Rise of Glie Chapter 9
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 8: He'll Manage
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 9: Master
No, I am not going to change the rules, Stanley promises himself as he leads the workers back to the camp. The prompting to show Aware some mercy continues to torment Stanley as he listens to his conversation with Shiden.
"I know I promised, but Stanley wouldn't let me make the trip, Master Shiden," Aware complains. His head and wings are drooping in sad resignation as the upset elder marches unhappily beside him.
Shiden wants to says something very badly, but he can't. He's angry, yes, but not at Aware, although he must make it appear that way. He steals barely enough of a calm moment to scribble "Master" on the palm of his hand to remind him of the important thing he must tell Aware later. Must he insists to himself.
"Look, Aware," Shiden tries to sound as much like a friend as he can. For a moment, Aware looks at him with the question in his eyes as to just how upset his haibane mentor is. Shiden raises his voice to make sure that Stanley and Kasei, about fifteen metres ahead of them in the march home, can hear clearly, "Every day that bridge is out is a day we can't bring materials to the line!" Shiden unleashes his fury as he finishes, "We need those boards right away!"
Aware turns away. Betrayed. He starts bawling. I have no friends, even amongst my own kind! As they approach the camp, Aware is crying openly and is the loudest sound in the camp as the group breaks up and threes and fours proceed to their own houses.
Shiden feels a swift and angry hand grab his shoulder and force him about. He barely keeps his footing, hears and sees the scowl of the man who is about to hit him. He raises his hands defensively, but does not close them into fists.
"He goes through enough!" George growls. Shiden sees his eyes widen slightly, and the fingers of his raised fist loosen.
"Stanley had to hear it," Shiden squeaks, "I'll make it up to him, I promise."
George's anger deflates, but he does not know what to say to the cowering haibane.
Shiden slowly backs away from the muscular cook and follows the crying newborn backwards towards the house with the crooked roof.
Once inside, Shiden urgently whispers, "Aware, I'm sorry."
"Sorry?" Aware cries, "Shiden we're closest, both haibane, the same dream! How could you do that in the first place?"
"Have my dinner," Shiden slides the plate Hagane just set down in front of him across the tiny table to Aware's place. Hagane almost sets Aware's plate right on top of it, but manages to find another spot beside it. "I didn't mean any of it, Aware," Shiden weeps, "Please believe me. I can't tell Kasei and Stanley how important you are to their faces." Shiden grasps Aware's hand.
"Important?" Aware sobs.
"Aware, you're a born leader," Shiden says, "a good leader. You can handle this kind of crap from them all the time. I thought you could from-" Tears spill from Shiden's eyes, "I'm sorry, please forgive me."
Aware makes a small smile, "Say it's for the alarm clock?"
"Uh, what?" Shiden asks.
"This morning, I turned off your alarm, remember?" Aware clarifies.
"Oh..." Shiden still needs a moment to remember, "that!" He lowers his chin and smiles, "Thanks for the extra sleep."
Aware's gaze turns to Shiden's hand. He reads the word, "Master?"
"That's to remind myself to tell you, Feather Aware," Shiden says, "That you don't need to call me Master. Friend and brother, you are not beneath me, and never shall be. Argue back when I do that; it was so hard to hear you cry."
Aware picks up his chopsticks and looks down at his food, momentarily confused as to which plate to begin with. He correctly identifies the first that Hagane had set down. Then he looks back up at Shiden, "Here's a start then, Feather Shiden." He slides the plate back to Shiden's place and says, "You have a hard job, and I'm not that hungry. Eat."
"Oh, Aware," Shiden smiles, "You don't- matte!" he grabs at Aware's plate as it tips over the edge of the table, but is too late. It lands with an unhappy splat on the dusty floor.
Darn. Food is valuable. All four haibane mourn the meal's demise.
"Sorry," Hagane says, feeling responsible for its precarious placement on the table.
"Let's split these three," Shinzoo suggests happily, "The important thing is that we're all getting along again, right?"
Aware, the offended party, nods. "It shouldn't go to waste," he notes as Hagane drags the dusty food back onto the plate.
"It won't," Hagane says, opening the window and setting it on the sill.
Aware starts to lament, "Oh, we don't have poor beggars that'll actually-"
His stops when he sees a crow land next to the plate. It caws, then takes a morsel and flies away. Another lands, caws, then takes a bunch and flies off. A third lands, caws and takes his helping. Finally, a fourth lands, but does not caw before he takes the very last of the food and leaps away. In less than a minute it is all gone.
Hagane puts the empty plate in the sink as Aware stares at the window sill. "They don't mind the dirt," Hagane explains as he closes the window.
"Aware probably thought human beggars, right?" Shinzoo asks. "Aware, it's not even legal. If we offer food to someone who can't or won't work, we'll be banished."
Hagane says, "So take care to preserve your health and don't get into any accidents."
"It is an awful way to die," Shiden says, "It's happened five times, all humans."
"Is this really a better world than the one we came from?" Aware asks.
"I doubt it," Shiden answers, "but it has the advantage of still being around."
That ends conversation over dinner, and the four pass their final waking hour and curl up into their beds for the night without uttering another word.
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 10: Back to Work