28 \ 116

Upon exiting transport, the three young royalty followed their father to the Verdant Plateau, where children were gathered.  Carlo felt nervous, as if he were somehow to blame.  They were meeting other kids who were at Pyrean Midsummer, to celebrate that they were better thanks to the Imperium, after the evil criminal had made them all sick with the virus.  This was happening on the Verdant Plateau to remind everyone that this was a place of health and prosperity.

In front of Carlo, his older sister and brother didn’t look at each other much, but looked up often toward their father.  The walk from the plateau’s edge seemed long, until they reached the opening in the Pergola that awaited them.

The Magus children stood to their father’s left, Carlo the youngest standing farthest out.  He stood up straight and tried to smile.  The kids he faced looked very serious. He wasn’t sure what they expected of him, so he tried to smile a little more.

King Ascendant Vario addressed the children’s assembly, flanked by teachers and caretakers.  He congratulated everyone on the sick population’s total recovery, and proceeded to explain everything:  that the disease had come from Hirylien, the many misdeeds of criminal Raev Sturlusson, and how the doctors created the cure from the hidden serum in the man’s arm.  The kids looked at each other and back at the royal family through the corners of their eyes.  There was one girl whose gaze was fixed on Carlo, and didn’t leave him.  He would look away and back to see her still watching him.  Her hair was yellow and straight, and she looked only a little bit older.

When the speech was over, the kids lined up to shake hands with the royal children.  With handshake after handshake, Carlo grew confused and more nervous.  There wasn’t anything in particular, but this wasn’t going the way it was supposed to.  There was none of the ecstatic fawning common at other children’s greetings.  They peered at him intently.  When that girl walked up to him, he almost wanted to run and hide.  Panicking, he looked at his father, who was looking right at him.  Strangely, Carlo bowed before sticking out his hand.  The girl bowed back, and without saying anything, shook his hand in a way that felt like she wasn’t shaking it at all.

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