“I understand and thank you for all your help,” said the Queen. “If there is anything you need, please do not hesitate to ask.”
Harper laughed. “Oh, do I get a castle, too?”
“If you desire one, yes.”
“Ha, that’s okay. My whole reason for being here is to protect you, so I’d rather stay wherever you do, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course. You are more than welcome here.”
King William took the opportunity to break into the conversation. “Where are you from, Mr. Norez?”
“Oh, nowhere,” said Harper. “Or everywhere, depending on how you look at it. I don’t really identify with any particular place anymore. I travel too much for that. This is my first time in Atreya, though. I’m liking it so far.”
“Now that the genocidal maniacs are gone, you mean,” said Roman.
“That is definitely a step up, yes,” said Harper. He looked at the King again. “Ah, but my apologies, Your Highness. I suppose that’s not a very satisfying answer to your question, is it? I can at least say that I was born in Jesbol, though I don’t have many memories from there. My parents escaped when the Jungle Wars began spreading.”
“The Jungle Wars?” said William. “That was some sixty years ago, and yet you do not look a day over thirty.”
The Queen laughed faintly and turned to her husband. “Reapers may choose to prevent their servants from aging, dear.”
“There’s that, too,” said Harper. “But I’m pretty sure it’s the moisturizing. I mean, just look at my skin.”
It was raining, but that was no rare thing, nor was it even that heavy. Already at the age of twelve, Marcos Elroy was accustomed to much more than this meager drizzle. There wasn’t even any flooding; he could still see the grass beneath the playground, or more accurately, beneath the platform on which the playground stood, on which the entire city stood.
Sometimes, the rain was so strong, it was like living on the sea. Or at least, he thought it was. He’d never been to the sea.