Princess Bones: Part Three
Rina stared at Mr. Milleran as if he had sprouted an extra head. What he had said had to be impossible... and yet it made perfect sense.
The green Zafara rubbed her scar self-consciously, feeling the raise in the bone—bone that wasn’t hers, but a piece of Princess Saya, planted there by Dr. Renwick.
Suddenly her life had gotten a lot more complicated.
“Rina,” Mr. Milleran said sternly, looking at her with hard eyes. They were still in his classroom, standing around his large desk despite the fact that the bell for second period had already rung. “Rina, did Renwick make any plans to come visit you at all in the next few days? Any at all?”
“Yes, he did,” she answered a tad nervously. “He wants to go over some test results with me and my mom after school today.”
“Today?” the green Draik repeated, cursing under his breath. “No, no, no!”
Rina stared at her teacher. He seemed agitated, even more than she was. He fiddled with her newly-repaired backpack, his green eyes focused on his desk as if all the answers were engraved in the wood. Finally...
“We have to leave. Now.”
“Wait, what?” Rina asked as Mr. M thrust her empty bag at her. “Leave? To where? Why?”
“Rina, Dr. Renwick must have been planning this for a long time,” he said evenly, his eyes now latched on her. “Every doctor visit has merely been a ruse leading up to this. I’d bet my job that when he shows up to your house today, he’ll say you have some urgent medical issue that needs to be seen to in Brightvale. Then he’ll whisk you away in a matter of minutes, have your mom sign you over to him, and before you know it, you’ll be his puppet to the throne. And the only way we can stop that is if we can leave before he does. Now fill up your school bag. Quickly.”
The green Zafara’s head was spinning. Everything seemed to have gotten so out of control so fast. But Mr. M made sense. And she’d be a total fool to deny it. So, with sudden gusto, she began refilling her backpack.
Mr. Milleran meanwhile snapped open his suitcase and fumbled through his desk drawers for some spare neopoints and paper. “We have to leave for Brightvale right away if we want to get a head start on him—”
“Brightvale?” Rina shouted, pausing in her packing. “Why there? We’re just going to run straight into him! Why not Meridell? Or Roo Island—”
“Two reasons,” Mr. M said, his voice sounding rushed despite his attempt at calm. “One is that Renwick isn’t dumb—his degree from LD is proof of that. Once he realizes that you’re missing, Meridell and Roo Island are the first two places he’ll check. Brightvale, on the other hand, won’t even cross his mind until it’s too late. And secondly, I was a former employee of King Hagan. If need be, I’ll be able to gain an audience with him and warn him about any tricks Renwick might pull.” The Draik suddenly straightened up, shutting his briefcase and swinging it off his desk. “Alright. Ready, Rina?”
“Yeah,” she answered, brushing aside her hair as she slung her bag over her shoulder. “Wait!” she suddenly hissed, her eyes widening. “My mom. I can’t just leave town without her knowing! She’ll have a fit!”
“Not to worry, not to worry!” the Draik whispered quickly, waving a sheet of paper in his claw. “I’ve got it all covered. In fact, we’re gonna pay a visit to your dear old mother right now and tell her the good news.”
“Good news?” Rina asked, completely confused.
“Yes,” Mr. M said with a sly wink, and with that, he rushed out of the classroom.
“Rina? What are you doing home so early? And who is this with you?”
The Faerie Zafara’s eyes flickered between her daughter and the Draik beside her on her front porch, her brain failing to comprehend what was going on.
“Let me introduce myself,” the green Draik said with a bit of a bow. “My name is Lyle Milleran. I’m Rina’s Brightvalian History teacher.”
Rina’s mother felt her stomach sink. “Please tell me she’s not in trouble. Did she fall asleep in class again? I’ve told her over and over again that she shouldn’t be staying up so late drawing, but sometimes it’s hard to get that through that thick skull of hers—”
“No, no, no,” Mr. Milleran said with a bit of a chuckle, although his eyes seemed a tad distant. “Actually, I’m here to tell you that your daughter is quite the history student.”
“Really?” her mom asked. Her pink eyes were a bit skeptical, but the note of intrigue in her voice was enough to make Rina feel as if they had a chance.
“Actually, Mom,” she said, fiddling with her backpack strap, “I’ve been chosen out of all the kids in my class to go on a field trip to watch Princess Saya’s coronation.”
Her mother gasped, a paw fluttering to her mouth, and then the Faerie Zafara’s face broke into a wide smile. “Oh, honey!” she cried, her eyes tearing as she drew her daughter into a hug, “that’s wonderful! I’m so proud of you!”
“Now,” Mr. M continued, his words coming out a bit faster as Rina struggled to get herself free, “I know this is short notice, but if we are to get there in time, we need to be heading out in a few minutes. And of course,” he added, handing her a pen and a sheet of paper, “I need a parent’s consent.”
“Why yes, of course,” she sang, signing her name at the bottom of the page without paying the wall of print any heed. “Oh Rina, this is so exciting for you!” She looked up at Mr. M, her face excited. “Can I make you anything to eat? Or drink? Some coffee or tea perhaps?”
“No thank you, madam, we really should be going,” he said, taking the sheet back and slipping it in his suitcase. “We’ll be gone only for a few days, three the max, and we really should be catching our Eyrie Cab right about now—”
“Eyrie Cab?” the Faerie Zafara repeated, her eyes widening. “Oh no, no, no. Rina can’t travel by Eyrie Cab. When she was younger she was in a horrible crash... shattered her collarbone...”
Rina winced. Everything had been going so well! But Mr. M didn’t break a sweat.
“Well then, we’ll walk,” he said firmly. “Today’s a gorgeous day anyway, and it’ll be good to take advantage of this glorious weather. And you need not worry, madam; I assure you that your daughter is perfectly safe with me.”
“Well, alright.” She nodded. She still sounded a bit nervous, but not as much as before. Instead, she drew her daughter into another hug and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Congratulations, Rina,” she said, trying to hold back her loving tears. “I’m so proud of you. Listen to your teacher and have a wonderful time.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Rina smiled, kissing her mother back. Mr. Milleran looked on from a few feet away until the green Zafara finally disentangled herself and stood beside him.
“Ready?” he asked, and when she nodded, a few more goodbyes were exchanged. A couple of moments later, however, the Draik and his student were walking away from the small stone cottage, leaving a tearful Faerie Zafara in their wake.
Rina fiddled with a strand of hair, glancing back at her mom with a strange look on her face. Mr. Milleran caught it and frowned. “Is everything all right, Rina?”
“I just feel bad,” she admitted quietly. “Lying like that...”
“Rina, it was necessary,” Mr. M said gently. He placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder, but his claw accidentally brushed her scar, sending a shiver down Rina’s spine.
Come on, Rina, she thought to herself, trying to stop the horrific thoughts of Dr. Renwick sneering down at her with a scalpel and a shiny white piece of bone in his claws. We have to do this. We need to go to Brightvale and tell the King what’s going on. We need to stop Dr. Renwick.
But no matter how much she tried to tell herself that, she still couldn’t dispel the kernel of fear in the pit of her stomach that was growing steadily with every passing second.
The sun was setting over Middleway, staining the sky with brilliant hues of light pink, smoky purple, and deep navy. But Dr. Renwick wasn’t paying attention to the scenery. Instead, the Desert Ruki’s heavily kohl-lined eyes were focused on the stone cottage in the distance.
He had been held up at work longer than he had anticipated, but now his sights were set on the future. In a few minutes, the plan that he had been working on for five years would finally commence.
He would have his revenge.
The doctor practically flew up to the entryway, trying to contain his excitement as he knocked on the door and it opened.
“Hello, Dr. Renwick!” Rina’s mother greeted him. “Please come in!”
“Thank you, thank you.” He smiled, stepping inside the quaint house. He looked around the entryway, not seeing the young green Zafara, and wondered if she was perhaps upstairs in her room. “I have Rina’s results from her Virtu-ray.”
“How did everything turn out?” the Faerie Zafara inquired, leading the Ruki into the kitchen. She reached for a kettle. “Would you like some tea?”
“No, no, I’m fine,” the Doctor said, trying to compose himself and keep his face serious. “But I’m worried about Rina. Her results were a bit startling.”
This caught her attention, and a moment later Rina’s mother had abandoned the tea kettle and was seated across the kitchen table from Dr. Renwick. “Startling?” she repeated, brushing back some of her hair nervously. “How so?”
Dr. Renwick held out a manila envelope and pulled out a couple of fake x-ray images. “If you look here,” he said, pointing to a whitened splotch, “it seems that the bones in her collar have somehow managed to shift. Over time I fear that Rina’s posture might be affected, and later her ability to walk.”
Her pink paw flew to her mouth as she gasped. “No, it can’t be!”
“I’m afraid so,” he said gravely. “The good news is that it can be fixed, but we need to work now. I sent a neomail to a colleague of mine in Brightvale earlier today and he said that he can perform the surgery to help her. Now he’s a very famous surgeon, but he managed to slip Rina in his busy schedule in two days. That means that Rina will have to come with me now if we are to get there in time.”
Rina’s mother’s eyes widened. “But Rina isn’t home right now.”
“Wait--WHAT?” Dr. Renwick shouted, his voice raised. The Faerie Zafara raised an eyebrow at his outburst, and he quickly lowered his voice and muttered, “I’m sorry, but this surgery is very important. It’s pertinent that she come with me to Brightvale today. Do you know when she’ll be back?”
“A few days. Her history teacher, Lyle Milleran, is taking her to Brightvale to witness Princess Saya’s coronation.”
Renwick’s eyes widened. Milleran? he thought frantically. What is he doing with the girl?
“Doctor, are you all right?” Rina’s mother asked, concerned.
No, I’m not, he thought, but out loud he muttered, “Yes, fine. I happen to know Mr. Milleran. He’s an old acquaintance of mine.”
“Yes,” the doctor said, his brain trying to come up with a plan. And after another moment, it did. “Actually, I think we may succeed in getting Rina to that surgeon after all. I’ll just catch up with Milleran in the city and take her to the doctor. No big deal.”
“You’ll do that? Oh thank you Dr. Renwick!” her mother exclaimed, eyes shining with unshed tears. “Now,” she said, getting up from the table, “I should get my things together if we’re going to make it to Brightvale in time.”
“No!” Dr. Renwick said quicker, and a bit harsher, than he had intended. “I’m sorry, but I think it would be better if I just go alone.”
“But my daughter--”
“Your daughter will be fine and back home in your care in a few days.” He didn’t look into her eyes when he said it though, and instead he reached into the folder and pulled out another sheet of paper. “However, I do have a something I need you to sign.”
“What is it?”
“A standard agreement to the surgery,” he lied, handing her a pen and pointing to where she needed to sign. “There’s no use reading it... doctors can’t seem to write in understandable English.”
She nodded and signed her name with a flourish. “Here,” she said, handing it back to him.
“Thank you,” the Desert Ruki said with a nod. “Now I really ought to be going.”
“Yes, okay.” She nodded, escorting him to the door. However, before he could step outside, she placed a hand on his shoulder and added, “Please, doctor, take good care of my daughter.”
The Ruki felt a twist of pain in his gut, but ignored it, turning away from the Zafara. “I will. See you in a few days.”
And without another word, he rushed outside, leaving a worried mother in his wake. His stomach lurched painfully, but he ignored it. He was heading down the dirt path and towards Brightvale, ready for his plan to go into motion.
Ready for his revenge.
To be continued...