Friday, January 18, 2019

Flash Fiction # 338 -- Connor of Northgate/22

"I don't see the point in this," Liam admitted with a glare at his fancy jacket.

"Show, my friend.  And that's fine, really," Connor said as he straightened his right cuff.

"At least this shouldn't take long." Liam put a hand on Connor's arm and drew his attention.  "Watch yourself."

Taking this oath marked the only significant change a fae would really go through, passing from childhood to adulthood. Antisha and her people went first, then the rest of them in whatever order they happened to arrive. Some went boldly up to Lord Northgate, but others -- like Liam -- apparently didn't like to be in the spotlight.  He swore his oath and hurried on, looking vastly relieved.

Or maybe he had expected something to go wrong? Connor stepped closer and knelt --

"How can you trust this human?" Ordin demanded from where he stood, not nearly far enough away.  "He is not one of us.  And humans lie.  It's their nature.  We cannot accept this creature into our fold!"

Some others made small sounds of agreement.  Antisha grabbed Ordin's arm, but he shook her off this time.

"I have taken my oath.  I am no longer a child to be silenced."

"Excellent point," Lord Northgate said, his voice quite calm.  "You are now an adult, and I can deal with you as one.  One more remark during the oath and you'll find out what it means to be a true adult and face the results of your words."

Ordin paled and took a step back. Antisha looked to Connor and gave a nod that was at least partly apology.

"Connor of Northgate," Lord Northgate began, drawing his attention.  "Do you swear on your honor -- as all the others have -- that will accept the laws and the rule of the High Court and always work to the benefit of those you serve?"

A few of the words had not been part of the regular oath, but clearly, Ordin and his companions had annoyed Lord Northgate, even if it didn't show in the older man's face.

Connor bowed his head.  "I do so swear this oath on my honor and on my life."

"I accept your oath in the name of the Royal Court.  Stand and take your place with us."

He did, and Lord Northgate smiled this time, clearly happy.  He even patted Connor on the shoulder and sent him on to join the others.

Ordin remained close by, his face red with rage.  Antisha had abandoned him, and stood with others, her face dark with anger.  She might fear his behavior reflected on her and the Royal Court itself, Connor supposed.  The fae were usually extremely careful about such things.  He couldn't imagine what had prompted Ordin to such an attack at that time.  He couldn't believe it would stop the oath, did he?

Did he think others would step up and agree?  There had been a little rumbling among people who might have agreed, but they'd done more than mumble.  Connor looked at Liam who gave a slight nod of relief, and the two of them -- whom others did watch still -- moved off to the side where Rendon and Erlis already stood.

"Oh, he's made no new friends," Rendon said with a lift of his chin toward Ordin.  "No one wants to annoy Lord Northgate now."

"I haven't made any new friends either though," Connor added.  "No matter.  Tomorrow they'll be gone.  I think I'll be safe enough here."

"Safe enough," Liam agreed.  "As much so as the rest of us."

Which won worried glances from Rendon and Erlis of them.  They didn't ask.

There were no more problems with the oath-taking.  The relief to have the ceremony done spread through the High Hall and people went out in groups, some glancing his way.  His smile seemed to reassure them.  He wanted this latest problem to disappear, along with everyone else.  There was no reason to linger on it tonight when by morning everyone would be gone.

They settled at their usual table that evening, though the room was far fancier than he'd seen it before.  Laughter drifted from everywhere, and everyone seemed happy.  He caught sight of Ordin across the room at a table with a few others, though not Antisha.  She sat with Lord Northgate, in fact, as suited her new stature.

"What should I know about Ordin?" Connor finally asked.  "I suspect he's still going to be a problem in the future, even if he isn't here."

"His father is the king's brother," Nylia said.  Connor wasn't surprised, considering his attitude.  "His mother is the sister of Lady Eastgate.  He has ties to both places, but he's not a political power -- at least not yet.  Antisha says he's always had a bad temper and likes to pick fights."

"And I'm an easy target," Connor said.

"Until he finds another," Rendon added.  "If he likes a fight, you are not going to stay top on his list.  You're smarter than him -- you won't let him push you, right?"

Connor laughed.  "I am trying my best not to get dragged into that sort of mess.  We only have tonight to get through, though.  Then we'll be done with him, at least here."

"I've heard rumors there is more political play at the Royal Court this season than there has been in a while." Rendon looked bothered and with cause; political play at such a high level could turn into a devastating war.  "We need to walk carefully around our fine Ordin."

"This was his second time at the testing," Nylia said.  "The last time he actually never made it all the way to Northgate before he was sent back.  So if he's this bad now, you can imagine what his behavior must have been back then."

"I think he wants to be heir to Northgate," Erlis said and drew startled stares.  "He's ambitious and hasn't many places where he can hope to move up."

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