Thursday, October 25, 2018

Flash Fiction #326 -- Connor of Northgate/10

Connor considered the statement and the worry in his new friend's face.  "And if I were going to fall from a cliff, you wouldn't warn me?"

"Would it make a difference?  Should it make a difference?  Should I have the power to change the future with a word?  What if I made up some story for my own gain?"

"Would you?"

"No.  Not now at least.  Later?  Who is to say what I might do later?"

They went up another flight of stairs.  Liam seemed more bothered with each step.

"You didn't answer my question," Connor finally said.  "This is not where  you want to be, is it?"

"I want to be free in the woods, but it's not a safe place for me.  I can't control when or what I see, and it's dangerous to be blind there.  They say I have a power that is rare and precious, and at the same time, everyone does their best to make certain I am not anywhere near them.  Where should I want to be?"

"Somewhere safe for a while.  You might not stay at the Keep for long, you know.  Lord Northgate will help you to find your way and get control."

"Yes.  Yes, you are right." The words seemed to reassure Liam, which surprised Connor and made him wonder what Liam saw and didn't see and what he understood about his own future.  Maybe they'd speak of it, later when his new friend was calmer and more settled in this new place.

Magra stepped from the room as they arrived.  She offered a bright smile.  "Well, there you are.  I hope the room meets your needs, young man.  If not, let us know.  Connor," she finished with a nod to him before she went on about her own business.

Liam stood by the door, looking at it with apparent consternation.

"What's wrong?"

"Something stupid," he admitted and bowed his head.  "I am a wildland fae, no matter what else.  I have never slept in a building before."

"Oh," Connor said. "This will be quite an adventure then, won't it?"

"Adventure?  Is that what I should call this insanity that ripped me from all I knew and gave me into the hands of total strangers?"

There -- there was the line he had been probing for all night.  He understood the real depth of what Liam felt with those words.

"I will help you make it into an adventure," Connor suggested.  "I will make sure that you are not alone here, either -- for all the good a human can do in some cases.  Also, remember that I am Lord Northgate's ward and you are now his foster son.  That gives us a power of a certain sort."

"The kind that Druce craves," Liam said.  "And no, I don't need any special power to see that in him.  He's jealous."

"Nylia says the same thing," he replied.  "Shall we go in?  Or would you rather go in by yourself?"

"Despite the fear of sounding childish, I would be happy if you would go in with me.  All this stone around us makes me uneasy.  I know it's silly.  Northgate is as old as the wind itself and not given to crushing fae out of hand.  But still --"

Connor gave a little laugh and finally pushed the door open, and blinked at something surprising.

Plants everywhere.  The scent of them filled the room and drifted out into the hall.  Liam looked startled and then took a step into the room ahead of Connor, glancing around with surprise and pleasure.

"This -- this is not what the other rooms are like?" he asked.

"Not at all.  Obviously, Magra and Lord Northgate anticipated that you would feel more comfortable in a garden than a bedroom."  He gave a little laugh.  "This is wonderful!  I've never been farther than the village, you know."

"Never?" he seemed shocked.  "Not even to the woods?"

"No.  There's been talk about going on a journey next spring, but Lord Northgate doesn't travel.  I think the others have been waiting until I grew older and have a chance of taking care of myself, even without magic."

Liam gave a distracted nod.  He had walked to one of the plants and brushed his hand against it, giving a contented sigh.  Connor left him in silence for a little while, and finally, Liam went and sat down on the edge of the bed, looking back at him with a nod.  He seemed more at ease than he had all night.

"I can do this," Liam finally said.  "I can anchor myself to this room and the plants that have no past or future. They give me a chance to let go, you know.  They don't care what I might say or see."

"You can trust us."

"I can trust you," he corrected.  "I don't trust everyone, but neither do you.  You aren't a fool.  Go get some rest.  I can sleep here, at least.  I can let go and be safe in this room.  And we'll have time to talk again tomorrow, and the next day.  And for a long time after that -- I can promise you that much."

Connor smiled as he stood.  "I'm glad to hear it.  Come across and knock on the door when you get up tomorrow.  I'll take you on a tour of the keep before we go to class."

"Class," he said and looked startled.
"It's not bad.  I think you'll like it.  It will give you a chance to learn more about Northgate and meet the others."

"Class," he said again and this time with a sigh.

Connor went back out of the room and across to his own.  He felt unexpectedly drained by the day.  The only dreams he had was of life in places he had never been, but he could imagine.

He slept well.

No comments: