Earlier today, when I heard the precautionary announcement that a Cardinal would be stopping in to visit our department, I was expecting to see the stalwart, yet intensely reclusive, Renus ram through our doors. Instead, cut to the shock of our entire office as Cardinal Kleine strutted into our space. He looked around curiously, his large beak cutting sporadically through the air around him.
"What's he doing here?" came a harsh whisper from the back of the room.
"That pseudo-Cardinal Khil'maran..." groaned one of the department geriatrics.
We were all so taken aback by the sudden appearance of the Dread Avian that we almost failed to notice the small figure hiding behind him. I instantly recognized him as the young boy Fodella had taken in just a few months prior. He had to have been just a few years shy of Alona's age. Golden curls fell about his round face as his crimson eyes nervously shifted from the watching crowd to the floor beneath him. Anyone could see that he was a part of the Havoc family.
"How goes the computer work, dutiful desk jockeys?" Cardinal Kleine chuckled gruffly, addressing the entire room with a cordial wave of a sharpened claw. "Damn — yer all sah quiet!"
"What brings you in today, Cardinal?" asked Archbishop Firges, stepping out from her office in a nervous rush. "How can I help you? Aw — and who might this little one be?" Her tone of voice was at least five octaves higher than usual.
"Ah!" squawked out the Khil'maran. "He's Fodella's boy. Surely you've heard. Anyhow. I've been put in charge of babysittin' 'im." The bird smirked as he tousled the boy's hair around. "He's been askin' that I take 'im on a tour lately..."
"Tour of what?" the Archbishop smiled politely. I noticed the corner of her lip twitching every so slightly.
"Everythin'!" laughed the Cardinal. "He's a curious thing. Lived in out in the boonies for — how long?" he look down at the boy, receiving no reply. "Well. He ain't never seen so much as a computer before, I can tell ya that much. Mind showin' him what you do 'round 'ere?"
The Archbishop looked taken aback for a moment — but after looking down at the sad-looking boy with a sympathetic glance — she agreed with a gentle nod. She personally showed the Havoc kid around — something the Archbishop would simply dump on one of us subordinates if her guest were anyone else — talking to the boy in a genuinely sweet tone all the while. She began explaining to him exactly what it was we did as a division of the Unfortunate Sons: computers, software, new technology, "spearheading the age of the future for the organization" and all that — but the boy started getting this bored look on his face not long into the Archbishop's lecture. I could only sympathize.
After all was said and done, Cardinal Kleine and his young guest gave us all a short thank-you and turned to leave. But as the boy departed from the room, the Cardinal pulled back an to Archbishop Firges aside. I could just make out what he whispered to her from the corner of the room.
"Thanks for humorin' the kid," the Cardinal began. "You go by... Firges, right? I'll put in a good word with the man upstairs, if that's what you want."
"I don't mind," the Archbishop replied hurriedly, pushing away his offer in a clever act of humility. "He seems like a wonderful young man. Just so adorable, too. He'd be a great fit for the TRD, if that's what he decides to pursue in the future."
"Not so sure 'bout that," the Cardinal smirked underneath his mask. "Kid wants to be just like 'is mom. A fighter." He paused with a sordid laugh. "Despite everything."
"Oh my," the Archbishop breathed out. "Is that so?" She hadn't a decent reply.
I could only pity him. That poor kid. That woman never was quite right in the head. I can only imagine what he had to endure before being found by Fodella. God...
Thinking of it all just makes me want to give my girls an extra big hug as soon as I get home tonight.