operation Prosia,” the very same project that would develop into his first published book, “Prossia.” Even though his novel is not necessarily a religious book, Jordan utilizes his Christian faith by urging people to encourage, not condemn, in his story. Best known for ending his PSFC newsletters with “Unity Within Diversity,” he hopes “Prossia’s” success will inspire people to consider and support the positive outlook in the difference human kind can share, whether it be race, religion, or any other cultural difference.



        Aly easily hid her body within the high purple and green strands of wheat and grass towering out of the soil after she reached her quota at work. She sped up her pace because she wanted to make sure she still had enough time to stare into the sky and daydream, in spite of the extra hour added to her shift. As she lay in the grass and watched the first cluster of stars show up, the mastra rubbed her arms to get some warmth from the chill that harvest time brought.
        Another uneventful waste of a day flowed by as Aly hummed a cheerful tune to herself. As she hummed, the wonders of other worlds and alien creatures passed on by her rhythm. She envisioned beautiful creatures very different from her own appearance soaring into the air effortlessly, thanks to these rumored, flying, mechanical mountains called “ships.”
        The sounds of water precipitating from the sky made smooth pats against the gravel while beautiful sparks of light spread its glory across a gray sky. If the Young One recalled correctly, the sparks were just called “lightning.” She thought it had to be amazing to see the sky form into bubbles of gray puffs, and release water from above. The only water her planet received was from the thick fog and dew of the morning.
        Aly wondered how the other beings live amongst themselves when their worlds were so different from hers. How could they interact with one another without acknowledging the physical differences? What would they eat, wear, and what would thousands of years of advanced technology do to a civilization? Such thoughts rolled on as the hours passed by in the high weeds.
        Even though her mind would travel across the far reaches of the galaxy, Aly always hummed a cheerful tune that eventually led into a song of her own making as she daydreamed. The song she made as she nestled in the grass had an aura that pulled the fire beetles into her being, and complimented her voice as it rose and fell. By this method, she had gained the very will of time itself and could manipulate it in any way she pleased.
       The Goolian was so enveloped in her own world and song; she didn’t even hear the footsteps approaching before they were right upon her. Aly almost sat up when she heard someone brush through the grass toward her, but it was already too late.
        “And what is this? Lying in the middle of my pappai’s field for your own time to daydream, yes? I have a nerve to give you a thorough lesson you shall never forget, Young One,” the owner of the footsteps hissed.
        The figure towering over Aly gave her a glare that would send shivers even down an elder’s spine, but it was also a glare that Aly didn’t really care for.
        “Then perhaps I should remind you of earlier times you decided to give me a hassle, then, yes?” Aly snarled back. “Perhaps a lesson such as the one I gave the prior week has already cleared your thoughts, Mastra?”
        Catty playfully kicked Aly in the rib before she took her place on the ground beside her. She stretched and yawned loudly, and Aly glared at the yellow-eyed spunk as curse words bounced out of her brain.
        “Truly, why not be grander with your noise?” Aly insisted. “Does this one wish to suffer me trouble?”
        “Nay, all seems well,” Catty said as she sat up and looked at the two brown, full bags leaning against each other. “I was to figure I would not delay you until you finished in your typical hour. And finished you did, in spite of a wounded shoulder! Well performed, Mastra.”
        “Why, my dearest thanks, Mistress.”
        Catty slapped Aly on the forearm before she lay back down.
        “I told you, no poking fun in regards to that,” Catty insisted. “I ceased mocking you about such things as your height and lack of inner being, yes?”
        Aly rolled her eyes, and kept staring at the sky. Catty sighed because she knew she’d never get an apology out of Aly, so she let the subject drop.
        “Your shoulder is well, yes?” the spunk asked as she noticed a white cloth wrapped around Aly’s arm.
        “It is still rather tight,” Aly confessed. “Yet a decent slumbering tonight shall help—”
        Aly stopped talking and sat up when she heard a rustle in the bush.
        “Where is your pappai?” Aly asked.
        “He resides in the main house, and he figured it would be best for me to check on you since you’ve suffered such terrible production. Truly though, you only heard a field rodent.”
        Aly sighed and stretched before leaning back down onto the ground.
        “So, what travels do we take through the mind today?” Catty asked. Aly was already slipping back into her trance as she studied the stars.
        “What else besides the wonders of the great beyond?” Aly said. “And nothing beyond what will always be? Simple wonders.”
        “Hmm. Truly, Aly, there are times when I wish such a situation as a war was a reality beyond that of the simple slips of loose tongues.”
        “A random outburst indeed,” Aly said as she popped her neck. “Be that as it may, you still speak truly. It would give good reason for us to be off this rock, yes? To know all, to see all, to have all, I take it the alien fools who obtain such a gift are ignorant of what they grasp. Still, such gifts shall probably never be permitted to creatures to the likes of us.”
        “Well, fret not over the thought too gravely. For I am sure others have thought the same, yes?”
        Aly sat up and fiddled with some beads tied around her tents.  As if acting upon instinct to a subconscious form of communication, Catty got up on her knees and started untying the wooden and common looking pebbles decorating Aly’s head.
        “Truly, I make no fuss over such things,” Aly insisted as Catty tugged. “You know such thoughts are ones that have grown dull over the passing of the years during early childhood. Every soul has a proper order and purpose in the world, and this is ours. Being ignorant of others delegations and situations is of little concern to me.”
        “Then I suppose your age begins to show, in regards to this,” Catty said. She came across a bead that was wrapped in a knot, and leaned her head in closer so she could have a better look at it. “I recall when this one had more wonders and excitement out of any other student when we were first taught about other nations in class.” 
        “Nay, yet I still do,” Aly said as she shook her head. Catty yelped when she lost her grip of the knot she had finally managed to loosen, and thumped Aly in the back of the head. “Apologies, Cattalice. Now, as I was to say, I considered myself to have managed wondering without the notion of absolute dread. What we hold in the palm of her hands is a grand deal, as it is. Nay, it is more than a grand deal. A place to call home, families to hail as our own, and the obligations we have to the village? Who should be in want of more?”
        Catty poked the mastra on the head, and Aly extended her hand out to the left so Catty wouldn’t have to place the beads on the ground.
        “Truly, I find this life, when all must be said and done, to be like these beads,” Aly said as she glanced over at the hand that was getting filled with her head accessories. “Perhaps simple and boring compared to others, yet a proud gem that we are blessed to call our own. Since this be the case, perhaps suffering the troubles of a larger world is better in the hands of alien creatures.”
        “Finished,” Catty said as she dropped Aly’s final bead into the mastra’s palm. The spunk tossed the eight thick extensions that were Aly’s tents onto the right side of Aly’s shoulder so she could massage them with her hands.
        “And I cannot agree with you more,” the spunk said as she gently rubbed Aly’s strands of tentacles individually. “Why, I myself would find it quite a shock to see how the others may live. Did you not hear of the Argutain rumor this afternoon?”
        “The hairies? What else could possibly be new of them?”
        Catty stopped massaging Aly’s tents, and she clapped her hands together in delight. Aly spun around and started straightening her tentacles as she tuned in.
        “My pappai was told that they actually eat the inner rectums of rotten beasts as a delicate formal feast of kinds,” Catty whispered, as if trying to keep the secret away from invisible people trying to listen in. “Is that not repulsive?!”
        “Catty, surely that one must be an absolute exaggeration,” Aly said with a disgusted face.
        “One should never be surprise when it comes to the other races, nay?” Catty answered.
        Aly took that to mind as she turned back around, and laid back down. She grabbed one of her two secondary tents that extended right in front of her ears, and fiddled with it as she started humming again. Catty tried to lie beside her friend and enjoy the quietness for several seconds, but it was too much for her. She hopped back up and started picking out some of the weeds nearby.
        “Perhaps you would like to ensure the fields are beyond ready for the morrow, yes?” Catty asked as she picked. “I only say this in suggestion.”
        “Nay, I am well, my thanks. Truly, I am thus satisfied with my night’s numbers.”
        “My, and how easy it is to speak of obligations and not follow through on words,” Catty scuffed. “I have yet to see how you can be so curious yet rebellious all at once, Aly. You are fortunate I am your closest friend yes? Or perhaps you abuse this relationship.”
        “Perhaps you should try tending to the fields for several hours like the rest of us, then,” Aly answered. “This IS your damned property after all. Let us see how great a lazy ass I am then, yes? Besides, as I spoke prior, I only lie about when I made the evening’s goal and beyond.”
        “. . . A thorough point. My apologies.”
        “Nay. My temper still gets the best of me at times. I am at fault,” admitted Aly.
        Catty dropped the issue, placed the weeds she had picked into Aly’s bag so she could head back to the large hut a decent distance away.
        “Mastra,” Aly called out. “As well as things may be here, how do you not ponder over what the rest of the world is like?”
        Catty placed her hands behind her head and smiled.
        “Why worry over other’s troubles when we should tend to our own?” the spunk asked with a smile. “Truly, we should suffer with the notion of thinking over the greater good and not one’s self.”
        “Perhaps,” Aly said as she went back to gazing at the stars. “Be that as it may, I find little harm in toying with such harmless thoughts, yet I suppose I am an odd one of sorts in regards to this, yes?”
        Catty looked up so she could see what was catching her friend’s eye, and shook her head when she didn’t see anything worth looking at. She then went over and looked at how good Aly’s load was in better detail.
        “I can tell my pappai you made goal for the night if you wish,” Catty said as she kicked Aly’s foot.
        “No bother,” Aly answered. “I shall idle here for a few more moments, if you do not mind.”
        “We never do. Be well then, dearest Alytchai.”
        Aly nodded, and went back to her daydreaming. She thought about what Catty said, not pondering over silly things beyond the village. Maybe the spunk was right. Maybe thinking so wildly was selfish and inconsiderate to everyone else. Aly prayed this wasn’t the case. The last thing any Goolian would want to do was think herself better than the rest of the community. All worked.  All learned.  All did this for the whole unit, not the one. This was the Goolian way.
        In spite of it all, however, Aly could not help dreaming, which helped produce the cheerful hum coming from her lips. Thus, the magic in her voice returned once again.

Chapter 2

        The following day was another typical one. Sparring sessions ended an hour ago, so it was already a little ways into the evening. The practice, for the most part, went well. Aly couldn’t do a lot of the runs the other Young Ones like Catty could do since she didn’t know how to use her inner being, but she was used to it since that had always been the case ever since she was little. So, Aly would try her best in everything else to outweigh her flaws. And outweigh them she did, beyond reason to most.
        She was very agile. Her defense could use some improvement, but it was manageable. Aggressiveness, she definitely had, and Young Ones always hated sparring against her. For one, Aly was very tall for her age, even taller than males, so she had a horrible advantage in reach. She wasn’t clumsy in spite of her height either. Aly could flip off the branch of a tree and land on two feet without any trouble.
        Aly was quick, smart, and very adaptable when it came to sparring. Beyond the lack of that one “little setback,” she was good, and all the other Young Ones had to respect her for being so well balanced in everything else. Still, that one “little” flaw still bothered Aly’s pride at times.
        While the Young One was sitting at the front table of the store, she held out her arms. She was supposed to be studying the scrolls in front of her, but she began concentrating on her four-digit hands.  Damned objects, why do you not work? Aly squinted her bright eyes, hoping that might spark the trigger. Nothing. She held her breath and flexed her biceps . . . still nothing.
        The mastra sighed and put her arms back down. Silly me. I could not do it then. Why would I be able to do such a feat now?  Defeated once again, she went back to studying the scrolls.
        “You are fine the way Truth’s Grace made you to be,” Shanvi said without ever turning around as he took out a fresh roll of cooked wheat from the oven.
        “Truly I am,” Aly said, acting like she didn’t just try to do something she knew she couldn’t do.
        The young Goolian read down and up several scrolls before she eventually lost her concentration again. It was the window that got her distracted this time. As orange and red as the sky was, as lively as the Little Ones could be while practicing danker ball in the streets, Aly sat at the table, inside, bored out of her wits. Nay. Need to concentrate. These notes are of importance.
        Aly tried her best to study the notes she had taken throughout the entire year. After spending hours and hours into her leavened class book, she eventually had enough, and rolled the scrolls back together with both hands.
        “You have yet to finish,” Shanvi said as he continued to wipe off his counters. “The second sun still sets.”
        Aly banged her head onto the table for a quick second, hoping she’d get some sort of inconceivable mercy from her inconceivable parent. She had gone on with studying for what was probably seven straight hours.
        “Three hours and forty-seven minutes,” Shanvi corrected as he looked at the second sun in the sky.
         It was annoying when he did that, carrying a conversation with the thoughts she would never say. Shanvi pulled down the sides of his old blue vest-like top so it could cover the front of his large belly before he went on with his work.
        “Sigh, permission to speak, Pappai?” she asked.
        “You may.”
        “May I not at least take a break, for Truth‘s Grace?”
        “Truth only offers its Grace when necessary, and the pages in the Philosophy never carried such pages for the sympathies of studying, only the rewards,” Shanvi insisted. “There are thirty and eight hours in a day. You spent ten and five at school, a mere five in the sparring grounds, and the rest here. Surely, it will not kill you to use several hours performing something productive, yes? I along with every other Mature Aged had to take higher ed when we were of your ages and—”
        Truly, and you had to memorize more because you did not have note scrolls as grand as ours. Aly heard this blabbering so many times before, so she grumbled under her breath so she wouldn’t have to hear it. He didn’t even bother considering the time she had to work the fields. Sure, she was at home, but her time was still being given to someone else.
        The Young One groaned. Her body ached because she pulled a muscle in her thigh after she kicked someone in the jaw that afternoon, her knuckles were sore from punching a green oak wood tree, and the soles of her feet were still tingling from walking on rocks during the afternoon.
        The mastra looked down at her hands. Her knuckles were a little darker compared to the rest of her skin. She dug them into the soft fabric of her robe; hoping massaging them would ease the kinks a little. Still, she knew there wasn’t a point in voicing this either. Like Catty said, it was all for the better good. Besides, it was a sign of good “workmanship.”
        “If you are to complain at the dawn of beginnings, do not expect to overcome any feats in the future,” Shanvi eventually added.
        “Very good, Pappai.”
        Aly immediately stuck her nose back into the scroll. No, she would never talk back to her pappai, or any other elder Goolian for that matter. Keep the tongue behind the lips unless spoken to, and be polite when speaking to an elder, this was the rule for everyone.
        Fortunately for her, Aly wasn’t as quick with the lip with the elders like she was with friends. Besides, grownups were beyond her reasoning. Creatures being as old as two hundred were on their own level of life. They saw the world with different eyes, different wisdom, a different power. They were intimidating and boring in one confusing spectacle. Mature Ages also spoke an entirely different language from Aly and the rest of the youth. They spoke ahead of themselves, and always had to speak with proverbs.
        Overcoming feats in the future, indeed. This didn’t matter to the ticking time bomb that was Aly. She just wanted this horror of studying, to end. If anything, a nice little song could help lift up her spirits.
        There were always a handful of Goolian beings visiting the store, buying Shanvi’s goods, and enjoying the live show Aly gave when she sung. Truth be told, most came only for the Young One’s voice and nothing more, but Shanvi had no trouble with this as long as the crowd knew when it was time for his Young One to do her homework.
        Both suns eventually went down behind the nearby mountains, and the first stars were out before Master Shanvi had even finished his last batch of wheat. He patted off the cinnamon-like spice from his hands onto his old gray leggings, and made his way over to the bags below the counter. He made extra, knowing the crowds were probably going to be larger tomorrow since everyone stayed home today.
        Aly was fiddling with her toes underneath the table, anticipating a particular star to come out. When it finally showed up outside her window, the Young One stood up from the table and popped her back several times. After taking a long stretch, she went over to help Shanvi place the goods into the proper sized bags.
        After they had finished, Aly went to the back to wash some heavy black pots. She only managed to finish one pan before her ears picked up the sound of someone walking up to their portal. The door screeched seconds later when a Goolian entered the store. The Young One couldn’t make the figure out clearly. Her eyes were still too young for clear infrared, so she tried to lean towards the right so she could look out the portal. She only managed to catch a glance of his robe. The cleanliness of the deep saturated blue and fine patterns on the robe indicated he was probably their lord.
        “Ah, Master Quongun. A pleasure to see you,” Master Shanvi said with a smile.
        Aly guessed right. Of course it was Master Quongun. Even though she couldn’t clearly make out the figure, she should’ve known by at least his slenderness and healthy height. Maybe the absence of Catty’s mother, Cattalice the Elder, gripping his arm was what made his identification difficult. She did, however, notice he was carrying some sort of bag with him.
        “And it pleases me to see you are well, Teacher,” the gentle-voiced Quongun replied. “Yet I hope I did not interrupt Aly from her studying, nay?”
        “Truly, perfect timing, actually,” Shanvi answered while shaking his head. “She finished but a few moments ago. Now, I beg, sit. Was your day well?”
        “Truth be told, Master, I fear I have some—”
        Two pots crashed onto the floor in the back room when they fell out of the sink. Aly was trying to ease drop on the conversation, and forgot to turn the water off. The mastra fumbled with the faucet and pots before they eventually slipped out of her hands, bumped into an already clean pile, and sent everything tumbling onto the floor.
        “Pache,” she swore. The Young One immediately covered her mouth, hoping the elders didn’t hear her loose tongue. . . Too late.
        “Young Ones,” Shanvi groaned. “They have yet to control those ears, nor that purple tongue. My apologies, Quongun. Perhaps we forgot that little part in raising her.”
        “Nothing of it, Teacher,” Quongun replied with an assuring smile. “Cattalice and I literally have to send Little Catty across the street whenever we have guests. Such nosy creatures they are, yes?”
        The two laughed, but Aly blushed. Quongun turned around and called the Young One over, and Aly slid one foot in front of the other into the dining area. She kept her head down, fiddled with her fingers, and felt more blood rushing to her face.
        “Truly, I beg forgiveness for carelessly eavesdropping onto your conversation, Pappai,” she inclined. “. . . And for the haughty mouth.”
        “Oh, no worries, Little One,” Quongun spoke before Shanvi could. “We were your age at one time as well, yes, Master Shanvi?”
        “Truly,” Shanvi said as he thought for a moment. “Yet it is growing difficult to remember what such an age was like. That was near . . . ninety-seven years ago for me, yes?”
       “A mere sixty-four for me,” said Quongun. “Yet, let me not burden your time any longer. For it is getting late, and I have my own family to tend to.  Plus, I would think it be best that Alytchai be here for this matter in any case as well, Master.”
            Aly looked at Shanvi. Shanvi looked at Aly.
            “Truly, what business would require her of this audience? Her productivity in the fields is not troubling, nay?”
            “Nay, Master. Rest assured, this one is still of the best at work. Be that as it may, I would request that she remain.”
        “Well, then let it be. Come and sit, Aly,” Shanvi ordered. 
        The Young One nodded, and took a seat by her pappai. Quongun picked up the large bag he carried with him into the store and placed it onto the table. He reached inside and pulled out a fine yellow leavened “paper” with a red waxed symbol on the cover. He handed it to Shanvi, who then inspected the construction of the envelope. It was made out of the finest leaf he’d ever felt. He flipped it over to inspect the seal. Aly looked over her pappai’s shoulder to get a look and gasped when she caught a glimpse of the crest.
        Shanvi knew the crest as well. Silky, pressed weeds were finely placed in the middle with two oak-like leaves attached near the upper right. This envelope had to come from their capital. It was a letter, and the lettering traveled back to that of Old Goolian Times. Aly had difficulty reading it since the symbols were meant for proper business affairs, and she hadn’t studied that type of calligraphy yet. She decided to read her pappai’s expression instead. The glares the old gloat made while he read the fine papyrus didn’t look promising.
        After several moments of silence passed, Shanvi eventually looked up at Aly, who continued to stare at the letter. She was already frustrated by this time and renounced on reading it because of the difficulty, but she figured she could at least admire the marksmanship. She looked up when she felt Shanvi looking at her, and she didn’t like how the hard edges pressing around the corners of his eyes looked on him.
        Shanvi, still silent, folded up the scroll before he placed it back into its yellow compartment, and set it onto the counter. Master Quongun remained silent, figuring it’d be Master Shanvi’s right as parent to explain the situation. Aly grabbed a tent and twirled it around her finger so she wouldn’t look so nervous.
        Shanvi folded his hands together so his Young One couldn’t see them quiver, but he eventually had to rub them together since they were sweating. He looked over to Master Quongun, who only frowned and nodded his head. This is not real, Shanvi thought. Truly, this cannot be real.
        “We-these rumors,” Shanvi tried not to stutter.
        Aly raised a brow. What rumors? Truly, there were about a hundred in town this week. She wanted to ask Shanvi to be more specific, but something in her gut told her she didn’t want to know. Whatever it was, she didn’t want to know.
        Shanvi tried to finish his words, but he cut himself off. He looked at the table, and folded his hands in the form of a prayer. Now Aly was scared.
        “Teacher,” Quongun said, “Would you like me to—”
        “The Galactic Order is at arms,” Shanvi blurted out.
        The words didn’t sink into Aly’s head properly, so her eyes widened gradually as each syllable formed a sentence in her head. She knew the old gloat didn’t just confirm the silly rumors as being true, so she couldn’t help but giggle. When Shanvi and Quongun didn’t laugh back, Aly stopped smiling. She tilted her head, and placed an elbow onto the table.
        “With who?” she asked.
        “. . . Cyiaus. The— the Cyogen have returned.”
        Aly jolted and inhaled slowly. Shanvi had to place a hand on her thigh when she didn’t realize that she was tapping the floor relentlessly. Shanvi put on what Aly knew to be a fake smile, and the mastra shook her head.
        “P-pardon?” Aly stuttered. “Yet- yet I thought. . .” Aly's body went numb. Shanvi grabbed her hand and rubbed it when he noticed it started to shake. “Apologies. This is so sudden, yes? I-I thought the planet was supposed to be lost.”
        “Truly, it was the original thought, Little One,” Quongun said. “I fear it was apparently an inaccurate one.”
        Instincts made Aly squeeze Shanvi’s hand that was still resting over hers. She jolted again when he squeezed back.
        “Uh, so, they are not to arrive here since that notion of the rumor be true, nay?” Aly asked.
        Shanvi looked down at the floor, and moved his hand away from Aly’s. He leaned back in his seat, and twiddled one finger over the other.
        “It seems we shall be saving them the trouble,” he said. “The Order has indeed formed an alliance, thus they have requested our aid. We shall meet them on Planet Argutas.”
        “We? You mean by the planet, yes?” she asked.
        “If I may,” Quongun cut in, “You and your pappai must prepare leave for the Capital, dearest. Kutenbrya has been drafted.”
        Aly shot out of her chair, and the masters did the same. She backed up against the bar counter, and almost fell over one of the stools. Shanvi ran over and helped his Little One sit down as Quongun helped himself over to the sink, and got a bowl of water. He handed it to Aly, whose hands had to clutch into fist so they wouldn’t tremble as violently.
        “Drink,” Shanvi said as he took the bowl from Quongun’s hand, and held it up to Aly’s lips.

        Aly frantically shook her pale face, so she didn’t start sipping until Shanvi pressed the bowl onto her mouth.
        “It is well, Alytchai. It is well,” Shanvi kept saying as he rubbed her back.
        “Apologies,” Quongun said to Shanvi as he stroked one of Aly’s tents. “I was not expecting—”
        “The telling of troubling news remains troubling news, no matter how one is to give it, lad,” Shanvi insisted. “Truly, an apology is unnecessary.”
        Aly took the bowl into her own hands after she was able to calm down a little, and sipped slowly.
        “You are well, yes?” Shanvi asked. Aly slowly nodded as she set the bowl onto the counter.
        The three didn't say anything for several moments until Quongun eventually smiled and placed a hand on Aly's shoulder.
        “Fret not,” he said. “There is a village of other households dealing with this heavy burden as well. Speaking of such, I must make my visit short. I am to return home and discuss matters with my own family.”
        Quongun grabbed his bag, and went towards the portal.
       “Truly, how I wish I could have brighter news to give, if the least, stay longer and offer grander details,” he admitted. “And yet the letter fails to mention such useful information as to how the Cyogen even returned.”
        “Nonsense, lad,” Shanvi insisted as he walked over to Quongun. “All shall be revealed in just time, and fret not over your early departure. Truly, you have your own family to meet as well. You honor us by seeking to inform the rest before your own, which is the proper way of things.”
        “My thanks, yet I must give some credit to the village’s former sparring trainer for a proper upbringing,” Quongun said with a bow. “Be that as it may, if I hear of anything new, I shall return to you and the rest as soon as possible.”
        “Very good. Be well then.”
        Quongun took a quick look at Aly before he slid the portal door behind him. Shanvi stood still for a moment, but eventually sat back down beside his Young One. Aly looked like the war had already been lost, and she and her pappai had died months ago. Shanvi placed his hard hand against one of Aly’s ten blue tentacles and stroked it. She could smell the roasted sweets in his “beard” when he kissed her forehead. His kiss always made her feel so shielded, so armed, so protected, until now. 
        “All will be well,” Shanvi said again. “Alytchai, you do hear me, yes?”
        “Catty and I spoke of how we wished such an issue as a war was true the prior day,” the Young One said as she shook her head. “Truly, what fools we be.”
            Aly sat quietly while she tried to come to grips with the sudden epiphany. Shanvi studied Aly’s face, and saw just how much of a child she still was, still decades away from being even a Grown One let alone of Mature Age. Her face still had a little “baby fat” in it, but Shanvi shook his head and cancelled his fears.
        “Hah! Nay. I should not trouble myself,” he said out loud. “And neither should you worry as well, Little One. You have your mammai’s spirit. As stubborn as she was, she was always ready to take on the worlds if she had to. Such is why I can assure you all will be well. Never change, and we shall both be fine for the better. Let us keep the faith of Truth’s Grace, and it shall continue to smile on us even in a time such as this, yes?”
        Aly smiled and Shanvi kissed her forehead again.
        “Your nerves bring you chill, dearest,” he said as he pulled away. “I beg, we will think nothing more of this ‘til morning. Our world continues to turn, and the first sun will bring in a new day. Thus, I suggest you be off to bed, and try to rest your troubled mind. Regardless of the circumstances, I fear that you still have those exams in the morrow, yes?”
        Aly banged her head onto the counter and groaned.

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