Naren – Five Stories from Five Prompts

(( I’m posting these all together because I’m too lazy to post them separately. I’ve done five fictober prompts in two days. Maybe there is hope I’ll catch up! ))

The Class

“Why aren’t you taking notes?” Zaelith whispered to Aeramin. They both sat on the same bench in the barn as the horse-riding instructor demonstrated how to saddle a horse. Aeramin’s notebook was empty.

“I thought this was common knowledge,” Aeramin replied. “Wait, you know even less about this than me?” Zaelith had helped him pay for this, his first extra-curricular class, but he thought for certain his boyfriend had ridden a horse at some point before coming to Thril Gandir.

“We had horses in the desert, but I never really went near them. We were only five when we came here. How do you remember anything at all?”

“I don’t know. I remember my father going over everything. It was only a short time before the mages came to bring me here. He told me about everything on the farm before I left. I’ll admit I’ve forgotten a lot of it, but I still know how a horse should be saddled. Can’t you just use your ability to figure out some horse knowledge or something?” Aeramin asked. His own specialty was pyromancy with some proficiency with other elements. Many other students could claim the same. Zaelith, on the other hand, was unique in the mage complex. He was the seer of the past.

“Why should I tire myself sifting through history to look at horses when I can just pay attention in class?”

Aeramin shrugged. He supposed he had a point.


 

Hope for Damiti

Rhavek checked throughout the cave. It seemed everyone had done their chores for the day and had settled down for the evening. He had never thought he would be in this position. It was as if he had traded places with one of the dragon masters. Instead of looking to them now, these lucaja all looked to him for guidance and leadership.

It had not been easy. They had to find a home in the mountains, one that was far enough away from any human or elven settlements, and also wasn’t too near any of the known routes the dragons used. Food was a big issue at first, though some of the lucaja brought with him had previously worked in gardening for another dragon before coming to the master they had escaped from.

Things had now settled into a new normal. Their stores were full for the coming winter, and their crops had done well this year.

He returned to his chamber where Zhugani and their young daughter, Damiti, waited.
Zhugani looked at him as he entered. Her eyes glowed a deep blue, one of his favorite things about her. She was speechless, but she understood much of what Rhavek said. Rhavek understood much of what she wanted to say. Her brow furrowed with worry. He knew that meant Damiti was still sick.

He approached them both. The young girl had already shown some signs of intelligence, but at age four, she still had not spoken her first word. Rhavek was concerned that she was not enough like him.

He sat beside Zhugani and brushed the light hair away from Damiti’s face. Zhugani had given her a cool bath in the stream as he had asked, but the girl’s condition had not improved. He felt her forehead. It was still warm, but he felt that maybe it was a little less than it was earlier.

“Damiti improves. She will get better,” he said, as much to reassure himself as Zhugani.
She looked at him, the worry noticeably lessened. He only hoped his didn’t show.


 

Camping Class

Aeramin had already gotten his schedule for regular classes. Now he stood in the line for extracurricular classes. He had taken one before, horse-riding, with his then boyfriend/roommate, Zaelith. They had broken up since then and had managed to convince the residence coordinator to let them trade roommates with two other students who hadn’t been getting along. Aeramin moved into a new room with a new roommate.

They got along well enough. Aeramin had been warned by the previous roommate that he was a slob, and it was true. He didn’t clean up after himself, but he also wasn’t there very often, which worked out well. Aeramin had been doing some questionable things to earn a little money so that he could pay for things like extracurricular classes, or maybe even an adahi to visit home. It wasn’t really against the rules, and if it had been, he wouldn’t have even considered it, but just because it wasn’t mentioned in the rules, didn’t mean Aeramin wanted to be the example who got it put there. He was quiet and discreet, as were his clients.

He finally reached the front of the line. He already knew what was offered during his free times. There were a great many things that interested him. Music, art, calligraphy, as well as some outdoors activities. He considered taking the second horse-riding class but figured Zaelith would be taking it. The less time he had to spend with him right now, the better.

The camping class sounded interesting, but it was expensive. Still, it could come in useful if he was assigned an adahi after graduation. The camping class was special as they actually left the mage complex and went camping on the other side of the island for a week after classes concluded for the semester. Aeramin decided to try that one first.

“I’d like to take the camping class.”

The woman in charge of the extracurricular scheduling looked him up and down. “Did you bring a copy of your record from the main office?”

Aeramin pulled it out of his satchel and handed it to her. Only students with good records were allowed to take this class.

She flipped through it. “Your record is good. Do you have the 100 gold pieces fee?”

He handed her a slip of paper from the Thril Gandir central bank. It wouldn’t have been easy to carry around 100 gold pieces. The paper was easier.

“Good, and the 100 gold piece adahi fee?”

Adahi fee? Wasn’t the cost of the adahi covered in the first 100 gold pieces? Aeramin stammered, “Um, I- uh, thought it was included?” He checked in his satchel but only found one gold piece and a few silvers.

The woman frowned impatiently. “It’s not, and that’s not enough,” she said, indicating the coins he had pulled out of his satchel. “Perhaps you’d like to sign up for something else. Hurry up. There are people waiting behind you.”

Aeramin twitched an ear and frowned. “Okay, the calligraphy class then.” Maybe if he saved up enough, he could take the camping class next semester.


 

The First Journey

Fhorbach woke as evening approached. Normally, he slept during the night, but he was being sent on a short mission to deliver a message to some lost lucaja in the central mountains. His old master would have never sent him on such a mission. In fact, he had never sent him anywhere except shows with other fancy lucaja. However, Fhorbach had sustained an injury to his left wing, and now the end of it bent at an odd angle. His old master stopped showing him, painting gold on him, giving him cute outfits to wear, and taking him outside, until finally, he was sold to his current master.

His current master did paint him sometimes. The gold paint always felt cool against Fhorbach’s skin, and he really liked the designs. However, he also sent him on messaging missions— Something Fhorbach was not accustomed to doing though his body was built for it. This mission was strange in that it wasn’t to another dragon’s lair. It was across the desert and into the central mountains.

His master had given him specific instructions. Some of the others had reported seeing some lucajas living in the mountains without any dragons to take care of them. Fhorbach had heard the rumors before his master had told him, and he hadn’t believed them at the time. How could a lucaja survive without a dragon to care for them? The entire idea seemed like something one of the more disobedient pets would make up, but then his master confirmed it. Fhorbach did not expect he’d be the one to carry a message to these lucajas to tell them to come west where they would have a home and be cared for, but here he was.

He stepped out of his daytime hiding place. Nighttime flying was safer. No one would see him in the sky, and he could use the stars to navigate. He stretched his wings before deciding he would walk the short distance to the stream. He stepped down carefully, his talons gripping the ground as he made his way into the valley. He was silent, which is why he stopped when he heard a twig snap. It was not from his foot. He tucked his wings in close against his back and hid behind a tree.

He could see a light bobbing some distance away. It seemed to be following along the edge of the stream. He did not see the carrier of the light until the elf made his way closer. His ears pressing the edges of his hat upwards gave him away. He stopped occasionally along his way to pull something up out of the water. It looked like a trap of some sort, but it didn’t appear the elf had caught anything in his traps. Fhorbach was not too close to the stream and felt safe in his spot behind the tree.

Until he noticed the elf’s face. He had no horns, no wings, no tail, and his feet were strange small flat things, but his face drew him in. His strange eyes twinkled in the light of his lantern, and the scruff of hair on his chin was something Fhorbach had only seen on elder dragons before. However, the elf did not look to be very old. His skin was all the same color, unlike Fhorbach’s brown with white spots, but still, Fhorbach felt himself wanting. What was this strange attraction?

He frowned with the realization that he could not follow up on it. The elf could be armed, and in all likelihood, hadn’t seen a lucaja before. Fhorbach’s horns, yellow eyes, and feathered wings would probably be enough to frighten the elf before he even before he saw the claws. The elf was much bigger as well. Fhorbach was small, even for a lucaja. He decided it would be best to just watch until it was safe to continue on his mission.


 

Domestic Bliss

Hethurin filled the sink with water and soap before putting the empty baby bottles in and casting a spell to move the water around. It would last fifteen minutes. He’d have to double check that everything was clean after, but it was more efficient than washing everything individually.

The baby in the sling cooed quietly. She had grown quite a bit since they had found her in one of the crates of supplies coming into the town. Terellion had come up with her name, Narise.

The door burst open in the front room, and Hethurin went to the doorway between the kitchen and living room to give his daily after-school reminder. “Remember to take off your shoes, Malwen.” It normally wasn’t an issue, but the spring rains brought lots of mud with them.

“Okay, Arcanda.”

He smiled at her name for him. It was elvish for ‘magic dad’. It was the easy way for the children to have different names for him and his husband, Terellion. Terellion was just ‘dad’. He gave another short reminder as she ran upstairs to play. “Don’t forget to do your homework before supper.”

“I will.” She disappeared at the top of the stairs and went to her room with her dolls. He’d remind her again later.

The door opened again and Terellion walked in. He stopped to take his shoes off by the door.

“How was your day?”

“It was pretty good. The roof at the school is leaking again, so I put a pot under it. I’ll need to climb back up there once we get another dry day.”

“I suppose with all this rain, leaky roofs are common. Narise’s room has a leak, but I sealed it with a ward against water. It’ll need to be fixed as well with the next dry day.”

“I’ll add it to the list then.” He stood from removing his boots and kissed Hethurin. Narise cooed again in the sling that hung on Hethurin.

Hethurin had never imagined he could be so happy.

 

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Naren – The Market

The Kingsfall market bustled with activity, more so than usual, as Alinash picked his way through the crowd to a good vantage point. He held Ruby’s hand tight as he climbed up the stairs near the entrance of the assembly building. A man wearing a sign and shouting walked back and forth on the street below the stairs. She had been with him for six years, so she must be seven or eight by now. He wasn’t sure as he had found her when she was a young child, still in diapers but old enough to walk, wandering the slums. He had been found the same way when he was a child, he saw it as his duty to take her in and teach her how to survive.

He sat with her near the top of the stairs and gave her half of the sandwich he had found sitting on top of the garbage on the way here. “Do you see any good market stalls? Remember what I told you.”

“It’s really crowded today, so most of the shopkeepers are busy.”

“They’ll be busy anyway when I go to talk to them. You want the shopkeeper to be busy, but too many other people shopping at the same place is a bad idea. Remember, every person is two more eyes.”

“Some of them have more than one person. Those are a bit more difficult,” Ruby stated.

“Right. We’ll avoid those for now. Which one do you want to try?”

“That one with the L-shaped table over there. There’s only one person.”

He swatted her hand. “Don’t point.”

She frowned.

“Sorry. I see it. It looks like just clothing, but we could use some new clothes. Here’s the shopping bag. Carry it like you’re just browsing.” He’d already put some rags in the bottom to make it look like she’d bought something somewhere else. “Hold it, let me see.”

She put the straps of the bag over her shoulder and stood with it.

“Keep this one end open a bit. Bend the fold out. It’ll be easier to drop things in.”

Alinash looked at the crowd as Ruby adjusted the bag. People were so occupied with what they were doing it was almost too easy. Even the man shouting in the street drew no attention. People walked by while he shouted that the end of the world was nigh. No one was listening to him. He supposed there could be a lesson in not being noticed, but he was busy teaching her proper techniques for stealing at the market right now. Being invisible by being obvious would have to wait.

He looked back at her. “That looks good. Are you ready?”

She nodded.

“Good. Let’s go.”

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Naren – Hidden Places

“Faeris, can you tell the class what the result of King Adinath’s refusal to lower taxes on the people living outside Kingsfall was?”

Faeris twitched an ear. He really couldn’t. He hadn’t been paying attention, besides, who cared about things that happened twenty years ago? Mr. Cook was waiting for his answer. “Um, I think the eastern elves retook the forests?”

“That was a thousand years ago, Faeris. Please recite the dates of King Adinath’s reign.”

“Umm…” Faeris had gone to a party in one of the other rooms at the boys’ dorm instead of studying.

“Well, let me assure you, it was not a thousand years ago.” The other students giggled as Mr. Cook continued, “Your parents are spending money to send you here for a quality education. The least you could do is…”

A knock on the classroom door interrupted the teacher. He went to the door and opened it. He spoke in a hushed whisper with someone on the other side for a moment before returning his attention to the class. “Faeris, it seems you’re in bigger trouble elsewhere. The headmaster wants to see you in his office now.”

The headmaster? What did he want? Faeris knew he hadn’t broken any big rules, but he also knew better than to argue. He quickly gathered his books before leaving the room.

He made his way down the long boring hallway. He hated boarding school, almost as much as he hated regular school, but his parents thought that an expensive school in Aduandel away from all of his friends back home would be a good change for him. Faeris disagreed, but he had no say in the matter. He pushed open the door to the headmaster’s office.

He was met with cold glares from both the headmaster and the resident assistant of his dorm.

The headmaster motioned towards a chair. “Faeris, have a seat.”

“What’s going on?” Faeris wondered aloud. He sat, though the presence of the resident assistant, whom the students often referred to as the resident ass, confused him.

“We need to have a little talk about what kind of reading material is appropriate here at our school.”

Faeris wondered what he meant, but the resident assistant put some books on the table that answered the question before he could ask it. Of course, it raised other questions. “How did you get those?”

The resident assistant answered, “I found them in your room during the weekly inspection.”

“I wasn’t even there! You were snooping through my stuff!”

“Your stuff is against the rules,” the resident assistant said haughtily.

The headmaster spoke next. “It’s in his job description to check hidden places for any banned material, such as these ‘books’. We can’t have smut on our prestigious campus. I’m afraid we have to confiscate the items and write a letter home to your parents.”

Faeris frowned but said nothing.

“Return to class. I hope we won’t find anything like this again.” The headmaster raised from his seat and gestured towards the door.

Faeris got up to leave. As he was walking out he thought, Oh you won’t find things like that again. Next time I’ll hide them much better.

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Naren – The Well in the Garden

 

“Sit, Ellorian. It’s time for a story,” his mother said as he entered the nursery. His baby sister was nursing so he went to his mother and sat with her on the sofa.

He cherished this time with his mother. He did not have a lot of time with her now that his baby sister was here. He spent more time with his nanny, a human named Zosa. While Zosa was nice, she wasn’t his mother- a fact he did not hesitate to remind her of when she was watching him.

Every evening, just after supper, he was sent to the nursery for time with his mother. He snuggled up to her on the sofa as she spoke again.

“Have I ever told you the legend about the well in the garden?”

Ellorian shook his head. “You mean the one in our garden?”

“Yes, that’s the one. There’s a story as to why you should never go near it.”

“Father said I shouldn’t go near it so that I don’t fall in because it goes a long way down.”

“There is that, but there is another reason as well.”

“What is that?” His pointed ears twitched with the question. He’d never heard of any other reason before.

“It was a long time ago, back when Elenduil had its own king and queen, before the time we signed treaties with Kingsperch, and much before the fall of Kingsperch resulting in our city-state status.”

Ellorian nodded though he didn’t really understand all the political history yet. He did understand that Kingsperch became Kingsfall and his father became a ruler on his own without having to answer to the king because there was no king. What he didn’t understand was why his father didn’t just become the king, since he was ruling over Elenduil by himself anyway. However, he’d rather hear why he shouldn’t go near the well than have a history lesson, so he continued to listen intently.

“The King and Queen had a son, Prince Gavril. The Prince loved playing in the garden, and one day he decided it would be fun to drop stones in the well to listen to the splash. He made a game of it where he’d count as fast as he could after dropping the stone to see how far he could get before he heard the splash as the stone hit the water at the bottom of the well. He dropped one stone and counted to twelve before hearing the splash. He dropped another and counted to fifteen. Certainly, he could do better than that. He found another stone and dropped it. He counted to twenty, to thirty, to forty. He slowed as he reached fifty and peered over the edge of the well. There was still no splash. He leaned over the edge further to get a better look when he slipped and he fell down, down, down all the way to the bottom where he hit the water with a big splash!”

Ellorian said, “That’s the same reason though. He fell in, and father said-”

“Ellorian, the story isn’t over yet.” She regarded him sternly before continuing. “At the bottom of the well, he found a cave that led off away from the water. It was very dark, but he didn’t see how he was supposed to get back the way he came. However, before he even started to make his way towards the opening, a rock flew out and hit his shoulder before dropping into the water. He peered closely into the darkness watching where the rock came from, and that’s when he saw it. It had large eyes, no nose, an elongated head, and a row of razor-sharp teeth. It was a torukil and it was looking right at him. Its clawed feet clicked on the stone, and Gavril was paralyzed with fear. It was then something hit his other shoulder.”

“Was it another torukil? Zosa says they hunt in caves in groups.”

“Luckily for Gavril, it was not another torukil, but you are right. They do tend to hunt in groups. However, this was a rope. His nanny had seen him fall in and went to get help. Prince Gavril grabbed the rope and was pulled to safety.”

“Do you think the torukil is still down there?”

His mother smiled, “They have short lifespans. That one is long gone, but there could be others. If their caves connect to the well, it could be they go there for water, and that’s the real reason you shouldn’t go near the well in the garden.”

“I won’t, mother,” Ellorian said. He meant it too. He didn’t want to become a meal for a torukil.

“Good. Let’s go get you ready for bed.”

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Naren – The Slow Night

“You’ll learn to love her, just as I learned to love your mother.” His father’s words echoed in his thoughts. Julan didn’t think it was very likely. Just because his parents had been forced together didn’t mean it was a good idea. That and he couldn’t seriously ever see himself in love with a woman. He couldn’t remember even having a passing attraction to one.

Not that love was really an objective for him either. Just having sex was a lot more fun than having to deal with a real relationship. Julan knew his parents were getting tired of him having a new boy over each week, but he didn’t feel ready for any kind of commitment. Perhaps it was their cold marriage that frightened him away from the idea of being stuck with one person for the rest of his life.

They had no right to choose for him. It didn’t matter to him how much money or influence his father had. His father was one of the prominent figures on the council and often told Julan to stop being an embarrassment. It wasn’t expected of him and his mother to have such scandalous son. It was distasteful, undignified, and absurd. It wasn’t the fact that he liked men, but the fact he liked a new one every few days they had said. Julan didn’t see the problem with it. He was just out to have fun.

Then his father told him that marriage to a woman was the solution that they had come up with. They thought she would quell his partying instincts and ‘ground him in reality’. They had already picked someone and set a date, all without informing him. He had argued about it. He remembered, but they refused to listen. In the end, his father bellowed at him and gave him an ultimatum. Marry the girl or get out.

Julan left.

He didn’t look back, except on slow nights such as this one. He was happy now, doing what he loved best, and living off it. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, both crammed into his high-heeled boots. They weren’t the most comfortable, but they really accented his long legs so he kept them. He brushed his blond curls back away from his face as a prospective client approached. Maybe tonight wouldn’t be so slow after all.

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Naren – The Mage from Thril Gandir

 

She had managed to avoid the welcoming party. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go. Terellion was her best friend, and she was glad he had finally returned home after spending the past two years in Rathel training to be an adahi. It was whom he had brought back with him that she was wary of. Deydesli had missed her friend, but she was a little less thrilled that he had returned with a mage. It wasn’t even really the fact that he was a mage, but he was a Thril Gandir trained mage, not a rogue mage like she was. The whole idea of bringing someone well-versed in all the rules seemed like trouble to her.

Her fears not assuaged by her own magic ability. She only had one that she knew of, premonition. She could see things before it happened. However, whenever she tried to see what the mage might do, she came up with nothing. She knew that meant he knew how to ward against her ability, but why would he do that unless his intention was to turn her in. Terellion was an adahi now and had to carry a pair of iron mitts. This mage could grab them, slap them on her, and translocate her all the way to Thril Gandir, where she would most surely wind up imprisoned for the rest of her life, if not for her ability, then for the fact she wasn’t taken there as a child.

So she missed the parties. She avoided his house and the town hall where he was being reinstated as the swordkeeper. There was one place she couldn’t avoid. She was the teacher at the small town’s school. Terellion worked there as well, repairing things and fetching supplies from the town to the south. While others had filled in while he was gone, she was eager for him to come back.

She was hoping he would be alone on his first day back, but he was not so lucky. The students hadn’t arrived yet. Deydesli always made it a point to arrive an hour before they did. When he walked in ten minutes after she got there with the mage trailing behind him, her first instinct was to glance at the side door. She could make a run for it, but instead, she stayed frozen in place.

“Dey!” Terellion smiled as he approached. She tried to smile back as he continued, “I haven’t seen you since I got back. Someone has been waiting to meet you.”

The other elf was tall, thin, and covered in a long flowing robe. His dark skin was a little lighter than his reddish-brown hair and his violet eyes regarded her. He smiled. “Hi. I’m Magister Hethurin Fairsong.” He extended his hand.

Deydesli extended her hand as well. Was this it? Would he be able to tell what she was? Their hands touched. His grip was firm and felt genuine. She still couldn’t tell what he would do. “I’m Deydesli. I’m the teacher here.”

“Terellion’s told me a lot about you. I wanted to thank you for helping him, and me, while we were in the castle in Moressley.”

She glanced at Terellion. How much had he told him?

As if reading her mind, Terellion said, “He knows.”

“Ter! You’re not supposed to tell anyone!”

“He already knew there was someone poking at his wards,” Terellion explained. He sat down on top of one of the desks in the classroom. “I think you should give him a chance.”

“Well, I don’t have much choice now, do I?”

Hethurin sat on the desk next to Terellion, “I won’t turn you in, and I know you’re more than just a mage.”

Deydesli remained silent. That he knew anything at all was a bad idea.

“Your ability— You’ve told everyone it’s premonition and you’ve treated it like something that any mage can do. No one here has questioned it, but I know better. You’re one of the three seers— the seer of the future. There’s only ever one at any given time, and you’re the only one in Naren right now with the ability to see the future.”

Deydesli lowered her brows and stared at him defiantly, “So you’re going to tell everyone?”

Hethurin shook his head.

“Take me to Thril Gandir?”

Hethurin shook his head again. “I don’t think anyone else should know.”

She blinked. It certainly wasn’t what she expected a Thril Gandir mage to say.

“Terellion knows, and I know, but does anyone else need to? Thril Gandir certainly doesn’t need to know. They already have the seer of the past, and he can’t even leave for visits home despite having a perfect record. I feel very strongly against people being held places against their will. You already have Terellion looking out for you, but I want you to know that you now have me as well.”

Nor was she expecting that. She regarded the mage in a new light now, not as a Thril Gandir mage, but as a possible friend. She let the tension in her brow relax, and gave a hesitant smile. “Thank you.”

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Naren – Steak

“What are your thoughts on cooking?” Alinash grinned as he dropped a bag on the table.

Ruby looked up from her book. She had been learning to read from one of the whores a few shacks down. All she had to do was pickpocket enough coins each week to cover the cost of her lesson. “My thoughts? I think it’s great if you do it.”

“Rubes, we’ve been over this. You need to learn. You’re thirteen already, and I won’t always be here for you.”

Of course, that was her father’s reason for teaching her anything, but then again, he had disappeared a couple of times in the past year. Neither time was very long, but she hadn’t had anything cooked while he was gone. She stood and looked in the bag.

“Where did you get these?” she asked, pulling out two steaks.

“There’s some seasoning in there too.”

She looked in the bottom of the bag and pulled out the jar of seasoning. She raised a brow, “You didn’t find these in the garbage.”

He shook his head. “I slaughtered a whole cow just to teach you how to cook.”

She rolled her eyes, “More like you managed to get some shopkeeper to look the other way while stuffed these in your bag.”

“But you’ll notice they’re packaged. Maybe I bought them.”

“You didn’t get that much from the stuff you had to sell,” she stated. The stuff was just a bunch of junk they had stolen the night before. He had already ranted about the low quality of the items. The jewelry had been fake gold. The silver was fake silver, and the diamond earrings were cut glass. Unless he had found someone really gullible, he couldn’t have made more than a silver or two selling it.

Alinash smiled. She never understood why he seemed to like it when she called him out on his bullshit.

“You’re right. I saw a man put his bags down and I took the bags when he wasn’t looking. You remember what I’ve told you-”

She said it along with him while sounding as bored as possible, “Always watch where their attention is.”

“Right! If it’s not on you, you can do anything you want.”

“Yes, father. I know. Can you just cook the steaks now while I finish my reading so I’m ready for my lesson tomorrow with Trina?”

“You can finish after. Now come on, it’s time for you to learn how to cook.”

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