The soft scratching of a quill was the only noise in the room as Chryseis’ father stood over her wordlessly, watching her with a critical silence.
The commander’s study was spacious and luxurious. Chryseis sat at her father’s desk, her brows knitted together in concentration as the candle cast shadows that danced upon her face.
“Commander,” the door creaked open to reveal an armoured man, his helmet obscuring his face, “We have two new recruits.”
“Send them in,” Commander Sallow said flatly, his eyes only flickering briefly to the door before returning his gaze back onto his daughter, studying her penmanship.
Chryseis sighed and continued to write. She’d been writing the same alphabet over and over again for the past hour. “Until you have penmanship worthy of a commander’s daughter,” her father had said when she asked when she could stop.
Soft footsteps echoed into the room as the soldier brought in the recruits.
Unable to help herself, Chryseis looked up, her eyes widening.
Behind her, the commander sighed, knowing that there would be no use to make his daughter put her head down and continue.
Recruits came to the academy all the time but for someone like Chryseis, who was forbidden to leave its walls, seeing a new recruit was like seeing another piece of the outside world.
The academy took nearly anyone. Orphans or thieves, criminals or those who were widowed and had nowhere to go. Whoever you were, there was always a place for everyone, always a job that needed to be filled.
Especially now in times of war, soldiers were in short supply.
The new recruits were young, perhaps only a year or two older than Chryseis who was only six herself.
She couldn’t help but to stare in amazement as her father approached them, his towering frame nearly swallowed their small shadows.
A boy with skin as pale as moonlight shrank into himself, his floppy raven hair hiding his eyes. Beside him, a girl stood tall, her skin as dark as midnight, her onyx hair fanned out around her and reached down to the middle of her back, frizzy and in a tangled mess.
The two stood closely together, as if they had bonded over the course of the journey here. Chryseis felt a faint tinge of jealousy. Where they friends? She had often wondered what it would be like to have a friend.
The boy trembled under the weight of Chryseis’ father’s gaze, his eyes darting to the ground as he tried to make himself unseen.
Commander Sallow’s eyes drifted away from the trembling boy, resting on the girl who stood up straight, her grass-green eyes flashed fiercely in the firelight, glimmering like emeralds.
An amused smile cracked on the commander’s face and a flash of confusion swept across the girl’s face although it was quickly hidden once more.
Chryseis couldn’t help but smile a little. Commander Sallow was a kind man, although with a short temper and a little strict. She had watched him tease the recruits again and again, giving off an amour of intimidation before relaxing and offering a smile.
“What’s your name, young ones?” Commander Sallow asked.
The boy silent before he whispered, “Miro,” so quiet and softly that Chryseis had to crane her neck to hear.
“And you?” Command Sallow asked the girl.
“Kya,” she muttered, her eyes still burning but there was a faint tremble in her lips.
“Miro and Kya,” Commander Sallow mused, “The academy has gained two wonderful recruits today.”
A small smile creeped onto the boy’s face, but the girl was passive.
“The academy takes all,” Commander Sallow said, “We take anyone from all walks of life and turn them into scholars and healers, warriors and soldiers. This will be your new home from now on, the people of your academy your new family. The realm will be your new purpose in life. Here at the academy, we live and serve the king. You are both from the Kingdom of Pisces?”
The two nodded although the girl seemed like she was only half-listening.
“Warriors,” Kya breathed, “You can turn me into a warrior?”
“If that’s what you wish.” Commander Sallow said, smiling at her, “But until you’re twelve, you will learn a little bit of everything. After that, you can choose. Warriors are needed in a time like now.”
Chryseis watched uneasily as a new fire burned in the girl’s eyes, her jaw set.
“And what would you like to be?” Commander Sallow asked as he knelt before Miro.
The boy shook his head, firmly refusing to make eye contact.
Smiling, the commander rose, “Well no worries. You’ll find your passion someday. Everyone does. Now, I do believe that you’ll want to be shown to your rooms. I trust it’s been a tiring journey.”
Chryseis watched with a spot of resentment as the recruits were shown out the door. They got to learn all that the academy has to offer, but Chryseis was stuck with calligraphy and only the arts.
“You’ll be a lady,” her father had commanded, “just like your mother.”
Chryseis couldn’t help but feel a spot of resentment every time. After all, her father never cared about other aspects of her life, what gave him the right to care about this one?
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