“So were you like that when you retuned home,” asked Soletus afterwards. Oeric led the way to the Arch Monk’s chambers. He kept his head forward giving a curt nod to some wardens as they passed.
“If you mean, volatile and mistrustful, then yes,” he said leading and then stopped short of the doorway to his father’s chambers. Brother Farely caught sight of them and studied them. He didn’t have any knitting or books in front of him today. Instead, he had a paper and his fingers looked to be stained with charcoal. “You don’t have to come if you don’t want too. I need to talk to your grandfather in private.”
Soletus bobbed his head. “I didn’t want to see the Arch Monk anyway.”
Oeric didn’t like hearing that. It was a product of a growing rift that he needed to do what he could to stop it. “I know your grandfather hurt you, but this family doesn’t need any more grudges to continue or new ones to form.”
His son then said firmly. “I don’t hate him. I’m calling him by what he’s acting like. If he wants to be my grandfather, then he can start acting like one again and not the Arch Monk ordering me around at every aspect of my life.”
That sounded too familiar and he didn’t like it. Instead of trying to convince his son to not think like that, he let him go. Oeric watched him stroll down the hall while he gathered himself. Once he felt ready, he made sure his spine was straight and marched forward with intent. When he entered hs saw his sister, her husband Wes, and his nephew, Alacai were all in there talking to his father. Oeric smiled a humorless grin so wide that everyone became still.
“Oh an audience,” said Oeric. “Well Papa, you need to decide very quickly if you want them here or not, because we need to finish our conversation from things morning.”
The Arch Monk stared at is his son with incredulity. “What? You’re just going to barge in here now and demand we speak?”
“Yes, because I want to finish this now.”
The Arch Monk narrowed his eyes and said softly never taking his eyes off his son. “Can y’all excuse us.”
Cyrius looked between them both. “Sure.”
Alacai chuckled at Oeric. “Still taunting the bull I see.”
“It one of my best skills,” he said never leaving his father’s gaze as everyone filed out of the room. The only sound that followed was the latch clicking in place.
“Sit down,” said Solgard pointed to the chairs in front of his desk. Instead, Oeric walked around and sat on right edge of it. If he was challenging a bull, he might as well get as close as he could. ”You know exactly what I met.“
“I’m not a child, I can sit where I want,” he said crossing his legs and clasping his hands around his knee. “Now where were we. Ah yes, you told me that you are unhappy with Soletus because he refuses to conform to your standards.”
“And you disagree with me on that point.”
“Because it isn’t what he wants or need. I can’t force him and neither can you. You are just his grandfather,” he said firmly.
“I’m the head-”
“He’s my son,” growled Oeric. “And he’s an adult now. There is only so much you and I can make him do. And he might be capable of living a customary life, but he is made for a solitary one. And I for one want to see what that can allow him to do.”
Solgard sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Well, your son needs life experience.”
“And he can get that from living. Maybe in two decades, he’ll be mature enough to humor the idea of matching, but it’ll be a wasted effort. He isn’t interested.”
“He interested in something. I would prefer that and not another Princess Arlwin incident. We are lucky that didn’t cause more issues than it did.”
Oeric was still at a loss of what to think about that. His son had shown just as much interest in young ladies as before and after. Which was none. He was back to being with his friends and performing his added duties. He didn’t act like a love sick young man because he was separated from someone he thought was perfect. And he didn’t go seek another experience like that one. It was clear that Princess Arlwin was an exception or was she the exception? That likely was it. Something about her caught his interest enough that he allowed her proximity. That was something wouldn’t give to just anyone. He could ask his son, but when Soletus deemed something personal, he didn’t like prying. Since he wasn’t distressed, it was private, and he had to make some assumptions. However, he couldn’t make them in terms of of him and Cordea.
“It’s understandably you want to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but just because he found comfort in being with one young lady doesn’t mean he will do so again. However, he doesn’t let anyone that sort of proximity. You’re the same because after all these decades, you’ve not sought anyone since my mother died.”
Solgard looked like he swallowed a mellon for and instance before he gathered himself into a frown. “Why are you bring her up?”
“To understand you. I think it’s time to talk about her. You’ve done nothing but try to forget her by throwing yourself at work. I happen to know when Sheldmartins get wounded, it cuts us to our soul.”
His father scowled at him.
“You know I’m right. You got married after you’re 50th birthday so clearly you avoided marriage until you couldn’t and she was someone you could trust. Someone who wouldn’t mind your idiosyncrasies. Someone willing to learn the steps of your dance.”
“She and I were friends,” his father stated. “We got along very well. She could take care of herself, we worked well together. It was logical that the two of us would be better off marrying each other. The truth is, Soletus needs to grow up and realize the same. That the world won’t bends to his needs. I’m pressuring him now, so he doesn’t learn the had way. This world isn’t made for neth male. The world forgets that we are elf just like them. They hold us on some sort of pedestal and standard they wouldn’t expect out of someone customary or looking down on us as if we are broken. The worse one are those who will go out of their way to prove him wrong and put him in uncomfortable situations .”
“But it’s his choice,” said Oeric. “You might have relented because of obligations you value, but that doesn’t mean he has to. Let him do it. See what becomes of it. Dias didn’t make my son neth just so he could hide.”
His father let out a scoff and leaned forward on his desk, glaring up at him. “You are my worse child. You don’t listen. If someone gives you logical reasoning to do something, you continue to want to be bullheaded and disagree.”
Oeric chuckled. “I wonder who I get that from.”
“You’re mother that’s what! You act like her most of the time.”
That surprised him as he never heard anything like that before. He attrubitued it to being a Sheldmartin. They all acted alike according to many.
“She had the temperament of a river’s span. Calm at stretches, and then suddenly becoming a fast angry rapid who you couldn’t keep up with. Not to mention her surface could be very different from what lay beneath. But I enjoyed being around her. She was refreshing and insightful to speak to. Before our arrangement, she was married to another warden. He died. They didn’t have a long marriage. About a decade. No children. She didn’t want to be alone and I could keep her company. Keep her calm I suppose. She would have dreams.”
Oeric went stiff.
“Why are you looking at me like that. It’s not such a strange thing. She was no chanter but she would see things that didn’t make sense or made sense. They disturbed her for weeks at a time. Usually it was the ones she wouldn’t tell me about. However, she would wake up in a cold sweat and cling to me. I would hold her until she went off to sleep. Sometimes, she would stay awake for a few days because she was too afraid to sleep and see a repeating dream that disturbed her.”
That was all too familiar to Oeric.
“Seriously, why are you look… disturbed like that,” asked his father who narrowed his eyes at him and then they widdened. “Don’t tell me…”
“I have particular dreams. Nightmares, disturbing dreams, and then there are the visions. When someone close to me dies, I get visited by them. The first person that happened to me was her. She came to me the afternoon she died. I was napping. She lamented about not being able to show me the things that a mother should show a son. She told me to be a good lad and then she was gone.”
Solgard sank back in his chair. Oeric went on trying not to pause too long or he was afraid he would stop speaking.
“The oddest one was with my brother. I was sleeping in my apartment in Paradise and he sat at the seat by my window and stared at me. He didn’t say anything to me. Just stared at me with regret in the way that no words can express. The most recent one, was of Lyndon. Except it was all different. He told me the direction I needed to go about finding Soletus.”
His father became appalled and he went on.
“The disturbing dreams became worse when I got back home. Some of my worse moments were caused from lack of sleep for days.”
“And now you tell me about these things,” Solgard erupted.
“And when should I have told you about this,” returned Oeric. “When I was a child when I didn’t know how to explain it to be listened too? Besides, the one person who could have helped died. I’ve learned to handle it.”
“You should have told me,” pressed his father.
“Just like you should’ve to me you’re neth.” Once again, the older elf was rendered speechless. “We clearly both have things we can’t talk about. So, I’m not going to demand you tell Soletus. You can tell him in you’re own time. However, if you want him to understand where you are coming from, then tell him the the truth. I doubt he’ll change his mind, but he might be less sharp towards you.”
“I’ll consider it,” Solgard said gruffly.
“That’s all I ask,” said Oeric and he stood upright so he could walk back around the desk when his leg gave out. Pain shot from his hip to down to his knees. It was so abrupt he didn’t have time to catch himself or land appropriately. However, the pain immobilized him and lay there stunned.
It had been many months since the rose patch. The pain in his hip finally went away and he was certain he was well again as he had done all sort of strenuous activities without a hitch. Kiao’s worries about it becoming chronic became without cause. However, the pain he felt then felt like rose patch all over again. It was so intense it kept him from noticing his family rushing in.
He laid on his side before someone managed to roll him on his back. And then there were just too many faces above him. He was too crowded and swung his arms around.
“Get back,” he snarled. Whoever took hold of his shoulders immediately let go.
Everyone backed away and he took in several gulps of air as he sat on the floor. The pain started to lessen. His leg still hurt, but it wasn’t all consuming. He scrubbed his face to clear his head and became aware that someone settled down near him. He stopped in mid scrubbed to see Soletus crouching. He was within arms reach and still as he perched.
“Do you need a moment,” he asked.
“Do you need a chanter?”
It took him a moment of consideration and then he decided that he didn’t. If anything, he just wanted off the floor.
“What happened,” demanded Solgard.
“My leg cramped up,” he said.
That wasn’t exactly what happened. However, he didn’t want to utter nerve damage. Not him or to himself.
Solgard didn’t look convinced. “You became immobilized and now you’re as white as a sheet right now.”
Oeric then said. “Pinched nerve then. I don’t know. It’s not as bad as before.”
His sister then knelled to his side and laid a hand on his back. He flinched. She jerked her hand away.
“Let him have room still,” advised Soletus.
“It you need time to right youself, lay on my bed. I’ll get someone,” stated Solgard heading towards the door.
“No,” protested Oeric. “I’m fine.” He then clamored up to his using his good leg. He hobbled over to his father’s desk and leaned on it. His father had the door to his chambers already open and calling to Farley to go get Sister Kiao.
“Come on, take the help,” said Alacai. “Lay down. You can talk to me as you wait.”
It had been a long time since Oeric had been in his father’s living space. It was enough for a husband and wife to live comfortably with a single child. The small bedroom that was off to side that was his as a child lay empty save maybe storage ever since he moved out of it when he was five. From that point on, he lived with his brother. There was only several times he came to his father’s quarters willingly. Ever time it was usually when he was sick or injured. The very last time that he could recall was when he was brought home by Cordea. He was immediately tucked in his father’s room. No one saw him save Brother Oli who was trying to figure out a way to restore his eyesight.
There he rested in bed with his father seeing to his needs making sure he was feed and cared for. It was on the tenth day of his arrival that Brother Oli came with something he theorized, but had never done himself. Practiced a little, though Oeric wasn’t sure how. All he was told that Brother Oli tweaked something in his eyes, stating something about pressure on his nerve caused by some sort of swelling. It hurt, but whatever was done, Oeric was never so glad to see another’s face in his entire life.
He and Alacai didn’t really talk. His nephew helped him on the bed and sat with him in silence to let him rest. They were the same age and had the same appreciation for napping when they could. He figured because they had a long trip on the road again the next day. In fact, that, they looked fairly similar. Same sandy hair except Alacai had a pair of pale green eyes like his mother Fiona . On entering, Kiao studied him slumped in his wicker chair before sitting on the edge of Oeric’s bed. She examined his hip and looked deeply concerned.
“I never wanted to see this again,” she told him.
He sat up. “Surely it not from what I’ve did today. I’ve run miles, climbed trees, homes, tumble, and fought things harder than than that elf.”
“Have you had pain there recently?”
Oeric shook his head, he could think of anything that day. “No. Maybe a little stab of something days ago.”
“Then that maybe have been a sign this was about to happen,” she told him. “Because this is what’s going to happen from now own. The frequency and intensity may vary. If we can figure out a pattern to it, it will help in treating it.”
She then looked grim and said softly, “I told you before, I don’t know how long you have, duty wise. This is something that can get you killed if this happens at the wrong time.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said assured. “I’ll do what I can in the time that I have.”
Before Kiao could say more, there was a tap at the door and it cracked open, Cyrius poked her head in. “Is he alright to talk too?”
“He is,” said Kiao standing and then dropped a square tin box in his hands. “You know how to take this. If you have pain after today, come see me.”
Oeric nodded and Kiao left and exchanged places with Cyrius and her husband Wes. He was surprised to see Wes. The two of them never really got alone. He had a narrow head and what Oeric considered a condescending personality as Wes spent a lot of his time when they first met, trying to tell him what to do. “Get you’re head on straight,” was he favorite phrase followed a lecture on how he was wasting his life. He was correct about a lot of things, however Oeric still felt annoyed whenever they spoke in the past. Usual at the end of a visit telling he needed to stop running and hiding. He was a father and husband, he could keep on being weak and other things he didn’t want to listen to. Because that was the thing about Wes, he was good at telling you what to do but not great at telling how to achieve anything.
Cyrius hung back at the door looking like she was a bit afraid.
“I wasn’t angry back there,” said Oeric. “I don’t like being crowded.”
She still stood back and Wes stepped forward sitting by his feet. “Soletus seemed like the only one who grasped what to do. He’s a thoughtful young man.”
“One of his many good qualities,” said Oeric.
“He is certainly different than I remember him,” he said. “I thought him becoming a warden would a mistake. He’s taken to it well.”
“That he has,” said Oeric, wondering why Wes had to do the talking.
“I talked to him about what was happening with him. He never took our invitation to stay with us when you were away. He only sent back a no and I was curious why. I had thought maybe he was reluctant to be around us because of, that we were some how the villains of the family.”
Oeric snorted. “I think his reluctance to be around you has more to do with the fact that most if not all of you doubted that he could make it as a warden.”
“He was so shy. He was the quietest of all the children and the least confidence. Soldren I could see as a monk if he wants, but he rather work with Alacai. You’re son not so much.”
“I imagined he would make a good potter,” said Cyrius.
“How wrong you two are. When I put that staff in his hands as a boy, a different side of him come out. He was good at it. So focused and determined, wanting to try again and again no matter how many times I pushed him down,” said Oeric. “And that’s why I thought he could try. He had enough skills to make it through the training, but likely not the trials. He would learn something. Become more confidence, build some muscle. He would be able choose anything he wanted after that. Cordea’s brother fancied him as another mason. Then he exceeded my expectations and every warden would encouraged him. I think they saw our brother in him. It terrified me. I didn’t want to see him dead,” he admitted.
“He’s good isn’t he?”
“Extremely, but he’s doing the most dangerous thing in the known-worlds. But he does it so well. When you see him fight, you have to stand back and admire his skill. That he put in and still does so much work. I want to see what he does.”
“You are the typical proud father,” chuckled Wes. “That child is your shinning light and. I’m certain his a good child but, he’s an edge to him. I asked him if he was happy because he’s had a lot happen to him And I thought that maybe he was sticking around because he felt some obligation to you. And then he became very blunt with me and said that whatever notion I had of you, I needed to drop it. That you didn’t control him and I should ask you how much you can tell him what to do.”
Alacai then chuckled. “Apples never fall far from the tree.”
Oeric couldn’t help but smile. “He’s young, him being assertive comes off strong given what has happened to him. And I’m fine with it. He’ll mellow quicker than I ever did. Anyway I need to get going. I still need to find a room for the former cur I’m to help.”
As he stood, Wes held him back with an hand clamping down on his shoulder.
“Sit. We aren’t don yet.”
Oeric sank down and said between his teeth, “What then?”
“So I’ve been told,” he returned and crossed his arm with his right index finger taping his bicep.
Cyrius left her her position and came to sit on Oeric’s other side.
“It more than I realized. Fern would tell us stories about you, Cordea, Soletus, and Saedee. Saying often you were doing alright and how she would talked to you for hours during a visit. I never truly believed her.”
“I would imagine. She does all the talking,” said Oeric.
Wes gave him a flat stare of disapproval and cleared his throat. “Anyway, that not something I would expect you to do. That you would keep you’re children at a distance as you do everyone else. I always took you allowing Fern to come live with use for not wanting her around. She told us many times was that you gave her the option in the attempt of saving things between her and Cordea.”
“That’s true,” he said. He didn’t want his wife to feel like she was a terrible mother because she was becoming like the woman who birthed her. And he didn’t want his daughter on the path of resentment. That was the only thing he could think of, give his independent child space.
Wes regarded him. “I thought the same would happen with Soletus. That you wouldn’t want to step up and handle him and then he never came. He never took the invitation. You never sent him.”
“Why would I? Soletus isn’t Fern. He needs space, but still needs to be around those he cares about the most.”
Alacai let out a loud sigh. “Above and below you people. Stop taking so long to get to the meat of this. You’re sorry Wes for making assumption. Not let Cyrius ask if you can go plan this wedding with each other.”
Oeric arched a brow. “Is this what this is about?”
“Yes,” said Cyrius. “We want to help with the Fern’s wedding. It’s always the bride’s parents responsibility, but she’s been in our lives for many years too that she feels a bit like one of my own. We want to help, but she said that she’ll let us if I spoke to you. And I didn’t want too. Then Cordea wrote her letter.”
Oeric wanted to know what that letter had said. He would have to ask her. And speaking of letters, he remembered the one he had received. He would read it after this.
Wes then said. “If there is any the two of you need to get, we can provide it. We can pitch in for her dowry if that is what you want.”
“Ask Cordea,” he said. “I carried things around when I got married and dressed as nice as I could when the day came. I’ve no idea what to do other than that.”
Wes nodded. “It’s simpler that way.”
Cyrius sighed. “I’ll talk to her, but I can’t tell if she does or not. I’ve said things that hurt her and she’s tried to act like she moving on.”
“Then tell her you’re sorry and she’ll move on,” said Oeric standing to his feet and tested leg. He could feel a little pain, but not enough to stop him from doing what he wanted. “I have to go. I’m going home when I’m done. Stop by and we’ll talk more.”
They said okay and he told them goodbye while reaching in his pocket. The letter was now pulled out the now crumpled letter sealed with wax. He left his father room and saw that he wasn’t behind his desk. He wasn’t out in the hall either. It gave Oeric the privacy he needed to go to the wall and lean against to read.
Dear First Warden Sheldmartin,
I write this in concern of our agreement to try and reform a few curs to be better members of society. However, my husband, the King, protested to this greatly. He feels it is more prudent to have them to make up for their transgression. He doesn’t want to give them, in his words, “to a bunch of soft-hearts.” And while I tried to tell him about you, he has made him his mind about how to handle the curs. Many of them will but put to work in the military or as laborers in some industry. They will be given a commission and will be giving more freedom until they prove themselves to not to be a danger. Except this one.
We cannot keep him because he is not a citizen and has skill to provide a work visa. His people will not take him. But we cannot keep him or let him roam the countryside. The Dias Brotherhood offers a legal shelter that would allow him into your province. So please treat him with the respect and kindness I know your order is capable of.
I hope you inspire him with your strength and thoughtfulness. That you can aid him in leaving a life of peace and not become a burden better off being slain. I will, perhaps seen someone to visit from time to time. However, I’ll let you decide how he is handled.
Oeric closed the letter feeling. “She thinks way too highly of,” he muttered. However, as a monk, he was equip to deal with all situations, including this one. He pushed himself form the wall and limped his way down the hall still trying to figure out a place to house the Dyne elf for at least the evening. He wondered, if Cordea would protest too much if Gaelin stayed the night.