Sometimes teens have tantrums, Ethan gets to have one.
| Ethan looked around the luxurious room. His eyes grew until they resembled silver discuses. Brightly colored frescoes were on the wall. Furniture trimmed in gold thread sat near the fireplace. At the foot of the bed stood Ms. Reynard, a bright smile on her face, and parasol in hand.
"Impossible. I escaped into Dipper Haven. How?" Ethan asked. "I know I didn't fall asleep here."
Ms. Reynard giggled and sat on the edge of the bed. She smoothed the blanket out with a lace-covered hand. "You were the victim of a Kettle Trap. Don't ask about the name."
"Could you not sit on the edge of the bed. It's creeping me out, and what is a kettle trap?" Ethan said, backing up against the headboard. He could feel Ms. reynards eyes on him. The experience was uncomfortable. Back home, his mom barely came to his room and always stood outside the door.
"A kettle trap is designed to capture fugitives. A rune activated the moment you closed the door. It alerted the authorities and released a sleeping agent in the air." She sighed, "Ethan, are you scared of me. If you push against the headboard any harder you'll break it."
"I'm not scared. I feel there isn't enough space between me and your horrid perfume. It smells like a retirement home." Ethan said with a mace-like bluntness.
Lace gloves pressed against Ms. Reynard's slender hips, and she scoffed. "I will have you know this is my late husband's favorite scent."
Silence entered the room and stayed for thirty seconds before the teen threw out another zinger. "Did your perfume kill him?" Ethan asked.
Ms. Reynard tensed up and glared at him. "I will have you know he bought it for me himself. Its called Classic Woman, by Vivia Tremaine." She said indignantly.
"Classic is just another way of saying old," Ethan said. "And stop looking at me like that." Ethan couldn't decide what was worse, the complete invasion of his privacy, or the soft looks coming from Ms. Reynard.
Tears Glistened on the corners of Ms. Reynard's baby blues. She pulled a hanky from the lacey drawstring bag. "You are a horrible child. My Francis would never have..." she covered her mouth in shock. "Ethan...I," Ms. Reynard started to say.
"Who is Francis?" Ethan had no empathy for the woman in tears. He rose from the bed and felt the silk slide over his skin. It wasn't unpleasant, but he missed the faded blue jeans and Captain Canuck T-shirt. "Where are my clothes?" His eyes darted around the room, "Where is my backpack?" he demanded.
"Aren't you going to console me?" Ms. Reynard asked between sobs. She looked like the world's prettiest basset hound. She blew into the hanky, and it sounded like a goose with a broken neck.
"Ms. Reynard, you have my gratitude for saving me from a fate worse than death, but you bought me. You can pretend you did a good thing, but the fact remains you came to Mr. Yashins to buy another human being. I can't condone that." Ethan's voice was calm and even. He looked around for his backpack while Ms. Reynard dried her eyes.
She rose from the bed and sighed. The hanky returned to her drawstring bag. "It's in my study. Now lets get you dressed. I had Mr. Nottle pick you up some nice brocade doublets, knickers, and trunk hose. You will.." She sauntered up to the armoire and held up a doublet.
The rules of the schoolyard were still fresh in Ethan's mind. He laughed and said, "Should I kick my ass now, or put the clothes on have you do it. I want my jeans and a T-shirt."
Ms. Reynard stood like a mother with one hand on her hip, followed by a parental finger wag. She looked mad on, but her eyes said she was enjoying every moment. "You are not on Earth anymore. I will not have my charge dressed like some common child."
"Wow, I am your charge? I am not some doll you can dress up and play house with." he needed to get away from this crazy woman. Ethan ran to the door, only to find it locked. "The hard way it is."
"I have the key. Cooperate, and we will get your precious backpack." Ms. Reynard said in a firm tone. She held the brocade doublet up.
"I don't need a key." He walked over to a suit of armor and put the heavy iron gauntlets over his hands. He gave himself some running room.
"You wouldn't." Ms. Reynard said. Her mouth dropped to the floor like a cartoon character, and she moved for the door.
"Have you met me?" Ethan said. He rushed the door. His fist drew back behind his head and slammed a gauntlet into the heavy oak door dead center. A loud crack echoed, and Ms. Reynard's hands flew to her face in shock. The door split in two and landed in the hall.
A pair of guards grabbed him by his arms. Their chainmail clinked as they moved. Ethan looked up at them. "You have three seconds to let me go, or I will get serious."
The largest of the two scoffed while the other tightened his grip. "We are seasoned veterans, and you are a child."
Ethan conceded their point. He reached for the energy. "Have you boys ever rode the lightning?" he asked.
The larger of the two guards looked confused and said, "What?"
Tiny bolts of electricity danced down Ethan's arms. "Too bad you're wearing chainmail, this is going to hurt, a lot." The charge hit the gauntlets, and all he had to do was touch his captors.
The conflict was interrupted by Ms. Reynard, who raced into the hall, gown trailing behind her like a ghost. The parasol raised and pointed at the guards. "Release him at once and return to your posts at the door."
In unison, the guards released him and saluted their mistress. "Yes, my lady," they said. They marched down the hall, and the sound of boots on stone faded into nothingness.
Ms. Reynard rounded on Ethan. A hand covered in lace connected with Ethan's cheek. His head turned to the side and snapped back to its original position. The noblewoman had a hand over her mouth and was on the verge of tears.
"It wasn't supposed to be this way. You and I were supposed to bond, and my life would feel complete again. You're ruining everything," She wailed.
It was unfortunate Ms. Reynard's comment shot Ethan's memory to the hospital and his final confrontation with his mother. "Yet again, I am used by an adult to fix a problem. We have nothing further to discuss." His voice carried an artic circle chill.
He started to walk away when he felt Ms. Reynard's hand on his boney shoulder. "Don't leave...I can help you."
Ethan stopped and turned he leveled his silver eyes on the pathetic noblewoman. A small part of him was desperate for her acceptance and love. His angry side served it a fresh cup of shut the hell up. "Give me one good reason to stay."
Ms. Reynard honked again. "I need to show you something. Give me twenty minutes. If you aren't happy, I will let you leave." She held out a lace-covered hand.
Ethan stared at her. "I believe you. Lets get this show on the road."
They walked through the halls of the mansion. Each one offered something new to look at or provoked thought. They stopped by a weapons display. Most of the items were forgettable, except for two.
The first was a long chain with two brass weights on either end. The placard said, "Meteor Hammer." His eyes moved to the weapons labeled Lafecheux pistol blades. He had seen gunblades in videogames, but never up close and personal.
"I have a question. Your society is like the Rennaisance, but you have guns in this case, why?"
Ms. Reynard stood next to him and stared at the display. "Remember when I said Rathmore was enchanted?"
"The nature of this place doesn't allow technology to advance unless magic had a hand in making it. Technology from your world malfunctions, cell phones drive their owners mad, cars become metallic horrors that stalk people, and guns often kill their users before they can fire a shot."
"How does that affect change?" For the first time, Ethan got interested in the conversation.
Ms. Reynard sat in a velvet chair next to a door, "Many believe magic is a discipline like science, but it's not. Magic is a force like gravity. Spellcraft takes years to master, years longer to advance technology a single inch."
"What about music players?" Ethan asked. He was okay with losing his phone and the gun, his music, not so much.
Ms. Reynard shrugged, "It would malfunction like everything else. I haven't seen one before." She motioned Ethan to follow her. "We have gone over the agreed twenty minutes," She said in a small voice.
Ethan stared at her hopeful eyes. She had kept her promise. "I will uphold my end of the bargain. I spent too much time looking at everything," he said in a husky tone.
Ms. Reynard looked grateful for a half-second before she took the lead in a dignified manner. "Let's not dawdle."
Ms. Reynard's study had the musty smell of the library on it. Ethan took a deep breath and examined a few books. "The ecology of Mishipetsu," and "The Piasa bird," and "The book of invasions."
Ms. Reynard watched him the way a mother does her child. Ethan conceded this was part of his problem with her. Some families were like willows, connected at the roots, and clumped together. Ethan's family were like desert ironwood trees solitary and just in sight of each other. Ms. Reynard's affections were like a dozen willow seeds growing at the base of the ironwood, overwhelming it.
"Is there something wrong, Ethan?" She asked. Her eyes were alight with concern. She went to embrace him but put her hands up and sat behind the desk in the corner.
Ethan sat in the chair across from the desk. "I was thinking about my old life. I used to crave the attention of my parents. Here you are desperate to connect with me, and I'm shutting you out."
A soft and gentle hand touched his bare skin. "How about we start at friends? Everyone could use a friend, right?"
Ethan appreciated her gesture. He never had a friend before, adult or otherwise. "How about we start as uneasy allies. I am not ready to put faith in any adult yet."
There was no hesitation on Ms. Reynard's side of thing's she squealed girlishly and clapped her hands. "I will take it."
Ethan could see a million slights and insults in her behavior but chose to take the high road for once. "Anyway, what did you have to show me?"
She took a deep breath, and the sound of wood scraping on wood came from the other side of the desk. Her hand clutched a small oil painting. "First, in the interest of full disclosure, you need to see this."
She faced the painting towards him. Hair aside, the boy in the picture looked like him. "Is this your son?" Ms. Reynard nodded in sadness. The hanky made another appearance, and she dabbed her eyes. "What happened?" he asked after a few minutes.
"Francis was a kind and gentle young man, soft-spoken and sensitive, but he hated it. He wanted to be a knight or a warrior, but he lacked the raw materials, as Captain Sawyer would say." Ms. Reynard said. Her voice trembled, and her lip quivered on every word.
"Do you think I am like him?"
Ms. Reynard laughed and nervously played with her fan. "You are confident and unafraid to try yourself. I remember the day Francis stepped on a grasshopper. He felt awful. He came to me in tears and demanded we have a funeral for it. The whole staff came out to see the poor insect off."
Ethan started a mental list of differences between him and Francis. He wasn't sure why. "How did he die?"
"Crime is a problem in Rathmore city. He was desperate to prove he had what it took to help the city watch. Francis would go into the crime-ridden areas and fill out reports on who was doing what, and when."
"Admirable, how obvious was he?" Ethan couldn't leave the question alone.
"The syndicate leaders grew tired of the cease. There was a substantial bounty on his head near the end. His fencing teacher, Erasmus Ragland, did the deed. I killed him in a burst of rage and swore vengeance on my son's killers." The hanky dabbed her soft blue eyes, and she sniffled.
"I can respect that. So, where do I come in?"
The sound of wood on wood filled the air again. A leather dossier with Silver lettering stamped on it said, "Project Silverbolt." Ms. Reynard pushed it across the desk, "Are you in or out?"