Posted by Akira | Posted in Author Platform, Serial Fiction, Trials, Writing Projects | Posted on 21-10-2016
The inn was quiet and the night long as father and son shared an uneasy silence while waiting for dawn. Both men laid still, eyes wide open, contemplating the task before them.
“You don’t have to come, you know,” whispered Kirwin. “Gem would understand if you didn’t come… given the circumstances.”
“I won’t let you do this alone… I have to be there. I owe her that much.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“It’s not. It wasn’t your trials that killed her. Your uncle’s jealousy had a hold on him stronger than any we could imagine. You were… have been caught in the middle far too long. Maybe you can take solace in knowing that she never blamed you for her poor relations with Naois.”
“I don’t take solace in any of this.”
Kirwin inhaled deeply and exhaled a slow, measured breath, whispering, “Maybe this trip will help you find some measure of peace, such that there is.”
“Is that what you seek? Peace?”
His beloved was gone. It’s not like he could ever go to her for a clandestine visit like he had so many nights before. He could never see her again. Many people would surmise that it was his fault. Maybe they would be right. She was gone because he’d made decisions that he thought were in the best interest of his throne. He was a young king then, inexperienced and eager to please. It may have cost his beloved her life.
“I will never have peace.”
“What then, do you seek on this journey?”
“Forgiveness. Your brother needs alliances in the north right now. I need to seek forgiveness from your uncles to make that happen. I wronged your mother… at least, that’s how they see it. Now I return her remains to them. I will also bring them her son. This time we go together. We return her, peace between us, and you will remain behind as her legacy… a great olive branch for your Uncle Gem.”
Gannon didn’t say anything. He wasn’t bitter anymore, just tired of it all.
“It’s the best that I can do to make amends.”
“For Padraig’s sake, I understand. Do you expect Gem to?”
Kirwin let out a long deep sigh. “I don’t know what to expect. I am an ancient being. I can see events years in the making, yet I cannot gauge Gem’s response to me, to this. Returning you to him like this… and your mother’s ashes… I never expected the very next time I would see him would be under these circumstances.
The men grew quiet for a long time and for the first time they could hear the night’s sounds in the distance.
“You’ve grown silent. Don’t be shy, I need to know what you’re thinking. You’ve spent a lot of time with Gem and your other family. I haven’t seen them since before your birth. Give me some insight, please. For the first time in a long time I’m going into a situation without much forethought.”
They had stopped being delicate about this recently. Gannon chose to speak his mind, “Gem was upset that you sent me away again without mother’s consent and without talking to him about it. He thought, and probably still believes, that you favor Padraig and that favor placed my inheritances in jeopardy. I don’t think he will receive you well, if at all, frankly. I cannot say that you have burned the bridge politically, but I do believe Gem’s anger with you has been festering since my birth and it will take a lot to make personal amends with him.”
Inheritances. “You know about your northern inheritance.” It wasn’t a question, just a statement of fact between the two men.
“After you told me about our betrothals and what I stood to lose, Dillion suggested I employ a barrister to get a full accounting of my financials. I know about all the inheritances.”
Honesty. Kirwin had asked for it, and now he was getting it.
“Gem and his father didn’t trust me before your birth so they put measures in place to see to it you would be taken care of in case Aurora disowned you.”
“I thought we were being honest.”
Kirwin sighed again, readying to make the admission out loud. “… in case I allowed Aurora to disown you.”
“Right now he thinks you gambled with my future and you have to admit he wasn’t off by much. You put your trust in Padraig above me. Your kingdom is in dire straits because Padraig made yet another bad decision. And I am yet again shuffled back to the north while you continue to groom Padraig to take your throne, such that it is. The things the gazette writes about me, the whispers among the nobility about my bawdy reputation – “
” – that is Aurora’s doing,” Kirwin interjected.
Gannon smiled and scoffed. “Yes, it’s all Aurora’s doing. And you allowed it. You never told her to keep our family business private, except where it concerns Padraig. She did all she could to make me and my mother scourges among the nobility, while her beloved son threatens to tear apart the throne from the inside out. You let me take the fall publicly, time and again, for his dalliances just to keep his true nature secret. You let Aurora give members of the gazette access to my personal information just to keep them from digging into Padraig’s personal business. You let her make it seem like my mother seduced you to get with child. You let her tell the gazette time and again that Daisy meant nothing to you – to us. You never corrected her. You never stood up for us… not publicly, not privately. That’s why Gem is angry with you. You put Aurora’s desires above what is best for your throne and now we all pay the price. Broken treaties, failed betrothals, a dissolved noble house, allies in disarray, your throne shared with the sidhe and you plan to go to him and ask his support – ”
“- Gem doesn’t think my throne will survive?”
“No one north of the Grasslands believes that Padraig is strong enough to keep your alliances, or that he is savvy enough to forge new ones. I don’t have to remind you what he did to Gaduriel. All the tribes have come to know Padraig cannot be trusted. He has built a reputation for going back on his word, for betraying his closest advisors and confidants. They think he is selfish and self-centered. Taking Tallis as his wife may be the only thing that can make the tribes view him differently. If he jeopardized the throne to have her and then never marries her, never has an heir with her, all this preparation will be for naught. No one will want to ally with Taladae under his rule.”
“What do you think of your brother, hmm? How do you see him in light of his treatment of you? If it comes to it, if Gem seeks your counsel, your opinion will matter.”
He yawned softly. It always came back to Padraig. It used to tire him to talk about his older brother, but recently it had become old hat.
“The truth is, I love Padraig, but I hate the things he does, the decisions he makes. He has become a spoiled, impudent brat and every year it’s harder to be with him. At least when Gaduriel was in his life, we had some measure of outer influence on him. He listened to him, he valued his counsel. There was always a seventy-five percent chance that Padraig would take Gaduriel’s advice.”
“Do you think he can be redeemed?”
“Do you think you can get him out of Aurora’s sphere of influence? As long as she enables his behavior, then no, I don’t think he can be redeemed.”
They shared another long spate of silence, listening to the wind blow gently through the trees.
“Which is more important to you: that Padriag gets his alliance or that you get your forgiveness?”
“I cannot have both, I see that.”