“Breathe,” Alle said, hands placed on his son’s shoulders to hold him up. “That’s my boy; that’s it. Slow, just slow. Gently. Your heart beats. You’re safe. You’ll be fine. You’re here. Son, just breathe.”

Allen slumped forward as the soothing baritone of his father’s voice eased him into a comforting rhythm of a dance long forgotten. Hands covered with scrapes, Allen felt for the krov-stone that hung under his cloak, mouthed a small prayer once his hands wrapped the stone. “Jalem-.”

“She’s fine. Desmon’s with her now. Let Mother tend to them. Tell me what happened.”

Allen’s face grew damp as he recalled the attack. “There was no provocation. Nothing. Professor Miga had…we were gathering materials for the festivities – nothing from the Forbidden Regions. We weren’t anywhere near them. Azure lilies and crevlo leaves don’t grow there. Not much of anything grows there, except fear.

“I knew I heard sixpence birds – I swear it. Even thought I saw a coshka or two. Yet there wasn’t any warning when Sorpha’s men attacked. In the blink of an eye, the skies turned red with flames and everything burned in a funnel, taking whatever it could with it. Father, we were all choking. Despite everything we tried, we were choking.”

“Sleep. You three won’t approach this fight again, not if I can help it. None of you should have been sent out in that area in the first place.”

“Professor Chekton-.”

“Chekton’s a fool. He’s  no better leading you in your studies any more than he could lead the way the waters flow. Once Miga wakes, the magistrates will want her testimony. Maybe this time, we can dismiss Chekton for good.”

“What if you can’t? What happens to Professor Miga then?”

Alle sighed. Of course his son wouldn’t be blind to the malevolent ways of those in the magistrate who masked their actions with ‘good intentions’ and meaningless mandates. “That’s our concern, not yours. Sleep. Tomorrow, Mother and Noble will take the three of you far from here, someplace safe.”

“Does such a place exist? Sorpha-.”

“Sorpha will wait. Chekton won’t.”

Allen shook his head. “Professor Chekton doesn’t have that kind of power, does he?”

His father didn’t answer as he moved his hand over Allen’s eyes – the young man asleep beforehe fell to the bed.