Isaiah opened his eyes and saw a handful of orange lights over his head. Recognizing it as the lamps from the room he shared with Ethaon, he looked around himself.
A dull pain rattled his head, and he hissed in pain.
“Stay still, you hit your head there,” a sharp voice ordered, and Isaiah noticed that Lindon was sitting in a chair beside him. His tone made it clear that the order was not to be disobeyed. Holding a thick book entitled The Medical Journal for FirstAid, he was the only person with him in the room.
Isaiah tensed. “What happened? Where is Master?”
“You mean, Ethaon?” Lindon frowned. “He said he had to go somewhere after he made sure your injury was alright. You were lucky, the accordion only barely hit you full in the head.”
“Accordion?” Isaiah repeated.
“A ninnyhammer thought to hang the accordion up on a chandelier to test gravity the same way Newton did, but with a heavier weight, and did not expect you to come out at that time. That ninny, by the way, is Ethaon himself.”
“Oh,” Isaiah frowned, then grimaced. “I’m not surprised, somehow.”
“When you get used to his antics, you stop finding them surprising, more bizarre, and rather troublesome. I agree.” Lindon closed the book. “You might have gotten a concussion…or so he said, but I’m no doctor. And it looks unsafe to call for help or go to the city at this time.”
Isaiah threw a glance out the window; the rain was still coming down. As he took the moment of silence to study the rain, he began to have an uneasy feeling that it was actually heavier right now.
Lindon frowned. “Right after he checked your injury, he hurried out. I don’t know where he went, but the castle is big.”
Isaiah could see that the lights of the airship was out. He’d thought that Ethaon might have been there if he were to study something – an accident wouldn’t stop him, even if he probably felt remorse if he caused it – but there seemed to be no one in there.
And it was still raining. How long will it be until the Enforcers came up?
“May I ask you something?” Lindon’s question interrupted him, and Isaiah felt a little surprise by the tone of the voice; it was puzzled and hesitant. Maybe Lindon was not the sort to ask questions but search for answers quietly? “Are you…hired by Ethaon as his assistant or his friend? He called you his friend when he told me that he would bring you, but…a friend would not call him ‘Master’.”
Isaiah thought for a moment before answering. “About half a year ago, I was a thief. I was justified in stealing from the rich if it meant I could bring food to my younger siblings.” He noted Lindon narrowing his eyes, then chuckled. “My wages as Master’s assistant and a bounty hunter are enough for me, so I don’t need to do that anymore.”
“So you do work for him? And as a bounty hunter, you say? Why?” Lindon leaned forward with a sparking interest in his eyes. Suddenly, he didn’t seem the stern person he usually was, but a young man curious about something. It obliged Isaiah to continue.
“A few debts, I guess. Mainly, saving my sisters before they were sold to noble houses. I grew up in an orphanage in the middle of a drabby poor town; women who couldn’t care for children would abandon them on the doorstep.”
“Oh. So this was why you stole from others,” Lindon muttered.
“Slowly, day by day, the orphanage started to run out of money, become unable to afford enough food for all the children. There were seven at first, but then, last year, I counted fifty-four. The nurses began to abandon the ill kids because we couldn’t afford medicine. Terrible things back, then, you know. The orphanage began to consider selling the children to survive. The boys would be servants, the girls would be courtesans…” His eyes went to the window, to see the rain coming down harder still. “Master didn’t allow it to happen. I’m still thankful for him.”
Lindon chuckled. “Even if he dropped an accordion on your head?”
Isaiah grimaced. “Aye, that one, not so, but I found out after a long time that one must ignore what he does to be able to live peacefully.” A thought struck him and he sat up abruptly. “Master couldn’t have gone out in the rain, could he?” he gasped.
“Take it easy!” Lindon looked out the window now. “He shouldn’t be outside. Even he would know such a rain makes our grounds dangerous, especially with his troublesome sense of direction.”
“But if he had an idea about the forest, he might just go there.” Isaiah got to his feet, just as Amelia rushed in.
“Lindon, Mr. Ethaon just returned from outside!” she gasped.
Lindon whirled to Isaiah, then cursed. “Is he alright?”
“Endured a slight mudslide, he said,” Amelia gasped. “I will go run the bath, but he demanded to have Isaiah down right now.”
Isaiah slipped past Amelia immediately and found his way back to the foyer, where he saw Ethaon in a raincoat, covered head to toe with mud and drenched through.
“Master, what are you doing?” Isaiah demanded, and stopped approaching when he saw Ethaon’s expression; it was grim and harsh, with reluctance.
Ethaon became slightly relieved when he saw Isaiah. “So you woke up already? Sorry about that. I wanted to test what would fall apart in the accordion if I dropped it from that high.”
“I know your random experiments,” Isaiah huffed. “But why are you out in the rain at this time?”
“This,” Ethaon shed the raincoat and removed a package from his coat, which he wore underneath. The package was wrapped in several layers of brown paper, and Isaiah took it. “Listen carefully, you have to do this.” He muttered something and finished just as Lindon and Amelia came down the stairs to join them.
“Why should I do that?” Isaiah gasped indignantly.
“What’s going on?” Lindon asked, obviously annoyed to have been left out.
“Isaiah, this is important,” Ethaon waved dismissively at Lindon. “Please.”
Isaiah relented in the end; what he’d heard indeed troubled him, but Ethaon did not seem pleased with himself either. “Fine, alright.”