Part 4 - Breaking the News
(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6)
I awoke the next morning to an unfamiliar weight on my feet. Climbing out of bed, I noticed that the fox had returned, likely through the window that was now slightly ajar. It's a good thing my room was on the ground floor, because otherwise the fox would have... needed wings... actually, that wouldn't be so strange, all things considered, would it? Anyway, determined to leave that day regardless of my parents' opinions, I got dressed and packed my belongings. Here was yet more proof that I was never cut out to be noble; everything important to me fit into one bag with room to spare. This I slung across my back, then headed to the kitchen to find some food to take with me, knowing that it would take me at least a day to get to Woodland on foot.
Leaving the fox in the hallway with my backpack, I found the kitchen bustling as the cook and her help put together breakfast, so I was able to grab some meat and bread and an apple without anyone taking particular notice of me. The kitchen workers were used to my coming and going over the years as I grabbed lunch on the run from my lessons or a few odds and ends to give to my animal friends, and an innocent expression usually got me out of trouble if the cook happened to catch me. This time I earned a raised eyebrow from said woman, but fortunately she didn't try to stop me as I hurried out. I was thankful for small favors there; my mother must have forgotten about me enough to not warn her that under no condition was I to be allowed outdoors, which, as the staff knew well by now, was always my intention when I entered the kitchen.
I figured that by now my family would be sitting down for breakfast and hoping that would distract them some (and counting on Kendric to come to my aid or, knowing him, cause extra distraction if necessary), I picked up my bag, and with the fox at my heels, headed for the dining area to tell them my intentions. Luck was with me because I arrived at the same time as my brother, who gave the fox a head scratch and me a reassuring smile before going in. I waited a few minutes, then followed him with the large fox close by my side. Unsurprisingly, even after clearing my throat a few times my parents failed to notice our presence until the fox made a little growl, at which point my mother and sister began shrieking about how there was a wild animal in the house and how dare I bring that dirty thing in. My brother and I exchanged amused looks while our father tried to calm the women down; the fox gave the scene a vulpine grin, seemingly pleased. Figuring this was a good time while everything was in chaos, I loudly (and with pride, I'll admit) stated above the din, "Just to inform you all, I have been Called by Hermes and, as I'm now under his jurisdiction, will be leaving for Woodland today."
That got everyone's attention. My father looked rather bewildered while my sister wisely said nothing and seemed to be concentrating far too hard on her breakfast. My mother, on the other hand, glowered and exclaimed with disdain something along the lines of "Hermes? Why would you ever pick him?" (Even from across the room, I saw that she was giving Him a small "h".) After my brother finally explained to our father what "jurisdiction" meant (I couldn't even look at Ken at this point, fearing that if I did, I'd break into laughter at the absolute asininity of this whole thing), my father frowned, but began to try to quiet my mother down lest she say something that would earn them dangerous attention from a deity (never a good idea). Looking from the fox to me and back to the fox, she finally lowered her complaints to an inaudible grumble. Before they could think of any sort of logical argument (unlikely as that would be), I then let them know again that I would be leaving now and not to worry about sending anyone with me (also doubtful, but to keep up appearances they might have) since Woodland was hardly a long trek away.
Trusting that Ken would handle his side of the plan, and not wanting to give my parents any time to stop me, I said a quick goodbye and walked out of the room. I later learned from my brother that the fox gave a long, unblinking stare to both of my parents in turn, leaving them speechless for quite some time, and then gave a sly grin to Ken before following me out.
(Part 5 can be found here.)