He arrived home from school one stormy winter afternoon, happy with his day. Classes went well and nobody bothered him with taunts or laughter. Kutius entered the foyer, and wiped the snow off of his feet. He placed his school sack in the sack bin, then trotted into the Common Room. He found his mother sobbing. His father sat silent, a rare hard copy letter in his hand.
“What is going on?” Kuitus asked. His mother said nothing, but wept harder. His father slowly lifted his head.
“We cannot afford to pay what we owe on the house. The Clan we purchased it from is asking we sell to pay off the debt.” Winferis heaved a huge sigh.
“We did not buy it outright?” Kutius asked.
“No, we had enough for half, and the Clan agreed to payments every cinth to pay off the rest as fast as we could. I cannot pay them what I promised. They do not trust us to come up with payments.”
“Surely they can understand?”
“They do, but are very distrustful after what has occurred. I cannot even meet a quarter of what is left,. They have every right to their credits.”
“But they let us pay over the last two years! What changed?”
“I paid them on time. Now I cannot, and because of what happened they want to cut all ties to us. If we owned outright, there would, be no issue, but we do not.” Winferis heaved a huge sigh. “ It will not leave us much, but we have no choice.”
“To sell.” Wnferis answered. “And as quickly as possible.”
Kutius stood, in horror, as his father listed the house with the landbroker in Astrolis. To his utter dismay, the home sold for half its worth in less than a quat of the listing. Kutius’ stomach knotted. He wished to eat nothing, and, by the lack of any evening meal preparations, neither did his parents. He sat in the Common Room, watching his father sift through listings. He glanced around at the familiar walls, and heaved a sigh.
“Father, why look? Why do we not ask Grandmother if we can return home?”
“Never!” Kutora suddenly snarled through her tears. “My mother hates me. I will never go back! Never.”
Kutius heard his father sigh again.
“Mother, you are not thinking clearly. Why can you and Grandmother not make amends so we can go home?”
“She is unreasonable! She does not understand me,” Kutora snapped back, then broke down into weeping.
Winferis slowly typed our short messages to Clan, asking for help. Nobody responded with a vidcall, but a few short clipped replies came back. Credits for the house sale entered the family vault.
“Well, the credits are in, for the house and from Clan who decided to help us,” Winferis said softly. “We have to find somewhere to go. My family will not help us get a place, but they did send us some credits. Yours did as well, Kutora. We have to be out by next cinthend.”
Kutius looked over his father’s shoulder at the screen, staring at the message history over the last few years as his father sifted through them. His father’s family, living in northern Cyal on the coast, shifted credits to his parents’ bankrupt account, but did not make any further contact. Clan from Port Gol, including Zalius, Zoptius and his other relatives sent very little. Kutius knew they abhorred what his mother had done. Unlike most clan relationships, the bond between his parents did not bring the two clans as close as most. Once the truth filtered back to them, the Port Gol Clan Wylarius virtually disowned his parents, helping occasionally only out of Clan duty. His mother's Clan, despite their outrage, sent food and paid miscellaneous debts, but did no more than that. Nobody called on vid, nor sent messages, and nobody offered to take them in.
Kutius thought back to the wonderful holidays at Zoptius’ home, and back at his grandmother’s farm, and felt tears sting his eyes. How his fastidious, level-headed Grandmother birthed his lazy scatter-brained mother baffled him. Though of Koris’ line, Karetura never displayed his mother's pomposity and obnoxious conceit. It pained him to think this hurt his grandmother in any way, and he vowed, somehow, to make it all up to her someday.
“I found something,” Winferis announced, and Kutius scowled.
“Father, what is that? “ Kutius squinted at the photo of a small ramshackle building. The stonework looked terrible, with crumbling grout, mold and moss growing on the stone surface. Brush crowded the walls, and trees covered the roof with extensive boughs.
“Clan Karklinos is selling this place. It has been in their family for octuaries.”
“It is nothing but an ancient storage shed!” Kutius exclaimed.
“Yes, it dates back to the Great War. Karklinos’ Clan used it to store their weaponry that won that war there.” Winferis twitched his tail. “It has historic value. Maybe we can fix it up and sell it.”
“Maybe,” Kutius muttered, hatred knotting his stomach. Clan Darius ancestors also participated in the construction and use of that building. He shuddered. “I really wish we did not have to live there.”
“It is all we can afford now,” his father whispered. “I am sorry, Son.”
Moving day arrived all too swiftly. Kutius packed his travel sack with all his belongings, and silently left the little house. He glanced back once, gazing at the home through the gentle snowfall, then faced forward, recalling the storm-tossed day he left his grandmother’s farm. His throat constricted and tears filmed his eyes as he climbed into the old bronze shuttle. Silently his father drove to the center of town, and up the broad street past the Town Hall. He turned the shuttle into the long narrow shuttlepath to a overgrown parking area in front of their new residence. The grass stood an octafet tall, poking through the deep snow.
The cottage sat a octyle behind the Town Hall, merely a remodeled storage bunker. Kutius grumbled, climbing out of the shuttle, and shivered when he entered the building. Stuffy and damp, the place screamed impoverishment. The Common Room and Dining area merged, creating one room. The kitchen, with its tiny window, looked and smelled like a swamp. Kutius walked up the hallway, his talons clicking on bare plain stone floor. He halted at the end of the hall and peered into the two sleeping rooms. He stepped inside the end room with its two windows, gaping at the old bed and lumpy worn out cushions, then faced backwards to gaze into the tiny room that served as a lavatory.
“Ughh!” he howled. “There is no bathing pool!”
“The lake is nearby,” his father mumbled. “We can make do.”
Winferis shuffled into the other sleeping room. Kutius stared aghast. Since the day he bathed to impress that female, Kutius abhorred getting dirty. He stared, unable to believe this bad turn of life. The musty cottage revolted him, but he had not choice but to stay. The computer terminal in his room looked ancient, and he hoped it worked. He counted quickly in his head, and decided to put every bit of energy into his studies for the next five years. He slowly put his sack down.
“Five years,” he muttered. “How will I stand it?”