The New Kid
“Hi, can I sit here?” asked a young boy.
“Yeah. You’re new here, aren’t you?” replied another boy, sitting and quietly eating his meal.
“Yeah…” he said, sitting down and hanging his head.
“This place is much bigger than my last school. I keep getting lost.”
“Oh. Don’t worry, that happened to me too. My name is Phin.”
“I’m Nate Rothman.”
“Nice to meet you, Nate. What school did you come from?”
“My first year was at the preparatory school in Argenstrath. My father became an officer in the Navy and said that I was now able to go to the best school.”
The boys sat quietly for a moment, slowly eating.
“So, you used to get lost?” asked Nate.
“Yeah, when I started last year, I would get lost at least twice a week. The professors were really helpful. At least, most of them were. There are a few you should avoid”
“Well, that makes me feel better. Which professors should I...”
“HEY! New kid!” shouted a boy entering the room. Three others followed him.
“I should go,” Nate said quietly, while grasping his bag.
“Hey! Didn’t I tell you that your kind isn’t welcome here?” the boy said as he approached the table.
“Shove off, Jon. Leave him alone,” Phin stated, staring straight at the small group.
“I should have figured that you would be friends with him.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“The low class sticks together, am I right. My father says it’s kids like you that are ruining the reputation of the academy.”
Phin stood up quickly, pushing the chair out from under him.
“Go away, before I break your nose,” shouted Phin, raising his fist slightly.
The others jumped back at the sudden movement. Jon prepared to lash back, but stopped when he saw a professor walk into the hall.
“You’re lucky, this time,” he said before walking away, the others following behind him.
Phin grabbed his chair and pulled it back to the table.
“Don’t listen to him, Nate,” said Phin, seeing Nate looked upset.
“What if he is right, though. What if I shouldn’t be here?”
“If he was right, then you wouldn’t be here, and neither would I. So, we are both here. That must mean that we belong here.”
“Thanks,” said Nate, managing to smile slightly.
“Stick with me. You’ll like it here.”
“Nate, where are we going?”
“Quiet, Phin. We will be there in a minute.”
The two boys made their way through the gardens at the Academy and towards the training fields.
When they reached the end of the row, they crawled through the hedge and watched several people sparring. There were four humans practicing. Observing them were two Yeti, one of whom was the most intimidating man they had ever seen.
“That is General Wildharr,” said Nathaniel. “He will start teaching us strategy and combat next year.”
“He scares me,” said Phinneus. “Do we have to learn it?”
“I see you, Cromwell,” shouted a boy from the other side of the hedge.
The boy reached in and dragged Phinneus out by his shirt.
Phinneus and Nathaniel got to their feet and stood face to face with four boys, led by Jon Pennington. Jon detested Phinneus and always made sure that he knew it.
“What are you doing here, Cromwell!”
“That’s none of your business, Jon,” replied Nathaniel.
“No one asked you, Rothman!”
One of the boys muscled up to Nathaniel and shoved him to the ground.
Phinneus responded by shoving the boy back, knocking him to the ground. He then stood in between his friend and the gang.
“What do you think you’re doing,” Jon said to Phinneus.
“Why don’t you just leave us alone,” Phinneus replied.
“And why would I do that? You know you don’t really belong here. I’m just making sure that you peasants know your true place.”
“Shut up, Jon!”
Nathaniel got to his feet and ran at Jon. But before he could reach the bully, one of the other boys tackled him.
Phinneus moved to help Nathaniel, but was blocked by Jon, who shoved him down and kicked him several times. Phinneus lay there watching as his friend was being pummelled.
“Let’s go, I’m tired of this,” said Jon, letting out a quick breath.
They boy stopped hitting Nathaniel and began to leave with the rest of them.
Phinneus stood up.
“Hey! Who said we were done,” shouted Phinneus.
“You really want to be beaten? Fine.” Jon motioned one of the others to fight Phinneus, who ran at Phinneus.
The charging youth stopped dead in his tracks.
Everyone stood still and watched as General Wildharr marched over to them. However intimidating he appeared at a distance was nothing compared to his presence up close.
“Stop this and leave immediately,” he shouted.
Jon and the other boys ran from the field as if their very lives depended on it.
Phinneus helped Nathaniel up and started to leave.
“You two, wait right there,” said the general in a low, gruff voice.
Phinneus and Nathaniel froze. They had not technically done anything wrong, but they knew they should not have been out there to begin with.
“What are your names,” asked the general as he walked over.
“Nathaniel Rothman, Sir.”
“Phinneus Cromwell, Sir.”
“Do you know why those boys were picking on you?”
“It’s because my parents are poor,” replied Phinneus.
“That’s not a good reason. So you stood up to them?”
“They’ve been doing this for two years now and I’m tired of it.”
The general looked down at Phinneus.
“Good. It takes courage to stand up for yourself, especially when outnumbered.”
“Yes, Sir,” replied Phinneus.
“Now, go on. You don’t need to watch. You two will be seeing these fields soon enough.”
The two boys walked away slowly, cradling their wounds.