"Where were you?" asked Saisha, as they were rolling up their palimpsests and gathering their writing boards.
"The very question I came to ask," observed Master Barigil, standing over them.
"My apologies," said Caijar, looking up at his tutor.
Master Barigil was a tall, lean man, too muscular to fit the typical look of a scholar. He practiced with the King's Guard in the evenings sometimes, having made his name among them before retiring to teach the children of the Court. Rumor said that he was born of noble blood, but the details varied: sometimes he was a second or third son, unwanted and bereft of inheritance; sometimes he was the illegitimate child of some unknown lord. Caijar thought it very likely that the man was nothing more or less than he appeared.
"Did you have to see a healer?" asked Janiva. "I didn't..."
Janiva was the one who'd knocked Caijar off his horse in the morning's cavalry training. Though they were almost exactly the same age, she was taller than Caijar and at least as strong. She was training for knighthood, and she was serious about it.
"No," said Caijar. "I was only bruised. There was a mess at lunch, and then..." He shrugged, not wanting to tell them about the grabby-monster. "It was a day where one thing went wrong, and then another. I came as quickly as I could."
Master Barigil glanced at Saisha, who nodded. She was the teacher's daughter, which put her firmly at the intersection of two worlds: courtly, but not noble. She was quiet, but that had nothing to do with being shy or deferential. She was just... observant.
"Well," said Master Barigil, "It's clear you've done the reading, at least. I'll expect a written description of the use of armor-statues in the Third Southern Rebellion for tomorrow, and we'll say no more about it."
Caijar bowed his head. "I'll have it ready." From the corner of his eye, he saw his cousin Dabin throw a disdainful glance his way. Dabin was a year older, and disdainful of almost everything; the few things he did admire, he admired in a way that bordered on worship.
Master Barigil turned away, and Dabin departed with his younger brother Seshil trailing behind him. Caijar watched them go, and wondered if either or both of them had left the grabby-monster in his room. They would, he thought, if they could manage it. He just didn't believe that either of them could acquire the beast without help, let alone get it into the castle.