Fierce Protector, Excerpt #4

“Professor Vukod, you have the floor,” Dean Winters motioned him forward.

“Thank you, Dean, Queen Aileene.” He clasped his hands behind his back and turned so he could look at me as he addressed the two seated behind the desk. “This young lady has certainly spun a tragic tale to garner sympathy, but the facts of the matter are she attacked me today, with a weapon she was wearing on her person. She should be expelled for carrying a weapon and should be severely punished for striking a teacher, especially since I was trying to stop her from attacking a fellow student.”

“Who happens to be your son,” Aileene muttered darkly.

“Yes, Erreq is my son, but that is beside the point. This extremely violent child continues to willfully ignore the rules of the school, including, but not limited to, carrying a weapon and training a pet to attack another student. You can ask any of the sixth-year students and they will corroborate what happened today. She has no business at this or any other school.” Professor Vukod smiled smugly.

“Is this because she was born on Earth?” Aileene asked quietly.

“I suppose we can make allowances for her savagery because she was born in that accursed dimension, but we cannot afford to have her kind here to possibly infect–” his voice trailed off as he realized he might have said too much. After taking a moment to regroup, he once again asserted, “She should be expelled because she attacked me today.”

“I see,” Aileene nodded to him as if considering his point. “Squire Kentauro, this pet of yours, what is it?”

“A cat, Majesty.”

“Your pet cat attacked Erreq Vukod?”

“She’s not really my pet, Ma’am. Bastet shows up in my room to sleep and after I feed her in the morning she disappears. I didn’t even know she was around this morning when she attacked Erreq.”

“Typical cat,” Aileene murmured. “Professor Vukod is it true that you grabbed Squire Kentauro’s shoulder and pulled her off-balance this morning?”

“I was attempting to restrain her to prevent her from causing further damage to my son,” he answered confidently.

“Then I think Squire Kentauro showed remarkable restraint by only knocking you unconscious.” Vukod squawked in outrage and Aileene held up her hand to forestall his interruption. “Your son and his friends were threatening children at least five years younger than they are and your son manifested his wyvern claws and attempted to attack Squire Kentauro.” She turned her attention back to me, so I stood straighter. “Mkali, what would you have done if Erreq had continued to transform into his wyvern and attack you or your friends?”

“I would have done whatever I had to do to Protect the Weak, including incapacitating or killing Erreq if necessary.”

It was Erreq’s turn to scoff this time. “Like she could do anything to me. What could a centaur do to a wyvern?”

Show him, Bernie commanded me.

I pivoted ninety degrees to my right and grabbed two daggers from my belt, one for each hand. In one motion I threw the daggers underhand at the wall across the room and before they landed, I activated the pocket dimension on my necklace and pulled out a sword for each hand. The daggers thunked against the wall, buried half-way up the blade and I held the swords out from my body with the blades facing out. I was ready to attack or defend, as necessary.

“If you attacked this battle-hardened hero and member of the King’s Guard, it’s highly likely that you would be permanently maimed or even dead. Make no mistake, King Alister adopted Mkali Kentauro as his sister because he loves her but also because of his great respect for this warrior and as recognition for everything she has already done for Theria. She may have been born on Earth but as far as I’m concerned, she understands what it means to be Therian far more than either of you,” she thundered as she glared at Professor Vukod and Erreq.

Protect the Weak isn’t just something we say in passing, it is our way of life and the mandate of our rule. As followers of An’Ceann, we choose to help those weaker than ourselves and have chosen a life of service. Not everyone believes the same about An’Ceann as we do and that’s fine, but what isn’t fine is when someone in authority abuses their power for selfish gain or to harm those weaker than themselves. Professor Vukod, you are released from your position at this academy–”

“You cannot do that,” Vukod interrupted angrily.

“Dean Winters, where does the money to run this academy come from?” Aileene interrupted.

“From the Crown,” he answered.

“Specifically, from the King’s personal treasury. The academies are free to the students because my husband pays for everything, including the teachers’ salaries. Not only do I have the right to remove you from your position, as the King’s representative, I also have the right to launch an investigation into the ‘Therians for Theria’ nonsense your son spouted during the confrontation this morning to find out if it can be traced back to you. If that turns out to be the case, then you will have a conversation with the King; a very up close and personal conversation with him. Do I make myself clear?”

Vukod paled and staggered back, struck by her words as if by a physical brute force attack. “Yes, Majesty,” he whispered.

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