“Happy fourteenth.” Ilias said.
Finch smiled. His father had made a big breakfast. Ilias had been in much higher spirits since he had begun to work full time. He had switched from hunting to cullinary, and he was enjoying it much more. Further, he was making more money. Finch sat down and they ate.
Ilias smiled, “It has been a while since we could afford such subtleties.”
He took a pie from their hot box.
“This is what I do now. Desserts.”
Ilias nodded sagely, “If I keep this up, I’ll be working in the castle cafeteria very soon.”
“Awesome.” Finch didn’t even know what to say about it.
He didn’t know his father was so talented at desserts. They had never been able to afford desserts.
What Finch was really eager for, however, was joining the guard. After eating, he sprinted to the castle and found Natasha.
“Hello, youth.” She said.
“Finch. I’m Finch, don’t you remember?”
“No.” Natasha lied.
“Whatever. I’m fourteen now. I want to join the guard.”
Natasha crossed her arms.
“All right. The test day is today. I am unsure as to how it landed on your birthday, but I am sure that Chloe’s rescheduling had something to do with it.”
Natasha looked down on him, “You had better be worth her efforts, child.”
There were two parts to the guard test, the written, and the practical. Finch was certain he aced the written, as he had been studying the guard for years now. The practical was a struggle for him though. He wasn’t the only applicant either.
It turned out that Artus had tried out too, as well as Hallin, Halith, Alm, Millich, and Roah. There was also a dark skinned young man whom Finch had never seen before. He had heard that there were dark skinned people, but he had never seen one before now.
Well, the dark man ended up acing everything. He was incredibly strong and fast. Finch struggled, and began to feel jealous of the man.
At the end of the first test, Finch approached him, panting.
“I am Finch.” He said.
The man nodded, “I am Orison. You are Riley.”
Finch nodded, “You?”
Finch had learned about all the races known, but he had never heard of N’Tariel.
“What?” He asked, and then a little more politely, “I’ve never heard of the N’Tariel.”
“We are known in some places as the North Metch. It as a name we do not enjoy. We call ourselves the N’Tariel and would that others call us this as well.”
“Oh.” Finch would have to tell Chloe about this.
At the end of it all Natasha lined them up outside the castle, in the courtyard surrounded bythe Kingdom Halls.
She had a clipboard, and her Vice-Captain Vinth was with her.
“So,” She sneered, “Since a large portion of our force has been divided to aid Baracus,”
She was cut off by Artus, “What happened in Baracus?”
“They’ve started defending themselves, finally. It seems that someone named Alice started a militia, so Drake has requested a formal guard. And do not interrupt!”
“Since a large portion of our force is now missing, the format has been changed. No longer do you need to pass the tests. Now, simply, you must not fail. Thus, even those who did poorly on the physical,”
She glanced at Finch and Alm.
“And those who did poorly on the written,”
She looked at Orison for a long time,
“Will also be allowed to join. All have passed. Please return tomorrow, and bring your measurements. For your uniform.”
Finch’s heart raced. He gave Artus a reverse salute, and then sprinted home.