Thursday, November 29, 2018

Flash Fiction #331 -- Connor of Northgate/15

Liam sat for a moment in silence before he looked at Rendon.  "I don't do favors," Liam replied, his voice steady.  "Not when it comes to seeing things."

Rendon gave a decisive nod, and the look of distrust cleared from his face.  "No, I suppose not.  Too dangerous."

Liam nodded before Connor said anything, and he hoped that would be the last of that kind of trouble.  Connor didn't want people to think he got tips from Liam.  That would put them both in danger.  Having been stabbed by Druce should help counter that idea, though.

There would soon be other things to worry about anyway.  His discussion with Liam about the testing made Connor worry more about what would happen than he had before.  He would take part now, for whatever good that would do him.  After dinner, he wandered up to the archives and asked for information.  Rion, who kept the archives, only gave a nod and hurried off.  Apparently, he was used to Connor asking for odd things.

Rion returned not long afterward with a couple ancient tomes in hand, and the pages already marked.  He handed them both over with a shake of his head.

"You know more about the history of Northgate than any of the young fae here, Connor.  I despair of them.  I really do."

"I always assumed that they just knew things somehow.  Family stories, things like that."

"And by magic?" Rion asked with a tilt of his head.  Though Rion didn't look it (no fae did), he was very old, and sometimes Connor could see the age in his face.  He did now.  There was no lying to this man, even in something this small.

"Yes, I did assume magic gave them some knowledge that I have never grasped," Connor admitted.  "Maybe that was naive on my part, but it is hard for me to see where the magic begins and ends."

Rion nodded, and his eyes narrowed.  "You are not unhappy here."

"Should I be?  This is a wondrous place, you know."

"The trouble with Druce --"

"Was not because I'm human.  Druce is truly sorry and apologized."

Rion looked uncertain, but Connor didn't go into more detail about something that was surely embarrassing to Druce without Connor making matters worse.  He took the tomes and headed up to his room.  Liam had just started up the stairs as well.  The Seer looked exhausted in a way that made Connor think Liam had experienced more visions.  They seemed to wear him out when they came too strongly.

Connor didn't ask.  He just walked Liam to his friend's room, and Liam parted company with a nod.  Distracted, Connor thought.  He didn't ask why.

The reading turned out to be fascinating.  Connor hadn't realized that each of the Gate Keeps had their own functions in fae society.  Testing and allegiance happened at Northgate, warrior testing (which was far more complex than the simple tests here) was done at Eastgate, along with an assignment to the various areas of the army.  The binding of mates took place in Southgate, along with ceremonies surrounding those occasions.  Westgate was the link to the temple, where both priests and priestesses were sworn to their service.  Seers, it seemed, usually went there.  He would be sorry to see Liam go.

The Royal Court placed close to the center of the Gate Keeps, kept control of the army, could order a mating dissolved (though they couldn't order a couple to take vows), and even the temple was answerable to them in some degree.  They also held the right to name or remove any of the Lords or Ladies of the Gates.  At this central court, a piece of each stone that fueled the High Gate Towers was also in place, and there a new Lord swore his oath.

Connor had known some of this information in general, but the books went into more detail and added some of the histories of the times before the gates were set and sealed to their lords.  Those days were filled with Chaos when fae fought against each other as much as against any outside force.

Connor tried to imagine a war of magic and didn't like even the little he saw.  He knew there was an area, far to the south and beyond even the Southgate Keep, where everything had been decimated, and a thousand years later the place still remained a plain of desolation and dust.

They did not ever want to fall back to that age of chaos and barbarity. Connor had never imagined the elves at such a state.  Humans, yes.  He'd read about humans and their wars, but he would never understand why the fae had gone that road as well.

Except there used to be more humans in the land.  Not born here, as he had been, but visitors sometimes.

The way that thought linked suddenly to the wars frightened him, fearing the mere presence of his kind could be a catalyst for conflict.  Perhaps there were reasons for the dislike that some of the others showed him.  He'd never thought about it before; never considered he was one of those humans, like the people who killed one another.

Connor sat on the chair and shivered at the thought.  Had his parents --

No.  They'd come to the aid of a stranger. And Lord Northgate would not have kept him here if he would have been a danger to the land.

Connor sat back, taking slow breaths and looked out the window, past the courtyard and towards the forested hills beyond.  He'd never been that far.  Never been to the human lands, either.  He knew little of this world, but it was still the only place he even partially understood.

This was his home.  He belonged here.  He would do nothing to cause problems here.

Connor didn't need to.  The trolls were on the move again, and he worried like everyone else that it meant trouble on the horizon.

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