Esme Academy

(Rum - Brothers Book One)

©2017 A. Jane

Betrys arrived in front of the large, stone manor with its imposing towers that was Esme Academy to find Zeti and her trunk already waiting for her. She had offered no forewarning that she was coming to retrieve her child, so this meant trouble. Big trouble if she were to judge by Zeti’s toothy grin. She looked to the headmistress who waited next to Zeti: the older woman, who was older when Betrys went to Esme, had her arms crossed over her chest, her expression more dour than usual.

“What goes on, my daughter?”

“I need not worry any longer about fitting in.”

The headmistress snorted. “Did you even try, child? Swear I do that you did all you could not to fit in.”

The look on Zeti’s face changed to match the headmistress’s. “Much do I already have responsibility for, worrying over the sensibilities of the foolish students is not one of them, nor is it one I want.”

It was Betrys’s turn to cross her arms over her chest. “What goes on?” 

“Did you receive not my missive?” the headmistress asked.

“No letter have I received this day from you as I have been out dealing with Keeper business.” Betrys looked at the Headmistress, her expression flat. “Do you say you were putting Zeti out after just a single notice that you allegedly sent some time this day? What if I had been out all of the day, not stepping within my home dwelling until long after dark?”

“Mistress van Wyrn…”

“’Tis the High Keeper you address with such disdain,” Zeti growled. “The High Keeper of all Keepers; the Dusalla Telia; the Dusalla Vyka, Princess Consort of Vyksen. Many Titles does she hold, use one and give the respect due my mamé.”

“Titles make not a superior individual, nor do such things presume respect.”

“A foolish woman you are to think that the Title of High Keeper of all Keepers demands not respect.”

“Zeti, all is well.”

“Rude she is being to you. After all that you have done for Artezan and her citizens, this fool thinks herself in a position to look down upon you.”

“Afraid she is of me and feels a loss of control, so puffs herself up like a puffer fish and lashes out in an attempt to bring me down.” She looked at the headmistress. “I know my worth.”

“Your daughter is much like you: lacking manners.”

“’Tis my manners that keep me civil in this trying moment. Now what goes on? Or do I summon the Prince Fair and you can explain to him why the Fair Princess Regál is being put out in such a manner? Guarantee I do he will be aught but civil.”

The headmistress bristled, but bit back further retort. “Despite every warning, every suggestion, your wayward child continued to leave the academy grounds without authorization, to interrupt and disturb the other girls sharing the room by having conversations with her mirror, as well tormenting them by appearing to travel through said mirror.”

“Only were they put out because unable were they to do the same. The Fair Princess I am, I need be in contact with the Prince Fair to deal with all that goes on in Nortand.”

“Then you can do so in Nortand!”

“And much rather would I! Friendlier are they than this foreboding pile of stones, especially those who dwell within, and I speak of those from the Northern Seas.” 


“’Tis not a friendly place, Mamé. Know I do you wish me to gain friends my age, but no one within would speak with me, and aye, I spoke to them first. They think me odd because of my eyes, because of my hair. They think me something I am not because I am the Fair Princess. Know I do you hold fond memories of attending this place, but you had Uncle Idrys and Uncle Easal with you, even was there Naru Bastan to keep you company. All those I might be friends with are taught at home, even the other Keeper girls, and those that do attend here still treat me as outsider.” Zeti looked down. “’Tis like dealing with Prig’s son, or those two foolish girls from Tartyn, each hour of the day until I can return to my room. So aye, the first moment I can, I contact Grampy, or I slip away to where my Sight tells me I need go.”

Betrys opened her arms and caught Zeti when she launched herself against her. “Correct you are, my daughter: I had Uncle Idrys and Uncle Easal when I attended making attendance bearable, as did Naru Bastan’s company.” So had being away from Fiana, but she kept that to herself. “You need not attend any longer. Truth be told, ‘tis why I am actually here. Your Papa misses you too much and threatened he did to kidnap you did I not retrieve you immediately.”

“I miss Papa, too.”

“Shall we return home? Uncle Basyl awaits us. So does White Lace.”

“I like White. Does she come to learn how to be Keeper?” 

“She does. Mayhap you might aid me.”

“Mistress van Wyrn…”

Betrys flicked her hand at the headmistress and watched her shrink into a taod with a big bun of grey hair upon its head. “Mayhap a bit of time as a taod will cease your taodish demeanor.”


“Do you say, daughter mine, that she deserved not such a fate.”

Instead of answering, Zeti started laughing, and hugged her mother tight. 

“’Tis as I thought.”

“Mayhap, if time permits, we might visit with Asha.”

“Of course.”


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