Ch. 23: Summons

I never felt that much dread knowing I had to finally face that situation of my creation and I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t that Brother Hickory, Soletus, and Kiao did a poor job in helping me. Truth was, they did an excellent job, but my issue was I never thought about it when I didn’t have to. I didn’t want to because I feared dying. 

A night of sleep made Soletus feel better the next day. He tried to go on the field but Master Tyr refused to have him. So he went to the chapel. There was a messaged on the bulletin board for him to come to the chapel as soon as he felt well enough to do so.

He found the aged priest and Mien in the back sitting at the table. The boy had his head down with his hands around his tin cup with worry hanging on his brow. It would have helped if Hickory didn’t have a grim face as well. There was a letter in front of him with an official seal stamped on it in red ink.

“This is from the Arbiter office,” said Brother Hickory.

“My summons,” put in Mien softly. His hands trembled a bit.

Soletus glanced down and saw the official crisp document as if it have been just sighed and handed to them.

“I thought we had until the first of winter,” he said.

“It’s not the same Arbiter. The old one was abruptly transferred to another region. The new one is getting through all his old cases quickly. We need to leave tomorrow and I need you to come with us,” said the aged priest.

The young monk eyes snapped back to Hickory. “Really, why?”

“The Arbiter may need to speak with you for a testimony on Mien’s behavior. He probably won’t, however, I need to make sure I’ve everyone I need on hand for this. This particular Arbiter has a reputation for harsh sentences.”

“I need to tell my parents I’m going to be gone,” said Soletus glancing at Mien who looked as he was on the way to a noose.

“That’ll be good if you do. Your mother came by earlier this morning. She seemed concerned about what happened yesterday between you and your father.”

Soletus rolled his eyes.

“Then maybe afterwards come talk to me,” suggested the Priest.

“No thanks, talking to her will be enough,” said Soletus walking out of the room. He knew she would be upset with him. He avoided going home and talking to her after his resting in his grandfather’s room

I need to get this over with, he told himself as he walked down the road as slowly as he could. When he came to his home, the door was opened up. His mother stepped out clasping her cloak in place with a basket in her hand to go out to the market. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw him. The two took met each other’s gazes. Her face was hard with that no-nonsense sharpness that met she was in no mood for games. Soletus gave her a benign smile. Her face softened and she met him where he waited for her.

“Honestly, you couldn’t have left your grandfather out of it,” she said.

“I had to talk to someone who listened,” he said and held his hand out for the basket she was carrying. She placed the handle in his palm and the two of them walked together towards the market.

“Last I checked your father still has ears.”

“Well they don’t work,” he returned.

His mother sighed. “You are really starting to push him and me,” she said tightly and then said more gently. “I remember the day you were born.”

Soletus stifled a groan. It was the start of a tired old story he heard many times before.

“You’re father and I just barely managed to get to the infirmary because you came so quickly. I would’ve had you standing up,” she said looking forward and didn’t see him mouth every word she said. “Before that you were so quiet inside me. Then you made such a fuss coming out. Then you were quiet. Until you started wanting to walk. Once you had a taste of it, you didn’t want to stop or to be stopped.”

Soletus grew impatient. “I’ve heard this before, Mama.”

“Oh,” she said spying him sideways with giving him her slender stare. “So what am I going to tell you?”

“You’re going to tell me about the time dad let me walk around on my own and there was a poison viper of some kind waiting in the grass. I didn’t see it and he snatched me up before I was bitten.”

His mother looked forward again undeterred by her ruined story. “Well, my point is you shouldn’t be so quick to do things without thinking. Your father just wants you to be safe. I do understand what you are going through.”

Soletus was fairly certain she didn’t.

“I grew up with brothers. I’ve watched them trying to break free of my parents. And you’re doing the same.”

She didn’t understand anything at all if she was comparing his action with his uncles when they were younger. They didn’t have to battle strict parents. They didn’t have a father lording over every single action that had nothing to with him being his son. His grandfather was right; he was a member of the Brotherhood and he had to do what was best for them.

“It’ll probably be best if you didn’t constantly antagonize your father while doing it,” she advised.

“How am I antagonizing him? He’s the one who attacks me every time I disagree with him,” he said, trying to hammer that point home.

“Your father is a reasonable man,” said his mother firmly.

The young monk shook his head and looked towards the sky.  “No he isn’t. I’m not sure if he even likes me at this point.”

His mother gave him that’s silly-child look. “The fact that he doesn’t let you do every stupid thing is a sign that he cares.”

Soletus stopped walking. She took a few steps forward before she realized he had stopped. When she turned around he spoke.

“So wanting to be a warden is now stupid?”

“The way you are going about it is. Soletus, it doesn’t matter to us if you are a warden or not.”

“But it matters to me,” he exclaimed.

A jolt went through his mother as if she weren’t expecting to hear that. Soletus began to wonder if they even saw him as an individual or was he still a child to them. She walked up to him and touched his cheek with her hands. That warm touch would’ve been a comfort for him, but now he found it obtrusive.

“I understand that you want to become a warden, but maybe your father’s right about it being dangerous. It might not even work.”

“But it’s my decision.”

“Technically it isn’t. You’re not of age yet.”

Soletus pulled his head away from her hand and stepped back. “So what, in six years then I can do everything I want?”

His mother thrusted her fist on hip. “No, when you’re twenty-eight.”

“That’s six years from now.”

His mother eyes widen a little. She didn’t realize how old he was.

“You’re not there yet,” she affirmed. “We can talk about this later not in the streets.”

“So I’m still a child to be held back until then?”

“Instead of seeing it as he’s holding you back, be grateful he’s willing to help you,” she exasperated. “There are many children in the world who don’t have that.”

Talking to her was pointless. She would never say anything against his father. He handed the basket back to her.  “I need to go. All wanted to tell you is that I’m going away for a few days.”

She became alarmed. “Why?”

Soletus let out a long exhale. “I’m not trying to run away if that’s what you’re thinking and if I were why would I tell you?” She opened her mouth to answer that but Soletus went on before she said anything. “Mien got his summons and Brother Hickory wants me to come with them just in case the Arbiter wants me to testify.”

She became even more alarmed. “I don’t think it wise. You can easily make an enemy of a noble.”

“I was assigned to help Mien. That duty doesn’t end until I told he doesn’t need me anymore,” Soletus reasoned. He knew she wouldn’t argue against that. His father would. He’ll probably figure out some way to keep him from going.

“I see. I’ll pray that all will go well for Mien,” she said.

“So you’ve nothing against him at all,” he asked remembering what Fern had told him.

Her mouth remained a flat line and took a little too long to answer before asking. “What’s the best outcome for him?”

“To stay here until he’s at age. He likes it here anyway, so no harm in that.”

“Well, that’s good. I just worry about someone like that,” she said.

“I find it more worrying is what was done to make him like that,” he countered.

His mother then made a face. “I see why you’re father has a hard time talking to you. You’ve always have a response now. Anyway, when you two come home, tell Mien I’ll like to have him over for dinner again.”

Soletus nodded and his mother continued down the road without him. She didn’t answer his question though.

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