Our Family Honor, 1

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Galen
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UO Shard: Great Lakes
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Our Family Honor, 1

Post by Galen » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:16 pm

“If you're certain,” I told my son John, “and I know you are, then I am. Why wouldn't I be?”

“It is not Malag's place or business to raise the issues he did. But it might be your place, and your business. It is your name, and your blood, after all.”

“Yes, but it's your heart, and by definition it's your name and your blood too. And besides. I never thought I'd have a child, let alone grandchildren. That'd be far too much to ask. What happens if I live longer than I think I will, and I build an empire, and then your children decide they want it instead of you, not after you. I've started a civil war in my empire, just be making you be a father.”

My son smirked. “You are joking, father.”

“Why aren't you laughing, then.”

“It was not funny enough to laugh, father.” My son's style, at least his style outside of combat, came from the man who'd raised him. But his substance was very much mine.

John and I talked for awhile longer. We were at my house, just sitting in the library, drinking Joylah's tea. Joylah and Tanda were upstairs.

“Is it terrible, father,” John asked, “that when Tanda was cursed I cared about nothing save that? I was told about all of these horrible consequences, all the horrors of Rylna and Drow devils and the power of Tannabus and all of that, and I cared nothing for it. I was there for one reason, and one reason alone: For Tanda. And it bothered – still bothers – me that people seemed to forget about that, or not care about it. About the stakes for her, for us.”

I could've answered right away but I let John keep talking. I could tell he needed to.

“Nothing else mattered, nothing,” John continued. “The world could burn and I would not have cared. Still would not. Were it between the world burning but her being safe, and her burning and the world being safe, I would pick her, and I would do it in the space of a mongbat's heartbeat. There was nothing but her, and us, and this strange, small extended family. It was a very, very small world for me. In some ways it still is like that for me. This small world. I live. I love my lady, my stepmothers, my father, my mother, though I have not seen her for some time. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and I am content. The rest of the world...It is there, I have neither forsaken nor forgotten it, but it is distant to me now. Is that terrible?”

“No, it's not terrible. Much the opposite. When I tell you your having heirs doesn't matter to me I'm telling the truth. But that doesn't mean family doesn't matter. I've learned many things over the years, John. One of them is that at the end of the day really nothing matters except family. Joylah, Aranel, you, the guild when they're around, Tanda...” I sipped some tea. “They're all that matters. I serve the world, and the Kingdom, well enough. I stand, or try to stand, for the forgotten victims, that's what the guild is about, as you know well enough, but at the end of the day what really matters is the people whose names and faces I know. Family. And family goes beyond blood. I had a daughter of a sort once, her name was Phoebe. Not one drop of my blood, but my daughter never-the-less. Family, be it blood or chosen, is all that matters at the end of the day.”

“'Twas not always that way for you, father.”

“No, no it wasn't. But, then again, I didn't really have a family for a long time. I wasn't with Joy until fairly late, wasn't with Ara until much later. Didn't know you existed until what seems like 10 minutes ago sometimes. Though, of course, I know it's been several years. But the gist is....I know what's important now. I serve the world, I serve the Kingdom. But I do so mostly 'cos I know that will serve the family.”

“Mostly – but not only.”

“No, not only. Ours isn't the only family. It's the most important one but it's not the only. Others, like Meghan's family, or like Emily Connor's,” Emily was a young scholar I had failed to save and failed to avenge many years ago, “they deserve protection too. But that, the world out there, other families. That's second. This. This is first.”

“I told Malag something similar. Or, at least, I tried to. I do not think I said it very well. The matter of my heirs was a matter of our family honor; not his. I do not think I said it very well and I know he did not understand.”

“Don't worry. Firstly I think you probably did fine. You don't want for words. Secondly he wouldn't understand even if you did it perfect.”

“No, I suppose he would not. Father, in case it is not clear. I want you to know, I would leave Newcastle and the Knighthood. If I had to. For Tanda, for you, for the family.”

“I appreciate that. But I don't think it'll come to that.”

“I hope not.”

“I doubt it.”

------------------------------------------

It was a cold Winter day, but it was the kind of cold that made you want to walk around in the City of Moonglow, feel the chill in the air. Hold hands in public with your mistress, embrace her, kiss her sweet, soft mouth, let her use her skills at hiding to touch you in ways she couldn't otherwise touch you in public. As the Winter breeze comes in from the water, you embrace with her so tight that the wind passes only around you; not in between.

“Joy and I once made love on these docks you know.”

“Oh, hush, Galen. Bad manners to talk to your mistress about your wife.”

“Aye, I suppose it is. I'm sorry, m'love.”

It would be wrong to say that Aranel ever giggled. But, sometimes, somehow, her eyes did, like they did now. “You should be used to it by now. Not like you're a newcomer to juggling two of us.”

“Aye, but you both keep me on my toes so much that you both always feel new.”

I meant it, but it was the kind of thing men often say and rarely mean, and it made Aranel smirk. “You're a cad, Galen Knighthawke.”

“A cad who loves you.”

She smiled.

We walked about the city for some hours, holding hands, kissing, talking. There remained a certain amount of apprehension about the future. People were nervous about the new tavern that was scheduled to open soon. It seemed like the kind of place that'd let anyone with enough gold to get drunk inside, and those kinds of places were usually trouble, especially in a town steeped in the Virtue of Honesty, which demanded that you call something what it is rather than coat the truth in sugar and hoped it didn't kill you on the way in, or the way out. We agreed that this was one of many situations wherein Aranel's famed ability to hide and stealth around would come in handy.
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