Princess Bones: Part Two
Rina rushed into her history class the next day, letting out a huge sigh of relief when she saw that her teacher wasn’t there yet.
The green Zafara plopped herself in her desk, dropping her school bag on the floor and taking large gulps of air. Maybe I should join the track team...
“Hey, Rina, are you alright?” asked Layla, a Starry Ixi seated to her left. “Were you up all night again painting?”
“No, I had the worst nightmare,” Rina breathed, her blue eyes closing. “It kept me up all night. There were like these two shadow things chasing me, and then as I was running—”
“Good morning, class!” a chipper male voice greeted from the front of the room.
Rina turned away from her friend and frowned. Standing behind the teacher’s desk was a green Draik dressed in a smart vest and carrying a briefcase. He grinned kindly at the small class, and everyone stared back at him in confused silence.
“Where’s Mr. Simons?” a Strawberry Kacheek finally asked from the back of the room. “Are you a sub?”
The Draik laughed. “No, no,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m guessing you probably did not know this, but history this year is a dual class, split up between Meridellian and Brightvalian history. Mr. Simons teaches Meridellian History, while I teach Brightvalian. He and I will alternate every week for the rest of the year to make sure you all are well-versed in both cultures before the final.”
Rina sat up a bit straighter, rubbing the sleepiness from her eyes. The new teacher was a much more welcome sight than Mr. Simons, a crusty old Grarrl who droned on for hours and sucked out all the excitement from even the most interesting topics.
“Alright then, my name is Mr. Milleran,” the green Draik introduced with a slight bow of his head. He carried himself strangely, almost regally, yet at the same time very casually. He grabbed a brand new piece of chalk out of a small carton on his desk and wrote his name on the board in elegant script. “Now, I know we’re supposed to start the year off with the more ancient times and work towards modern, but I’ve decided to make an exception because of a very important event coming up in Brightvale in a few days.”
“The coronation of Princess Saya?” someone called out.
“Yes, yes.” Mr. Milleran nodded. “It’s nice to see students keeping up with current events. As you all know, the young daughter of King Hagan is going to be recognized as the future heir to the Brightvalian throne in two days time. This means grand celebrations with lots of food, people, and culture. Which brings me to your first homework assignment!”
The entire class groaned, but Mr. Milleran merely smiled. “Oh come on,” he said, his green eyes bright. “I promise you that you’ll like this. All you have to do is research some aspect of Brightvalian culture and turn it in to me in any form you want. You can write a paper, or prepare some sort of food for the class to eat, or make a poster board... It’s really quite simple.”
“When’s it due?” Rina asked.
“A week from today,” the Draik said, “but I think that’s ample time. Besides, with all of the excitement going on right now, I’m sure you’ll all get some good ideas. Now, everyone, please pull out your textbook and turn to page 18.”
The rest of the class went by rather quickly, much to Rina’s surprise. Even though they were mostly reading from their book, a dry piece of text that had been written almost a hundred years ago, Mr. Milleran was able to spice things up and keep the entire class interested. When the bell finally rang, everyone jumped as they were pulled out of the lesson. Mr. Milleran laughed.
“Ok, everyone. Class is over. See you all tomorrow... and don’t forget about the assignment!”
Everyone filed out quickly, hoping to get some time to mill about in the halls and chat with friends before their next class, but as Rina got up from her chair, she heard the sound of fabric tearing. The next thing she knew, her book bag had split open and all of her notebooks, pens, and papers were all over the floor.
“Dung,” she cursed, bending over to pick up her things. She scrambled for her pens for a few moments before she noticed Mr. Milleran at her side helping her.
“They just don’t make backpacks like they used to,” he joked, gathering her notebooks for her. “Here you are.”
“Thanks.” Rina nodded, blushing a bit from embarrassment as she attempted to cradle all of her stuff in her arms. However, it was a hopeless task. There were simply too many things.
The teacher reached for her fabric book bag and examined the hole. “I can patch this up for you,” he offered. “It’ll only take a minute... I keep some sewing supplies in my desk for cases like these.”
Rina stared at him. “You sew?”
Now it was the Green Draik’s turn to blush. “My mother told me it would come in handy.”
Rina nodded slowly, placing her pile of school supplies on her desk. “Alright then. Thanks, Mr. Milleran.”
“Call me Mr. M,” he waved dismissively, taking her bag and rummaging through his desk for a needle and thread. “Now I have to warn you,” he said, glancing up at her, “that I’m not the greatest sewer in Neopia, so this may come out horribly deformed. But it should hold up for the day at least.”
“That’s fine,” the green Zafara said.
“Ok.” Mr. M started his sewing, weaving the thread through the flaps of fabric. He hadn’t been lying: he really wasn’t a wonderful tailor. But it wasn’t too bad. However, just as he was finishing the last few stitches, he gasped.
“Agh, pricked myself,” he explained, reaching for a tissue to staunch the small bit of blood. He looked up at her, suddenly concerned. “You’re not squeamish, are you?”
“No, no,” Rina said with a laugh. “I go to the doctor once a month to get this scar of mine checked out.” She pointed to the raised white line on her collarbone. “I’m used to it.”
“Ooh, that’s an interesting scar,” the Draik remarked. “And quite funny actually.”
Rina frowned. “Funny?”
Mr. Milleran shook his head. “Not that type of funny. It’s just that Princess Saya has a very similar scar to you on her collarbone. I was one of her tutors at the palace a few years back,” he explained with a hint of pride in her voice. “However, the day she got it was quite scary. You see, she was in an Eyrie cab accident—”
“Eyrie cab? Really?” Rina asked, her blue eyes furrowing. “That really is funny. I was in an Eyrie cab accident too... that’s how I got this. But it was a while back. Like five years ago.”
“Five years?” This seemed to have caught Mr. M’s attention. He stood up from his seat, tossed the tissue in the garbage, and frowned. “That was when the Princess was in her accident, too. It was during the worst storm of the year, and they were traveling just above Peak and Mote.”
Rina felt her stomach flip, and her mouth went dry. “That’s what happened to me too. I mean, I don’t remember the day that well, but my mom always told me that’s where it happened. On Peak and Mote in the middle of a really bad downpour...”
Mr. Milleran stared at her for a moment, his eyes taking in the green Zafara and the light scar. Finally he shook his head and laughed. “Well I’ll be. Rina, I’d bet my briefcase you were in the same accident as the Princess. What a small world.”
“The Princess?” Rina repeated, feeling her stomach sink. “Oh Fyora.” Suddenly she felt incredibly guilty. It had happened so long ago, and yet she couldn’t help wonder what would have happened had things gone worse, if she had been the one who had left the Brightvalian Kingdom without their little princess.
The teacher caught her expression and shook his head. “Rina, don’t go blaming yourself. The accident happened years ago and everyone is fine, including you and Princess Saya. Your doctor did a nice job of patching you guys up.”
She sighed. “I guess you’re right. And Dr. Renwick did get us both back on our fee—”
“Wait a minute,” the green Draik interrupted, raising a single claw. His gaze was suddenly intense. “Who is your doctor?”
“Dr. Renwick,” Rina repeated, slightly confused. She reached for her mended bag, but the Draik held it away from her.
“Is he a tall Desert Ruki? Amber colored eyes? With a degree from the LD School of Medicine?”
The green Zafara frowned. “Yeah, that’s him. Do you know him?”
Mr. M nodded, but he seemed agitated now. He put her bag down and strummed his claw on his desk, the cogs in his head whirring. Finally he said, “He was the Royal Physician back when Princess Saya was just a child. However, about a year before the accident, King Hagan told Dr. Renwick that he was no longer needed. The King thought it was wisest to alternate doctors, and tutors, and other palace positions so that there could be diversity among the staff. The same happened with me a few years ago.” He stared into Rina’s eyes, a shadow over his face. “It was a common thing with the King, but Dr. Renwick was furious. He got into a huge shouting match with Hagan before storming out of the castle in a rage.”
Rina shivered. His words were so ominous, and yet they struck a familiar chord. “There was a certificate,” she said slowly, thinking back to her doctor’s visit the other day. “It said something about Brightvale on it, and Dr. Renwick stepped in front of it... I don’t think he wanted me to see it.”
Mr. M shifted uncomfortably, glancing at her scar again as if it was about to come to life and attack him. “Rina, have you ever heard of the Law of Bones?”
She shook her head.
“Well, it’s an ancient Brightvalian law,” the green Draik continued. “If ye have the royal bone, ye can claim heir to the throne. It’s a law that ensures that only a royal descendant can become the ruler of Brightvale... But I’m thinking that Dr. Renwick took it a bit more literally.”
The green Zafara was utterly confused. “What do you mean?”
Mr. Milleran took a deep breath and then looked into her eyes. “I think that on the night of your crash, Dr. Renwick took a small piece of Princess Saya’s bone and put it inside of you. Beneath that scar, to be more exact.”
Rina reached up to her collar, feeling the raised line of bone. Suddenly, the small bump felt like an alien being resting beneath her skin. She had always assumed it was because her bones had knit back together wrong, but her teacher’s words suddenly started making sense. “But... why?” she asked dumbfounded. “Why would he do that?”
“Because you’re not of age yet,” Mr. Milleran said bitterly. “And so he can use you to get back at the King for laying him off... by claiming the right to be heir to the Brightvalian throne.”
To be continued...