Chap 30 Delighting in sweet Treats

Sonata Arctica- Only Broken hearts make you beautiful

*my sketch is on DA. Poetry by John Whittier, Lalita Noronha etc.

*improved fluency of this paragraph

I must have been staring too hard at the eartips of my friends.

"Reslin you obsess over pointed ears? Hobby I don't know of?" the dark elf remarked with a laugh. I flushed hot, busted! If you don't know Algrim, you will think he is scary. Just a while ago, when Ilkar was looking at something, I brushed my finger on one ear. Everyone guffawed.

Now Ilkar poked me on the shoulder playfully. "Er no I'm not. Algrim, who was that lady? You gave her a box," I said.

"Yes. A friend holding a party. I made her a cake. Swiss roll to be precise." He touched his hair dreamily.

"Ah I've seen that kind of cake. Can make one for us?" Ilkar commented merrily.

Kruz voiced a similar assent. Algrim rubbed his chin. "Hmm it is tedious, takes a few hours more than a usual cake. I don't feel like doing one again so soon. Tired."

The Julatsan asked why in a plaintive tone. We cracked up which resulted in him poking Kruz now. I'm not bluffing, Ilkar Loves poking at our tummies! My bro glared at him, trying to avoid his 'jabs'. It was highly likely that he just wanted to be playful. Algrim explained, one finger in the air, "The crust has to be just right or it cracks when you roll it too quickly or slowly. They took it out of the food syllabus, hard to finish it in time. Hehe Ilkar new hobby?"

Now the fair elf was smiling, chin on his both hands. "Hope so. No hurry, I'll pay… excuse" He covered his mouth and coughed. Kruz refilled a mug. "Thanks, my friend. Medicine."

They consisted of several colored pills. With every swallow, he grimaced. Algrim wondered if there was any natural remedies. "Candy," we observed in unison.

"Ick bitter candy. I did try some essential oils and honey tea. But this is the followup to ensure the virus is complete gone. Awful to swallow." He looked nauseous and downed another glass of water. Algrim remarked, "I'm sorry. I used to have pain in my chest too. Did I inconvenience you, the operation?"

They went into dialect for a while, to which the fair elf touched himself and shook his head and my tutor nodded and looked relieved. I was not quite sure what Algrim was referring to and they did not translate. Focusing back on us, Ilkar smiled, gestured for us to leave the kitchen where we were gathered.

"Take the sofa. Feels stuffy." He turned on the standing fan.

"Ah is it ok? You seem cold Sir," Kruz remarked.

He smiled. "No I'm fine. Don't have to call me sir now. You look sweaty. This angle all right?" He adjusted it then took an armchair. I just noticed they were wearing the same color- brown! "Reslin?" He smiled knowingly.

Oops. "Er yea?" I looked up.

"You're thinking something odd again. I am guessing." He narrowed his eyes but I knew he meant it as a joke.

I gestured to my shirt. Mwahaha! Algrim chuckled. "Indeed seems that we like the same brown. So funny. Wish you'd focus like that on doing maths."

By now Ilkar's silky locks had reached his shoulders. His fringe also looked nice, even if he didn't comb his hair. I imagined him prancing on stage with short sleeved rockstar gear. Only he wouldn't do that, he wouldn't scream into a mike. I didn't want him to cut his hair! Haha!

Kruz was chattering about how he wanted to research more about mages next.

Ilkar generously explained about it. Hence I was caught off guard while Kruz remarked dryly, "Yo what's this about sketches of rockstar elves?"

I blurted nani and kicked his leg.

The Julatsan beamed. "Want to see the pictures you made again please?" I opened to the pages of a colored version of Hal, Ilkar and a dark elf in leather*. I had made them all sleeveless so they could show their muscles. "So nice! See isn't she creative?"

He wanted Algrim to see. Indeed I had not told my teacher about my hobby, oh dear. All he did was trying not to laugh! "Oh what is Ilkar holding? Assuming that's him. Because that one should be Hallien."

Air quote, I explained, "The dark chest of wonders, a song by Nightquest. I got carried away… want a gothic feel. Haha! Oops." The heat on my face must be astounding, I laughed.

The Julatsan leaned closer to examine. "Wow I didn't notice. Look so bad and menacing here. Better than the one showing me as gay. Kruz did you see that one yet?"

"Haha not yet. Reslin you're funny." I passed him my phone the gallery.

"No I didn't mean to. Sure if I can cheer you up." I touched Ilkar's shoulder. His eyes shone. Every now and then he sniffled but had recovered considerably. He's more talkative now. Means good news! Then I taught him to draw.

"Teach me how to draw that basket of fruits?" He had found some paper and pencils. "Oh ok. First do with light outlines. Don't darken it because you haven't fixed the shape yet…." I demonstrated.

Then I watched how he was doing it. Ilkar concentrated eagerly, and our hearts must have melted that he had a childlike enthusiasm. He brushed away the eraser dust. "What do you think? I'm a level one artist today! Yay."

We applauded. Algrim said I should be doing work with him. Oh dear. "Now stop moaning internally. Freetime over. Ilkar you ought to rest now."

He yawned and rubbed his eyes. Kruz nodded. "Hm suppose so. Thanks, guys. Nice to see you too, Kruz, Algrim." He shook our hands and patted my head. We left.

Next day I received his text: have u complete hw? Dun worry abt me.

I replied, Yup. U recovered? He may take more time than one or two days. Hallien had been concerned since Ilks had a different immune system than the others here. I didn't forget about his past. Kirin met us for lunch. He said actually Ilkar had got a fever so he couldn't leave his home today. Oh no!

When I had the chance, I called his home. Kirin picked up, his voice a light timbre like piano. I pleaded for him to cure my friend.

"I can. I am not a high level cleric, but I can brew some herbs to help."

"All right. Thank you, er is Ilkar there? Can I talk to him?" in the background, he seemed to be making noise with pots and pans.

"Oh. No problem, I shall ask. Those are Junos and Mercun, they've dropped things again. Don't like me?" Kirin asked. I couldn't tell if he was upset.

"Sorry. It's not that. If he is tired never mind." Oh those two seemed naughty and up to mischief. More noise, speaking and then laughing.

Phone rustled. In a while, Ilkar answered, "Yes, Phoebe? What is it?"

"Ilkar! Are you tired? How's the fever? I'm sorry."

He paused. "Oh that… Kirin told you. Not really, speaking is not tiring. Gone down now, I feel restless. I didn't want you to worry."

Ever so considerate. I tried to make a joke, "I have instincts. Can't hide from me. Yea, everyone was asking the substitute what happened to you. Miss Adeline. You know her right?" The human lady was quite young, though with spectacles.

"I'll improve… Um hm and?" My friend chuckled.

"She changed the topic. Some of them have dogged determination."

He chuckled. "Sounds, not good for her. I will be alright."

More crashes. "Eh what's happening? They're having party?"

"No. The guys want to cook a surprise for me, more like mess up the place. Hold on."

After that silence. "Hi I'm back. Seemed to have lost my favourite dish, and I'm annoyed. I hope I don't pass out."

"Aww that's terrible. Don't be too upset, just rest. They mean well. Mercun is a joker too? He seemed serious." The fellow had been at Hal's place looking after him.

"He is. His name is…. Like my brother's friend." A note of pain altered his voice. He stopped, then added, "Even if he looks different, I'm reminded of him. That time, I couldn't introduce Rebraal to him…."

I listened to the mini-story. It turned out Mercun had died during a plague. Rebraal had been very close to him and though my friend had only played with him as a child, he couldn't forget the death when he visited. "Ilkar it's ok. Maybe… he is back. Reincarnated?"

"I don't know, could be. Let's not talk about that when he's here, he might not believe. You mean reborn, Andriel?"

"Yes. Sorry. Can we visit, as in Jule and I? Maybe Mira but not sure, tomorrow?"

Ilkar considered my response. "Should be ok, because I can't go out with this blasted fever. Who is he? (I reminded) I see. Haha he had been a naughty boy. So are you. Two naughty kids driving me mad."

I laughed. "No way I'm a model kind gal. We don't intentionally want to."

The elf sounded happier when he told me, "Hope you find a soulmate Phoebe. Then I can relax. I'm going to see what they're up to, learnt this word Fubar. Can I use it for health?"

Oh when did he learn this phrase: fucked up beyond all repair? "That's for objects. Don't feel that way, take it slowly." Then he coughed painfully. I heard, despite his best efforts to move away from the phone.

His breathing was labored. Faintly the elf rasped, "Okay, I will. Bye."

"Yes. Drink more water." I wished I could rush over there to hug him. Algrim Sent, I've given him some cough remedies. It takes time. You really care.

Huh? Yes poor elf. I will be worried if you're ill too, Algrim. I'm shocked you entered my mind. I didn't feel as shocked, just reeling from why he did this.

Pause. Sorry Andriel. I picked up on your emotions multiplied twofold. Will make a cake, joked I wouldn't. Then he called me and invited me to help him bake one. I said no problem.

I met with Jule. He came late, his brown hair unkempt, in tshirt and shorts as per normal. I had once crushed on guys like this, before I saw elves. "Ah Ilkar is married? Lucky woman."

"No, his gf. Don't make him shy. You had better do your work, he is responsible and reasonable." I frowned while we walked.

"Chill. Yea the rest bellow at us. The guys and me made a gift. Hope he'll like. Why does he get sick a lot?"

The elf deserved privacy. I just said it was due to stress and being in the rain. I had not mentioned that Julian was able to produce spikes from his body. During soccer he had been so excited that he impaled a ball! "Why does your power… eh go out?"

Spontaneously, a small one protruded from his nose. "Hehe. I don't know. Garias my coach will teach me to control it. I won't hurt people. So you can't cast, what power?"

Did he hafta remind me? "Negation. I Stop some spells. Hal and Algrim can feel I have an abundant source of mana only I can't tap it. My healing factor is good." The blood donors team had got my sample to make antidotes for viruses. I had consented, since I have abundance of it. Before knocking, I peered through the side window. Kirin winked, gesturing we could come right in.

Ilkar was awake, propped by cushions in his favourite armchair. His hair looked damp and nearby a basin of water and a cloth was placed. He held a magazine about lore. The table had a few cups of green liquid. Kirin announced we had come, and he smiled standing up. "Hey nice to see you! Julian. Is your bag heavy?"

Julian set down his bag. "Nope. Good welcome. Missed you sir. We have a gift."

"It's alright. I don't need a gift. That's green tea by the way. No sugar." He invited us to take some. "But you brought it all the way. Come."

A rectangular structure opened with a few turns of a knob and some buttons. Music tinkled. The elf leaned forward to experiment with it. Some figures were moveable. Wow Julian could make him happy. While they shared guy-bonding time, I went round to the back. Kirin was making some toast. "Hello. Reslin, thought you want to be near him longer. Hehe." The blond elf looked innocent.

"Is he better?" I whispered. Leaning on the counter, we ate some of the toast. I noticed the veridiant green of his eyes.

"Today he's less tired. Yesterday, he couldn't stay up too long, felt weak and nauseous."

I worried. Kirin lowered his voice, glancing outside. Then he told me that the Julatsan had not received advanced medical care in youth. For medical history, Ilkar had been reluctant to discuss it but examining him, the healers drew their conclusions. Calaius didn't have antidotes, the natives believed natural bedrest was enough. And Ilkar had had a hard life before, subjected to changes in weather, so his body often ached on cold days and he took longer to recover from illness.*

"Also Ilks is not that young like me. But not to worry, he is positive and accepts our help."

I don't really want to believe that my best friend is old. Kirin put finger to his lips. Yes I wouldn't speak of it, to save face. Ilkar flipped some sheets of a book and spoke, "Now don't write these smiley faces. When I'm better, will announce about this issue. You're one of them, Julian."

So funny. Classmate grinned not perturbed. The mage looked sombre, speaking in a low tone. Two stacks of worksheets were in front, one had colored sticky flyers from the sides, the other one was not. He waved me over.

I waited as he looked for my paper. "Why these notes?" I touched the flips. Julian did some corrections on another paper. Mine was good job! I beamed. At the back he had pasted a dog sticker.

Ilkar commented brightly, "Reslin I'm happy for you! Except for one smiley face. Don't do that next time. Those papers have problems: I can't read their scribbles, need to squint, too many mistakes. Know these students?"

Those had used their nicknames- Gobmonkey, Wootboy, Myzz. Jule made some guesses. "Since don't know who they are, I couldn't submit their marks. Never mind." Drained, Ilkar leaned back and sighed. His hand felt hot when I brushed close.

"It's not your fault. Headache?"

The elf yawned. "No, just a bit weary. Today I didn't have to swallow those pills. Kirin, doesn't the jab kick in soon?"

The healer walked to join us, felt his forehead and took his pulse. "Hm it will. You'll be more groggy in a while. So don't play too rough with him people."

"We won't. Haha!" Julian chuckled. "Why you go and do an essay for? Not taking, duh." He meant me.

Ilkar said defending me, "Don't worry about her. She is quite a well behaved pupil. By the way, I'm waiting for your explanation. This?" He pointed at his paper: Casting is epica! It'll be purrfect, can do fun zaps. Yay

"Hm, casting is nice. Here, I'll spell it properly." Julian wrote down on a fresh sheet of paper in green ink.

"I see. Hurting people is not the kind of ethics I wish to impart. I've a serious migraine and almost coughed blood at what your friends wrote. Mira. See this. Refers to me eh?" Kirin held his stomach and laughed too.

She had penned: why I like your teaching, is you've got a hawt-ass! Plz dun leave, we love u. The purpose of the essay was to get feedback on how much they understood of his classes. I smiled. Typical of her. We all felt this way. Kirin said, "Awesome! You've won their hearts. Congrats, brother."

Ilkar scowled. "Not in the least bit funny. I'm seething. So far, haven't decided how to grade you, and I will be using these first. Then I need to do double marking. I've considered the usual method exams, stressful. So I plan to have short essays and tests instead."

The boy exclaimed, "Please let me retype all of it! I'll do again. Promise. By when?"

"Next week, any day. Good, you've woken up." Ilkar observed.

I asked, "Can't include smilies? We can have a legend what represents what."

He took some time to respond and his eyelids were heavier."No none of that. No extra marks for decorations." Ilkar said he was sleepy. "Wait for me. We can eat together afterwards." I browsed the essays.

The comment for Mira's paper: I don't see how the beginning relates to what I wanted at all. Please spell properly. I expected better of you. Come and talk to me Mirabel. The elf's script was not so cursive like in notes, and clear. I wish I could write this nicely.

For mine he put: thank you for taking the time to write this although you're not doing this module. I appreciate your attention. Overall content is fine. Don't forget your other subjects ok? Maybe try to be neater. Thank you.

Kirin returned from settling him into bed. Actually Ilkar wanted to sleep outside but it was better he lay down. "Poor fellow. Doesn't help for him to be angry. I'll punch you." He feigned one. Julian chuckled.

"How long will he take to recover?"

"About two more days. Ilkar said it's quite normal for him to have a fever when he catches a cold. Medical leave is unlimited here, we agree to ensure everyone is well rested so they're at their best. So even if he is bored, he has no choice." Wow I didn't know how stern Kirin is! During our tea together, with assortment of homemade buns,

Ilkar got a little pissed and remarked, "my ass is not hot. What does that mean? It would hurt to have fire."

I explained. He nodded curtly. "Ah, to clarify.. Don't do all of the decorations, nor shortforms. I'll just put U. ungraded."

We agreed. Ilkar urged us to eat more, his stern mask giving way to a lighter mood.

The next time Mira had to redo hers. I expected her text: late sorry! Ilks make me stay back, fierce. Scary. Save me!

I sighted their location, from her telepathic projection. One of the private session rooms at the Orange sector. For this area, they are classified by green color. Ya I know. Saw your paper, but he's right. How u manage to use mobile? I didn't get a response. Soon I reached and gently pushed open the door. Ilkar was cloaked in a blue sleeved loose robe and he had recovered mostly, not as pallid as the other time. Her phone was on his side of the table. They were poring over her paper. Her pink pencil case was open.

"And this one? Write clearly. I can't read." He sounded exasperated.

She sighed and used the correction tape. Ilkar looked up and noticed me, said hello.

Mira pleaded, "But this is my neatest."

"I'm afraid not neat enough, if I am to give marks. Can you type this with the computer? Then I won't go blind." She agreed and gave him a beseeching expression.

I smiled. They were SO ADORABLE talking like that! "Want to go lunch?"

Elf nodded. "Yes when she is done. Are you hungry? Better not cause gastric." Oh, he didn't forget. I said I was fine.

"We love you, Ilkar! Can't we say it? Don't you feel happy?" Mira suggested.

"No, I wanted to put a zero in front." I fought not to grin. Ilkar folded his arms, now standing. He paced. I took a seat beside her.

She sighed. Then she reluctantly and timidly asked one of the concepts. Timid because her voice got soft. He patiently went over it, his tone calm. "Why didn't you ask Siron? He was the substitute I believe."

"Um so scary. ( I nodded too) he's so fierce. Sorry I'll try to do better. Don't be mad. You just got well," Mira said sweetly.

"I know. I'm not mad. Hm I'm hungry too." He twitched his ears.

I added, "Hope not gastric pain? Sit down. I have a sweet."

Ilkar accepted the sweet. "Thanks. No, I won't, just feel weak and faint. How much more to go?" She reckoned it was one more page of mistakes, that he had underlined with wavy lines. "Those are incomplete. Hm, help me to understand this part…." This time, the usually vain Mira had her most concentrated face on while she elaborated on the points. I waited.

"Um Ilkar? We're still friends aren't we?" We were heading for the nearest café. We girls walked on either side of Ilkar.

"Of course doesn't change, Mira. In class I'm the adult. Outside, we're equals. Oh god it's crowded. Reslin will you buy for me? Let's find seats." He looked horrified by the hordes of people. Coming at this time meant this café would be packed.

"Ok what do you want?" I beamed. Usually I would order the same thing as mine. Or he would ask me what I wished to get and just agree. This time same, I chose cannelloni, a pasta baked with plenty of delicious butter, spinach, paramesan.

Then I navigated the crowds and running people to where Mira was showing him something on her phone. My best friends in the world, I will never abandon them!

"Ah thanks! How much?" he asked, licking his lips.

"Don't worry about it. Eh, the receipt, about $5.90. Ah it's normal to be packed." I didn't mind if I paid for him. Ilkar said of course he would return me the money. "Let's eat first. So what was that?" I chewed and glanced at Mira's phone.

"Prata, Indian bread. Next time we oughta try that, guys. Like go together." She grinned, showing me. Wow heaven, that was a flat type of pancake I liked!

"It happens to look like cakes at my home. It's called viresse, made of fish or prawns. I think we don't eat much of poultry or other big animals. Didn't like them even when I came to human country," he commented.

"Eugh so fishy." I crinkled my nose. He glared imperiously. I smiled, feeling him sneakily poke my side.

"Seafood is a good source of protein, omega 3. Not smelly if seasoned and grilled nicely," he retorted.

At leisure times, Ilkar welcomed us to visit often. In a vibrant and jovial mood, he shared his favourite poems in his lyrical voice, "Listen to these, Living in hope, when I feel most alone, hope holds my hand, when sadness buckles me, hope helps me to stand.

To live in hope, is to believe in light when it's dark. Forgiveness, wrap a peace which falls like sheer rain between the folds of petals, under blades of grass. Between unanswered questions, underneath the doubt. I love them." His hazel eyes shone, as he looked up from the pages. The sheen of his dark hair played well on his fairness.

I said, beaming, "Yea! Glad you still like to read it. Want us to read to you?"

"Ah okay please. Can practise, take turns!" he leaned back and listened.

Kirin recited, "Realizations: my mountains are speedbumps in the road, my oceans are narrow streams. My divides are cracks in the sidewalk. I am blessed beyond measure, I am abound in love. I am lucky to be me. (he drank water) believe In fairies, hehe. I can believe in magic the rainbow with its arch, the frost upon my window, white clouds in breezy March, all sing of spells and marvels everywhere!"

Kruz thought he could have done it with more stirring emotion. Kirin acted hurt and repeated the fairies poem. "Fairies exist don't they? Have you seen them? I still believe there are," Mira said dreamily.

"Haven't seen them so far. I laugh when people think elves are tiny. It's silly! Kirin thank you." Ilkar chuckled, supporting his head with his arms behind. "We don't look anywhere near small."

"Oh a legend said because humans stopped believing, then the fey decreased in size. I think we still sustain the belief so you're still big. yeayy!" One of Kirin's friends, a human girl, commented, dancing. "Hm we won't be affected not at all. Gah!" Kirin responded, smirking.