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Cricket Lone Wolf Part 16

Cricket Lone Wolf Part 16

Daria's wraith tortures Stefan. Marcia asks the headmaster about Chantel's death.

It was near the end of February and Marcia looked forward to the start of spring. She loved to watch the re-awakening of the flowers and trees long dormant over the fall and winter. Naomi and she renewed their friendship, but an uneasy wariness persisted between them. After they spent time explaining why they were in the abandoned classroom floor of the school, Marcia gave up exploring the castle and searching the chapel. She abandoned all curiosity about the school and the courtyard grounds.

Stefan spent little time with the girls, preferring to ride alone and study more. The girls spent time studying in Marcia's room every night, just as they had done earlier with Daria. Daria was still in a coma but her leg healed nicely. It was unknown what the lasting effects of the broken bones would leave on her ability to walk. The weekly dinners with the headmaster continued with Marcia and Naomi learning their new lessons and practicing them on classmates.

Study time began early one night and Marcia finished way before the other two. She stood up from her desk, stretched her arms and legs and walked to the window. Thoughts of spring in New Jersey brought a single tear to her eye. She loved to work in the flower garden with her mother and get her hands dirty. They planted new annual flowers every year to fill in where the perennial plants had gaps. Those days were over and her mom worked alone to bring back the floral beauty. As Marcia thought of New Jersey, she wondered what flowers bloomed around the castle and in the village.

Marcia watched the stars in the sky, as dark shadows blotted the night sky shutting out all light. Marcia watched in awe as snow fell in large flakes quickly covering the ledge outside the window. The temperature hovered near zero degrees Celsius outside, which meant the snow was wet and heavy. It accumulated fast and the trees had heavy blankets of snow clinging to the branches bending them lower to the ground. In the morning, the snow fell lightly, as the sun broke through the waning clouds. The ground and air warmed quickly and soon only, the blanketed tree branches held the snow.

Marcia thought of her wolf, where did it sleep. Where did it go to escape bad weather? Did it have a cave like her wolf family in New Jersey? Maybe Cal knew she would have to leave him a note and ask. As Marcia and Naomi walked outside, the trees in the forest shed the heavy snow. A cacophony of falling snow and breaking branches filled the air signaling the end of winter. The girls walked toward the stable to visit the horses and seek out Stefan. They knew he would be there tending to his prize horse and keeping the stall clean.

Daria's acerbic treatment of Stefan had taken root in his new behavior. Stefan was afraid to get too close to Marcia or Naomi. Daria had a little more conditioning for Stefan to endure, but it had to take place, when he talked about the girls. Whenever he mentioned Marcia or Naomi, Daria would flick his ear to hurt him. That would make him stop talking about them to anyone. After a few days of the treatment, Stefan stopped talking about any of the three girls.

Marcia and Polina talked about Stefan's standoffish attitude lately. His sudden change confused them and they wanted to understand it. Normally Stefan was loquacious and a happy congenial sort, but lately he was dour and silent. He only watched Hans and Polina during the whole classroom incident. It was as if Marcia and Naomi weren't there. When they passed in the hallway, Stefan ignored them as if they were invisible.

The new behavior of Stefan was what troubled Marcia more. He spent less time with the girls and kept away from them. Polina and Naomi noticed that he rode his horse more than normal. Marcia had ceased her exploration and watching of the chapel from the abandoned classroom, since Hans saw them. She wanted to explore it, but with Stefan's changes, she felt lost. She needed him to act as her backup and guide through the tunnels under the school.

A few days earlier, Daria's wraith flew from Marcia's room returning to the hospital. When Daria exited, Marcia felt something, but it felt, as a small breeze from the window. Daria's head wound healed enough to bring her out of the coma. She woke in her hospital bed with her leg suspended immobilized in traction. Her screams echoed loudly in the hospital hallway that the nurses quickly ran to her aid. A call went quickly to the doctor on call for the evening. The nurses quickly calmed her and explained what happened. The doctor checked her and found some swelling in her head, before she went silent.

Marcia was curious, but her world seemed to spin on its own out of control. She wanted to find out where the three coffins went that were in the chapel. It still bothered her that Chantel was dead and she wanted to know why and how it happened. Naomi's parents bodies being there Marcia could understand because they were graduates of the school. She wondered what else went on at the school hidden from the students. It was on her mind all the time and she wanted to ask someone.

She thought for a minute and decided that it was time to get at least one answer. Naomi and she had dinner scheduled with the headmaster the next night. She would bring up the question of what happened to Chantel after the school expelled her with him. She might get an answer, but would it be the one she wanted. She reasoned the headmaster knew what went on in the school; he had to know the answer. She sat at her desk and rejoined the conversation.

The next day classes seemed to speed by and the afternoon rolled up with word of school ending in early April. Marcia thought it strange that school ended so early. Final exams occurred the last week of April and summer school started in early May. When the announcement of summer school came down, a loud moan rose from the class. The class wanted a break from school, but it would not happen soon. Marcia smiled at the announcement and had an idea to ask the headmaster about summer school that night.

When classes ended, Marcia and Naomi went to their room and grabbed their notes and outlines for the headmaster's lecture. They walked quickly to the headmaster's office, which appeared to be where he lived too. As they entered, Hans finished setting out their dinner and departed quietly. The headmaster bade them sit and eat their dinner. He seemed anxious to get teaching, but made small talk about the girl's classes. Marcia felt as if he wanted to go somewhere else after they finished. She did not feel comfortable with the haste he put on them.

"Sir, I have a few questions tonight that are not about our studies. Can we talk about them for a while before we get started?" Marcia hesitantly asked.

"Yes Marcia, feel free to ask anything. I know there are a lot of things about this school that are interesting and unusual."

"That I have discovered, sir. I mostly have two questions tonight. One thing that has concerned me especially was what happened to Chantel? As you know, we had a fight in the dining area that ended with her being beaten and disgraced. I was not proud that I beat her, but I had to stop her bullying somehow. The only thing she understood was someone who was stronger than her would take her down. From that time, no one had seen or heard from her. Do you know what happened to Chantel?"

"This is not an easy question to answer, Cricket, if I may use your nickname. As you know, Chantel was a proud young woman from a rich family in France. Her family sent her here to get her away from the evil influences at home and to tame her bullying ways. When she came here, we discovered that the evil influence was she. She gathered a pliable group of her classmates and organized a gang of girls to bully other students. We tolerated that but fought it to minimize her effect."

"I saw that part of her and the theft of the exams. I want to know what happened to her."

"After you beat her physically and emotionally, she became withdrawn from everything. She called her parents in disgrace and they told her that she was not welcome back in France. No child of theirs was welcome back to further disgrace the family. Her group of followers here at school deserted her and left her to suffer humiliation alone. A few days after the fight, her roommate called Hans to tell him what Chantel planned. He understood and while her roommate was in class, Chantel filled her bathtub with warm water, sat in it and slit her wrists. She left no note and died quickly and quietly. Hans went to her room and found her. He quickly cleaned up the bathroom and took the body to the village along with all her belongings. They prepared to ship her back to France, but her parents refused to take her back."

"That is terrible; her parents were very cruel and didn't want her. Where is her body now, I would like to say a prayer for her."

"She was taken to the village where she was prepared for burial. She lies in state right now in the chapel on the castle grounds. We are still trying to get her parents to take her, but it is so difficult. There is a crypt where the castle owners buried the original family members. She will join them there. There are other school graduates buried there." The headmaster looked at Naomi, as he said the last, but felt it was not time to tell her. He suspected Marcia knew about Naomi's parents, but wisely kept it quiet to herself.

"That is a very nice gesture of the school to provide a final resting place for Chantel. I want to spend some time with her in the chapel. Will that be possible, maybe include some friends with me?"

"I think that might be a good thing, give her friends and classmates a chance to bid farewell to her. I will make the arrangements and open the chapel for a small service with the priest from the village. Thank you for that gracious thought, Cricket. You are such a compassionate and wonderful person to your friends as well as those who treated you badly."

"Thank you sir, I will spread the word among her friends, just set the date. My other question is about the upcoming summer school. What is it?"

"Summer school is a special time for all students. The school will go on a trip to an island nearby where classes happen in real bomb making. The island used to be a training area for army demolitions teams. There are areas for blowing up bombs the students make. There are dormitories and dining areas for everyone. You will spend six weeks there attending classes and working in laboratories building many types of bombs. Your final exam in the class will be to assassinate a person (dummy) with a small undetectable explosive."

Naomi perked up when she heard the answer because bombs were her favorite toys. Marcia looked at Naomi and saw the unbridled excitement on her face. She knew that her major competition to score higher in this class would be her roommate. A thought passed quickly that maybe they could collaborate on the final exam. Cricket pushed the thought away, knowing Naomi would want to try this one on her own. Marcia thanked the headmaster and wanted to start the lecture to distract her from thinking about Chantel and what she really suspected happened.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2012, 2013 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Cal Erickson, aka frogprince

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