“Rose! Ferdinand! There’s a letter for each of you in the mail!” called out Maria Fuentes from the sitting room where the mail was piling up fast. The nineteen-year-old and the eighteen-year-old walled into the room.
“What is it Mother?” asked Rose, her dark chocolate curls held back with a ribbon.
“There’s a letter for each of you, and it looks important.”
“Hurry up and open it!” bounced Jacinta, their youngest sister. Ferdinand tore through his, while Rose proceeded with more lady-like care.
Ferdinand gasped as he read the contents, “I’ve received a scholarship to Tolken University!” By this time, Rose had opened her letter and was reading it.
“Why, so did I!” she exclaimed as her eyes widened.
Maria clapped her hands in delight at her favorite daughter, “That’s wonderful! You can meet a handsome man while you’re there and . . .”
“Mother, if I’m going to Tolken University, I’m going to learn, not look for a man.”
Ferdinand laughed, “That is the point of a university, Mother, to learn, not to keep one’s eyes open for rich suitors.”
Maria sighed, “Oh, very well, but mark my words, Rose, the men will notice you and I’m sure several will want to court you.”
“Oh, I’m sure too, but I shall turn them all down for I want to focus on my studies,” Rose stated firmly.
Maria threw up her hands, “Oh, what’s the use? You’re as stubborn as me.”
Ferdinand grinned, “Where do you think she gets it from?” The two glared at him. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
Maria sighed, “So, what will you be studying, then?”
“I shall go into Business Management, it should make things easier for me when we’re not at war.”
“You’re still going to become a soldier?” his mother asked incredulously.
“Well of course, Mother, you know it’s always been my dream. And don’t try to talk me out of it, either. Remember, you did raise a bunch of stubborn mules,” winked Ferdinand.
Maria rolled her eyes before turning to Rose, “And what will you study?”
“Music and Literature.”
Maria nodded as she smiled with approval, “You will no doubt grace the halls of Tolken University with your song and knowledge.”
“As well as her beauty, in what you hope is a great way to catch the eye of a rich man?” smirked Ferdinand as his eyes twinkled with mischief.
“Thanks for the reminder,” mumbled Rose as she turned to walk out of the room.
Ferdinand rushed to follow her out, “Don’t worry, sis, if any of those college boys come pestering you, you let me know, I wouldn’t mind testing my soldier skills on a few.”
Rose smiled, “Thanks Ferdinand, just don’t hurt them too badly.”
“I’ll do my best not to,” chuckled Ferdinand. Maria’s voice echoed in a groan behind them, but no more complaints were muttered as for the next few days, the household was in a flurry getting Rose and Ferdinand ready to head off to college. Bags were packed, some new clothes were bought along with train tickets, and plenty of farewells were said by both friends and family. A couple of parties were thrown to make sure that everyone had a chance to congratulate the two and say farewell. But finally, they were on their way, and Rose let out a breath, finally getting away from her mother’s overbearing attention, and the overbearing attention of the men in the area.
“The men at the university will notice you, and pester you,” remarked Ferdinand as the train left the station.
Rose sighed, “I know.”
“But you are more likely to meet a better match at the university than someone in our neighborhood, those guys are supposed to be smarter.”
Rose smiled, “Supposed to be and are are two different things, my dear brother. I’ll know for sure when I meet them, though, I’m thinking maybe not.”
“Getting prophetic again, are we?”
Rose merely shrugged, “I’ll know for sure when I meet them.”
“You already said that.”
“I know it was the only thing I could say, really.”
Ferdinand sighed, “Whatever. But Mother’s right, you are going to have to keep your eyes open, though, not in the way she was hoping for. I’ve heard from a few of Gaspar’s friends that there are a few unsavory characters that watch the university sometimes, as well as trolls.”
“Oh, don’t worry; I’ll keep an eye out for those unsavory characters, as well as for the ones inside the university.”
Ferdinand laughed, understanding her meaning, “I don’t think they’ll be that unsavory, who knows, you might get a few genuine friends from it.”
Rose shrugged, “Who knows indeed, but that’s more likely than meeting the man God wants me to marry.”
“Well, you never know. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired and want to turn in for the night, having to keep up a friendly smile around Mother kind of takes its toll on you.”
“I know she’s just looking out for our well-being,” began Rose.
“But, she doesn’t have to be so demanding or overbearing about it either,” finished Ferdinand.
Rose laughed, “You know me too well.”
“Boy, do I ever. I might just find your future husband for you!” He winked before letting out a long yawn. “Alright, there’s my cue, good night, Rose.”
Rose chuckled, “Good night Ferdinand.” He walked out of her room and went straight into his, right across the way. Rose crawled into her little bed, and let the steady rhythm of the train wheels lull her to sleep.
About a day and a half later, the train pulled in to the main station at Canea. Ferdinand and Rose mainly read and chatted a bit about their expectations of the university. They both, of course, had the highest regards for the university, as many people longed to enter into one of the best universities on the whole continent of Ordela, if not all of Camulic. Rose was certainly glad to be living in Dominia, the country always had the best scholars and scientists coming from its cities. Perhaps her brother may become one of them! She smiled at him as they entered the cab that would take them the rest of the way to Tolken, his name would go down in history for sure. He was certainly destined for great things.
The carriage trip to the university was a good two hours long from the station, but it was devoid of boredom as the siblings were enraptured with the beauty of the landscape. Meadows full of brightly-colored flowers stretched for miles, with quaint, cute cottages dotting the landscape here and there. The Dogane Mountains resided behind the western meadows, and with the colors of the sunset fading behind the mountains, it painted quite the perfect picture. Ferdinand glanced out the window at the front of the carriage, and gasped.
“Rose, we’re almost there! Tolken University looks better than I had imagined!” he grinned. Rose glanced forward, and let out a soft gasp. It was spectacular indeed. Tolken University was practically standing in front of the picturesque mountains, with the meadows cascading out around it like a veil. The university itself looked like it was made of the finest marble, with steins of black, green, and blue running throughout like tiny rivers. As they drew closer, the country’s motto of ’Contemplare et Contemplata Aliis Tradere et Veritas’ could be seen scrawled across the lawn in large, bold letters. Rose muttered the words to herself.
“Contemplate and hand on the fruits of contemplation and truth,” whispered Ferdinand.
Rose smiled and she nodded, “Most probably the biggest reason why we have such wonderful scholars and scientists coming from this country.”
“Basically,” Ferdinand smiled in return. Not another word was said as the carriage drew nigh upon the building, and the siblings practically watched with bated breath as every inch brought them nearer to their destination. When the carriage entered the driveway, they realized that they were not the only students showing up that day, as several other carriages had pulled up before them. Rose didn’t mind the wait, as she pulled out a little notebook and a pencil and began writing.
“Writing a few verses in honor of this great university?” grinned Ferdinand.
Rose laughed, “How could I not? It’s magnificent!”
“Well, if the university doesn’t have a school song, it does now!”
“Now, Ferdinand, my little song might not be good enough!”
“Well, even if it isn’t, I’ll still like it.”
“Of course you will.”
Ferdinand chuckled, “Yes, of course I will, I always like your verses.” Rose smiled, but didn’t get to say another word as a page taped on the door.
“Excuse me, sir, miss, we are ready to show you to your rooms.”
“Ah, wonderful! Come on sis, your little song’s going to have to wait!” Rose sighed and rolled her eyes before following her brother out of the carriage. The pages helped the two with their bags and led the way into the prestigious university. Rose’s first thought was that she liked the pages; they treated her like she was just another lady attending classes, not some world-class beauty, and certainly were not wooing her either. They simply chatted with the siblings gaily, showing them a few rooms on their way to the living quarters. At one hallway, the siblings had to part ways, as boys were housed on one side of the campus and girls on the other side.
“I’ll see you at dinner tonight, sis!’ called Ferdinand as he and his guide walked down the hall to the boys’ dorms.
“Right, see you at dinner!” Rose waved before following her guide into the girls’ dorms. She went about unpacking her bags somewhat slowly, but there was a smile on her face. She was looking forward to her time in class, especially her music and literature courses. Here, her mother had little influence on everyone around her, giving Rose a chance to actually get to know others, and for others to get to know her. Yes, this would be a wonderful time. But a sudden thought flashed through her head, something was going to happen, and not just her meeting her future husband, no, this would be something that would change not just her life, but that of the entire country.