Because she cherished the book, the elf carefully shut it once class ended at noon. Dimpling, she reported, “Leah is improving rapidly. The elven language is not easy to learn for many of the pronunciations are different. Further, the writing rules are different. Fortunately, Leah possesses an excellent memory. She can remember everything I teach her. Her pronunciation, grammar and spelling are basically all correct. She is already able to converse with me in the elven language. As a teacher, I very much like such astute students.”
I happily scrubbed Leah’s small head. You could say that I had gotten a taste of being a parent. Hearing that my daughter was smart and a quick learner put a bright smile on my face. Leah giddily clung to my arm and questioned, “Has Leah cheered Papa up?! Did Leah do well? Papa, is Leah a good girl?’
“You sure have,” I responded with a firm nod. I gave Leah a kiss on her forehead and added, “Papa is happy and glad to see Leah studying so earnestly. Leah is a good girl. Don’t get lazy, though; you have to keep up the hard work. There’s still a lot to learn!”
Veirya crouched down and gave Leah a peck on the cheek. Leah wasn’t used to Veirya making such an intimate gesture. But nonetheless, Veirya caressed her face and expressed, “I’m also. Very happy. But you have to. Work hard in the afternoon, as well.”
I couldn’t hold my laughter. Leah was almost one of those kids who are forced to take every supplementary class under the sky. Leah was supposed to be in primary school, yet she had a full day course of studying. In the morning, she studied the elven and human language. In the afternoon, she practiced swordplay with Angelina and Veirya. Leah, however, didn’t appear annoyed. Instead she nodded. By the looks of it, she didn’t find her time out with Angelina and Veirya to be dull.
“Papa won’t go with you this afternoon. Papa should teach Ross something.”
I detected a tinge of jealousy from Leah. I held her hand and gave her a smile, “Don’t worry, Leah. Papa won’t give you the cold shoulder for Ross’ sake. He is Papa’s pupil, after all. Papa, consequently, needs to teach him something.”
We returned to the house together. Anna served everyone a big juicy piece of meat, some green vegetables and a soup. Ross stood next to us with a pot of wine in hand to refill our drinks when needed, while we were seated at the table. The elves joined us at the table. It was our first dinner together since our return.
Initially, the table was visibly spacious when there was only Veirya, Leah and I. I could still remember those days. At the time, we only had a candle with a flickering flame accompanying us. Veirya, who sat opposite me, would always resemble an iceberg and not utter a word. There would only be soup and rock-hard bread on the table. The house was cold enough to literally turn the soup cold. We wouldn’t speak and ate as if we were swallowing rocks.
Fast forward and the table was filled with piping hot dishes. Leah sat next to Veirya and quietly told her what she wanted to eat. Veirya would then take the entire thing for Leah, incurring Angelina’s protests. The Elven Queen, listening in to Angelina’s protests joyously, gently placed her hand on mine and waited for me to guide her to the food. Anna hastily came out of the kitchen. She wiped her hand and sat down. Angelina would try and pinch food from Veirya’s plate or tease me every now and then under the table with her foot. The bright sun at noon shone onto our table, giving a gloss to the dark red wine we had. The wide and spacious table was somewhat packed. I considered if a larger table was necessary.
“Ross, bring a chair down from the room farthest in upstairs to join us. We don’t need someone to wait on us. Since I’ve taken you in, you’re part of the family, so come sit. I don’t have that many rules and regulations here.”
“C-can I really?!” Ross stuttered.
“Don’t worry. If I’ve already told you so, then there’s nothing to fret about. Just do as I say.”
“Y-yes…” Ross quivered in place, apparently still afraid to do as I said. Howbeit, when he saw my firm gaze, he shakily headed upstairs in the end.
Angelina gave me a smile: “Weren’t you the one who’d rather die than accept him? You’ve taken him in and even treat him so well now. At the very least, I’ve never heard of anyone treating their pupil so kindly.”
“It’s a fact that I was reluctant to take him in. Since I chose to accept him, I must fulfil my duty. With that said, Angelina, I need you to keep tabs on him at home. I still don’t know what his goal in joining me is. I just don’t want accidents to happen here.”
“I know. Based on my conjecture, he’s trustworthy. Up until now, he hasn’t done anything suspicious. Needless to say, he might be concealing it well.”
Ross finally came back with a chair that he struggled to carry: “Umm… Umm… Sir Lin, I have brought a chair… so… so… where should I sit?”
I swept my gaze around the table. I didn’t want Ross to sit opposite me as Veirya and Leah were there. He might be cute, but I knew he was a male. I answered, “Sit on my left hand side.”
“C-can I?” inquired Ross, with his eyes wide and frantic demeanour.
“What are you on edge for? Just sit down. I’m not going to eat you.”
“Can I…? Can I really sit next to you?”
“Of course you can.”
Ross set his chair in place but didn’t dare to sit. Hopeless, I smiled: “Didn’t I tell you that I wasn’t as brilliant as you believed? That’s why you don’t need to be treating me as if I’m some worshipped being. Just sit. Anna, bring another plate and piece of meat over.”
Anna stood up and served a plate of meat to Ross. Lost for what to do, Ross scrutinised the big piece of meat and then looked up at me. I questioned, “Can I… eat this food? Can I eat… anything on the table?”
“Of course. You can’t drink alcohol, obviously, but everything else is fine. You can share the fruit juice with Leah.”
“Have you brought another individual back, Your Lordship? Ciara told me it was an adorable catman,” asked the Elven Queen, who was sitting next to me. She wiped her mouth and smiled: “Female catman are usually sensitive and tiring to get along with.”
“But we have a ‘he’, though.”
“Really?” Even the Elven Queen was surprised and froze upon hearing it was a male.
Ross shrunk as he felt wronged. His small ears flopped onto his head, while tears welled up in his eyes. I scrubbed his head. Leah claimed, “It’s fine, Ross. A boy must be strong just as Papa is. Papa doesn’t cry.”
I scrubbed Ross’ head again: “Don’t cry over everything. Regardless of what people say, keep your head high and stand proud. Continue to do as you believe should be done.”
I chuckled. Ross didn’t seem to understand what I meant yet. What I actually meant was that I had resorted to many immoral methods and broke rules to destroy my competition before. Thence, I wouldn’t listen to anyone’s criticism or lectures. I always carried on as I pleased.
I lowered my head and picked up the Elven Queen’s plate. As I sliced her meat, I said to Ross, “Eat. This is supposed to be time to be happy. Don’t cry.”
Ross wiped his tears then gingerly picked up his knife and fork. Leah watched him clumsily try to slice his meat. Suddenly, she stood up on her chair and took Ross’ plate from him. Frightened, he jumped back. Leah declared, “Leah will slice it for you. Leah will teach you how to use the fork and knife later! Leah wasn’t too skilled with it before, but Leah is a professional now!”
Once he confirmed that Leah meant no ill intent, he carefully sat back in his chair. He watched Leah and softly muttered, “Th-thank you.”
“It’s nothing! Leah is your elder sister! As a dutiful elder sister, Leah shall take care of Leah’s younger brother!”
I laughed quietly. I was much happier with Leah’s gentleness and kindness compared to her studies or swordplay. What made humans different to other races was that humans knew what kindness was, and I wanted to instil that in Leah. Leah wasn’t a succubus. She was my daughter, one who did her father proud.
MYSD Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/wjzmysd