Chapter 2

1161 Words
Ten years later Huff, huff, Callisto narrowly dodged a strike from his father. He was tired and drenched in sweat, but his father was coming at him still, training him harder than any other pupil in the village. Callisto blinked the salty sweat out of his eyes and parried another attack with his wooden training sword. "Excellent! You're improving each day, son!" Ezbero lowered his weapon and bowed. Callisto breathed a sigh of relief and mirrored his father's bow, thankful that the training was over for the day. "Go get cleaned up for dinner. You'll have the rest of the afternoon free as a reward for your improvement." Ezbero clapped Callisto on the shoulder and smiled proudly.  Presta came into the training room then, smiling at her father and nodding warmly at Callisto. "Father, the little boy is back and asking for you." "Ah, yes, my little princess. He is a very persistent lad. I will talk with him. Please ask him to wait in the front room while I clean up the dojo." "Yes, Father." Presta bowed respectfully to her father and departed. Callisto began picking up the training items to put away. "Stop, Callisto. You did well today. I'll finish straightening things up in here. You go ahead and clean up." "Thank you, Master!" Callisto excitedly gave a small bow and sprinted out of the room. He couldn't wait to get his bath and have a hearty dinner. These trainings always worked up an appetite, and since he did well he could eat his fill today.  Callisto headed to his private bath and quickly scrubbed down with the cool water. His father had built the private residence of the dojo over a stream just so the family could have private bathing within the walls of their home. After all, Callisto had a deformity that his father was determined to keep a secret, even from his sister. His father was very careful to always make sure that Callisto wasn't exposed to any of the other pupils of the dojo because of his deformity. He was allowed to train with them, but he could never change clothes with them.  After a refreshing bath, Callisto quickly dressed and headed to the small dining room to wait for dinner. Presta was already there setting the table. "Did you make Father happy today? So you can eat a big dinner?" She asked worriedly. Presta was always fussing over Callisto, even at such a young age. "Yeah. I actually blocked one of his attacks! So he's really proud of me!" Callisto patted his chest proudly and raised his chin. Presta smiled and tugged Callisto's sleeve. "I'm always proud of you, brother. You work harder than any of Father's pupils. Even the older ones!" "Thanks, Presta. So is that boy back to ask Father to train him. Hiro, right?" "Yeah. That little blond boy that is our old Nanny's son. He just won't stop asking Father to come train, even though he's just a kid." Callisto laughed at Presta's choice of words. "Presta, we're just kids, too! He's even six months older than us!" Both kids giggled together. "After dinner, wanna go catch fireflies? Or maybe some frogs?" "Ew. Frogs are gross. Let's catch fireflies!" Presta clasped her hands excitedly. Suddenly they heard their father's loud footsteps and looked at each other nervously.  "His heavy stomps," Presta whispered. "He's upset. Maybe you should go hide, Callisto. Once he eats he'll feel better. You don't deserve a scolding today." Callisto nodded and scurried back toward the washroom just as the door to the dining room was flung open. "WHERE IS CALLISTO?!" Ezbero boomed. "Father, he's taking his time with his bath like you said. Dinner isn't ready yet." Presta shakily stood between her father and the path to the bathroom. Ezbero glared down at her for a second before starting to relax. "Ah, Presta. You look so much like your mother. You even have her strong will. When I see you, I still see her." Ezbero sighed and took his seat at the table, burying his face in his hands. The maid quickly brought the meal to the table of grilled fish, rice, and steamed vegetables with baked apples for dessert. The entire meal was laid out on the table, complete with Ezbero's favorite ale. He took his glass and drank deeply before relaxing in his seat. "Father, Callisto did well in training today. Why are you upset with him?" Presta prodded now that her father had calmed down. She knew Callisto was hungry and wanted to make sure her father was calm before calling him to the table. "Ah. That kid's mom. Threatening me if I don't train him. Using Callisto," Ezbero mumbled. "That's not Callisto's fault, Father. Please let him come eat dinner with us. He worked hard and is hungry. He also promised to take me to catch fireflies after dinner! And they're only out at twilight. Please?" Presta leaned down looked into her father's eyes, begging as she had learned to do in order to protect her brother from her father's spontaneous bursts of wrath. "You're right, you're right. Of course. Go get him. Let's have dinner." Ezbero leaned back took another drink of his ale before digging into his plate, not bothering to wait for his young children. Presta scurried to the washroom door and knocked a soft knock twice, her secret code to Callisto that things had calmed down and all was safe. Callisto peeked out a crack in the door. He had learned to respectfully fear his father. He would rather starve than face his father in his wrath. Presta had never received a single beating from her father. He treated her like royalty. She had learned that she could shield Callisto if she worded things right and played it smart. Callisto got fewer beatings whenever Presta intervened.  Presta led him to the table giggling the whole way about how excited she was that he was taking her out to catch fireflies. Ezbero only threw a little glance at his children before continuing to eat his meal.  Callisto sighed in relief. No attention was a good thing. He sat down and ate a full meal to his heart's content. His father didn't pull any food away from him or run him off. He would have to work harder so he could eat more big meals like this. After dinner Callisto and Presta, hand in hand, ran out to the field behind their house to catch fireflies. "I caught a huge firefly, Callisto! Mine's bigger than yours! You caught a baby firefly!" Presta laughed and taunted as Callisto tiredly reached out to catch whatever firefly was closest to him. Presta danced around the field, happy to be outside playing while Callisto was too tired to enjoy it. He laid down in the grass and closed his eyes for a minute. Presta's giggles faded in his ears as sleep overtook him.
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