• Chapter 4: The Visitor

    Regina hurried to the edge of the school to pick up her bike. The sun was up high, and school was still in session.
    In any AVERAGE school, students would not be allowed off the school premises until classes were over or unless a note was given to the office beforehand. However, THIS school cared not of when students decided to ditch or play hooky. If someone wanted to enroll in the academy, it mattered not if they attended classes because it was the students' money spent on the education.
    Since it was nearly lunchtime, Regina rode towards the mansion to prepare something to eat for herself and the others.
    It was a beautiful afternoon. Birds were chirping, the air was fresh, and the flowers seemed to smile under the sun.
    Regina sighed. 'Such a lovely day, but soon fall will take its toll and make lovely days like this miserable. It's a pity that these days couldn't last longer,' she thought.

    Regina arrived at the mansion eager to get the cooking done so that she wouldn't have to suffer through eating the slop that was served at the school. She set her bike next to an old tree and headed inside.
    'Seriously,' she thought, 'Why is it that the principle spends so much money on education, and so little on tolerable meals? I know that our school has to be one of the best and remain that way, but...'
    Regina's train of thought was interrupted when she noticed an envelope at the doorstep.She picked it up and decided to read it inside.
    Regina sat down at the wood dining table that could seat twelve people that was placed in the center of the dining room. She happily munched on an apple
    "How odd," she said aloud. "It doesn't say who the letter's from." She tore the envelope and emptied its contents.
    A piece of paper fluttered onto the table. Regina unfolded it and read. At first, Regina seemed indifferent, but as she read on her face grew grim. Then, her face went from grim to pale.
    Regina dropped her apple and rushed back to the school on her bike. 'Damn it!' she thought. 'Why now?! WHY?!'

    The school bell rang for lunch, and students were scattered all over the school grounds. Natsuhiko and his servants met at their usual eating area (or "usual" during previous years. Natsuhiko had yet to be accustomed there), three tables set near an old willow tree.
    Cedric, Simon, and Priscilla played a game of Dominoes as Bala took out two books from his bag.
    "Young master," Bala said, "shall we continue yesterday's lesson while we wait for lunch to arrive?" Natsuhiko sighed and nodded. 'Not like I have a choice,' he thought.
    Before Bala had time to begin Natsuhiko's lesson, an out-of-breath Regina popped into their eating area. "You're finished quicker than usual today, Regina," Priscilla noted. "What's on today's menu?"
    Regina caught her breath. "Forget about...lunch. A letter...arrived. Must prepare...for tonight's guest..."
    Everyone's faces lit up. They had not received a guest in a while, so they were eager to get the preparations ready.
    "And who might this guest be, Regina?" Cedric inquired.
    Regina stuttered. "The...g-guest is....YOU-KNOW-WHO."
    Everyone seemed puzzled. "Just spill it, Regina," Natsuhiko ordered. "Who's the guest?"
    Regina bit her lip. "It's...HER. The guest....is the wicked woman."
    Everyone gasped in unison. "You don't mean..." asked Simon. "She isn't talking about...HER...is she?" asked Priscilla. Natsuhiko was the most worried. "Is it...my grandmother?" he asked. Regina slowly nodded.
    At once, all of Natsuhiko's servants rushed to the bike racks (except Regina, who was still catching her breath). Cedric sputtered orders as he and the other servants rode away from the school. "Simon, you'll help me choose the ingredients for today's dinner! Bala, I need you to clean the house! Regina will help you after she's done with the cooking! Priscilla..."
    Cedric paused. "Um...what should I do, Cedric?" Priscilla asked.
    Cedric stared at Priscilla, wondering what kind of job would be suitable for her. "Priscilla...you can......set the table." An awkward silence followed. 'I know that I'm not THAT much help,' Priscilla thought, 'but at least I try my best.' crying
    "We're here to help, guys!" Natsuhiko and Regina arrived at the mansion and got to work right away.

    It seemed as though time was against Natsuhiko and his servants because in what seemed like no time at all, a limousine parked itself in front of the Yamaka mansion.
    Natsuhiko and his servants waited for the passengers to exit the vehicle, dreading each second of the wait.
    Three men exited the limousine, all of whom were finely dressed. Two men were of average height, and seemed like regular bodyguards. It was the third male bodyguard who towered above the rest and struck fear into Natsuhiko and his servants. The third bodyguard was 7 feet tall and was so bulky that he looked like a boulder.
    A woman dressed in black exited the back door, holding it for her employer. Out from the limousine exited an old woman as wrinkled as a raisin. Her skin was pale white, her hair glimmering like threads of silver. Her clothes were extravagant and made her servants' look as though they were in rags.
    When she spoke, her voice sounded like still water. "It's been such a long time, Natsu. I see that you haven't fired those incompetent teens yet."
    Natsuhiko, though insulted, said nothing. "My offer is still valid, I'll have you know," Lady Sylvette continued.
    "Dinner's going to get cold if we don't hurry, Grandmother," Natsuhiko replied as calmly as he could. Lady Sylvette sneered as she and her servants were invited into the mansion.

    The dinner was long, awkward, and unsatisfactory. Each bite of food seemed bitter to Natsuhiko, but he did his best to force down the food.
    Lady Sylvette broke the silence. "You seem to be lacking workers. Look at how filthy this place is," she said with disapproval in her voice.
    "Quality over quantity, Grandmother. Cedric and the others are servants unlike any other." Natsuhiko replied.
    "I agree with the first statement, but I doubt of the second. All servants are alike; they're a dime a dozen," she replied. If you fire them, and allow me to lend you some of MY servants, I'd gladly help you with you're financial problems. I care about you, you know."
    Natsuhiko hit the table with his fist. "If you really cared, you would have tooken me in when Father and Mother died! The only reason you 'care' about me is because I'm your only grandson!" Natsuhiko exclaimed.
    Lady Sylvette maintained her composure. "It's these servants, isn't it? They've been brainwashing you, haven't they?"
    Natsuhiko's eyes burned with anger. "How DARE you even THINK that?! They've been doing what you haven't over these past seven years! They've been keeping me alive!"
    Lady Sylvette stood up. "The nerve of raising your voice to your own grandmother! These servants have obviously been a bad influence on you!"
    Cedric interrupted. "We are fine servants, Mistress Sylvette, that I assure you. Let us end this conversation and continue our dinner.
    "How dare a mere servant like YOU tell ME what to do?!" Lady Sylvette reached across the table and slapped Cedric across the cheek. The sound echoed throughout the mansion, like a bullet, announcing a declaration of war.
    Simon and Bala rushed to Cedric's aid and helped him back on his feet. "Enough, Grandmother! If all you came here for was to ruin our day, then you've succeeded! Now, LEAVE!" Natsuhiko exclaimed.
    Lady Sylvette's face was grim. "Oh, I'll leave alright! As soon as you fire those insufferable scum!"
    Priscilla hid behind Regina; Regina spoke out her mind. "Lady Sylvette, we worked our asses off all day to prepare this dinner and we expect to have a peaceful evening! So please, either sit down, or leave!"
    Regina only managed to anger Lady Sylvette even more. "Vulgar wench! Learn your place!"
    Lady Sylvette was about to slap Regina, but Cedric grabbed Lady Sylvette's arm.
    "I'll make a deal with you, Mistress Sylvette. If the other servants and I can prove our competence, will you leave?"
    Lady Sylvette calmed down. "IF you can prove yourselves, then-and ONLY then-I will take my leave. But I will only consider you competent if you can perform better than MY servants at what THEY excel at. However if you can't prove yourselves competent, then you're all fired!"
    Cedric did not back down. "I agree to your terms."
    Natsuhiko did not approve. "Cedric, everyone. A quick word please," he said in a frustrated voice.
    They walked over to a different room and talked. "What do you think you're doing Cedric?! You're being rash; not only that but you're risking not just your own job, but the jobs of Bala, Simon, Regina, and Priscilla as well!"
    "I agree with Cedric, Young Master," Regina interrupted. "Either the hag goes, or I do."
    "She needs to be put down a peg!" added Simon.
    "I'm willing to follow the others if the vote is unanimous," Bala said.
    "Um...I guess...I'll join too...though to be honest, I'm a little frightened," Priscilla stuttered.
    Cedric grabbed Natsuhiko's shoulder. "We're not just servants, Young Master. We're HUMAN. And your friends. You should trust us more."
    Natsuhiko sighed. "I DO trust you. But if things get rough, I'll find a way to stop things and ask Grandmother to let you stay."
    "Very well, Young Master," they all said in unison.
    The night neared as the event to determine the fate of Natsuhiko's friends would take place.