More time passed, and Richard’s life began to feel rather routine and normal. There seemed to be a lull in the dangerous incidents as well. However, Richard didn’t want to falsely believe that he would continue to be safe. There was the possibility of the curse on him fading or disappearing, but it wasn’t likely. More likely, he was just currently lucky, as funny as that sounded to Richard’s own thoughts. Richard just wanted everything to continue as it was, but of course that couldn’t be the case. However, he wasn’t expecting what actually happened.
It happened one day after dinner. As the group of Richard and his friends were leaving, a Noxian approached Elena and handed her a letter. No, not just any Noxian. The Noxian. Richard almost punched him right there. However, the Noxian just sneered, said something that sounded flowery, and walked away.
“What was that all about?” Jot asked.
“Err… nothing important,” Elena said.
Hiroshi started muttering to himself. “Summons… noble court… future of Noxians…”
“Hey!” Elena said. She looked down at her hands that used to have a letter. “Give that back!”
Hiroshi hid his hands behind his back. “Give what back?”
“You took my letter.”
“Absolutely… not.” Hiroshi’s held up his hands. “See?”
Elena looked like she was about to slap him, but as she raised her hand, she found the envelope in it, still apparently sealed. She frowned. “I need to go.” Then, she quickly walked off.
Richard thought about following, but her attitude made it clear she didn’t want anyone to do so. “Jot, I have a request.”
“Oh? Sounds serious.”
“It is. If you ever see that guy get near Elena again, I want you to punch him in the face.”
Jot smiled slightly. “In the face specifically, or just anywhere?”
“Anywhere, I guess. Try to make it not permanently damaging. No wait, I changed my mind. Literally the face.”
Hiroshi spoke up. “Can I do it? I haven’t punched any haughty nobles in a while. Err… I mean… I’ve always wanted to punch a Noxian?”
“How’d you know he was a noble?” Richard asked.
Hiroshi took a deep breath, as if to go into a long speech. Then, he thought better. “Well, the things he said, and the letter.”
“You do have the the letter?”
“No,” Hiroshi said, “but I memorized it. Well, it’s in Noxian so you wouldn’t be able to read it directly anyway.”
“So, what did it say? Also, when did you learn Noxian?”
Hiroshi gave a summary to answer the first question, and completely ignored the second.
“A summons to noble court, directly involving Elena? What for?”
Hiroshi shrugged. “It was decidedly vague. Oh, and it was immediate.” Hiroshi paused. “There was a stipulation about bringing attendants.”
“Err, immediate immediate?”
Richard took off running. Jot and Hiroshi followed, and actually had to try to keep up with Richard.
They caught up to Elena quite quickly. “Bring us with you,” Richard immediately opened with.
“Where? I’m not going anywhere.” Elena’s eyes flicked off to the side.
“You’re almost as bad at lying as Hiroshi.”
“Hey!” Hiroshi interjected. “That’s not really fair.”
“Sorry. You’re much better at lying than Hiroshi, but still pretty obvious.”
Hiroshi nodded seriously. “Anyway, to speed things up, I speak Noxian and read the letter.”
“Why do you speak Noxian?” Elena asked.
“Because-” Hiroshi put on the face that said he almost spilled some kind of national secret, then recovered. “I had a Noxian friend, so I learned.”
“Right. That wasn’t really important anyway. I’m not taking you guys.”
Richard had apparently finished composing his thoughts. “Give us one good reason we shouldn’t go with you to something that will likely be very important to your future for reasons unknown.”
“Because it’s a court of nobles. They don’t take kindly to outsiders.”
“Okay, but if we don’t care how much they like us… will it compromise your position?”
Elena looked like she wanted to say yes, but didn’t. “Probably not.” She sighed. “Most people have their minds made up about everything already. The few who actually listen to debates won’t mind. But… my family will be there and it will be embarrassing.”
“You’re embarrassed of us?” Richard looked dejected.
“No. Actually, there’s a secret I’ve been hiding. I’m actually a princess of the Xevaronians.”
“I knew that.” Richard said.
“I honestly don’t care about that,” Hiroshi said, “but I actually knew it too.”
Jot shrugged. “I had a hunch.”
“What?” Elena put her face in her hands. “How… when?”
“I met jerkface before.” Richard said. “Err… sorry, I mean the guy who delivered the letter.”
“I knew who you meant.” Elena said. “Umm… don’t call him that in front of other people, okay?”
“Can I punch him?” Jot asked.
“No! Please don’t. He’s a duke, so you’d be in deep trouble. Well, the only son of a duke.”
“It was a joke anyway,” Jot said in a tone that seemed like it hadn’t been a joke at all.
“Why are we standing here joking around?” Elena asked. “It really is urgent. Since I doubt you’ll let me go without you, we might as well all go.”
“We’re not riding on the same shuttle as jerkface are we?” Richard asked.
“Absolutely not.” Elena scowled. “I’d rather not see him any closer than the distance from here to the nearest star, with him in the star.”
“Oh!” Richard suddenly stopped. “We probably need to bring some stuff, right?”
“Of course. Notice I’m not heading directly to the spaceport? We’ll meet up in an hour. We really do have to hurry.” Richard wasn’t sure, but he thought he heard Elena grumbling out of character profanities under her breath after that.
“I’d better call my dad…” Richard said. After a few rings, Mr. Smith stepped out from around the corner.
“Yo, Richard. You called?”
“I was calling, yeah, but most people answer the phone.”
“I was just leaving class.” The bell signaling the start of the next class period rang just then. Richard was pretty sure his father had a class to teach now. Richard raised his eyebrows, but his father just continued nonchalantly. “So, you called?”
“Yeah, I kinda have to do an impromptu, off world thing. Can I please go?”
“Skipping out on school?” Mr. Smith frowned, but not convincingly. “It better be for something fun, important, or both.”
“Err… Important.” Richard said.
Richard’s father exchanged glances with Hiroshi, for some reason. Then he nodded. Looking over at Elena, he asked, “Can I come?”
Elena just threw up her hands. “Sure! Why don’t we just bring an entire army too?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Mr. Smith said smoothly, “I’m serious though.”
Elena nodded. “It’s fine, I know you worry about Richard.”
“If you think I worry, you should see his mother, or his grandmother.”
“Ooh, can I?” Elena suddenly smiled. “I’m sure they have lots of embarrassing stories.”
“Well, not right away. They’re busy.”
Mr. Smith held up his hands, as if to show he had nothing but time. Completely ignoring his job as a teacher.
“…We should really get moving. Pack for at least week, but hopefully it will be three days or less.”