“One, why are you home so late?” my mom asked upon seeing me climb up the tree to our home. Her eyes narrowed at me, and she held a large book in her right front paw. She thumped it against her left paw, and the heavy sound it made sent a shiver running down my spine. “I heard the school burned down because of Lucia. You should’ve come home straight away. Do you know how worried I was about you?”
Quite frankly, I don’t think my mom was worried at all seeing as she was waiting for me here instead of searching for me out there. “After the school burned down, everyone went to the park. Even the teacher and principal were there. If I left to go home, it would’ve felt like I was skipping school, so I stayed.”
My mom’s eyes narrowed even further, and the book thumped harder against her paw. “Is that so?”
I nodded, and after a bit more staring, my mom put the book away. She walked down the branch and took a seat, and I finished climbing up the tree. “What happened at school today?” my mom asked. “Did Lucia really burn it down?”
“I’m not sure.” Actually, I’m pretty sure it was related to her, but no one needs to know that. “The supervisor came and found three law enforcers drunk and asleep around a cooking pot where the fire started. One of the law enforcers pointed at Senior Fluffytail and claimed she was the culprit.”
“And the supervisor believed him just like that?” my mom asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah. He asked her if she burned down the school, and she said no, but he grabbed her and took her away after telling us to shut up. He said, ‘If I say it’s her, then it’s her, and that’s final’.”
“What?” my mom asked, furrowing her brow. Her tail thumped against the branch. “That’s outrageous! No one tried to stop him? No, of course not.” She pursed her lips. “Should we protest?”
As expected of someone who’s tried Senior Fluffytail’s cooking. Even my mom wants to challenge the authorities, and she’s usually a law-abiding citizen. “Slayer!” my mom shouted. “Get over here! Lucia was unjustly taken away, and she was charged with some bogus claims like meat smuggling and arson.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard,” my dad said, poking his head out from behind a leaf. “Everyone was talking about it. A group of my friends are already getting together to protest in front of the prison.”
My mom narrowed her eyes at my dad. “Were you going to go?”
My dad scratched his head. “Would you be angry if I said yes?”
“Of course not!” my mom said and slapped her tail against the branch again. “Take me with you!”
Is the power of food this strong? But more importantly, would protesting even do anything? “Is the supervisor going to let Senior Fluffytail go if enough people protest?”
My parents exchanged glances with each other. “Probably not,” my dad said. “But how often do we get to harass the law enforcers without getting into trouble?”
“…Won’t you get into trouble?” I’m pretty sure harassing and bothering the law enforcers is against the law.
My dad squatted next to me. “Listen, son,” he said and nodded. “This is an important life lesson. When one person breaks the law, he gets into trouble. When everyone breaks the law, it’s the law that’s in trouble.”
That doesn’t sound quite right to me. “Isn’t the supervisor strong enough to defeat everyone by himself?” That’s why he’s the supervisor. The ruler counts on him to suppress all trouble within a tribe.
“He’s not,” my dad said and shook his head. “There’s plenty of people just as strong as him. The thing is, no one wants to defeat him. If we defeat him, then the ruler will come and teach us a lesson. Until someone’s strong enough to defeat the ruler, they won’t harm the supervisor. Besides, we all worship the ruler. Beating her underling is the same as disrespecting her, and we don’t want to do that.”
“What’s going to happen to Senior Fluffytail then?” Although Senior Fluffytail is pretty evil and dangled me off the side of a flying boat and threatened to Soul Scour me more than once, she’s still my savior. She freed me from the jail, and I thought I paid her back by bringing her to the tribe, but she’s fed me all kinds of expensive foods. Even my classmates treat me better because of my relationship with her. She’s given me snacks to share—read, bribe—them with, and it’s made the five minutes before school starts much more fun.
“Lucia will … probably be executed,” my mom said. Her gaze softened, and she let out a sigh. “There’s one thing we can do, but it likely won’t work. We can send a message to the ruler, but she spends all of her time cultivating; that’s why she lets the supervisors handle everything for her. If we tell her the supervisor has been abusing his power, she’ll punish him, but who knows how long it’ll take for her to receive our message? By the time she gets around to reading it, several decades or centuries will have already passed.”
“But we still have to try, right?” Even if it doesn’t work, I still have to do everything I can. Once I’ve done everything within my power, then whatever happens, I won’t feel any regret. “I’ll write the letter right now. Will you send it to the ruler when I’m done?”
My mom raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t think you’d be that attached to Lucia,” she said. “Didn’t she bully you while bringing you home? I could tell from the way you looked at us.”
Wait. What? My mom knew I was unhappy with Senior Fluffytail but hosted her anyway? “Why—?”
“Obviously to punish you for running away,” my mom said and placed her front paws on her hips. “You have to experience the consequences of your actions, or else you won’t learn.”
…Couldn’t she have just given me a book to learn from? That’s how I’ve learned everything else.Previous Chapter Next Chapter